Photo by Jim LaBate

Each summer when I was growing up, my father’s extended family held a reunion picnic in July at a state park about an hour from our home. Since my dad had seven brothers and three sisters, you can imagine the collection of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, usually well over 50 of us. And we held that reunion for well over 50 years until many of the aunts and uncles became too frail to attend and many of the cousins moved out of the area. …


Photo by Jianxiang Wu on Unsplash

How many of you are old enough to remember record albums? For those of you who are too young to remember, a record album is a 12-inch slice of vinyl, about the size of a personal pan pizza that we would spin on a turntable, and then, we would drop a very fine needle onto that disk in order to hear our favorite music. Each album had about 10 to 12 songs, and, then, after an artist or a group had put out three or four of these albums, they would release a collection of their greatest hits, again about…


Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

“Hello” and “Good-bye” are two of the most common greetings in our daily lives. We typically salute one another with “Hello” when we meet at school, at work, or in the neighborhood, and we usually say farewell with “Good-bye” as we exit those same locations to return to our homes. Interestingly, those same two words provide the basic framework for a standard cover letter.

What is a cover letter? Essentially, a cover letter accompanies your résumé when you send it to an employer to apply for a job. In theory, you could just send your résumé to the employer to…


Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

About 50 years ago, when I applied for my first job after college, writing my résumé was a major project. First, I had to type the résumé on my manual typewriter using erasable paper, so I could later correct any errors. Then, I had to bring my original to a printer or copy center and purchase 50 copies on a better quality of paper. Finally, I had to distribute those copies to potential employers at job fairs or through the mail. In other words, every potential employer saw the same copy of my résumé, and no customization was possible. …


Drawing by Brian Bateman for “Mickey Mantle Day in Amsterdam”

My first memories as a baseball fan all involve Mickey Mantle. Growing up in upstate New York during the late 1950s, the only team anyone talked about was the Yankees, and, of course, Mickey Mantle was the most popular Yankee of them all. When my friends and I played Wiffle ball in the back yard or organized pick-up games at the nearby field, we all eagerly claimed to be “The Mick” that day.

Then, when we were old enough to actually play in our local Little League, we all begged the coach to let us play centerfield or, even better…


Photo by Joey Kyber on Unsplash

Recently, our local newspaper featured a high-school baseball coach who just earned his 800th victory. This particular coach began his career at age 24, and during the following 46 years, his teams averaged 17 wins per season, never had a losing season, and won multiple league, sectional, and state championships. Those are amazing accomplishments for this 70-year-old educator who plans to retire after this season. Congratulations and God bless!

As I thought about this amazing man and his remarkable achievement, I began to wonder, who’s at the other end of the spectrum, a coach who did not have anywhere near…


Photo by Caterina Berger on Unsplash

I am always amazed by the number of people who take the time to wish me a “Happy Birthday” on Facebook or through a card in the mail. Thank you to all of you. I received one unique greeting the other day from a former classmate who was born two months ahead of me. This old friend kindly sends me a card each year wishing me health and happiness, but this year, he added the following message to commemorate this particular milestone: Congratulations on turning “three score and ten.”

If you recall Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” you know that a…


Photo by Jim LaBate

I love baseball. I really do. I love each fundamental battle between the pitcher and the batter, the race to throw a runner out on the bases, and, of course, the nine-inning struggle to outscore the opposition. What I don’t love about baseball is watching three or four hours on TV night after night after night. Thus, my baseball viewing habits have changed over the years.

When I was growing up in the 1950s, long before cable TV was available in upstate New York, we had too little baseball on TV. We were lucky if we saw one or two…


Photo by Jim LaBate

I’ve been retired for almost a year now, and when I bump into people I haven’t seen in a while, they usually ask me two questions:

How’s retirement?

What are you doing?

The first question is easy, and I quickly answer with a one-word response: “Great.” I am thoroughly enjoying the freedom I now have to do whatever I want each day. During my 40-plus years as a teacher, I used to get up early each morning to read a bit and try to write a bit as well before I tackled my daily responsibilities as a breadwinner. Inevitably, I’d…


Image from Wikimedia

I watched an interesting documentary recently on Netflix called The Last Blockbuster. The movie focuses on the only remaining Blockbuster on the planet. Who knew? Not I.

Like most people, I assumed Blockbuster died off years ago when the two outlets near our home closed. Apparently, though, some remained open longer than others until only one is still open today, located in the rural town of Bend, Oregon, southeast of Portland. The film zooms in on Sandi Harding, the woman who has managed this store for the last 15 years, and the film is definitely worth seeing if you remember…

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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