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Issue Home February 17, 2004 Site Home

Slices Of Life
100 Years Ago

Straight From Starrucca
Along the Way...With P. Jay
An Inside Look

Slices of Life

The Living Flannelboard

It’s bright and early – only an expression because it’s barely light, let alone bright – and I’m up having my coffee. It’s not that I want to be awake this early, but because Mrs. Morris and I have plans for the day. Her plan was to get me up so she could eat. My plan was to take a trip to visit my family four hours away. But, being that I didn’t get my column finished last night, I may not go anywhere today. Oh, I did write it, but wasn’t satisfied with the results, so I’ll start again. Mrs. Morris is glad that I’m up, anyway. She’s been thrashing around upstairs ever since the alarm woke her.

As I was lying there half-asleep, I was thinking about the years after my husband retired and how we’d plan to make this same trip, only to wake up in the morning and say, "Oh, let’s go tomorrow", and snuggle back under the covers for another nap. What luxury!

There wasn’t much napping going on this morning, though, because I felt like I was part of a flannelboard. Do you know about flannelboards? They used to be a staple ingredient of Sunday School teachers working with children. You covered a piece of sturdy cardboard with flannel, then made cutouts of Bible story characters, oceans, mountains, trees – all kinds of landscaping, and as you told the Bible story, you put the appropriate figure on the board and fabric would cling to fabric, but was easily removed when the story was done. This became a storyboard. Well, I’ve discovered that sleeping in a flannel nightgown between two flannel sheets is like being a living flannelboard. It’s cozy and works well as long as you’re having a restful night and don’t move around much. But tossing and turning is nigh unto impossible because you are held securely between those two flannelboards! So it was time to get up.

Flannelboards make me think of my sister because she’s always worked with children in one capacity or another. Right now she’s a children’s librarian. I would be sure that she uses her flannelboard to entertain and educate them.

She and I had an extra-long (long distance) conversation about a week ago, and we were reminiscing about Mom. She told me this hilarious story that I had never heard. It happened several years ago when she was in the nursing home visiting Mom. Mom was long past the time when she could carry on a conversation, and hadn’t said anything in many weeks. My sister was doing like we all did in those trying circumstances; telling Mom everything she could think of that was going on in her life and the lives of her children and grandchildren. After several minutes of this, she spied a songbook nearby and started singing some of the old songs Mom would have known, thinking maybe recognition would prompt some response.

Finally, having sung through everything familiar and Mom not having shown any interest, she said, "Well, that’s all the songs I know."

To which Mom responded, "Good!"

So it’s just possible that some of those times when my husband and I were crawling out of our warm bed to make that long trip west to "talk" to Mom, she may have been wishing we’d stayed home. One never knows.

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100 Years Ago

MONTROSE: Zion A.M.E. Church was crowded last Sunday evening by friends who listened with interest and marked appreciation to the Sacred Concert given under the auspices of the choir, with Mrs. Ella Chappel as manager. The exercises began at 8 o'clock, the pastor, Rev. J. E. Williams reading an appropriate Scripture Lesson. The choir then sang "Rock of Ages," followed by a fine bass solo by Chester Arthur Reed. Ella Slaughter read a Psalm and two little girls, Mazie Lewis and Georgia Reed, sweetly rendered "Vale of Beulah." Henry Naylor, in his usual pleasing manner, gave a solo and Miss Rosa Smith, rendered most credit to "Cavalry." Mrs. Chapple's solo also elicited many compliments. Quarterly Meeting will be held in the church next Sunday. The order of services is as follows: Love Feast and sermon in the morning and in the afternoon Rev. Frank W. Young, pastor of the M. E. Church, is expecting to preach. In the evening Presiding Elder Ross will administer Holy Communion and preach. There will be special music. AND: Samuel A. Pettis celebrated his 93d birthday on Monday. On that day he walked from his home on Depot street down town and back as is his custom every few days. Mr. Pettis stands almost erect and walks as spry as many a man of 60 years.

