My corner, your corner: It was a pretty full week for me

My corner, - your corner - Tony Callaio
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Labor Day weekend was pretty full for me. I got swept up in the emotions of the Aretha Franklin and Sen. John McCain funerals, covered the Dupont Party in the Park and the Pittston High School Class of 1968 50th anniversary reunion at Fox Hill Country Club.

Aretha

When I was growing up, the R&B wave was huge with artists like Al Green, James Brown, Marvin Gaye and groups like The Four Tops, The Spinners, The O’Jays, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Diana Ross & the Supremes and my all-time favorite, The Queen of Soul – Aretha.

Aretha was an artist where one name was all she needed like Frank and Cher. She was an amazing singer and could take another artist’s song and re-record it, making it her own.

As the Queen of Soul, she had a royal funeral fitted for a queen. She is entombed in a 24-karat plated casket; she wore multiple outfits for several public viewings and her funeral service was a crazy 10-hour extravaganza, featuring tons of personalities, as well as performances by some of the biggest recording starts.

Aretha was a PK – a preacher’s kid and, like Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, Katy Perry and many more, started singing in church, more precisely at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit where her father served as minister.

She had hit after hit with songs such as “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “Think,” “Say a Little Prayer” and one of her biggest hits, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”

A few years ago, the great Luciano Pavarotti, who ironically died of pancreatic cancer like Aretha, was to perform his signature song, “Nessun dorma” at the Grammy Awards in 1998 when he took ill. Aretha stepped in and, instead of singing one of her own songs, she sang “Nessun dorma” and nailed it. It was a chilling performance.

Aretha may be gone, but her music will live on forever.

McCain

Whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat or anything in between, you either watched the John McCain funeral on television or saw excerpts of the many eulogies given in his honor. The one thing about knowing you’re dying is you can plan your entire funeral and McCain did just that, including asking Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush to speak.

Love him or hate him, you had to admire John McCain. He was a patriot, war hero, congressman, senator and almost the president of the United States. His lifelong achievement of serving this country, both militarily and politically, was quite extraordinary.

McCain was old school in his political approach — approach that is slowly disappearing. In his day, the right and the left would leave apolitics on the Senate or House floor and, at the end of the day, everyone was friends. Today, the right and left can’t even be seen with or talk to each other without getting chastised by their own party.

One thing about McCain — he didn’t always vote with party lines; he voted his conscience and that’s admirable.

He, too, will be missed and I thank him for his service to our country.

Writing assignments

My job is interesting. One minute I could be writing covering children making volcanoes in school to covering the president. Last weekend, I covered the Pittston Area Class of ’68 50th anniversary reunion reunion. This class had the most successful sports programs in a school year in the history of the district with football, basketball and baseball championships and even a football player turned golfer who captured the district medal.

It was interesting to walk about the banquet hall to hear all the success stories. One woman is a world-class heart surgeon and another woman climbed the heights of the corporate ladder.

Classmate Charlie Turco took part on many of those championship teams, became a teacher and eventually athletic director of the school he starred at and loved.

Sal Licata, who was the senior class president and, to this day, still wears that hat by organizing a successful reunion. Many times, class officers are nowhere to be found after graduation to help with reunions.

Party in the Park in Dupont has been happening for about 10 years and our buddy Bob Price is heavily involved in the Dupont Crime Watch and the Dupont Lions Club who both sponsored the event, along with a 5K race.

Anything you can do to get a community together is a big thing. I’ve written about it before since I grew up in a town that had several summer bazaars, church picnics, pie and ice cream socials and, of course, the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Hats off to the borough of Dupont for keeping the community and its children in the forefront.

Play ball

I shot the first playoff game of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders bid to become the International Division champs Wednesday evening. It was a hot, muggy night and I was shocked to see the official attendance number at 1,491. That’s pretty awful for a playoff run.

I asked one of the RailRiders players about why the low attendance. His answer: “I dunno; I guess they didn’t get the memo.” Good luck to the home team.

Quote of the week

“I don’t need music, lobster or wine whenever your eyes look into mine; the things I long for are simple and few: a cup of coffee, a sandwich – and you!” – Billy Rose, American composer

Thought of the week

“In a mad world, only the mad are sane.” – Akira Kurosawa, Japanese film director

Bumper sticker

“Art is man’s nature; nature is God’s art.” – Philip James Bailey, English poet

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My corner,

your corner

Tony Callaio