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Issue Home October 14, 2003 Site Home

Slices Of Life
100 Years Ago

Straight From Starrucca
Along the Way...With P. Jay
Food For Thought

Slices of Life

Mission Nearly Impossible

Like in Mission Impossible a voice challenges me with, "Your mission today, should you choose to accept it, is to find the dining room table." Knowing that I have no choice if I want my life to move on, I reluctantly start the process in my mind. This should be easy; it’s nothing but paper that has the table buried this time. But, ah, what important paper! And decisions to be made as I work.

First let me tell you about the table. When we moved into this nine-room house with full attic and cellar, we were coming from an apartment and had very little furniture to fill it. I have a snapshot of this new dining room with nothing in it but a cheap fold-out sleeper couch and a hand-me-down desk. I don’t recall how long it stayed that way, but it was a big day when we bought a used dining room suite from the mother of my husband’s co-worker and friend. The wood was dark, polished and beautiful. Knowing our penchant for hobbies, my husband immediately bought a sheet of some kind of thin, but indestructible, particle board and cut it to fit the top of the table. We laid an old sheet directly on the smooth, gleaming tabletop, put this board on that and a cloth on top of it all. And so it has remained for forty-some years. (Occasionally I change the cloth.)

That beautiful tabletop has been buried, but not disfigured, despite the many projects that came to fruition on that table. It was a Cub Scout workstation, a card and board game table, a cutting and sewing area. Crafts by the hundreds got completed (or at least started) there. Plays, stories and letters have been written and re-written there. And, occasionally, on holidays we even eat there.

When my mother-in-law died, leaving a big house full of furniture, my husband wanted me to get rid of this dining room suite and take his mother’s. I, who was amenable to almost any wish, resisted. My house has overflowed with much of her furniture for years, but I would not give up my dining room outfit. I’ve replaced the chairs out of necessity, but the rest remains, and I still love it.

But today, my mission is to go through hundreds of manuscripts of "Slices of Life" and get them in some kind of order. After many years of stuffing them here and there, I have finally located most of them and dumped them on – where else? The dining room table.

The reason for this overhaul is that after a year of negotiating, I have another weekly newspaper that wants to re-publish these stories. To make that work, I need to get back to the beginning and put these in some kind of order because they have developed into individual chapters of a continuous story of my life. For several days they have been on my table. I go with determination to do the job I’ve set before me, and after a few minutes, I walk away completely baffled about how to start. It is very frustrating, but I know myself well enough to realize that at a point, the inspiration will come and I will do the job.

Why do I expend the effort and endure the frustration of sorting these for another market? First, there is the self-satisfaction of seeing my words in print. Then, with the price of everything escalating even as investments creep downward, the extra money will be nice. But, most of all, it’s because of your kind words and the thought that my everyday tales are brightening your lives. Maybe those people in other small towns will also see themselves in my stories and feel validated.

So, here I go to the dining room table. Wish me luck!

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100 Years Ago

FLOOD NOTES: The heavy and continuous rain for the past three days has caused trouble in this section. Friday night, the Starrucca Creek, swollen by the heavy rains, overflowed its banks and caused considerable damage in the northern end of Lanesboro. J.F. Lovelace's shop was undermined and precipitated into the stream, together with many tools. At Stevens' Point, on the Delaware and Hudson road, the flood of Friday night last washed away the ballast in such a manner as to make the rails insecure and caused the wrecking of fast freight train No. 69 Saturday night. About ten cars were ditched and more or less seriously damaged.

The first train to run through from New York to this place on the company's own tracks, in four days, arrived last night between 10 and 11 o'clock, when train one pulled into the station, says Tuesday's Susquehanna Transcript. The mail and express were no heavier than on ordinary trains, as they had been transferred. The tracks are in the worst condition ever known in the history of the road. It will be necessary to rebuild nearly the whole road on the Eastern division. Only one track is open and the eastbound trains are still run over the Lehigh from Waverly.

At Thomson early Saturday morning Conductor Becker's train was wrecked and half a dozen cars were badly damaged.

