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Dog Days of Summer a Time for Reflection

By Tony Farina

As I approach a milestone birthday---and I don't mean 40, 50 or 60---it is inevitably a time for reflection and soul searching. The slow pace of the dog days of summer, which used to be a welcome break from the hectic schedule I once kept, is now a time to think about glorious and wonderful summers I have known, and look anxiously toward how few I have left.

Life continues to be a day-by-day journey, no matter your age. But as time goes by, the journey becomes a little different, and reflection on summers past is part of that evolution. And it is good.

A friend or former colleague from long ago often appears in that new journey, whether in the light of day or the dark of night, and it is almost real again, at least until the spell is broken. The smile of that old friend or lover, the joy of the contact even though in mind only, is, in a way, comforting and soothing.

The past may be the past, and we must live in the moment, but it is also true that where we have been matters a great deal and so do the people that were there. They may no longer be with us on this earth, but as the reflections of the dog days heat up, they visit us from time to time to remind us we will soon be with them again.

This column came to mind recently when I was at a local marina with friends to hear the granddaughter of an acquaintance do a little singing under the stars by the water, a beautiful night and a good time for reflection.

Then, as seems to happen frequently these days after a long career as a journalist, the disc jockey stands up and acknowledges me as the guy who used to be a reporter on television and at the old Courier-Express. It turns out that the disc jockey was none other than Paul Ranallo, the son of the long dead sports columnist at the Courier, Phil Ranallo.

Now, when I started at the old Courier-Express many, many years ago, there was a writer there who could always be spotted with a cigarette in hand, pounding on the old typewriters that we used to get his column out by deadline. It was none other than Phil Ranallo, a near legendary figure in local journalism, and I admit to being in awe of this man who I had admired for so long.

In time, we became friends and I even started bowling on a team with Phil, a clutch left-hander who could throw a mean strike when it was needed. And he was just a wonderful guy, always with a sports story and warm and caring.

Unfortunately, the cigarettes eventually got Phil no matter how many ways he tried to quit. It was a sad end for a writer with a great capacity to entertain and inform. But we stayed close until the end, and like many in my life who are long gone I still think of him from time to time, and when his son brought it back at the marina recently, he was with me again.

So as I approach my milestone birthday next month, I do so reassured by my many friends of years gone by and of my family and friends of today. I've recently lost some very dear friends, and as I know from experience, they are irreplaceable. But their memories still live in my heart, no matter my age, and their voices and songs of life are a part of me and always will be.

I hope there are a few more birthdays to enjoy before my journey is complete, but as of now I can say it has been a wonderful trip. I've enjoyed an exciting and long career as a reporter, starting out as a sports writer, like Phil, and going on to covering just about everything---from a walk on the moon to violence in the streets. I wouldn't trade my life for anything. Along the way, I have fathered seven children and many grandkids and great grandkids have followed.

The dog days are here, as they are every year. The news cycle has slowed a bit, like it always does. But maybe it brings the relief we all need to give us time to think about the future and about the past. It is okay to look back once in a while to help remember who we are. And the past will always be a part of us.

Enjoy your dog days and savor the moment. But don't forget the past.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Jul 30, 2013