By Judy Berman
Our strategy was all mapped out. By comparison, the invasion of Normandy might have seemed less complicated.
Private messages and e-mails outlined our plans before my husband, Dave, and I flew into Syracuse, New York, in mid-July.
Some may scramble for tickets to concerts, plays and other entertainment. Our quest was laser-focused. We aimed to see as many of our old friends as we could at lunch and dinner before returning to Florida.
Up until Wednesday, everything was going according to plan. That night, we hit our first snag when we were getting ready for dinner with my blogging buddies: Mark Murphy, Mark Bialczak and his wife, Karen.
Mark Murphy and I became friends after I met him where he worked with my husband, Dave, at the Syracuse Post-Standard. We have kept in touch thru phone calls, e-mail and Facebook ever since we left Syracuse in 1999 to work at Florida Today, a Gannett newspaper based in Melbourne.
Our strongest link, besides a warped sense of humor, is a love of writing.
Coincidentally, that is also the link I have forged with WordPress blogger, Mark Bialczak. He also used to work with Dave at The Post-Standard. Karen worked at the front desk at the same paper. I worked in radio and at a competing paper, The Observer-Dispatch, in Utica.
When we lived in Syracuse, we all often hung out after work at softball games. Sometimes, after a late night at work, we’d also close a local watering hole – Dinosaur Bar-B-Q or Riley’s – and then go to breakfast.
Mark Murphy now works at Pinckney-Hugo on West Genesee Street. He showed us around the advertising agency. It was only then that I suggested we call my favorite Italian restaurant in Syracuse – Angotti’s Family Restaurant – for reservations.
It was not to be. No one answered the phone. Mark Murphy checked on the web and found it was closed that night as they were on vacation. Arggh!
This is where we had arranged to meet Mark and Karen Bialczak. I called them at home. No answer. I called his cell phone. No answer. I left a message both places.
Now, I’m not a fussy eater. But my requirement for sustenance this particular night had to be Italian. That is my main comfort food.
My phone rang. Mark Bialczak had the perfect place: Rico’s Ristorante. We’d never been there, but it was a delightful choice. Outside the restaurant, I spotted a familiar smile. It was Mark Bialczak. Dave recognized Karen from their days at the daily newspaper.
The years just melted away as we talked about old times. Then we chatted about our experiences in blogging, which stories drew the most readers, and most mysteriously, why has the Freshly Pressed Award not smiled upon us.
We just shrugged. Our attention shifted back to the food and the great time we were having.
Before we parted, Mark Murphy gave me a book he knew I’d love: “Trust Me On This” by Donald E. Westlake. It’s about a reporter who left a respectable newspaper to work at a sleazy tabloid. It’s a wonderful blend “of mystery and hilarity,” so said a Boston Globe blurb on the book.
I devoured it on our return trip to Florida and laughed at the outlandish tactics those reporters used to get the story. The author kept me guessing – until near the end – on who had it in for Sara Joslyn, the main character.
As I sat the book down, I smiled. It’s wonderful to be with people who “get you.”
They are all greatly missed as is Syracuse, the place I still think of as home.
** On Saturday, August 2nd, I’ll have more on our travels in “A Trip to Yesterday.”
Have you met any of your blogger friends and had dinner together? Were you friends in real life first with any of your blogger friends? What would be your go-to dining choice when you get together?
For Mark Bialczak’s point of view on this story, here’s a link to his blog: http://markbialczak.com/2014/07/25/old-big-daily-friends-new-blogs-to-talk-about/
For a gander at Mark Murphy’s blog, Murphy’s Craw, here’s the link: http://murphyscraw.blogspot.com/
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
1. Main Photo: Mark Murphy, Dave and Judy Berman, Mark and Karen Bialczak at Rico’s Ristorante.
2. Photo: Mark Murphy, Judy and Dave Berman outside Rico’s Ristorante.
3. Photo: Judy Berman, Mark and Karen Bialczak outside Rico’s Ristorante.