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Issue Home April 29, 2003 Site Home

Slices Of Life
100 Years Ago
Straight From Starrucca

Slices of Life


Since I was a teenager, my favorite singer has been Nat "King" Cole. I dreamed away many an hour as his velvety voice crooned to me through high school and college. And he still is my favorite singer. I have piano arrangements of his "Unforgettable Hits," which I play daily. So it’s no wonder that when his latest biography was published, that perpetual Santa Claus, my son-in-law, sent me a copy. I’ve spent many spare minutes curled up in a chair reading about Cole’s fascinating life.

It’s interesting how we look at someone as successful, artistic, and proficient as he was, and attach talent and luck alone to his or her achievements and staying power. It ain’t necessarily so!

The Nat King Cole I admire was a singer. That velvety voice seemed so natural and the singing so effortless. I should remember that nothing outstanding is effortless. While the timbre was God-given, the execution was painstakingly cultivated through the years.

While I always think of him as a singer, he was first and foremost a jazz pianist. As a young boy, he would sneak out of his bedroom window after his minister father was asleep and hang around outside the jazz clubs in the neighborhood in Chicago, soaking up the music culture and styles of playing that would later make him a great jazz musician.

All his life he practiced piano voraciously and could do things technically that seemed impossible to most other pianists. With him at the piano, the King Cole Trio was a big hit, and their music and style are still being copied and performed. It was later that he developed into the husky-voiced singer who captured my heart.

I learned my first lessons in racial prejudice in the mid-1950’s because of Nat King Cole. Being a northern small-town girl, I had very little contact with black people or with prejudice. But the summer after my sophomore year of college I was living with relatives just outside of Erie and waitressing in a big, busy downtown diner. A young, friendly, unfamiliar female face always sparks some interest from the local singles, and I was no exception. A certain mid-twenties guy would be in every afternoon when he got done work, and to get my attention, he’d ask me what record I wanted him to play on the jukebox. "Answer Me My Love" was a popular Cole ballad at that time, as was "The Sand and the Sea." I’d say, "Play Nat King Cole." He wouldn’t do it. I thought he just didn’t like his style. It was quite sometime before I realized that this guy was from the south and his refusal to play my choice of music was racially-based. I was flabbergasted. But I persisted, and by the end of the summer his nickels were reluctantly playing Nat King Cole as he sat at the counter drinking coffee and chitchatting with the waitress. He’s probably still chiding himself for selling out, because with the end of summer came the end of the romance. I would like to think that my beliefs and Nat King Cole’s vocals made a lasting impression, but that’s one of those things I will never know.

However, with or without that young man’s approval, Nat King Cole made his mark on the culture. And what a mark it was! His untimely death was a huge loss to the music world and to all of us who loved the romantic ballads that he executed so well.

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100 Years Ago – 1902-2002

SUSQUEHANNA: The baseball season will open on Saturday next with a game between the local team and the Great Bend club. The band will be present and the Burgess will throw the first ball. AND: The Oakland Sewerage system is being enlarged.

BEECH GROVE, Auburn Twp.: The Ladies' Aid met at the school house Thursday and made a quilt for Marble Gay's people, who had the misfortune to be burned out recently, with no insurance. The quilt was presented to them the next day by Mrs. L. Carter and Mrs. Retta Fuller; and also a can of fruit contributed by each member of the Aid Society. In South Auburn Daniel Jayne, who was ill with a fever sore on his leg, has gone to Sayre Hospital and was operated upon. Later-he had one leg amputated. AND: Marion, the little daughter of Ern Lott, who has been ill with scarlet fever, has recovered. Every precaution has been used to prevent the spread of the disease; bedding and carpet burned and house thoroughly fumigated.

HOPBOTTOM: A serious accident happened to Henry Lindsley on his way home from this place, where he had been working with his team. He stopped at the watering trough to let his horses drink, walked out on the tongue to let down the checks, and by some means slipped off and fell right between the horses. The wagon ran over him and four ribs were broken, besides getting terribly bruised. The horses ran a short distance and were caught. AND: A boy, the second grandson in the family, arrived at the home of John Hortman.

SOUTH MONTROSE: The Long Distance Telephone has recently been installed in the store of Moody and Lake.

LAWSVILLE CENTRE: A game of baseball was played Saturday last between the Lawsville and Franklin Forks team. Game stood 17 to 9 in favor of Franklin Forks.

