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."
Signs Of Spring
I do think spring is coming. There have been too many signs to have it be another illusion. This morning Im hearing in the distance what I think is the drone of the street sweeper. That crew will go home covered in dust tonight as they spend the day doing away with the winter accumulation of cinders, mud, salt and other gritty things. What a blessing that will be when the warm weather arrives for keeps and we want to leave our car windows open as we drive. I tried that on a warm day recently and got a face full of dust. And I recall walking down the street in years gone by, and literally hiding my face from the cloud of dust that the wind picked up and sent my way.
Not only is the street crew busy cleaning, but also individual homeowners are joining in. Snow shovels have been replaced by rakes and brooms, the leaves that got snowed under are being cleaned up, branches brought down by snow and wind are being gathered and stacked or burned. And each day the grass gets greener.
Mrs. Morris knows that spring is nearly here. She has taken to standing by the door. Her trips outdoors are lasting longer than thirty seconds, and she has even renewed her nervous friendship with Rudy, the black cat next door. They have seen very little of one another this winter, because Mrs. Morris has only been out for about two minutes each night at ten oclock.
My favorite robins are casing the joint again, looking over the hydrangea bushes and the front porch as possible sites for their nests. Geese have been honking and settling on the lakes for several days as they make their way north again. The tantalizing smell of maple syrup permeated the air and made our mouths water a few weeks ago. There is nothing like the smell of syrup mixed with the aroma of a wood fire to get the juices running.
Walking around the yard I see that the spring bulbs are growing by leaps and bounds. Those daffodils in the direct sunshine are showing buds already. The garlic that was hand-planted in the fall is strong and green. I havent been near the pussy willows yet, but Im sure they are ready to pop.
Of all the spring events, the one that gives me the greatest thrill is the rush of water in streams and ditches when the snow goes off in a big thaw. Driving into the country a few weeks ago, I parked on a hill, and when I got out of the car I could hear water rushing below me. I stood transfixed and watched the swollen creeks surging with vitality as they filled their banks and cut new courses. What power nature provides. Closer to home the melted snow was now tumbling in the ditch across from my house, and as I walked to the post office, I could hear and see it frothing in the culverts.
Whenever I see that, my mind returns to the days when our neighborhood had several small boys and I can still see them in their rubber boots, long sticks in hand as they explored the surging water beside the street. And thirty-some years later, I still see one of those boys exploring every creek around him, as well as everything else that mother nature has to offer.
Its a grand time of year. Time for us romantics to enjoy the gentleness of spring before the intense heat of summer sends us looking for air conditioning. Well leave that season to you hardier souls who find your pleasure in sunburns, tennis matches, days at the beach with the smoldering sand between your toes, or at home with a hoe in your hand. For each of us there is a season.
GREAT BEND: It is reported that there is only one surviving veteran of the Mexican War [1846-1848] in Susquehanna county-Dr. Ebenezer Gill, one of the State's oldest practitioners. AND: Michael Kilrow, Sr., was in Binghamton, Monday, to have optical work done. This was the first time in 35 years that Mr. Kilrow has been outside of Great Bend Township.
STEVENS' POINT: The cases which have been called by some as Cuban chicken pox, German measles and various other names, were pronounced genuine smallpox by Dr. Lathrop, State Board of Health Inspector for Susquehanna county, on Friday last.
SILVER LAKE: J. Townsend Russell, of Brooklyn, NY, who has been building a very beautiful modern summer house here, will probably occupy it the coming summer, as the work on the building is now nearly completed. It has been in the course of construction for several months, a large force of workmen from Binghamton and vicinity being engaged in the work. This magnificent mansion, when entirely finished, will cost about $65,000 and will be up-to-date in the minutest detail. The structure is over 100 ft. in length and four stories high, and as it is situated on the border of one of the most entrancing and picturesque lakes in Pennsylvania it doubtless will prove as imposing as its surroundings.
SUSQUEHANNA: The base-ball season will open on Saturday, May 2, under the old management of Messrs. Kendrick and McGinty. Among the old players signed for this season are: O'Gara of Susquehanna, Pethich of Windsor, Taylor of Chicago and Wright of Washington. The diamond and grounds will be greatly improved.
SPRINGVILLE: W.W. Prichard has given up the wagon business and will either sell his shop or tear it down. AND: Strickland and Winnie last week made ready a large derrick, which they took over to their quarry on Monday and erected. Their quarry is over on the Blakeslee farm below the old cheese factory.
ELK LAKE: Died at his home, April 1, James A. Lathrop. The funeral was held at the house on Sunday at 1 o'clock. The Rev. Tilden of Birchardville, officiating. He [James] is survived by a widow and five children: Mrs. Fred Russell of Auburn; Mrs. Kathryn Gorr, Miss Anna Lathrop and Guy and Ralph Lathrop. Pall-bearers, Rodney Kent, J.G. Cart, Warren Lathrop, P.A. Linaberry, F.M. Gray, W.J. Brodhead. Burial in the Lathrop cemetery near the Lake.
