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Issue Home October 19, 2004 Site Home

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

From the Desk of the D.A.

Earth Talk

Slices of Life

The Contents Thereof

I’m sitting in the restaurant with someone else’s dirty dishes in front of me and flies darting everywhere. It’s the second such scenario recently. The last time I ended up squashing the flies with my checkbook when they got to the point where I just couldn’t stand them anymore. We are almost there again. The interesting sidelight to that story is that I intended to wash my plastic checkbook cover when I got home, but completely forgot it until I sat down here and saw the flies buzzing again. So I’m carrying this contaminated checkbook with me. Actually the checkbook is probably not the only contaminated thing I’m carrying around in that purse. Women’s purses get to be a mysterious depository of disparate items.

This morning I was searching to its depths, hunting for my lipstick. Of the many tubes of lipstick I own, just one is a color that I actually wear. I ordered a couple sight-unseen from a catalog because they sounded like the right color. Big mistake! If I’d enlarged the outline of my lips a little, I would have been mistaken for Bozo, the clown. So those two unused tubes languish in the sink (catchall) drawer, while this one goes from that drawer to the dresser to my purse. It, too, is not exactly the right hue, but it’s close enough to pass.

Keys – lots of keys jingle as I carry that purse. Two sets of car keys today, because I just picked up my car at the garage, and I leave a single key with them rather than the whole batch of house keys, church keys, etc. House keys for every door, all different. And why do I lock my doors in Montrose? Paranoia, I guess.

Tic-tacs, partial rolls of lifesavers, Rolaids, wrapped peppermint candies, a Boy Scout knife and other unrelated things litter the bottom of my purse.

Last night as I was driving on the Vestal Parkway, having talked all evening, my mouth was dry and kind of like the bottom of a bird cage. I started feeling around in my purse, knowing that all those afore-mentioned things were in there. This big Blazer takes two hands, especially in traffic, so I was eager to find something of the right shape that would disclose what I was holding. They all hid. I found a hairbrush, lipstick, compact, wallet, Kleenex, pens, notebook, all kinds of things. But nothing that felt like a plastic TicTac box, no cylindrical cellophane-wrapped Chinese buffet peppermint, not even half a roll of Rolaids. But I did feel a paper-wrapped square. When I pulled it out at the red light, I realized it was a menthol cough drop that would do to change the taste in my mouth. But it’s hard to tell how long it had been there because the paper was stuck tight. I peeled and peeled. By this time the light had turned green and I needed two hands to change lanes. I popped this mysterious item in my mouth and kept on driving. The taste was what I expected, but, because of its age, it was soft and chewy rather than a hard lozenge. That was all right until I got near the end of it and now I realized I was chewing paper. But it did its job and who am I to complain?

I cannot imagine being a man and having fashion dictate that I must carry everything I need in my pant’s pocket. No wonder they’ve taken to carrying day planners that have room for much more than planning. And, of course, they have the dashboards and visors of their pickup trucks.

So, I guess both sexes have found a way to travel with their necessities. It’s just that some of us are less organized and tidy than others. To each his own.

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100 Years Ago

HARFORD: As D. M. Farrar, familiarly known as "Uncle Dan," was about to remove from here to reside at Elmira, the members of Live Oak Lodge wished to show their appreciation and respect for him, for though he is not a member, we venture to say was more faithful in attendance and it was decided at the close of the installation on a recent meeting night to give him a reception and also a present. Sickness prevented his going to the hall, and E. J. Whitney, A.M. Leslie and W. H. Brown called at his home and presented him with a very nice gold-headed cane, on which were inscribed his initials and three links. It was a complete surprise to him, but he highly appreciated the gift. Mr. Farrar is in his 90th year and until this fall, has been quite smart for one of his age. AND: Wesley Ousterhout, a well known citizen of Harford, dropped dead in Andrew Mead's tinshop, Tuesday evening. Funeral will be held from the house, Friday.

