Category Archives: Slice of Life

No Friction With Fiction

Anne with an E

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — After nearly two weeks north of the border – in Halifax and Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island (that’s Nova Scotia, for those of you who can’t find Nebraska on a map) — it was interesting to see how long it takes for me to be impatient and brusque with people after consistently encountering the complete opposite.

And it will be interesting to note if I will ever want to see a lobster ever again or if I will now crave the best lobster on the planet.

Probably won’t take much more than some deplorable aggressive driving by a grunt in a pickup truck, but I digress.

Just about every elevator trip at both hotels involved friendly conversation.

And my Flyers tee-shirt was a key spark in the land where hockey was invented.

“Philly, eh?” I was asked.

Since the Flyers are pretty much struck in neutral and don’t inspire the same ire they once did from hockey purists, the conversation switched quickly to Philadelphia’s pride and joy.

Independence Hall?

Nope.

Liberty Bell?

Nada.

The Eagles?

If you saw what passes for football up there, you’d know better (although my Eagles’ shirt did get one passing thumbs-up).

Give up?

Try Rocky Balboa.

Rocky Raw Meat

It struck me as interesting that Philadelphia, known for being the alleged birthplace of the so-called liberty we enjoy, is universally noted for a fictional character.

Then again, Charlottetown was where the groundwork for Canada’s independence was first laid when members of the rest of the British Commonwealth gathered in 1864, for what became known as the Charlottetown Conference, to discuss how to break from the clutches of the Crown.

And yet, that is not why we – or most others – were there.

It was also for a fictional character that Sofia has come to adore after reading all the books about her.

That’s Anne Shirley, the semi-biographical alter ego of author L.M. (Lucy Maud) Montgomery.

At the time of my elevator encounter, during which the friendly chap said “Rocky” was his favorite movie because of the life lesson about taking a beating and not giving up, the better half and Sofia were seeing a stage play based on the series of “Anne” books.

We spent multiple days in Cavendish, where the life of the author is a literal cottage industry, and we saw a musical version of the character’s life (I survived by dozing off for a good portion of it).

So I guess you would say that the two historic places are better known for their fictional icons is kind of messed up, huh?

Three mass shootings in a week, including two in the span of 24 hours? That’s messed up.

A grown man in Montana fracturing the skull of a 13-year-old for not removing his cap during the national anthem? Messed up.

Fictional characters being larger than life? No way.

As much as I dig history, and think it should be studied thoroughly (we did a whole walking tour to learn the history part of Charlottetown), I have to say it’s kind of cool.

Two characters were created that were so sympathetic — and relatable — that they are the first thought for many outsiders of the home terrains upon which they were created.

Visitors from around the world making it the first order of business of running up the Art Museum steps to play the role of Rocky, the brainchild of a then-struggling actor named Sylvester Stallone, is not an anomaly.

In PEI (Prince Edward Island), there was an abundance of Japanese tourists. It didn’t strike me as odd until it was explained to me that a local woman once went to Japan to teach and, due to the lack of age-appropriate literature of the time, she introduced the series of “Anne” books to her students.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with a Swedish co-counselor at summer camp, who happened to be a 6-foot-4 Olympic swimming hopeful that I could never convince to play on the counselor hockey team. He related how the original “Rocky” was common viewing at places where athletes there trained, and added how the sequels (there were only a few at that time) were a disappointment.

It struck me how what seemed to be the experiences of Rocky Balboa on the streets of my hometown were not uniquely unique.

That is the power of art.

That what makes bitter reality easier to swallow.

This column appeared in The Times Herald on Aug. 11, 2018.

Time Is On Our Side

Snowy-School-Bus

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Often to my wife’s chagrin, Sofia and I are so much alike that is frightening.

If you ever wondered what the saying of two peas in a pod means, just observe us in our national habitat for a while.

But there is one area where we clearly differ.

I pride myself on being not only on time, but at least 15 minutes early.

And with the ongoing PennDOT conspiracy to road work in my path, I like to leave even extra travel time to get to where I need to be.

If we’re early, we’ll deal with it.