Forest City escaped comparatively easy, but both the trolley lines and railroads were forced to quit business for a couple of days to the great inconvenience of the public in general. The mines were also flooded.

John Madigan, of Lanesboro, attempted to drive across the Starrucca creek and with his team was swept into the river from which he and his horses were rescued with great difficulty. Mrs. L. Armstrong, who was ill with typhoid fever at her home, near the D & H station, was taken from her bed in a boat over the same creek. Sunday no teams were permitted to cross the Susquehanna and Oakland bridge, but it was found to be intact when the flood had subsided. Great damage was done to the summer cottages at Columbian Grove. The river, on Sunday, was within eight inches of the high water record made in 1865 and was at the highest point ever reached with the rise due to rainfall only. For two days there was no telegraphic communication between this place and Scranton, Philadelphia and New York.

SOUTH MONTROSE: The local telephone has again been installed in the store of L. W. Moody.

NEW MILFORD: The new Pratt public library building will not be opened until spring. This has been decided by Colonel and Mrs. Pratt to be the best course possible, owing to the condition of the building, which is not yet completed. The delay occasioned in the beginning, owing to the contractor not being able to secure material, made it necessary for a change in the plans of the opening. The library has been re-opened in the old building and its patrons will there find plenty of the latest and best productions of the popular authors. In the spring the new building will receive the finishing touches and the grounds laid out and beautified.

FOREST LAKE: Bradley Fessenden, of Hibbing, Minn., is visiting his brother, Charles and others, whom he has not met in 40 years.

LAWTON: Thos. McManus, while driving to Middletown Centre recently, met with an almost fatal accident. The horse became frightened while Mr. McManus was talking to some friends and ran away, throwing Mr. McManus out of the carriage. The horse was caught by one of the neighbors at that place and Mr. McManus was obliged to stay there all night.

HALLSTEAD: There is lively times among the school principals in Susquehanna county this year. Prof. A. C. Paul has now resigned the principalship of the Oakland graded school to accept the principalship of the Hallstead schools, and entered up on his new duties. The Oakland School Board, at a meeting held on Monday evening, decided to advertise for a principal and defer the selection for one week.

SILVER LAKE: While in attendance at a funeral near Silver Lake, the team attached to Billings & Co's hearse ran away and damaged the body of the vehicle, the thick plate glass sides being shattered. It occurred after the house had been reached and the contents removed and was caused by hogs that suddenly frightened the team, unpreventable.

MONTROSE/HARFORD: Andrew Mead, for many years with Cooley & Son, has purchased the tinning and plumbing business of Omar Jackson, Harford, and will remove there at once. Mr. Jackson, becoming the owner of Mr. Mead's house and lot in Montrose in the transaction. Mr. Mead is an energetic, competent tradesman, enjoying the fullest confidence of a lot of friends here. We bespeak for him success.

SPRINGVILLE: School was closed on Friday evening and will remain closed until after the Montrose Institute, as two little girls of Arthur Tuttle, have been sick with scarlatina, or scarlet fever, so there would be no danger with other children.

GIBSON: J. G. Manzer celebrated his 81st birthday September 28. About 50 of his friends and neighbors met with him to help him enjoy it. A fine dinner was served by the ladies and they spent a very pleasant day visiting, telling stories and playing games. After dinner Charles H. Manzer, of South Gibson, assisted by Henry Sumner, of New Milford, made a short speech and presented him with a purse of money as a token of respect by those present.

MUD LAKE, Silver Lake Twp.: Timothy Sullivan has been appointed postmaster at Mud Lake.

THOMSON: F. D. Wrighter has taken possession of the Jefferson House.

HOWARD HILL, Liberty Twp.: Mr. George LaSure has taken the road to build from Rhiney Creek to the road that goes to Conklin Forks. When it is finished it will make it only about eight miles to Binghamton.

SOUTH MONTROSE: E. C. Wells recently lost his old "Prince" horse because of old age.

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Wayne Hall Of Fame Adds 26 "All Stars"

The Wayne Area Sports Hall of Fame, organized in 1994, at their tenth annual banquet, added 26 more athletes to their "Hall" raising the total inducted to 291. The inductions were held at Woodloch Pines Inn, on September 27, 2003.

