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Look For Our Father's Day Special In The June 16th Issue Of The County Transcript

Issue Home June 8, 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

Moving On

Except for a couple boxes of goods that have yet to be claimed by the owner and paths worn into the front lawn, the yard sale is just a memory. It was a fun day with lots of banter and some mild dickering over price. Several of the regulars showed up, mostly to buy men things. They have outlets where they re-sell and are always on the lookout for a good bargain. The weather could have been warmer, but repeat trips to the coffee thermos and the chili pot kept us warmed and satisfied.

And so another chapter in my life closes for awhile. I’ve sold just about everything that I wanted to sell. It’s been a many-year process, but it’s done and I’m not sorry. Time to work with what’s left and get it out where it’s useful and decorative.

It’s unbelievable what a household can collect in forty-five years. When we started down this path called marriage, we could transport everything we owned in our car. Little by little – payment by payment – gift by gift, our various apartments and homes got fuller and fuller. Finally settling in a four-story house, we were free to fill it to the brim. And we did.

I can remember when auctions and yard sales were some of our most enjoyed moments. Day trips made us the most vulnerable. My husband would take a vacation day, and we’d head out early in the morning somewhere specific, but we’d no sooner be on the road than the yard sales would be setting up. I remember one in particular which was a real treasure trove. And elderly parent had died and the family was disposing of the contents of her home, which reflected the interests of her life. What a time we had that day! I still use the Betty Crocker Cooky Book with the inscription "Grandma Anna from Diana, Rick and Bill." I am also still using up the contents of her sewing basket, as well as her Roseville vase. That sale was similar to a three-day event we had when we did the final disposition of my mother-in-law’s lifetime of possessions.

We’d come home from our travels with the truck loaded, and gleefully clean up our loot. We furnished much of the house that way.

Then after my husband died, I went on a real buying spree. Trying to fill some empty spot, I suspect, I bought and bought. New, old, serviceable, decorative; it made no difference. In a couple years buying lost its appeal. I rarely go to yard sales anymore. And if I do buy, it’s likely to be a book. Books never seem to lose their fascination with me.

And so it goes. Life moves through cycles; one door closing, another opening. I’m not sure what is next in my life. That is probably what keeps life interesting. We can plan and prepare, but life has a way of making decisions for us. Life is sort of like a yard sale with its smorgasbord of choices, and only after we’ve picked what appeals to us and used it awhile can we decide what to keep and what to let go.

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100 Years Ago

FAIRDALE/HEART LAKE: The Fairdale and Heart Lake nines came together in a game Wednesday and the former proved their superiority by defeating their opponents by a score of 23-6. There were a number of pretty plays, which were thoroughly appreciated by the crowd of spectators who witnessed the game.

ALFORD: Jos. Page is building a large barn on his farm near Alford. The basement floor is to be of concrete and the barn will be up to day and modern in every particular. B. A. Oakley, of Brooklyn, has charge of the carpenter work.

FOREST CITY: At a recent meeting of the borough council of Forest City, a resolution was passed instructing the ordinance committee and borough attorney to draw up a curfew ordinance, requiring all children under 16 years to be off the street after 9 o’clock at night.

RUSH: While returning from Rush with his family Saturday afternoon, W. N. Barnes, deputy register and recorder, who was driving a team of lively horses, met with an accident which might have resulted seriously. The horses were jogging along near B. I. Robinson’s farm in South Bridgewater, when the king-bolt broke and let the forward part of the carriage down in the road. Aside from jarring the occupants considerably it did no other harm. The horses were frightened, and still dragging the front wheels they dashed into town and into their stables at Harrington’s livery. Mr. Harrington immediately started out to learn the results of the accident and it is needless to say was overjoyed at finding them unharmed.

OAKLEY: A very sad accident occurred at Oakley, below Kingsley, on Saturday morning last, when L. D. Wilmarth was struck by the engine of a fast freight train and so seriously injured that he died after four hours of intense suffering. Mr. Wilmarth was seventy-four years of age and had been postmaster for many years. He was as usual carrying the main bag to hang up for the train to catch, when in some way, no one knows how, he was caught and thrown several feet and received internal injuries. He was carried to a house nearby and kindly cared for. Dr. A. J. Ainey, of Brooklyn, was called, but could do nothing for him. He will be greatly missed in that community where he was both prominent and popular. He is buried in Maplewood cemetery by the side of his first wife.

