It almost came to pass
in fact, it was so close that veterans groups across the country were advising veterans to write to their senators and congressmen telling them not to allow drastic cuts in federally- funded veterans programs in order to help fund President Bushs proposed tax cuts.
While 300,000 American troops were fighting to rid Iraq of the evil Saddam Hussein, the Republican-led House Budget Committee was proposing to reward them with huge reductions in medical and other veterans benefits. The committee was set to cut the health care budget for the Veterans Administration by some $844 million in 2004 and by a whopping $15 billion over the next 10 years.
"These cuts must be made," said US Rep. Lane Evans of Illinois, the ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, "so that our government can afford to provide a tax cut which will only benefit the wealthiest Americans, many of whom never served in the military. This is utterly humiliating to every veteran and every active duty service person."
A national news service quoted Edward Heath, national commander of the Disabled American Veterans, as stating that the cuts would lead to the loss of 19,000 nurses, a reduction of 6.6 million outpatient visits or more than 750,000 hospital bed days.
"But this is not all of the devastation that will be caused by the proposed cuts," said Heath. "Congress will be reaching into the pockets of our nations service-connected veterans, including combat disabled veterans, and robbing them and their survivors of a portion of their compensation. Ninety percent of the VAs mandatory spending is from cash payments to service connected disabled veterans, low-income wartime veterans, and their survivors."
As a veteran, I can tell you it hasnt been that long ago that the VA was forced to increase prescription costs from $2 to $7. Had the cuts that were proposed in VA appropriations been approved, the prescription rate would jump to $15. Moreover, there was also talk of cutting veterans appropriations for college tuition and for low interest GI loans.
And, of course, through it all, the rich get rich and the poor get poorer. The House of Representatives already included the presidents dividend tax cut in its $2 trillion budget. The Senate originally voted to include all but $100 million of it, a move construed as an unexpected blow to the president's economic stimulus plan and its centerpiece $726 billion, 10-year dividend tax cut.
Like I said, it almost came to pass.
It probably would have if not for the determined efforts of Christopher Smith, a Republican congressman from New Jersey. Mr. Smith went against the grain, bucking his political party and sparking a rally that culminated with the passage of a budget resolution on March 21 by a vote of 215-212 that included an increase in veterans appropriations next year and a 10-year budget plan that keeps veterans health care funds intact. It was good to note that Congressman Don Sherwood voted in favor of the resolution.
And when it was all over, Mr. Smith credited Budget Chairman Jim Nussle with working through the 11th hour to ensure that veterans benefits, including compensation for service-connected disabled veterans, would be held harmless from any across-the-board spending reductions.
"After further discussions with Chairman Nussle and the leadership," Mr. Smith said, "I am pleased that we have reached an agreement that will allow us to fully meet our commitments to more than 2.6 million disabled veterans and widows who rely on VA benefit checks every month. There will be no cut in veterans benefits as first proposed."
I spoke with David Autry, deputy national director of communications for the Disabled American Veterans, and he told me that Mr. Smith should be commended for his courageous efforts to get the cuts in veterans appropriations off the chopping block.
"It was a great risk to his political career," Mr. Autry said. "He was chastised by his party for his action but he was able to get a commitment from the House Budget Committee Chairman to nullify the cuts."
Gone But Not Forgotten
Cleaning closets was on my agenda last week. It wasnt a conscious choice, but an opportune time as I was having old plaster replaced in one closet and shelves put in another. While I had everything pulled out, I thought it was an opportune time to get rid of part of the collection. Easier said than done. Out came the prom and concert gowns. I asked my daughter, who has been out of high school for more than twenty years now, "Do you think we could part with these gowns? I could take them to the Interfaith Wardrobe in time for concert and prom use."
She concurred. "Id feel much better about that than taking them out of the closet once every ten years. Anyway I tried them on a while ago and we had a good laugh. Remember? You can get rid of them."
We had had a good laugh. We were both trying on our long dresses from that earlier era and realized that we were many pounds heavier than when we originally wore them. The funniest closet selection was a pair of palazzo pants that I had made for her in seventh grade. They lacked a lot of zipping. Amazing how bodies change shape over the years.