GLENWOOD: Election news scarce in this vicinity: no one is peddling or saying very much, as about all have their minds made up to vote for their favorite, which seems to pull toward Parker.

FAIR HILL, Jessup Twp.: The Epworth League will hold a box social at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Sivers, Friday evening, Oct 28th. Ladies bring lunch for two. Don't forget the date or that you are invited to be present.

JACKSON: Myron French Post, G.A.R., of Jackson, will hold a campfire in Roberts' hall, Friday evening, Oct. 28, on which occasion Rev. O.L. Severson, of Pittston, will deliver his popular lecture, "The Battle of Gettysburg."

LAUREL LAKE, Silver Lake Twp.: One of the most interesting surprise parties ever held here was given by the youngsters of the vicinity, at Wm. Buckley's, in honor of Miss Susie Murphy, teacher of the Laurel Lake school. There were about 75 in attendance, among who were many from Montrose and Binghamton. They were highly entertained, ice cream and fancy cakes being served, after which a recitation, "The Country School's Last Day," [was] given by Miss Susie Murphy, and Blue bell, sung by [the] Binghamton ladies. AND: With a firm and strong step, John L. Murphy, aged 98 years, walked by the side of Recorder Roberts, on Collier Street, Binghamton, this morning and rivaled the young man in agility of action. In December, Mr. Murphy will reach his 98th year, bringing with it recollections of almost a century of bustling activity of the American nation. He was born in 1806. Mr. Murphy resides a few miles south of Silver Lake and drove to town [Binghamton] yesterday. He weighs 167 pounds and is anything but the shriveled up being which usually emerges from a career of 90 or more years. His cheeks are ruddy, his face fat and plump and his body fleshy.

SPRINGVILLE: Wanted, a good barber. The shop has been closed nearly a week and some of our townsmen have had to visit Montrose to get a shave.

MONTROSE: The Ossian Club's third annual dance will take place at Village Hall this Thursday evening. The orchestra will furnish the latest two-step waltz, three-step and Bellefield music. Spectators admitted, 10 cents. AND: W. D. B. Ainey has sold his building on the east side of Public Ave., occupied by the Horse Shoe pool room & cigar store and the Lyons bindery, to W. L. Carey, of Auburn, N.Y., who buys it for investment.

CLIFFORD: L. E. Taylor, of Clifford, who is well known here, has purchased of B. F. Wells, of that place, his undertaking business, together with his house and lot. Mr. and Mrs. Wells will go to Florida for the winter, but have not decided upon a permanent location. Mr. Taylor will take possession early in November.

FOREST CITY: If the population of Forest City will continue to increase at the present rate, where to put the surplus population will become a source of considerable anxiety to the borough fathers, says a correspondent. Every piece of available property is occupied, and naturally, independent property owners realize high rates from tenants. In some parts of the town three and four families occupy an ordinary six and seven room dwelling. Every boarding house in the city is doing a rushing business. Under the circumstances it is surprising that a few ingenious persons do not build a number of suitable dwellings. This would be a sure moneymaker and a success in every respect.

ARARAT: Teachers and their schools are: Clary Avery, Ararat; Mabel Hobbs, Burnwood; Margaret Smith, Ararat; Maggie Smith, Orson.

APOLACON TWP.: Teachers and their schools are: Nettie Curley, Little Meadows; Mary Nichols, Cadis; Loretta Butler, Little Meadows; Margaret Keenan, Friendsville; Loretta McCabe, Richmond Hill.

SUSQUEHANNA: It is said that the differences between the Erie and the machinists here have been amicably adjusted.

RUSH: The oyster supper held in the basement of the M.E. Church for the improvement of [the] sidewalk was well attended. $16 was realized.

AUBURN CORNERS: Mrs. Judson [Sarah] Hibbard died at her home on Monday. Interment at Jersey Hill, Wednesday at 11 a.m. Mrs. Hibbard had lived almost a decade beyond the years allotted to man, being able to care for herself until near the end. A family of ten was reared by her busy hands, two of whom, with her husband, preceded her to the spirit land. [Sarah was born 25 December 1828.] AND: Our blacksmith, McGavin, has resigned his position and taken a more lucrative one at Lynn.