We can always sit in the car and chill with some tunes, until we don’t look too early, right?

I never want to hear the words “it’s about time” when I – or we – are late for wherever we need to be.

That vibe carries into the outside world, where I find myself saying “it’s about time” when enough red tape is cut for logical decisions to be made.

Today, I bring you some examples:

-Ana’s Corner Store, at Township Line and North Wales roads in East Norriton, was held hostage by road work for what seemed like a biblical 40 years. While I like to stop there on my way to make musical magic at Morningstar Studios, I have been avoiding it like the 11th plague that the scenario was. I feared for the survival of the privately owned business but, lo and behold, it has outlasted the road crews.

Instead of amen, let us bow our heads and say, “it’s about time.”

-Speaking of PennDOT –which has twice damaged my car with new road paint, but I digress — it announced that multiple police departments in Eastern Pennsylvania are launching a special aggressive driving enforcement campaign. It will last through the end of August.

Among the participating departments are Norristown, West Norriton, Upper Merion and Plymouth. They will be focusing on a host of aggressive driving behaviors (running red lights, tailgating, speeding, distracted driving, etc.)

I kind of sort of thought this was their job to begin with, and I also wonder what happens after August, when the initiative concludes (17 fatalities in Philadelphia’s five surrounding counties were the direct result of aggressive driving in 2017).

While my own temper is my own worst enemy, I have successfully tamed the beast within as I have mellowed with middle age. Still, nothing like a schmuck thinking the road belongs to him (and it’s usually a him, not a her) to get me angry.

It will be nice to know police will be out to curb this stupidity, which will protect me from myself as well.

Again, instead of amen, let us bow our heads and say “it’s about time.”

-Finally, we no longer have to hear about those a bit longer in the tooth than we are walking to school – 18 ½ miles, each way, in two feet of snow – and mocking us for calling off school before one flake hits the ground.

I guess it does seem a bit foolish, and there have been times when it has backfired, but it is better to be safe than sorry – especially with all those aggressive drivers out there who don’t respect the conditions.

As a kid, I loved snow days. The options were endless. Sledding, shoveling for do-re-mi, playing tackle football or – as it was often with me – sleeping in and then watching movies.

As the parent primarily responsible for Sofia’s transportation, I had quite a different view. There were a few times when the school attempted to stay open during a bad snow storm, and I had to pick up Sofia amid worsening conditions on a day when the school should have planned ahead.

It’s always a tough call, as school districts want to get in at least a half-day so that there won’t be makeups at the end of the year.

But extra buses on the road, with road crews trying to do their thing, make for an added mess.

Why mess with a messy situation?

Tom Wolf signed a bill (Senate Bill 440) this week that will allow the option for “cyber snow days.”

Translation: With computers, which have been around since Al Gore invented them, stay home and do your schoolwork – and still have a chance to be a kid in the snow.

“School districts need the added flexibility of ensuring their students’ continuity of education is not interrupted by the weather or any other unplanned school closure,” said State Sen. Kristen Phillips-Hill said in a statement.

Phillips-Hill, of York, was the sponsor of the bill that is open to all schools, public and private, for approved periods of three years.

To Phillips-Hill, we stand and applaud and say, “it about time.”

The following column ran in The Times Herald on July 15.

Searching for the Reconnection

Sonny

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — The year was 1911 – you know, when America was supposedly “great.”

A fire inside the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in the Greenwich Village section of New York City left 146 garment workers dead in a what remains not only Gotham’s worst industrial disaster but one of the worst in our nation’s not-so-great history.

Eyewitness accounts to this horrific event detail how dozens of the victims leaped to their deaths from the building’s eighth floor (it became increasingly obvious that the fire ladders of the time period couldn’t get to them).

The victims sometimes reportedly landed so hard that they left indentations on the sidewalk below.

There were a lot of commonalities between the workers. Most were young woman between the ages of 14 and 23. And almost all were Italian or Jewish, having recently arrived as first-generation immigrants during the height of immigration for both ethnic groups.

tff-sidewalk

The joint tragedy was not an aberration, as the American experience for Italian and Jewish citizens has always been connected, through good times and bad.

