• Instagram Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon

Add us on Instagram for photos of great food and great friends!

Check out our Twitter for Conversation Crutches!

Alex TenBarge
Jun 9, 2018

Day 6: A Thick-headed Irishman


Edited: Jun 9, 2018

Once upon a time I met a guy named Tom Farrell...



I decided to go home this weekend to see my family and take a break from the bustling city. I live in a small and quiet town called Peapack & Gladstone in New Jersey. Getting on board the NJ transit train in Penn Station, I fell asleep instantaneously. My work week really demolished my energy, I drank four coffees just to get through today! Anyway, as I awoke I realized I wasn’t far from home. I took out my book and read for a couple of minutes before I made my way to the front of the train. Gladstone is the last station in the train line so all the remaining passengers have to make their way up to the front of the train as we get near our destination. With two backpacks on my shoulders and a book in hand, a man across from me asks “Is that a history book you’re holding?”. I laugh and say “If only, it’s a book about investing.” He then goes on making jokes about buying low and selling high, split stocks, and investing in a company called “Apple”. I laughed and we talked across the aisle of the train. I asked him, “Why are you coming in from the city” to which he replied “No, I actually live in Gladstone.” I asked again but this time a bit louder. He replied, “I like to go into the city and go to the library… I also like the hamburgers they sell across the street from Penn Station.” I told him “that’s awesome, the New York Public Library is incredible.” He says “Oohhh yes, the library is very big… and oh, I also like to get ice cream two blocks west of the Dunkin Donuts.” I laughed and smiled after almost everyone of his responses. He says, “So I assume you’re in college right?”, I react saying “Yes, I go to Fordham.” He goes “Ohh...Fordham… you got those damn Jesuits!” I chuckled and said “Yes! I love the Jesuits!” He laughs and tells me the Jesuits are stupid and he prefers the Holy Cross Fathers. I asked him where he went to school and he replied stating Notre Dame. I told him my grandfather went there and it brought a smile to his face. As the door between train cars opened up it got harder to hear him so I moved next to him. I put out my hand and tell him my name, he replies saying his is Tom. I ask Tom why he goes to library and he tells me he’s reading about taxes, 1250’s to be specific. He’s been having trouble with them recently so he’s trying to learn more about them. Tom then goes onto say he knew taxes very well at one point in his life. He did taxes for family members, corporations, clients etc. However he told me he’s been having strokes throughout the year and he’s lost a lot of his knowledge. It was a bittersweet moment. On the one hand I saw a man putting effort into keeping his ability and knowledge, and on the other I could see that he knew he was losing himself. At one point in the conversation a tear fell from his eye and I don’t think he even noticed it.

He asked me if there was a library in Gladstone and I say yes, right on main street across from Liberty park. I was a bit surprised he didn’t know about it because the town is so small. He ponders for a moment and then asks again where it is. I tell him, “Once you get off the train walk right and follow the road, eventually you'll get there.” He tells me, “I don’t walk east when I get off the train I walk west!” I laughed again. For the rest of the train ride we talked about high schools and where we went. I told him I went to Seton Hall Prep, and he replies “Oh you might know my classmate John Allen”. John Allen was my algebra teacher, he is one of the oldest teachers at the prep and has been working there for at least 55 years. Tome went to St. Benedicts, a rival school of SHP. I asked him if he knew Jack Dolton, once the head basketball coach of St. Benedicts and my great grandfather. He gasped in amazement and laughed saying yes he knew Jack quite well. As the train came to a stop and the doors rolled open I asked Tom if I could write a story about him in this series I’m doing. He replied “Yes, my name is Tom Farrell, spelt F.A.R.R.E.L.L, describe me as a thick-head irishman… or an old fart.” Once more I laughed and told him to keep that smile on his face because I was big fan of it. “Have a good day Alex!” “You too Tom.” Tom walked west as I walked east. It was a pleasure to meet you Tom Farrell.


With Love,


Emily Leaman
Jun 10, 2018

Whoa he knew your grandpa that’s sick

Liam Scott
Jun 11, 2018

This is my personal favorite story. Excellent writing Alex

Alex TenBarge
Jun 11, 2018

Thanks Liam!

