Columns

Tom Purcell

Shining the light on Independence

“Burgers on the grill, great discounts at retail stores and amazing fireworks — that’s why I love the Fourth of July!”
“It’s a grand time, to be sure — the day every year that we celebrate American independence and the birth of our country. And there are lots of interesting fun facts about the Fourth.”
“Such as?”

Tom Purcell

The incredible power of fathers

Editor’s Note: This column is an excerpt from Tom Purcell’s humorous book, “Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood,” available at Amazon.com.
My 84-year-old father still asks me why I did it.
The “incident,” as my family refers to it, dates back to 1973, when my father remodeled our basement into a family room. The project included a small bathroom, which would be the bane of his existence for more than 30 years.

Christine Flowers

Celebrity suicides should be a reminder to listen

When I heard my brother Jonathan had taken his own life, my first thought, unfiltered through the sieve of reason, was: “Why the hell did he do this to me, to my mother, to us?”
When I learned that Kate Spade had taken her own life, my first thought was: “Why did she do that to them?” referring to her husband and 13-year-old daughter.
And when, almost unbelievably, I learned that Anthony Bourdain had committed suicide in his hotel room in France, I thought “My God, he had everything to live for! Why?”

Tom Purcell

Skilled trades beat degree debt

When I was a 19-year-old college sophomore in 1982, my father gave me advice that makes even more sense for 19-year-olds today.
Despite his protestations, you see, I chose English as my major at Penn State. Worried about my ability to land a job, he begged me to at least minor in something practical.
I’m still the only person ever to graduate from Penn State with a major in English and a minor in air conditioning/heating.
I joke, of course, but if I were 19 now, I don’t think I’d go thousands upon thousands into debt to fund a liberal arts degree.

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