Among the 26 inducted this year, two are from the Starrucca/Forest City/Dickson City area.

Receiving the honor from Forest City was Carl Urbas. He coached the FC Girls basketball team for 20 years. He won eight District 12 championships, among his many other feats. Still a resident of Forest City, he has a son, Brian, and a daughter, Melissa Urbas, a Learning Support teacher in the Susquehanna Community School.

Joseph T. Palka (deceased), of Dickson City, PA, excelled in baseball and basketball and played ball one season in the AAA Apalachian League in South Carolina. After his discharge from the Air Force – around the 1950’s – he pitched, played first base and played the outfield for the Starrucca team, managed by "Mr. Baseball" of the Wayne County League, Wendell Swartz. Wendell’s team was the "Yankees" of the league, finishing first often. Joe was credited with hitting three homers in one game. He passed away November 2, 1993.

A large number of athletes from the Starrucca/Honesdale area have been inducted since 1994. First to make the list was none-other than our own Wendell Swartz of Starrucca, who for many years kept baseball alive in the Starrucca/Thompson area.

Others – known to area residents – are – Michael Evanitsky, John Ignatovich, Dan O’Neil, Doug Phillips, Florence Petroski Downton, Charles Levchak, Ray Perham, Carl Soden, Robert Tedesco, Stanley Chesnick, Harold Stearns, Joseph Buckshon, Laura Phillips, Dave Soden, Ben Chesnick, Joe Merli, and recently, Carl Urbas and Joseph Palka.

Through the efforts of many Wayne County sports-minded people, the Wayne Area Sports Hall of Fame has grown in stature every year. It is one of the premier functions – every year – of the area.

The purpose for establishing the Wayne Area Sports Hall of Fame is to recognize the many outstanding athletes and sports promoters in our area. The many benefits of athletics, both to the individual participating and to the community itself, cannot be overstated.

(A personal note: once again, I repeat, it’s a shame that the talent we had – and have – in the county, goes unnoticed – forever. My sincere thanks to Wendell "Mr. Baseball" Swartz for his input in the above article.)

SUSQUEHANNA "Prettier & Prettier" – it should be "hats off" to all the men and women of the community who had any part in getting the grant to spruce up our community. Also, "hats off" to the working crew, who are making Susquehanna look like a "Boro coming alive" with new sidewalks and curbs from Broad Avenue down to and up Erie Avenue, back to and up Main Street to the old Pagano store. Also up Franklin Avenue. Also above the Methodist Church, back down and around the corner and down Exchange Street. Also across from Exchange Street, where a new curb and sidewalk was placed.

In addition to all of the above (and more), trees are being planted along the Main Street. To set all of that off, street lights about ten feet (?) high, with large white globes, that remind (me, anyway) of a boulevard. To say the least, the community will be "lit up" in great style, come nighttime. Yes, Susquehanna is "coming alive again" through the efforts of interested people. Now we have the Susquehanna Community Development Association – out to improve the looks of the business place and more.

ESPN Fires Limbaugh – Why? Because he "tells it like it is" in his sports commentating. That’s what sports – and news – commentators are supposed to do. That’s what they are getting paid for. Limbaugh did not bring race into it. Those that objected to his remarks brought race in to it. According to Mike Lopresti, a columnist, they did not reprimand Shaq O’Neal for imitating a celebrity; nor Jim Brown for calling an Ohio State director a "slave-master." I never was a fan of Limbaugh, but right is right. To me, ESPN took the easy way out. They got a little heat from some "big guys" and right away they fire Limbaugh. They knew he was controversial, and they liked it until he said something controversial that some people didn’t like. To me, ESPN goofed it, pulled in their horns and let Limbaugh hang out to dry. If every sports commentator writes negative articles, about any athlete – white or black – which are true, is that a reason to fire him? ESPN must think so!

