HomeColumnists ( December 12, 2018 )

100 Years Ago

By Betty Smith, Susquehanna County Historical Society, Montrose, PA

With "Our Boys" in the Field. Mr. and Mrs. Fred Terboss, of Great Bend, have been notified by the War department of the death of their grandson, Max Green, a former Great Bend young man. He was killed in action in France on Nov. 10. Harold VanVleck, son of Mr. and Mrs. Hubert VanVleck, of Great Bend, has been wounded—the degree was undetermined. The War Department has notified Mr. and Mrs. Fred McIntosh, of Susquehanna, of the death of their son Lewis, in France. Pneumonia contracted in the trenches was the cause of his death. Lieut. Alphonsus J. Calby, who has been at Camp Dix, NJ, arrived home the first of the week and resumed his dental practice. Word was received of the death on shipboard of Archie Tanner, a New Milford young man, who was returning from France. Death was due to influenza. A letter was received from Sgt. Robert Wood, son of Mrs. Nettie Wood, written after the signing of the armistice, tells of the joyousness of the boys over the culmination of hostilities. He said that just before 11 o'clock on the morning of Nov. 11 both sides laid down a terrific artillery barrage that he did not believe a "mosquito could have lived through," and a few minutes after the firing had suddenly died away, the Yanks and Huns were in No Man's Land exchanging souvenirs. That night the Germans sent up red, white and blue rockets throughout the night. He has been in eight battles. He writes that he is riding a horse that was formerly German property and which he has named Hindenburg. It balks sometimes, he says, but you couldn't expect anything more.

Lawsville – Archie Southworth found his lost cattle at Silver Lake. They had been gone about two weeks before he could obtain any trace of them.

Brooklyn – A skating party enjoyed the fine ice on McKinney pond on Monday evening.

Friendsville – On Nov. 23 the Friendsville Red Cross forwarded to Montrose four army sweaters and twenty-six pairs of socks. The ladies of the knitting circle expect to make another shipment before Jan. 1st.

Lathrop Twp. – It was with deep sadness that the friends and relatives of Victor Oakley learned of his sudden death, at his home, on Nov. 16, 1918, caused by influenza-pneumonia. Victor was widely known and beloved in the community. His talent as a singer and his sunny disposition won for him many friends. He was 14 years of age, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. B. L. Oakley. The funeral was held at his home, after which proceeded to the Strickland Hill Cemetery. A selection, "In That City," which was so often sung by Victor, was rendered by Mrs. Hazel Williams and Miss Mattie Johnson. "Closed, the brown eyes are forever./ Hushed the joyous, happy voice./ Gone the laughing little playmate./ Now an angel of God's choice."

Rush – Edward Decker and Miss Belle Larue, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Larue, were married in Towanda on Nov. 23.

Montrose – A meeting of the temperance forces of the county will be held at the Presbyterian church. The Hon. Michael Fanning, the celebrated Irish orator and wit, will address the meeting. Mr. Fanning is known throughout the country as a forceful temperance orator and is worth going miles to hear. This call is approved by Mrs. E. W. Lott, president of the Susquehanna County W.C.T.U. and Lee R. Bolles, chairman of the Prohibition party.

Springville – Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Young and son, Karl, started on Thursday of last week on an auto trip to the sunny southland. They were equipped with tent and all the paraphernalia for camping as soon as they get far enough south so that the weather will permit. They expected to reach Berwick, PA, that night, where they will visit Mrs. Young's niece.

Forest City – In a letter to his brother, Frank Louis Skubic tells of the joy of the French people when they learned of the signing of the armistice. American soldiers were proclaimed their deliverers and entitled to the best of everything in the possession of the people. It was a day he will always remember. In the midst of ruined homes the people rejoiced like never before and the boys in khaki were greatly pleased as the reception tendered them by the liberated people. ALSO John McGranaghan has opened undertaking parlors in the Bartholomay building, South Main Street. He has eight years' experience, the last three years being in the employ of John R. Bell, coming here from Hancock, NY.

