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Issue Home December 28, 2004 Site Home

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

From the Desk of the D.A.

Slices of Life

About That Tarragon

Christmas is bearing down on me as I write this, and having the gifts and cards done, I’m now thinking about food for my Christmas Day guests. I can remember a time when that meant pulling out all the recipes for rich, sweet, flavorful foods. But now, since the word cholesterol came into our vocabularies, cooking (or eating) isn’t nearly as much fun as it used to be.

The longer I cook for one, the less creative I become. So I live vicariously through what others are cooking.

Recently, keeping in touch by e-mail with a high school friend whom I hadn’t heard from in forty-eight years, our conversations sometimes go to food. He is now retired and has taken up cooking as a hobby-helpful-husband sort of thing. He was telling me about cooking dinner and taking it to a friend who is housebound due to illness.

I wrote back. "What did you cook?" I wanted to know. In a subsequent message he described the chicken dish he had made. I thought I’d try it.

I have a whole drawer of spices that I rarely use, except for cinnamon, ginger and a few other baking spices. Tarragon was one of the flavorings in this friend’s country French chicken recipe. I’d thought I’d try it. So I find myself in the grocery store looking over the chicken breasts and other ingredients. I went to the spice aisle for the tarragon. Now that a friend clued me into the fact that spices are shelved alphabetically, I had no trouble finding it. But $2.79 for this little jar? Hum – I’d need to think about that. I went on with my shopping.

What had never entered my head was to look in my spice drawer before I went to the store. "Do I already have this?" I asked myself as I contemplated the cost. "No," I thought. "I don’t remember ever using tarragon, so why should I have any in my kitchen?" After a bit more inner dialogue, I sprang for the tarragon.

Four bags of groceries later, I’m at my car and ready to leave the busy parking lot. Just for reference, I now pull out my shopping list that says yeast, tarragon and flour! That’s all. Three items and I now have four bags. And no yeast. I ponder. Will I go back into the crowded store for the yeast, or will I come back tomorrow?

"Go back in," I tell myself. And I obey. Back to wait in a long line at the same checkout station I had visited a few minutes before.

I came home and unloaded the car in zero degree temperature. Then I unpacked the grocery bags, stopping mid-job to taste the cinnamon buns that were definitely not on my list, but so enticing. I opened the spice drawer and you know what I saw. Yes, a full bottle of tarragon; probably used once. Now I have two!

I had a whole roasting chicken thawing on my back porch. I had no plans for it, except to get it out of the freezer before it got more frostbitten. I put it in the roasting pan, sprinkled it with tarragon and rosemary and stuck it in the oven. Later I stashed the now highly flavored roasted chicken in the refrigerator before I went to my meeting last night.

When I finish with this story, I’m headed for the kitchen to make a chicken sandwich. I’m about to find out what tarragon tastes like.

Let’s hope I like it. I’ve got lots!

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100 Years Ago

UPSONVILLE: A very enjoyable time was participated in at Christmas time at the home of Mr. and Mrs. E. J. Lindsey. An Xmas Tree was prettily arranged in the parlor laden with beautiful gifts for all; their children were home to help in the festive occasion. AND: The sawyers that sawed H. J. Deakin’s lumber had some bad luck, so they did not get through work as soon as they expected. In sawing some of the maple Deakin purchased of G. H. Brownson, they sawed through several spiles imbedded in the trees where H. Dearborn had previously tapped them for syrup, so injuring the saw it had to be sent Elmira, from there it went to Canton, from there to New York City and back to Binghamton, causing a great delay in their work which would demand considerable damage, which may be looked into by Mr. Deakin and the sawyers.

FRANKLIN FORKS: The Alliance store at this place does a very large business handling flour and feed in carload lots. Everyone would do well to trade with them, as they sell cheap. The store is on the co-operative plan. There is also an insurance attached to the order, the rates being lower than the old-line companies. The Athletic club of this place hold their meetings on the ground floor now, and there will be no danger of any one falling through.

SUSQUEHANNA: “A Struggle For Gold” is the attraction at the opera house on Friday evening next. AND: Five patients are under treatment in the City Hospital.

HARFORD: Al Rice, a marine of 5 years service, who has traveled around the world, is visiting his old friend, A. D. Darrow of North Harford.