SENIOR CITIZEN "FAIR" – A Susquehanna County Senior Citizen Fair, sponsored by the New Milford Boro Council, will be held Thursday, October 16, 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., in St. Mark’s Parish Hall, New Milford. The fair – open to the public – is to inform county senior citizens as to what services are available to them. A free lunch will be served.

Free transportation will be provided by Susquehanna County Transportation by calling (free) 1-800-323-2051 or (570) 853-4510. Many services are available to seniors. It is to your benefit to attend this "fair".

BASEBALL "At It’s Best" – The Major League Baseball playoff games may be "baseball at it’s best," but the tonsorial looks of many of the players has much to be desired, in addition to watching the games. Some look like they belong in a contest – for the longest hair, for the full beard, for a half-beard, for long and short mustaches. One thing which has been for the "better" is that most of the players have stopped chewing tobacco and spitting "all over the place." (Oh, well we can’t have everything.)

BOWLING RESULTS – High scores at the Susquehanna Riverside Lanes are coming – early – in bunches. Theresa Felter of the Ladies TwiLight League bowled the second 700 series on games of 258, 226, 217, all PGs for a 701 total on September 18. Earlier, Barb Wolf bowled a 720 series. On the men’s side, Jeremy Hall of New Milford, a member of the Stub Card League, on September 24 bowled a 757 series that included a 299 game. In the John Baumann League, September 29, Ed Graves of the American Legion team bowled his first 600 series on games of 206, 202 and 200 for 608. (Congrats to all.)

CORRECTION – In the September 24 County Transcript, we reported a 300 bowling game at the Great Bend Lanes by 13-year old Justin Anderson. The name should have read "Dustin Anderson." (We regret the error.)

STATE PASSES "Drinking Bill" – The State House of Representatives passed a bill to lower Pennsylvania's legal blood-alcohol for motorists. The new law changes the alcohol limit from 0.10 to 0.08 percent. Once the governor signs the bill, the law will go in effect February 1.

VETERANS Headstones – The government has changed its rule about not providing a VA headstone for a veteran’s grave if the grave already has a headstone. Now veterans who died since September 11, 2001 can receive a VA headstone even if their graves already have a headstone privately provided.

The change in the rules applies to everyone eligible for a VA headstone, including veterans, people who die on active duty and some reservists.

The government will ship the headstone or marker free of charge, but will not pay for placement. The VA also will replace headstones and markers previously provided by the government, if they are badly deteriorated, illegible, stolen or vandalized.

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Straight From Starrucca

The Wayne-Susquehanna chapter of the American Baptist Association met October 5 with Rev. Herb Rogers as the main speaker. Rev. Rogers divides his time between US and Haiti. He is an adjunct professor of microbiology at the Christian University in Northern Haiti. His speech was also on the missionary work in Haiti. He and his wife, Bernice host the International Ministries Guest House in Phoenixville, PA.

I might also add the Methodist Church also supports missionaries there and also sends work teams.

The Thompson UMC Clothes Closet is open 10 a.m. to 12 noon every Friday. If an emergency occurs and the need is immediate please call Linda Chesnick at 727–3193 or Mary Gray at 756–2652. No more clothing is needed at the present time.

Bret Upright, Modena, NY spent the weekend with his parents, Carl and Virginia Upright. Also, Brent and Mary Pat Upright and Billy Reddon spent time with them over the weekend.

Amanda Hadden and Al Johnson and daughter, Alexis, Siler City, NC are spending some time with grandma, June Downton. Barbara and Ralph Hadden, Pottstown, PA are also at June’s prior to attending a wedding.

Jason Soden, with the NY State Police, stationed at Deposit, NY called on his parents, Peggy and David Soden last week.

Blaine Buck and wife, Renee, Middletown, PA spent the weekend with his parents, Lillian and Robert Buck.

Shirley Williams, Starrucca, passed away last Saturday, October 4 at Barnes-Kasson Hospital after suffering a heart attack. Her funeral was Wednesday at the Baptist Church, with Pastor Al Rodriguez conducting the service. Shirley had a lot to bear the last several years with the death of husband Bob, son Gary and sister, Marguerieta Swartz and her own personal health. Although she wasn’t a regular attendee at church, Shirley had a strong faith which helped her through these major upsets in her life.

