Off The Wall, August 19
, 2011

Recently, I walked into one of the banks here in Latrobe and saw the teller I was looking for. Even though one young lady spoke up so as to get my attention, I had a mission in mind and planned on carrying it through to the very end.

I walked up to the counter greeting the woman by name. I then followed with the words, “I have something to show you.” I then paused until her curiosity got the best of her. “What is it?” she said. I slowly reached into my black bag and pulled out a tabloid with my picture on the front. When she saw it, she exclaimed “Wow…” and all the other tellers stopped what they were doing and came running to see what the middle-aged woman was so elated about.

And just when I thought I had experienced the ultimate response, I attended a recent appreciation dinner in Legion Keener Park for the firemen of Company #2. This annual event held for many years now was attended by mostly men and one woman who gave of their time to serve their community. The dinner was a way of thanking the members.

When I arrived clutching my little black bag, I knew one female volunteer would get excited as to what she saw. When I took the book out and held it up so she could see it straight on, her eyes got large and her mouth dropped open and there was silence. Then all of a sudden she let out her typical response – “Pee Vee…, Pee Vee…” And then what followed was the same comment as the bank teller – “You’re not getting this back!”

Somehow little comments like this make a guy feel good about himself – maybe just a little…?

And then there was the third gent who insisted on getting the hardbound copy of my book – “Off the Wall Favorites.” “Gee, I never met an author before. You’re my first,” he said. That, too, upped my spirits a trifle.

My book, also in paperback, took somewhere in the proximity of three-quarters of a year to put together. Since it is a collection of what my brother and I both think are the best of over 550 stories I’ve written for the Latrobe Bulletin in the last ten years, it was tough picking columns we thought would be fitting.

The book is arranged in categories, so if someone prefers not to read about holidays or animals, for example, he can skip to stories concerning people, faith or odds and ends.

I’ve heard so many nice comments already from people who told me they liked the book because one could pick it up and read a story or two in little time. “It’s perfect at bedtime,” one person said. Another said he was going to read it during break at work.

Anybody who knows my mind is familiar with the fact that I have an imagination, praise God. Without Him, I would be nowhere. He has made it possible for me to put myself anywhere at anytime without leaving my bedroom at 1544 Ligonier St., Latrobe.

So when the comment was made that my columns border on the sublime to the ridiculous, that’s a fair statement to make.

There may be a couple people out there with some questions why I put together “Off the Wall Favorites.” I have two answers for the inquisitive.

First, while being a pastor at Holy Family Church, Reverend James Martin approached me after Mass and looked me in the eye and said, “Before you die, you have to write a book including a number of your columns in it.” Wouldn’t want to disappoint a priest, so I did it. Second, I am feeling pretty fair, health wise, so why not do it now. I wonder if Father Jim knows something about my future that my physicians have not told me?

Some have asked, is my book going to be available in the bookstores? No, not at the present. There is so much red tape. As a physically challenged individual, I can not meet the requirements and so I’m going to leave it to word of mouth, Second Chapter Books in Ligonier, i frame it in Youngstown and from yours truly. They are also temporarily available at and if parties are interested in online shopping. One can buy either the hardbound or softcover by contacting me at 724-539-8850 or emailing me at and arranging for a scheduled appointment. I can meet people at my home, their place of business or someplace that’s convenient.

Because I only bought a limited amount of books from the publisher, my prices reflect the quantity purchased. When I get famous, maybe the publisher will be kind to me and lower the cost of each book. Softcover editions sell for $17.50 plus tax ($18.50) and hardcover, $25 plus tax ($26.50).

Wonder what the priest meant, “before you die…” Is the train a’comin’? Time will tell.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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Buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, on Amazon.