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Issue Home February 4, 2003 Site Home

Along The Way... With P. Jay
Slices Of Life
100 Years Ago
Straight From Starrucca

Along The Way... With P. Jay

Who Will Be Our Commissioners In 2004?

Seems to be the biggest political question of the century so far in Susquehanna County. And it is no wonder with the number of candidates growing on both sides of the political fence.

In the past week, Mayor Roberta Kelly of Susquehanna Depot and Jeff Loomis of Bridgewater Twp., a former commissioner, officially announced their intentions of seeking the Republican nomination as candidates for commissioner. On the Democratic side, Albert Stella of Susquehanna Depot, a newcomer to county politics, said he will seek his party’s endorsement as a candidate for commissioner.

Mrs. Kelly and Mr. Loomis join incumbent commissioner Lee Smith of Rush Twp., James Jennings of Brooklyn Twp., and Tom Jurista of Silver Lake Twp. in the Republican race for two nominations. Incumbent Republican Gary Marcho reportedly will not seek reelection and incumbent Democrat Cal Dean, has yet to announce but insiders say he will seek a third term on the Board of Commissioners.

In the Democrat column, New Milford Borough Councilwoman Mary Ann Warren will be a candidate for commissioner. There is also talk that Democrat Kathryn Shelley is considering a run for commissioner. However, we are told that former Democratic County Chairman Joe Plonski of Thompson rejected pleas from many sources and decided not to be a candidate for commissioner.

Back to the big question, who will be our county commissioners in 2004?

As the list of candidates continues to grow, odds makers say the incumbents have the inside track. By virtue of being in office, Messrs. Smith and Dean have the number one pole positions in the race. While the odds makers aren’t always right, primary election statistics show that incumbent candidates already have about 20 percent of the electorate locked up making it an uphill climb from the get go for all challengers.

If we believe in statistics that would carry Messrs. Smith and Dean into the Fall Classic where anything can happen. In November, party lines can be crossed and in Susquehanna County, Democrats are known to vote for one candidate, usually the incumbent, and either leave their second choice blank or throw a vote to one of the GOP candidates.

Commissioner Smith is probably the smartest politician in the race. He knows the more candidates the greater his chances of remaining in office. So he is encouraging anyone who even hints at running to go for it. Why? Because he has a good idea of just how many votes he can depend on and he knows where his strength and weaknesses are. For example, in Montrose, Mr. Smith does not makes a good showing at the polls. In the primary election, a wide choice of Republican candidates can dilute the effectiveness of the Republican vote in Montrose.

Even in elections there are exceptions. In 1987, Josephine Marshall dethroned incumbent Democrat Henry Prince, who had been a commissioner for 16 years. Mrs. Marshall was the first woman ever elected a Susquehanna County Commissioner. And in 1995, Republican incumbents Warren Williams and John Blachek were defeated in the GOP Primary Election by Lee Smith and Jeffrey Loomis and Democratic Commissioner Debbie Gosciewski lost to Cal Dean in the General Election that same year.

There is no greater proof that the odds makers can be wrong than the recent Super Bowl. Oakland was the favorite but Tampa Bay humiliated the Raiders. Sportswriters say the winner of the big game always goes to the team that wants the victory the most. While Tampa Bay players were focusing on a game plan that could win for them, Oakland players were measuring their fingers for championship rings.

Nationwide, history has recorded mistaken election results. The most famous occurred on November 2, 1948 when Republican Thomas E. Dewey was projected as the winner of the presidential race against incumbent Harry S. Truman. The Chicago Daily Tribune ran a banner headline across its front page, "Dewey Defeats Truman." Mr. Truman emerged as the winner.

In the last presidential election, TV newscaster Tom Brokaw projected Al Gore as the winner. "It was acutely embarrassing," Mr. Brokaw would say a day or so later on the Larry King Show. "One thing you can say about television is that when it makes a mistake, It does it in front of everybody. We apologize."

So, who will be our commissioners in 2004? The candidates who conduct the best door-to-door campaign and meet the voters face-to-face. The candidates who project some positive goals for improvements in county government and county spending. The candidates who will pledge to do more than attend meetings and collect paychecks. The candidates that want it the most.

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Slices of Life

Surrounded By My Toys

When I was a little girl, dolls held very little attraction for me. Girls are supposed to like dolls, so for a few years my grandfather bought me a beautiful baby doll each year for Christmas. They were soft and cuddly, gorgeous hair, eyes that opened and closed, bonnets and pretty dresses – all the things a doll should have. I liked them because he had bought them for me, but I don’t recall spending much time with them.

