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Issue Home January 25, 2005 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

Getting Comfortable

Not being a fast starter in the mornings, I have the habit of curling up in my easy chair while I drink my first cup of coffee. Mrs. Morris sometimes joins me and sits on my lap for awhile. I think this is mostly to warm her feet. The floors are cold and when she jumps onto my lap, those dainty little paws are like ice cubes. But after a few minutes, my body heat has her feet toasty warm as she curls up on my lap for as long a nap as I will sit still for. This morning I was curled the wrong way, and she was having a hard time making the adjustment. It meant approaching from the opposite side of the chair and that was throwing her off. Back and forth she paced in front of my chair.

"Come on," I’d say. "I have a spot for you right here."

But she wasn’t buying that. I was supposed to sit the way I regularly do, and then she’d know the approach from which to make her jump. Back and forth, back and forth she paced. I kept patting the level spot and saying, "Jump up. You can do it." And finally she did. But it wasn’t just what she remembered even after she made that brave leap, and eventually she moved on.

They say that people and their pets have, or take on, the same personalities. Mrs. Morris’ actions this morning reminded me of how true that is. I like my comfortable routine, with things like I’m used to. I, too, walk around new situations, sizing them up for a long time, before I take the plunge. Mrs. Morris and I also share hearty appetites and a penchant for a cozy bed.

I often remember with amusement my former neighbor and her cat. This lady who was a good neighbor and friend, could have a haughty air about her. Sarah, her cat, was also so inclined. One day, from my kitchen window I snapped this classic picture. The two of them were walking up their driveway, carrying their bodies in exactly the same manner; heads held high, reserved, regal. How I laughed when I got those pictures back from being developed. I still enjoy that photo. It gives me a chuckle and brings back lots of good memories.

Have you ever noticed on the televised dog shows how much the dogs resemble their owners? There will be a short, pudgy man running around the ring with a bulldog. A tall, rangy, longhaired woman will be loping beside a wolfhound. Shy people have a tendency to choose more reticent animals. My husband chose German Shepherds; strong, intelligent, friendly, trustworthy dogs. Our pets are like our alter egos. So is it any wonder I would choose a lazy, nesting, low-maintenance cat?

These pets then become our families. Family members that we really choose, not those we have no say in choosing. And because we get to choose them, I’ve decided my next pet is not going to have fur. Maybe a turtle or an iguana. As the sun shines on me this morning, it is showing off the wonderful fur embellishments on my Montrose Department Store robe. And I am beginning to look more and more like Mrs. Morris. I have a theory that you can always tell a woman who owns a cat by looking at the back of her skirt. Cats like chairs and stuffed chairs do have a tendency to cling to cat hair. That is until someone sits down there. Then static electricity deposits the fur from one surface to another.

What we don’t go through for these animals. But they are definitely worth it, and every time I look at the newspaper pictures of animals that need homes, I want to run right out to the shelter and adopt them.

But I’m protected from that because Mrs. Morris would never share me.

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100 Years Ago

FOREST LAKE: The rural free delivery subject is receiving a good deal of attention at present. There might be those it would benefit, but certainly the majority would get their mail, daily papers included, one day later than at present. There is also the inconvenience of waiting on some corner, on a cold windy day, to register a letter--or to get a money order. Taking all things and all people into consideration we believe the rural free delivery, in our place, would prove anything but beneficial.

RUSH: Oscar Hardic is improving rapidly at the Packer Hospital, after undergoing a very difficult operation for appendicitis.

SUSQUEHANNA: On Friday evening Erie Hose Co. held a musical and smoker in their parlors on Exchange St.

FRIENDSVILLE: Mrs. R. P. Mulford recently received news of the death of her nephew, Dr. Churchill Carmalt of New York. Deceased was the eldest son of James Edward Carmalt, who formerly resided at Lakeside, near this place.

BROOKLYN: It is definitely decided to have a butter factory in Brooklyn. The large ice house in connection with the institution is in the process of building. The factory itself will be erected later. Jones & Watson of Harford will run the institution.

