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Issue Home December 9, 2003 Site Home

Slices Of Life
100 Years Ago

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

Slices of Life

O Tannenbaum. O Tannenbaum

Can it be possible that Christmas is only two weeks away? And here I am way behind with my holiday preparations again. Every year I vow that next year will be different, and I’ll work year-round making gifts so when Christmas arrives I’ll be ready. But here it is coming up fast and I’m far from ready.

This is going to be an especially joyful Christmas because my granddaughter is coming to visit. It will be the first time we’ve ever been together at Christmas time. I am so excited. This is the year for the big tree and all the ornaments.

Last year I didn’t trim a Christmas tree because I knew I was going to be away for four days and I didn’t want Mrs. Morris climbing the tree and eating the glass bulbs while I was gone. If you remember from years past, she did eat the tiny glass eggs in the bird’s nest that she pulled from the tree. So for her safety and my sanity, I just put up my tabletop ceramic tree.

I think it was probably the year before that we went all out. I had gotten this big beautiful tree, but the thought of decorating it all alone was not a happy thought. Enter my friend, Gail. She stopped in for coffee and said, "I’d love to help you decorate your tree."

Out came boxes and boxes of lights, ornaments, tinsel – the works. She was as excited as a child as we worked on that tree, and when we finished there was nary a bare spot on any limb. We dug into those boxes and found ornaments that hadn’t seen the light of day in a long time. It was like walking backward through forty-four years of family history.

I’ve seen striking Christmas trees that carried out themes. Blue lights and silver ornaments, for example. Or trees decorated with only fruit. I’ve actually done mine before with white lights, red bows, crystal ornaments and crocheted snowflakes. These stylized trees are striking, but they don’t seem to conjure up the feeling of Christmas like a hodgepodge of decorations collected through the years

I remember with fondness the Christmas trees of my youth. Always a droopy hemlock because that was what populated the woods on the farm. When you put the weight of a string of lights on the branches, they sort of folded down under that much weight. These were large colored bulbs, where if one bulb went out, they all died. There were a few glass ornaments and usually strings of popcorn. Paper chains that we’d made were drooping from branch to branch. The old-fashioned tin foil icicles, saved from year to year, added glitter. In our later years, electric candles clipped to the branches, but usually not wanting to stand straight, bubbled as some liquid inside them heated up.

I’m not sure how Dad felt about adding the job of scouting for, chopping down and dragging home a tree when he was already overworked and it was deer season to boot. If he complained, I either didn’t know or don’t remember. And was my energized mother as happy as she seemed? I don’t know. But I do know that Christmas stood for what they believed in; the love and care of each other and this family they had created. They passed that care of family on to me and it is probably my greatest inheritance.

So, if I ever get this springs and mattress out of my living room, there will be a tree to surpass all trees, because I’m going to host the family celebration!

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100 Years Ago

FRIENDSVILLE: Thomas Ryan sustained a broken back and internal injuries as the result of a runaway accident in Apalachin yesterday [Thursday] afternoon. Ryan's team was standing in front of the hotel in Apalachin when the horses became frightened by the blowing of the 1 o'clock whistle and started to run. Ryan was taken unaware and unable to keep his balance when the horses made their first jump and he was thrown under the wheels of the heavy lumber wagon. The wheels passed over his back and the bones of the spine were badly fractured. Dr. G. W. Beach, of Binghamton, was called to attend Ryan and Dr. F. M. Miller was called in consultation. Dr. Miller made a quick run from Binghamton to Apalachin yesterday afternoon, covering the distance in his automobile in just 40 minutes from the time that he received word that he was wanted. It is learned later that Ryan died Monday night and his body was taken to Friendsville Tuesday for the funeral and burial. He was 30 years of age and is survived by a wife and 5 children.

BRANDT: The Brandt Clay Product company has commenced the shipment of large orders of brick. Both yards, under the management of Charles Lee, of Binghamton, and C. C. Pratt, of New Milford, with a large force of men and teams, under the supervision of M. W. Madden, of Brandt, are doing a hustling business.

