|The dust jacket for Harriet and Mr. Nobody|
I'm pleased to announce that the memoirs of Mike Casino, who grew up in Tamaqua, graduated from St. Jerome's, and retired from a long journalism career as an editor at the Philadelphia Inquirier, has been published by Coal Cracker Press and is available at www.lulu.com. Here are comments from the publisher and a friend of Mike's.
From the publisher
When I worked at the Evening Courier in Tamaqua right out of high school in 1961, I was told about Mike Casino and how he had once worked at the Courier and now worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer. The point was that you could make it to the big newspaper from the little newspaper. (And eventually I did spend a summer on the Inkie’s metropolitan copy desk as a faculty intern but Mike had long been retired.)
Fifty years later I was surprised when reading one of my hometown newspapers to learn that Mike was still alive, had just celebrated his 100th birthday and wanted someone to publish his memoirs. I immediately sent him a letter volunteering to do that through an online print-on-demand publisher.
A few weeks later I got an e-mail from Francis Clifford, whom I knew from my days in Tamaqua, and who was a friend of Mike’s (and you’ll learn more in these pages). He had Mike’s manuscript and was interested in my proposal.
Alas, Mike died in the meantime and we let the project go until last year when I contacted Francis and suggested we publish the manuscript lest Mike’s story perish. Francis agreed and you are about to read that wonderful story.
Mike wrote his memoirs in the third person and made his wife, Harriet, the lead character. That’s understandable, for surely, she was the love and rock in his life. Despite being in what we in Tamaqua would call a “mixed marriage” (a Catholic and a Protestant), Mike and Harriet had a marriage made in Heaven, one that will endure for eternity.
Beyond the personal story, I consider this a great Tamaqua story and a great American story.
R Thomas Berner
Santa Fe, New Mexico
For more than 30 years, I lived less than a hour’s drive from Mike and Harriet in suburban Philadelphia. My mother, Mary, who died in 1986, was still living on Hunter Street in Tamaqua where Mike grew up, would occasionally ask if I had visited them, but life with an active family of four children held me captive in Delaware County. Finally in late 2005 following my wife’s death, I learned that Mike had taken up residence at St. Mary Manor in Lansdale. I called him, introduced myself, and made arrangements to visit.
During that initial telephone call he told me about his memoirs. He had completed most of the text and had handed the manuscript to a typist for corrections and modifications. He sent me a copy of the manuscript, asking for my review. I circled a multitude of things for change or correction. During our first meeting, we spent more than three and a half hours going over every word and punctuation mark I had noted, he, at age 98, defending vigorously his position on each one during our sometimes intense, but cordial, exchanges.
I spent many hours with Mike from that first visit until the week before his death. I was also fortunate to have known his mother, whom I remember from my childhood, passing her house hundreds of times on my way to and from home just up the street. Until his death, he possessed a keen intellect, memory, and sense of humor, and we engaged in many topical arguments and shared many a laugh over a meal at his and Harriet’s favorite restaurant, Roy Ann’s on Old Bethlehem Pike in Sellersville, Montgomery County.
Marian High School is the unified successor to three church high schools in the area, one of which was St. Jerome in Tamaqua, Mike’s alma mater. I took Mike to Marian’s commencement in June 2007, where he had his photo taken with a young woman about to graduate. They were both valedictorians of their respective classes, but 80 years apart. What a moment to witness! I also had the extraordinarily rare opportunity that most people never experience in life —calling a person and extending good wishes on his 100th birthday. I recited the Italian toast, “Cent’anni!” (May you live a hundred years!) when I served as master of ceremonies at his 100th birthday party.
Francis J. Clifford, Esq.
Department of the Navy