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Issue Home May 25, 2004 Site Home

Slices Of Life
100 Years Ago
Along the Way...With P. Jay

From the Desk of the DA
Straight From Starrucca
Earth Talk

Slices of Life

Making Memories

As I came by the Montrose Green today, I was surprised to see many children gathered among the monuments and several adults sitting on the benches. My first thought was that a home schooling group was using this as a luncheon outing. Then I realized there were far too many children. These must be public school children who have left their classrooms to eat lunch and cavort on the green as the school year winds down. I was reminded of such an event in my life.

In the second grade I had a very untraditional teacher. A little chubby and very pretty, she must have been quite young, although we had no concept of age at that time in our young lives. She would go out at recess and play with us, while protecting us from the tough eighth-grade boys. With her warmth and friendliness, no one was intimidated in her class. I think we all thrived under her maternal care.

Once in a great while she would bring her little girl to school. She was probably around two years old and a great plaything for a short time! While I thought she brought her just to entertain us, she probably lacked a baby sitter that day. We were delighted and all wanted to take care of that cute little girl.

The day that stands out in my mind was nearly the end of school – probably the next to last day. Our year’s work was done, and, as I now know from the perspective of child, parent and teacher, it’s hard to keep order when the routine is suddenly removed. So our teacher decided to have a long picnic lunch with games and other diversions on that end- of- school day. At noontime she lined us up with our brown paper bags in our hands and led us, and her tiny daughter, below the playground to a field where the grass was green, the hickory nut trees created a canopy of shade, and the railroad tracks erected a boundary that even the most rambunctious lad was forbidden to cross.

There we sat down and ate our lunches, but didn’t have to drink that terrible pasteurized milk with the inch of pure cream on the top. Homemade cupcakes were passed out for dessert. I probably got to do the distribution, teacher’s pet that I was. I also got to entertain and watch over her daughter – a job that seemed important and fun then. I was to learn as a teenager, that a steady diet of it would not necessarily be deemed "fun".

There were wonderful years at the Farmers’ Valley Elementary School. It was called an eight-grade school, however, the sixth grade went to a neighboring elementary school and the third grade got divided between the second and fourth grade rooms. That made six classrooms, a nurse’s room, teachers’ lounge (cubbyhole), playroom, cafeteria, auditorium, and janitor’s furnace room. It seemed huge to first graders.

Oh, and I forgot the smelly bathrooms, each with a row of stalls and rust-stained sinks at the end of the room. Only the bravest souls would take up the challenge to run into the bathroom of the opposite sex. It was part of the rite of passage, which I don’t imagine I ever passed, being that I was not terribly courageous.

But I loved spending before-school time with the janitor in the furnace room. Several of the girls would hang out there. (That would be another no-no in these litigious days.) He was old and crotchety, but he liked us girls who weren’t as rambunctious as the boys were.

Big swings, teeter-totters and a slide decorated the playground, but our favorite places were the softball field and a big concrete marker where we would meet when we were planning revenge on a teacher or fellow-student. That would have been in our seventh and eighth grade years. Girls get very cliquey then and they are heartless to whoever has fallen out of grace. I’ve been both the perpetrator and the recipient of that treatment. Who hasn’t?

I have many good memories of those years long gone. So I was very happy to see those youngsters eating and playing on the Green today. They, too, were probably storing up memories that will last a lifetime.

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100 Years Ago

BROOKLYN: Mustered Out: Comrade Henry Tewksbury was a member of Lieut. Rogers Post 143, G.A.R. He was one of our faithful and patriotic members who always commanded the respect of all who knew him both in our order and Army life. He was a good soldier, a true man and a worthy citizen. His devotion to his country was commendable. He enlisted as a private in Co. G, 185th PA Volunteers in April 1863 and after rendering two years valuable service to his country was honorably discharged from duty on April 20, 1865. He was mustered in as a member of the G.A.R., March 30, 1880 and mustered out by the hand of death, April 22, 1904, when we believe he was enrolled above as a member of that army of triumphant heroes. He was 77 years old at the time of his death.