I was entranced by my movie star paper dolls, because even as a child, I was captured by the glamour of the movies. When I grew up I was going to be a movie star. Wasn’t everybody?

But what I really liked were books, paper and pencils. Ballpoint pens would come in my high school years, along with zippered notebooks. And here I am several decades later, surrounded by those same toys. A friend just gave me a bag of used books, all chosen with my interests in mind. Four of them are decorating the couch and coffee table. Others are in the bag waiting their turn. Then there’s my Mother Teresa book and a marvelous inspirational writing by the late Montrose writer, Fred Renich. Three notebooks and a journal are readily available. And here’s the clincher. When Mrs. Morris started batting a pen around the couch, I counted eight pens and one pencil. Obviously every time I come into this room I have a pen in my hand. One never can know what profound thoughts might come into her head at an unguarded moment and the tools must be ready to take them down. For I have been given the hard lesson repeatedly; if you don’t write it down, it will slip away, never to come again.

How many times have you wakened from a dream thinking that you ought to write that down? Then you tell yourself that anything as profound, funny, sad, will be remembered. But it isn’t. Sometimes bits and pieces will come back, but more times it’s lost forever.

However, I did have a dream recently that was too ridiculous to forget. I woke up laughing at the incongruity of my dancing in kitchen with President Bush! With my political beliefs, that had to be one uneasy dance if there ever was one. But I digress.

Last evening I flipped on the television as diversion while I was ironing. There was John-boy Walton getting in trouble because he was talking about writing with his helper while he was supposed to be cutting logs to fill a contract that would help get this poor family through the winter. Even though John-boy had only a stubby pencil and a small tablet (as opposed to my numerous notebooks and drawers full of pens) his mind was always on what he could write about. Those of us whose hands are shaped to hold writing utensils have a hard time with other tools like vacuum cleaners, dishcloths, axes, saws, and the like. If you remember, when the Waltons were introduced to us years ago in "The Homecoming," it was pencils and tablets that father John Walton brought to his son as a Christmas gift. No wonder I’ve always loved that show. And that’s what goes on my Christmas list most every year. The gifts might be more sophisticated, like a computer and an unabridged dictionary, but Bic pens and spiral notebooks are none-the-less cherished.

Like John-boy I find that some things are easier to write than others. There are days I just take dictation from my inner voice and then shape the stories. But when I’m doing long features, sometimes I drag each word, kicking and screaming, from my vocabulary. I write and re-write, vowing I will never do this again. But the Bic pen fits my hand so well and is so comforting that I know this sometimes uneasy truce will last a lifetime.

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100 Years Ago – 1902-2002

FRANKLIN FORKS: Our blacksmith, Charles Towner, has left this place. John Dillon, of Lawsville, has rented the shop of Carrol Tiffany for three years. George Hickok has got his engine and boiler moved here, preparatory to starting a shingle mill.

DIMOCK: The Aid Society of the Baptist church met at the pleasant home of Mr. and Mrs. C.H. Newton on Thursday, Jan'y 29th, for dinner. There was a large attendance and being industriously inclined, they not only did justice to the abundance of good things provided for the occasion, but attacked the carpet rags with a vigor which rolled up the balls to the amount of 27 lbs. There were 53 present and all report a good time.

AUBURN CORNERS: John Bushnell returned Monday evening from a visit to his daughter at North Bridgewater; while absent, he was juryman at our County court, was out all night on duty, and marched at the head of the column to breakfast next morning. This for a man past 82 years of age; fifty years ago he was on the jury, being the youngest man of the number. G.W. Smith was also on the jury, aged 81 years.

MONTROSE: In Susquehanna the ground hog saw his shadow on Monday, but in Montrose he didn't get a chance, therefore, according to tradition we will be enjoying ethereal balminess while the "city of stairs" is writhing in the throes of howling blizzards and icy cold. AND: Henry J. Rose was a pleasant caller on Saturday, en route from Harrisburg to his home at Silver Lake. Mr. Rose is on several important committees, among which are Mines and Mining Ways and Means, Military, Public Health and Sanitation and Counties and Townships. The first three are regarded as especially important.

