Main News
County Living
Church Announcements
Dated Events
Military News
Subscribe to the Transcript

Watch This space for information on upcoming events in Susquehanna County.

Issue Home May 13, 2003 Site Home

Slices Of Life
100 Years Ago
Straight From Starrucca

Slices of Life

A Magic Mile

It’s amazing how much life can get squeezed into a small space. This week I was visiting in the area that I called home for many years. As I drove into the wide spot in the road called Farmers Valley, I was struck by the places that had been so important to me. There sat the school where I spent many happy days. It’s no longer being used as a school, but it looks exactly like I remember it; yellow brick rectangle, lawn in front, playground in the back. Only it seems so much smaller than it did when I was six – or even 13. Eight grades packed into one small building, and a teacher’s room to which our only entry was conditioned on being sick. There was the cafeteria that my mother presided over as head cook, and the auditorium where I took my horn lessons and starred in Christmas pageants.

As I drove on a short distance, I came to the metal bridge that had caused such excitement. As the bus driver approached it, we kids would start up a chorus of "go fast over the bridge!" If our driver did as we urged, those in the back of the bus would be bounced high out of their seats. He’d only do it occasionally, so it was a special treat. A very short distance took me across the railroad tracks, and there on the right was an open space where my grandmother’s house used to be. In my mind, the lawn is full of people as we celebrate her birthday – a command performance for all! And across the road still sits the tiny wooden home of an old couple who are long dead. Very poor in worldly goods, the wife’s one extravagance was a stick of gum, which she had the choice of chewing or saving. " I can chew it or leave it alone," she would say with pride. I do hope she eventually chewed it before it got too stale.

Around a bend and I’m seeing the house where my eldest sister started her married life. There, as a teenager, I would baby-sit for her on Saturday nights when she and her handsome husband went dancing. I was a reluctant baby-sitter at best, but the saving grace was that sometimes, when he could have the family car, my boyfriend would visit me.

Making a right hand turn I came to the now deserted Worth W. Smith army surplus building. A larger than life brick building with no other distinguishing character, this building held surprises. A walk up the inside stairs brought you to a handsome apartment with a grand piano in the living room. This kind of opulence was unheard of in our poor valley. But Mrs. Smith was a fine pianist and would be my accompanist when I played my horn in competition.

Next to this structure is an open field that once was the scene of determined competition. One year, my Dad had rented the field and planted the long, narrow area to field corn. After the corn was picked, the plan was to cut the stalks. Not by machine, but with sickles. All family members took turns. I was paired with my uncle and I was determined that he wasn’t going to get ahead of me on his adjacent row. Back bent, long hair falling in my face, and hands blistering from unaccustomed physical labor, I hit the end of my row the same time he did. I remember his telling my Dad later, "I wanted to get ahead of her so we wouldn’t be in each other’s way, but she wouldn’t slow down."

I smile as I pass by the field and turn onto the road that will take me to my destination. Long, winding and steep, with an abrupt turn at the top, this red clay road was a nightmare for my Dad in his road supervisor days. It is the road to the cemetery and rain would make the clay a slippery mess. Ice and snow were equally treacherous. We’ll never know how many loads of cinders were shoveled onto that road from the back of Dad’s pickup truck. His companion worry was that one of those "heavy-set women" would fall on the ice when the mourners left their cars to stand at the gravesite.

I’ve stood there for several services over the years. I was here this day to put flowers on the graves of Mom and Dad, my younger brother, my older brother’s young wife who was taken away all too soon. Then there was my grandfather who was such a bright spot in my life, and his wife, my grandmother Margaret, whom I never knew.

Standing in that cemetery is like being on top of the world. And as I surveyed the area below me, there was the power line cutting across the field. In a snapshot taken several years ago, I am posed under this line near one of the first poles my husband helped set when, as a young man, he first started building electric lines across northern Pennsylvania. All these memories and I couldn't have traveled for more than a mile from the school. It just goes to show that one doesn’t have to see the world to have a meaningful life.

Back to Top

100 Years Ago – 1902-2002

NORTH JACKSON: Fire broke out about 7 o'clock Thursday evening of last week in the farm dwelling house of Mrs. Chauncey VanAllen, residing near North Jackson, and burned the farm buildings, consisting of the house and contents, barn and wood house. The origin of the fire is not known but is supposed to have caught from the chimney in the house. The high wind, absence of water and scarcity of help gave the fire a free hold and sweep and raged until all that was combustible was consumed. But little was saved from the lower floor of the house, and although the loss was heavy, there was only an insurance of $400.