FRANKLIN FORKS: the Haymakers’ Association is going to give a dance in Red Men’s Hall, Wed. evening, Feb. 29. There is never a lack of fun at the dances given by the Haymakers and the persons getting it up hope to make this an exceptionally pleasant one.

MONTROSE: While S. B. Rogers was driving down Lake Avenue yesterday afternoon, his horse attempted a faster gait than the law permits, resulting in Mr. Rogers being thrown out, badly mutilating the snow bank in which he landed. The horse was captured by a park policeman, John Doyle, near the court house, and matters set to rights. Mr. Rogers has been in a couple of lively runaways the past year, and although not in his teens, he always comes out unscathed and regards them as lightly as would a man much younger.

15TH ANNUAL MEETING Susquehanna County Historical Society--In an address by Wm. M. Post, many interesting accounts about the founding of Montrose were read from a diary of Isaac Post. This Isaac Post, my uncle, was born Aug. 12, 1784. His father fell from a fence, injured the spinal marrow and died soon after, leaving three small children, Isaac, David and Polly, the latter dying when about seven years old. The estate [on Long Island] was quite extensive, and the widow had little business ability, and several heirs wanted a share in the property. In 1794 the widow married Bartlett Hinds, a man who had spent most of his money in the Revolutionary War. He had lots of Continental money, which was worthless. Slaves were owned by the Post family, but finally set free. Hinds was asked to come to this section and settle on an 1800 acre tract of land under the Connecticut grant, and was to have a large share for looking after it. Isaac and David were then about 16 and 14 years old. [After an eventful trip through Brooklyn, NY, to Potter’s Hook, to the Delaware, to Blooming Grove, Sheholen [Shohola], the Lackawaxen, Mt. Pleasant and the Nine Partners] they stopped to Hosea Tiffany’s, who had just bought a barrel of cider for $8. and the whole settlement had turned out to drink it. Mr. Tiffany netted $8.06 on the cider. Continued next week.

FOREST CITY: Mrs. John Churney, aged 38 years, was struck and instantly killed by the D & H passenger train north of Clifford breaker. With some other women, Mrs. Churney was picking coal on the track. She stepped on the south track to get out of the way of an Erie freight, and failed to see the D & H train which bore down upon her. She was hurled off the track and instantly killed. Deceased came to this country from Austria a month ago and was unable to talk English. Besides her husband she leaves three small children.

FAIRDALE: Burt Robinson, who was working for the Anthracite Coal Co., at Dickson, met an untimely death last week. He was a carpenter and was working at the top of a breaker, when a beam broke, causing him to fall, death resulting. He was 29 years old and a young man highly thought of. Burt was the twin brother of Byron Robinson, sons of Jas. and Eliza Robinson. He was a member of Co. G, of Montrose, and served in the Spanish-American war. He was married Nov. 26, 1902 to Miss Nina Roe, of Fairdale, and had since lived in Green Ridge. Last September they buried their infant babe, which lived only one week.

GREAT BEND: The big brick smoke stack at the old tannery in Great Bend was taken down by the Chamois Co. The whole town turned out to witness the downfall of the great stack. The Plaindealer says it was a grand sight. The compact mass did not break into sections as it fell, but retained its form until it struck the ground.

GLENWOOD: J. C. Lott lost a valuable cow last week. Last spring she was bitten by a mad dog, this just broke out, and she had to be shot.

EAST DIMOCK: Milk took a drop at the Dimock station Jan 1st, from $1.34 per can of 40 qts. to $1.24 per can; too bad, but that is the way they do it as they please and the farmers furnish the milk just the same and smile.

CHOCONUT: The phonographic entertainment given by Farr Bros., at our school, was a brilliant success.

SOUTH GIBSON: The neighbors made France Davis a wood bee last Wednesday and got him a nice pile of wood.