CHOCONUT: Joseph Maroney, the young man injured in the recent shooting affair at Choconut, has been discharged from the Binghamton City hospital as cured.

SUSQUEHANNA: A charter has been obtained for a second hospital in Susquehanna. Plans have been obtained by a Binghamton architect and it is possible that the building will be erected during the present year. The plan provides for a two-story brick structure. Colonel Charles C. Pratt, of New Milford, is president of the association, which has taken the title of "Susquehanna Hospital Association." AND: On Monday 125 men, or about 10 per cent of the entire force, were discharged from the Erie shops. The majority of the men discharged are single men and non-residents.

BINGHAMTON: Dr. David Post Jackson died May 23 at his home in Binghamton. Dr Jackson was born in Montrose in 1841, but when only a year old his parents moved to this city. On his father's side he could trace his relationship to that great Confederate general, "Stonewall" Jackson, being a cousin of that noted leader. The doctor's father was the late Dr. Thomas Post Jackson; his grandfather was Dr. Nathan Post Jackson, and there were also three great-grandfathers who bore titles of M.D. after their names. Dr. Nathan Post Jackson was the first physician in Wyoming county, settling near Tunkhannock about 1778, he being obliged in those wild days to bring all his medicines in saddlebags from Philadelphia. The deceased succeeded to his father's practice in Binghamton and has always been acknowledged one of the best physicians in the city. He was well known in Montrose, frequently visiting relatives there with his wife.

NEW MILFORD: News reached relatives here the first of the week of Dr. M. H. C. Vail of Long Beach, Cal. His death occurred suddenly last week while he was leaving church. Dr. Vail was the founder at Susquehanna of the Northern Pennsylvanian [newspaper] and he practiced medicine at Susquehanna and Kirkwood. For many years previous to going to California, about five years ago, he was the proprietor and editor of the Newark, N.J., Morning Register; he also served in the New Jersey legislature and was an educator of some note. The Dr. and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last fall.

FOREST CITY: The Forest House, a popular hotel at Forest City, has been sold by John H. Cunningham to Taylor M. Sharp, of Scranton, for nearly $30,000. The hotel has always done a prosperous business and earned lots of money. Mr. Cunningham and family will go to Buffalo to reside, where he has a large hotel. Mr. Sharpe is an obliging hotel man of much experience, having been connected with some large houses, including one at Lakewood, N.J. and the Crosby-side hotel at Lake George. He was also manager for the J.D. Williams Bros. Co. in Scranton.

HEART LAKE: Wm. H. Wall has opened a summer hotel at the Lake and arrangements have been made with him to furnish board and lodging to all who attend the Summer Normal Bible School at the rate of $1 per day. Single meals, 30 cents. Applications for rooms may be made to him at Heart Lake or to C. F. Whitney at North Jackson, Pa.

CLIFFORD: Lodwick Conrad has moved from the Bennett house into the Hotel Royal, of which he is proprietor. He is slicking the property up beyond expectations. He is very accommodating and a good entertainer. Travelers stopping once with him will be sure to again.

SPRINGVILLE:Another lot of those ladies' beautiful ready-made waists, and the largest assortment of city-trimmed hats and shirt wait hats ever displayed in this vicinity at C. Anna Barnes Stevens'. AND: The new schedule gives us four trains daily, the first, which is a mail going up at 10 o'clock; the return trip, which also carries mail, is due here at 12:45; going up in the afternoon, no mail, at 3:20, returning at 4:50.

FRIENDSVILLE: Mrs. Mary Tierney has been appointed postmistress in place of C. J. Tierney, deceased.

HOPBOTTOM: The Young People's Auxiliary, of the Universalist church, will hold a festival and musical entertainment at the Foster House, Friday evening, May 27. A fine piano program will be given by Mr. Janaushek, of Owego, N.Y. Vocal selections by Mrs. E. M. Tiffany. Ice cream, strawberries and cake at popular prices. Entertainment free. All are invited.

AUBURN: L. W. Titman is now the owner of a handsome 5-year-old Bulgarian colt that can make a mile in three minutes.