GIBSON: The Crossley brothers, of New Milford, have recently added to their plant near Gibson, machinery for the cutting from large maple timber, roller blocks used in calico printing. They also have a plant at Starrucca, Wayne County. The output is exported to Scotland and Germany. These two mills are about the only ones of the kind in the United States.

JACKSON: Hon. John Wesley Cargill died at his home in Jackson township, Monday morning. The funeral services were conducted from his late home on Thursday at 11 o'clock. He was born in Jackson township May 25, 1831, of colonial ancestry; he was a life-long Democrat, the only departure from his extreme political faith being his advocacy of the election and policy of the lamented President McKinley; he served Susquehanna county in the legislature one term and was a man of more than ordinary ability; he is survived by a wife and other relatives, his only child, a son, Prof. Manlius W. Cargill, having died some two years ago.

NEW MILFORD: All work will be completed at the tannery this week and then the institution will be closed down. Just how long the plant will lay idle seems at this time to be a mere matter of conjecture, but we have hopes, and very good reason for believing that it will not be for long, as Mr. Safford, the owner of the plant, has parties interested in the matter.

SUSQUEHANNA: It is said that the Erie will hire no more women stenographers. AND: Hatch's Moving Pictures appeared in Hogan Opera house, on Tuesday evening, under the auspices of grace Episcopal church, Oakland. AND: The Susquehanna Hospital association will, in the spring, erect a two-story brick hospital building near Laurel Hill. It will be modern in every respect.

AUBURN: Feb. 6, while sleigh-riding, Miss Lena Bushnell had the misfortune to hurt one of her eyes by being hit with a brake handle, and was unable to teach last week. Her eye was almost swollen shut almost instantly. She is getting along nicely but still has a black eye. Jessie Bushnell took her place for a few days.

THOMPSON TWP.: Mrs. Eliza Clapper, wife of John W. Clapper, died Feb. 2, after a short illness from pneumonia. Mrs. Clapper was a daughter of Aaron and Mary Aldrich, of New Hampshire. She was born in 1833 and when a child came to Thompson with her parents. She married Mr. Clapper in 1853 and they went to live on the farm that has ever since been their home. During the dark days of the civil war Mr. Clapper enlisted in Co. A, 137th New York Volunteer Infantry and remained in the service until hostilities ceased, and during this time Mrs. Clapper cared for five little children and managed the affairs at home in such a way as to give her great credit. She is survived by her husband, one brother, Aldrich, of New Milford; eight children, Alvina, wife of George Curtis, of Herrick; Emma, wife of Hezekiah Robbins, of Harford; Charles, who lives on the old homestead; Eudora, wife of Harney Brown, of Thompson Twp.; Julia, wife of Lewis Banks, of Susquehanna; Alice, wife of Vernon Slocum, of Jackson; Lena, wife of Myron Avery, of Susquehanna; and Adalaide, wife of Jerry Robbins, of Harford and several grand-children and great-grand-children.

HEART LAKE: Mulford Gay is the champion egg producer of this section. From less than 100 hens he has sold for the month of December about $30 worth of eggs; and for January about $40 worth; who can beat it?

HARFORD: The Harford grangers have purchased one of the vacated Soldiers' Orphan school buildings for a grange hall, consideration $500.

SPRINGVILLE: There will be an oyster supper and entertainment in the M. E. church, Thursday evening, Feb. 25. A very interesting program is being arranged. One of the specially interesting features of the evening will be a "Tom Thumb" wedding. AND: A. D. Shoemaker, having sold his farm to Frank Dodge, will go to Kansas soon. His family will remain for the present.

FAIRDALE: The Sheen brothers and sister will give an entertainment in the M. E. church at Fairdale on the evening of Feb. 22, Washington's birthday. A lady will also read a paper on "Travels in the Holy Land." Very interesting. Tickets 15 cents; children 10 cents. Receipts to apply on the minister's salary.