The thing that made these clothes hard to part with is that I had made most of them. With great deliberation, she would choose the pattern and fabric of each gown. Then Id get to sewing. They were always done on time, but just on time. In her senior year, she decided to buy her gown so she could admire it and talk about it with the other girls before the big event rolled around.
Knowing that we had many snapshots of the girl in the gowns, I decided I could part with them. I hung them in my closet while I decided what else was going to go. My late husbands summer suit was designated, as were several beautiful ties. My white leather coat that he so proudly purchased for me when we first married, (and which never fit right then and certainly wouldnt now) was also on its way out. As was my collection of long dresses from the sixties that seemed to have shrunk through the years.
With all this and more set aside, I started loading the car. One beautiful young-girl, puffy-sleeved gown never made it out the door. Then another appeared to have a stain so it couldnt go. But finally there was a good-sized pile in the back seat of my vehicle and I headed downtown.
Unloading the car was equally as hard as loading it had been. When I got to the store I began doing the mental review again. One special gown never made it inside, but ended up back in the closet.
Those dresses represented a nostalgic time in my life. The kids were at a parent-friendly age; old enough that I wasnt feeling tied down, but young enough that we were all still friends. I was fulfilled with nurturing, teaching piano lessons, directing my church choir and being a wife. There was a little more spending money in the coffers as the mortgage got paid down. We were all healthy and still enjoying our parents. Giving up the clothes seemed, in some way, to be parting with that life and I couldnt do it completely. There will be other springs when gowns will still be needed. Ill make more decisions then. In the meantime, that closet is a little less crowded.
BROOKLYN: Having recently attended the "Vienna School of Millinery" in New York, for the purpose of becoming acquainted with the technical work in this line, I am pleased to announce that on and after Monday, March 30, 1903, I will be pleased to see any and all who desire work in this line. Mrs. S. B. Eldridge, Brooklyn, PA.
FRIENDSVILLE: A successful term of school closed at the Baldwin schoolhouse, March 20th with Sarah C. Reilly as teacher. Miss Reilly intends visiting a month or so in Binghamton.
MONTROSE: On Tuesday evening "The New York Girl" will be the attraction at Village Hall in a two-act musical comedy, headed by Eulalie, a remarkably versatile and exceedingly clever young actress. The comedy is clean, crisp and up-to-date. It is interpreted by Eulalie, whose delicate handling of the title role of "Frolicksome Flo Flyaway" indelibly stamps her as the foremost of the profession; by well known comedians who introduce high class vaudeville and by bright pretty girls in singing and dancing numbers. AND: The Farmers' National Bank was organized last Saturday. C.F. Pross, of Scranton, is to be cashier.
SUSQUEHANNA: Rev John A. Sophia and family have returned to Harford, their former home, to the general regret of the people here. AND: Rev. Mr. Crydenwise, of Copenhagen, N.Y., the new rector, will begin his labors in Christ church next Sunday.
UNIONDALE: Bessie Coleman is preparing to attend State Normal School at Bloomsburg.
AUBURN CORNERS: Effie Dunmore, a missionary in Mexico, is expected to leave there the first Monday in April; stopping in Chicago and some other cities, she hopes to reach her home here in May, where she will spend her vacation.
SOUTH GIBSON: Dr. and Mrs. Davis will leave this week for their new home near Wilkesbarre, where he has secured a more lucrative place for his profession.
HARFORD: Those courageous enough to brave the severe storm Monday evening, were amply repaid by the entertainment given by the Juniata College Quartette; it was one of the finest entertainments ever given in Harford.
BROOKDALE: On March 7th, Mrs. Mary Travis was married to Mr. Douglass, and will live on her farm. And in Lawsville O.H. Chaffee has moved to California and his wife has moved to Corbettsville to live with her daughter, Mrs. C.A. LaSure.
FRANKLIN FORKS: The young lads of this place have organized a baseball nine.