FRANKLIN FORKS: The Junior League received some Chinese coin from China, sent by Joseph Beach, a missionary there, as a token of love to the Juniors for the missionary money they sent to China last year. Each Junior had a coin, which is valued at one-fourth of a cent in our money. AND: All who attend the Decoration at Lawsville, May 30th, and bring lunch will find a nice place to leave their baskets at creamery hall; it is a fine place for eating lunches also.

LENOX: James Snyder was born in Clifford, Feb. 28, 1818 and died in Lenox on March 5th, 1903. He was one of the pioneers of Lenox Township, having settled there when 18 years of age. Here by industry and economy he cleared and improved nearly 200 acres of wilderness and in the long struggle of those early days developed the strong vigorous character so often found among the pioneers of our country. He was a member of the first Methodist church organized at South Gibson in 1838 and remained a member until his death. In 1838 he united in marriage to Miss Louisa Pickering, daughter of Corbett Pickering, one of the pioneers of Gibson. For many years their home was a model Methodist house-hold, with its family altar, its Christian literature and its old fashioned hospitality to the circuit preachers. Death claimed three of the six children born to him and in 1874 the wife of his youth was called to the better land. In 1876 he was married to Miss Susan Andrews of Condor, N.Y., who with three children by his former marriage survive him. Although he lived for some years upon "borrowed time" as he expressed it, both mind and body retained their faculties to the last. When 76 years of age he wrote most interesting reminiscences of his life as a pioneer, and each succeeding birthday his ready pen carried to some of his loved ones the strong vigorous thoughts of this Father in Israel. In 1902, on his 84th birthday, he writes. "The Lord has seen fit to prolong my life to four score and four years this day, with a sound mind and eyesight to read an ordinary newspaper without glasses. In renewing my past life and all its providences I am lost in wonder, love and praise."

HERRICK: It is reported that the new State fish hatchery for this section will be located at Herrick.

MONTROSE: The positive demand for the legitimate drama, rendered in an adequate manner, has literally forced the production of Shakespeare's beloved play, "Romeo and Juliet." The Simville presentation of the beautiful love story will be staged and costumed in such a manner as to delight taste of all refined people. Scenery, costumes, properties and effects, will all be made especially for this one complete production to be given at Village Hall next Friday evening. AND: T.D. Lyons rode over from Binghamton Sunday morning on his motor cycle, returning in the afternoon. "Ted" made the trip over in about two hours, not withstanding the poor roads.

NEW MILFORD: A collision between a freight and passenger train on the Erie near Red House, N.Y., April 20, caused a wreck in which 8 persons were killed and several injured. One of the passengers injured was Mrs. [Lydia, wife of Norman] Foote, an old resident of New Milford and a sister of D.D. Lathrop of Montrose. Mrs. Foote has been totally blind for several years and is now past 80 years of age. She was on her way to New Milford from St. Paul, Minn. She heard the crash of the collision and soon the debris of the wreck came into the coach and surrounded her so that she could not get out. The shock stunned her so she did not fully realize her situation and did not know that others were killed in the same coach. She soon heard two men say, "we must get this old lady out." They took her out of the window and her head was cut with glass and her side was bruised, but as yet no serious injuries are discovered. Her trunks with all their contents were burned in the wreck. It seems miraculous that she escaped with her life. The cars burned up.

ARARAT: Mrs. Freelove Brooks celebrated her 84th birthday last Tuesday.

THOMPSON: Thomas Lister was recently married to a lady of that vicinity. There is nothing particularly remarkable about that, except, perhaps, that he is 85 years of age and his bride is 60. [Thomas Lister died in 1905. His obituary states, "A dozen years ago he was a resident of Carbondale, and on each birthday it was his habit to walk fifty miles...His only near survivor is his wife."]

SPRINGVILLE: On the Montrose branch of the Lehigh Valley railroad, which is being made standard gauge, the iron is nearly up to Lynn station, two miles below Springville. A larger force of men is to be put on and the work pushed to completion.

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"OLD GLORY" Adorns High School Field – Just recently, around April 16, personnel of the Community High School, "planted" an American Flag – in full color – on the grassy bank adjoining the entrance to the seating stands of the football field. The flag, in full color of red, white and blue, measures 38 feet by 51 feet. It is a beautiful sight to see, and no doubt from the "air," it will look doubly-beautiful with the Stars and Stripes embedded on the grass. Hats off to maintenance workers, Don Norris and Stuart Cook and to Dan Demora of the Art Department. The flag can be best seen on the tennis court side of the field and track.