HALLSTEAD: For several weeks the Lackawanna has been doing a greatly increased volume of business in Hallstead. Many Utica trains are being sent from this point and a number of engineers and crews have been sent from Scranton to Hallstead. At present there are six extra engines and engineers and firemen in service, and also four train crews. These men having all been sent from Scranton. Heavy shipments of coal are being made to Utica and Syracuse and the resulting is unprecedented. It is a great boom in railroading and to railroad men.

BIRCHARDVILLE: Anyone wanting to buy a swell body cutter or a hand made buggy, call on F. S. Ball.

ARARAT: The following were elected on Tuesday last: Assessor, Titus Shaver; J. of P., V. O. Stearns; Sup. A. L. Bowell; and R. F. Stone; school direc., G. W. Gelatt, R. J. Avery; town clerk, O. F. Potter; town treas., J. N. Sartelle; poor master, C. P. Rose; judge of elec., G. F. Barnes; ins., W. Burman. In Herrick the following were elected: Assessor, Ashford B. Tingley; sup., Austin Smith and E. I. Baker; school direc., William Todd, William Pickering; judge of elec. S. O. Churchill; ins., Alexander J. Scott; town clerk, R. M. Tingley; town treas., F. D. Fletcher; poor master, Geo. H. Reynolds.

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Straight From Starrucca

Since Dee Martin has been made the full-time postmaster of the Poyntelle Post Office, we needed a new substitute here. Yesterday, I met Marianne Saam of Pleasant Mount, who will be on call when our postmaster, Paul Zefferich has to be away. She was formerly a postmaster at Pleasant Mount, but that post office burned down last August and has never been rebuilt, so Marianne was out of a job. Her first appearance will be February 21.

Frank and Mary Mroczka have returned from a vacation in Florida, where they visited friends and relatives. By the way, I’ve learned just lately that Frank Mroczka has been appointed mayor of Starrucca.

The history group met Tuesday, February 10 at the Community Hall. Those present were Ruth Lunt, Bill Young, Lou Gurske, Mary Ann Dibalko, Bridget D’Agati, Loreda Everett and Frank and Mary Mroczka. They are responsible for decorating the post office window with stories of Starrucca, and the interesting piece of business – they are planning a walking tour of Starrucca in July.

One of the sisters told me they made a skating rink and most of them use it. They are so sociable and love Starrucca.

The Baptist parsonage has been rented and the people are expected to move in soon.

June Downton came home last Thursday and she is doing fine. Doris Davidson had a short stay in the hospital last week with an attack of bronchitis but now home. Helen Dickey is to come home today, February 12, after a bad fall that required stitches on her forehead.

Senior citizens finally met on Wednesday, February 11. Guests were Jim and Winnie Soden, who came to collect the metal tabs from cans. He then takes them to Ronald McDonald House in Scranton, where they are traded to the electric company for electricity for the building that houses Ronald McDonald House.

Marie Swartz and Joy Mead made a trip to Scranton on Wednesday, the 11th to take the quilts they had made to the homeless center. The group is still hoping for more people to come and sew on the quilts.


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Along the Way...With P. Jay

EDD Director, GOP Writer, or Both

If you read any of the area papers last week you might have noticed a couple of articles – one of them even had a picture with it – about the Susquehanna County Commissioners. I spotted them on page 3 of the Transcript.

Sources tell me those stories were written, produced and directed by Liz Janoski, the county’s new economic development director. Obviously, the picture in one of the stories was taken in the daytime in front of the county courthouse. But, wait a minute! Isn’t that Liz in the photo? I’ll be darned, it sure is.

Now I have to ask myself, is Liz wearing two hats these days, one as director of the EDD and the other as county public relations director. Nah, I quickly answer. She is getting paid as director of the EDD and, when she was appointed, there was no mention of additional duties doing public relations. Then what is she doing, orchestrating news releases and photos on EDD time? Hmmmm! Wonder if the EDD Board of Directors is aware of this little double dipping.

