When I heard I was going to be included in the book “Legendary Locals of Latrobe,” I began to hope the book would be just three pages long.
One page for Arnold Palmer. One page for Fred Rogers.
And one page for me.
I thought I could wear the book around my neck and flash it whenever I wanted to cut in line at the Latrobe Family Cinema or get a free oil change at Finesse Auto.
Those are the kinds of perks I imagine would go hand-in-hand with being a legendary local.
Author Joe Comm called me about a year ago and said I deserved inclusion. I was at first confused because I never considered myself either legendary or local.
My wife and I have only lived here 22 years. To many true locals, that just doesn’t cut it. Latrobe is in many ways like one of those remote New England islands where if you can’t trace your ancestry back to the Pilgrims you’ll never really fit in.
True locals need to harbor ancient grudges against old grade school classmates and endure that awkward weekly civility in the dairy aisle at the Shop ’n’ Save when you pass the girl you used to boink out behind the park band shell that summer before you both sobered up.
I guess I made the “local” cut because my old man used to come to Steeler training camp at St. Vincent for so many dismal pre-glory years I got grandfathered in.
Being legendary is even dicier.
True, I have some local renown because of my book and this blog.
I’m very proud of the blog. I’m always thrilled whenever anyone comes up and says they love my blog.
I think that’s because so many more never do.
If some people can love the blog so much how can so many others be so indifferent to its existence? It’s a puzzle.
It doesn’t matter. The blog will persist. The feedback I get over it from those who do read it — thank you! — is more nourishing than any paycheck. And that’s good because the blog’s never once earned what any real working man or woman would consider a real paycheck.
Does my book make me legendary? Not yet. Maybe one day.
But I have a long way to go before anything I do measures up to David Evans Strickler who in 1904 invented the first banana split; or Boniface Wimmer, founder of St. Vincent Archabbey, the first Benedictine monastery in the U.S.; or attorney Ned Nakles Sr., among the finest men I’ve ever known and the only one who could cite in court both William Shakespeare and Fred Sanford during the same argument and have it make persuasive sense.
I think, in fact, I should be in a special section of Joe’s book called “Potential Legends.”
This would be the conclusory ninth chapter in a book that already has eight. There’s “Public Service and Community Leaders,” “Sports and Medicine,” and “Entertainment and the Arts,” the section in which my profile dwells a few pages after the truly legendary Fred Rogers keystones it with his inspirational grace.
Of course, if it was done the way I’d suggest, this 128-page book would grow to be about 128,000 pages. It would include every one born or living in Latrobe.
It would profile, especially, all our darling children. Because we all every day have the potential to be legendary.
The trick is finding a way to live up to all that glorious potential.
Alas, today I fear I’ve again fallen short.
But the day is young and I promise I’ll try again tomorrow.
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