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Issue Home February 8, 2005 Site Home

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

From the Desk of the D.A.

Straight From Starrucca

Slices of Life

Only In A Small Town

It occurs to me that I’ve written on this theme and used this title before, so we’ll make this "Only In A Small Town" -version 2. I wanted to share with you an experience I had the week of the cold snap that also gave us all the snow.

I had decided to go to Vestal early on a weekday afternoon to do some errands, some fun shopping and to have supper with friends before my choir practice at 7:30. About three o’clock I packed my stuff in the car and prepared to head out. Only one problem. My car did absolutely nothing when I turned the key. Not even a grunt. Knowing I could eliminate the shopping and dinner, but that I had to get to rehearsal, I called the dealership where I’d recently bought my "new" Blazer and told them my predicament.

"Can you send someone right up?" I asked. Of course they could and soon there was a man in my driveway with what looked like a big battery charger.

Unfortunately it was not the battery and before long there were two men in my driveway, "fiddling around" with my car. It wasn’t long before I saw them leave.

The next thing I heard, even before I saw it, was a huge rollback coming into my driveway. This time I went out to investigate and was told that most likely the starter was the problem.

"It’s probably frozen up, but your running boards are too close to the ground and I’m too fat to get under there and thaw it out," I was told. They would have to take it to the garage where they could work on it. I reiterated my concern that I needed a loaner to get to Vestal if this wasn’t going to be done right away.

"Grab your stuff and come along with me in the cab," I was instructed. I quickly gathered my wits, my choir bag and my purse and headed for the door. When I saw the height of that cab, I was a bit challenged, but was relieved when the door opened and I saw handholds and steps halfway up. I could handle that!

A few minutes later we’re at the garage and I hear, "Tommy, give Shirley the keys to your truck. She needs to get to Vestal."

With a smile this young man hands me the keys to his truck; so new that the sticker is still on the window and the speedometer is reading nine hundred miles! He’s turning over what is probably his most prized possession to a grandmother who hasn’t driven a truck in years and is headed for the icy-patched Forest Lake Road! And then the Vestal Parkway.

I was reminded early on that smaller trucks with no appreciable weight in the back are not really good on ice. Luckily I figured that out when another vehicle wasn’t coming towards me. I could see the 4-wheel drive button, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to get that activated and de-activated, so I went slowly and steadily north. I actually got there in time for dinner at Fridays with my friends. The trip there and back was relatively uneventful, and I was happy to return the truck the next afternoon when my car was repaired – under warranty.

Now, how could anyone ask for better service than that? Only in a small town do we get accommodated so thoroughly.

Thanks, folks!

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100 Years Ago

DIMOCK: Chauncey Loveless has taken Horace Greeley’s advice and gone west. AND: O. W. Chase has bought the one-half interest in the stone quarry of Conrad Grim, and now Mr. Chase owns the whole quarry where work is being rapidly done.

UPSONVILLE, Franklin Twp.: Mrs. Christian, grandmother of Mrs. M. A. Lindsey, is not better at this writing. She has been obligated to sit on a rocking chair night and day, not being privileged to lie down in bed since last May, on account of her severe illness.

LAWSVILLE: The cold weather of last week stopped the water supply of a number of farmers in this locality. Many have to drive their cattle some distance to the creeks or carry water from wells.

CLIFFORD: E. G. Green is having some logs cut and hauled to a mill to be put up near the red school house. J. J. Lee is doing the job.

LINDAVILLE, Brooklyn Twp.: Last week occurred one of those sad shocks, which occasionally comes to stir a community, when friends would do everything but are powerless to do anything to help and to save. There was sadness at the announcement that Mrs. Murray Lord has passed away at about noon, Feb. 1, 1905, at her home in Lathrop, being ill several months, the result of consumption, and died in her husband’s arms. Mrs. Lord was, before marriage, Miss Nina Williams, daughter of Joseph Williams, of Harford, having been married nearly 4 years, and at the early age of 25 she has been called home, leaving besides her husband, one son, Roy. The remains were taken to her father’s home, Friday; funeral the following Saturday, at one o’clock p.m. with interment at Harford. Death has been a frequent visitor to this home. Since Oct. 1, 1900, the Angel of Death has removed five of the loved ones.