UPSONVILLE, Franklin Twp.: A very pretty home wedding occurred Oct. 12, at J.W. Hunsinger's, when Miss Mertie, their only daughter, was married to Friendly Smith, of Hallstead. The parlor was prettily decorated with evergreens and potted plants and an arch composed of evergreens and chrysanthemums. A ribbon aisle leading through the room to the arch was supported by Miss Bessie Dean, maid of honor, who was beautifully attired in white Swiss and lace. The bride, escorted by her brother and best man, carried bridal roses and carnations and was gowned in a becoming suit of gray cloth. The bridesmaid, Mrs. Edna Hunsinger, carried chrysanthemums and wore a suit of blue and white. Rev. L. W. Church, pastor of the bride, solemnized the marriage rites.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

A Worthwhile Coalition

As a reporter and editor during the last five decades, there are few things that could happen today that I have not seen or written about. Most of my journalistic days were spent in Northern New Jersey, not far from Manhattan and I have run the gamut from robberies, rapes, arsons and murders to runaways, castaways and giveaways.

Not too many things bother me any more. I seldom get off my easy chair when a fire engine or ambulance goes by the house or a fire siren is sounding off in a distance. I no longer stop at crash scenes and I am not intrigued by the presence of a police cruiser parked in my block.

There is, however, one thing that bothers me and that is the look on the face of a frightened child. I have seen kids from six to 16 in witness chairs describing physical abuse and sexual abuse. I have seen them being treated in emergency rooms and I have seen their lifeless bodies being carried out of wooded areas where someone dumped them after hours, days and sometimes weeks of abusing them.

I once saw a judge snap his gavel in half like it was a toothpick while an almost convulsive preteen age girl described what her stepfather did to her while her mother was asleep in an adjoining room. Statistics tell us that 54% of sexually abused children are victimized before age 7, 84% before age 12. Unfortunately fewer than 50 percent of abuse cases are reported.

OK, so we have a worldwide problem of child abuse, what’s being done about it? Believe it or not, my friends, plenty and right here in Susquehanna County.

In 1995, some concerned professionals, including Marie Gulbin, who at the time was employed by the Department of Health in Susquehanna County, founded the Susquehanna County Coalition for the Prevention of Child Abuse (SCCCPC). Others who helped to get the coalition off the ground included Charmarie Bisel, a supervisor for Children and Youth Services, Beverly Bennett, and representatives from a number of organizations including, but not limited to, Barnes Kasson Hospital, Endless Mountains Health Systems, Tri-County Mental Health, the League of Women Voters, Safe Kids Chapters and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The coalition meets the first Thursday of every month at 10 a.m. at the county office building in the Children and Youth Conference room. Anyone who may want to participate in this worthwhile cause is urged to attend a meeting and get involved. The goals of the coalition are simple but effective: (a) to provide information on a variety of issues affecting the well being of today’s children; and, (b) To identify a network of resources for individuals providing treatment, care and education for children.

Since its inception, the coalition has been sponsoring numerous programs aimed at educating professionals and parents on the detection and prevention of child abuse. The coalition has sponsored an annual all-day educational conference with local and nationally known speakers that address the various issues surrounding child abuse. As a matter of fact, the Coalition has an all day program scheduled for November 4 at the Montrose Bible Conference.

This year’s all day session will include workshops on: (1) The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children; (2) Adolescent Mental Health Issues; (3) Drug and Alcohol Abuses; (4) Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention; (4) Teen Pregnancy Prevention; (5) Public Health Preparedness; and, (6) Mandated Immunizations for Children and Adolescence. There will also be a keynote speaker who will lecture on Children Rights and the Law.

