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Issue Home September 2, 2003 Site Home

Slices Of Life
100 Years Ago

Straight From Starrucca
Along the Way...With P. Jay

Slices of Life

Seize The Day

This has been a spectacular day. The thermometer in the shade on my front porch reads eighty degrees. I sit on the glider watching and listening to summer giving way to fall.

A lone crow caws as he flies high above the trees. In the distance I hear more and persistent cawing. Are these the summer crows preparing to depart and relinquish their territory to their winter cousins? Or is that just a story someone told me for fun?

A soft breeze disturbs the wind chimes causing them to tinkle ever so softly. That same movement of the air leaves me feeling refreshed and lethargic at the same time.

The neighborhood children are noisily enjoying their swimming pool, getting their last hours of summer fun. They are very enterprising youngsters who are adventuresome to the point of causing me some worry about their safety. But then I always was too cautious for my own good.

Earlier this morning as I had my coffee at the kitchen table, I could look into the back yard and see the signs of autumn encroaching. The huge stand of bamboo at the end of the driveway is piling up a deep layer of tiny white petals on the blacktop. The spring ice storm two years ago had nearly done away with the bamboo. And that was a mixed blessing as it had been beginning to spread beyond my property line. This year’s crop is unbelievable. It has grown so high and wide that it shaded flower beds, claimed part of the driveway and encroached big time toward the neighbor’s garage.

In front of the beautiful bushes, Queen Anne’s lace, goldenrod, and a kind of tiny white daisy are flowering from anemic stalks heroically growing from cracks in the blacktop. The phlox that also seeded themselves there are discarding drying purple blooms all around.

As if to confirm my suspicions that fall is nearly here, I overheard a story in the restaurant about a man picking forty quarts of wild blackberries in a clearing. That is definitely a sign of fall. I wish I knew where that was. There’s nothing like fresh blackberry pie.

I put a few blueberries in the freezer today both in muffins and just by themselves. Also canned some peaches. No matter how my life changes, I still have to buy at least a half-bushel of peaches. It’s a rite of seasonal passage.

I love fall with its cooling temperatures and beautiful clear blue days. But it’s also a nostalgic time with children (but not my children) going back to school. This brings memories of days filled with sewing and canning. My mind’s eye sees my husband’s shirtless bronze back as he digs potatoes, harvests his prize garlic, and cuts the cornstalks. Bushels of apples appear on my doorstep along with mushrooms and elderberries as he continues the gathering. As busy and as frantic as that life sometimes was, I long for those days that will never return.

Shakespeare knew whereof he spoke when he recounted the seven stages of man. And the writer of Ecclesiastes likewise delineated the times of our lives. Fall rolls around more quickly each year it seems. All the more reason to seize the day.

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100 Years Ago

SUSQUEHANNA: The Erie freight business is immense and its motive power is taxed to the utmost. AND: All of the labor organizations in Susquehanna will parade on Labor Day, Sept. 7th.

FOREST LAKE: Marian Booth is teaching the school at Forest Lake Centre; Ruth Fessenden at Forest Lake; and Nellie Jagger, at the Warner School.

LAWTON: The Rush School board met at Hotel Haire Saturday last. Among the business transacted by the board was the closing of the Keach Hill school and hiring the board of its one pupil, Lee Walker, at Eugene McCarthy's for the present term, where he will attend the Snyder School. Schools in this vicinity opened Monday. Christie Curran is teaching at Rushboro; Archie W. Pickett at Rush; Anna McGovern at Logan; and Leila Hardic at the school in this place. Rushville is without a teacher.

SPRINGVILLE: The Lott brothers went fishing over to Schooley Pond one day last week and caught 460 bullheads. AND: C. S. Gates, a former resident, after an absence of 19 years in Nebraska, is visiting relatives here.

HOPBOTTOM: Lester Kinney, on his return home from Scranton, Tuesday evening, Aug. 25, on No. 5 [train], went to the hotel barn and hitched up his blind horse and started home in the dark. The horse took the side track of the bridge, which was not wide enough to let the wagon pass. Consequently one wheel ran up on the iron railing and threw Mr. Kinney 15 feet into the water, besides upsetting the buggy and horse. Assistance soon came and they were rescued without any serious damage being done.