200 Years Ago from the Montrose Gazette, December 12, 1818

*Communicated. A GREAT HUNT. On Friday the 4th instant men from various parts of the County of Bradford, PA surrounded a piece of woods and killed two hundred deer, six wolves, three bears and two foxes. The number of men, not accurately counted, but by good judges supposed to be from eight hundred to one thousand. SPORTSMAN.

*Susquehanna County Bible Society. It having been found that the "Union Auxiliary Bible Society," for the Counties of Luzerne, Susquehanna & Bradford, in its organization was inoperative, and inadequate to obtain the object designed by it; the officers of said society have judged it proper that the society in its present form cease to exist and in lieu of it, that distinct Bible Societies be formed in each of said counties. Therefore notice is hereby given to the inhabitants of Susquehanna County, that a meeting will be held at the Court House in Montrose, on the second Tuesday of January next, for the purpose of adopting a Constitution and organizing a Bible Society for the County of Susquehanna. A Sermon will be preached on the occasion, and public worship to commence at one o'clock in the afternoon. A general attendance is requested. EPHRAIM STRONG. Silver Lake, Dec. 4, 1818.

*On the 26th and 27th of October, a tremendous hurricane was experienced at Bahama Islands. The Spanish schr. [schooner] Yabolato, with 100 slaves on board from Africa, stranded, and all on board perished except the captain, 1 seaman and 18 slaves. Many vessels were wrecked. The same gale did much damage at Nassau, N.P.

*THOMAS JEFFERSON. A few days since we heard that this venerable patriot was languishing on the bed of sickness and that his valuable life was apparently near its close. The latest accounts from him, however, represent that he has recovered his health, and that we yet have the prospect of seeing him live to enjoy the gratitude of a nation which he has so eminently served, and whose councils have been enlightened by the wisdom and strength of his mind. [Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826 at Monticello, his home, fifty years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

*ASA HARTSHORN has removed to the New Building on the Avenue, next door to Sayre's Store, where he will attend to all orders in his line. CLOCKS & WATCHES repaired, as usual, on the shortest notice, and in the best possible manner. December 5, 1818.

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Letter of the Law

By Jason J. Legg

On July 30, 2012, Lavar Rigins was walking the streets of Aliquippa in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. He observed a group of individuals which included Dyquane Norman. Rigins approached the group to discuss a past robbery in which the two, he and Norman, had been involved. During the course of their discussion, Javonn Clancy placed himself between Rigins and Norman and punched Rigins in the face. A fight ensured between Rigins and Clancy until Norman intervened and separated the two men. Clancy then drew out a handgun and Rigins attempted to flee. Clancy shot Rigins three times in back and killed him.

Clancy was arrested for first degree homicide in connection with the intentional killing of Rigins. At trial, Clancy argued for a reduction in the grading of the homicide offense because he claimed that he shot Rigins in the "heat of passion" as a result of the physical altercation between himself and Rigins. Clancy contended that he did not remember exactly what happened, that he had pulled the gun out of his pants and heard it go off but that he never aimed at or intentionally shot Rigins. If the jury accepted his argument, then Clancy would be guilty of voluntary manslaughter not first-degree murder.

During his closing argument, the prosecution challenged Clancy's claim that he was acting in the "heat of passion" and argued that Clancy was a "dangerous man" and a "cold blooded killer." The jury convicted Clancy of first-degree murder and he was sentenced to a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Clancy challenged his conviction on the grounds that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the prosecutor calling him a "cold blooded killer".

The case ended up in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court where the issue became whether the prosecutor had impermissibly injected his personal opinion of Clancy into the case or whether calling Clancy a "cold blooded killer" was permissible argument based upon the facts of the case. The Supreme Court reiterated that a prosecutor must present his or her case impartially without resort to utilizing any language regarding the prosecutor's personal opinions about the case. For instance, the Supreme Court noted that it had previously found the following prosecutorial name-calling to be unduly prejudicial: (1) hoodlums; (2) animals; (3) leader of a pack of murderers; (4) a vicious, desperate criminal who would kill for a nickel, and (5) executioner.