While Susquehanna County still has a high rate of child abuse cases, there has been a decline since the coalition was organized and began sponsoring educational workshops on an annual basis. Mark the date on your calendar right now, Nov. 4, 10 a.m., Montrose Bible Conference. Then pick up the phone and call Charmarie Bisel to make your reservation. She can be reached at 570-278-4600, extension 6. There is no charge and you even get a free lunch.

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From the Desk of the D.A.

With Halloween approaching, there are numerous little things that parents can do to make sure their children are safe. Please consider this list of safety recommendations before sending the children out to trick or treat:

Wear light colored clothing that is short enough to prevent tripping and add reflective tape to the sides, front and back or costume.

Make sure children can see well through face masks, or use cosmetics to create fun or scary faces.

Adults should accompany young children.

Go out in daylight and carry a flashlight in case of delay.

Watch out for traffic.

Stay within your neighborhood and only visit homes you know.

Only give and accept wrapped or packaged candy.

Examine all candy before allowing children to eat it. When inspecting the candy, there are numerous conditions or occurrences that may naturally result from manufacturing and/or storage. If you are interested in viewing these types of conditions, photographs can be viewed at

Keep costumed children away from pets. The pet may not recognize the child and become frightened.

Avoid hard plastic and wood props such as daggers and swords. If necessary, substitute such items with foam rubber which is soft and flexible.

We hope that everyone has an enjoyable and safe Halloween.

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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Dear EarthTalk: What is the status of Australia’s koalas? What organizations are working to help them and what can people like me do to make a difference?

Amy Marcus, via e-mail

Seven to 10 million koalas inhabited Australia at the time of white settlement two centuries ago. Today only about 100,000 remain. Native to the eucalyptus forests of Australia’s eastern seaboard, koalas were hunted extensively by the continent’s first European settlers, who shipped as many as two million of the highly prized pelts abroad each year.

While protection efforts by the Australian government have since eliminated most koala hunting, today these climbing marsupials face an even more imposing threat in the form of over-development and sprawl. Koalas are becoming scarce even in their primary habitats, and are considered "vulnerable" by the Australian government and "at risk" by the World Conservation Union, a global consortium of scientists and experts.

According to a recent survey by the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF), the primary non-government agency working to protect koalas, a third of the country’s viable habitat no longer supports any of the animals, while the remaining two-thirds is becoming increasingly fragmented or degraded by human activity. "I truly believe that in my lifetime the koala will become extinct unless we do something," says AKF's executive director Deborah Tabarat.

Tabarat and other environmentalists are urging the Australian government to protect the eucalyptus groves upon which koalas depend for food and shelter. Increasing urbanization has led to the removal of millions of acres of eucalyptus forest, especially on Australia’s east coast where most of the continent’s people, as well as koalas, live.

Australian authorities have relocated koalas from islands to repopulate some parts of the continent, including South Australia, where koalas were hunted to extinction, and Victoria, where numbers had been reduced to almost nothing. As a result, populations have bounced back somewhat, but new problems, such as inbreeding and overcrowding, which leave them more susceptible to disease, have resulted.

Additionally, more than 4,000 koalas die every year from dog attacks and car collisions. This "one-two punch," says Tabarat, could lead to Australia’s koalas going extinct in the wild within 15 years.

Those interested in the fate of the koala can support AKF’s' efforts. The organization has created a Koala Habitat Atlas to identify and record koala habitat throughout Australia, and is lobbying the country’s legislature to pass a National Koala Act which would provide government funding to protect these lands key to the animal’s survival.

CONTACTS: World Conservation Union,; Australian Koala Foundation, G.P.O. Box 2659,

Brisbane QLD 4001 Australia,

Dear EarthTalk: What can be done to make office buildings more energy-efficient? So many leave thousands of lights on at night!

Deborah, Baltimore, MD

Office buildings are indeed the top energy guzzlers among commercial buildings in the United States, head and shoulders above retail and service establishments and even manufacturing facilities.

