The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.

Fron NYC to Morenci: a phone visit with Steven Sorrentino

Written by David Green.


A couple dozen patrons sat in chairs Thursday night in Morenci’s Stair Public Library, waiting for the show to begin.

They sat in a circle of chairs; between them was a telephone and a photo of author Steven Sorrentino.

At about 7:01 p.m, assistant library director Colleen Leddy walked over to the group and announced that she had him on the line.library.sorrentino

She pushed the button for the speakerphone and Morenci was suddenly playing host to a New York City author—at least they had his attention. Sorrentino was still 600 miles away, in his Manhattan office.

“This is a real first for me,” Sorrentino said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever met with a reading group while totally nude.”

Good joke, Steven, but someone in the reading group shot right back: “So are we.”

The session was clearly off to a good start.

To recount how the event came to be, go back to last summer when Morenci reader Patsy Barrett found Sorrentino’s memoir “Luncheonette.” When Sorrentino was 23 years old, his father became very ill and for five years, Sorrentino took over management of the family’s diner in New Jersey. The author is now 50.

Patsy loved the book and told Colleen about it. Colleen enjoyed the memoir so much that she couldn’t quite part with it as the story ended. She began reading everything else—the jacket notes, the acknowledgments—and that’s where she encountered a familiar name: Sorrentino’s agent, Stuart Krichevsky. Colleen had a classmate in high school named Stuart Krichevsky.

Sure enough, it was the same Stuart Krichevsky and he helped her get in touch with Sorrentino. The author knew he wasn’t going to be able to visit Morenci. He was just too busy. As an alternative, he suggested a telephone discussion. His voice and a photograph would have to do.

• During the discussion, Sorrentino was asked about the pork roll that was served in his father’s diner in New Jersey.

“I think it’s indigenous to New Jersey,” he said. “It’s our state meat.”

After the memoir was published, he was surprised to learn of an internet chat group dedicated to pork roll.

Like Michiganders and their Vernors, some New Jersey expatriates have pork roll shipped to them at their new home.

 • A reader wondered how his family accepted the book.

“I didn’t let anyone read it until it was in galley form [nearly ready for publication],” he said. “I didn’t want to be influenced by anyone.”

He said he was nervous about his family’s reaction, but he wasn’t the only one.

“My mother said, ‘I’m afraid you’re going to write a Mommie Dearest.’”

Once they read it, he had the complete support of his family, but their reaction was rather intense. It became a cathartic process as they sifted through a lot of memories.

• Sorrentino was asked how long it took to write the memoir.

He quit his job with HarperCollins Publishers in 2001 to begin writing.

“I knew there was a story and I knew it was my story to tell,” he said.

He took a one-week vacation, came back home, turned on the computer and gazed at the empty screen.

“Oh..., what have I done?” he asked himself.

Over the course of several months, he turned out a 450-page draft and submitted it to Krichevsky for review. Krichevsky offered suggestions and challenged him to write it all over again.

Another “what have I done?” moment arrived.

About two and a half years passed from the beginning until handing in the final draft. Another year followed as he worked through the editing process.

Sorrentino said he worried about the limited appeal of an East Coast story to other parts of the country, but he kept reminding himself to just tell the truth, just tell the truth.

• Sorrentino was asked about his decision to return to the family business when his father became ill.

“We’ve all been playing roles in life,” he said, such as the leader, the follower, the victim. “People just find their key role in life.

“I was so trapped in my good son role. I guess it served me well when I was growing up in a small town [West Long Branch, N.J.], and it was a really big thing when I moved away [to New York City].”

Sorrentino said there was a part of him that realized going back to run the diner would take him to an old role in a safe place, but he was soon no longer willing to be the good son again.

“It was a messy, difficult transition,” Sorrentino said, as he found his way into an adult role after returning home.

• What would have happened to the diner if he hadn’t stepped up to take over?

“I thought, ‘If I don’t do this, everything is going to implode,’” he said. “But probably someone else would have stepped up. It was a little grandiose of me.”

The experience was difficult, he said.

“I paid a price for not taking care of myself better,” he said.

The tough times eventually led to a reward, of course. Now he has a well-received book that’s gained fans in such diverse locations as Morenci.

• Patsy Barrett asked if the book would be made into a movie and Sorrentino said there have been some inquiries.

She had already gone through the casting for the major roles, which drew a laugh from Sorrentino. A few of her choices matched actors that had come to his mind, as well.

More than an hour had passed by and there were more questions to ask, but Sorrentino had to attend to some business. The annual Tartan Week activities were underway in New York City and as director of author promotions and special events for Barnes & Noble, Sorrentino was scheduled to have dinner with the Scottish Book Trust, along with Scottish author Ian Rankin and recording artist Aidan Moffett. Morenci’s time was up.

“This was fun,” he told the crowd at the library. “I’m so grateful to be able to do this. I really appreciate it.”

    - April 18, 2007 

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