Monthly Archives: May 2012

Holiday Memories

My family’s holiday was the same every year. On December 23 or 24th, we would drive from our home in Kenmore, N.Y., to spend Christmas Eve at my father’s parents’ house in Salamanca. This was in the early 1950s, and there were no superhighways; from Kenmore we drove into downtown Buffalo, where we picked up […]


Talaat Pasha taught me a new word: escheat. When a person dies with no heir, his land and estate escheat to the government. The term comes from the Latin ex-cadere, to “fall out”, via medieval French, escheoir. As Interior Minister and one of the leaders of the Committee of Union and Progress that controlled the […]

Poppies at Riddler’s

May 17, 2003 On a recent rainy morning, I had the privilege of accepting a red crepe-paper poppy from a woman standing in the doorway of Riddler’s, our local news and tobacco shop. I had already purchased my fresh $1 chance at Saturday’s millions the day before, so I was just hurrying by. But when […]

A Beer Footnote

April 15, 2006 When I started putting my writing up on the Web, I thought of my beer articles only at the tail end of things. Everything else seemed more important. But today, 15 of the 20 most visited pages on my site are pieces about beer. My history of malt liquor — which, not […]


July 4, 2001 I was making my rounds at Lake View Cemetery this holiday morning, rediscovering Mary Norton Loney’s tomb, walking over to the Legg/Thayer plot to visit with the lions that guard it, when I saw that I was not alone. A woodchuck, used to having the grounds to himself, was watching me intently, […]

Wild Animals

July 2000 Wednesday evening at the Krebs, an outdoor dinner party of 45 people was savoring appetizers and enjoying perfect weather when a deer wandered into the garden. “A deer,” someone said and all eyes turned. At that moment, a 55-pound Akita bounded into the garden, hauled down the doe by the throat, and finished […]

Zeno and the White Light

July 28, 2004 While Chris Zenowich and I were working together, the agency hired another writer. He was an older gentleman and he had flair. He drove a white Bentley with vanity plates that read “WRITER.” He claimed relation with a famous actor and producer. He smiled warmly as he gave us advice, leaning back […]

Two Easters

April 2002 I have a co-worker, and friend, who attends a Greek Orthodox church. And over the years, we have chatted about the fact that the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity celebrate their holy days on different dates. In those years when I am oafish enough to ask her how her Easter was, on […]


June 2002 At some long-ago point in my career, I found myself in a room with three partners in crime trying to come up with a name for a family of products — a wash, a moisturizer and a “sealer” — used for cleaning the nether regions of incontinent nursing home patients. I don’t know […]

Super Bowl Quandry

Written on the eve of a Giants/Ravens Superbowl * * * January 28, 2001 If you are like me, picking a favorite in today’s game comes down to the choice between James Fenimore Cooper and Edgar Allan Poe. On one hand, we have New York State’s Cardiff Giant, today on exhibit in Cooperstown’s Farmers Museum […]