Wilkes-Barre, PA – As we hit the end of another week where the Yankees are in first place, I am cleaning out the mental closet for stuff to post. Surely you all don’t want to talk baseball (except Yankee Joe.. and he and I will discuss in that cold shower, which of course I’ll jump in after Levine’s hot tub) and it’s really too early to get too crazy about football. (Especially for me as my team is the Broncos. Check please!)
And then, as I got off the phone with my crazy, eighty-four year old Aunt Selma (lifelong Wilkes-Barre resident), it hit me. The likes of Ian Kennedy, Cody Ransom and Shelly Duncan (Angry Ward’s favorite), among others are all doing stints in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. (By the way, the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees are the 2008 Governor’s Cup Champs – which is the International League Championship– minor league’s World Series equivalent. And, just like their big baseball brothers, they are on the road to the championship for this year as well.)
But let’s get back to talking about a Minor League team that ISN’T this year’s Mets. The Yankee’s Triple-A team came to town in 2006 as the ‘Red Barons’ after hopping around the country like a hobo on a box-car. Once the MLB Yankees cut ties with the Columbus Clippers, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees were born. Most people don’t know too much about Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but let me tell ya, Scranton is a REAL TOWN, not just a fictitious one as seen in the U.S. version of ‘The Office.’ The types of Scranton residents ‘The Office’ portrays are NOT an exaggeration either.
And lucky for you, I can also tell you other great nuggets about Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as this is where the Cookie’s mama heralded from. Yes, when my mom was a gal of seventeen, she boarded a Greyhound bus to NYC to enroll in a nursing school that sounded worse that made military school sound like a slumber party. Then, as if the road between Wilkes-Barre and NYC were not scorched earth enough, this daughter of Orthodox Jews took up with a Puerto Rican…and MARRIED him.
What does this all mean for this Friday’s MTM post? Aside from being a female equivalent of ‘Welcome Back Kotter’s’ Juan Epstein and having NO desire to partake in a fish taco (no matter how enticing West Coast Craig or Clancy make them sound), it means I can hip you to some Scranton/Wilkes-Barre wisdom that would do some Major League Baseball players and brass some good. Heck…it might even help you out in a pinch.
Uncle Miltie: Yes. I had an Uncle Miltie and he was the greatest. I’ve got fond memories of him taking me and my brother to see the James Bond flick ‘Moonraker,’ and embarrassing us by snoring LOUDLY through it.
He also wore those horrible, polyester, ’70’s finest suits and capped it off with (what was then) a very fine, very expensive, but very OBVIOUS toupee. When my family spent nights in their Wilkes-Barre home, I remember waking up early and sometimes seeing my Uncle Milty’s toupee parked on a stryofoam head in his and my Aunt’s bedroom…a little spooky. Also prevalent in my memories, his kindness and how he always made my mom laugh. I was too young to appreciate the humor, but one bit of wit lives on. See, Uncle Miltie owned a jewelry store. And once a woman came in looking for a gift for her young niece. She asked my Uncle Miltie, ‘What do I get for a little girl?,’ to which Uncle Milty replied ‘A little boy.’ Priceless.
My Mom: As kids, my Mom always told us to ‘Hurry On!’ I always thought this made sense, but apparently it doesn’t. It was really her way of telling us to ‘Hurry UP.’ I guess it’s some Wilkes-Barre mash of ‘come on’ and ‘hurry up.’ (Not surprising in a town where the grocery store labeled avocados as a ‘New and Exotic’ fruit item… a Mango.) There’s no shortage of MLB Players who need to ‘Hurry on.’ For instance… Prince Fielder and Jason Varitek. Looks like their respective horses are nearly glue. And of course, Manny needs to ‘hurry on,’ both on offense and defense. Then again, maybe not as it scares us as a sign of the apocalypse, as it did when he stole second base as a new Dodger. (And by the way, I will from hereon out be referring to Manny Ramirez as just Manny. Kinda like Madonna, but with Predator hair.)
Aunt Selma: She’s the widow of my late Uncle Milty. And she’s an octogenarian with some good wisdom to impart that’s right up there with Yogi Berra’s wise words. She’s got a few on the hit parade here.
Once Aunt Selma told me a story about dating some guy who was way younger than she (a young 77 to her 84). She told me how she got all dolled up, hair done, dressed to the nines, and they went out for a nice dinner. Of course, it was raining cats and dogs. In her words, she said ‘Oy. The weather was AWFUL. It was a great night for a murder.‘
Speaking of MURDER, while we all figured murder for Johan (‘No jury would convict him), we’ve now got to revise after Johan just decided to take to murdering his own elbow to get out of the Mets 2009 Season of Dread. Put up the entire Boston Red Sox team for murder this year. They’ll kill Wagner after he kills their chances in the post. And Theo will be next on the chopping block. Mark my words.
Bubbie (or Bubbe) is the Yiddish word for Grandmother. My older brother called her ‘Bubbie Soup,’ because whenever we went to her house, she was always making soup or some other worldly baked good. Her chicken soup was was good, it should be patented as a Swine Flu vaccination. Going along the lines of soup, one of my FAVORITE sayings she put into rotation was ‘For every pot, there’s a lid.’ And it seems to hold true for both love and baseball. Unfortunately, Johan Santana is a lid that appears not to have found the correct pot, Smoltz is in need of a really old pot, and.. I am guessing the Mets would LOVE to get out of their contract of that ill-fitting and rusty Jose Reyes lid.
And finally, a random Wilkes Barre Term: ‘Outten the lights.’ Translation: Shut the lights. Just another one of those WEIRD sayings. I guess it dates back to days when lights were gas lamps. Go figure. Anyway, Bud Selig shoulda told the Mets to ‘outten the lights’ on their season awhile back. As in…. right around the All-Star Break.
Some other things you should know about Wilkes-Barre, ‘the square’ was actually a square (maybe it still is.. i have no clue) and was the center of this booming metropolis. They’ve got a big theater called ‘The Kirby,’ and I think Cher and a hockey team plays there (though not together). And, when my mom went back there for her 50th High School reunion last summer, lots of people seemed to think that Sarah Palin was a great VP pick. That, right there will tell ya something.
And that’s all for me on this Friday before a holiday weekend. Now go out, go forth and be Wilkes-Barre witty and wise for the weekend!