AUBURN TWP.: B. J. Dougherty has sold the Riverside Hotel at Meshoppen to Edward Donlin of Auburn, who will take possession in the near future. Mr. Donlin has been overseer at the Auburn-Rush poor house for several years.

JESSUP TWP.: Weber M. Hall, who was hurt in the woods by a falling limb a week ago, died on Sunday night. The accident and his death caused a wave of sorrow to pass over this community.

MIDDLETOWN: Married, in Montrose, on Feb. 2, John Shadduck and Miss Blanche Wood, of this place. AND: Invitations are out announcing the marriage of David J. Jones, of this place, and Miss Lena Baldwin, of Neath.

JACKSON: Ansel Page has taken the Montrose Democrat since he was 20 years of age; Mr. Page is now 82. As Mr. Page was so young a man at the time, it is not surprising that he remembers the name of a story running through the first year’s edition, “Kate in Search of a Husband” and has forgotten who was the Editor then. Mr. Page would be glad if some one would supply this--also the names of subsequent Editors in their order. He also remembers when the mail was carried through Jackson by a Mr. Snow who carried the mail in saddle bags on his horse. Later he used a sleigh, the first Mr. Page ever saw. The cutter was drawn by a single horse attached to a tongue by means of a neck-yolk fastened to the side of the tongue; which was held up by a strap fastened around the horse’s neck.

APOLACON: John Clark, Jennie Murphy and Loretta McCabe called on friends one evening and met with a serious accident while returning home. They lost their way in a field and ran into a big snow bank, the sleigh being upset. They had to stay all night at Mr. Butler’s.

RUSHBORO: We all are very glad to see the sunshine and people on the road again, for last week the mail carrier missed us from Wednesday morning until Friday night, and we felt very much out of the world. It’s well the snow drifts didn’t reach the telephone wires.

HOPBOTTOM: A Valentine Silhouette and Box Social will be held at the home of E. M. Tiffany, on Tuesday evening, Feb. 14. A prize of a fine painting by Mrs. E. M. Tiffany will be given to the one who guesses the largest number of silhouettes. There will be Valentines for sale and a post-office in which to mail them, also a Zon-o-phone entertainment will be given.

SPRINGVILLE: Morris Sleight proposes to move to the state of Wyoming about the middle of this month. His family will accompany him. Before leaving, the Rebekah lodge, of which himself and wife are active, will give a party and enjoy a social time together.

MONTROSE: (Continued from Jan. 27th article on the coming of the first settlers to Montrose) After leaving Mr. Tiffany’s the party then went to Mr. Tracey’s near Hopbottom, then went to Mr. Chapman’s, north of Brooklyn, which is 6 miles from Stephen Wilson’s (now the poor farm). The party reached Wilson’s at 4 p.m., March 18, 1800. The party finally went to Dave Reynolds’s cabin, and Hinds and Foster went down the Wyalusing for provisions. They took a sleigh, but the snow went off, raised the creek, and compelled them to abandon the sleigh, and get oxen to bring their goods back. They bought meal, flour, a barrel of pork and a barrel of whiskey (that rolled off, went down a hill and broke--they saved only what they could drink). They made sugar that winter and drank hemlock tea. Hinds wanted hardwood land and decided to locate where Montrose now is. The land was bought from the Penn estate--the purchase was for the Post boys. The Milford and Owego and Binghamton and Wilkes-Barre turnpikes were built and crossed here. The place known previously as the Hinds’ settlement now became Post’s Four Corners. Putnam Catlin said he would come to Susquehanna County and establish a county seat. He located near Brooklyn, but the Posts were located on the corners of two turnpikes, had a hotel, and gave ten acres for county buildings. Dr. Rose was influential and helped the Posts. He gave for county funds 100 acres near the village. Hinds asked Dr. Rose to name the town, which became the first Montrose in the U.S. Dr. Rose came from near Montrose, Scotland. Rose then asked Hinds to name the lake near his home. They went out in a boat, and Hinds threw in a silver dollar and christened it Silver Lake.

