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FROM THE VALLEY: Tell Me If You Heard This Before


My mother had a philosophy: if someone else cooked dinner, it would taste better than if they did it themselves. Not because one or another was a better cook, but because the one preparing the meal was oversubjected to the aroma beyond its point of prime appeal. Or something like that. After I got married I passed that bit of family trivia on to my wife.

The first time my parents visited our house for dinner, Kathie prepared a wonderful spaghetti dinner. And as a new daughter-in-law, she was, naturally, eager to please. So when my mother offered complimentary remarks on how good the sauce was, my wife shot back, “That's because you didn't make it!”

The shocked look on my mother's face was a Kodak moment for the ages. I quickly explained the comment — in relationship to what she had preached over the years — while my father, the original Frank Barone from “Everyone Loves Raymond,” roared with approval. I stared at Mom looking for her to “please understand” while my new bride melted off her chair in total mortification.

A true story, passed around the Valley kitchen table for decades.

Another: Years ago when my brother first started dating a young girl, they agreed to take a ride in the country with my parents to get an ice cream cone. Along the way, they passed a cemetery with rolling hills and aesthetically pleasing, autumn-colored tress. The nervous young girl in the back, trying to impress and show her ability to make warm conversation, blurted out for all to hear, “Wouldn't that be a wonderful place to get laid!?” You betcha! 'Nuff said.

Moving on. In a case of “Who's on first?” my son, Eric, who was about 8 years old at the time, asked “Dad, how's your Am-me team doing?"

“Who and what?”

“You know,” he explained, “your Am-me Dolphins team.”

“Oh,” I corrected, "you mean Miami Dolphins?”

“Yeah, that's what I said. Your Am-me Dolphins.”

I stopped referring to the Bills after that as … my Buffalo Bills.

If this column sounds familiar, it's because I'm at an age where I get the liberty to repeat stories whether I realize it or not. And far as that goes, I don't get out as much as I used to and thus, I've pretty much run out of anecdotes. With that said ...

When my oldest son, Paul, was about 4 years old we were in the backyard together; I was raking a freshly planted garden and he was standing by the swing set, staring up at the sky. After a few minutes passed, I heard him speak. “God,” he said, “thank you for the new sneakers.”

Moved by his gesture and proud that we were raising a son respectful and grateful enough to give thanks for the blessings we are afforded over the years, I said “That was nice of you, Paul.”

“Yeah,” he explained, “God is responsible for a lot, isn't he, Dad?”

Taken aback by the innocence on display, I muttered, “Well, yes, I guess you could say that, partner.”

I continued my chores and discreetly snuck a glance over to see what he was up to next. He had turned his gaze from me back to the heavens. That's when I heard him say …

“God, why'd you ruin my last pair?”

Even yours truly, the world's biggest know-it-all, had no answer for that.

We'll get to my daughter, Melissa, another time. She deserves a full column.

Finally, almost: When I moved to Western New York more than 50 years ago, one of the first friends I had was Jim “JC” Hobbs. JC passed away this past weekend after a long battle with a debilitating disease. He was a brilliant guy, a Beatles fan, and an exceptional baseball player (along with his twin brother, Jack). Seldom at peace with the world situation — or with himself, at times — faith tells me he will finally find that tranquility in the Lord's calming light. He will be greatly missed.

Final, finally: Please, whoever and however … vote.

And that's the way it looks from the Valley.

Strange trivia tied together: The best man at Peter Boyle's (Frank Barone) 1977 wedding was none other than Beatle John Lennon.

Thanks for stopping by.

The Author Tom Valley Says Good Stories Are Worth Repeating

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