One thing is for certain. The county commissioners are aware of it. She quoted all three of them in the article about what the commissioners planned to accomplish at the forthcoming commissioners’ meeting . And the three commissioners are in the photograph. So they certainly knew what was going on.

And let us take a closer look at the article. It appeared in last Wednesday’s Transcript but everyone knows you can buy Wednesday’s Transcript on Tuesday afternoon. So the article was written before the February 11 meeting but it explains what is expected to happen at the meeting in complete detail.

When I arrived at the commissioners’ meeting room on Wednesday morning, February 11, the meeting agenda was still not available. In fact, Commissioner Roberta Kelly passed them out moments before she called the meeting to order.

The deadline for getting news in to the Transcript is Noon on the Friday prior to the publication date. The commissioners had to have met with Janoski on the previous Wednesday or Thursday; that would have been February 4 or February 5. And apparently all three commissioners were present when Janoski started taking notes for the article, because all three of them are quoted in the article. I suppose she could have interviewed them separately but the way the article reads, I don’t think so.

So, all three commissioners must have gotten together prior to last Wednesday’s regular meeting and decided they were going to pass the resolution relating to the subject in the article. Whoops! That might be a violation of the Sunshine Act.

As for Janoski, somebody better write a job description for her so she will know what her duties are. Frankly, I do not think they include writing complimentary articles for the county commissioners. At least not on Economic Development Department time.

Then, too, shouldn’t the EDD Board of Directors be a bit concerned? Board members caved in and finally said it was OK for the commissioners to fire Justin Taylor and hire Liz Janoski. Are they now going to accept the fact that their director seems to be spending some time writing political fluff for the county commissioners? And who is going to mind the store while Janoski is spreading the gospel according to a message from Kelly to the Republicans. Her new secretary certainly would not be qualified to handle inquiries while Liz is tiptoeing through the commissioners’ offices.

Don’t go too far from your favorite newsstand. I am sure another chapter in this saga will be written in the near future.

Last week we told you to look for a department head to be demoted or retire. A day after the paper appeared on the newsstands, the commissioners did a number on Rick Kamansky, demoting him from chief assessor to deputy chief assessor and cutting his pay by $10,000.

My friends, the ax has not been put back on the wall yet. It is going to fall at least one more time and soon. Watch for it.

In the 1940’s and 1950’s, the big item in motion pictures were the pompous rich ladies who walked around with mink capes around their necks and small dogs in their arms. We see some of that nostalgia surfacing in the courthouse.

Jeff Loomis’ better half has been observed in the courthouse carrying Pepsi, her favorite Cockapoo. And last week we saw Commissioner Mary Ann Warren in the courthouse cuddling Sami, her Cocker Spaniel.

Hmmmmm! I wonder if pets are allowed in the county courthouse.

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U. G. BAKER’S ANNIVERSARY – Ulysses Grant Baker, better known as "U. G. B." died February 11, 1950. He was the owner and editor of the Susquehanna Transcript and Weekly Ledger for over 47 years. All the while that U. G. owned the paper it was a daily. Before coming to Susquehanna from Towanda, PA, he was employed at an Ohio newspaper as an "all-around reporter." While there he heard of the sale of the Transcript. So, around 1917 he came to Susquehanna with his family and purchased the paper. After his death his sons, Paul and Donald published the paper. Later Lou Parrillo (a former employee) purchased the paper. After 15 years it was sold to Charles Ficarro and Tony Aliano. It is now being published by Charles and Rita Ficarro as a weekly county newspaper.

To me, Mr. Baker was one of the most kind and respected men in the community. He cared about people, really cared about them. If some couldn’t afford to pay for the paper, he would not stop delivery. Sooner or later, they would stop in the office with a few dollars. Yes, he was a "great man." He always had the town and people at heart and would always fight for them. Remember the "water" fight in the 1930’s, when they wanted to increase the rates? It never happened. Mr. Baker and the people stood fast, did not pay their bills, until the water company "backed off."

