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Below you will find the current episode of the series, Tony's Town. New episodes appear occasionally and when replaced by a new episode, are generally included in the Archives library.  Additionally, we occasionally rerun an earlier or archived episode on the Tony's Town Reruns section.  We do this if an episode is relevant to a current event, particular to a recognized holiday or universal time of celebration, or if it is requested by our readers. The Archive library follows this 'Reruns" section below. 

If you are new to the series,we suggest you avail yourself of the archived episodes, especially the first four. They will introduce you to the people, places, and themes of the series as they appear. So, to paraphrase someone well known to us;

Welcom to our neighborhood, friend.

Tony's Town

Serenity abounds where it generally isn't found. 



     “Everyone seems so at peace, Rabbi.”

     Nodding, Rabbi Green scans the room.  “You’re right, Walt, he says. Usually, you don’t see this kind of peace in a moment like this.”

      Approaching the two men, Aliana smiles softly in greeting. “Rabbi … Mr. Robinson, thank you for coming.”

     “Our condolences, Al,” Josh offers as Walt nods his assent. “I was just saying to ‘Hammer’ how peaceful everyone seems. Not the tears I expected.”

     “Well, Rabbi, I guess it’s a family strength.  My dad always liked a specific Bishop and his words. It’s something he learned from Noni.  When she passed away Friday, it was the first thing Dad said to us when we gathered together.”

     “Would they be words, this humble Rabbi might be familiar with, Al?” Josh asks, a hint of mischief in his eyes.

      Aliana chuckles. “From some of the things I’ve heard you say, Rabbi, they just might be.” 

     “Let me guess,” Rabbi, Walt says.  “Something from the Talmud, or the Torah?”

     Josh smiles. “Fraid not Walt. I’m thinking more … St. Patrick’s Cathedral … and a man named Sheen.”

     “Fulton Sheen … you’re familiar with the good archbishop?” Walt asks, surprised.

     “From my days as a boy in Brooklyn. He had a TV program … I think it was called ‘Life is Worth Living.’  My mother tuned in all the time.”

     “Didn’t know your sainted mother was a closet Catholic.”

     Josh laughs.  “Well, not quite, Walt. The good Bishop was popular across a broad spectrum of people at that time; not just Catholics. He was probably the first great televangelist.”

     Aliana turns toward her grandmother’s casket, the look in her eyes, distant, as if seeing the past.  “I think Rabbi Josh knows the words Dad referred to, Mr. Robinson,” she says, nostalgia in her voice.”

     “And they would be …?”

      Josh smiles softly.  “He said, Walt, and I quote, ‘You can’t be grateful and unhappy at the same time.’”

     Aliana chuckles softly.

    “Exactly, Rabbi … the very ones.”


     Hi, Tony here.  It’s Thursday evening. We’re at Ladowski’s funeral home; a wake service for Nick’s mother; Aliana’s grandmother, who passed away last Friday. Mrs. Kossarides was ninety three and a more beloved woman you’ll never meet.  ‘Noni,’ as she was lovingly known to her family, and many others, was the nucleus around whom the entire Kossarides clan revolved.  Her words of wisdom, comfort, and grace, not to mention her fabulous Greek and Old-World baked goods were known to just about everyone in the neighborhood. Especially her baklava … it was a staple at the Council yard sales.  She will be missed.

     It’s a simple service this evening; a closed casket and a beautiful spray of roses framing a picture of Mrs. K; one that brings back a memory of a woman with a perpetual smile and a kind word for everyone.

     While wake services are generally somber events, yet, this evening’s different. There’s no overwhelming feeling of gloom here tonight.  And maybe the Rabbi just hit on an underlying reason. Bishop Sheen’s words are an obvious comfort to Al and her family, and maybe others who are friends of the family. They obviously made an impression on Josh. I think this might be an interesting evening’s conversation, in a place you might not expect it.   

     What do you say we listen in?....



     Nodding his head, a soft smile breaks out on Hammer’s face.  “Nice thought, he says, I’d never heard it before, though I am familiar with Bishop Sheen.  He was an amazing man.”

     “And what are you three talking about,” Father Bob asks, joining Al, Walt and Josh.

     “Oh, Aliana was just saying how her dad’s words seem to set to tone that allows it to be so peaceful in here tonight,” Walt replies.

     “And what words are they?”

     “Bishop Sheen’s … about gratitude.”

     “Ah, you can’t be grateful and unhappy at the same time … those the ones?” the priest asks, chuckling softly.

      “One and the same,” Josh says.

     “Funny, I used them just the other day.”

     “Oh, how so? Bob?"

