My parents met in a New York bar called Coal Yard Charlie's, when my dad was in the Air Force. They married, moved to Pennsylvania and raised a family. Thirty-four years later, here I am.
When I was young, we made many trips to New York to visit with my mother's family. While I enjoyed those trips (the smell of cow manure still makes me nostalgic), I never felt completely at home. I know that my mother wanted to share that part of herself with me, but I was more interested in the public pool.
Today, I'm a Massachusetts Yankee, but my soul is in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Each year, I spend about a week in Scranton. Last week, I brought the kids.
They loved the mountain of junk food they got from grandma, my cousin's pool and their new Dunder Mifflin T-shirts. That's great, but I was insistent in instilling a little "Scranton Love" in them. It's important to me that the kids know where they come from, and understand why we eat certain dishes, say certain words, listen to certain music.
I brought them on the "Dave History Tour."
"This is where your daddy went to school when he was a little boy," I said.
"Uh-huh," they said.
"When I was your age, I lived in this house," I said.
"Have you seen my mermaid?" Grace said.
"I used to swim and swim in this pool..."
"My towel is wet," they said.
We stopped for lunch this afternoon at Catalano's on North Main Street (pop in the next time you're in town) for the best hoagie (some of you may say "sub," "hero" or "grinder" — you are all neanderthals), hands-down, on planet earth. The kids picked at theirs half-heartedly while I concentrated on each and every bite, as if a quiz would follow. Later, we visited a slew of relatives, ate some more and talked about the old times (Actually, the kids played Matchbox cars while the adults talked). Finally, I got the kids lemon ices, drove back to where we were staying and put them down to bed.
As part of her evening routine, Grace likes to share her 1st and 2nd "favorite parts" of the day. I asked, "What was your first favorite part today, honey?"
"Playing cars with William."
I thought, "Cars?!? You can do that anytime at home!"
"What was your 2nd favorite?" I asked.
She paused, then said, "That hoagie."