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."
Remembering The Good Life
After last weeks column, we have to face the fact that as a weather forecaster I am a failure. But perhaps not more so than the real forecasters. Ive seen some turnarounds in their predictions, too. However, I do need to take this lack of skill in understanding nature into account as Im warming again to the idea of living off the land. The image of self-sufficiency keeps rearing its head, even as I sit in my electrically heated home, eating a deli meal, while watching my neighbor shovel my snow (or cut my grass, depending on the weather) and do a few other chores.
This latest urge to commune with nature was brought on by a new audio tape. I have been long been captivated by the lives of Scott and Helen Nearing. They were the homesteading pioneers of the last century, having moved to the backwoods of Vermont in the 1930s to live an almost self-sufficient life. They built their own home of Vermont granite, lived on the food they raised, never consulting a doctor nor having a headache! Their one cash crop was maple products, and with that revenue they could pay their mortgage and taxes. They later moved to Maine, where they built another home and used blueberries as their source of income.
These were not people unskilled in the ways of the world. Helen had studied violin in Europe for years and Scott was a college professor who was an activist, protesting World War I, among other things. (And we think that protesting is something new.) But they gave up those lives to live a life of hard physical labor in the back woods. They liked the quietness, and the lack of things to clutter their minds and their home. They spent their lifetime writing about these experiences.
They are both dead now, but the tape I was listening to was made in 1985 and it was Helens remembrances of those days. She spoke of the people who visited, many thinking that they, too, wanted to live that lifestyle. But there were not many who could.
Does their story fascinate you as it does me? In theory I would like to do that, but in reality I am much too social to be that isolated from people. Im also much too lazy, and most of all, it somehow seems a waste to shun the progress humans have made. But it is intriguing.
A less radical self-sufficiency was what I had as a child when we lived in society, but still cared for many of our own needs. Our pharmacy was the drawer in the bottom of the sink where all the patent medicines were kept, our refrigerator was the icy spring run, the grocery store was mostly our garden, farm animals, root cellar and canning shelves. Mom served as nurse, counselor, teacher, seamstress, cook and baker, dance instructor and social hostess.
I know that I romanticize the 1940s, but to me, that was the perfect era. A friend and I were discussing that lately, and his remembrances are as warm as mine. A time of less money and worldly goods, but of great family camaraderie. A trip to the GLF feed store on a hot day meant a stop for an ice cream cone on the way home. A much-awaited social event was the neighborhood hot dog roast for which Dad sharpened willow sticks with his jack-knife. June meant two cake-sized rich biscuits smothered in juicy wild strawberries, cut into slices, topped with homemade whipped cream and served in soup bowls. We kids helped pick the berries, but Mom was the real berry picker.
Those days were probably as close as Ill ever get to homesteading, but dreams are free and they stretch our imaginations. Real pioneers like the Nearings lived a life of courage, ambition and austerity. I salute them and the others who follow in their footsteps.
SUSQUEHANNA: The Erie shop men will receive their ducats on Friday. It will be the largest pay in years. There are now about 1,000 men in the shops. AND: The Susquehanna Transcript on Saturday came out with a high-colored Easter cover. Brother Birchard is getting gay.
LANESBORO: A fatal accident took place at the home of Mrs. Ruby Cook near Lanesboro, Monday afternoon. Her 2-year old son was found in a room with a bullet wound in its head. It lived but a short time. Near it was a revolver. It is not known whether the child shot himself while playing with the weapon, or was shot by his 12-year-old brother who was about the house.
FOREST LAKE: Frank Chalker shot 8 wild ducks on the lake on Saturday. AND: There will be several new cottages built at the Lake this summer. C. C. Wells, Myron Bradshaw and Dr. Taylor are grading off the ground for picnic parties, which will make it very pleasant around the lake.
BRANDT: The Brandt Clay Product Co. expect to commence the manufacture of brick soon. The capacity will be 26,000 per day.
BROOKLYN: C.H. Ely is grubbing out the stumps of the large pine trees that stood in front of the Ashley homestead and which was [were] the old land marks of the town until recently sold to C.H. Tiffany at $1 each. AND: Brooklyn has a tax collector. After a long and stubborn contest between two worthy candidates, N.E. Packard landed the prize, receiving the appointment on Monday. Mr. Packard has held the office for the past three years and has proven himself a careful official.