BROOKLYN: The supervisors of Brooklyn township were the first to file a petition with the county commissioners asking for about three miles of road to be built under the direction of the state highway commissioner under the provisions of the act of assembly passed April 15, 1903. The highway petitioned to be constructed extends from the foot of [the] hill near Brooklyn Centre, toward Hopbottom, to house of H. G. Wright. AND: Ernest Tiffany, of Lindaville, and Lena Fish, of this place, were united in marriage Nov. 25, at the home of the bride.

GREAT BEND: Editor More, of the Plaindealer, has given up the fight with delinquent subscribers and inclement weather and fled to the Sunny South. Accompanied by Mrs. More he takes passage on the good ship Algonquin of the Clyde Line, sailing Thursday for Jacksonville, Fla. Editor Moore is now the Mayor of Great Bend, having been recently appointed by the Court to fill [the] vacancy caused by the removal of the elected Chief Executive. That puts him in the class with Geo. B. McClelland and the rest of the 1903 mayors.

EAST DIMOCK: On account of James Bunnell's horse being sick, Johnny Howell is hauling the milk.

SUSQUEHANNA: Over $700 was raised in St. John's Catholic church on Sunday, to defray the expenses of improving the parochial school building.

HALLSTEAD: Thanksgiving day brought sadness to the home of E. O. Brush, near Hallstead, when his son, Harvey, aged 16 years, was killed by his gun while hunting.

NEW MILFORD: James Donahue, formerly of this place, who some time ago was appointed Lackawanna section foreman at the Factoryville tunnel, has been transferred to the section at Nicholson, to take the place of Patrick Killea, who has been placed on the retired list. Mr. Killea was appointed foreman of the section at Nicholson in '61--going to that place from Alford, then known as Montrose Depot. The friends here of Mr. Donahue will be glad to hear of his promotion, for such it is considered. AND: The quarry at Summersville, operated by the Shields' Stone Co., has been shut down for the winter and probably will be abandoned altogether.

LAWSVILLE CENTER: Jacob Chalker, one of our oldest citizens was robbed of between nine and ten hundred dollars last Friday night. The family was away and an entrance was forced and a small box where the money was kept relieved of its contents, with the exception of two small checks. It is not considered to be the work of experts.

CLIFFORD: Charles Snyder, while trying to tighten a binder on a load of hay, met with an accident that nearly cost him his life. It was reported that night that he was dead, but we are glad to report that he is now well and at work again. AND: Our neighboring town, Royal, has a new postmaster and merchant, Lyman C. Severance, appointed postmaster in place of A.A. Payne, dec'd, and he has leased the Royal store and is filling it to overflowing with first-class goods. Lymie is one of our most enterprising young men with plenty of cash, and is trusty and accommodating.

ARARAT: The Ararat Prohibition Alliance held a very successful meeting in Ross Hall, Burnwood, Friday evening. The hall was crowded with an intelligent and interested audience.

HARFORD: Frank Leslie and Frank Labar have returned from their hunting expedition in the Pocono mountains and brought back a fine deer.

HOPBOTTOM: J. L. Sterling is building a new wagon shop.

LANESBORO: As the result of a rear end collision between coal trains on the Delaware and Hudson railroad near Lanesboro Friday evening, eight cars were reduced to bits, their contents strewn down a bank, a caboose burned up and one engine badly wrecked. The trains came together on a grade, the engineer on the rear train being unable to bring his engine to a stop when the rear of the preceding train was sighted. With a terrific crash the engine plowed through the caboose, causing a fire to start and then made debris of the eight cars ahead of the caboose. The cars were hurled through the air, or at least the pieces of them, and many parts of the engine smashed. Fortunately the members of the crew, including the conductor, who were in the caboose of the first train, sighted the approaching train and realized that a crash was inevitable in time to make their escape by jumping.

