From 1962 Baseball Stamp Album — Photo by Jim LaBate

Many people have been confined to their homes during the past year due to the COVID 19 situation and the quarantine. As a result, some of us have used that time to clean out the house, to begin to get rid of some of the junk we’ve collected through the years. Fortunately, as we sort through our junk, we sometimes find treasures from long ago, souvenirs that remind us of our youth and take us back to a time of innocence and optimism. …

In my basement office where I do most of my writing, I have an eight-by-ten, color photo of my parents, Pete and Eileen LaBate. I love looking at that picture because they were such wonderful parents to my five sisters and me, and their almost 60 years together before Mom passed were a testament to their love and their commitment to one another and to us. (Dad passed about five and a half years after Mom.) As their children, we were truly blessed to have them and their extended families in our young lives. …

Image from Pixabay

Have you ever dreamed of travelling cross country? Most likely, you have. Usually at the end of our educational pursuits and before we enter the work force full-time, we all dream about seeing all of America. Unfortunately, not many of us get that opportunity for one reason or another. Fortunately, I had that opportunity to travel for six weeks one summer early in my teaching career.

A good friend and I took three weeks to drive from New York to California, visiting both old friends and popular landmarks such as Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, Wrigley Field in…

Spain Image from Wikimedia and Photo Provided by Maria LaBate

During my final year of work, as I planned for retirement, I imagined that Barbara and I would do some travelling. A few years earlier, for instance, we had the opportunity to travel to Italy, Greece, and Turkey, a 13-day cruise that we thoroughly enjoyed. Thus, I began to think about other countries I’d like to visit. I thought about Israel because I would like to walk where Jesus walked, and I thought about Ireland because having already explored the Italian half of my heritage, I also want to explore the Irish half. Unfortunately, the current COVID 19 situation and…

Photos Provided by Jim LaBate

I’m sure you’ve all heard or read the following question at some point: If Hollywood were to make a movie out of your life, which actor or actress would best portray you?

It’s hard to take that question seriously because most of us know that Hollywood isn’t going to make a movie about us. Still, the question is fun and entertaining because it causes us to think about who we are and how we see ourselves versus how others see us.

For instance, I like to think I’m as tough as Clint Eastwood or as charming as Robert Redford, but…

Photos from 1982 KMA Yearbook

We have a comforter in our home that is over 35 years old. I know that for a fact because this comforter was a gift we received at a baby shower in 1985 when Barbara was pregnant for our first child, Maria.

This three-color comforter is off white, gray, and burgundy and is big enough to easily cover a king-size bed. Through the years, we have used that comforter on our bed during the cold winter months in upstate New York. We have also used it in our guest bedroom. …

Graphic by Jim LaBate

Recently, my wife and I attended a community festival, and we enjoyed sampling the food at the various booths. One vendor in particular caught my attention because his main sign read, “Tom’s Snack Shack,” and below that professional sign, Tom had handwritten the following small sign for that particular event: “Today were selling deep fried cookie’s.”

That big, printed sign and that small, scribbled sign both intrigued me because they highlighted the basic thought to keep in mind as you decide when to use apostrophes in your writing; sometimes, you need them, and sometimes, you don’t.

Apostrophes needed. Basically, you…

When our two daughters, Maria and Katrina, were about nine and seven years old, they took gymnastics classes at a studio about 20 minutes from our home. As we drove to that studio each week, we passed a large, metal building with a sign out front that read “Hot Tub Factory.” As we passed the sign, I always asked the girls the same question: “Is that a ‘Hot, Tub Factory?’ or is it a ‘Hot-Tub Factory?’”

Initially, the girls showed some interest in the distinction between the two options, but after a while, they tired of my question and simply…

Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash

Tony: Have you ever thought about using dashes in your writing?

Frank: Wh — Wh — What did you say?

Tony: Have you ever thought about using dashes in your writing?

Frank: I don’t give a — about writing.

Tony: Well, you should. You’re smart — smart enough to use proper punctuation.

Frank: I hate —

Tony: Don’t tell me what you hate.

Are you one of those people, like Frank in the conversation above, who hates punctuation and couldn’t care less about writing? I doubt it. If you were, you wouldn’t have read this far already. …

Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash

If you’ve ever played a round of golf, you know that you have a full bag of clubs available to you. You have a driver and two or three woods to give you power when you tee off. You also have numerous irons to help you make those delicate approach shots to the green. You may even have a pitching wedge in case your ball ends up in the sand trap. Finally, of course, you must have a putter, so you can gently tap your ball into the hole. …

Jim LaBate

Jim LaBate works as a writing specialist in The Writing Center at Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) in Troy, New York.

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