MONTROSE: "Doc," the faithful old horse owned by Mrs. Susannah Webb, is dead, he having expired on Wednesday, August 26, 1903. We consider his death worthy of mention, as this noble animal possessed all the characteristics which are required to make a good, kind, equine friend. AND: Montrose vanquished the Carbondale Crescents here Tuesday by a score of 6-1. Yesterday our boys in turn were defeated at Owego, the score being 5-3. Of course, Owego didn't have a Cornell catcher, or a Yale and Princeton player, or Delahanty, of Binghamton, and an umpire that was cross-eyed-but the time for kicking is past. Carey pitched a good game and the team gave him good support. They hope to retrieve their ill fortune in next Wednesday's game. The Athletics will play at the Knights of the Maccabees clambake Monday, with the Susquehanna nine-a game in the morning and one in the afternoon.

JACKSON: W. W. Pope has been granted a patent upon an improvement in ladders.

ARARAT: During the absence of Mr. and Mrs. John Beaumont, from their home the 22nd, thieves broke into their home and stole about $100 worth of articles including a gold watch, silverware, table linen and other things.

NEW MILFORD: Rufus Rought, of Hopbottom, while working with the section gang near the Lackawanna station at New Milford, on Thursday of last week, was struck on the head by the pilot beam of a locomotive and painfully injured. His head was cut and he was rendered unconscious. Dr. Merrell, of Hallstead, ordered his removal to his home, where he is recovering. Mr. Rought, who is a man past middle life, was married three weeks ago to a woman who had been married twice before and both of whose husbands were killed by the [railroad] cars.

HARFORD: T. E. Richardson will have a chicken and pigeon shoot at the Harford Fair ground, Saturday, September 5th.

HALLSTEAD: The school board of Hallstead is tied up over the election of a principal, Prof. B. W. Pease, who was elected principal of the Damascus, Wayne county high school-declined the place and wishes to retain his place as the head of the Hallstead school. He has three members of the board on his side and they refuse to recede from their position and they hope, with Mr. Pease, that the other three who are standing out against him will acquiesce to their wishes. It is a doubtful proposition, however, and the chances of Hallstead having a school until the court is appealed to is even more doubtful. For the good of the school it would be a real nice thing for Mr. Pease to gracefully adjust the troublesome matter by stepping down and out. The people's interests are entitled to consideration.

REUNION of the 141st Regiment: At the annual reunion at Monroeton, Bradford County, on Wednesday of last week, 91 members were present and Lawton, this county, was named as the next meeting place, one of the companies having been largely recruited from that town. The officers elected were: Judge D. W. Searle, Montrose; President, G. W. Kilmer, of Monroeton, and D. J. Sweet, of Towanda, vice presidents; W. T. Horton, of Towanda, treasurer; Rev. David Craft, of Angelica, N.Y., secretary. The regiment in its original make up consisted of 38 commissioned officers, 911 rank and file, recruits 87, total 1,036; killed and died of wounds, 167; died of sickness, 82; transferred to other regiments, 214; living at close of war, 775; now living, 410; of the original ten captains three are living-Tyler, Beardsley and Davies. Of the members of the regiment, one had been lieutenant governor, two represented the national government abroad, three judges, one a member of congress, six members of the state legislature, one first assistant secretary of the interior, besides many others holding high county offices, while the professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, etc., are well represented. In both military and civil life they have a record of which they well may be proud. [Some of the better-known battles the 141st fought were: Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Battle of the Wilderness, Cold Harbor and Petersburg.]

NEWS BRIEFS: The Grow welcome committee gave the $118.48 surplus, after the bills were paid, to the South Gibson and Harford bands and to the Forest City and Lawsville drum corps, which organizations gave their services gratis; except the sum of $18, which is to be used in printing an official report of the day's proceedings. AND: The Northeastern Pennsylvania Telephone company will build a line from Lenoxville to Nicholson via Fleetville. AND: The 57th Annual exhibit of the Susquehanna County Agricultural Society will be held at Montrose the 15th and 16th of September. The Cycle Whirling Bretons will give their sensational act the last day of the fair in full view of all of the people. These people are from Washington, D.C. and are the only riders who do this seemingly impossible feat of carrying a full grown person on their shoulders while riding the whirl at full speed. Don't fail to see them Sept. 16th.