SOUTH MONTROSE: It might prove profitable in more ways than one for some of our men and boys to refrain from hunting on Sunday, especially on other people's premises.

FOREST LAKE: The Christian Endeavor Society will give an oyster supper Friday evening, Dec. 11, at Philip Warner's. Price 25 cents. Proceeds to be used for missionary work.

NEWS BRIEFS: Easily 15 inches of snow fell in the central part of the county, Wednesday, and the result is some of the finest sleighing ever experienced. The snow did not drift in the least, which makes almost perfect conditions for traveling. Merchants are expecting a big holiday trade, and since the snowfall many have sent in rush orders for more goods so as to be fully prepared. AND: Binghamton's population is now estimated at 41,000.

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Father Charles Connor Author Of New Book

Father Charles Connor, former pastor of Susquehanna’s St. John’s Church, now pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Carbondale, believes there is no better time than right now for Catholics to learn more about their faith.

His new book, "Defenders of the Faith in Word and Deed," is a study of the strong personalities and groups who championed Catholicism through martyrdom. "I was motivated to write the book because I believe there is a need to learn from the past," said Father Connor.

The Catholic Light newspaper, Scranton, of November 27, 2003, shows Father Connor, also the diocese’s historian, presenting a copy of the book to Bishop Joseph Martino.

A native of Carbondale, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history at the University of Scranton, and a Ph.D. in US history at Fordham University. He taught history for several years at the U of S before beginning studies for the priesthood. He completed philosophical studies at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, and the theological program at the Gregorian University in Rome.

Father Connor was ordained in 1990. Prior to becoming pastor of St. Rose last summer, he was assistant pastor of St. Patrick’s in Scranton and pastor of St. John’s in Susquehanna. He has served as diocesan historian since 1997.

Defenders of the Faith is available at the Guild Studio in Scranton and all Catholic bookstores.

WOLFE TONES "Very Exciting" – The Wolfe Tones Trio, direct from Ireland, landed at P.J. O’hare’s Pub on the evening of November 23. From the very first vocal number, the "Tones" had the packed house "rockin’ and applauding" each number. In between numbers, they extolled the virtues of "long-ago Irishmen" and paid tribute to them with songs. For about two and half hours, there was no let up, as the trio, Noel Nagle, Tommy Byrne and Brian Warfield entertained a most enthusiastic crowd; that included people from an area of 100 miles. I do believe this is the first time that a well-known international group ever invaded the Susquehanna area. Hats off to Dermott and Brooke O’Hare (who we thought were biting off a little too much) in bringing the internationally known Wolfe Tones to our small community. But the O’Hare’s evidently knew what they were doing, packed the house, and no doubt, will bring in more "stars" in the future.

BIG, BIG DEAL! – The PA State House of Representatives has approved changes to a bill that would expand eligibility for the state’s low-cost prescription drug programs to thousands more citizens. They plan to increase PACE for a single person from $14,000 to $14,500 and for married couples from $17,200 to $17,700. A nice gesture, by our state "fathers" who no doubt have all of their health benefits paid, and all they can give us is a measly $500 increase in the ceiling.

PICKERING Bowls 802 – Plenty of big scores are being bowled at Riverside Lanes thus far. Not only are the men clobbering the pins, so are the ladies. On November 19, Larry Pickering just missed entering "the 300 Hall of Fame" as he bowled a 299, with the five pin refusing to go down on his last ball in the third game. His first two games were 239 and 264 (299) for his 802 total. Prior to the 802, Larry was averaging 197. His previous high scores were a 768 (total) and a 289 (single). Congratulations, Larry.

