My Corner, Your Corner: Fondly remembering John Lombardo and Lenny Insalaco

My Corner, - Your Corner - Tony Callaio

It’s hard to believe we lost Lenny Insalaco and John Lombardo 25 years ago.

John was 25 years old and Lenny just 20 when they succumbed while responding to a blazing inferno on Main. Street, Pittston on March 15, 1993. John served with Pittston’s fire company while Lenny with West Pittston, both volunteers.

These brave souls did what they were trained to do and, as all firefighters know, as safe as you can be or think you are, tragedy could strike at any minute.

John and Lenny were inside the structure when the floor below their feet collapsed, sending them downward with debris and fire falling on top of them.

Looking back, I can recall how still our community was. It was a dark time not only for the Lombardo and Insalaco families, but for the entire community. The incident brought both sides of the river together we were all suffering.

To mark the occasion, a memorial monument was erected within visual sight of the blaze that took their lives.

Later, the name of the Water Street Bridge was changed to the Firefighters’ Memorial Bridge to honor not only John and Lenny, but all firefighters.

We live in a community, east and west, where we pretty much all know each other in one way or another and, when tragedy hits like it did on that fateful night, we unite and come to the aid of those affected.

Both communities gathered once again this past Thursday to mark the anniversary of that fateful day in 1993 by laying a wreath at the monument on Kennedy Blvd.

Local firefighters and members of the community joined the Insalaco and Lombardo families to honor Lenny and John at a memorial Mass at St. John the Evangelist.

A bagpiper and drummer played at both the wreath-laying ceremony and the church service. There’s something about bagpipes at a funeral or memorial service that makes them so special.

Inscribed on the monument next to the Firefighters’ Memorial Bridge says, “Lest We Forget.” There isn’t a time when I drive by that, I don’ think of the Lombardo and Insalaco families.

No parent should ever have to lose a child, but John and Lenny signed up to serve our communities and that they did.

You can never take the sorrow or pain away from that dark day, but I hope both families feel pride for their boys doing what they loved to do.

Today, John would be 50 years old and Lenny 45. No doubt, they would still be laying their lives on the line with every fire call that came in for the people and communities they serve.

Lest we forget? Never.


Yep, I said it.

I regret it now but I did and it’s in black and white.

A few months ago in my Dec. 17 column, I opened by saying, “No denying, the winter season has begun and I’m thinking it’s going to be a snowy season. How do I know this; it’s just a gut instinct.”

I surrender!

I know what you are all thinking because I’m thinking the same thing — enough of winter, cold temperatures and three consecutive weeks of nor’easters with another one possibly coming this Tuesday.

March is a transitional month — some years it’s great and other years, well, not so much. I was hoping things would change by now.

Last year, we had that enormous storm that set everyone back for days. My street wasn’t plowed clear for three days.

Spring sports were set off schedule with snow-filled fields that turned into soggy, muddy turf.

I’m ready for spring in a big way. Are you?


Speaking of spring, that’s the time of year we push our clocks forward an hour. I look forward to that because I love daylight later in the day, but the first week or so takes a toll on me as I adjust.

There is a movement going on where daylight savings (DST) time would be the permanent and official time. Florida is currently seeking to make DST permanent.

I’ve always wished we had DST all year round simply because I detest it getting dark by 4:30 p.m. in December. But then again, I’m the same guy who wishes the longest day of the year, June 21, would be July 21.

Out of 193 United Nations recognized countries, only 70 use DST. I was surprised to read that and didn’t think we, as a world, were all over the place with time.

As a matter of fact, not all clocks in the world are in sync, For example, Greenwich, England time is the official starting point for world clocks. If it’s midnight in Greenwich, it’s 7 p.m. on the east coast.

In Kathmandu, Napal, there is no time zone nor do they utilize DST, nor does their clock sync with the rest of the world at the top of an hour. That’s pretty strange. For example, when it’s noon here, it’s 9:45 p.m. there.

Regardless of the time, DST or not, I’m ready for spring!

Quote of the week

“To refrain from imitation is the best revenge.” – Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor

Thought of the week

“I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward.” – David Livingstone, Scottish explorer

Bumper sticker

“Give the people not hell, but hope and courage.” – John Murray, American pioneer minister

My Corner,

Your Corner

Tony Callaio