NEWS BRIEFS: Beginning July 1, next, rural free delivery carriers will receive $720 a year. This is an increase of $120. The carrier will be permitted to carry packages but he must not solicit business. AND: Memorial Day Services: At Franklin Forks old comrades of Southworth Post No.233 will meet and march to church as a body. Later will decorate the graves of their fallen comrades. Meet at Lawsville at the Baptist church at 11 and form ranks, led by the Lawsville band. At Auburn, Lieut. H. P. Titman Post unanimously resolved to invite the company of the neighboring Sunday schools, the I.O.O.F., the Grange, to turn out and decorate the graves of our fellow heroes. At Jackson the exercises will begin at 10:30 sharp at Lake View at the grave of our late comrade, Elon Dix. Next to the cemetery at the M.E. church. Sunday school children are respectfully requested to furnish flowers for the occasion. At Harford the members of the Post will decorate all soldiers' graves in the township. Those who can furnish flowers will please leave them with Mrs. Withers on Saturday, May 28.

Many resources can be found at the Susquehanna County Historical Society for locating Civil War soldiers, especially those who resided in Susquehanna County. Visit our web site, for hours, fees and other information.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

School Spending Seldom Challenged

The other night a borough official said to me that municipalities are reluctant about increasing real estate taxes while boards of education think nothing of it and raise taxes without as much as a twinge of conscience. There is a lot of truth in that comment.

Municipal officials, be they borough councilmen or township supervisors, are extremely prudent, almost to the point of being ultra-conservative. Needed projects are often put on back burners and sometimes scrapped because the bottom line might mean a tax increase of a mill or two.

If a municipality does raise its millage to improve or at the very least maintain the services the taxpayers expect all hell breaks loose. It is almost a guarantee that people will attend the meeting of any governing body that proposes a tax increase and gripe.

On the other hand, the spending practice of most Boards of Education is very liberal. And it always seems that money is seldom an object of concern to a school director.

In Forest City for example, the Board of Education agreed not to renew the contract of School Superintendent Bernice Lukus. The contract was due to expire on June 30. The board then agreed to pay the Pennsylvania School Boards Association $6,700 to assist the district in its search for a new superintendent.

Next, the board awarded Mrs. Lukus a sabbatical with full pay and benefits beginning March 22 and ending June 30. This move cost the district $23,940 plus benefits. The board then paid William Stracka $19,000 to serve as interim school superintendent until June 30. Final cost to have a school superintendent at the helm for the last 15 weeks of the school year, $49,640.

In all probability, there won’t be much said about the spendthrift school directors who blew more than two mills in tax revenue just to get rid of a school superintendent whom they had already agreed not to bring back when her contract expired on June 30. And despite knowing that she would not return, Mrs. Lukus continued to function effectively and efficiently until she developed a health problem. A problem, incidentally, that may never have occurred if some school directors had enough courage to stand on their own two feet.

For some reason, folks in these parts are intimidated by school boards, school administrators, and school teachers. Fearful of repercussions against their children, parents are reluctant to go against the grain even if their cause is right. The other side of the coin is that many parents do not mind paying high taxes to have their children educated. The cost to educate a child in a school year is about $9,000. If they have only one child in school, in all probability most homeowners will never pay enough real estate taxes to equal the cost of educating that child.

These same people are not intimidated by mayors, council members or township supervisors. They shouldn’t be, just as they should not fear school officials. But if I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times over the years: "Hey! I still have two kids in school. I got to be careful what I say."

Kind of makes me wonder why our boys are dying in far away places when people in the United States are afraid to exercise their rights of freedom of speech and freedom from fear.

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HONOR AMERICA’S VETS – "Wear a Poppy With Pride." – The American Legion Auxiliaries, for many years have been promoting "Poppy Day" during several days of the year – especially Memorial Day.

The Auxiliary memorial poppy is a blood-red emblem of the battles Americans fought for God and country, miracles purveyed, and lives lost. This small flower looms large as a reminder of the sacrifices our nation’s veterans have made and continue to make for our country.

"The poppy has become a symbol of honor and respect for military service – past and present," said Poppy Chairman Bev Otterness. "Remember, honor and respect those whose lives were lost in service by wearing a poppy."