OLD POST OFFICE "Coming Down" – Another land mark in Susquehanna is being dismantled. For the past few weeks, wrecking crews have been tearing down the old Post Office building located on the corner of Main Street and Franklin Avenue. The building – at one time – housed many tenants. The Post Office was located on the Main Street level; upstairs a telephone exchange was in operation for many years; several doctors had their offices in the building; but most of all it was "home" to many local residents that had to vacate the building. Later, the old Post Office area was used by a couple of tenants. One a small restaurant and bakery; another was a swap shop – of sorts. (What was in the building prior to the above? I have no idea. Does anyone out there know?)

BLUE RIDGE Students Cited – Three New Milford Blue Ridge school students were recently honored as they were awarded the McKelvey Scholarship; a $10,000 per year college scholarship for four years. Receiving the awards were: Annette Conigliaro (volleyball and softball), who, a couple of months ago was quoted in a letter to "Parade Magazine"; Allison McNamara (basketball, soccer, track); Joe Pepitone (wrestling, cross country, track). Scholarships are available to students at select rural schools in Pennsylvania and are based on "entrepreneurial spirit."

LARRY BERRA’S "Yogi-isms" – One of the major league’s most valuable baseball players, Berra is also known for "malapropisms" (or for mangling the English language). Here are some of them: "If you look funny and talk funny, you better not hit funny"; "You can observe a lot by watching"; "When you come to a fork in the road, take it"; "Nobody goes there anymore, it’s always crowded"; "We made too many wrong mistakes"; "Thank you for making this day (for me) necessary"; "It gets late early out here"; "Ninety percent of the game (baseball) is half mental"; "Always go to other peoples funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours"; "The future ain’t what it used to be"; "If people don’t want to come to the ball park, nobody’s going to stop them"; "It ain’t over ‘til it’s over."


HOTEL QUICKIE – Roomer to desk clerk, "There are two mice fighting in my room." Clerk: "What do you want for $15 – Mike Tyson."

ANOTHER Quickie – Roomer to desk clerk, "That room you rented stinks." "The last man in that room had monkeys," the clerk said. "Why don’t you open a window?" "What," said the roomer, "and lose all my pigeons."

ANOTHER Quickie – Roomer called the motel front desk, "I want my breakfast in bed tomorrow." "OK," said the clerk, "but you will have to carry your bed to the restaurant."

ANOTHER Quickie – I hate it that my mother-in-law lives with my wife and me. Why don’t you ask her to move? I would, but it’s her house.

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Straight From Starrucca

Visitors at Alice and Kirk Rhone’s over the weekend were Tim, who manages a sporting goods store in New York City; Jeff and Jeanine, Delhi, where Jeff teaches; and Don and Randy Walker, Vestal, NY.

Imagine Randy Walker’s state of mind when he spied a mountain lion while hunting. Other mountain lions have been seen in the hills surrounding Starrucca but the powers that be don’t seem to credit one’s eyes.

Betty and Harry Weldy spent the holiday with their son and family, Bob and Trish Weldy, Depot Hill.

Ruth and Lee Slocum welcomed their daughter, Diane from Odessa, Texas. She spent four days with them, but being a teacher, duty called.

Marie and Lou Gurske traveled to Nazareth, PA to have dinner with her mother, who is in a retirement home there.

A post Thanksgiving holiday was in store for Gale, Scott and Greg Williams as they took off for Washington, DC through the courtesy of Gale’s niece. She had obtained tickets for the football game of the Washington Redskins against the New Orleans Saints. Even though the Redskins lost (Gale’s favorite team), it was exciting to see them play. They returned home Sunday, after taking in some of the tourist attractions in DC.

Charles Levchak and Doris Davidson had Thanksgiving dinner with Kathy Daum and family, Windsor, NY.

Robert and Linda Butts called on his mother, Doris Davidson recently. Robert had a month’s vacation from his duties on Diego Garcia.

Julia Smith, accompanied by her daughter, Lynda Wilcha, Thompson, drove to Johnson City, NY recently to keep an eye appointment with her doctor. Julia had holiday dinner with another daughter, Shirley Depew and family, Deposit, NY.