Scholars have even speculated that at least some of the crewmen traveling with Christopher Columbus were Conversos (Jews who converted to Christianity) escaping the persecution of the Spanish Inquisition.

But the true parallel American experience for both groups began when they immigrated here by the millions – through Ellis Island and other ports of entry – between the end of the Civil War and the start of World War I.

Both faced prejudices, based on fear and superstition, not unlike those now aimed at Hispanics and Muslims.

Italians and Jews debunked those myths by fighting, and dying, in the wars that made this country an international power and by achieving success in all professional fields of endeavor.

From living in neighboring city ghettos — and other cultural similarities — both groups had been allies since banding together for changes in working conditions in the wake of the tragedy of 1911.

From physical appearance to wearing our hearts on our sleeves to talking with our hands, we have been kindred ethnic spirits – not only on a large scale but more interpersonal ones.

For me, it was an ideal fit when coming to work in Norristown many moons ago.

I grew up with an Italian stepfather and, by extension, had a third wing of relatives – and cousins to play with – who were Italian. At school, a large number of my non-Jewish classmates were full or half-Italian.

I always said that if one room had all Jewish people in it and the other all Italians, I’d be at ease in either – although I’d probably have a better time, truth be told, in the Italian room.

After all, as Tony Soprano once put it, in his own “Tony” way, Italians are “Jews with better food.”

So why not opt for the room with the better food?

But something has going terribly wrong on my return trip to the buffet table.

ItalianStarofDavid

I would have to watch what I say, lest I not get a return invite – or worse.

We may have been born in America as conjoined twins, but politics have separated us.

The other day, while adding yet another person wanting to settle a political debate with a duel in the town square to my expanding Facebook blocked list, it struck me how many former paisans I have lost since the commencement of what I consider a cold Civil War in America.

And I’m really trying to find out why Jews generally go to the left and Italians to the right when in the political arena.

Ethnicity plays a vital role in elections, all the way up the ladder from local to state to national, almost as much as factors such as economic status and geography.

Yet, the correlation between ethnicity and political leanings is just not talked about – or seriously studied — as much as, say, skin color or blue-collar vs. white-collar.

With Jews, the 70-30 Democratic tendency has not wavered much for decades.

For Italian-Americans – once about 50-50 — it now sits at about 70-30 in the other direction.

And it leaves me perplexed.

The same people jumping from that burning building in 1911 have seen their ghosts land in different places almost 11 decades later.

Example: Even though your president (not mine) is from New York City, he got destroyed there in the 2016 election. The only borough he won was Staten Island, which has a large Italian-American voting contingent.

I just don’t get the disconnect.

The common explanation – “because we love our country” – is a nice try, but it doesn’t fly, sorry.

We love our country, too, but our hearts are broken right now.

And love is a prerequisite of a broken heart.

I honestly can’t say why more Italian-American hearts aren’t broken as well.

Some are, don’t get me wrong. I have close Italian friends who are even more liberal than I am (Bruce Springsteen is half-Italian, and has lost fans because of his liberal stances).

Nonetheless, a curiously high number remain staunchly loyal to your president (not mine).

I’d love to discuss it — without a threat of a shootout at high noon — over a dish of “better food.”

Maybe, one day, it will be possible again.

 

 

 

 

Every Day Is Father’s Day

MVP

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Only a few Father’s Days ago, I spent the occasion at an 8-hour dance recital just to watch Sofia perform for, maybe, a grand total of eight minutes.

I accepted it as my lot in life.

Sofia was my own personal Tiny Dancer, and I figured this was how it was going to be – waiting all day with a growling stomach, clinging to a bouquet of flowers while racing other dance parents for ideal seats.

At the time, she was the kid – “that kid” — in her first year of 8-U Rec softball that sometimes needed 10-12 pitches (from a coach) before she hit the ball four inches.

I braced myself to become a dance dad and not a sports dad, as she was more in her natural habitat in ballet shoes than spikes.

We fostered her overall creative side with piano lessons, art camps/classes, etc.