SILVER LAKE: O. C. Caswell slipped on some ice at the top of a flight of stone steps leading from the Russell mansion and fell to the bottom, striking on his back and receiving injuries that it was thought would confine him to his couch for some time. Dr. Gardner was called and found no bones broken but serious bruises and back strained. A soldier who has been through wars and recovered from a serious railroad accident is not easily discouraged, and after a week’s rest Mr. Caswell is around receiving the congratulations of friends on his narrow escape from a fatal accident.

BRANDT: Christmas exercises were held in the Presbyterian church here Monday evening, under the leadership of Mrs. R. Kessler. The Mission Band rendered a pleasing program, after which gifts were dispensed to the Sunday school. The Rev. Moon, pastor, pleased the audience with some well-timed remarks and a pleasant evening was enjoyed.

SOUTH MONTROSE: A.S. Allen & Son have equipped their mill with the necessary machinery for the manufacture of doors and sash.

EAST LENOX: Mrs. R. M. Archibald is suffering from several severe bruises caused by being dragged by her horse, which was frightened by the overturning of the sleigh.

AUBURN: George Brewer, son of Mr. and Mrs. Brewer, of Auburn, was seriously injured on Friday afternoon in Meshoppen. While driving a colt near the station in this place, it became frightened at the [railroad] cars and ran away throwing the young man from the wagon. The horse ran down the tracks for some distance, dragging the young man, who was pluckily hanging to the reins. He was taken on a bed to the office of Dr. Harrison. It was found that the patient’s nose was smashed, that he had several severe scalp wounds and he is thought to be injured internally. After several hours he was removed to the home of his uncle, Frank Brewer, who resides just outside the borough limits and Dr. Snyder was called in consultation. The affair caused great excitement, as the young man is well known here, having been a student in the high school.

ALFORD: A new band is being organized at Alford with the following members: A. L. Aldrich, Theo. Tennant, Earl Ellsworth, H. Deming, Ira Tennant, Hubert Whitman, Jack Clinton, Floyd Tennant, Earl Tingley and Fred Knapp. It will be called the Alford Concert Band.

UNIONDALE: It has been 13 years since Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Curtis could have their children and grandchildren meet at the old homestead at one and the same time, and the event happened on Dec. 25, 1904, by having a Christmas tree and the presents there consisted of many useful gifts and some comic ones to mix in to make mirth and laughter for the little ones. It was estimated there was nearly $200 worth of presents. All took part to make each other happy, by giving gifts to their loved ones. But their happiness and mirth began to cease when they tried to relieve the table of its great load of chicken, fried fish, baked and stuffed pig, pies and cakes and other goodies too numerous to mention, and they soon began to realize that their clothing was too small for them, especially Mr. Curtis and Eddie Rimron.

CLIFFORD: H. J. Leonard, of Painted Post, N.Y., has been spending a few days in town, looking after some real estate that he can purchase for his future home. He is a son of the Mr. Leonard that moved from here some 30 years ago. They are now anxious to return and buy a home in our quiet town.

MONTROSE: The cold weather of the past two days has made the ice excellent for skating, but the noisy zephyrs have not made the sport very popular.

BROOKLYN: This County has seen some gigantic trees hewn down with the felling of the primeval forests by the early pioneers, but it is doubtful if there now exists within the county’s boundaries a tree equal in size to the one which now stands on the Merrill farm near Mack’s Corners, Brooklyn Township. The monarch is an elm, which measures 7 ft. 10 inches in diameter at the base, 40 ft. to the first limb, and from the ground to the topmost limb it is 125 ft--one third as high as the greatest of the world famous redwoods of the Yosemite Valley. The tree is one of the most familiar landmarks of that section, but it is not destined to remain such for long as it has become a menace to the safety of the cattle which frequently find shelter under its spreading branches and within a few days, possibly this week, the keen blade of the woodman’s axe will send it quivering to the ground. This spot was the favorite playground in his boyhood days of Daniel Merrill, of Montrose and one can imagine the feelings of regret with which he views the passing away of this inanimate old friend. He retains, however, an excellent photograph of it, and memories of past association, which time will never efface.

MATRIMONIAL: Wanted--A fastidious and friendly bachelor, 50 years of age, would like to make the acquaintance of a few lady correspondents between 20 and 50 years, who have plenty of means for two, and would like a noble and generous hearted husband or manager to care for their property. Address: Leader’s Exchange, Nicholson, Pa.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

Commissioners Play Santa

At last week’s Salary Board meeting, Cathy Benedict, who sits on the board by virtue of her position as county treasurer, wore a headpiece of reindeer horns in keeping with the holiday season. The Commissioners should have been wearing white beards or red suits because the three of them played Santa Claus.