FOREST CITY: The musical entertainment given by the National Protective Legion of Forest City was a great success. The program, with the exception of the address by George A. Scott, the National secretary, and two selections by the orchestra from Carbondale, which also furnished music for the dancing, was entirely of home talent and was well rendered. Ice cream and cake were served.

MONTROSE:In former years, when there was a North Main street running out of Public Avenue at the north, it was proper enough to call the street running out of it at the south, "South Main street." But North Main street was changed to Lake Avenue years ago and since there is not a North Main street, nor even a plain Main street, it is somewhat awkward to have a South Main street. Why not give it a shorter and less awkward name? Why not call it, for instance, Post Avenue, in honor of one of Montrose's most industrious citizens, Wm. M. Post, Esq., his home long occupied by him and still owned by him, being a prominent feature of this thoroughfare. Other Posts were among the earlier settlers too, and it would not be out of the way to name an avenue for them. But if not Post avenue, make it something else, so as to dispose of the incongruous name, "South Main street."

GREAT BEND: A crank came running into a Great Bend newspaper office and said that a man had swallowed a two-foot rule and died by inches. The editor started out at once to learn further particulars of the death, and meeting the doctor, told him about the case. He said that was nothing, that he had a patient once that swallowed a thermometer and died by degrees. A couple of bystanders then chipped in. One of them said it reminded him of a fellow down in Laceyville that swallowed a pistol and went off easy. The other said he had a friend in Skinners Eddy who took a quart of applejack and died in good spirits.

FRIENDSVILLE: To the people of Friendsville and vicinity. Frank Flynn & Co. having several years experience in the undertaking business at Pittston, Pa, have rented rooms opposite Flannigan's Hotel. The rooms are stocked with caskets of the latest design or pattern. All new stock and a complete burial outfit. Call and see before purchasing elsewhere. A good hearse in attendance at all funerals.

SUSQUEHANNA: A few of the very oldest employees have been discharged from the Erie shops. AND: The Erie detectives have asked for an increase in wages from $50 to $60 per month.

HOP BOTTOM: Our creameries are working five men daily.

SILVER LAKE: What threatened to be a serious fire was started Saturday by burning a brush heap. A quantity of rail fence was destroyed; the fire then burned over a meadow, crossed the road and burned a strip of woods on the bank of Cranberry Lake. A large force of men fortunately stopped its progress before it reached the deep woods surrounding the lake.

KINGSLEY: Miss Allyce Capron has millinery rooms in the new store building of her father, E. C. Capron. She has a fine line of millinery goods, and solicits the patronage of the ladies.

KINGSLEY: Dr. Noble, of Forest City, will have dental rooms over Reynold's store, and will be here Wednesday and Thursday of each week. AND: It is rumored that the creamery comp'y has sold out to a New York firm, who will erect a cheese factory.

ST. JOSEPHS: The death of Mrs. Anna Kelly, beloved wife of Simon Kelly, occurred at her late home on Thursday, May 7, 1903, after an illness of several days with pneumonia. Possessed of a strong and affectionate character, adorned by many womanly and Christian graces, she had endeared herself as a sincere and worthy friend to all whom she met in the closer walks of life. As a true, devoted mother, she linked herself heart to heart with her children-thus making a happy home for them, and one that was "good to enter." Mrs. Kelly, who was a life-long resident of St. Josephs, was 58 years of age. She is survived by her husband, two sons, Matthew and James, and three daughters, Maggie, Mary and Daisy; two sisters, Mary and Maggie O'Reilly; and four brothers, Father Michael O'Reilly of Danville, Father James O'Reilly of the Cathedral in Scranton, Father Edward O'Reilly of Waverly and Aloysius O'Reilly of St. Josephs. Two brothers, Father's John and Patrick, died several years ago. Mrs. Kelly was the daughter of the late Terence O'Reilly, who was at one time postmaster of St. Joseph, and a niece of Very Rev. John Vincent O'Reilly, the pioneer priest of northern Pennsylvania. Seven priests attended the funeral.