LENOX: George Wright is a honey-maker who makes a business of it. He, as all keepers of bees in the North, lost a large share of his colonies last winter. Out of about 140 hives he wintered about half and those left were weak. He sent to Florida and secured fifty queen bees which he has introduced into his old colonies with much success. They are sent through the mails in woven wire bottles or boxes, when ready to put with the bees, the end of the bottle is opened and a wax made from honey and sugar is placed over the end removed. The bees eat this wax off in about two days and release the queen.

SUSQUEHANNA: A team belonging to Dr. F. A. Goodwin ran away on Monday afternoon, causing quite a little stir. They lit out at the watering trough near Exchange Street and ran to Laurel Hill Academy before they were stopped. AND: A fifteen-year-old boy, who is better known as "Jasper Cole," was on Friday arrested on a charge of having for some months past abstracted cash envelopes from boxes in the Baptist church and appropriating the contents to his own use. On Saturday he was brought to the county jail at Montrose. It is expected that he will be sent to the juvenile reformatory at Huntington.

NEW MILFORD: Prof. C. M. Snyder, for two years principal of the New Milford graded school, has written a letter to the secretary of the board declining the offer of the position for the coming year. He will attend college, being now at Keuka College in New York.

SOUTH MONTROSE: A. S. Allen and son have commenced the erection of a barn for Percy Ballentine, to cost upwards of $4000; this will be one of the finest barns in Northern Pennsylvania.

HERRICK CENTRE: Some time ago the people of the East Ararat M.E. church decided to give their worthy S. S. Superintendent a present to partially pay her for the faithful services rendered by her in their Sunday school. Through the untiring efforts of Mrs. O. H. Phillips, a nice little sum of money was raised and a beautiful chair and lamp obtained, and presented to her on May 22nd, before a large and appreciative audience.

GREAT BEND: Dr. F. Ellis Bond, on Tuesday, opened a branch dental office in Hallstead. He is a first class dentist; quite up to date. His many friends wish him success in this new venture.

BROOKLYN: Rev. Mr. Sumner and members of his church are getting ready for their centennial celebration, which will occur June 20-22nd.

LANESBORO: Rev. George Comfort, the veteran clergyman, sustained a stroke of paralysis and his condition is serious. Last winter, when returning from a trip to Montana, he was seriously injured in a wreck on the Union Pacific road near Ogden, Utah, and since that time he has been in ill health.

GLENWOOD: The oration by R. B. Little, of Montrose, at the Tower church, May 30th, was delivered in a masterly manner. The church was crowded and the talk of Mr. Little was sublime. He has a flow of language seldom bettered.

BROOKDALE: R.F.D. No. 1, from Hallstead, passes through this place now and Mr. Birchard still continues to carry mail. We are well supplied with ways of obtaining mail.

SCRANTON: George H. Catlin, banker and millionaire, was last Wednesday married to Miss Ellen Walsh, a servant in his home at Scranton, and they are now at the Waldorf-Astoria awaiting passage on a steamer for a trip around the world. Mrs. Catlin’s home was in Carbondale. She is thirty years old, of handsome and attractive manner. She is the second wife of Mr. Catlin, who is fifty-nine and one of the foremost citizens of Scranton, being vice-president of the Third National Bank of Scranton, has a fortune of $3,000,000 and bears the degree of Master of Arts conferred by Lafayette College.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

What’s not going on?

The Susquehanna County Board of Commissioners has put on the brakes and may now be in a procrastinating mode. Suddenly projects that seemed to be enroute from the drawing board to the finish line appear to be floating around somewhere in the Twilight Zone.

Members of the board are acting more like congressmen than county commissioners, tabling some projects and referring a most important one to committee. There may be something to the haste-makes-waste theory but some of the county’s needs have been on the back burner since Hector was a pup.