The tradition of wearing a poppy in honor of our nation’s heroes began with Moina Belle Michael in 1918, whose blood ran with Auxiliary missions and devotion, prior to the organization’s founding in 1919.

After World War I, Ms. Michael distributed poppies to business leaders, asking them to wear the memorial poppy as a tribute to those who fought and died in the "war to end all wars."

Throughout the years, new wars have been fought and the tribute and tradition continue to honor new generations of veterans.

The Auxiliary adopted the poppy as its memorial flower at its 1921 National Convention.

AMERICAN LEGION Baseball Needs Your Help – American Legion Baseball sponsored by the Susquehanna American Legion Post 86, Elk Mountain VFW and the Forest City Legion Post 524, will soon enter another season. But as always, the team needs financial help. The three posts can do just "so much" so they need help from other sources. As we all know, baseballs, bats, catcher equipment, medical supplies, etc., all cost a "pretty penny." So if you can help at all, the team will appreciate it. Any amount of donations will be welcome. Local "donors" can send or give their donations to Tom Hurley, a member of the baseball organization. Checks or cash can be left at the Susquehanna American Legion in care of Tom. Others can send their donations to" Bob Polish, 302 Dundaff St., Carbondale, PA 18407. (Note: all checks must be made out to Robert Polish.)

KEEP WEAPONS BAN – Thousands of women recently gathered on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol in a loud and calculated effort aimed at forcing President Bush to renew the ban on assault weapons due to expire September 13. Hundreds of mothers who lost children to guns joined the crowd in Washington, asking to have the ban extended. No way should the ban be lifted.

DID YOU NOTICE? I bet you did – that as soon as the gas dealer moguls heard or read that Saudi Arabia Oil Minister Ali Naimi said that high prices could hurt the world economy, and is recommending a boost in the oil output to bring the cost down, the gas gougers right away (around May 10) raised their prices another 15 cents. "If" more oil is available, they will still make a bundle – even if they reduce prices. Will the gas dealers be as quick to drop prices as they are to raise them if and when oil becomes abundant?

HEALTH Coverage Help – The number of Americans without health insurance is as big as the combined populations of 24 states – nearly 44 million – and that figure is growing. Medical bills now rank as a top cause of personal bankruptcy in the US. Many of the uninsured work for small businesses that can’t afford to provide health insurance. May 10-16 is Cover the Uninsured Week, co-chaired by former Presidents Ford and Carter. More than 1000 free events are planned coast to coast. If you lack coverage, call 1-888-538-4371 to learn about programs in your area. Or visit www.covertheuninsuredweekorg for more information.

WOOTTONS "Citizens of Year" – Earle and June Wootton, longtime residents of Montrose and owners of the Montrose Independent newspaper for many years, will be honored by the Montrose Chamber of Commerce as "Citizens of the Year." They will be honored June 5 with a dinner reception at the Montrose Bible Conference dining hall. (Congratulations, Earle and June.)

NADER "Endorsed" – Independent Ralph Nader has been endorsed by the National Reform Party for his presidential bid. Several high ranking Democrats are upset at Nader for entering the presidential race.


When I told the football coach George would make a good player, the coach said George would need three things: plenty of dedication, he has that; plenty of stamina, he has that; plenty of intelligence, he does have a pair of football shoes.

If you could live over, would you change anything? Yes, I wouldn’t gamble. Did you lose a lot of money? No, I made a lot of money, but used it to get married.

Do you have any idea how I could cut ten or 12 strokes off my golf game? Yeah, quit on seventeen.

Santa Claus reminds me of politicians. How’s that? He always seems to promise more than he can deliver.

Doctor: Mrs. Smith I have to tell you I don’t like the looks of your husband. Patient’s wife: Neither do I, but he’s good to the children.

How are you feeling since your operation? A lot better. The Doctor says, in a couple of week’s I’ll be strong enough to look at his bill.

"I hear exercise kills germs." That’s silly. How do you get a germ to exercise.

"What did your parents want you to do when you grew up?" "Leave Home."

Father to boyfriend: so you want to marry my daughter. I want to tell you I have a hard time keeping her in clothes. Boyfriend: Yes, sir, she’s that same way with me.


