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Issue Home January 13, 2004 Site Home

Slices Of Life
100 Years Ago

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

Slices of Life

Remembering Aunt Babe

While washing the breakfast and lunch dishes, I thought it would be a good time to see what mystery contents were under all those lids in the refrigerator. As I opened them, one by one, to reveal egg salad that had been egg salad too long, mashed potatoes turning pink, and other surprises, I started filling the garbage pail. I looked at what was still edible in the refrigerator and asked myself what I could make for supper with the remaining ingredients. It didn’t take long for my mind to go to Aunt Babe’s celery/bacon soup.

As I peeled carrots and potatoes and diced celery, onions and bacon, I was remembering this unique lady and how she had left her imprint on so many parts of our family life.

Aunt Babe was my husband’s maiden aunt. I think her name was actually Elizabeth, with maybe Babe being her middle name. I’m really not sure, and to us she was always Aunt Babe. As long as I can remember, she cared for her aging mother in an upstairs apartment. The apartments might change, but they were always in the same town; upstairs with large rambling rooms and lots of antique furniture that had been brought from the farm when Gram moved from there.

In the early years of my marriage, Babe still worked as a supervisor in social services and was out of town on occasion, which left Gram feeling very lonely and vulnerable.

Babe loved to cook and to invent new recipes. Her celery/bacon milk-based soup was one of those inventions. She would like nothing better than to get us to her home for a meal. And if a meal was out of the question, she would bring on the coffee and sweets. She remained on very good terms with the local bakery, which augmented her own culinary skills. If she knew in advance that we were visiting, she’d stock up on the bakery’s famous salt rising bread for us to take back to Montrose. As the result of all this cooking, baking and eating, her six-foot frame never looked emaciated.

Her home not only had fabulous food, but was also a source of great entertainment with her toy box and the collection of miniature lamps that kept us all fascinated. Her motto was, " Children should be heard as well as seen," and she had lots of questions about what was going on in everyone’s life.

In her retirement years, she took a great interest in the doings of her Baptist Church. It was nothing for her to be fixing a special recipe for the thirty or more people in her Sunday School Class. One of her famous made-up recipes still has directions on how to alter it to feed that large group.

As she approached the end of her life, she was legally blind, but that didn’t deter her from venturing out to the grocery store, walking a route she knew, and with a little help from other shoppers, she’d buy what she needed and carry it home.

Shortly before unsuccessful heart surgery took her life, I vividly recall hearing her lament that all her doctors were retiring and she didn’t want to have to find a new dentist, eye doctor and regular physician. She also began to repeat," I miss Burg." That was my husband’s deceased father; her brother. And she would talk with longing about her mother, who had lived to nearly a hundred. So when word came that she had not survived the surgery, I had to believe that God’s hand was at work there. She had gone to be with all those people she loved, and didn’t have to navigate a dark world anymore, with unfamiliar helpers. But it was still a sad day. Aunt Babe was unique and no one could replace her.

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100 Years Ago

FOREST CITY: Two Forest City men, Daniel Lewis and Andrew Kilkullen, were killed and six injured in a collision between two electric mine motors in the Erie mine at that place.

SUSQUEHANNA: The officials of the First Methodist church are considering the advisability of purchasing of George Starkweather, the two vacant lots and dwelling house on River and Broad Streets, upon which to erect a new house of worship. The dwelling house would be used as a parsonage.

RUSH: Clarence Gary, of Colorado, is visiting his home and many friends in this place.

NEW MILFORD: The New Milford band will conduct an old time dance at the Opera House Friday evening, January 22, for the benefit of the organization; tickets 75 cents; supper served at the Jay House.

FOREST LAKE: Suel and Asa Warner are filling their ice houses from the Lake.

JACKSON: George Gelatt, after an absence of nearly a year at Hepner, Oregon, is at home for the winter.

FRANKLIN FORKS: The mercury stood at zero Tuesday morning and one week ago at Snow's Mill it was 32 below, and at Summers' and Wheaton's, 30 below.

NORTH BRIDGEWATER: A sleigh load of 16 people of this place spent a very pleasant evening at C. R. Fancher's. The hours were spent playing the popular games of Flinch and Panic.

SILVER LAKE: Mother Mary DeChantal, of Villa Maria Convent, West Chester, Pa., died Jan. 10, 1904, at the convent where she had presided as Sister Superior for 16 years. Mother DeChantal was formerly Miss Katharine Hays, a daughter of the late Patrick Hays, of Silver Lake, Pa., an early settler in Susquehanna County, where she was born 62 years ago. She is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Mary Mahoney, of Silver Lake; Mother Mary Columba, of West Chester, who is Sister Superior of the Boys' College; and nine brothers, Rev. Father T. W. Hays, of Centralia, Pa.; ex-Alderman Matthew Hays, of Binghamton; Maurice, of Washington; Daniel, of Emporium, Pa.; John, of DuBois, Pa.,; Aloysius and Frank of Bradford, Pa.; and James and Joseph, of Colorado. Mother DeChantal joined the Order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary forty-four years ago. At the age of 15 she was a teacher in Silver Lake Township.