For example, it has been four or five years since we told you that the gymnasium in the former Warner School (which is now the courthouse annex) would get a second floor for much needed storage space. The previous administration braced the floor with steel beams to accommodate the extra weight and the current administration indicated earlier this year that the project would get some priority attention. It hasn’t.

We already told you the time card project has now been turned over to a new committee for further study. And we are getting tired of reporting that some needed maintenance work inside the building is being neglected. Oh, lest we forget, don’t be too quick to point a finger at the maintenance department for any of the neglect. Since the department heads have discovered that some members of the maintenance crew are pretty good furniture makers, there is a lot of desk and cabinet making going on in the maintenance department. By the way, the maintenance department recently completed the refurbishing of the men’s room in the lower level of the courthouse. They did a fine job.

Things are still looking up as far as the elevator project is concerned. With any kind of luck, the elevator should be operating by the end of the year. However the bottom line is that some other needed projects are being ignored again, including the lack of security guards in the county office building on Public Avenue where the all important 911-communication system is housed.

All is Fair in Harford

The 147th Harford Fair will be held August 16-21 and I don’t know how they do it, but it seems that each year the Fair people top the previous year.

I managed to get my hands on one of the Fair books and here are just a few highlights from the jam-packed agenda:

Sunday, August 15: -Harford Fair Youth Musical.

Monday, August 16 –County High School Band Day; Draft Horse Day; Family Day; 6 p.m. –13th Annual Queen Contest, Shade Pavilion; 8 p.m. –Them Again, Oldies Rock-n-Roll Band, plus Classic Cars.

Tuesday, August 17 -4-H Day; 10 a.m. –Local farm tractor pull; 1 p.m. –the Baboon Lagoon Show and music by Cobblestone Crossing, Shade Pavilion.

Wednesday, August 18 -Senior Citizens Day; 9:30 a.m. -Baby Show; 1 p.m. –Baboon Lagoon Show; 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. –music by Buddy Spencer; 7:30 p.m. –ATV Drags; 9:30 p.m. –Fireworks.

Thursday, August 19 –Ronald McDonald Day; Family Day; 1 p.m. –Baboon Lagoon Show; 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. –Salute to the Grand Ole Opry Show, Lynn Anderson, Bill Anderson, Little Jimmy Dickens, Tommy Cash, and Ralph Emery.

Friday, August 20 -9 a.m. –Woodsmen’s Contest; 1 p.m. Baboon Lagoon Show; 8 p.m. Redeye Rodeo Show.

Saturday, August 21 –2 p.m. Lawn Mower Races; 2 p.m. Lenoxville Band; 8 p.m. Demolition Derby.

Lights, Curtains, Little Action

Last Wednesday’s thunder shower was responsible for a power shortage at the County Courthouse. With exception of some mighty poor emergency lights, the place was without power for almost one and one-half hours.

Did I say mighty poor emergency lighting? My friends, in some areas you almost had to light a match to see if the emergency lights were on. Would be nice if the county would apply for a grant to fix the lighting so people could see where they are going. Should be some money out there somewhere for such an important item.

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Open Letter To Organizations

As Co-Chairman of the District 14-H Hearing Aid Program, I am writing this letter in hopes that your organization is in a position to provide financial assistance to this most worthy project.

It is widely recognized that a substantial fraction of the population, over 40 years of age, is hearing impaired to some degree. In fact, it is well known that hearing impairment is not limited to those over the age of 40; but can affect the entire population. The older the group the greater the impairment.

In response to these ever increasing statistics, Lions International, District 14-H that covers the counties of Susquehanna, Wyoming, Lackawanna and Wayne, has recognized that this situation creates a significant opportunity of service to many of these people who are without the financial ability to pay for these hearing aids. Accordingly, it has established a hearing aid program, to assist individuals, who have a hearing impairment and who can be helped with a hearing device, but who lack sufficient resources to purchase the devices themselves. Financial limits, for applicants, have been established at $20,000, for an individual and $25,000 for a two-person household (maximum gross yearly income can increase due to family size).