Belvidere, NJ – A former nurse who pleaded guilty last month to the murders of 13 hospitals patients, has admitted to killing a 14th.

Kansas city, MO – A man, Lorenzo Gilyard, accused of strangling 12 women between 1977-1993 pleaded innocent in a court hearing. All but one of the victims was a prostitute.

Harkan, Iowa – Dixie Shanahan, 39, who shot her abusive husband, then left his body in their home for more than a year, was sentenced to at least 35 years in jail.

Tokyo, Japan – In a move that came more quickly than many experts expected, Japan has sent troops to Iraq to help reconstruction projects in its biggest dispatch of soldiers since its devastating defeat in 1945.

Pittsburgh, PA – Two boys found the bodies of their aunt and boyfriend in their home. The boys, ages 8 and 11, were apparently upstairs and did not hear the killings, that found the boyfriend with his throat cut.

Hershey, PA – A lot of mouths to feed as 29-year old Kate Gosselin delivered three sons and three daughters in her 30th week of pregnancy. Mrs. Gosselin and her husband, Jonathan, live in Wyomissing, a suburb of Reading. They are also the parents of three-year old twins.

Harrisburg, PA – A district justice, Ronald Amati of Washington County (needing more money) was convicted of running an illegal video-poker parlor from his office. He was removed from office.

Washington – "He’s my boy," so said the president during an interview in regard to Mr. Rumsfeld. Mr. Bush said, "you (Mr. Rumsfeld) are doing a superb job as secretary of defense."

Scranton – James T. Mackin, a former car dealer, bilked 30 car buyers, two other dealerships and is being held on over 100 charges. Mackin, selling cars on consignment, never paid the dealers for the cars over a three-year period.

Scranton – Seniors seeking drug cards are asked to check the actual prices when choosing one of Medicare’s voluntary prescription drug discount card. For more – and actual information – call 1-800-982-4346. Remember, you can only enroll in one card at a time. Make sure the card covers your drug.

Harrisburg – The state House of Representatives has approved $75 million for education. The money will be used to expand a new grant program to help public schools improve their math and reading test scores.

London – The prisoner abuse controversy has riled London, as it has Washington. A new poll showed that most Britons favor pulling the country’s troops out of Iraq in the next few weeks. (Two British soldiers are implicated in the scandal.)

Carbondale – School superintendents are being relieved of their jobs in the Forest City School, Scranton schools and now Carbondale. In several of the cases the firings were complete surprises by several school board members.

Pittsburgh PA – David Hall, 41 of Amwell Township, a KKK leader, and known as a terrorist will go on trial for building pipe bombs and giving them to terrorists. He was also arrested for possessing unregistered firearms.

Butler, PA – Donald Brown, 60, already serving a life term for two murders, recently plead guilty to killing Victor Dillman, in 1966 when he (Brown) was 23 years old. Dillman was 63.

Washington – Former president Bill Clinton has finished writing his memoirs. The book is called "My Life." (It should be interesting reading.)

Pittsburgh, PA – Stanley Laskowski, 57, of New Kensington, is charged with two counts of mail fraud. He filed for federal funds saying his wife died in the September 11, 2001 explosion of the World Trade Center in New York.

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From the Desk Of The DA

In Susquehanna County, we are fortunate that many local businesses are willing to accept personal checks for payment for merchandise and services. Although most people do not abuse these courtesies, there is a large number of "bad checks" written throughout Susquehanna County. The checks are not honored primarily for two reasons: insufficient funds and/or a closed account. Obviously, local businesses suffer a financial loss every time a check does not clear. In fact, a bad check can have a domino effect resulting in inadvertent bad checks being written from an account maintained by the business that relied upon the initial bad check. If a number of bad checks are contained in one deposit period, the potential effect upon the local business can be severe.