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BOYS DIE FROM HEAT – During the past week, two brothers – ages one and two – strapped in their car by their father for two and a half hours were found dead. The father, of New Jersey, Ferrick Strothers, a postal worker, locked the boys in a car with 80-plus degrees outside, while he went to work. (Please remember, when the heat outside is 80 it could be 100 in the car. Don’t leave children or animals in a car.)

BUNTING "Ole Fashion" – Read an article in a New York newspaper, concerning the demise of the art of bunting. Bunting, years ago, was an internal part of baseball. Now, the players seem to think they are being "downplayed" if asked to bunt. For the money they are making today they should be ashamed of themselves for not knowing how to bunt. Many games have been won by a well-placed bunt. Advancing a runner to another base and putting him in scoring position "is the name of the game." I recall Billy Martin, one of the best managers ever, using the bunt on many, many occasions to win ball games. Now, if a player does lay down a good sacrifice bunt, he is given "high fives" by his teammates, as if he hit a grand slam. Some players believe they are above bunting because home runs bring in the "big money" for them. What we need is managers that insist players learn the art of bunting. Take Phil Rizzuto, not a long ball hitter, but being adept at bunting for base hits made him a better ball player and allowed him to stay in the big leagues. (Note: I believe some major leaguers are ashamed to bunt, because they look ridiculous. Then they should learn.)

GOOD NEWS "For A Change" – Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Governor James McGreevey of New Jersey have agreed to decrease tolls on bridges operated by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission. There will be a rollback, the governors said, after a few details are ironed out. Truckers are "up in arms" over the high tolls, as it is costing them over $11.00. They were paying $4.00. Sen. Lisa Boscola, D - Northampton said, "I want to see at least a fifty percent reduction, through the rollbacks.

CAMPANELLA’S MVPs Sold – Roy Campanella, one of the major league’s most outstanding catchers whose career was cut short by an auto accident, was a MVP three times. He recently saw his MVP awards sold at auction. His 1951 MVP award sold for $155,000, his 1953 for $95,000, his 1955 award for $90,000, a pair of shoes sold for $32,000, a catcher’s mitt for $38,000, and a jacket for $31,000.

MOST EXPENSIVE CITIES – Nothing in Oslo, Norway is free – even a trip to a public toilet costs $1.32. Next in line are: Hong Kong is second; Tokyo is third; New York is fourth. The cheapest is Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A LOT OF EXCUSES – But the one I have a problem with is the gas station that raises its price one day and two days later again. Does this mean that, in between the two raises they received a new supply of gas or are we paying the hike for gas that was in their ground tanks for a while; then when a new supply comes in – bang, up again.

JOHNSON CITY Girl "A Champ" – Kim Richards, age 21, of Johnson City, NY, won gold medals in the female deadlift, bench press and combination bench press/deadlift at the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games. She was named 2003 Special Olympics New York Female athlete of the year.

DO YOU AGREE? The Sports Illustrated Magazine has named the following athletes New Jersey’s "All Time Best": Carl Lewis, track; Rick Barry, basketball; Franco Harris, football; Amos Alonzo Stagg, football coach; Marty Liquori, runner; Goose Goslin, baseball.

PENNSYLVANIA’S BEST – Wilt Chamberlain, basketball; Arnold Palmer, golf; Joe Montana, football; Johnny Unitas, football; Bill Tilden, tennis; Josh Gibson, baseball. (Jim Thorpe was named the state’s greatest athlete.)

A "GREATEST" Moment – On December 23, 1972, the Pittsburgh Steelers football team trailed Oakland Raiders 7-6, with 22 seconds remaining in the game. On fourth and ten Terry Bradshaw passed to French Fuqua. He was hit, lost the ball, but before it hit the ground Steeler Franco Harris caught the ball and ran 60 yards for a TD and a 13-7 win, giving his team a first playoff win in 40 years.