It isn’t bad enough that they allowed themselves to be intimidated during union contract negotiations and gave the employees 100 percent paid health insurance coverage for four years. Last week, they compounded their generosity – with our tax money of course – and adopted the Opt Out Plan (OOP).

Wait’llya read this one, my friends, it’s a beaut.

Beginning in January, the county will pay any employee or elected official who does not enroll or drops out of the county’s free health insurance program (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) 20 percent of the monthly premium in lieu of the benefit.

On the surface it looks like a pretty good deal for the county. For example, if a premium is $500 a month and the employee or elected official refuses to participate, he/she gets a check every month for $100. The county saves $400 because that employee opted out of plan.

But let’s scratch a little bit below the surface and see what we find.

First scenario: When a new county employee is asked about health insurance and announces that he/she is already covered by his/her spouse’s plan, our kind hearted commissioners say, “Fine, when your six months probation period is up, you will qualify for 20 percent of the premium that we would have paid for your health insurance if you had taken it.”

Second scenario: There are many men, women and elected officials who have been working for the county for years and years with never a thought given to asking for a stipend if they are covered by a spouses insurance plan elsewhere and are not enrolled in the health insurance plan. With OOP now in place, they need only sign on the dotted line and they begin getting a monthly check equivalent to 20 percent of the premium the county would pay if they were enrolled in the health insurance plan.

Third scenario: There are some lawyers employed part time by the county and, again thanks to the generosity of our commissioners past and present, they qualify for a benefit package. I am told that, for one reason or another, some of these lawyers do not participate in the health insurance plan. Are they now eligible for a monthly check for not enrolling in the plan?

As I understand it, the OOP is already incorporated into the four union contracts that the county agreed upon earlier this month and will be included in the two remaining contracts that will be negotiated next year. The reason for adopting the plan by resolution is so that the non-union and elected officials can grab a piece of the action.

The opinion here is if an employee wants the health insurance from the county, it is there for the asking. If the employee does not want it, why in Sam Hill’s name should the county pay 20 percent of the monthly premium if the employee does not accept the insurance?

County Appeals Knifer Decision

A few weeks ago we wrote here that Eric Knifer , one of two county employees discharged in the wake of a State Police investigation into alleged improprieties in the computer technology department where he was employed, had been vindicated.

Arbitrator John Paul Simpkins ordered the county to reinstate Mr. Knifer to his former position or a comparable position with no loss of seniority or benefits and with full back pay.

Attorney Richard Goldberg, has appealed that decision in behalf of the county. Mr. Goldberg said the opinion rendered by Arbitrator Simpkins should be vacated because it exceeds the arbitrator’s powers; it is not rationally derived from the union contract and it violates some Pennsylvania laws. Mr. Goldberg further points out that Mr. Knifer cannot be returned to his former position because the department in which he was employed has since been abolished by the county commissioners.

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From the Desk of the D.A.

I recently read a poem penned by one named P. Jay.
A fellow, it seems, with something to say
I thought perhaps I could try a poem too
Commenting upon a year in review

I have spent the last year as your D.A.
Along with my assistants, Marion and Ray,
Debbie, Kathy, Erica and Lorraine, too
Have all worked very hard for you

We’ve seen those who had too much to drink
So much, in fact, they could not even think
Intoxicated, they got behind the wheel
Only to learn how handcuffs feel

We’ve seen those who liked to write
Checks during all hours of day and night
Without concern over the lack of funds
Only to be caught with no where to run

Then there are those who like to sell
Poison, drugs, and tickets to hell
When finally caught in the act of the sale
They are forced to spend their days in jail

The users of drugs like coke and pot
Addicts and junkies – a sorry lot
A habit that leads only one direction
To incarceration upon detection

Burglars and thieves, we have a few
Who like to break in and steal from you
But when such persons make a mistake
We give them a cell that they cannot break

There are monsters and demons alike
That prey upon the innocent tikes
The right punishment for them is hard to find
Sometimes we wish justice wasn’t blind

But through it all, there are those redeemed
Who make the work better than it seemed
Those who have managed to live life again
Avoiding the drugs, booze, crime and sin

For each and every offender that we incarcerate
We hope they will some day find a better fate
For committing a crime is never a solution
But obeying the law is a good resolution

From the Office of the District Attorney
As we start anew on our yearly journey
For 2005, good wishes we would like to share
But if you break the law... We will be there!

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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