Softball was just something cute she did, usually with yours truly serving in some sort of coaching capacity, as she enjoyed being part of a team and accessorizing, via headbands and wristbands.

And it was all fine with me.

It would run its course and we would look back one day and laugh.

As long she did well in school and maintained “angel on earth” status with the Mount Rushmore of teachers she had in the early grades, all was good.

I could not have been more proud.

At least that is what I thought.

Guess where I spent this past Father’s Day?

I’ll make it easy.

It was not at a dance recital.

It was not at a piano recital, either.

We were in gritty Gloucester City, N.J. – literally in the shadow of one of the bridges — for a travel softball tournament.

And not as spectators – well, mama was a tense spectator while I was in the dugout as a low-on-the-totem-pole coach who keeps the scorebook.

Sofia was on the field.

For those of you not familiar with this world of travel tournament softball, the pace of the game puts it several notches above neighborhood Rec leagues.

Players have to audition for teams in mid-summer and, if they earn an invite, they practice year-round in indoor facilities.

I’m not going to say Sofia is a superstar at this level, because she is not – not yet, anyway – but she meets the commitment level needed for travel ball.

She played left field and batted ninth in both games Saturday. She made a nice running catch and lined a single in the first game, a 7-4 loss to the second-ranked team in South Jersey. That performance earned her a chance to be a game captain in the second game, a terse 7-7 tie in which she stole a base and scored a run after getting hit by a pitch (her specialty).

On Sunday, Father’s Day, she was moved up a spot in the batting order, but we were promptly eliminated, 10-0.

Still, in the midst of this early morning drubbing, it hit me as she rifled a throw from deep left field to the cutoff at shortstop, how much she has developed her softball skill set in such a short amount of time.

And she has done it her way.

Sofia still dances – just not at a school that holds recitals on Father’s Day (eye roll) – and we limit her ballet classes to one long night a week to allow for softball practice, schoolwork and her litany of other secondary activities (Girl Scouts, 4H, school choir, etc.)

In the spring, Sofia also played for her school’s softball team, starting every game at her preferred position, catcher, and was named as an All-Star at year’s end.

It was not uncommon for her to go right from a school game or practice to a workout with her travel team, Velocity.

I could take all the credit for not giving up on her, but the truth is that she never gave up on herself and is eternally coachable, meaning the arrow is still pointing way up.

And no, I have zero delusions that she will be one of those young women on TV playing for UCLA or Oklahoma in the College Softball World Series.

Sofia was never going to be dancing at Julliard, either.

She is what I said I always wanted, an all-around kid.

This is not to be confused with me thinking Sofia is perfect, because she is not. She is the princess of procrastination. She is not quite as compliant with authority at home as she is with teachers, coaches, dance instructors, etc.

And she is bit too addicted to social media.

But Sofia is a young lady of many deep passions.

Beyond softball and dance, she is turning into a mini-me with her love for music (I wish she’d let me show her how similar my bands are to hers, but I’m not giving up). She enjoys going to museums, art and historical, especially if they are about ancient Egypt.

Sofia will soon return to her beloved creative arts camp – well-prepared with a purple streak in her air — to indulge herself in all it has to offer (except sports, as the kids there are, uh, not too athletic).

As parents, all we can do is let our children engage with the world, and embrace their passions with both arms.

In her case, she might need three.

Sometimes, it’s her mother helping her rake in the overflow.

Sometimes, it’s me.

That’s just what fathers do.

It is my lot in life — a life where every day is Father’s Day.

No matter where I am spending it.

This column  first appeared in The Times Herald on June 23, 2019.

Celebrating A Life Well-Lived

Phil4

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — It was just the other morning that I glanced over my shoulder and told my dog Rex I’d walk him once I finished the arduous task of dressing in a suit (tying a tie is rocket science in Gordonville).

When there was no response – at all – I took a closer look to see if it registered with a pooch who comprehends English at a high school level.

Turns out, I wasn’t speaking to Rex.

I was promising to walk a black sweatshirt that I easily mistook for Rex, who is well-known for his inertia (also at a high school level).