NEWS BRIEFS: Blacksmiths are reaping a harvest now. On account of the almost continuous wet weather the past two years the tires have kept tight and snug, but the present period of dry weather has caused the wood to shrink and in order to keep the vehicles from rattling to pieces, it necessitates the resetting of tires and the readjustment of the other iron work. AND: Gov. Pennypacker has signed the judge's salary bill and the salary of the judge of Susquehanna Co., after Jan. 1, 1904, will be $6000 per annum, an increase of $2000 per year. AND: Twenty-one ministers of the M.E. Conference wear the G.A.R button [Grand Army of the Republic-Civil War veterans]. AND: The Milwaukee Division of the International Harvesting Co., of America, manufacturers of harvesting machinery, on May 5th, through their local agents, M. Harris, Rush, S.A. Stone, Forest Lake, and B.I. Robinson & Son, Montrose, assisted by J. W. Kinney, traveler, and S.H. Miller, block man, distributed a car of Mower's, reapers and rakes among the farmers of the vicinity. These goods are fast coming into use, being noted for durability, lightness of draft and easiness in operating. After loading their machines the farmers drew up in line, making a fine display, and were photographed by Photographer Bronson, before leaving for home.

Back to Top



When I was asked by Mary Jo Glover and Pam Hennessey to attend one of their "Centennial" meetings, I had a small idea what they were going to ask me to do. I soon found out. They needed someone to solicit ads for their upcoming book. They figured (I guess) being in the newspaper business, I would be the logical one to solicit the ads. Little did they know, that in my entire newspaper "life" I very seldom went out for ads. I always had my help do that. I would, now and then get on the phone, but "never go out on the road."

I would always put the ads together, along with other newspaper work.

So, after I accepted the "challenge," I said to myself, "What am I getting into!" It took me a couple of days (along with my co-partner, Mary Ficarro) to start calling on businesses and individuals.

Living at Turnpike Terrace, my first "victim" (I hoped) would be the Terrace. So I went into the office, gave my spiel to project manager, Vicki Swanson, who readily said, "Why, sure we will place an ad in the book." Armed with my first ad, I proceeded to French’s Garage, and before leaving the garage, I had a full page ad from Mike and Mark French. With my hopes "sky high," during the next several weeks, I visited many, many establishments with 99.9% of them very congenial and delighted to take part in wishing Susquehanna "A Happy 150th Birthday."

Again, to Pam and Mary Jo (and the entire committee) it was a pleasure to help make the book and ‘Centennial a success. I guess I must have called Mary Jo and Pam nearly every other day, to "confirm this or that." They were very helpful in helping me through the "ordeal." I would like to extend my deep appreciation to the "young ladies."

I wasn’t the only one to help out. Take a look at the book. It took a lot of work to get the material, such as photos, news items, history of the community, etc.

So, it’s "Hats Off" to the entire ‘Centennial committee for a job well done, and to the Susquehanna Transcript and its staff, for a book that will please just about anyone that purchases one.

(PS: Oh, yes, my thanks to Mary Jo and the committee for their "kind words." I would also like to inform the committee, I doubt if I will be able to help them at the "next" ‘Centennial.)

"SESQUICENTENNIAL BOOKS" Look G-r-e-a-t! Have you purchased one of the books? If not, better get one right away. They are selling like "hot cakes" and are worth every bit of the $10.00 being charged. The book is filled with photos, articles of "way back when," plus so many other bits too numerous to mention. The books, thanks to the many business establishments who so graciously subscribed ads, wish the community a "Very Happy Birthday."

Check the business ads. They are a work of art. The book was published by the Susquehanna County Transcript and the ad designs were all "put together" by Robert M. Dibble, County Transcript Graphic Designer.

And, how could a book of this importance be published without a poem by our "Transcript and Town Poetess," Dorothy Holmes. The poem appears on the inside back page, and is titled "Susquehanna." The poem brings back memories of "Ole Susquehanna."

IT’S THAT TIME of Year Again – American Legion baseball is about to start their 12th year in the area, so the Susquehanna/Forest City/Mountain View American Legions are again asking to help the "young fellas" through another year of baseball. As we all know, it takes a lot of money to field a team – with baseballs, uniforms, etc., and travel expenses.

So, if you can help donations will be accepted by: Tom Hurley, P.O. Box 218, Susquehanna, PA 18847; John Guidaitis, 714 Delaware Street, Forest City, PA 18421; William Zerfoss, RR 1 Box 225 A, Kingsley, PA 18826. Make checks payable to "Generals, A.L.B."

Manager Bob Polish writes that the Medals of Excellence Awards, the first ever received by the Generals team, were awarded to team personnel: Tom Hurley of Susquehanna; John Guidaitis of Forest City; Bob Chmiel and Brian Rock, coaches; Will Zerfoss, Ed Pearsall and Paul Lemoncelli, coaches and Bob Pollish, GM/Mgr. Players: Aaron Phillips and Matt Orner, Susquehanna; Scott Malicky, who also received the Legion Eagle Scout Award.

