A few months back, I stumbled over a Facebook page titled “You know your from they Valley when” which includes posts from former and current residents of Wyoming Valley in Northeastern Pennsylvania, of which Wilkes-Barre is the hub. Now, despite all the claptrap you non-Wilkes-Barreans may have heard, in Wyoming Valley the city’s name is most commonly pronounced wilks-bar-ree with the bar pronounced hard as in barrister.
(I would send you to a site called “So, how do you pronounce Wilkes-Barre?” presented by the city of Wilkes-Barre, but it is more confusing than elucidating.)
I loved the grammatical humor in the page’s title, ‘You know your from they Valley when,’ so of course I chimed in! Here was my first post (and I do not have the dates for each post and I have abbreviated the names of those folk who took the time to post what appeared to be hostile comments on the page):
NU: You know you’re from the Valley when someone has to point out to you that this page’s statement/question, “You know your from they Valley when . . .” is missing an apostrophe and an “e” but has an extra “y” in it, hennah?!? Been in the Pacific Northwest since 1987 and I can tell you that the best pizza out here wouldn’t last a month in the Valley . . .
Okay, light, breezy, humorous, and I compliment the pizza of the Valley by stating that the best pizza in the Pacific Northwest couldn’t make it in the Valley.
(Um, “hennah” is a Valley colloquialism that seems to be a truncation of “ain’t it” by previous generations of Polish denizens who had difficulty with the pronunciation. It is usually used at the end of a sentence in which the speaker takes for granted that the listener is in accord with him. A variation is “heyna,” pronounced hay-nuh. The corruption of the language is now known as heynabonics and there is a funny almost ironic video on a class in titled “Heynabonics” on YouTube.)
Anyway, here is the first response that I received:
MR: Discussed several times.
Huh?!? (Get used to that interjection here.) Um, hardly a friendly greeting from whoever MR is (aside from the ‘host’ of the page). And, unless I took the time to look up every post on the page prior to mine, that is something that I couldn’t know.
So, I responded NOT in kind but with some more levity (not a property normally associated with many residents of NEPA):
NU: So, then you know you’re from the Valley when you don’t take the time to check to see if anyone else from the Valley took the time to notice the mistakes that someone else from the Valley made ages ago and already posted same! (Now you can tell me that someone else that didn’t do what I didn’t do and then did what I did was notified by you and responded like I am.) (And hoping that they felt better than I do and didn’t go drown their sorrows in a hamburger with cheese lettuce onions mustard and Ranch dressing while watching the fifth and final season of Brothers & Sisters like I’m about to . . .)
Okay, some excessive wordplay there, but the levity is obvious and I did not express any surprise at the bluntness of MR’s less than embracing embrace of my presence on the page. Here is the next response:
FRANK DE ANGELO: Neal, home is where the pizza you love is, hennah? Just got done with a fantasy draft and the only thing the one out of towner requested was some Pizza from Sabatini’s and Pizza L’oven.
Okeydokey, Mr. De Angelo (and I used his full name because he was friendly) gives me a much warmer welcome and understands clearly my very positive reference to the Valley’s pizza—which is, trust me, justifiably legendary in the tri-state area (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York). Here is my response:
NU: Frank, I say this without exaggeration: when the NEED for pizza is upon me (usually several times a day), I buy Red Baron’s frozen pizza instead of any of the shit that passes for pizza at the local pizzerias!
Please note here that as I live in the Pacific Northwest and made that perfectly clear in my first post above, when I say “local” I mean local to where I live: Redmond, Washington. Apparently that was not apparent to some readers:
MEME: I don’t get what you’re saying by your best pizza in the Northwest wouldn’t last a month here?? Meaning the place would go out of business I’m sure because of all the amazing places we have to enjoy all the real pizzas NE PA has to offer – not the Dominos, Little Ceasers, Pizza Hut and the other cardboard you have out there that you call pizza. I took the naming of the site as a joke – not that we’re uneducated idiots here. Get off the site if you’re so humiliated by the fact you too were from “they” Valley!
Huh?!? What just happened? MEME’s first two sentences indicate that she understood that my comparison of Northwest pizza (ugh!) with the Valley’s pizza (yum!). The third sentence indicates that the irony in my previous posts was lost on her. Her final sentence is baffling: what did I say that indicated humiliation at my place of origin? Not only no humor here, but’s also damn right unfriendly.
The next response was this seeming non sequitur from the official greeter:
MR: Delete the profanity and refrain from its use or you it will be deleted for you. Your call.
Huh?!? What profanity? And by whom? So, whose “call”?
SEJ: I’m. From nj but all I have to say to you is. Your an ass
Huh?!? Is this a joke? Is someone taking all of the above to the next level down? And who is the ass? I tend to take people’s statements at face value, inferring as little as possible, so I perceive neither warmth nor humor here—but I do feel, ahem, misunderstood. So I responded with:
NU: Are all of you people talking to and at me, because I am confused? And whoever you ARE talking to, I sure don’t talk to people I don’t know like you do . . .
I want regular readers of this blog to know that the above is NOT representative of the many wonderful and loving people that I know and have known from the Wyoming Valley area of Pennsylvania. (Or even New Joisey.) Mr. DeAngelo’s greeting is what I think of when I think of ‘the Valley.’
And that was that! No further words of wisdom from MR; no more slights from either MEME or SEJ. No answers to my confusion or attempts to clarify positions or accurately aim the apparent barbs. My first reaction was to directly address the three commenters and see if we could reach some understanding, but then I thought less might be better.
So I posted nothing else and waited.
Now, a digression: whenever I am back there visiting my family, I essentially live on pizza. Last time I was there in June 2012, in ten days I ate pizza from eight different places in the Valley and one in New York City! While I am partial to Old Forge style pizza and consider Arcaro & Genell‘s restaurant to be a personal Mecca when back there. (And the story of Berni’s first bite of pizza there and her response to the taste is worth a story itself.) Don’t tell Angelo or Mark, but I usually find a way to have a cuppla slices and a beer at their competition across the street, Revello’s.)
My parents love Tommy’s Pizza Corner (Kingston); my brother Charles and sister Mary Alice have eclectic tastes and like to sample each and every new pizzeria as it opens; my friend and fellow pizza-snob John Styklunas hankers after Ghigiarelli’s (Old Forge); il mio amico and valley legend Joe Nardone prefers Bettelli’s Villa (Wilkes-Barre); former steady Jaygee still loves pizza from Nanticoke; and I always make it to Dugan’s Pub (Luzerne). I could go on but will save it for another post. But I can say with certainty that virtually any local establishment can be recommended (and here ‘local’ means there).
Now, back to the issue at hand: I just revisited the ‘You know your from they Valley when’ site to see if anything had happened. And something had: I found a blank page with all the posts gone! This note was in their place:
“This post has been removed or could not be loaded.”
Huh?!? What the heyna! Were my posts so offensive that the whole shebang had to be pulled?
I guess that I never will know.
Life’s like that, hennah . . .