Many people do not understand the gravity of "bouncing" a check. The Crimes Code provides that a person commits a criminal offense if he or she "passes a check . . . for payment of money, knowing that it will not be honored" by the bank. In order to satisfy the "knowing" element, i.e., that the person knew the check was no good when it was written, the Crimes Code provides several presumptions. First, if the account was closed at the time of check was written, knowledge that the check was no good is presumed. Second, and perhaps more common, the offender is given oral or written notice of the bad check and, if restitution is not made within ten (10) days of the notice, it is presumed that the offender knew that there were insufficient funds at the time the check was issued. If the notice is written and sent by certified mail to the address printed on the check, there is also a presumption that the notice was received.

Under this second scenario, if you were to "bounce" a check, and then lack funds to make it good within ten days after being given notice, you would have committed a criminal offense. If the bad check is less than $200, it is considered a summary offense, punishable by up to ninety (90) days incarceration and a fine up to $300. If the bad check is between $200 and less than $500, it is considered a misdemeanor of the third degree, punishable by up to one-year incarceration and a fine up to $2,500. If the bad check is between $500 and less than $1,000, it is considered a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable by up to two years incarceration and fine up to $5,000. If the bad check is between $1,000 and less than $75,000, it is considered a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to five years incarceration and a fine up to $10,000. Finally, if the bad check is for more than $75,000, it is considered a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to seven years incarceration and a fine up to $15,000.

Although the smaller bad checks are considered summary offenses, the Crimes Code also provides a remedy for individuals who continually issue bad checks. If you have a third bad check offense within a five year time period, then the third (or subsequent offense) is considered a misdemeanor of the first degree – regardless of the grading of the prior offenses and/or the particular amount of the newest bad check. It is very common for an offender to write numerous bad checks in a short period of time, such that law enforcement receives three or more bad checks at one time. Although all of these bad checks may be small amounts, the number of bad checks can result in a more serious offense.

The Susquehanna County District Attorney’s Office handles hundreds of bad checks every year for local residents and business. While we attempt to resolve the bulk of these without criminal prosecution, a large amount of the cases result in criminal charges being filed against the offender. In this regard, for calendar year 2001, approximately 6% of our criminal caseload involved bad check offenses.

In short, bad check offenses encompass a serious problem in Susquehanna County, and the District Attorney’s Office remains committed to prosecuting these offenses, if necessary. There are certainly inadvertent and innocent instances where bad checks are written, but such instances are not criminal acts provided that restitution is made in a timely fashion. For those individuals who are using bad checks as a means to swindle and steal, they will not only have to make restitution, but also face additional fines, costs and ultimately incarceration for their irresponsible conduct.

Please submit any questions, concerns, or comments to Susquehanna County District Attorney’s Office, P.O. Box 218, Montrose, Pennsylvania 18801.

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Straight From Starrucca

Memorial Day will be observed as usual with assembly at the Memorial Park at 9:30 a.m. Robert Weldy, Ret. Navy will be the speaker. After the program at park, we will march to the cemetery with a program there to honor our veterans.

At 11 a.m. there will be a Cemetery Association meeting at the Methodist Church. At noon there will be a chicken dinner served at the Baptist social rooms. All are invited.

Thursday, June 3, the Methodist ladies will serve their second turkey buffet at the church at 5 p.m. Takeouts at 4:30 p.m.. Hope to see you there.

Mr. and Mrs. Paul Zeffrich announce the birth of Megan Wylie, Wednesday, May 12. She joins a sister, Emma. Paul is our former postmaster. Congratulations.

Last Tuesday, May 11, June Downton entertained the Bag Ladies for dinner. Ten family members honored their mother, June with dinner in Afton. This week she also had a good visit with her daughter, Barbara Hadden, her daughter, and granddaughter, and great-granddaughter from North Carolina.

Kristen and Donald Potter entertained a family get-together in honor of her mother, Gale’s, sixtieth birthday.

Congratulations to Julie Hargett, who graduated from Penn State, Worthington Campus, Dunmore, PA, May 14 with an Associate Degree in Registered Nursing and Liberal Arts.

About 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, May 19, the Glovers chased away a bear that was examining their back porch. The week before, it was the side porch it was interested in. A bear also destroyed a large feeder in Doris Davidson’s yard while she was in the hospital.

Art and Virginia Kopp were recent visitors at the home of their daughter, Belinda and family at Great Bend recently.