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Straight From Starrucca

There is a new specie of bird in our neighborhood; at least we have never seen it before. My neighbors and I have been entertained by a small, round shaped bird called a Bob White. It is very friendly and one can get close to it and it won’t fly away. It’s call is a very well distinguished "bob white." My neighbor thinks it has a nest under one of their bushes.

Congratulations to Ruth Mroczka. She exhibited three quilts at the Harford Fair and received two first place awards, and one second place. Your fine workmanship has been rewarded.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I got in touch with a few members of my Class of ‘33 and from that meeting evolved the Sterling School Reunion. Last Saturday we had our twenty-second reunion with a goodly attendance at the Sterling Methodist Church, where all our reunions are held.

Barbara and Amanda Hadden and granddaughter, Alexis, Siler City, N. Carolina spent some time this last week with her mother, June Downton.

Also, June’s brother, Ron and wife, Karen, Newburgh, NY spent last weekend with her.

Marie Swartz spent a few days with her daughter, Anne, in Hereford, PA.

Charlie Levchak spent a lot of time preparing for his annual Labor Day bash, actually the Sunday before Labor Day.

Good news – the bridge should be done by the end of September, says one of the men working there. What a boon that will be with the price of gas going up and up; we won’t have to take the long detour to get across the creek.


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Along the Way...With P. Jay

Write or Wrong?

Can’t help but wonder who in our criminal justice system established the practice of having criminals write essays, compositions and letters of apology. I thought that kind of punishment ended in grade school.

Recently one judge ordered a prisoner to write a letter of apology to the jail warden because he tried to escape apparently while working on a chain gang or whatever. Now, what could the guy write?

Maybe something like:

"Dear Warden,

"I am sorry I tried to escape from your jail. It really is a nice jail and I do like it here. Once you get used to it, the food isn’t too bad. And you do have cable television. The other prisoners treat me OK, well, except for one who likes to slap me around once in a while. But I am used to it now.

"The guards are friendly. They let us watch them smoke and I haven’t seen one of them hit a prisoner with a nightstick in almost a week. The leg irons hurt but when I trip over them and fall down, a guard generally slaps me on the fanny with his club so I forget about the leg pain for a while.

"I hope you will accept this letter of apology. But your Wardenship, even though I like it here I cannot promise I will never try to escape again. So I might be writing to you again.

"Prisoner #3748926"


Ride or Wrong?

Recently the county purchased a new four-wheel-drive pickup for use by the field appraisers in the assessment office. They need 4x4’s because they do travel on some terrible roads and in some horrible weather conditions.

But what’s this we hear about one of the field appraisers who is riding around in a county truck? We are told that one of them has been observed shopping and perusing auctions on county time.

With the price of gasoline where it is today and the wear and tear on the truck, we certainly hope we are wrong. But we don’t think so.


Rod or Wrong?

When I think of a sheriff, I think about a big brave lawman with a handgun strapped to his legs, a fist of iron, and a swagger in his walk ala John Wayne. Of course we are a lot more sophisticated today than in the days of the old west so we don’t need the quick draw or the fast right to the jaw.

Nevertheless, a lawman is a lawman and he should look the part. Lance Benedict is a good sheriff. He’s going to get better as he matures in office. The feeling here is that his position is weakened by the presence of white lace curtains on the window in his office. For some reason or other white lace curtains seem out of place in a lawman’s office.

We are told that Mrs. Benedict picked out the curtains. That’s believable. They have a feminine touch. Curtains in the sheriff’s office? Absolutely! If that is what he wants. But white lace curtains? Nah!


Right not Wrong!

Lillian Theophanis is retiring after 29 years of service with the county. In recent years she has been director of the Soil Conservation Service. Our paths did not cross much during my 13 years of covering the county as a newsman but when they did, I found Lillian to be honest and factual. She never pulled any punches while pursuing what she felt her department needed and never hesitated to pitch in and help wherever she could be of service. She will be missed.

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