New Posts
  • Robert Quintas
    Apr 30

    As I chop away at the head of fresh lettuce beneath me, I walk back to my fridge to collect the rest of my ingredients. Immediately after grabbing feta, tomato, cucumber, and olives, my ears tune in to the blaring sound of my timer, indicating to me that it is time to flip the chicken. I make my way to the stove, and as I stand there, I take a chance to take in the aroma of the garlic- seasoned chicken cutlets, sizzling in the pan. After flipping the cutlets and adding a pinch of salt and pepper, it comes to my attention that the garbanzos in the pan next over are done cooking. I slowly empty them into a large serving bowl, and I make my way back to the counter where I can finish my salad. In what seems like a situation of chaos and complications, I am actually in a state of peace. For me, cooking is a state of mind. The enjoyment in the act itself has little to do with the end result. Don’t get me wrong; I love food just as much as the next guy, if not more. Yet, there is something almost therapeutic about the actual process of preparing food that I find intrinsically satisfying Gathering and mixing my ingredients is menial labor that allows for a bit of creative freedom. The physical aspect of it is not challenging, but it requires some sense of coordination and rhythm. The beating of eggs, the stirring of batter, the mincing of ginger: these are all movements that don’t stress the mind, but the simplicity of these tasks do instill a sense of relaxation and mindful tranquility. Yet, there is also flexibility; recipes should not and do not exist as precise rulesets. Instead, they are general guidelines, and that gives me the ability to experiment and integrate my own originality into the dish by means of deviating from the suggested mixture of ingredients. I take a moment to imagine how a meal would taste by adding a specific component. Would this savory piece of salmon benefit from the addition of a sweet honey marinade? The recipe doesn’t call for basil, but do I want to add that herbal essence to these baked potatoes? Each ingredient has its own identity, and with so many of them at my disposal, there is almost a limitless amount of possibilities in what I am able to create. It’s all dependent on what kind of flavor and texture I desire. And even in those moments where action and thought are not required on your part, you still have to maintain some focus. Your hands may be away from the knife or the oven, but maybe you are paying attention to the timer, the thermometer, the scent of the food, the redness of the meat, etc. It is in those moments of patient concentration where you stand and breathe, unconcerned with whatever is going on outside the kitchen that bring peace of mind. Finally, once the timer is up or your instincts tell you the dish is complete, it is then that your cooking session is finished, and you can bask in your accomplishment. It is the perfect combination of meditation and multitasking, the best balance of mindfulness and peace. For that reason, I love cooking.
  • Amanda Blaze
    Nov 2

    As a college student, it is not often that I get the chance to bake while at school. I am always very busy and since I live in a dorm, I have to either borrow or buy all the materials. Last week my friend and I were looking through the cabinets of the communal kitchen and found most of the ingredients to make cornbread, something I have never made before. We felt really excited and motivated, (and I had a lot of homework that I did not want to do) so we went to the grocery store and got the rest of the ingredients at the grocery store. We spent about an hour making this cornbread, and since there are people coming in and out of the lounge all the time, many people knew we were making it. I was really excited to share it with everyone, so I could barely wait until it was cooled to cut into it. I split a piece with two other girls and we all tried it at the same time. I bit into it, chewed a little, then had to restrain myself from spitting it out. Not to be dramatic, but this cornbread tasted like poison. It was so unbelievably gross that I rinsed my mouth out with water. Obviously, I wasn’t going to suffer alone, so I still had all my friends try it, but I was so embarrassed! Not to be cocky, but the last time I made something that didn’t taste good was in 7th grade when I made Nutella cookies and accidentally put in three cups of water instead of three tablespoons. Those were pretty bad, but I had never made something as inedible as that cornbread. Logically, since I was using a lot of communal ingredients that I didn’t really check for safety, one of the ingredients was probably expired in some way. However, it was still something I took as a personal blow to my reputation as a baker. However, once I thought about it more, it was a blessing in disguise. It was a reminder to not place so much importance on the end result and to enjoy the journey getting there. It was a reminder to be okay with failure. Most importantly, it was a reminder to not take myself too seriously. Now I know not everything I make is going to be delicious and honestly? I’m okay with that. � �
  • Amanda Blaze
    Apr 5

    Something that I love to do is share what I make with the people that I care about. There is something special about putting a lot of time and effort into something and being able to put a smile on someone’s face. Recently, I have gotten into the habit of bringing baked goods back to my friends at school after a break where I have the opportunity to use my kitchen. After winter break I brought my friends each a large slice of banana bread, saran wrapped and labeled with their names on them. Surprising people with homemade treats is great because it is easy to make a big batch of something at a low cost, but it is still a meaningful and delicious gift. Over Spring Break I was really interested in making cookies, so on the day before heading back to Fordham I made about 30 chocolate chip cookies and sorted them in piles on top of sticky notes with the recipients' names on them. It was hard to make sure my grandmother and brother didn’t eat them all before I had given every person at least two cookies, but other than that it was just an enjoyable and relaxing way to spend an hour or so before being thrust back into the business of classes and extracurriculars. I delivered all of the goods the day I got back and it was so nice to give something back to the friends who mean so much to me. Besides, who would say no to a homemade cookie? I certainly wouldn’t (and that why I set some aside for myself!). � �