NEW VFW Officers – The newly-elected officers of VFW Post 6223, Great Bend will be installed on May 14. They are: Commander, Eddy Arnold; Senior Vice Commander, Jim Willson; Junior Vice Commander, Gerry Bishop; Quartermaster, Bob Franks; Judge Advocate, Clarence Brink; Chaplain, David Hughes; Surgeon, Ebb Elbrecht. NOTE: Memorial services will be held: May 26, at 9 a.m., in Hallstead; at 10 a.m. in New Milford; and at 11 a.m. in Great Bend.

RULES MAY CHANGE – College basketball rules may change, pushing the three-point line back nine inches. Not a bad idea. What I would like to see is: the baskets in high school remain the same height; the baskets in college up about six inches; and about 12 inches for the pros. I suggested something like this a long time ago and drew some flak, especially about the pros. Some pro players are almost as tall as the basket is high! They grab the brim like they’re a bunch of acrobats. You call that "basketball?" I don’t.

I would bar them from grabbing the top of the basket and play the game "the right way," not hanging on the basket like a monkey. Sure, pro basketball has become the "big guys’ game," so taking away that high jump (hanging on the basket) will give the average player a better chance of competing. (This column is open to any constructive criticism.)

CASTRO NO Better than Sadaam – Pope John Paul II criticized a recent political crackdown in Cuba, appealing to Castro for more lenient treatment of 75 people. The dissidents were accused of such activities as running free libraries, an independent news service and an independent financial association and promoting other reforms. They were sent to jail for 6 to 28 years. Three others, who hijacked a ferry to the United States, were caught and executed. Isn’t it about time Castro is "informed" that he does not own people?

BIZARRE FACTS – A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why. On average, 100 people choke to death on ball-point pens every year. On average, people fear spiders more than they do death. Thirty-five percent of the people who use personal ads for dating are already married. Elephants are the only animals that can’t jump. Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older. No word in the English language rhymes with "month." "Typewriter" is the longest word that can be made using letters only on one row of the keyboard.

PARTING SHOTS – "We would rather do business with 1,000 al-Qaida terrorists than a single American." Sign at a funeral home in Philadelphia.

Back to Top

Straight From Starrucca

Two big events happened in the Andy and Jen Bennett family within the last couple weeks. Taylor Bennett celebrated her fourth birthday with about sixty guests at the Baptist social rooms, April 27. Thursday, May 8 she was joined by a baby sister, born at Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale. Everyone is as happy as a lark, says mom, Jen. Congratulations!

Roger and Barb Glover attended her niece’s First Holy Communion, held at St. John’s Catholic Church. Danielle Barnes was glad to see her aunt there. Last Tuesday, the couple was in attendance for grandson, Ethan Parker’s fourth birthday. He is the son of Andrea and Rick Knox, Binghamton, NY.

New York State Trooper Jason Soden has been transferred from Ellenville, NY to the Deposit, NY barracks. This, of course makes parents Dave and Peggy Soden very happy, as he is closer to home.

The Civic Association met last Wednesday night, May 7, with thirteen present. We talked of many things, one of which was the reprinting of the "History of Starrucca." Bill Young was there to give his comments on the matter. Charlotte Keyser is again chairman of the Memorial Day program and stated she has the program well in hand.

Thursday, May 15 will be the last get-together of the Bag Ladies until September.

Carl and Virginia Upright visited son, Brett in Modena, NY recently.

Hopes were high as two tractor trailers full of mail arrived at Nasiriyah, Iraq just recently. Marine Corporal James Kelly, stationed there, tells his folks back home, Jim and Debbie Kelly, that he was on hand when Jessica Lynch was rescued. I sincerely hope everyone received communication of some kind.

I returned last Monday from a week’s visit with son, Nelson and family. Most of the visit was pleasant except for some damage to my car and a day and a half in the hospital (not a result of car damage). I felt I had preferential treatment, as both Nelson and wife, Phyllis, have worked there for years and are very highly respected hospital personnel.

Memorial Day will be observed May 26 with services at the Memorial Park at 9:30. Then, the march to the cemetery. Cemetery Association meeting at 11 a.m., and dinner will be served at the Baptist Church dining hall about noon. Mr. Steve Karmick, who is overseeing the bridge work, says that every effort is being made to have at least one lane of traffic open Memorial Day.


Back to Top

News  |  Living  |  Sports  |  Schools  |  Churches  |  Ads  |  Events
Military  |  Columns  |  Ed/Op  |  Obits  | Archive  |  Subscribe