Author Archives: Michael Pocalyko


We were young and brave, weary of the win-proof war that divided our nation and lingered on, refusing to quit. From the middle of the middle of a generation, we were culled from a socialization of boys in the fifties and sixties when patriotism, a simpler-era behavioral manifestation now derided as “Murica,” was inherent, natural, and prevalent. We all wanted to fly. Forty years is long enough for an instance of reflection. It’s exactly that time-distance this week from the moment I arrived in Pensacola, Continue reading →

The Boys on the Bus

Trexler Library at Muhlenberg College has an elegant room containing special collections, rare books, and some museum displays. There, behind glass, in a beautiful blond wood case, is a 40-year old white ceramic fraternity mug, a massive tankard. The college name is on the rim in Old English font. The year 1976 is split, bookending a Sigma Phi Epsilon seal with the fraternity’s name in Greek on a meandering yellow scroll. If you could reach in there, pick up the mug, turn it around and Continue reading →

As We Remember John

In any great age there are only a few great men.  I knew one of them. John Whitehead died twenty days ago at home in New York. When someone dies at the age of 92 it’s easier to celebrate his life than to grieve. But for me this last couple of weeks has proven to be reflective. I hadn’t seen him in over a year. I wasn’t one of his close confidants. I was a friend, kind of a touchstone friend, but with John there Continue reading →


I was born in Bethlehem. On Christmas Eve. There was a star. Absolutely, literally true. Those statements show how deceptive the whole truth can be. It’s all about context. Here’s the context: I am from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and escaped—that was definitely the way I thought of it—in the mid-1970s. This small city, a wonderful place to be from and in which we prospered abundantly as kids, was steeply declining then with the wheezing last gasps of American Big Industry, led locally by the decline and Continue reading →