SOUTH MONTROSE: Miss Jennie Wells closed a very successful term at the Bunnell school last Thursday. As a token of regard her pupils presented her with a very fine silk umbrella.
AUBURN: Leslie Lathrop, who went from here three years ago to DeKalb, Ill., and became an expert barber, has recently taken a fair young bride of that city. AND: Mart Lake butchered 13 hogs last week for the Scranton market. AND: In Retta, Claude Ross and Lucy Carter have returned home from Springville, where they were attending school the past winter. Claude and Lucy were members of the graduating class.
LYNN: The special services Palm and Easter Sunday combined, on April 5th, were largely attended and well enjoyed by the congregation. The Sunday school pupils did their parts of the program well. The pulpit was decorated with houseplants all in full bloom, and palms made it look grand. AND: Edwards and Titman clip horses.
MONTROSE: Mr. Denniston, of Rochester, is here to assist C.L. Stone in installing the new Stromberg & Carlson switchboard for the Montrose Telegraph & Telephone Company. He is putting in a switchboard and fittings for the local company second to none. AND: And now it is possible Montrose will have a cut-glass factory.
GLENWOOD: Mrs. Goss, an old lady living in this place, had some of the limbs of her young trees broken off. The right one will be caught, as there are watchers on the lookout; then look out!
LENOX: A letter from G.W. Mapes, Lenox, Pa., relates "An Incident in the Life of [Galusha A.] Grow." "It was in the winter of 1862 that the writer of this article was in camp at Suffolk, Virginia. Our Regiment were drafted men, and had left home with slender means to provide any luxuries for themselves, very many of the boys having families at home dependent upon them for support. What little money they had at the time of departure from home, in many instances the last dime was given with a sigh and a tear from the little ones left behind. Thus it was with empty purse, we were without means to purchase a few articles of stationery to communicate our thoughts to absent ones. In this dilemma it was suggested to the writer to communicate with Grow, at Washington, to loan a small sum of money to buy the needed supplies. A week elapsed and no tidings, when lo! On the morning of December 30th, who should ride into camp but the estimable wife of Frederick Grow and Galusha A. himself. There is no recipient living of Grow's bounty that day that will ever forget while life lasts. The boys were generously supplied with fractional currency and as much stationery as the occasion required. How many hearts were gladdened by this act of generosity it is needless to say, but this much we do know, that histories of love and tenderness were written on those blank pages that night. The prevailing sentiment at that time was and is now-Loyalty to our country and gratitude to Grow."
BRIDGEWATER TWP.: A pleasant event, and one long to be remembered in the minds of the pupils, also their parents, was a Flag Raising held at the Sprout School House in Northwest Bridgewater, on Thursday afternoon, April 6, 1903. It was planned to have this in connection with a patriotic entertainment on Washington's birthday, but owing to a delay in getting the flag, it was postponed and took place on the above date, the closing day of school. After the indoor exercises, the school marched out and encircled the beautiful hickory pole, which had been cut, peeled and placed in position by the patrons of the school, and then raised the handsome flag, repeating as they did so, the pledge. After this all joined in singing, "Red, White and Blue," and the company of happy school children dispersed, patrons as well as pupils thanking the energetic and painstaking teacher, Miss Annie Brewster, for her labors in connection with the event which brought so much joy and pleasure to all present.
UNIONDALE: An entertainment will be held in the M.E. church under the auspices of the Temperance Alliance. The Thomson male quartet and Uniondale female quartet will render music.
NEWS BRIEF: A colony of 45 farmers from Mifflin county left Lewistown, Pa., for North Dakota, where they will take up claims and enter agricultural pursuits. A greater portion of these have been tenants on the most fertile farms in Juniata valley. They have sold their effects and left, asserting they could no longer compete with western farmers in crop raising. Several other colonies expect to leave in a short time.
LITTLE LEAGUE "Rules for Parents" Little League ball players are not the only ones who need to understand the rules and etiquette of the game. First, we (fans) must yell encouragement, not insults, at players and umpires. The worst thing that can happen and usually does is when a parent embarrasses his/her child in front of other players. Kids are kids, you know, and if you need to "correct" them, wait until they get home. Then, explain what he or she did wrong.
Dont forget to praise them when they also do good. Umpires do not win or lose games. Sure, they may make a call not to your liking, which also happens in the major leagues. More than not, the umpire is "right." So kids (and parents) there isnt much you can do about the "call" but go on with the game. (Maybe next time, the "call" will go your way.)