     “Well, a friend of Stash’s oldest son, Michael, is moving to Omaha.  The two boys grew up as close as brothers.  They were inseparable.  Seems his friend’s dad was transferred, and Michael was terribly sad, losing his friend.  So much so that his schoolwork suffered. Stash and his wife couldn’t get Michael out of his funk, so, he asked me after Mass if there was something I could say to the boy.”

     “I’d be sad too, if I was exiled to Omaha,” Hammer chuckles.

     “Hey, don’t knock Omaha,” Josh laughs.  “Nice town, big university … lots to do., and some of the best steakhouses I’ve ever eaten in.”

     “Oh yea,” Hammer chuckles, “what’s the local synagogue out there, Temple Beth Sirloin?”

     Walt’s question brings a round of muted laughter as the Rabbi shakes his head.

     “Bob, did your words have any effect?” Josh asks after a moment.

     “I think so.  I reminded him that with today’s technology, they could always keep in touch, and we talked about the difference between being sad and being unhappy. I think he understood. And it seems to make a difference."

     “When you think about it, Bishop Sheen’s words are something we should all keep in mind, not just at occasions like this, or the boy’s situation,” Walt says.  

     “Good point,” Father Bob says.

     “You agree, Father?” Aliana asks

     “I do, Al. It’s something I often point out; occasionally in my homilies, but especially in counseling. Think about it.  So much of the world seems unhappy today.”

     The priest pauses a minute.  “Well, maybe not so much unhappy as maybe a sense of dissatisfaction.”

     “And you are saying much of this would be alleviated if more people cultivated a habit of gratitude.”

     “A habit, maybe, but I’m thinking more of an identity, Al.”

     Nodding his head gently, a knowing smile ambles across the Rabbi’s face. “You have a good point, my friend,” he says, softly.

     “How do you mean Rabbi?” Aliana asks.

     “Well, when I was a boy, President Kennedy, a man so many people, especially young people, loved, was killed by an assassin.  It was a time of incredible sadness; something we could do nothing about. Yet, as the days went on, we realized, though through our sadness, we were also grateful for his time as president, and the impact he had on our lives.” 

     “So, you’re saying sad and unhappy are not the same thing?”

     “Exactly, Al. Sadness often comes from something external, something we can’t control.” Unhappiness is a feeling from within, something we can. Think about it. How many marriages would be so much happier if partners concentrated on being grateful for the other, instead of finding fault?”   

     “Or in our work lives,” adds Walt.  "Heck, all we read about is how the majority of people hate their jobs.  Maybe a little gratitude for having a means of providing for ourselves and our families would go a long way?”

     Nods of agreement meet Walt’s words.

     “Or kids,” says Father Bob. “If they are not overly rebellious, promiscuous, injurious to themselves and to others, be grateful, knowing full well that they’re awakening to the world around them, to themselves, and their place in it. And they’re going to make mistakes. Gratitude goes a long way in making parenthood, a time of joy.”

     "And express that gratitude to them,” Nick adds, overhearing the priest's words, and  joining the group. "With kids, it goes a long way."

     Nodding, Father Bob smiles. “Gratitude is a powerful medicine, but like all medicines, one must understand it,” he says.  It doesn’t necessarily banish sadness; and actually, it shouldn’t.  We need to feel sad at a loss or a genuine sorrow. Grief is healthy and normal. But gratitude is the starting point not only in driving out both the sadness, and any feeling of unhappiness; gratitude puts that loss in perspective and helps us move forward. To be a person who cultivates a grateful nature; that's what I mean by an identity.”

     “Bob’s right,” Rabbi Josh, says. “It takes the sting out of life.”

     “We all need to be a little more grateful for those who help us to grow, in body and spirit, Even if that help sometimes comes with a sting.” Father Bob says, smiling at Aliana.

     “And to grow in love…” Aliana says, softly, wistfully, looking at Mrs. K’s picture ...

     Like Noni…”


     In a world where an endless array of technology exists to supposedly make our lives happy, healthy, and fulfilled, why is it that, increasingly, people seem generally unhappy?  That moments of joy, or even simple happiness, are the exception, not the rule?

     Might the words of the bishop be the tonic to cure this “sickness” of perceived neglect and misery?

    “One cannot be grateful and unhappy at the same time.”

     Priceless words ….

     … words to live by?

     Thinkaboutit … I’m Tony Baggz.

©2017 Tres Angeli Publishing, LLC


Tony's Town Reruns

A pro-life story.

Roll Tide 


     “Rooollllll Tiiiide!!!”

     “The Bowl” erupts in a frenzied cheer as the referee signals touchdown, putting the The "Boys in Black" up by ten on the “Skins.” Mimicking the referee’s signal, "Alabama” breaks into his trademark touchdown dance … aahhh, touchdown dance … well, just picture Riverdance meets the hula … you get the idea.