HARFORD: Mr. S.E. Carpenter, one of the oldest citizens of the town of Harford passed away Jan. 28th, 1903, after a few days illness. He was born Aug. 19, 1822 and married Jan. 30, 1845, to Hannah E. Tiffany, who passed away June 14th, 1872. Two daughters, Mrs. C.H. Birchard of Philadelphia, and Mrs. L.M. Gillett, of Thompson, and two sons, Frank E., of Harford and Homer E., of Kingsley, and five grand-children survive him. Mr. Carpenter served as Assessor for 19 years and as Jury Commissioner for two terms.

SUSQUEHANNA: Another claimant to the title of the youngest engineer on the Erie has appeared. He is Engineer Smiley, of Susquehanna, who is 23 years old. He began firing at the age of 18 years and has been acting as engineer for some time.

SPRINGVILLE: The members of Utility Grange, No. 873 will hold a box social at their hall on Friday evening, Feb'y 13; each lady is to bring a box containing lunch for two, which is to be sold for 25 cents. All are invited.

NORTH JACKSON: D.R. Pope, of North Jackson, who is past 81 years of age, is braving the severe winter and daily looks after a stock of fourteen head of cattle, twenty-five head of sheep and a span of horses. He has made frequent trips to Brandt for ashes and weekly visits to Susquehanna. None are more active at 81 than Mr. Pope.

BROOKLYN: Ice formed a gorge in the stream below the old factory school house and the road was filled with cakes of ice and water, so that it was impossible to go through with teams. The stages with the mail had to go around the Hill road by Henry Roper's for several days.

SILVER LAKE: Frank Ward will be paid a liberal sum if he keeps the road open between the school house and Liberty.

LAWTON: Well, we are not quite so badly shut off from all the world as we were, as G.W. Meeker, also G.W. Lindsley, have new telephones put in their places, so now we can talk more than usual, if possible; and we are very glad to be connected with the outside world. AND: Ed Hollenback went to Georgia several weeks ago and last Wednesday he returned bringing with him a charming bride.

OAKLEY: Mrs. Rose Carpenter has a tame dove that follows her children to school every morning and returns with them at night. E.E. Titus has a tame crow that cackles in exact imitation of a hen and tries to talk.

SOUTH GIBSON: The Cornet Band, under the capable leadership of Professor D.J. Morgan, is making excellent progress.

NEWS BRIEFS: The Postoffice Department has decided to furnish every farmer, at its own expense, with an official letter box, which being the property of the government will be protected against theft by lawful authority of the Federal law. In the future, on rural free delivery routes, mail matter will be as safe from robbers as when deposited in receptacles on urban street corners. Another new departure is likely to be the employment of women more extensively as carriers on rural routes. Already a few mail carriers of the gentler sex are in the service at the customary $50 a month and they have been found very satisfactory. AND: The U.S. Naval tug Lyden, which was recently wrecked in a dense fog, off the Block Island coast, was commanded by Lieut. Chester Wells, a young officer with an excellent record. He was on the Texas during the Spanish war. Lieut. Wells is a son of Major Levi Wells of Spring Hill, Bradford County, and has many friends here who will be interested in the above. AND: At the ex-prisoners of the war convention held at Scranton, on Thursday afternoon and evening of last week, the old soldiers had a very enjoyable meeting which they spent in singing, recounting personal reminiscences and having a good time generally. The Scranton Republican says the following, which will interest many: "Protests against the [Robert E.] Lee statue were made by P.H. Campbell, President Lathrope and by Comrade Dodd, of Montrose. The latter met his old friend, 'Squire Davis, of Parsons, for the first time in 41 years. They enlisted together, were separated, both captured and made prisoners of war, yet have lived all these years in ignorance of the other's existence. Comrade Dodd was roundly cheered when he took the platform and delivered the most enthusiastic and humorous speech of the evening." AND: The Philadelphia Press had an interesting article relative to salaries of female school teachers, which shows that 16 Pennsylvania counties pay their women teachers less than $30 per month. Our county [$25 per month] is among the 16 and it isn't likely many of our readers will be proud of it when they come to know it.

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WILLIAMS BROTHERS Honored: Abington Heights High School of Clarks Summit, PA, recently added a large rehearsal room to their music suite. The room can accommodate up to 200 music students and has been named "The Williams Rehearsal Room" in honor of brothers, John and Bill Williams, who had a combined total of 65 years of teaching music in the Abington Heights School District, recently retired.

The Williams family, formerly of Hallstead, were all noted musicians in Susquehanna County; John graduating from Blue Ridge High in 1962 and brother Bill in 1963. Not only did the Williams brothers "live and breathe" music, but formed a band called "Brother John" that is still active, known to many music lovers not only in Susquehanna County, but also the Scranton area.