The U.S. Department of Energy says that office-building owners spend an average of $1.34 per square foot annually on electricity. Lights, office equipment and heating/cooling systems account for about 90 percent of this expenditure. Lighting is clearly the main culprit, comprising 44 percent of all usage. Office equipment–computers, printers, copiers, fax machines and telephone systems–accounts for about 23 percent.

Building managers can make a big difference by installing energy-efficient systems–from heating and cooling to lighting and waste disposal–but individual business owner and their employees can also have impact by simply turning off lights and shutting down dormant machinery during non-working hours.

According to Advanced Energy, a North Carolina-based non-profit organization that monitors and analyzes energy use in commercial spaces, replacing older traditional fluorescent tubes with newer and more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs can save as much as 30 percent on electricity. And installing occupancy sensors so that lights go on and off as people enter and leave rooms can save an additional five percent. Furthermore, building managers can save up to 15 percent on electricity bills by programming thermostats to trigger warming and cooling as needed during the workday while hibernating at night and on the weekends when buildings are mostly empty.

Periodically assessing and retooling heating and cooling systems can achieve additional energy savings. Any heating and cooling equipment older than a decade, for example, is probably ripe for an upgrade to a newer more energy efficient system. The federal government’s Energy Star program, administered jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, rates the energy-efficiency of lighting, office equipment and heating/cooling systems from a wide range of manufacturers. Purchasing administrators can browse the Energy Star website to find out which models and systems will save a company the most money.

A handful of environmental groups are walking the talk via recent "green" retrofits to their office spaces. The National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense, for example, have installed occupancy sensors and compact fluorescent lighting throughout their offices, and in some cases have installed windows and configured their workspaces to make use of natural daylight instead of artificial light where possible.

CONTACTS: U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program,; Advanced Energy, (919) 857-9000,; Energy Star,

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

Dear EarthTalk: In light of concerns about mercury-tainted fish that have been in the news lately, which fish are safer to eat than others?

Renee Scott, via e-mail

As mercury pollution from industrial facilities becomes more pervasive in both ocean and freshwater environments, consumers need to limit their intake of both freshwater fish and seafood, whether they catch it themselves or buy it in a supermarket or restaurant.

More than 3,000 water bodies nationwide were under fish consumption advisories in 2003, an increase of almost 10 percent over the previous year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Aquatic predators toward the top of the food chain--such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel, tilefish, pike, walleye, largemouth bass, white sucker, yellow perch and albacore tuna--are most likely to carry large amounts of mercury. Environmentalists recommend avoiding eating such fish altogether.

Meanwhile, shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, and canned light tuna do not accumulate as much mercury in their systems, and as a result may be safer to eat in moderation. Nevertheless, the EPA recommends that consumers limit their intake to 12 ounces (2 average meals) per week of any fish.

Each year, U.S. power plants and other industrial facilities spew as much as 150 tons of mercury or more into the air as a by-product of production processes. Eventually the mercury makes its way into nearby waterways and accumulates in the tissue of fish.

Exposure to mercury can be particularly hazardous for pregnant women and small children, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. During the first several years of life, a child’s brain is still developing and rapidly absorbing nutrients. Prenatal and infant mercury exposure can cause mental retardation, cerebral palsy, deafness and blindness. Even in low doses, mercury may affect a child’s development, delay walking and talking, shorten attention span and cause learning disabilities.

In adults, mercury poisoning can adversely affect fertility and blood pressure regulation and can cause memory loss, tremors, vision loss and numbness of the fingers and toes. A growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to mercury may also lead to heart disease.

A January 2003 report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that one in six women of childbearing age have mercury in their blood above the level that would pose a risk to a developing fetus. The good news for consumers who have eaten large amounts of fish in the past is that they can significantly lower the mercury content in their bloodstreams by cutting consumption now.

CONTACTS: Environmental Protection Agency Fish Advisories Page,; Natural Resources Defense Council’s Mercury Contamination in Fish: A Guide to Staying Healthy and Fighting Back,

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, 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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