The humor was not lost, and my first thought was that my Uncle Phil, a longtime veterinarian who loved a good joke almost as much as he did telling one, would particularly enjoy hearing that I briefly got my lazy black dog confused with a sweatshirt of the same color.

The only issue was that I could not tell Uncle Phil about it.

That morning, I was getting dressed for his funeral.

Uncle Phil had died a few days earlier at the age of 95.

While more reason to celebrate a life well-lived than to mourn, the world was left a lesser place unless we accept the challenge to live life the way Uncle Phil did.

I have learned in 54 years on the planet that people are not perfect, and that we all have to accept their good qualities with the not-so-good.

But, in my uncle’s case, I’m reminded of the old documentary-style television show, “In Search Of,” narrated by Leonard “Mr. Spock” Nimoy.

In this episode, the goal would be to search for Uncle Phil’s missing downside.

He was a rare jack of many trades (square dancing, ping-pong, playing bridge, golfing) who mastered them all with sheer joy and zero cockiness.

Even at his funeral service, I learned new things about a man I had known my whole life.

Example: While I knew he was a virtuoso piano player, I had no idea he plied his classically-trained chops in the famed Catskill Mountains before settling down with my late Aunt Miriam (my father’s sister) and becoming the Dr. Doolittle of South Jersey.

What I remember from my youth was that a family gathering wasn’t officially a party until Uncle Phil arrived, armed with new jokes and stories to tell.

He was always at the piano well in time to play “Happy Birthday” for whichever niece or nephew was being feted.

And there he would stay — save maybe a break to smoke his pipe — playing the role of the character depicted in Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.”

Phil3

Ironically, Joel also wrote a song called “Only The Good Die Young,” and there is no denying the truth behind the sentiment.

Uncle Phil lost a child — my cousin, Francine — at age 35 to Scleroderma. He kept vigil at her bedside and maintained a brave face for her sake.

It was not the first time he went through the drill.

He never left the side of his older child, Alan, who only narrowly survived a hit-and-run accident while riding a bike while in college.

With Francine, there would be no miracle. Her passing seemed surreal.

I remember entering the same Cherry Hill funeral home where his recent service was held, and being greeted by the overpowering sounds of wailing from Uncle Phil.

He was rightfully inconsolable the day Francine was laid to rest, but he somehow found light in the darkness and eventually reclaimed the same joys in life.

We are talking about someone who attended college – and vet school – at the forerunner of Auburn University in Alabama, a place where a Jewish kid with a thick Brooklyn accent would have trouble today, let alone in those days of black-and-white photos and mind sets.

But, knowing Uncle Phil, whose infectious laughter even oozed Brooklyn, you just know it was likely never an issue.

Phil2

In my flood of all positive memories, I go back to the first Thanksgiving we hosted at our new – and current – house in 2003.

We were so proud – and nervous.

I invited an old summer camp friend I hadn’t seen in about 20 years to stop by for a bit. It was Uncle Phil, more than anyone else, who went out of his way to make this old friend feel so welcome that he stayed for hours instead of minutes.

When Aunt Miriam passed away, Uncle Phil fulfilled her prophecy of getting a girlfriend.

He didn’t detach from Aunt Miriam’s side of the family, though. He just brought his companion, Marilyn, to events and carried on as our piano man until his fingers finally betrayed him.

Uncle Phil living to 95 was not by accident. While his kidney functioning got to the point where he needed dialysis three times a week, his spirit was not broken.

He made the most of it, planning out which classic music he was going to play through his iPad during dialysis.

This week’s funeral was more than just a tribute to someone who defied the axiom about only the good dying young.

The good vibrations came easier to Uncle Phil, I believe, because he saw the good in himself.

And there was plenty of it to see.

At the funeral, we were all charged with the task of keeping his memory alive by doing as he would have done.

Be the first to make a stranger feel welcome, conquer your own insecurities enough that you don’t project them onto others, and enjoy the complexities of simple pleasures.

For a sourpuss such as myself, it won’t be easy. But, I’m going to give it a whirl.

I challenge a lot of you, who surely know someone like Uncle Phil within your own personal orbit, to do the same.