P.S.: I am where I am today, due to Mr. Baker taking an interest in me.

PRICE’S BARBER POLE Returned – Just about 11 years ago, Dave Price of Great Bend was in the process of having his home and barber shop sided. The contractors took down everything that need be, including the red, white and blue barber shop pole. But lo and behold, the next morning, as the contractors resumed operation, the barber pole was missing. After searching the area, no sign of the pole was to be seen. Just a few weeks ago, about 11 years after the pole disappeared, the pole reappeared. According to my informant, some area resident, while rummaging in an area barn, spotted the pole laying in a corner. The "finder" took the pole to Charlie Martel, former police chief of the Hallstead–Great Bend area. Mr. Martel remembered that the Price pole was missing and immediately contacted Dave. To say Dave was "one happy barber" would be putting it mildly. Now what? Dave said that after getting new parts for the pole, it was put back in its original place, removing the new one, which he said will be used for a night light. The returned pole was purchased 33 years ago with Dave remarking, "Am I glad to see that ole pole back? You bet I am." (Note: my thanks to John Chauncey for his input to this article.)

LOCAL BOWLERS "Hot" – Two Susquehanna bowlers, Jim Smith and Larry Pickering bowling as a doubles team in the Susquehanna County Bowling Association tourney in Montrose have placed high in the "ongoing" tourney. Smith registered a 300 game for a 675 total and Pickering rolled a 630 total. Both scores are scratch. Pickering is averaging 201 and Smith 199 in the local Baumann league.

NEW FOOD STAMP Policy – The new policy helps able-bodied single adults to get food stamps. Adults, 18 to 49, with no dependents, can get help. For more help call 1–877–PA– HEALTH or 1–800–FOOD–997.

NEW MEDICARE LAW "Hurts" – If the new Medicare law is destined to hurt seniors for years to come, according to many news organizations and noted writers, why is this administration not doing something about it? All I know about it is what I read and hear on the news, with none of it good news. If the bill is so harmful, why are the Washington boys doing nothing about it? Will most "elective" politicians wait until election time to voice their opposition, even though they will not mean it? This I read in a "News Journal" – "It is patently unfair that millions of retirees who gave up better wages and other benefits during their work life in order to have prescription drug coverage in retirement will now lose their benefits. The more people know about this ‘new’ benefit, the angrier they get."

BASEBALL DODGERS Sold – The Los Angeles Dodgers (formerly the Brooklyn Boys) have been sold to a Boston developer, Frank McCourt for $430 million. In March of 1998, the O’Malley family sold the team for $311 million. Costs do climb over the years.

THE LATEST on Medicare – According to the wire services President Bush’s new budget projects the Medicare overhaul he signed will be the third most costly ever estimated. It is believed that the price of prescriptions and other aids for the elderly will cost a lot more than anticipated, with the elderly "paying the added cost."

FORMER YANKEE With Mets – The Mets are in for 2004! They have purchased former Yankee outfielder Shane Spencer, who was a sensation for the Yanks his first year, but seemed to falter seasons later. Hope he does good for the Mets.

BOXING NEEDS A "Good Commissioner" – It needs a czar that will control the fights – especially those for titles. It seems the champs of their divisions fight who they like and when they like. Lenox Lewis, heavy champ, has two months to defend his title – or else he will be stripped of his title. What good will that do? (Note: since typing this article Lewis has retired.)

US TO "CATCH" Bin Laden Soon – According to the Associated Press, it won’t be long before the US military will catch "their second big fish" that has been eluding them for months. Strange isn’t it, that the two big fish may be in our hands this election year!

SMOKERS WILL BE "Real Unhappy" – Four former surgeon generals have unveiled a plan to reduce smoking in the nation. "Simple," they said, "all we have to do is put another $2.00 tax on a pack, and we guarantee that close to five million smokers will quit."