Our Little League will start here soon. Support the youngsters. Attend as many games as possible. They (I know) enjoy seeing their mom and pop, or their brothers, sisters and friends at the game.
Dont ridicule the kids during a game. Dont throw insults at anyone, especially the umpires. The umpires, remember, do not get paid. They are all volunteers, and give a lot of their free time to the kids and the game.
So, folks, praise the kids, make them feel wanted. Be kind to the umpires; they have feelings, too. (Good luck, boys, girls and umpires, too.)
THANK YOU, LaVerne According to the Transcript of June 30, 1981, an article written by the late Tony Aliano (co-owner of the Transcript) read: "Local Landmark Comes Tumbling Down." The article went on to say, "The walls of the LAC (Laurel Athletic Club) on the corner of West Church Street and Jackson Avenue, came tumbling down Tuesday, June 23, 1981, when the Gorick Construction Co., using heavy equipment pulled the building down reducing it to splinters!" (My sincere thanks to Mrs. LaVerne Kuhn for the information and a copy of the Transcript the article appeared in.)
FROM JERRYS COLUMN the following was taken from the late Jerry Williams Star-Lites column of December 12, 1969: Top averages: Warren Smith (69 games) 193; Don Haley (78) 190; Carl Parrillo (72) 190; Doug Heesh (84) 188; L. P. Hall (81) 188. The Ladies: Joyce Gallagher (36) 169; Shelby Carpenter (33) 159; Mary Westfall (39) 156; Ceci Smith (39) 156; Barbara Collins (156). Also in the same issue were pictured (all members of the high school Saber track team): Chris Maby, a sophomore, the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Maby; Gary Allen, a freshmen, son of Mrs. Gail Mroz; John Amrein, a sophomore, son of Mrs. Janet French; Rohndi Archer, a sophomore, son of Joan Greenleaf. The boys were training for the upcoming track meet.
A NEW BUSINESS opened, and one of the owners friends sent flowers for the occasion. But when the owner read the card with the flowers, it said, "Rest in peace."
The owner was angry, and he called the florist to complain.
After he told the florist about the obvious mistake, the florist said, "Sir, Im sorry for the mistake, but rather than getting angry, you should imagine this; somewhere there is a funeral taking place today, and they have flowers with a note saying, Congratulations on your new location."
START EVERY DAY off with a smile, and get it over with.
A SECRETARY was leaving the office when she saw the CEO standing by the shredder with a piece of paper in his hand. "Listen," the CEO said, "this is a very important document. Do you know how this thing works?" The secretary turned the machine on, inserted the paper and pressed the start button. "Great," the CEO said as his paper disappeared inside the machine. "I just need one copy."
Those of you who are traveling through Starrucca should be advised the bridge to cross town is being demolished and therefore no through traffic. Im told this situation will last for several months. One can still walk across but when railing is removed you do so at your own risk. I timed myself yesterday and the detour to Shehawken, across Dixie Hway and down King Hill took twenty five minutes, just to get to post office. I feel this is quite an imposition on us.
Eleven Spirited Seniors met Wednesday at the Baptist social rooms. What a delicious meal we had! Our seniors are certainly great cooks. Anyone is welcome to join us. The next meeting, Wednesday, April 23 will be a bag lunch, joined by the "Bag Ladies." The senior citizens are collecting items for the troops - must be in by Thursday, April 17 to Beverly Walker or Marie Swartz. Toiletries, note paper, stamps, paperbacks, etc. List was in last weeks Transcript.
April 24, the Bag Ladies will serve lunch to the public at noon in the Baptist Church social rooms.
Bill Tilton, one of our seniors, was at the meeting Wednesday, looking a little pale but feeling much better after a quadruple bypass surgery on February 25.
Following is the Holy Week program of services to be held in the Baptist and Methodist Churches. Maundy or Holy Thursday will be a combined service held at Thompson Methodist Church at seven p.m. Good Friday there will be a prayer vigil from noon to three p.m. at Thompson with displays of stations of the cross and a Good Friday service at Herrick Center Baptist at 7 p.m.
Weather permitting, sunrise service for the Baptists will be held at the cemetery, otherwise at church with breakfast following at eight oclock.
Sunrise services for the Methodists will be at Ararat at seven a.m. with breakfast following and then regular church services on the charge.