The world will be a better place.

This column appeared in The Times Herald on June 2, 2019

Us And Them

Sopranos

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — The Brady Bunch or The Partridge Family?

Sounds innocuous enough, but in the alternate universe of nonsense that is Facebook, it sparked an argument that simulated how World War III might unfold.

And this one was not the work of Russian bots.

It was just another sign of the rapid decline of Western Civilization.

Do I get involved?

Guilty as charged.

For starters, blatant grammar errors – “your” instead of “you’re,” or “there” instead of “their” – will turn me rabid on someone already taking the opposing opinion (The Partridge Family, in this case).

Yeah, I take the bait faster than a trout in a pre-stocked lake on the first day of fishing season.

If faced with some of the following, you would, too:

Star Trek or Star Wars?

How do I say this nicely, without coming right out and saying it? If I’m sharing the same oxygen as anyone who prefers Star Wars, I need Scotty to beam me up ASAP. There is no intelligent life down here. And, if you don’t get that reference, there is little hope. Go stick your lightsaber in a dark place.

Lou’s or Eve’s?

This is the ongoing debate for the best Zep in Norristown, the “home” to the sandwich that can actually be found in many other locales, but under other names.

With all due respect to Lou’s, which I admit to having not graced in years – and, when I did, I got that look from the regulars that Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei got from the locals in “My Cousin Vinny” – I have to go with Eve’s here.

One more plus that Eve’s has going for it is that it is one of the few suburban joints that has an edible cheese steak.

Elmwood Park Zoo or Philadelphia Zoo?

Elmwood Park by a mile.

Main reason? The miles.

There is also another reason. I have never heard a traffic report where it wasn’t nearly impossible to get to the Philadelphia Zoo. I don’t care if they have Bigfoot or Loch Ness Monster in captivity, it’s just not worth it.

Schuylkill Expressway or Route 422?

Neither, as I avoid both like the plague (see above).

Never ever?

Never ever.

Eagles games?

Kelly Drive, or weave through the city.

Limerick outlets or a baseball game in Reading?

Backroads.

Like I said, never ever.

McDonald’s or Wendy’s?

I used to keep McDonald’s in this conversation because of its semi-edible breakfasts, but there seems to be a conspiracy afoot to screw up every drive-thru order.

I’m working on 11 times in a row, and I’m not looking to make it 12.

Once we get past breakfast time, forget about it.

The only place with an edible burger is Wendy’s.

As for other fast food joints, Burger King does not float my bloat. We have to watch some of the others around because they cook their fries in peanut oil, and Sofia is allergic to nuts.

I am going through a bit of a Taco Bell resurgence, but I know I’m setting myself up for a rude awakening.

Chic-Fil-A? Even if the food floated my boat, which it doesn’t, the franchise joins Mel Gibson on boycott list.

The reasons? Look it up. I’m not alone.

Dogs or Cats?

We have a dog (Rex), three cats (Hank, Licorice and Hershey) and a bunny with floppy ears (Buttons). If it has four legs and a tail, they are welcome here.

That said, while cats are cool to have around a house, dogs make a house a home.

Walking or Running?

Because of Rex, I get my walking in that way, and it is fine with me.

Why run when you can walk? Why stand when you can sit down, and why sit down when you can recline?

Game of Thrones or The Sopranos?

Well, let’s put it this way, The Sopranos remains my favorite show of all-time. I still watch it on a continual loop, and it is so nuanced that I still pick up on different twists.

As a show, it set the bar for all to follow – from cable networks to Netflix and other formats – and that was not by accident.

I did watch the first season of Game of Thrones when it originally aired and found it compelling, considering the whole fantasy genre is not my plate of pasta with homemade meatballs.

When Ned Stark was beheaded, it had impact. The only reason I didn’t keep up with the show was because the subsequent season rolled around with both the Flyers and Sixers making 2012 playoff runs and, well, a guy has to have priorities.

With the better half ceding to water-cooler peer pressure at work, we endeavored to go back to the beginning and get caught up, via the binge.

She is still binging, and is somewhere into Season 4 or 5.