SPRINGVILLE: The baccalaureate sermon to the graduating class will be preached by Rev. H.P. Walter at 11 o'clock in the Methodist church; the graduating exercises will be given at the academy instead of the church as stated in these items last week. The class of '03 numbers 13, as follows-Willie Pickard, pres; Anna Florence Dolan, vice pres; Beatrice Aldrich, treas; Nellie Bly Marcy, sec'y; Claude Carter, mantle orator; Ethel Mae Niebell, historian; Ross Carter, Class orator; Pearl Mae Pickard, prophecy; Lula Vera Squier, testator; Leigh Culver, poet; committee, Clarence Taylor, Carrie Magdalene Gray, Gretchen Carlin, Class Motto:-Labore Vincimus.
EAST LATHROP: We are glad to state our two old veterans, Pardon Lindsey and Orwin Hinkley, have enjoyed fairly good health this winter. AND: Miss Augelia Sweet and Miss Augusta Brotzman carried off the prizes in spelling at Maple Grove School.
HEART LAKE: L.O. Farrar is putting a new roof on the icehouse, which was broken in by the heavy snow during the winter.
AUBURN: P.C. Bushnell sold his entire stock of shoes to parties in Philadelphia. The writer learned of one of the parties that he had been engaged in this business ever since a boy. They go all over and buy old stocks of shoes and other goods and ship them in the southern states and make big sales by advertising shoes at ten cents a pair, which brings out thousands of people from which they realize a fine profit. Mr. B. has painted his storefront red, which means a dead slaughter on old shoes, and that a fine stock of the best and latest fashions will take their place.
SILVER LAKE: Neil F. Kane has accepted a position in the Susquehanna Erie shop.
CLIFFORD: Douglas Miller, of Lenoxville, who died March 25, was buried the 28th in the Clifford Valley cemetery. Peter Rivenburg, our undertaker, was in attendance, driving on the hearse his nice team of creams. AND: Mr. Higgins, representing the Royal Baking Powder Co., was in town last week, furnishing our merchants with several new designs of advertisements. He said that the company intends to furnish our neighboring town, Royal [named for the company], with a new Liberty pole in place of the broken one, and would send one of their new advertising flags in place of the old dilapidated one.
NEW MILFORD: Evi DeWitt, whose death occurred on Saturday, was a direct descendant of Tjerck Claeszn DeWitt, who came to this country from Holland in 1638 and settled in Kingston, N.Y. Moses DeWitt, the grandfather of Evi, was captain of militia and served with distinction in the Minisink war [Revolutionary War] in Orange and Sullivan counties. For his military service he was awarded a grant of land in Wantage, N.J., where he settled. Evi, the subject of this sketch, was born in the township of Montage, Sussex Co., N.J., November 14, 1819. When quite a young man he removed with his family to Brooklyn, Susq. Co. In 1843 he married Annie Elizabeth Wilson at Carbondale. They commenced housekeeping in Brooklyn, where they resided one year, and afterward removed to Nicholson for three years. In 1848 they removed to New Milford upon a farm situated just south of the borough, where Mr. DeWitt has resided since that time.
NEWS BRIEFS: Stick to your flannels until they stick to you. This is the time of the year when in olden times our mothers would give us sulphur on bread and molasses. AND: 120,000 pairs of shoes were manufactured at the Lestershire [now Johnson City] and Endicott factories the week ending March 14th, the largest in the world.
PAUL BLACKINGTON Dead Paul A. Blackington, born and raised in Susquehanna and formerly of Vandling, died March 6 in the Hospice Unit at Marian Community Hospital, Carbondale. Paul, a "lefty" pitcher, was a member of the E. K. Owens softball team during the 1930s in a Susquehanna league. He was the son of Albert and Bessie Lamb Blackington. His widow is the former Thelma Bailey. Services were held March 10 in Forest City with Rev. Fred Johnson of the Susquehanna Baptist Church officiating. Burial was in Union Dale.
