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Wiser’s Wramblings-Reading, Riting and Reminiscing


By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels

As is customary I started writing this Wednesday night for Thursday publishing. This is as far as I got as apparently “Writers Block” set in. Even the Table of Contents was added post facto.

Much of yesterday was spent working on “music” trying to gather up Mp3 copies of songs to use for re-learning music and practicing for an up-coming Barbershop sing out at a local senior living facility. “A-Chordingly Noted” is a four-man group created within the Hornell area barbershop singing “family” formally named the Maple City Chorus.  

Reading was a passion born within me at a very young age. My love for reading the newspaper started at about 10 years of age while living outside of Nile, NY on what is now known as State Rte. 275. In the 50’s and 60’s it was known as “East Notch Road” and it started at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue exiting Friendship and traveled to Richburg. The West Notch took a more western route traveling to the other end of Richburg. After reaching home from Friendship Central School (FCS) on the bus driven by Rodney Ruckle, I would anxiously await delivery of the Olean Times Herald from the red pick-up truck driven by “Johnny.” Memories of things like that are indelibly etched in my mind…and I will follow up on that thought in a little bit, after further discussing my love for reading. If I remember that is, which also is a future topic.

I am often asked where I developed my vocabulary. Easy answer. My fondness for reading introduces me to new words every day. When I see a new word, sometimes its meaning is intuitive by its use. If it isn’t, I grab a dictionary and look it up. I still do that. I am amazed at the words that few have heard or read before that are used by authors. I confess to doing that myself as I often wonder if anyone not familiar with a word, would do as I do and try to “learn” what the word means or meant. I doubt it. It’s curiosity and love of learning that drives me.

My “fiction novel” reading was courtesy of my mother. She was a member of the Double Day Book Club, or its predecessor, if it was not in existence then, and received a new book periodically. I started reading those books after she finished them. Prior to that time, I had read my first, and likely only, non-fiction book, having read a Sterling Moss autobiography. Back then my favorite author became Frank Slaughter. Actually, it was Dr. Frank Slaughter, a physician, who wrote primarily medical based fiction novels, often featuring strong female characters. My second favorite writer was Frank Yerby, unknown to me until today as I researched his writing venue, as a renowned African American writer. Hard to tell race in the written word as books are typically published/printed in “black and white” so that is not surprising.

In my youth and early adulthood, I was a voracious reader, devouring multiple books per month. I too, enrolled in a monthly book club for a while, supplementing that reading source courtesy of the local “Free” libraries.

When I began teaching in late 1983, I had to take a hiatus from reading purely for entertainment and enjoyment, lasting for the entire 24 years that I taught at Alfred State College. My teaching assignments and specialties evolved based on my 16-year career in industry but didn’t include any, or at least many, that I could rely on from my formal education. I had to learn “on the fly”. My reading consisted entirely of the information needed to “learn what to teach.” Much of this was specialized topics germane to manufacturing specific topics and equipment. Upon retirement in 2008 I quickly resumed my affection and addiction to reading mostly “action” fiction novels.

I started logging my “Books Read” in a spreadsheet and it now fills 10 pages, front and back, on 8.5” X 14” paper. I was trying to compile the number of books read last night as I started this column. That’s when I decided to put off writing until this morning. I checked my “Library” “checkouts”, but it only goes back to 2013 and has only 1500 books listed when I combine those checked out by me and my wife using her account. One of these days I might delve into the exact number of books read. I never, intentionally, read the same book twice, but writing this opened the possibility of breaking that rule, and for me to re-visit the Frank Slaughter books.

Note: Follow up to previous column comments about where quote marks get placed. In the “checkouts” term above Autocorrect suggested where to arrange the comma and quote mark, agreeing with my usage when using “air quotes”.  