A LESSON – After applying their lipstick in the school bathroom, a number of girls would press their lips to the mirror, leaving dozens of little lip prints. The principal decided that something had to be done. So she called all the girls to the bathroom and explained that the lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian. To demonstrate how difficult it was, she asked the maintenance man to clean one of the mirrors. He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet and swabbed the glass. Since then, there have been no lip prints.

A TEACHER explained to her Sunday school class how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny seemed especially interested when she told the children how Eve was created from one of Adam’s ribs. Later in the week, Johnny’s mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill. "What’s the matter?" she asked. Johnny answered, "I have a pain in my side. I think I’m going to have a wife."

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Dear EarthTalk: What flooring materials reduce indoor air quality problems?

Allen R. Linoski, Royal Oak, MI

According to the publishers of Environmental Building News, nearly 70 percent of American floors are covered in carpeting. Whether it’s shag, berber or plush, most carpet fiber is made from nylon, polypropylene, polyester or acrylic, and often treated with chemicals for stain resistance and glued to the floor with toxic adhesives.

Chemical releases from carpets have been blamed for "sick building syndrome," a situation in which occupants of a building experience acute health effects–such as headaches, rashes and nausea–that diminish or stop when they leave the building. One of the chemicals historically used in glues and released from the carpet’s backing material is 4-PC (4-phenylcyclohexene), which can cause such symptoms. A 2001 report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded, "Poor indoor air quality can reduce a person’s ability to perform specific mental tasks requiring concentration, calculation or memory."

If you are concerned about indoor air quality, there are several companies, such as Natural Home in California, that sell natural fiber carpets that don’t require toxic adhesives. The National Audubon Society building in New York City, one of the nation’s first "green" office buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, uses carpeting that is 100 percent un-dyed wool. The carpet underlayer is made of jute, a plant fiber, and is tacked down, avoiding the use of toxic glue (except on the stairs). When carpet shopping, look for a green label from the Carpet and Rug Institute, which certifies products with low chemical emissions from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), organic compounds that evaporate readily into the air.

If you want more traditional wood or other hard-surface flooring, avoid materials treated with veneers that emit VOCs, or products made with particleboard, which is often held together with formaldehyde, a possible carcinogen. Other green flooring options to consider include ceramic tiles and linoleum, made with linseed oil, cork, and wood dust–all renewable resources.

CONTACTS: Natural Home, (707) 824-0914,; U.S. Green Building Council, (202) 828-7422,; Carpet and Rug Institute, (800) 882-2246,

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit your question at; or e-mail us at

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An Inside Look

Just a glance out a nearby window will basically sum up what’s been happening around the Elk Lake Area: snow. It seems to be the talk of the town, and let me tell you, it is not friendly chat.

These days it seems we can not get through a full week of school without a couple of inches, or even feet, of snow. In the beginning, before a storm started hitting every week, it was nice. I mean, come on, who doesn’t like an unexpected day to sleep in or get home a little early? But once or twice every week? That’s not so hot.

The frequent cancellations and threats of snow have put events and due dates on hold more than a dozen times. The basketball teams have been running to get their final games in, and due to the oncoming storm last weekend, the Valentine’s Dance was postponed. All due dates for the graduation project, and not to mention the mid-term test days, were scrambled, screwed up, and just got plain stressful.

Above anything else, though, is the threat of the school year taking away from our summer break. The school is already decreasing our already scheduled vacation days during the school year to lessen the amount of make-up days at the end of the year, but there’s no way we are going to stay within a week of our scheduled last day. I am not sure what everyone else feels about this, but I have an idea: no one likes it.

Snow, in small amounts, can be the greatest gift to a student in high school, especially skiers and snow-boarders, over-stressed kids, and just plain bored people, but this ongoing number of cancellations and postponements? I can guarantee we are all reaching our limit.

To say the least, this snow is certainly creating a chaos of event and plan changing, leaving us with, yet again, nothing really noteworthy going on. So, welcome to the winter at Elk Lake. I’m sure you’ll be staying for a while, because it’s a blizzard outside.

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