FATHER CONNOR On "Live TV" Father Charles P. Connor, Ph.D., priest-historian for the Diocese of Scranton and pastor of St. Johns Church, Susquehanna, will make a guest appearance on the nationally syndicated TV program, "EWTN Live" on Wednesday evening, April 2 at 8 p.m. The TV studio is located in Alabama, where Father Connor will tape an episode of "Bookmark" with Doug Keck, network executive producer, discussing Father Connors forthcoming book, "Defenders of the Faith in Word and Deed," to be published later this year. Fathers earlier book, "Classic Catholic Converts" was published in 2001.
BLUE RIDGE Girl Pictured Amanda Ruby, age 15, of Great Bend and a student at New Milford Blue Ridge school, was recently pictured in the Sunday "Parade" issue with an answer to the question, "How do you deal with your parents rules?" She wrote, "It depends on whose house Im in. My mom has few rules: I have to respect her and do what she asks of me. If I dont, I dont get to go someplace I like. My dad has many rules: doing chores, no swearing, no fighting with my brothers, etc. If I disobey, Im usually grounded. Once, when I went out without asking him, he looked furious when he picked me up. Then his eyes teared up hed thought I was in trouble or hurt. That was enough punishment. I felt so bad, I never did anything like that again."
DEMOCRATS Reject Oil Drilling For the second year in a row, Democrats have voted against drilling for oil in Alaska. All the while I thought the Democrats were "looking out" for us "little guys." The environmental groups claim that it would destroy "the scenery." President Bush is in favor of the drilling, but Senate Leader, Democrat Tom Dashle, who has been "making waves" of other sorts during the past few months, gathered his clan and defeated the measure. A few months ago (last year, I believe) a well-known environmentalist told the country that the drilling would not destroy or hurt any of the wildlife refuge in question. Senator Lisa Maurk (R) of Alaska said, "It makes more sense to exploit the Alaska reserves instead of relying on Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria." Also, what happens when those countries "care less about the United States"?
JACK OLIN Dead Jack Olin, 79, Windsor, NY, passed away on Wednesday, March 19, 2003. Jack was an accomplished left-handed pitcher, starring with the Windsor Town team in the old Sun-Susquehanna Valley baseball league, of which Susquehanna was also a member. On several occasions, Olin and the late Pip Grausgruber would put on pitching exhibitions, with games in doubt until the end. A member of the Windsor team, at the time of Olins tenure was (now) Oaklands Bob VanFleet, who played a superb shortstop. Many old timers here will fondly remember Jack.
IS SADAAM ILL? As of March 12, in a conversation with one of the learned medical doctors in the area, it is believed that Sadaam Hussein is "a very ill man" (and if true) may have a profound effect on the outcome of the war against Iraq.
Its getting to be a regular zoo around here. Bill Young called and said undeniably he saw a mountain lion on his property up on King Hill last week, with all the "mane" features. Mr. Galiardo also spotted the same beast, or a clone. Of course, no one had a camera. The Wayne Independent had a headline, "Cougar Goes To Church" last week. A snapshot showed it sitting on the steps of the church in Rileysville, Wayne County.
Theresa Covert and daughter, Albany, NY, spent the weekend with Kirk and Alice Rhone.
Gary Ford, Redford, VA, spent several days with his sister, Charlotte Keyser.
Douglas and Nancy Fuller, Winterdale, were recent guests of her mother, Julia Smith.
Was interested in reading in last weeks Transcript, "A Hundred Years Ago" that they had a class called "Percentage."
Six ladies from Susquehanna went home from the Starrucca Baptist Church with a bit more knowledge of making and assembling quilts for the homeless. Under the practiced eye of Marie Swartz and Julia Smith they completed a quilt. Those participating were Carol Price, Mary Gow, Diana Gow, Mary Ficarro, Kristen Grausgruber and Madeline Thorn. They will be setting up their workplace at the Legion Post 86.
The Spirited Seniors of Starrucca will meet for a noon time luncheon and business meeting April 9 at the Starrucca Baptist Church social rooms.
Wednesday, April 2 at seven oclock in the Community Hall the Civic Association will be reactivated. Gale Williams will conduct the meeting. Refreshments will be served. If you have any interest at all in improving our environs, please come.
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