Third Friday Wilkes-Barre

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First Posted: 8/11/2014

It’s an experience many have had: Sitting with mom or dad and hearing stories – stories of growing up, stories of your home town, stories that spark curiosity in your mind.

Some children carry these stories with them all their lives, recalling them now and again. Others, like Thomas Cerra of Hanover Township, not only carry them, but use them as a way to entertain others and weave a new story of their own.

Cerra is a featured Third Friday Artist, bringing his first self-published book “Black Rose” to the local community at the Osterhout Free Library from 5 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 15.

Cerra’s inspiration to tell stories began as a child growing up in South Scranton.

“I was born with cerebral palsy. In my early youth I found it hard to get around and spent much time with my parents,” he said. “They would always tell me stories about Scranton and their lives when they were younger growing up in this area. I don’t think they knew how much it meant to me to hear those stories. This is what inspired me to want to write, to tell stories. They excited my imagination.”

“Black Rose” follows lovers Matthew and Nora, who are lead to move to America due to unrest in Belfast – though not before Nora is given a black rose in a water globe from her best friend as a parting gift, one that haunts her dreams.

The rose makes it way from generation to generation, wreaking havoc in its wake.

Cerra said the idea for “Rose” came as a creative voice telling him the story of this couple, and he knew he had to write it. As he wrote, he wove the tales his parents told him into the story.

“I then took landmarks with historical value with a hope to shed some light on their importance in this area’s history, its heritage. It blended together well. The Hotel Sterling, Huber Colliery, the Laurel Line and parks like the San Souci, Rocky Glen and even Luna Park are given mention.”

Cerra hopes people can recall great memories as they read his work. Thus far, “Rose” has been so well-received that Cerra is already penning a sequel, one based entirely in Wilkes-Barre and the surrounding areas in the 1930s.

Cerra would also like to keep the art of storytelling alive – something it seems he’s already accomplished.

“Since I have published this book, everyone I meet tells me stories about their parents and grandparents, I think because their parents did the same thing,” he said. “Now my children are writing. I hope that it is I who has inspired them.”