NEWS BRIEF: Don’t throw salt on the snow-covered pavement. The salt is intended to remove the snow, but physicians say that this act has been the cause of more than one case of pneumonia. The salt makes the snow stick to the shoes and soak so thoroughly into the leather that the footwear is spoiled. Once the shoes are saturated with the stuff they remain damp all winter, hence the danger of taking cold. AND: Lackawanna County is the first in the State to take the benefit of the Good Roads bill, appropriating $5,000,000 to that purpose. The road from the city line to Glenburn is the first demonstration of what the good roads movement is destined to accomplish. It is finished as far as Clark’s Summit and will be completed as soon as the weather permits. It is a beauty as far as it has gone.

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.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

A Quickie

Recently I referred to county Commissioner Mary Ann Warren as the “minority commissioner.” Apparently I was wrong. Oh, she is the lone Democrat on the Board of Commissioners along with two Republicans, but judging from what transpired last week, this is where any similarity to “majority commissioners” and “minority commissioner” ends.

In case you did not know – because I didn’t until it was all over- the commissioners held a hurry-up and somewhat hushed-up public meeting last Monday. Yeah, I know it was a national holiday, but this was a bang-bang deal orchestrated by Roberta Kelly, chair of the Board of Commissioners and Mrs. Warren.

From what I have been able to learn, Commissioner Jeff Loomis was left out of the loop when the decision was made to hold the special meeting. Mrs. Kelly did cover the bases however. The meeting was advertised in a Binghamton, New York paper that might, at best, be available on news stands in half of the county. I know the law allows the county the right to advertise in a newspaper of general circulation in the county but is it intended to include out-of-state papers?

Had this meeting been called because of an emergency of some sort, I could readily understand and accept it. But was the hiring of a recycling coordinator so urgent that it compelled Mrs. Kelly to call a special meeting on a holiday and not even mention it to her fellow Republican commissioner?

The commissioners had previously interviewed a number of candidates for the position vacant since Bill Zick’s retirement on December 31. Sources tell me the list was narrowed to two, Liz Janoski, current head of the Economic Development Department soon to be abolished, and the gentleman that was hired, Eric Hamby, a maintenance supervisor from Montrose.

Having disposed of part one of the hiring of Eric Hamby, Mrs. Kelly adjourned the session and moved to part two, setting Mr. Hamby’s salary. Treasurer Cathy Benedict, who is a member of the Salary Board along with the three commissioners, was present when Mrs. Kelly convened the Salary Board. Four minutes later the Salary Board meeting ended with Mr. Hamby’s salary set at $26,500.

So there can be no misunderstanding, let me clarify something here and now. This column is no way intended as an affront against Mr. Hamby. I have no doubt that he was the most qualified applicant for the position. His qualifications and background make him an ideal candidate for the position and he will probably do an excellent job. I should add here that Mr. Loomis told me he has no problem with the hiring of Mr. Hamby and also believes the man is well qualified for the job.

What is disturbing is the way the hiring of Mr. Hamby was handled or mishandled, depending on who is looking at it. For openers, it was done on a national holiday, Martin Luther King Day. Dr. King is recognized by most as one of the nation’s premier statesmen of the 20th century. I know Susquehanna County does not recognize the holiday because the county courthouse is open on that day while banks and post offices are closed. One wonders if the commissioners would have met had it been any other holiday.

Secondly, the special meeting was held two work days after the last regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners and seven work days from the next regular meeting.

And thirdly, since Mr. Zick’s retirement, the recycling program has been in the very capable hands of Jodi Anderson, who has been employed at the recycling center for a number of years. In fact, sources tell me that she was offered the position and declined. Most certainly, if Mr. Hamby was hired at the next regular meeting on Jan. 26, his starting date would only be delayed by one week which is not a problem as long as Ms. Anderson is on the job.

One final note. There was only one person in the audience at the special meeting – Mrs. Hamby. Coincidence?

Oh, yes, and a footnote if you please. I find it interesting to note that some county schools close on the first day of deer hunting but remain open on Martin Luther King Day. Think about it.

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From the Desk of the D.A.