She was buried in Starrucca Cemetery beside her husband, Bob. Shirley has earned a blissful peace at last.


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Along the Way...With P. Jay

Time To Re-write The Sunshine Act

Someday someone with some clout in Pennsylvania is going to recognize that The Sunshine Act needs to be revised so that elected agencies, appointed agencies and yes, even the courts, will be able to interpret its purpose, its intent, and when it is being violated.

As clear and understanding as some of it appears, The Sunshine Act has got to be the most abused and/or ignored state statute in the history of this state. The Forest City Regional Board of Education violates it once a month by holding illegal work sessions.

And pity the county commissioners. They cannot help but violate it. If two of the three commissioners sit down and talk about a county matter, they are a quorum and most county matters can only be discussed at public meetings.

And do you want to know something? The opinion here is that nobody gives a hoot. In conversations I have had with people about The Sunshine Act, I have heard more "so whats" than anything else. The feeling seems to be that as long as the agency in question takes its official action at a public meeting, let its members gab all they want behind closed doors.

This is what the author(s) of The Sunshine Act thought of the laws that were in the books prior to The Sunshine Act: "This law replaces the old Open Meeting Laws of 1957 and 1974. Under the old law, public agencies were required to hold open meetings only if votes were taken or official policy adopted. This led to the frequent abuse of discussing and deciding issues in so called ‘workshop’ sessions, with the official public meetings being relegated to conducting formal votes on issues already decided in advance."

The current Sunshine Act, which I believe made its debut in 1987, requires that any deliberations leading up to official actions must also take place at public meetings. "Municipal governing bodies," the Act reads, "have no authority, either under the municipal codes or The Sunshine Act to conduct ‘workshop’ sessions."

The Act covers all such actions by municipal governing bodies, committees of these governing bodies and municipal boards and commissions. Now, you may be thinking, are school boards municipal governing bodies?

The Act reads: "The General Assembly, state executive branches, school boards, authorities and board of public colleges and universities also are covered by The Sunshine Act. Official actions include making recommendations, establishment of policy, decisions on agency business and votes taken on any motion, resolution, ordinance, rule, regulation, proposal, report or order."

I talked to a gal in the newsroom at the Pennsylvania Department of Education and she said school boards have a special exception that allows them to have work sessions as long as they do not take a vote on any issues. But when I asked her for chapter and verse allowing it, she referred me to executive sessions which are not the same as work sessions. Executive sessions are allowable but only under a half-dozen carefully worded reasons outlined in The Sunshine Act. Back to the law.

"An executive session," the law reads, "is a meeting from which the public is excluded." (Forest City School Board does not exclude the public from attending its work sessions, but it does exclude the public from attending its executive sessions.)

The Sunshine Act enumerates six reasons for holding executive sessions. In short, they include: (1) to discuss personnel matters; (2) to discuss strategy and negotiation sessions related to collective bargaining; (3) to consider the purchase or lease of real estate; (4) to consult with an attorney regarding litigation or issues where identifiable complaints are expected to be filed; (5) to discuss agency business that would lead to disclosure of information recognized as confidential or privileged under law; and, (6) for public colleges or universities to discuss matters of academic admission or standings.

Will members of the Forest City Regional Board of Education read this and stop the work sessions? Probably not. There are some directors on the board who have common sense but there are also some who think they know more than me, more than you, and more than anybody else including the authors of The Sunshine Act.

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Food For Thought

The Cause of Disease:

"The soil? The Seed? Illnesses hover constantly above us, their seeds blown by the wind, but they do not set in the terrain unless the terrain is ready to receive them."

Claude Bernard, The Medical Times and Gazette, 1861

This apparently was one of the early beliefs in modern medicine, which was abandoned along the way. It is now reclaiming its rightful place in Health Care.

Much like the Bible story of the mustard seed sown on the rocks, and the seeds sown on the fertile ground, this quote illustrates that unless we are receptive to the germ, illness will not take hold and flourish. In fact, most "germs" that can cause illness, are already present in our bodies at all times.

