Well, it's that regular interval where we stop for a minute and take a look at some of the offerings from the mailbag over the last six months. And it has been busy. And please, do not hesitate to drop me a line if something stirs you in one of my columns.
My Sept. 10 column regarding my personal changes since the 9/11 attacks a decade ago brought several emails. SirJimDog emailed: "Let's face it, Big Chuck, we all changed that day. You can see it in everybody's face and hear it in everybody's voice. I can't really describe it, but yes, the world changed for all of us that day."
In that column I also lamented the tribulations of flying post-9/11. "Gee, rather than complain about taking off your shoes and having to show your I.D. several times, why don't you just not fly?" Rose from Edmeston advised.
Well, for the record, I was only commenting on the drudgery involved in flying now compared to what is used to be. I wasn't ululating or wringing my hands in agony over it. Just reflecting what I think is the universal sense that flying is nowhere near the fun it was a decade ago.
My Oct. 10 column about hiking got me a few emails, too. All of them were positive and praised my newfound love for the outdoors and hiking, something I had never done before in my previous 61 years.
MarkAZ1290 emailed, "Hey Chuck, let's find a couple of hours on a Saturday and I will take you on some hikes around Otsego County that will show you some of the most beautiful landscapes you have ever seen."
I replied to MarkAZ1290 that we will set up a "hike date" as soon as I get a decent pair of hiking boots.
On Nov. 11, I wrote about the young boy from Schenevus Central School who created a remarkable tribute to World War II veterans. Eleven-year-old Nick Baker made a scale model of the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Jacob from East Meredith emailed: "What a sharp young man. It is heartening to read such stories in this day and age. Nick's parents should be commended. I only wish it was on public display so we could see it."
One area veteran said the column brought a tear to his eye. "I didn't serve on Iwo, but it was so interesting to read about what this young boy did for his school project. I did serve in Europe. Would love to see some young chap take on a model of the Battle of the Bulge! I was in it!"
One of the most popular stories of the year was my "caboose column" from Dec. 5. I received more than a dozen emails from folks fondly remembering their own train memories to me.
One nice one, registered on The Daily Star's online forum from "Hiyalok," read: "Nice column, Big Chuck! I am a shameless Red Caboose fan myself."
He (or she) was not alone. Anna from Stamford wrote: "My great-uncle was a 'caboose rider' in the old days. We used to wait for him to ride by us, and we, too, would give out a wave. And yes ... he even smoked a pipe! Great memories in your column today, Chuck."
But the winner of the biggest response from a column of the last half of 2011 was my column about our dog Stella. Maybe it was because it came out Dec. 19, just ahead of Christmas.
Whatever the reason, it sure got a lot of folks thinking about their pets, both past and present. The 15 sentimental emails I got really warmed my heart. Each told a sentimental story about the writer's favorite pet. Many thanked me for highlighting the joy of acquiring a pet from a rescue facility, humane society or shelter.
And, this column brought my favorite letter of the year.
It came in the mail just a day before Christmas. It came from Grove Street in Cooperstown (I won't mention the sender's name). But, get this, it was addressed to Stella!
It had a picture of two dogs on the front of the card. It read: "Dear Stella, I'm in love with you after reading your story in The Daily Star. How about a date? I'll show you a good time. We'll run around the block, chase squirrels and bay at the moon. When Big Chuck's not around, give me a call at 547-WOOF."
Oh, great. Now the dog is getting fan mail.
I'll catch you in two ...
"Big Chuck" D'Imperio can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his "Oldies Jukebox Show." You can find "Big Chuck" on Facebook under Upstate New York Books. He invites you to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/bigchuck.