John and Bill are still co-leaders of the band, which, without a doubt is one of the most popular and entertaining musical groups in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

They are not only a throwback to the Benny Goodman, Glen Miller and Les Brown bands, but also are "hip" to the "music" of today.

John and wife, Cathy and three children reside in Tunkhannock; Bill and wife, Gayle and five children, reside in Dalton. Elizabeth (Williams) Purtell, mother of the musical brothers, lives in Hallstead.

(Note: I have personally known the Williams boys for a number of years, as they were steady performers at the Olde Colonial Inn, when under the ownership of Nick and Pat Nataline and graced the dance hall at the Susquehanna Moose Lodge on many occasions.)

NEW SEAT BELT Laws: Beginning February 21, Pennsylvania will require children ages four to seven to be secured with a seat belt and a booster seat. Violators can be fined up to $100. Children eight through 17 must be in a seat belt, no matter where they are seated. Violations will cost $10.

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK: Catholic Schools Week was observed January 26 through February 1. Here’s what Michael Guerra, President of a Catholic Educational Association had to say: "Catholic education is one of the great and generous works of the church. Our graduates have become leaders of this country, teachers, religious men and women and business entrepreneurs. Without a doubt our schools have had a far-reaching impact on shaping the world." (A personal note: Susquehanna County, with over 40,000 people, doesn’t even have a Catholic grade school. Laurel Hill Academy was the last link to Catholicism in schools as its doors closed in 1971.)

SCHER DENIED REQUEST: The United States Supreme Court has rejected a request from Dr. Stephen Scher (formerly of Montrose, accused of killing a friend, Martin Dillon, in 1976) to release him from jail. A Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling has kept him in jail.

SELIG ON ROSE: Baseball commissioner Bud Selig hopes soon to have a decision on baseball Rose’s reinstatement. How many years has he denied gambling on baseball? Seeing that confession is his only hope, Rose is rumored to "come clean." (How nice!)

RECENT HIGH SCORES at Riverside Lanes: Lee Wolf 277, 695; Chuck Beamer 675; Randy Reed 277, 700; Ken Sparks 256; John Ball 265, 684; Rich Upright 254; Jeremy Wayman 278; 717; Dave Passetti 692; Mike Kuiper 257; Jack Beamer 279; Eric Bixby 259; Steve Felter 258; Graydon Faigle 275; Mike Nagel 254; Mike Beamer 278, 713; Melanie Lee 224, 200, 611; Carrie Towner 214, 593; Byllie Jo Wolf 243.

OLDEST WW I VET Dies: Jesse Edmisten, the nation’s oldest living World War I veteran died January 17, 2003 at a hospital in Lexington, NE. Four years ago, the French government presented Edmisten with the National Order of the Legion of Honor, given to Allied survivors who helped free France during World War I.

INDIANAPOLIS: Darnell Archery, of Butler, missed a foul shot ending his NCAA record of 85 consecutive free throws. The senior student made every free throw since February 8, 2001, a span of 56 games. "I wanted to reach 100," he said, after Butler’s 64-60 win.

FORREST More Than A Champ: Vernon Forrest, a 31-year old welterweight champ, is not only a champ in the ring, but also out of the ring, as he and Mariano Rivera, Jason Kidd and Richard Miglore, run a home in Atlanta called Destiny’s Child program for mentally handicapped people. For his efforts Forrest will receive the Thurman Munson Award.

A "JOKE" in the Mail: One day, a farmer came to the outhouse and saw "Charlie" poking around with a long pole through one of the seat holes. When asked what he was doing, Charlie replied, "I dropped my jacket down the hole." The farmer could hardly disguise his disgust. "What the devil would you want with a jacket after it’s been down there," the farmer asked. "I don’t give a damn about the jacket," Charlie said, "but I had a sandwich in the side pocket."

WAR! How many out there – besides President Bush – want war? Not too many (including me) I believe. Many top GOP’ers are against war, so are many other countries. Are we going to let ONE MAN dictate what we should do to Iraq. If we do have a war, and Iraq is defeated, who is going to take care of them. Need I ask. Sure, the USA will have to take care of them. We have people in the USA starving now. Medicine prices are out of this world. They will go up and up as will oil, gas, name it, it will go up. Only the rich, the real rich will be able to afford anything they want.

The above – in a way – is the least of our worries. How about all of the young Americans that will lose their lives? We may call them heroes, but I doubt if many families will look at them that way.