How do we become receptive to illness? By allowing resistance to be worn down, allowing our immune systems to become depleted.

Cold and flu season are upon us again. It is time to take stock in our own health and examine the ways we support or deplete our immune systems.

There are basically five things we need to keep in balance to maintain proper health: 1) proper eating habits: good nutrition; 2) rest and relaxation; 3) physical activity or exercise; 4) good mental outlook: think positively; 5) properly functioning nervous system.

Proper eating habits mean eating good healthy foods, in the right amounts. Supplementing with vitamins when we need to, especially when we know we are not eating good healthy foods, or when stress levels are higher, or we have special needs like pregnancy, or running a marathon.

Rest and relaxation are the flip sides of the same coin: one is for physical rest and one is for mental rest. Both allow us to unwind, and reset before tackling a new day or a new problem. As cold weather sets in, we need more sleep. It takes more energy to keep warm, so more rest is required to recuperate. Most of us don’t allow that, or even work longer hours in the winter, an automatic stress to our health.

Physical activity (or exercise) serves many purposes. It can be a stress outlet. It allows us to unwind from the pressures of the day. It allows us to rebalance from the repetitive activities of our daily work. It builds strength and stamina. And it should be fun. Exercise or physical activity can be anything that gets us moving, and motivated. It can be walking, running, dancing, jumping rope, exercise routines or tapes, weight lifting, pogo-sticking, or anything else that you can think of to do for at least 20 minutes, 3 or more times a week. Longer is okay, too. And more frequently, if you want.

Don’t forget to warm up first, and to stretch and cool down after.

A positive mental attitude is so key to mental and physical health. It has been stated and restated for years. There are a lot of statistical studies relating depression and illness, especially some of the more catastrophic illnesses. And lack of sleep, lack of fun, poor diet and lack of exercise can all contribute to a poor mental attitude and depression. In fact, some studies have shown that treating depression with exercise is more beneficial than treating depression with only anti-depressants.

So get up, get moving, and laugh.

A properly functioning nervous system is essential to health and wellness because the nervous system is the control and communication system of the body. Without it, your body cannot summon an immune response. Your body cannot defend itself, or heal properly from illness or injury.

So with cold and flu season approaching what can you do to prepare yourself?

1) Make sure you are dressed appropriately for the weather. It is not the chill or the wet hair that make you get sick. It is the energy depletion that your body goes through to try to protect you that can weaken your immune response enough that you can become susceptible to an illness.

2) Make sure that you are eating good quality foods, in appropriate amounts. Skipping meals is one sure way to wind up getting sick.

3) Moderation is the key in all things. Nutritionally, that means not eating excessively of any one kind of food. That way if you are eating foods that are of poorer quality (but really taste good) you will still be getting enough good stuff from the other foods you eat.

4) Get enough rest, or sleep. You know you are getting enough sleep, when you awaken feeling refreshed and energized, instead of dragging, and bogged down. Often, when you are in the right sleep cycle, you will awaken just before the alarm goes off.

5) Take some time for relaxation. Go play. Do something fun. Often you can combine the physical activity with the fun. Once again, moderation is key. Over done physical activity or fun can leave you sore and over tired, making you more susceptible to illness.

6) Take a look at your work and home environments. Make sure that air filters are changed regularly to ensure good, clean air. Add humidifiers where necessary. Poor air quality is a real stress on the respiratory system, leaving you more susceptible to illness, and discomfort.

7) Practice positive thinking whenever possible. Meditate or pray if you choose. Seek out positive thinking people to talk with. Watch positive, uplifting movies or TV programs regularly.

Maintain these things in balance. If we do too much of one, at the expense of the others, we will alter the normal balance of our bodies (called homeostasis) and allow ourselves to become susceptible to illness. For example: excess exercise can lead to injury and low body weight, and illness.

Adding extra vitamins can be helpful, kind of like putting an extra blanket on the bed, just in case. The vitamins should be good quality, natural vitamins if possible. Extra vitamin C, echinacea, golden seal, Vit. B complex, and zinc are all good for warding off colds and flu. Chicken soup never hurts, either.

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