Some time ago, I did an article addressing criminal charges arising from the murder of a mother and her unborn child. In that article, I addressed recent federal legislation making it unlawful to kill an unborn child (except for medical procedures), as well as Pennsylvania’s Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act. Recently, the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed the validity of the Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act in Commonwealth v. Bullock.

In Bullock, the defendant had strangled his girlfriend, bound her hands, feet and mouth with duct tape, and left her body in an apartment closet to decompose. At the time of her death, the victim had been 22 to 23 weeks pregnant. The coroner determined that the cause of death to the mother had been strangulation, and the cause of death to the fetus had been asphyxia caused by the mother’s death. In response, the defendant was charged with the murder of both the mother and the unborn child. A jury convicted the defendant of third degree murder of the mother and voluntary manslaughter as to the death of the fetus. As to the death of the mother, the defendant received 15 to 40 years imprisonment, followed by an additional 5 to 20 years for the death of the fetus. The defendant appealed the conviction as to the fetus, contending that the Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act was unconstitutional.

First, the defendant contended that the statute was unconstitutional as it failed to require that the fetus be viable, i.e.: if the fetus were not viable, then the defendant could not have “killed” the unborn child. In response, the Superior Court stated: “It is clear that the legislature intended to protect unborn children from the moment of fertilization. The viability of the fetus outside the mother’s body is irrelevant... Clearly, a death occurs when the embryo or fetus no longer has the capacity to thrive or grow.” Thus, defendant’s challenge with reference to the viability of the fetus was rejected.

Second, the defendant also argued that the statute was unconstitutional because it criminalized “the destruction of a non-living organism.” In considering this claim, the Superior Court explained: “To have life, as that term is commonly understood, means to have the property of all living things to grow, to become. It is not necessary to prove, nor does the statute require, that the living organism in the womb in its embryonic or fetal state be considered a person or a human being. People are free to differ or abstain on the profound philosophical and moral questions of whether an embryo is a human being... Criminal liability here requires only that the genetically human embryo be a living organism that is growing into a human being. Death occurs when the embryo is no longer living, when it ceases to have the properties of life.”

Third, the defendant argued that the statute was unconstitutional because it denied the defendant equal protection of the law as between males and females, i.e.: a female may lawfully terminate her own pregnancy but a male will be charged with homicide if he terminates the pregnancy. After reviewing the case law relating to a woman’s right to privacy and choice, the court rejected the equal protection argument stating that the defendant “cannot claim any right, fundamental or otherwise, to harm a pregnant woman’s unborn child.” Therefore, it was clear that a mother was in a different position with reference to her body and her personal right to make choices affecting her body, as contrasted with a third party seeking to involuntarily terminate a pregnancy. Therefore, the equal protection claim was rejected.

Bullock was a case of first impression. In other words, it was the first occasion that an appellate court in Pennsylvania had the opportunity to address the constitutional validity of the Crimes Against the Unborn Child Act. Thus, Bullock provides the first judicial approval of the Act itself, and provides prosecutors the ability to continue prosecuting any third party that caused the death of an unborn child.

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: Are there environmentally friendlier ways to de-ice pavement besides using salt?

Heidi David, Concord, NH

Although salt and various salt derivatives melt ice effectively and make both walkways and roads safer, they can be damaging to the environment. After salt is applied, it washes off paved surfaces into storm drains or onto adjacent ground, and can then be carried into nearby bodies of water. According to The New York Times, this salty runoff poisons fish and wilts vegetation. It also corrodes metals, damages concrete and poses health risks to people with high blood pressure.

Some studies have also shown that salt applied to road surfaces increases automobile collisions with wildlife, especially white-tailed deer that are attracted to natural and artificial salt deposits in their normal course of feeding.

Despite these facts, salt remains the cheapest and most effective way to keep pavement free of ice. According to materials consultant Henry Kirchner, individuals can effectively use salt with minimum impact: “Do not use a chemical deicer to melt every bit of ice,” says Kirchner. “Use only enough to break the ice/pavement bond, then remove the remaining slush by plowing or shoveling.” All snow should be cleared away first, and the ice should be chipped off and moved away from water supplies and vegetation.