A NICE GESTURE: Bill Liederman, co-owner of Mickey Mantle’s restaurant in New York City has been honored by the Mickey Mantle School for his help in getting a NY school named after Mantle. Other schools in NY are named after Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges in the city’s public school system.

THE BEAT GOES ON: Why are so many retired major league baseball players snubbed. Why does it take such a long time to vote them into the Hall of Fame? Most of the time – the voters, the sportswriters – fail to give "a great one" even one vote. That happened to Ted Williams when he hit .406. Not even a last-place vote. What does that tell us? It tells me that the voting should be taken out of the hands of the media people, and given to either or both – the players and team personnel, such as managers, coaches and team owners. Who knows more about the players than the coaches, managers and players themselves. Some of the media voters today, probably don’t even know who Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Keith Hernandez and Gil Hodges are. Who picks the All-Star game players? Not the media. Doesn’t that tell us something?

A GOOD LESSON: A district judge in Kentucky ordered two teens to do 50 pushups after they appeared before him on speeding charges. Judge Dan Ballou ordered the young offenders to drop and give him 50 before approving reduced sentences in the two separate cases. The Lexington judge said he made the teens do the pushups because he thought they could benefit from the public embarrassment. "Really, I just wanted to make them squirm a little bit," he said.

BILL MAULDIN, Cartoonist, Dead: Bill Mauldin, a hero to a generation of World War II foot soldiers has drawn his last cartoon. He enlisted in the Army in 1940 as a rifleman. But after being discovered as a topnotch cartoonist, he was transferred to the Stars and Stripes where he thrilled GI’s with his cartoon characters of Willie and Joe.

A "SCOUT SCAM": In Bethlehem, PA, recently, Tony Herman and wife dressed their seven-year old son in Boy Scout clothes, knocking on doors and collecting $667, before they were discovered as frauds. With the boy in hand, the Hermans knocked on doors as the boy smiled at the "donors." Also in New York, a Queens man was convicted of disfiguring five women with plastic surgery he wasn’t qualified to perform. (Yes, be careful who you are dealing with.)

NOT SO FAST: Two pseudo-intellectual counterfeiters wanted to pass an $18 bill. "Let’s go into this country store and try to get it cashed."

The old store owner asked, "Can I help you fellas?"

One of them said, "Can you cash this $18 bill for us?"

The store owner quickly replied, "Shore I can. Would you like two nines or three sixes?"

SMART DOG: A man was in a theater with his dog on the seat next to him. After the show another patron said, "I was sure surprised at how well-behaved your dog was during the movie."

The dog owner said, "I, too, was surprised. He didn’t care for the book."

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Straight From Starrucca

Last week I mentioned that "souper" bowl Sunday was being observed at the local Baptist Church. This is an effort to glorify God by encouraging people to donate one dollar as they leave worship (Super Bowl Sunday). One can also bring non-perishable food items, which in this case are donated to the Wayne County Food Pantry program. This is an idea that has spread tremendously from a simple pastoral prayer to a country-wide observance.

Paul Zeffrich, our postmaster and family enplaned last Friday for San Antonio, Texas to spend a week with his sister and family, and his wife will attend a national convention of the company for which she works.

Last Saturday night, Barb and Roger Glover enjoyed an evening of bluegrass music at Bainbridge, NY.

February second at the Baptist Church in West Pittston, Doris Gunderson, pastor of that church and loyal friend of Toni Foy, officiated at the marriage of Toni and Philip Vessey of Downsville, NY. After the sale of her house, Toni will call Downsville her home. Congratulations, folks. May you both find blessed peace and happiness in this union.

An interesting event took place in my home last Saturday afternoon, when Sara Corrigan and her dad, Dennis Corrigan arrived with a video camera and recorded impressions that my sister-in-law, Helen Dickey and myself have about the red house by the creek and its occupants that Dennis and Donna Corrigan have restored. Helen and Arland Dickey lived in one side of the house, so she had some firsthand information. I had contacted Gwen Glover Johnson, whose mother and father, Minnie and Clinton Glover resided there around 1891, and also Naomi Fletcher Davidson, whose parents, Tom and Tess Quick Fletcher lived in the house six years, 1923-34. I also talked to many children who had vivid recall of Pearl Blauvelt, who lived there with her father, Charles and later by herself.

Sara is making a documentary of the house and its residents. She is well qualified to do this, as she graduated from Ithaca College majoring in "film" and is now associate editor for Woody Allen in New York City. Sara is a very lovely and personable young lady. I wish her luck with the documentary, temporarily called "From the Outside Looking In."


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