Wednesday, October 31, 2007


When I was growing up we always had Nanticoke's own easy listening station, WNAK, playing in the house. My parents were children of the 1930's, and came from somewhere in-between "The Greatest Generation" that fought World War II and the "Happy Days" generation of sock hops and submarine races. Technically, I believe they fell into what was called the "Silent Generation" - overshadowed by those who came before them, eclipsed by the Baby Boomers who came after them, conformist, moderately conservative, moderately progressive. Their music was not the rock'n'roll of Elvis and Chuck Berry, but was something smoother, mellower, gentler.

WNAK catered to their tastes, playing a mix of songs from their childhood by performers like The Andrews Sisters, The Mills Brothers, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra, songs by their contemporaries such as Jim Reeves, Englebert Humperdinck, and Robert Goulet, Polkas (always popular in this Polish-dominated area), and hymns (also popular in a primarily Roman Catholic area), along with softer stuff by more modern artists like Elvis, Ray Charles, Jim Croce, Anne Murray, The Carpenters, and The Captain & Tennille. Each day would be punctuated by the ultra-conservative editorials of station owner Bob Nielson and pieces by Paul Harvey and "This Is Pennsylvania" by Peter C. Wambach (featuring the line "It's a beautiful day in Pennsylvania,"), even "Old-time radio dramas" - actually funny little 30-second melodramatic commercials for C.W. Schultz and Sons Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning. Each broadcasting day would end with Jim Reeves' version of "Night Watch":

Bright stars are watching the world as it sleeps
Shepherds watch over the little white sheep
The lighthouse is shining for ships far at sea
As God keeps the night watch for you and for me.

So sleep, sleep in peace and rest
Don't be afraid of the darkness
All's well for over the land and the sea
God's keeping the night watch for you and for me.*

I learned a lot of older songs back then, while other kids my age were growing up listening to The Who and The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. I would learn those songs, too, but later, as my older sister entered her teen years and blasted them from her stereo. (Later, during her college years, she would work as a DJ at WNAK for a while.) I think my childhood is richer for this layer of musical experience that many of my contemporaries, whose parents were sometimes ten to fifteen years younger than my own, never got to have.

Over time the artists I heard on WNAK have died off. Some, like Jim Reeves, died before I was born; others died when I was young. A few, like Englebert Humperdinck, are still alive and well, touring and performing.

WNAK itself has died, in a sense. Years ago Bob Nielson sold it to a corporation, which gradually morphed the station into a soft rock/easy listening format intended to appeal to the under-70 crowd. A while back Bob Nielsen died. A few weeks ago WNAK changed formats again, now into a Spanish easy listening station. It calls its format "Caliente", but the times I have listened to it - well, without the lyrics, you wouldn't know the music was any different; even polka and mariachi songs are fairly interchangeable.

Now another artist I learned to love from WNAK has passed away. Two days ago I learned that Robert Goulet was gravely ill and in need of a lung transplant. Yesterday he died. Tragically, the world has lost one of its great voices - and a pretty fair actor, too. He will be missed.

*Hearing this song on a Sunday evening was always one of the saddest experiences of my childhood, because it meant that the weekend was ending, and it was time to start thinking about whatever homework I might have been assigned on Friday.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Nanticoke City-Wide Yard Sale Part 2, Saturday October 6

Nanticoke will be having another citywide Yard Sale this Saturday, October 6 from 9 AM to 3 PM. Check out the (very spiffy) Citywide Yard Sale webpage on the official City of Nanticoke website. Here is the text of that page:

The Civic Pride Committee is planning another citywide yard sale for fall, but this one has a twist — it’s also a treasure hunt.

Sharpen that brain of yours and you might be $25 richer during the yard sale, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 6.

Also, the Salvation Army will have a truck by the old Nanticoke/West Nanticoke bridge where the Street Department used to be to take your useable or recyclable items from 3pm to 5pm that day.

Committee member J.D. Verazin, who brainstormed the idea, said that it will feature clues to street names in the town. For example: Where do people wear 10-gallon hats and pointy boots? Where do baseball players play?

If you figured “west” and “green,” then you’d be one step closer. Now you just have to visit a yard sale on West Green Street, and if you purchase an item that’s marked, you win one of six $25 prizes.

“Every year we’ll be coming up with something new like this treasure hunt to keep it exciting,” Verazin said. “The event keeps growing from last year.”

The first citywide yard sale was held during one weekend last summer, and the second was held in the beginning of this summer. Verazin said the committee decided to split the single event into one summer and one fall event. For this year’s summer event, Verazin said, about 280 residents signed up.

“It was great for Nanticoke,” he said. “We had people walking around 2 hours before the yard sale was scheduled to begin.”

This year Verazin is expecting a higher number of people to sign up for the fall and is asking residents of the Honey Pot and Hanover sections to call 735-2800 to register for October’s event. The address of everyone who registers will be printed onto a map that will be offered at Patriot Park on Oct. 6.

“This event brings a lot of people into Nanticoke,” Verazin said. “People from as far as Shickshinny were here, and it was great for local businesses.”

Larry Karnes, owner of Larry’s Pizzeria on the corner of Church and College streets, said tables were set in the back parking lot to satisfy the customers during this summer’s sale.

“We were selling anything that we had ready and it was going,” Karnes said. “People were walking around town hours before (the yard sale) started.”

And for residents participating in the sale, Verazin said it’s a perfect opportunity to lose the extra summer stuff and get ready for winter.

“It’s also great for the extra cash,” he said. “One lady made $350 selling only dollar items, so that tells you something.”

Karnes said he’s going to prepare more for October’s event, due to running low on everything during the summer sale. He recommends other businesses also better prepare.

“This is a great impact on Nanticoke,” Karnes said, who’s also a city fire officer. “I’ve never seen so many positive people come through Nanticoke on one day.”

Local merchants are encouraged to plan special promotions or sidewalk sales to coincide with the event.

Unfortunately, I will be working that day, so some other enterprising soul will have to take the initiative to sell soda and water to thirsty yard sale shoppers. Come to Nanticoke this Saturday and see what everyone has to offer!