It is 11 days and counting until Greater Pittston’s largest extravaganza takes place.
The 33rd Annual Pittston Tomato Festival will open at 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, with an opening ceremony at 6 p.m.
Entertainment act Windfall takes the stage at 6:30 p.m.
The Tomato Festival is always the most-anticipated event in Greater Pittston, and for all the planning, the four days fly by.
Every year, you see the same faces, the same food vendors and kiddie rides – but that is OK. Yes, each year, there is always something a little different that adds to the festival, but seeing old faces and eating some of the great food by returning vendors are things to look forward to.
Can you smell the fantastic aromas that permeate around the grounds from the food vendors? I think I gain five pounds just walking around the upper tier, smelling all the food.
What is the worst part of the festival? The only thing I can think of is that it signifies the end of summer, and schools will be back in session soon after it’s over.
Remembering a legend
Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of the death of a comic icon who has ties to our area.
Lenny Bruce died Aug. 3 of a drug-related incident in Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California. He was just 38 years old.
It’s well-documented that Lenny’s sole heir, daughter Kitty, has lived in Greater Pittston for many years. Kitty has come to love this area and with many friends and relatives here, she’s deeply rooted.
With the advent of the anniversary of his death, the survivors of three legendary comedians — Lenny, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin — recently united to speak about their famous fathers. Kelly Carlin, Rain Pryor and Kitty were guests at the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, better known as Lucy Fest, in Lucy’s hometown of Jamestown, N.Y., on Aug. 5.
Kitty has three main focuses in her life — keeping the memory of her late father alive, helping anyone with addiction as much as possible, and keeping herself healthy.
Lenny was the first comic to challenge the Freedom of Speech amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He was arrested numerous times during his act for using foul language. He challenged authorities in every city he played. More times than not, especially in the later stages of his career, police officers were present when he took the stage. The minute he said something off-key or cursed, they would haul him away.
He was an inspiration to many comedians, including the late Sam Kinison, who incidentally was discovered by Kitty’s grandmother and Lenny’s mother, Sally Marr. She had a big influence on her son’s career.
Kitty has done so much to keep her father’s memory alive that she created Lenny’s House, a safe haven for women dealing with addiction to go after their stint in rehab. The house was located in Pittston. The program no longer exists, but the Lenny’s House Foundation is still going strong through Kitty’s hard work and dedication.
In recent years, Kitty donated much of Lenny’s personal belongings and artifacts to Brandeis University, where they are painstakingly logging all of Lenny’s notes, audiotapes, TV appearances and even clothing for historical purposes.
I’ve known Kitty for many years now and when we talk about her father, it’s not about how famous he was (and still is), or what TV shows he appeared on, or even his place in history. We talk about Lenny, her dad.
Because this is a notable year for Lenny, Kitty has been very busy working on projects to preserve her father’s legacy. Her father’s autobiography, “How to Talk Dirty and Influence People,” has been re-released and she has been participating in many interviews regarding her dad.
What Kitty is doing is what any proud child would do in honor of his or her parent, letting everyone know what he meant to her and the world.
I wish I was able to meet Lenny and Kitty’s mother Honey. I definitely would have loved to meet Grandma Sally.
The world lost a comic genius and a pioneer for the rights of the First Amendment 50 years ago, but most importantly, Kitty lost the most precious thing in her life — her daddy.
Quote of the week
“I would rather trust a woman’s instinct than a man’s reason.” – Stanley Baldwin, former British prime minister.
Thought of the week
“Hate and mistrust are the children of blindness.” – William Watson, English poet.
“Every man’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s fingers.” – Hans Christian Anderson, Danish author.
Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.