      “Hey Alabama, we’re on a roll today!” comes a shout from six rows up.

     A ripple of laughter courses through the crowd.  Down on the sideline several players turn and give him the thumbs up sign. Alabama flashes his familiar lopsided grin and returns the gesture.  Seems everyone here knows him. 

     Strange thing is, we’re nowhere near Tuscaloosa … this is a professional football game.

     …Hi, I’m Tony Baggz.  Long as I can remember, the neighborhood has had these seats here at ‘the Bowl” … almost half of section 136 by my count.  The tickets belong to a dozen or so of the folks in the neighborhood gang and St. Kate’s, First Presbyterian, and Christ the Redeemer Lutheran each have seats that parishioners who have passed on, left to the churches. The guys in the neighborhood split the cost of the tickets so those who don’t have season tickets get to go to a few games. And each week some go to high school students who excel in their studies. This week it's four football players and two cheerleaders at St. Mark's Episcopal Academy who've maintained A averages.  It's an incentive and a reward the guys have established. 

     The fella everyone calls “Alabama” is named Andy. He’s in his early twenties and he and his dad, Pete, belong to Martin Williams’ church. They’re a fixture here on game day. A widower, Pete was a fireman in Engine Company 5 and about ten years ago was severely injured fighting a fire.  So, Pete's on a disability pension and the Chief, “Crazy Pat” makes sure he and Andy have a ticket for all the home games.  They’re sitting two rows in front of Father Bob, Rabbi Green and Pastor Williams. Behind Martin a fellow in a ‘Skins’ jacket is watching Alabama with a decidedly puzzled look. Leaning forward he taps Reverend Williams on the shoulder …

     … Let’s listen in…


     “Excuse me fella … name’s John. Not to be nosy but isn’t that guy down there a little lost?”

     Chuckling, Reverend Williams turns to the stranger, “Hi, I’m Martin … this is, Bob, and my friend over here is Josh.”

     Smiling, Father Bob shakes the stranger’s hand. “Nice to meet you,” he says as the Rabbi follows suit.

     “I take it you’re referring to ‘Alabama’?” Reverend Williams, asks.

     “Right, what gives … This isn’t exactly the Southeast Conference …?”

     “Chuckling, Pastor Williams nods his head. "Yea … I see your point," he says. "Well, Alabama’s real name is Andy, and Andy has Down syndrome.  And as a toddler, he nearly drowned, complicating things a bit.  So he’s a little ‘challenged’ as they say.”

     “Okay … but … what’s with the ‘Roll Tide’ bit.”

      Father Bob laughs.  "... gotta admit, it must seem a little strange,” he says.

     Smiling gently, the Baptist minister continues.

     “Well, Andy’s dad, Pete, is the fellow in the crimson windbreaker sitting next to him.  Pete went to the University of Alabama.  He’s a die-hard Crimson Tide fan and he told us when Andy was little, they would watch the college games on Saturday afternoons.  Whenever Alabama would score, Pete would raise his arms in a touchdown signal and holler ‘Rooollll Tiiiide.’ Little Andy picked up on it and now anytime his team scores, Andy hollers ‘Rooollll Tiiiide.’ It doesn’t matter who’s playing."

     “Or what sport,” laughs Josh “… you should see him at a hockey game.” 

     It’s John’s turn to laugh. “Yea, I’ll bet that’s rich … especially if the Canadiens are playing.” Pausing a moment, he watches Andy laughing with the kids from St. Marks. “And his touchdown dance… where’d that come from?”

     "Well, he’s on his own there,” laughs the Rabbi. “Even his dad doesn’t know where that came from. He just starting doing it one day. You’ll notice we all cheer with Andy, but the dance … heck, half of us would end up in traction.”

     Two rows down, someone passes Andy a couple of hot dogs.  Waving to his benefactor, Andy looks around ... and then gives them to two little kids sitting in front of him.  

     “I’ve noticed that he doesn’t seem to want for anything. That has to be the sixth hot dog someone’s sent him, and we’re barely into the second quarter.”   

     “Yea, everyone looks out for Andy,” Martin says. “We take care of him because he gives us far more than we give him." 

     “What could he give you?”

     Martin nods at the priest.  “Perspective … and balance.” Pausing, Martin takes a long sip of his drink, and continues. “You see, in the beginning we all felt sorry for Andy, and, truth be told, some of us avoided him. His disability made us uncomfortable. Now, he's one of the reasons we all look forward to coming here on Sundays. You see, to Andy, everyone here is his friend, and Andy loves his friends.

     "Yea, I've noticed that." 

     "… if someone buys him a hotdog or a drink, he’ll eat the first one, and then just give the next ones away.  So, we buy Andy ‘dogs and drinks and snacks so he can take care of his friends.  Just watching him gives us a good feeling." 