Marie Swartz and Joy Downton are regular helpers at the Clothes Closet in the Methodist Church at Thompson. Anyone in need of clothes can have them, free of charge if they will come and browse on Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Danielle Williams, Natalie and Caitlin Piercy were to appear with the Binghamton Youth Symphony Orchestra in concert on Sunday, May 23, at 7 p.m.


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Dear EarthTalk: I heard that sea turtles are developing cancerous tumors at an alarming rate. What’s going on?

Brendon Hunt, New York, NY

Sea turtles have long endured the pressures of hunting, intensive fishing practices and habitat degradation, including loss of nesting beaches due to human encroachment. In the last 20 years, marine turtles have also been the victims of a deadly tumor called Fibropapilloma, a bulbous growth that primarily affects the skin but also appears in the turtles’ mouths, on their eyes and on internal organs.

The tumors can grow as large as a head of cauliflower, making it difficult for the animals to swim and find food. Internally, they can constrict the lungs and heart and affect the kidneys. In the 1980s, the disease began to reach epidemic proportions in shallow, near-shore waters off Hawaii, Florida and Barbados. The disease is now also present in Australia and the Pacific coasts of Mexico and Costa Rica.

The tumors have mostly been found on both young and adult green turtles, but have recently showed up on the Loggerhead, Hawksbill and Olive Ridley species. Sue Schaf of Florida’s Turtle Hospital, which treats and performs surgery on afflicted turtles, says, "We were seeing 50 percent of green turtles with tumors, but now it is closer to 70 percent and getting worse." In Hawaii, some 60 percent of the turtles are affected.

While progress is being made to understand Fibropapilloma, scientists are still puzzled as to what is causing the tumors. Their high prevalence in marine habitats near areas of heavy human use would lead one to believe that some form of pollution is the cause, such as runoff from fertilizer or farm waste, but research has been inconclusive. Some scientists speculate that a virus might be giving turtles the disease. Other marine experts blame the tumors on global warming, with increased water temperatures weakening the turtles’ immune systems.

CONTACT: Turtle Hospital, (305) 743-6509,; Florida Marine Research Institute, (727) 896-8626,; National Marine Fisheries Service,

Dear EarthTalk: Are there prepared lunches comparable to Oscar Mayer "Lunchables" that are healthier and more environmentally friendly?

Carla Bahun, Marietta, GA

Oscar Mayer’s Lunchables are a hit with youngsters because of their bright packaging and fun-to-eat snacks. However, like much of the junk food marketed to children today, behind those colorful boxes and tasty treats lies a spectrum of potential health disasters. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) offers 10 tips in creating a nutritional lunch, and one of them is "Don’t send Lunchables," because the snacks derive "two-thirds of their calories from fat and sugar."

CSPI also includes Lunchables among their list of the "Top 10 Foods to Avoid" because, "It would be hard to invent a worse food than these combos of heavily processed meat, artery-clogging cheese and mostly-white-flour crackers. The regular (non-low-fat) line averages 5 1/2 teaspoons of fat (that’s 60 percent of calories) and 1,734 milligrams of sodium."

Moreover, Lunchables’ form of attractive packaging is environmentally unfriendly. It consists of a plastic tray cut into various compartments, which is then sealed with a transparent and flexible film. This tray is then placed in an outer cardboard box. All this makes it very difficult to recycle, so much so that the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG) gave Lunchables a "Lifetime Waste Maker Achievement Award" in 1999

Currently, as there are not many known alternatives to such prepared foods, CSPI suggests packing one’s own lunch and snacks, which would be more environmentally friendly and far healthier for your children. If your kids insist on Lunchable-style meals, a simple alternative would be to whip up your own collection of healthy, low-fat snack replacements. In addition, CSPI offers tips on preparing a healthy lunch, such as leaving out the cheese altogether (or using low fat of fat-free cheese), adding vegetables to sandwiches, using low-fat crackers, using whole-grain bread instead of white bread, including fruit or juice (100% juice only), and using one percent or fat-free milk.

CONTACT: Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), (202) 332-9110,; Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG), 617-292-4800,


c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881;

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