GLENWOOD: We think there should be some stir about the re-building of our bridge at Upper Glenwood, as the non-building is depriving children of their school.

MONTROSE: Owing to the abandoned trips by D. L. & W. and L. V. trains, Wednesday night, on account of impassable snow drifts, accommodations at the Tarbell House were taxed to full capacity, every bed being occupied by from one to three guests. The difference in the climate between Montrose and Scranton was illustrated when a snowplow was telephoned for to open up the L. & M.'s tracks. It had rained all day in that city, so the request for a snowplow seemed absurd, and the train officials here had some difficulty in convincing them they were not "joshing."

ELKDALE: We think Elkdale has claim to the honor of having a citizen who has resided longest in the same place and that is Joel Stevens, a gentleman of 98 years, who has always lived in that town. Mr. Stevens is one of the many thrifty and prosperous agriculturists who have lived for many decades, almost within the shadow of Elk Mountain, he having been among the earliest to make his home in that beautiful region. Although ripe in years he is still possessed of much activity and frequently takes long walks around his extensive farm. That he will become one of the county's centenarians seems very probable. [ Joel Stevens died January 8, 1905].

FRIENDSVILLE: The Catholic Light, of Scranton, in its last issue, contains an article on "Gerald Griffin's Work and Life," which will be of interest to many in this county, who are proud of the fact to belong to this noted Irish family. The gifted author's parents' remains repose in the little churchyard at Friendsville, while Brother Joseph, as he was after many years known to his friends, sleeps in a lowly grave in the cemetery at North Monastery, Cork, Ireland. The article is a reprint from the Holy Family magazine, and its writer is Katherine E. Conway.

GREAT BEND: Charles Smith, son of Mr. and Mrs. E. P. Smith, of Great Bend, and a sailor in the U. S. Navy, is critically ill in a Philadelphia hospital as the result of exposure and injuries received in a shipwreck. During a storm a government transport was driven ashore while en route from Port Tampa to Philadelphia. The crew and passengers drifted in small boats to a barren island and before relief arrived, were nearly starved. On re-embarking several of the small boats were swamped and it was necessary for some of the sailors to don life jackets and jump overboard, running their chances of being picked up. One of the brave men to respond to the captain's order was Mr. Smith, who nearly perished from exposure before he was rescued by a passing steamer. The father of the young man is now in Philadelphia. AND: C. G. Chaffee, 70 years old and a resident of Great Bend, was killed at Gardner's Crossing, one mile west of Conklin, on Wednesday afternoon, while on his return from Binghamton, by Lackawanna train No. 6. The snow was falling fast when he reached the crossing, and his head was down to protect his face. It is quite evident that he did not hear the approaching train. Mr. Chaffee and the horse were killed instantly, and the sleigh smashed into fragments. Mr. Chaffee formerly owned The Chaffee House in Hallstead.

LANESBORO: The State Board of Health has appropriated $1,100 for Lanesboro to pay the expenses of the sanitary policemen during the smallpox epidemic last summer. The epidemic cost the borough about $1,800.

BROOKLYN: The entertainment given last Friday at the Presbyterian church was the best of its kind that has been in town for some time. Mr. Kirk has a rare gift both as an impersonator and elocutionist. The singing of Mrs. E. M. Tiffany and Lillian Byram, of Hopbottom, was excellent.

AUBURN: Terrance Smith, a veteran of the Civil War, died at his home in Auburn Township, Sunday, Jan. 3, 1904, from heart disease and dropsy, his age being about 62 years. He is survived by a wife and one brother, John, of Springville, and one sister, Mrs. Thomas Kernan, of Briar Ridge.

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Straight From Starrucca

Now when we stop at the stop sign in Starrucca, we’ll be able to see down the road. The trailer that has sat on the corner for nine months was removed last Monday. It was used as an office for the company that built the bridge.

Naomi and Roger Getter entertained their son, Chris and family over the holiday.

The Corrigans have returned from Florida, where they spent the holidays visiting relatives.

The tenth of January the Community Hall was reserved for a graduation party for Ryan Bennett, son of Bill and Peggy Bennett, Lakewood, who graduated from Bloomsburg University in December.

The other morning, I looked out on the little ridge that overlooks the ball diamond and there were twenty-four turkeys, resting in a straight line, one beside the other. It’s amusing to watch them as they play "follow the leader."

News is in short supply this week, so I thought you’d like the following, especially grandmas.