For small jobs, it may be feasible to use more potent, less environmentally toxic de-icers like magnesium chloride or calcium magnesium acetate instead of rock salt. These stronger, though more expensive, compounds can be strategically applied before a storm to block ice from forming. Sand and cat litter can be used to provide temporary traction, but these materials may dog surface water and bury plants. Although many researchers are experimenting with even more benign de-icers, including by-products of corn and cheese processing, none of these compounds is currently available to consumers.

Perhaps the larger issue is how municipalities store and use large amounts of road salt. Many of the most severe cases of environmental contamination have been caused by improper storage. When salt is stored outside uncovered, rain and snow can carry large quantities to surrounding soil and water.

As to reducing salt use, many cities and towns simply don't de-ice in flat residential areas, except during ice storms. Some use a mix of sand and salt, instead of pure salt. Also, salt spreading equipment that is well maintained will distribute salt more accurately and, as a result, use less. Additionally, salt that is wetted before being spread sticks better to the road.

According to the trade magazine, Better Roads, a product called Verglimit, a mixture of de-icing salts and caustic soda, can be mixed with asphalt roadway during paving. Its installation doubles the cost of surfacing a road, but helps reduce the amount of salt needed for de-icing roadways and, according to the magazine, “in certain conditions can eliminate the need for salting entirely.”

CONTACTS: The Salt Institute, (703) 549-4648,; Better Roads, “Materials for Deicing and Anti-icing,”

Dear EarthTalk: I have developed asthma from the fiberglass insulation in our home. How can I find insulation that won't make me sick?

Cynthia Bacon, Orlando, FL

Fiberglass, a common home insulator that grew popular after the dangers of asbestos became more widely known, is itself now associated with a range of health issues. Microscopic slivers of fiberglass can break loose during handling and be inhaled, irritating the lining of the respiratory tract and becoming lodged in lung tissue. This can cause a fibrous buildup that reduces lung capacity, or cause DNA mutations that can lead to lung cancer. In fact, cancer warnings appear on all fiberglass insulation sold in the United States.

Although wearing a respirator or dust mask can prevent inhalation of fibers during installation, all three principal U.S. manufacturers of fiberglass insulation now seal their batts in a perforated polyethylene or polypropylene sheeting so as to prevent airborne exposure. Nevertheless, for those suffering from aggravated respiratory problems, replacing fiberglass insulation with a more environmentally friendly alternative may be the best option. Luckily there are many such options available.

A favorite of environmental advocates is cellulose, which is made from recycled, shredded newspaper. In his book, The Solar House, author Dan Chiras calls cellulose “one of the most environmentally friendly insulation choices.” It is also highly efficient, readily available and economically priced, he says, and thus competes well with fiberglass.

Chiras also recommends cotton insulation, calling it “a natural product and safe from a human health standpoint,” while acknowledging that it is twice the price of fiberglass and “one of the most chemically intensive crops grown in the United States.” It contains no formaldehyde binders, however, a health and environmental plus, and usually contains a fire retardant, an important safety consideration.

Radiant barriers are another option, says the Fiberglass Information Network. Ideal for hot climates, they are made from metal foil and either Kraft paper or bubble wrap. The Network also recommends insulation batts made from recycled #1 plastic, known as PET, the same material used to make some soda bottles and carpeting. Made by RTICA, based in Stony Creek, Ontario, the batts are installed just like fiberglass and make for an excellent fiberglass replacement choice.

But before ripping out that old fiberglass, it may be worth getting a professional to evaluate the integrity of your home‚s ductwork. With properly sealed ducts, any stray fiberglass slivers inside your walls should not be able to get out. In the case of duct contamination, your best bet is to replace the entire system. Duct cleaning is also an option, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not recommend it. If you do decide to opt for cleaning, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association offers a list of companies that can do the work.

CONTACTS: Fiberglass Information Network,; RTICA, (905) 643-8669,, National Air Duct Cleaners Association, (202) 737-2926,

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

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