Holiday visitors at the home of Mary and George DeBalko were her mother from Clifton, NJ, and their daughter from Madison, NJ.

Gina and Carl Upright entertained Bradley and Jean Upright and their two children, Chandra and Kara, Williamsport, PA and Brent and Mary Pat Upright, Windsor, NY.

Brett, Carl and Gina had holiday dinner with Brenda Reddon and family.

I spent six days with my daughter, Nancy and family. I met all their boyfriends and girlfriends but I had forgotten how much growing boys and girls eat, since my own had grown up many years ago. Good thing Thanksgiving provides one with leftovers.

Don’t forget, the cookie exchange at Senior Citizens next Thursday, December 11. Our speaker will be on hand.


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Along the Way...With P. Jay

The Bottom Line

The Kelly Administration can expect to inherit some union problems when Roberta et al assumes control of county government next month. How the new commissioners will handle the situation remains to be seen but I don’t think any of them will be intimidated by the presence of a union in the courthouse.

Unfortunately, when the union did arrive in the courthouse, some of the employees viewed it as the Second Coming. The representative from Teamsters Local Union No. 229 of Scranton was the Messiah. He was going to forgive the wrongdoing they had gotten away with for years and let the county commissioners know that the time has come for the tail to wag the dog.

Well, my friends, it just doesn’t work that way. County employees are finding out that the union umbrella intended to protect them is not totally immune from harmful influence. And now, there are some unhappy campers on the county payroll all because the union can only win if the employee was right in the first place.

Webster gives us two definitions of a grievance. One, "a real or imaginary wrong regarded as cause for complaint or resentment"; and two, "a feeling of resentment or hostility arising from a sense of having been wronged." Real or imaginary gives the employee a lot of latitude for filing a grievance. So does the second definition that almost smacks of self-pity. Remember that famous line in the rock ‘n roll song, Yakety Yak: "Why is everybody always picking on me?"

Most union arbitrators have seen and heard it all and they can quickly distinguish the real from the imaginary.

The bottom line? Unions are supposed to signify brotherhood. You know, unity and camaraderie, and all that good stuff. It is quite evident that this display of fellowship is missing among the union workers on the county payroll.

Another innovation in Evans-vill

Mary Evans, Register, Recorder & Clerk of Orphan’s Court, sets a perfect example for other elected row offices in county government. She is always looking out for ways that her office can improve service to the public.

Recently, Mary’s office received five new computers. Many departments in the courthouse would call maintenance and have the old computers hauled away. Not Mary Evans. She intends to use the old computers to set up retrieval stations to expedite the public’s search for such documents as deeds, mortgages, estates, guardianships, military histories, etc., etc.

The project will not be done overnight but some of it will be ready early next month. Ultimately, Mary intends to download information into these computers from 1974 through the most current transactions. That’s a lot of work but, then again, she has one of the topnotch work crews in the courthouse.

Speaking of computers

What I know about computers could fit comfortably in a thimble but I never realized just how computer illiterate I am until recently when I ran into a couple of real computer wizards, Nick Baileys, 14, and Matt Silfee, 13, eighth graders at Forest City Regional.

These boys have received the OK to proceed with a project that would have them refurbish old computers at the school and give them to needy families. They have already begun work on the project and figure to have them finished by the end of the school year. They are hoping to get some financial support from local civic organizations so they can buy needed computer parts. And, while we are talking about a couple of genuine whiz kids, you should also know they are proceeding with the project under the watchful eye of Bill DeWolfe, computer technology coordinator for the school district.

Congratulations Nick and Matt on a most worthwhile project.


Received a letter from a reader who pointed out that, contrary to my belief, Paula Mack is not the county’s first female chief deputy sheriff. It seems a gal by the name of Marie Egli has that distinction and also served a period of time as acting sheriff for the unfinished term of Sheriff Carl Johnson.

My most humble apology to Ms. Egli. I assure you it was not my intention to slight you. And my thanks to the anonymous letter writer for correcting me.

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