      "Yea, and the vendors here all drive Cadillacs,” Josh laughs.   

        "Andy sees everyone as good and that simplicity makes him special … and unique,” Father Bob says, chuckling at the Rabbi’s remark. “What we originally saw as a limitation we now see as a gift. Andy’s joy reminds us life is good and happiness is found in giving. He shows us our troubles aren’t all that bad, and when we look beyond the surface we find a simple and pervasive kind of joy."

     “… like, don’t judge a gift by the wrapping paper?” John says. 

      Josh nods. “Exactly … and the great thing is, he’s infectious.  The TV cameras love him.  You can bet somewhere in this game his face’ll be up there on the big screen. He’s even been featured on TV a few times. Half the city knows Andy and his cheer and his special touchdown dance. He’s kind of the unofficial mascot.”  

     “OK, but what if the team loses, what happens then?”

     “Doesn’t faze him at all. He just knows they’ll win next week ... he has that simple faith. And in a way, it doesn’t matter to him ... just being here with his dad and his friends means everything. Like I said, simple.”

     More cheers and another chorus of "Rooollll Tide" cascades from section 136. The men turn their attention to the field as the Boys in Black just hit a big pass play for another touchdown. And Andy’s on his feet ... another cheer and another crooked grin ... he's doing his dance … along with the kids from St. Mark's.  They’re having a ball ... all of them.

     And the crowd erupts in a cheer as the image of Andy and the kids appears on the Jumbotron.

     Mr. “burgundy and gold” waves the hot dog vendor over.  “Give ‘Alabama’ down there two dogs and a large cola … it's on me.”

      Martin chuckles, “You know, John, they’ll probably be eaten by someone three rows away.” 

     "Then give him two more."

     Rabbi Josh turns to Reverend Williams and winks.

     And in section 136, a man dressed in the other team’s colors hollers “Rooollll Tiiiide” and does his own funny little dance ….


     Someone once asked Jesus if a young man’s blindness was punishment for his sins or the sins of his parents.  Our Lord replied it was neither; it was so the glory of God may shine through him.  Look hard enough at someone society considers a tragedy, a mistake, or worse, expendable and it often becomes clear that the world misses an important  point … or refuses to see it.

     All people are made in the image and likeness of God including the handicapped, the Down Syndrome kids, those "challenged", and those marginalized and consigned to the edges of society ... seen but not heard.  God’s plan for mankind doesn’t always neatly fit into modern society’s preconceptions of the value of a human life.

     Truth, joy, happiness, and love don’t always come in the packages we expect … or think they should. 

     Angels are messengers, and when a person shines through his or her suffering, disability, or troubles, they may be teaching us something valuable … if we’re willing to listen.

     In your life, are you being sent a message … through an angel? …

     … who just might be known as, oh let’s say … Alabama?  

     Thinkaboutit … I’m Tony Baggz. 

©Tres Angeli Publishing, LLC, 2017

Tony's Town Archives

Below you will find prior episodes. The have been included here in the order they appeared through the first four episodes; Church and State to Amish Race Car Drivers. Many of the people, places, and themes of the episodes are set in those first four. Also, the Tony's Neighborhood portion found immediately below is a overall view of the people and places you will find in our neighborhood. If you are new to our little neck of the woods, may I suggest you avail yourself of these so as to familiarize yourself with our little world.

Please enjoy.

TONY'S SOUTHSIDE NEIGHBORHOOD  - PEOPLE AND PLACES Come meet the neighborhood gang and their favorite haunts.

CHURCH AND STATE  In today's culture, what does structured religion provide society?

NAMES Get to know many of the neighborhood gang more closely.  And what popular recording artist might need to change his nickname?

THE REPAIR Sometimes the most trivial work is the most important.  Discover it in a conversation that occurs before, "movie night."

AMISH RACECAR DRIVERS The 'glue' that holds uncommon relationships together puzzles a young man.  Listen to a rabbi set him straight..  

TWELVE CENTS Sometimes the very valuable lessons in life, come at little cost.

ROLL TIDE An prolife episode shows us sometimes those very valuable lessons come from the least likely person you would expect. 

DILEMMA An unexpected windfall is a challenge to "do the right thing."

BLACK OPAL Some of God's most beautiful, yet unlikely, creations, speak to us of beauty and depth beyond what's see on the surface. 

MISTER DRISCOLL Riches from an unlikely source.

SALT IN CHOCOLATE A necessary evil?

A SCARY STORY Sometimes nice guys do finish last.

TANZANITE  A whisper from God

THE S IS SILENT  A devastating disease ... do you have it?

PROOF  Proof of the existence of God ... from an interesting source

THE PREACHERS MISTAKE  The danger of going overboard