I was very pleased to have my son, Dan here last Sunday and his three sons, David, S. Berlin, NY, Stephen, Kirkwood, NY and James, a student at Cobleskill, NY. Accompanying them were their three rambunctious dogs, one of which, a Jack Russell Terrier, took off to the woods to do some investigating on his own, engaging the four men to go looking for him. Found twenty minutes later.
The community was deeply saddened by the premature passing of Raymond "Bucky" Mead, whose soul was released as he sat in his truck at the Shops Plaza in Susquehanna the morning of March 28 and now resides in the safe and secure haven of our heavenly Father.
Bucky was a trustee of the Methodist Church, making sure the church was warm when needed, keeping the church lawn nicely kept. The ladies were most appreciative of the details he took care of when we had a supper for the public. One year he grew enough squash for our pork supper in the fall and cooked and seasoned about fifty pounds for us.
One of his hobbies was restoring a 36 International truck which netted him many first places at antique car and truck shows. He was an avid fisherman, sharing this pastime with his daughter, Chris and his many brothers. He was one of thirteen children.
Bucky was just an all around "good guy," liked by everyone, a devoted husband, a loving father and a grandfather, with a great sense of humor. Part of his endearing personality was calling someone he was talking to "dear" or "sweetheart," which gave one a nice feeling.
Final services were held at the Methodist Church on Tuesday, April 1, with Rev. Brian Lucas in charge and several members of his extended family giving testimony to his exemplary life. Burial was in the Protestant Cemetery. Lunch followed in the Baptist Church social rooms for around a hundred people. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, three daughters and families, Karen Beam, Binghamton, NY, Chris Christianson, Stevens Point and Bethlehem, PA and Dawn Romanofski, Florida. Truly, we can say of him, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
Okay, so the calendar says Spring, the "Spring Ahead" with our clocks has started and we are still stuck in our homes ducking onion snow and wake up to frozen windshields, but this is Northeastern Pennsylvania and we love it - right folks?
Anyway, while we are stuck inside, I thought I would check out a few places you could have fun on your computer and create a mood for yourself while you are at the keyboard. By that I mean listening to some music with compatible software, of course! So the first thing you have to do is make sure you can get music piped in and then look at some software to enhance it, if that is your pleasure. Therefore, dance over to www.Music-Tech.Net for audio, midi, cd burning and other stuff - or ww.8thstreet.com, their competition or www.bhPhotoVideo.com, that also has photo and video equipment. By the way, none of this stuff is free. Only looking at butterflies is!
Now that you have the proper equipment and are learning how to download music, go to the infamous master: mp3downloadcenter.com, from this site you can download and play and burn millions of music and songs. If you are looking for something that is for free, I would suggest www.wcpe.org from the Carolinas. I listen to this radio station all the time. Psst! I am a classic freak. And then there is another on-line music site that is free, listen headquarters of the web: www.listen.com. A site for "musicologists" is found for classical folks at www.sas.upenn.edu/music/ams/musicology_www.html.
The sun is peeking out and I know what Pennsylvania fisherman are waiting for: "trout" day. Get those licenses right away, it is upon us. If you don't know how to fish go to www.waterworkswonders.org. For some tips put in novice fisherman on any of the links you find on information pages. Then for all you who know everything or can make up everything you want to spin a tale, let's try the following on for size: the web site of Pennsylvania trout, the Pennsylvania Council of Trout at www.patrout.org/.
For more of the fish stuff seek out Pennsylvania fly fishing covering trout streams of Pennsylvania: An Anglers Guide by Dwight Landis Call at www.fish.state.pa.us. from www.paflyfish.easetech.com/. Then there is the law. So go to neat information and things at www.state.pa.us/Fish/ (PA Fish & Boat Commission). Try a state park too: www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/hickory.htm. This is Hickory Run, just a bit of a ride from our area. And you can call for further information at 888-PAPARKS.
Since I got the fishing folks outside, I'm going to be kinder yet to others who like the out of doors and want to put in a garden. This is always risky business when you live in an area that has a lot of deer. So for some really good advice for gardening and vegetable planting and how to protect your precious plants from our other wild friends, the deer, see the following: www.dnr.cornell.edu/est/chdp/Reducingdeerdamage.htm. It will also cover landscape plantings.
Having done my good deed for the day, I am about to check out my rod and reel, get my fishing license and totally ignore my garden as I pull on my water footgear for some angling. Last year I got the biggest fish on my line and then it was gone. Yup, just like that. Oops, I'm spinning again! See you next time with shovel in hand!
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