I barely made it into a few episodes of Season 3, and this was after finding Season 1 just as compelling as the first time around.

Amazing how the show gained in popularity the sillier, and more violent, it became – almost to the point of becoming a high-budget parody of Season 1.

Actually, it’s not amazing at all. It’s reflective of the sadistic culture in which we live, where we are numb to mad kings and tragic violence.

Give me the bell bottoms and min-skirts of The Brady Bunch any day of the week.

This column originally appeared in The Times Herald on May 26, 2019.

Let Me Tell Your Story

StoryTelling2

By GORDON GLANTZ

“Our lives are to be used and thus to be lived as fully as possible, and truly it seems that we are never so alive as when we concern ourselves with other people.”

– Harry Chapin

GORDONVILLE — I hit a T intersection this week.

And it turned out to be the intersection of Truth.

To the left – my usual way to turn – I had the Silly Putty that is the daily folly of your president (not mine) and more mass shootings du jour.

To the right – the path of least resistance (i.e. decrying political correctness) — there were the likes Facebook banning this and that but not that or this, and the slippery slope we are now skiing down at warp speed.

I also had the U-Turn — Mother’s Day. I was already off and running with a list of all-time greatest movie moms that would have left me on life support (i.e. would have nearly killed me to include moms from movies I otherwise loathe – “The Sound of Music” and “Forest Gump.).

Instead, I decided to carve out a new path – and plow straight ahead – by hanging out a shingle in the Town Square.

It reads: Let me tell your stories.

This epiphany happened after I delivered a few extra copies of The Times Herald from a few Sundays back to the Plymouth Meeting home of Nick DiDomenico, the nearly 100-year-old World War II veteran featured in last Sunday’s paper.

DiDomenico thanked me – up and down and inside and out – for telling his personal story of survival, which I can’t believe went untold when it was right under our noses all these years.

I found myself thanking him back.

Why? Because I was truly grateful to have the chance to tell it.

Writers write, and story tellers tell stories. I may not be able to do a lot of things well – just ask my wife – but I have those skills down cold.

Telling stories can be a tricky business, though. I have been at it long enough to know that they need to be told in not only the right place and time, but in the right context.

What struck me about my conversation with DiDomenico, who still has a handshake that could break your fingers, was that his fascinating story of survival in the South Pacific was one he really didn’t have much interest in telling when his train pulled back into town after his tour of duty.

At the time, he was just grateful to be home, and to go on with his life.

But that was in 1946, when he came home after being an atomic bomb away from having to go in with a backpack and bayonet in hand and fight the Japanese on their turf.

Now a widower of a more than three decades, and about to become a centenarian, he felt a sudden need to tell his story. There was a sense of satisfaction that it had be done.

As we chatted, while waiting for his Meals on Wheels to arrive, you could sense a burden had lifted off his chest.

He was still answering phone calls on his throwback phone with a “What do you want?” instead of “hello,” but had more of a sense of humor about it.

At nearly 100 – there will be a celebration at the Greater Plymouth Community Center when it becomes official in August – it was almost like he was a new man.

At 54, so was I.

Like the lead character in the 1941 film “Sullivan’s Travels,” who realizes he was put on earth to make comedy movies, it affirmed my long-held suspicion about what I was put on earth to do.

Whether it is songs or human interest features, my purpose is to tell stories.

Your stories.

You need not be anyone of major importance – or self-importance — to have your story told.

I have no real interest in the tales of kings and queens, let alone those who think they are via some bizarre birthright.

As we find out from DiDomenico, the most compelling stories come from people who don’t think their stories are worth telling.

Well, guess what? They are.

If DiDomenico’s story slipped through the cracks for so many years, it makes me wonder how many more are out there.

We may have people in our community who fought for Civil Rights, valiantly served in the Vietnam War (or protested against it at equal risk and bravery) or countless other compelling stories.

If you are not sure, let me decide.

If you are not one to toot your own horn, or if you are reading this and know of someone with an intriguing story to be told, you know where I am.

At the intersection of Truth.

This column originally ran in The Times Herald on May 12.