Lord knows I haven’t read enough already. I just did a rough count of authors who I currently am reading and only a few of them are now “current” in my reading list and I anxiously await new publications. Even though Robert Parker, one of my current/past favorites is now deceased, others have picked up the gauntlet and are writing in his name. I currently list 61 authors that I am reading and have read at least 5 of their works. “One (or few) offs” are not included in that count. I do not, as some do, start reading an author’s series and continue through that entire series before switching to another author. Rather, I switch venues and characters, as my mood, and interests vary. I enjoy “topical reading” to include Medical (Robin Cook and Michael Palmer); Sports (Harlen Coben); Hunting/Game Warden (C.J Box, Archer Mayor); Legal/lawyer/Courtroom (John Grisham, John Lescroart, Steve Martini, Mike Connelly). Police/Detectives/Law Enforcement (James Patterson, Robert Parker). The more recent anti-terrorist, spy thrillers etc. pretty much fill out the rest of the authors, too many to list.

A few years ago, having shared author’s and their books with several friends, I started a Facebook group named FAME (Fiction, Action, Mystery Enjoyment). It is a public group and if you reach out to me via Facebook, I will gladly add you to the membership. We share our “readership” with others with an interest in reading fiction novels. I have discovered many new authors, and thus the over 60 currently read, and introduced some of mine to others through this group.

On to other Wrambling’s. I find it odd that many, or most, smaller local townships that have a formal police presence in their towns or villages have them only on duty during the daylight hours. Not sure why their presence is needed then as most activities requiring law enforcement happen in early evening or later. State Police or Sheriff’s Department are called out for most calls anyway.

A recent visit to Walmart reminded me of a “strange” store policy. When checking out recently I started emptying my cart onto the conveyor belt in one of the “check out” lines. After the cart was empty, I went to the card reader device and the entire lid on that mechanism was flipped up with the internal workings visible. I had not noticed that, nor did my wife as she prepared the bags ready for loading. I called the attendant over and asked if there was a problem with the machine (as was obvious) and he said “Yes, it’s out of service.” I said to/asked him “Why they hadn’t put up a ‘lane closed’ or out of order sign on the machine”. He replied: “They were not allowed to.” I don’t recall the previous incident details, but I had been given that same answer once before when questioning why shoppers weren’t warned of something. Same reply.

I recently sold our old pellet stove via one of the online “Marketplace” listings. During the negotiations over price, via the phone call I suggested, I learned that the stove was being bought by a son who had recently graduated from college (at 18 years old) and who was moving into the grandparents’ former home. When the Shaw family, from Wellsboro, PA arrived there was an automatic chemistry of friendship. I had decided, even though already reducing the price considerably, to add in a few extras, like the ash removal vacuum and hoses, telling the buying son, that it was our graduation present to him.  Even before that we had started chatting like long lost friends. We stood out in the light rain for two hours, oblivious to the dreary, drizzly, weather, just enjoying each other’s company. Turns out the father/husband has ties to the area as he was involved with the Lewis Homes, modular homes company, once having an office in the Stannards NY area.

Is it just us or is there an over abundance not only of spider webs covering everything outside, but also of crickets inside the house? It is impossible to access anything outside that has been in place for hours or over night without finding cobwebs. Even walking across the back deck it is almost impossible not to walk through a single strand of web from those dastardly “flying spiders”.

I had an enjoyable (and delicious) breakfast at TC’s Diner in Friendship, NY, earlier this week with a couple of old(er) FCS Class of ’63 classmates. It is sometimes a challenge, especially in heavily Republican Friendship, to keep the conversation away from politics, and especially away from previous election disagreements. We succeeded, for the most part, but there are obvious differences of opinion in play. When serving Election Inspection duty these past few elections it was impossible to not notice the divide between ideologies. They are not kept private.

Scanner Scatter:

  • County dispatch call: Trooper had pulled an ATV over and it took off, escaping from him. They finally located the vehicle and driver at Tall Pines on Jones Road in Andover
  • Several expected calls to that location on any holiday weekend, and this past weekend was no exception. Goes with the territory I guess but keeps the local Emergency Services providers, and even the “Air Flight” services busy.
  • Call to dispatch reporting a truck in a pond at a local recreational facility.
  • Many, many calls, way too many, responding to an “unresponsive” person; in their vehicle, lying alongside the road, lying in a ditch, in a yard etc… All too often it is followed with the caveat that Narcan has been administered X number of times. Sad times are with us.
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