An elderly woman and her little grandson, whose face was sprinkled with bright freckles, spent the day at the zoo. Lots of children were waiting in line to get their cheeks painted by a local artist who was decorating them with tiger paws.

"You’ve got so many freckles, there’s no place to paint," a girl in the line said to the little fellow. Embarrassed, the little boy dropped his head. His grandmother knelt down next to him.

"I love your freckles. When I was a little girl, I always wanted freckles," she said, while tracing her finger across the child’s cheek. "Freckles are beautiful!" The little boy looked up, "Really?"

"Of course," said the grandmother. "Why just name me one thing that’s prettier than freckles." The little boy thought for a moment, peered intensely into his grandma’s face, and softly whispered, "Wrinkles."


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Along the Way...With P. Jay

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when…

The Kelly Administration that is now running Susquehanna County government is off to a shaky start. While it may seem unfair to prejudge the majority commissioners so quickly, that is exactly what Commissioners Roberta Kelly and Jeff Loomis did when they decided to send Economic Development Director Justin Taylor packing.

At a press conference following the swearing-in ceremonies and a brief reorganization meeting, Kelly said: "I am comfortable with the people that are in place right now. There is no need to make any changes right away."

Comfortable with the people in place? She must have arrived at that conclusion after she and Loomis decided that Taylor had to go. The majority commissioners made up their minds before Thanksgiving that Taylor would be history come January.

When asked at the press conference about the status of Taylor’s future with the county, Loomis said the commissioners were advised by the county solicitor not to discuss the subject because any discussion might be violating the Sunshine Act.

"As far as I know he is on salary for the next couple of weeks," Loomis said.

When I asked if Taylor had been told that his services will no longer be required, Loomis replied, "No he hasn’t. It is all just rumor right now."

"He never submitted anything officially," Loomis added. "He has never spoken to me about it at all. He passed by me in the hall and never even looked at me."

Wow! Since when is an employee that is being fired required to submit something officially? What should Taylor do, write a letter advising the commissioners that, "Since I have been told by a commissioner-elect that I will be terminated by the new administration, I will not report to work in January."

I talked to Justin about his status and his decision to pack up his belongings and vacate his office in the courthouse annex on Public Avenue.

"I was told on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving by (Minority Commissioner) MaryAnn Warren, who was instructed to break the news to me, that I was going to be terminated," he said. He said he asked MaryAnn in December to double check with the majority commissioners and she was told that Taylor should start putting out resumes.

I asked MaryAnn Warren about it and she confirmed what Taylor had told me. She said Loomis suggested that she be the one to notify Taylor because Taylor and her were friends.

Perhaps now you can understand why I said in the opening paragraph that the Kelly Administration is off to a shaky start. You cannot build a solid foundation for trust and honesty on untruths. The feeling here is that Taylor and Warren certainly did not conspire to conjure up a lie about his termination.

But wait! There is more on this bazaar incident.

During the two years that Justin served as director of Economic Development, he made a heap of friends and contacts. It was only natural for him to advise these people that he would no longer be with the county’s Department of Economic Development. He did it via e-mail. His letter reads:


Subject: Department Personnel Changing

Date: Tue, Dec. 23, 2003

Greetings from the Susquehanna County Department of Economic Development

"Please be aware that I will no longer be with the Department of Economic Development after the change of commissioners in January. It certainly was a privilege to serve the people of this great county and the surrounding Endless Mountains Region.

"Although my future full-time plans are unclear, I will be serving the citizens of Carbondale in a part-time capacity as mayor. If I can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact me at Carbondale City Hall.

"Unfortunately, my replacement has not been named so I am unable to provide you with any forwarding information.

"Thank you once again for all of your help and support over the last two years."


Justin Taylor

Word has it that the majority commissioners are now trying to suggest that the above letter could be construed as a letter of resignation. A person does not write a letter of resignation and send it to all of his friends and contacts and not send it to his boss. The county commissioners were not given a copy of this letter.

There is some good news to report. Minority Commissioner MaryAnn Warren has an office in the courthouse. It is in an area where the late Joey Marshall was stationed when she was a county commissioner. So we will recall the binoculars we gave her for Christmas and give her a rear view mirror so she can watch her back.

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PLEASE NOTE: This will be "NewsBeat’s" last regular weekly column. Other "NewsBeat" columns will appear as items – solicited or contributed – are enough to warrant it. Items can be mailed to: 600 Turnpike Terrace, Apt. 207 or call 853–3835. If no answer, leave a message.

Santa Claus Pays Turnpike Terrace Residents A Visit

The Turnpike Terrace staff, volunteers and residents – both men and women – know how to enjoy the Christmas holidays. On Saturday, December 20, they all gathered in the recreation room, amidst beautiful Christmas decorations. First they had a Christmas meal, second to none. Soon after that they were entertained by Music Maestro Terry Rockwell, with songs and Christmas music.