District 14-H Hearing Aid Program is proud of the fact that it is in action and has been functioning since 1999. Hearing aids are being distributed to eligible persons who are identified through an application which is distributed by local Area for Aging facilities such as Montrose Senior Citizens Center and other centers throughout the district. Applications are also distributed by local churches and reputable businesses. These centers, churches and businesses are also utilized as drop-off points for donated used hearing aids and glasses.

The distribution of applications to other agencies, the review of returned applications, the coordination of the examination and the distribution of the hearing aids are all done entirely by the Lions Club. There is no paid staff, and virtually every dollar available is used to provide the service to eligible applicants.


Harold Wegman, Co-Chairman

(NOTE: For more information please contact your local Lions Club.)

GALLOWAY KIN Honored – Justin Galloway, University of Rochester, was recently inducted in the National College Football Hall of Fame, located in South Bend, Ind. The "Hall" also inducts athletes with high scholastic marks, throughout the country. Justin, a junior, had a GPA of 3.67. He is majoring in Chemical Engineering. He was named to the all academic team for both the UCCA and the UAA. Justin is helping to start a group at the university’s Newman Community that caters to athletes called the Society of St. Sebastian. Justin was the offensive tackle on the 1999 Webster, NY High School Class AA New York State Championship Football team.

Justin is the son of Steve and Jamie (Transue) Galloway, of Webster. He is the grandson of Joseph and Jean Galloway, of Chenango Bridge, Mr. Galloway being a former resident of Erie Avenue, Susquehanna.

HISTORICAL Society – (More on the Historical Society – in addition to last week’s appeal for a "new home.") The public is invited to all meetings and show and tell sessions of old items brought in by members. Sometimes speakers of local interest display handmade tools, railroad artifacts and folk art. The museum also contains a large selection of photos and many albums of clippings going back years. There are old postcards and pictures as well as historical books about the area. The museum receives no government grants to operate, it is run by volunteers, and money is needed to pay the rent, water and heat. Donations will be greatly accepted. They can be sent to: SDAHS, P.O. Box 161, Susquehanna, PA 18847. (Better still, the officers would like you to join. Contact Clay Martin at 853–3020.)

TURNPIKE TERRACE "Looking Pretty" – Have you been to the Turnpike Terrace complex lately? If – and when you do – take a good look at the entrance and also near the entrance to the building. Several tenants of the Terrace have planted beautiful-looking flowers. The flowers were donated by a Senior Center Committee. The "Green Thumb" planters were "three plus one" – Betty Powers, Marion Glover, Nora Bush and Bob Wilder. (Nice going, folks, the flowers are beautiful, giving the T. T. A fresh look.)

FATHER GARBACIK’S "50th" – Father Louis Garbacik, pastor of St. Stanislaus Parish, Hazleton, PA, celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the holy priesthood on Sunday, May 30, 2004. Father Garbacik was ordained a priest of the diocese on May 29, 1954. Following ordination he served as assistant pastor in several churches. The jubilarian received his first pastor appointment in 1972, at St. Martin of Tours Church, Jackson, and St. Paul’s Parish of Starrucca, where he served until 1977, when he was assigned as pastor of Holy Child Parish, Sheatown. He served as chaplain, executive director and president of the board of directors of St. Stanislaus Medical Care Center, Nanticoke.

NO APOLOGY Necessary – Read a letter to the editor – in another paper – wondering why President Bush needed to apologize to the Iraqi people for the prisoner abuse. Did we get an apology when the US embassies or the USS Cole were bombed, or when our prisoners were tortured? Most of all, did we get an apology when they butchered four of Americans and dragged them through the streets and hung them from a bridge? How about the American that was beheaded? I do not condone any killings, but when a killing is senseless, apologies are in order.

A LESSON LEARNED – "Do not reach into an animal cage" will be remembered for the rest of her life, as 22-year old Brooke Bessette of Hermman, NY, reached in a cage holding two Chinese Himalayan Bears, was grabbed by the arm by one bear, resulting in amputation up to elbow.

NEED HELP? – Are the ongoing high prices of gas, drug prescriptions, annoying you? If so call our congressman Don Sherwood, 10th District, 1-202-225-3731 or his local office, 1-570-585-8190, to complain. It may help!