COUNTY Population – According to the United Census Bureau, Susquehanna County’s population was 42,238 in the year 2000; 42,258 in 2001; and 42,082 in 2002. The population increased by 20 in 2001, but lost 176 in 2002.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL – If you have electric windows in your car, please be careful. Just recently an 11-year old boy playing with the electric windows – while alone in the car – trapped himself so he could not move. He was found a little later, dead.

HOW ABOUT THEM IRAQIS? Now that the United States and coalition troops have freed them from Saadam’s grip, they want the Americans to "go home." Talk about ungrateful people. Must be a lot of them are of French descent.

VOTES "DO NOT COUNT" – Evidently, the votes of four school directors of the Susquehanna School District do not count. Right now, personally, I don’t care how the merger goes (and less what took place at the April 15 meeting). They, as well as the four that voted for the merger, were elected to represent the people. Four decided against the merger, four voted for the merger of the football program of Blue Ridge (New Milford) and Susquehanna. So, what do the "big wigs" decide to – take it to a "higher court" who they (the other school officials) believe will vote in their favor.

If that be the case, then every vote taken on "other matters," if the defeated faction doesn’t like the outcome, can be appealed to a, again, higher court. There are many against the merger, as well as in favor of it. My question is, "Are we going to pay for the entire expenses of the football program, and if so, for how many years, and how much will it cost the taxpayers?"

Sure, I know that by bringing in Blue Ridge we will have a better football program – and team – but if the school administration is not going to abide by a "majority" or "tie" vote – one way or another – we could be in trouble.

$3 BILLION For Veterans – A spending plan by the US House will provide, at least, $3 billion increase for veterans’ health care, as well as keeping spending for veterans’ compensation and mandatory benefits. The plan still must win approval in the Senate, where it is expected to pass. (The money will, no doubt, aid the men and women fighting in Iraq.)

SCAMS Everywhere – Just recently it has been revealed that several families in Broome County have been "ripped off," to the tune of $500,000. Time and time again the press has warned families – especially the elderly living alone – to be wary of "thieves." They are all over. They knock on your door, they call you on the phone. If you feel someone is taking your money, please, please call the authorities. Or, at least, tell your relatives or family members. Do not subscribe to phone calls. A lot of them (not all of them) are crooks. If they keep talking, hang up. Above all, do not let strangers in your home. If they keep knocking call the police, or one of your neighbors.

WORLD WAR ONE – Going through some of the old papers I "inherited" over the years, is a Binghamton Republican newspaper dated November 11, 1918. It lists, in the "Day’s Casualty List" of World War II, the name of Sgt. John C. Strider, 204 Prospect Street, Susquehanna, PA. Not listed, but a casualty in World War II was Corporal James Teskey. The Susquehanna American Legion is named after the two men, Strider-Teskey Post 86.season."

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Straight From Starrucca

Dennis and Florence Downton arrived last Thursday from beautiful, warm Sun City, Arizona to cold, snowy northern Wayne County.

Charles Levchak’s family were all home for American Easter. On the 27th of April, they will honor Russian Easter at the home of Charles’ sister, Helen Carpenter, Johnson City, NY. Doris Davidson was also a guest of the Levchak’s Sunday.

Val and Bill Tilton enjoyed Easter Sunday with John and Charlotte Keyser.

Joy Downton and family motored to Binghamton to spend the holiday with daughter, Karen Beam and family.

Ann Strohl, Hereford, PA, welcomed her mother, Marie Swartz and sisters and brothers to a family Easter dinner.

Mikayla Hargett, daughter of Julie Hargett celebrated her sixth birthday with her young guests flying kites a week ago Saturday, the 19th of April.

Two hundred eggs lay hidden around the Baptist Church Easter Sunday, awaiting the clutching hands of the ten children who romped over the area before church Easter Sunday.

Dean Rhone and wife are expanding their living quarters by adding onto the entranceway of the former Maye and Ern Tarbox home.

June Downton was pleased to have granddaughter, Amanda, husband, Allen and great-granddaughter, Alexis Johnson, Siler City, NC visit her for five days last week.

We had a great time here at the Dickey homestead Easter weekend. My two sisters arrived on Friday with their gentlemen. After going to sunrise service at Ararat and church here, came home to find son, Nelson had driven down from Little Falls, NY. Soon after came son, Dan and his son, David and fiancee, Michelle. Drove to Clifford for dinner and met daughter, Nancy and her family of three. All came home to find grandson, Stephen and his lady friend, Laura welcoming us. It was wonderful to have so many young people around, informing us of all their plans and projects.


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