My Corner, Your Corner: Good memories of the smell of smoke and fish

My Corner, Your Corner - Tony Callaio

Last week, I talked about volunteerism and how important it is to members of the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce Women’s Network. This week, it’s the men’s turn.

The 34th Annual Palm Sunday Smoker sponsored by the St. Joseph Marello Parish Holy Name Society was held March 13 at parish hall on William Street in Pittston. This year, Bishop Joseph Bambera of the Scranton Diocese talked about volunteerism. It was the first time I heard the bishop speak and I was delighted to hear his message.

When I arrived at the hall, I had the chance to get a photo of Barbera with fellow clergy. Afterwards, I wished him a happy birthday, as his birthday is March 21. He looked a bit puzzled and thanked me.

Before dinner began, I approached the bishop. I can’t really describe the look on his face, but I’m sure he was thinking, “Oh no, now what?”

I wanted to assure him I was not a stalker — I merely knew his birthday from a previous assignment. I detected a sigh of relief. We laughed about it and carried on our conversation.

The Holy Name Society’s annual event is different now. Back in the day, the men in the crowd (and yes, it’s a men-only event) actually smoked. Thank goodness that doesn’t happen these days.

My dad would attend smokers and come home smelling like a cigar shop. I can’t remember him ever smoking cigarettes, but occasionally he’d “smoke” a cigar. He never inhaled, but I guess he thought he looked pretty cool puffing away on a fat cigar.

Even without the smoking, it was great to see so many local men enjoying themselves with family and friends at an age-old tradition.

Smell the fish

I got to witness the stocking of a lake this past week.

I had a photo assignment to shoot the annual fish stocking at Frances Slocum State Park. It was amazing to see so many enthusiasts at the event — it was like Christmas to them.

Many of the anglers took their sons or grandsons to the event. There was hardly a soul waiting when I arrived at 11:30 a.m. but by the time the state Fish and Boat Commission trucks pulled up, there were at least 20 people in attendance.

The first of two trucks backed up to the lake and parked sideways so the fish could be spilled out of a large hose into the lake. Two volunteers waited to help unload the fish. One was Michael Vermack, formerly of Avoca, who now lives in Taylor and dons his waders each year to offer a helping hand to the guys from the commission.

Mike knew exactly when and where things were going to happen. Since it was my very first fish release, it was good to have him close by.

I could tell how excited Mike was for this to happen. He’s thrilled to have winter behind us to get started on warmer activities like boat fishing.

I’m not a fisherman or hunter and I don’t really get it, but that’s OK. Everyone should have a hobby in life, something to get them up in the morning and have something to look forward to.

As the 2,400 fish were released, I asked the driver and Fish and Boat Commission worker, Brian McKinley, if I could get on top of the truck to which he responded, “Are you over the age of 14?”

“Yes,” I said. “I have socks that are over 14 years old.”

Happy spring, everyone!

Quote of the week

“To grow mature is to separate more distinctly, to connect more closely.” – Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Austrian poet.

Thought of the week

“A good laugh and a good cry both cleanse the mind.” – Author unknown.

Bumper sticker

“Burnt bridges are hard to cross.” – Author unknown.

My Corner, Your Corner

Tony Callaio

Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at

Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at

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