THE IRAQ WAR – Not counting the bloodshed in Iraq during the month of April, Iraq civilians suffered a heavy toll of dead. An Associated Press survey said, in the first 12 months of the occupation more than 5,500 Iraqi’s died violently in Baghdad. The total is "known dead." Hundreds of others are unaccounted for.

BOSTON – The Boston Archdiocese will lose 65 of its 357 parishes, a massive restructuring brought on partly by the clergy sex-abuse scandals that aggravated the already shrinking Mass attendance and weekly collections. Archbishop Sean O’Malley announced that the parishes will close throughout the year.

PARIS (As of May 26) Many countries hesitate to provide troops to back the United States in Iraq. A request made by Pres. Bush in his speech to free Iraq has gone on "several deaf ears." France will not send troops, as well as Germany and Russia, under certain circumstances.

WASHINGTON – According To AARP, "If the price of drugs keeps going up faster than inflation, it will become more difficult for consumers, especially older consumers, to be able to afford them." The new Medicare drug cards, AARP said "will cost more than anticipated."

RANDOM THOUGHTS – If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving is not for you – Love may be blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener – Despite the cost of living, have you noticed how popular it remains? – I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory – Bills travel through the mail twice as fast as checks – No one is listening until you make a mistake – You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive – I intend to live forever - so far, so good – If two can live as cheaply as one, why don’t they?

KISSIN’ COUSINS – A father wanted to know about the young man his daughter was going out with every night.

"What do you find to talk about?" the father asked.

"Oh, we mostly talk about kith and kin," answered the daughter.

"You don’t mean to tell me you talk about your relatives every night!" exclaimed the father.

"Well, it’s not that kind of kith and kin," the daughter replied. "He asks, ‘Can I kith you?’ and I say, "You kin.’"

SERVING A LIFE SENTENCE – A married couple was celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. All during the party, the wife was beaming, but the husband looked miserable. One of the guests finally asked him why he looked so upset.

The husband replied, "Fifty years ago, her father and three big brothers came to me and said that if I didn’t marry his daughter, they’d send me to jail for 50 years. I just can’t help thinking that if I’d chosen jail, tomorrow I’d be a free man."

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From the Desk Of The DA

Poker has undergone a recent revival of public interest. In particular, the poker game of "Texas Hold ‘Em" has been featured on cable television stations on a regular basis. As a result, various organizations and charities have been holding "Texas Hold ‘Em" tournaments. The Susquehanna County District Attorney’s Office has received numerous calls concerning the legality of such tournaments.

Under the Crimes Code, it is unlawful for any person to allow others to collect and assemble for the purpose of "unlawful gambling." Unfortunately, the Crimes Code does not define "unlawful gambling" in any further detail. Further, there is no specific statute that targets the "gambler." Instead, the Crimes Code focuses upon the organizer of the event or the owner of the establishment at which the gambling occurs.

With respect to gambling, the courts have defined gambling as requiring three elements: (1) consideration; (2) an element of chance, and (3) a potential reward. Clearly, poker games contain an element of chance, as well as a potential reward (or loss). Further, it would certainly appear that the "betting" that occurs within the context of a poker game would be a consideration. The courts have been reluctant to suggest that the "friendly card game for money" constitutes unlawful gambling. In fact, several courts have concluded that the Crimes Code does not prohibit friends from gathering for a friendly poker match. In such circumstances, it would appear that the element of consideration is absent as there is no person charging organizing the event and taking a percentage of the total winnings as consideration for the event. In a friendly card match, there is no independent third party seeking to profit from the gambling activity.

With respect to poker tournaments, however, the element of consideration is normally present. The tournament organizer will charge a fee for participation in the tournament, set up game playing, and then pay out a reward to the winners. If the tournament organizer takes a percentage of the fee collected, however, that individual has organized individuals for a gambling event from which consideration was derived. Such organized poker tournaments would be unlawful and be subject to potential criminal sanctions.