BIRCHARDVILLE: Rev. Mr. Miller gave a good example of perseverance last Sunday. He was to preach here. By mistake he left the [railroad] cars at Hallstead instead of Alford and missed the train to Montrose where he could have taken the stage for the rest of the journey. After walking to within 5 miles of Silver Lake, he staid all night at a farm house, starting out again at day-break, Sunday, and passing through Silver Lake about 7 o'clock, determined to meet his appointment. It is hoped that his efforts to fulfill his promise were appreciated and rewarded by a larger audience than some of our churches in the country held on that cold, bleak Sabbath morning.
SOUTH GIBSON: Supt. Moxley was professionally engaged here last Friday. He pronounced the graduating class here the best he has examined this year. This speaks well for Prof. McNamara. The graduates are the Misses Anna Moses and Osca Wright and Messrs. Fred McNamara, Scott Manzer, Ray Lewis and Fred Pickering.
FAIR HILL, Jessup Twp.: We are glad to welcome Mr. Nelson Cool and family. Mr. Cool has purchased the property formerly known as the Jagger place, it having been owned by the Jagger family since the year 1837, when E.J. Jagger bought it from David Sherer. He [Sherer] purchased it a few years before from its first owner, Mr. Wallbridge.
LITTLE MEADOWS: The Iron Bridge Creamery is to be run this summer by Herman Card. AND: Charles Downs recently purchased the promising young horse, Robert Douglas."
THOMSON: The Alex Campbell Milk company has placed in the creamery the Miller Pasteurizing apparatus which will insure its customers pure milk.
MONTROSE: The old Mulford stand [now the site of the Montrose Theater], which has been the scene of great activity as a grocery store in years gone by, is again serving the same purpose and presents a bright, wholesome appearance, as conducted by John. V. Meehan.
MIDDLETOWN: If the father of that bill which gives teachers $35 lived in Middletown, I think he would be in favor of some amendments to it. In the first place we can hire the teachers that we will get for $20 just as well as $35. Our teachers are satisfied with the going wages, as there are three teachers for every school at the present salaries. The most of our schools do not number over 7 or 8 pupils, and are not at all advanced. If our township were divided into two districts, then we might be able to pay better wages and have better schools. A teacher to demand $35 per month should be required to be up to a certain standard in order to teach. AND: Flynn is to have a telephone to Birchardville and Friendsville in the near future, $100 having already been subscribed for the putting in of the line.
CLIFFORD: Walter Spedding shipped 200 barrels of cold storage apples recently and E.G. Green sowed one half acre of onions, March 18, pretty early. AND: D.L. Potter recently returned from a business trip to Tennessee where he has large lumbering interests.
NEWS BRIEF: It was a "LeRoy Plow" that plowed that rough new land without breaking. It was a "LeRoy Plow" that ploughed the hard dry ground where others failed. It was a "LeRoy Plow" that ploughed that sticky clay and made work easy for man and team. It was a "LeRoy" Reversible Plow that plowed the steep side hill. It is a "LeRoy" Reversible Plow that will do good work on flat land doing away with all furrows leaving your land level and suitable for all crops. For sale by J.C. Harrington, Montrose; P.C. Bushnell, Auburn 4 Corners; A.O. Dunlap, Springville; F.S. Warner, Forest Lake; H.R. Bertholf, Rushboro; E.D. Benjamin, West Lenox; Uzal Kinney, Rush; or W.E. Ross, Lenoxville.
HIGH SCHOOL PLAY It was also in March (like the start of the war against Iraq) of the year 1951, that the Susquehanna High School presented a play titled, "The Belle of Baghdad." The play was directed by "Music Maestro" Lenny Kello, with Virginia Burdick as accompanist. It took place in the school auditorium March 15 and 16. (What a coincidence, 52 years later, after "finding" the Belle of Baghdad, war is declared against "her" country.)
A fair day in Baghdad is marked by the arrival of various visitors being presented to the Caliph and his daughter. The visitors learn that an assassin is aboard, carrying a bomb concealed in a camera. For this reason all persons found with a camera are to be shot, immediately.
Meanwhile Dick Taylor, accompanied by his two mechanics, arrive by plane from Hollywood, anxious to identify the lovely Belle of Baghdad, by some photograph they carry. In order to find the Belle, they also carry a large camera to take pictures of all prospects.
Dick meets Jewel, but the mechanics meet Ali Ben Mustapha, chief of police, who sees their camera and orders them to be executed. In escaping, the two resort to disguise. In one of their disguises, they managed to capture the assassin. The mechanics are freed, and for their valor Jewel presents Dick with a sacred amulet, which identifies her as the Belle of Baghdad.