In this case, however, the Supreme Court noted that Clancy's defense was based upon his claim that he was acting in the heat of passion. Thus, the prosecutor's decision to call Clancy a "cold blooded killer" specifically rebutted Clancy's claim that he was a "hot blooded killer." Thus, the Supreme Court determined that the prosecutor's remarks constituted permissible "oratorical flair" based upon the facts presented coupled with Clancy's defense.

In reaching this conclusion, the Supreme Court provided the following cautionary advice: "Prosecutorial remarks do not constitute permissible oratorical flair simply because they are based upon the underlying facts of the case or because they relate to an underlying element of the crime. Both requirements must be met. To fulfill his duty as an advocate, a prosecutor has numerous tools in his arsenal. Resource to inappropriate invective is not one of them."

Justice Donohue filed a strong concurring opinion wherein she concluded that the prosecutor had crossed a line in his closing argument by using name-calling as an impermissible means to obtain "a conviction at any cost." Justice Donohue made clear that prosecutors are held to a much higher standard. "It is not part of a prosecutor's function to obtain convictions by belittling defendants he or she prosecutes, rather than maintaining a single-minded focus on the evidence proving his or her guilt."

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How To Take Pills©

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro

Why get high?

When Sandy walked into the pharmacy, the pharmacist knew exactly what she was after. "Here's my new Xanax prescription, sir," Sandy said. "Can I wait for it to be filled?" Since the pharmacist was not busy, he filled the prescription and said to Sandy, "I see the doctor raised your dose of Xanax, so now you are taking it 4 times a day instead of 3. Has your condition worsened? Why have you been prescribed this?" "I have a fear of spiders," she replied. "Oh, do you work in a zoo?" the pharmacist asked. "Well, no. Anyway, it makes me feel good."

In other words, Sandy uses Xanax to "get high." Is this wrong? After all, her prescriptions are valid. They come from the same doctor. She does not get refills early. She may be developing a tolerance to the drug. Hence, her dosage has gone up. The pharmacist admits that he likes a cocktail or two after work. Maybe even three if the day has been rough. His martinis or manhattans make him feel good too. So, is he being judgmental? Is he a hypocrite?

Whether it is liquor, pills, or weed, a little goes a long way. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86% of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime. There is a difference between a glass or two of wine after work, and binge drinking all weekend. Approximately 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol a leading preventable cause of death. By comparison, marijuana is nontoxic and cannot cause death by overdose. A 2014 study found that a fatal dose of TCH, the potent chemical in marijuana, would be between 15 and 70 grams. That means that you would have to smoke between 238 and 1,113 joints in a day to overdose on marijuana. It can cause coughing, and affects short-term memory. Pot is illegal, yet that is changing state-by-state. Pills are another story. The opioid crisis has notably shortened the life span of Americans. As for Xanax (alprazolam), the amount it takes to OD is extremely high – much higher than the dose Sandy is taking. But, as Sandy said, "It makes me feel good."

Why do we use substances to make us feel good? They make our body relax. When our body is relaxed, stress is diminished. Because substances stimulate the brain's reward system, one feels that something special is about to occur. The "feeling good" part about substance use can be attributed to the release of the body's own opioids, also called endorphins or internal opiates. Example: The martini – which consists of 3 ounces of gin and a molecule of vermouth – feels particularly pleasant for one reason. The faster the alcohol gets into your bloodstream, the more internal opiates are released. Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, affect a chemical in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This neurotransmitter has an inhibitory effect on motor neurons, thus the presence of GABA slows or stops nerve activity. Benzodiazepines enhance the activity of GABA, effectively slowing nerve impulses throughout the body. 

Life can become oppressive. Anxieties seem to spring from every train of thought. Yes, people do play tennis, or write, or paint to relieve stress. Arguably, these may be superior methods to get a buzz. However, getting high did not start with the hippies during the 60s. Opium is undoubtedly the most widely used drug in ancient history first cultivated by Sumerians in southern Iraq around 3400 BC and also used by the Romans, Greeks, native Americans, and Egyptians. The human body is hardwired to feel good when it can. And the use of substances – in moderation – is a very human activity.

Ron Gasbarro, PharmD, is a registered pharmacist, medical writer, and principal at Read more at

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