As fate would have it, other district attorneys have also been receiving questions as to the legality of these fundraising poker tournaments. In Lackawanna County, there have been two recent and successful fundraising Texas Hold ‘Em Tournaments. In response to this phenomenon, Lackawanna County District Attorney Andrew Jarbola recently announced that there would be a "crackdown" in Lackawanna County upon future "Texas Hold ‘Em" tournaments that are organized as fund-raisers for organizations. District Attorney Jarbola reassured residents, however, that: "It is not illegal for a group of friends to get together and have a poker game at home." Brian Clark, "Read ‘em and weep," Scranton Tribune, June 1, 2004, at A3.

In 1959, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Mussmano, a well respected Pennsylvania jurist, voiced his distaste for gambling, which he stated had "nothing to recommend it but a wild desire to obtain lucre without labor, finance without fatigue, and quid without quo." In re Trombetta, 156 A.2d 107 (Pa. 1959). Despite strong words, Justice Mussmano recognized that "the condemnation of gambling, or any other evil for that matter, should not be so loosely applied that it strikes down perfectly legitimate and innocuous pastimes." Justice Musmanno viewed friendly bets upon cards, golf, sporting events, or similar common practices as "healthy diversions."

Although the Trombetta opinion was written nearly fifty years ago, the words of Justice Musmanno still provide wise guidance for the operation of the criminal law. Those who seek to profit from gambling by organizing gambling events for a fee and enticing persons to pay the fee to gamble, may be prosecuted under the Crimes Code. As to the "healthy diversions" commonly accepted by the general public, the Crimes Code has no specific prohibition against such 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

Our Memorial Day program was held Monday, May 31, starting at 9:30 a.m. with the following schedule: Pledge of Allegiance led by Danielle Williams; Poem The Bivouac of the Dead by Theodore O’Hara read by Laura Brownell; Memorial Day message Pastor Brian Lucas; Placing of the Wreath Virginia Upright; Roll Call of the Dead read by Art Kopp; Memorial Day speaker Robert Weldy, USN; Placing of Memorial Board flowers Joy Mead; Song America the Beautiful led by Julie Hargett; Poem Remembrance by Gale Williams – read by Gale Williams; Benediction Pastor Al Rodriguez; Taps played by Danielle Williams.

At the Cemetery: Song America led by Julie Hargett; Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow read by Gale Williams; Prayer Pastor Brian Lucas; Placing of flowers on the graves of Veterans.

The cemetery association met with all members present. All officers were reelected for another term. They are President Charles Levchak, Vice President Daryl Haynes, Secretary Marie Swartz and Treasurer Dave Glover. Board of Directors are: John Box, Bill Westcott, Dee Martin and Tom Sampson. Finances are in good shape and work day in cemetery is set for June 12, at 10 a.m. If raining, the date is June 19, same time.

The Girl Scouts left Friday, June 4 for the Lehigh Valley Gorge to do some whitewater rafting, accompanied by Gale Williams and Kristin Potter. The Scouts who went were Danielle and Shannon Williams, Sabrina Dix and Billy Jean Wilbur.

Jim and Lori Walker were guests of her sister, Virginia Upright and family Memorial Day weekend, on the way home to Rochester, NY from Maine. Chrissy and David Upright, Bangor spent some time there, also.

June Downton entertained at a family picnic for twenty-five on Memorial Day.

Teachers were quite amazed by some of the answers to an exam. To wit: In Spring, Salmon swim upstream to SPOON. Iron was discovered because someone SMELT it; the climate is hottest next to the CREATOR; and, in the middle of the 18th Century, all the MORONS moved to Utah.


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Dear EarthTalk: How can I reduce the number and amount of toxins my new baby is exposed to?

Beth Stevenson, Leesburg, VA

Since babies are so much smaller and their metabolism rates are so much higher than those of adults, proportionately they are exposed to higher doses of toxins from everyday foods and consumer products. And because babies’ organs and immune systems aren’t fully developed, those toxins can have a profound impact on them, effecting their growth and future health, according to the Princeton, New Jersey-based Children’s Health Environmental Coalition (CHEC). "Since World War II," warns CHEC, "we have developed more than 80,000 chemicals for use in cleaners, pesticides, plastics, personal care products, industrial products and other conveniences. We know very little about the effect of these chemicals on a child’s development." Fortunately for new parents, there is an expanding universe of organic and all-natural products, so you can minimize baby’s exposure to potentially damaging chemicals.