Among those taking part in the play were: Charles Ohman as Dick Taylor; Joyce Butler as Jewel; Fred Maas as Ali Ben Mustapha; also Juanita Stanford, Janice Wescott, Josephine Arehart, Gerald Griffis, Donna Young, Carol Maas, Janet Cole, Dale Englehart, Gerald Benson, William Deakin, Ruth VanAken. Plus many, many others too numerous to mention.
GIBSON To Vote "Wet or Dry" Voters in Gibson will decide whether the time has come to allow liquor and beer to be sold in the Township on Primary Day, May 20. The Susquehanna County Election Board is allowing the issue to be placed on the May ballot. Susquehanna County has its share of dry towns. In Northeast Pennsylvania there are 20, of which 10 are in Susquehanna County.
The other "dry towns" in the county, in addition to Gibson are: Auburn, Thompson Borough, Brooklyn, Franklin, Harford, Jackson, Liberty, Springville and Thompson Township. Nearby neighbor, Starrucca, is also dry.
In May, 1991 the issue was put on the ballot for Springville Township and Thompson Township. Both were defeated; Springville losing 348-61 and Thompson Township, 75 to 44.
If the Gibson referendum passes, bars can open, with permits, and beer could be sold at fire company picnics and the annual outdoor summer concert near Elk Mountain.
"IMPORTANT" Name Omitted In the March 19 column of "NewsBeat," the name of Clifton V. Branning, Chaplain of Post 86 Sons of the Legion, was omitted as attending the burial services of the late Howard (Crash) Singer. Also, Commander Ralph Allen is from the Montrose Post 154. (Sorry, we left your name out, Clifton. But I understand that you were voted the "Best Singing Voice" at the Legions St. Pats dinner-dance. Congratulations.)
AN 85-YEAR OLD MAN and a 79-year old woman are excited about their decision to get married. They go for a stroll to discuss the wedding and on the way pass a drugstore. The old man suggests they go in.
"Do you sell heart medications?" he asks the man behind the counter.
"Of course," the pharmacist answers.
"How about medicine for circulation?" the man inquires.
"All kinds," the pharmacist replies.
"Medicine for rheumatism?"
"How about Viagra?"
"Medicine for memory?"
"Yes, a large variety."
"What about vitamins and sleeping pills?"
"Perfect," the old man says. "Wed like to register here for our wedding gifts."
A GIRL BROUGHT her new boyfriend home to meet her parents. They were horrified by his greasy hair, tattoos, dirty language and air of hostility. After he left, the mother said, "Dear, he doesnt seem like a very nice person." The daughter replied, "Mother, if he wasnt a nice person, why would he be doing 500 hours of community service?"
YOU REMEMBER the income tax. Its like a do-it-yourself mugging.
Making a correction in last weeks news, Bill Young saw the mountain lion on his own property, just over the line in Susquehanna County. The King Hill sighting was on Mr. Galiardos property, Wayne County. As the crow flies, probably not a mile between sightings.
The local Girl Scouts, under the leadership of Kristen Potter visited the physical therapy rooms at Barnes-Kasson Hospital last Wednesday after school.
The Starrucca Civic Association reorganized last Wednesday night with eleven present. Three new people signed the membership forms: Donna and Dennis Corrigan and Julia Smith. Kristen Potter chaired the meeting. Gale Williams was elected president; Donna Corrigan, secretary and Kristen Potter as treasurer.
Corporal Brian Kelly, stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC, has been ordered to Iraq. Brian is the son of Jim Kelly; he and wife, Debbie are anxiously awaiting to hear from him.
Gwen Glover Johnson, Chenango Bridge, NY, Sandy and Mel Wightman, Chenango Forks, NY, and Matt and Laurie Wightman, Windsor, NY were Sunday guests of Roger and Barbara Glover. Matt was very interested in Rogers new wood workshop.
The quarterly meeting of the officers and lay members of the Baptist Church was held at the church last Wednesday evening.
Roger and Barbara Glover and I attended the Lenten service held at the Episcopal Church in Susquehanna last Wednesday. The next meeting will be an interesting one, at Susquehanna United Methodist Church when there will be an impersonation (by Marietta Evans) of Fanny Crosby, writer of many hymns used in our churches. This will be at 7:30 p.m. Some old time hymns she wrote are: To God Be The Glory, Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross, Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior, I Am Thine, O Lord and Rescue the Perishing plus many others.
In the column "One Hundred Years Ago" there was mention of a pair of horses called "creams." Im wondering what type and color of horse this is?
Doris Davidson is feeling much better after having changed to a more effective antibiotic.
Will write later about the demise of Raymond "Bucky" Mead.
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