Sitting on Santa’s lap is one of Turnpike Terrace’s regular volunteers, Mrs. Anna Napolitano. Watching the "action" is Hannah Price.

Several minutes later – unannounced – in came a man in a red suit, bellowing out "Ho, ho, ho." It was Santa Claus in all his glory, much to the delight of all present who welcomed him with open arms. Sitting in a large wooden chair, Santa with his bag of toys welcomed all to come and sit on his lap.

Before the evening was over, Maestro Rockwell, acting as master of ceremonies, urged one and all to talk to Santa. At first the seniors were reluctant, but at the urging of the MC, one by one they came forward – both men and women – sitting on Santa’s lap, telling him what they wanted.

It was a beautiful sight to see the seniors sitting on Santa’s lap, no doubt, reminding them of their childhood days. But the "big delight" of the evening – involving a few ladies that needed help – were escorted by staff members to talk to Santa.

Santa (AKA Joe King) had his hands – or I mean his knees full, as once in a while two "young" ladies would sit on his lap. Prizes of all sorts were given out. To say the least, a great time was enjoyed by both T.T. residents and their guests.

But most of all a "Great Big Thank You" goes to Mrs. Santa (AKA Marsha Testa) and her elves (Shelby Carpenter, Agnes Roy, Mary Diaz, Kay Pacifici, Anna Napolitano) for decorating the hall and arranging the party.

Again I must repeat; with close to 50 residents at Turnpike Terrace (a home away from home), it is a Godsend to elderly people that cannot cope for themselves, especially living at home alone. Again, our thanks to those that had the foresight to build complexes like Turnpike Terrace and others throughout the country.

A personal note; I asked a senior what he asked for Christmas. "I asked Santa Claus," he said, "for a Cadillac car." Santa answered, "Good luck."

Call Me "Mr. Constable" – Could be the greeting you will receive from the newly-elected constable of the First Ward, Robert McNamara, Sr. Bob was elected to the post last November, and according to reports has been practicing "how to act like a constable." Bob’s friend, Officer Joe Canini, has been giving Bob a few pointers. Joe has also presented bob with a badge he wore when he was constable.

The badge has a history. Prior to Joe, the badge was worn with pride by the late Carl Houlihan of the Oakland Boro, then along came Mr. Canini, and now it has been placed "on the chest" of Mr. Mac. (Wear with pride, Bob.)

WELLS "SHAFTS" STEINBRENNER – The national news used the word "reneges," but I like the word "shafts" better. George was never too kind to Wells, calling him "fat" names and some we don’t hear about. Could be Wells is getting even for not signing Petitte, which is one of George’s biggest boners. He never offered either one a contract, until time was running out. But he got fooled. Both pitchers may have signed for less, but they don’t have to listen to George. Wells signed with the San Diego Padres and Petitte with Houston.

Clemens is gone, and the only two lefty Yankee starters are gone. Good luck George!

SCANDALS GALORE – During 2003 there were so many money scandals that it was hard for the public to keep up with the news. This one is a "beauty":

NYSE Uproar – Dick Grasso, chairman of the world’s richest financial market, tried to quell criticism in August by foregoing $48 million in accrued pay. But that still left him with nearly $140 million and he resigned when he and the exchange’s board were lambasted by regulators and traders.

DID YOU KNOW? That Iraq has an outstanding debt of $120 billion. They owe France, Russia, Japan, the United States and a host of other nations. OK, folks, let’s get the oil moving.

POPE SPEAKS OUT – Pope John Paul II in a Sunday address pushed his campaign against gay unions. He said a "misunderstood sense of rights" is threatening the sanctity of marriage.

PITTSBURGH GOING BROKE – The state has ruled that Pittsburgh is financially distressed. What happened? Spending exceeded revenue for the past three years.


ONE DAY a housework-challenged husband decided to wash his sweatshirt. Seconds after stepping into the laundry room, he shouted to his wife, "What setting do I use on the washing machine?"

"It depends," she replied. "What does it say on your shirt?"

"University of Oklahoma," he yelled back.

A PREACHER was trying to start his pull-start lawn mower when a young man walked by and said, "Preacher, you have to cuss at those things to get them to run."

"Son," the preacher said, "I haven’t cussed in a long, long time."

A moment went by and the young man replied, "Well, just keep pulling that rope, and it’ll come back to you."

ON THE FIRST night of his Grandma’s Christmas visit, a small boy was saying his prayers.

"Please, God," he shouted, "send me a bicycle, a tool chest..."

His brother interrupted, saying, "Why are you praying so loud? God isn’t deaf."

"I know he isn’t," the boy said, "but Grandma is."

I ONCE BOUGHT my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note saying, "Toys not included."

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