Feeding your baby organic food means they will avoid the heavy-duty pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that are sprayed onto or absorbed into conventionally grown foods. Companies like Earth’s Best Baby Food provide parents with a variety of pre-packaged organic baby foods. Parents interested in an even more back-to-basics approach can get assistance in the form of books, supplies and tips from Fresh Baby. The company’s Fresh Start Kit ($34.95) includes everything a parent needs – instructions, recipes and materials – to produce fresh, healthy, homemade baby food. Another eco-benefit: "By feeding children with all-natural alternatives, families don’t use and toss scores of baby food jars," says company spokesperson Christina Kerley.

Since babies spend so much time sleeping, toxins in their cribs, mattresses and bedding are also a concern. Lifekind makes crib mattresses ($279.99 to $379.99) that combine organic cotton with wool (which acts as a natural flame retardant) to prevent tender lungs from inhaling plastic and chemical fumes. For even sweeter dreams, bedding made from 100 percent cotton – without permanent press and flame retardant substances – is the least-toxic alternative.

Last, parents should shun soft plastic and vinyl baby toys. Manufacturers often add chemicals, called phthalates, to plastic toys as a softener. This chemical can leach from the plastic and -- since toddlers tend to put objects in their mouths -- expose young children to a substance that has been linked to cancer and reproductive harm. For this reason, the use of phthalates in baby and children’s toys is outlawed in 15 European countries and Japan. Hard plastic toys or, better yet, wooden playthings coated with water-based lacquer are smarter purchases, and can be found at Natural Play and your local toy store.

CONTACTS: Earth’s Best Baby Food, (800) 434-4246,; Fresh Baby, (866) 403-7374,; Children’s Health Environmental Coalition, (609) 252-1915,; Lifekind, (800) 284.4983,; Natural Play, (608) 637-3989,

Dear EarthTalk: What are those container ships and oil tankers I see passing by every day doing to my city’s air quality?

Kristen Nedopak, Seattle WA

Large marine vessels such as container ships and oil tankers are among the least-regulated sources of air pollution in the United States. Though they are more fuel-efficient than other forms of commercial transportation, most burn the cheapest diesel, called bunker oil, which is generally prohibited from being used by other industrial applications due to the high levels of extremely toxic compounds it releases when burned. In addition, commercial ships release 30 percent of the globe’s nitrogen oxide emissions and 16 percent of sulfur emissions.

And those numbers will only increase, says the San Francisco-based Blue Water Network, a non-profit clean-water advocacy group: "As more consumer goods are imported from Asia, cargo shipping is expected to double or even triple by 2020 -- especially in high-traffic ports such as Oakland, Los Angeles and New York. As marine traffic increases, so does the threat to our oceans, marine life and public health. Air pollution from all ocean-going vessels in U.S. waters is expected to grow by 150 percent over the next three decades."

Currently, more than 60,000 ships sail in and out of U.S. ports every year, and for cities trying to clear their smoggy air, cargo ship pollution can actually negate clean air gains. The Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District found that even without a port in the county, air-quality gains from reducing car and truck emissions would be wiped out by passing ships commuting to the nearby ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. "Just one container ship traveling one mile produces nitrogen oxide emissions equaling 25,000 cars traveling the same distance," explains Anthony Fournier of the District.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has started to regulate pollution from American ships, but since a vast majority of the ships that come into port are foreign, international standards are needed, says Bluewater, which is suing the EPA to institute stronger rules governing pollution from ships. "These ships run on the dirtiest fuel available," says Martin Wagner, an attorney with the non-profit public interest law firm, Earthjustice, which is representing Bluewater. "The EPA’s failure to regulate their emissions undermines the efforts of coastal communities from Los Angeles to Boston to protect public health and meet federal clean air standards.

CONTACTS: Bluewater Network, (415) 544-0790,; Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, (805) 961-8800,; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,; Earthjustice, (415) 627-6700,

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

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