NEWS BRIEFS: In a sermon on “Child Labor” at Saint Peter’s Cathedral, on Sunday, the Right Ref. Michael John Hoban, D.D., Bishop of Scranton, came out unequivocally for permitting working boys to play athletic games on Sunday. After picturing the hardships many of the boys of that community are put to in the mines and mills, day and night, six days a week, the Bishop criticized those who protest against them enjoying Sunday in harmless recreation, and added--“I say let them play baseball, or football, or any other kind of ball to their heart’s content. The good Lord will be pleased to see them do it, I aver, providing they are good boys.”

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

Jeff kept quiet for years

When Jeff Loomis was running for county commissioner in 2003, he said he was a changed man when compared with the Jeff Loomis who served a term as commissioner from 1996 through 1999. He said he does not lose his temper as quickly as he did, he has become a team player, and he wants to work with the other commissioners for a better Susquehanna County.

As he enters the second year of his four-year return engagement on the Board of Commissioners, Mr. Loomis has only been able to sustain one of his three goals – controlling his temper. And even that has been marginal at times. However, in all fairness to Mr. Loomis, he is not ready to charge from his seat and challenge taxpayers in the audience as he did during his first term in office.

Unfortunately, Mr. Loomis seems to lack the finesse that is the number one staple for the successful politician. Along with finesse, other necessary staples include knowledge, patience and personality. Sadly, Mr. Loomis scores on only one of these four vital ingredients, knowledge. He is a highly successful scholar, having earned a couple of degrees. But his behavior is like that of an introvert and his personality is, at best, questionable. He would do well to take a few lessons from his wife. Mrs. Loomis is charming.

In a recent letter to the editor of The Transcript, Mr. Loomis said he knew in his first hitch as a county commissioner that the Planning Commission had its own checking account and was paying the tab for pre-work session dinners. But, alas, Mr. Loomis said the other members that he served with on the Board of Commissioners did not want to do anything about it and affirmative votes from two commissioners are required to take action. And so, Mr. Loomis did nothing. For that matter, a number of former county commissioners were aware of the Planning Commission's actions and did nothing.

I covered most of the meetings of the Board of Commissioners during Mr. Loomis’ first term in office. I cannot recall him ever bringing the Planning Commission issue before the board at a public meeting.

Whatever his reason, Mr. Loomis did not bring it up publicly during his first term of office and not after he lost his reelection bid and left office. He had years, from 1997 through 2003 to attend a Board of Commissioners meeting and say something but let this flagrant violation continue and said nothing. And, he did not have the courage to bring it up when he returned to office in 2004. I label that as being politically astute at the expense of the taxpayers.

Minority Commissioner Mary Ann Warren spotted the freebie dinners the Planning Commission members were enjoying and took the issue to Roberta Kelly, chair of the Board of Commissioners. They consulted with the county solicitor, found out what was going on was not kosher and decided to put a stop to it. The opinion here is that Mr. Loomis knew the motion would pass 2-1 if he voted no, so he acquiesced and made the vote unanimous.

As for what Mr. Loomis said that I “neglected to mention,” I feel comfortable in saying that my readers are not dummies. They know that with three commissioners on the board, two of them must vote yes for a motion to pass.

More on that arbitration award

The county’s appeal of an arbitrator’s award in favor of Eric Knifer, who lost his county job rather prematurely when authorities alleged they found questionable Internet material on his computer, is scheduled to be heard by Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans sometime in March.

I was criticized for what one friend told me was “misinformation” that I wrote on this issue in a previous column. He said I wrote that the arbitrator ruled in favor of Mr. Knifer, ordered him reinstated to a county job – either the one he had or one similar to it, and awarded him back pay for the time he was out of work. He said he asked the county commissioners if this was true and he was told no.

Here is the award as outlined by the county in its petition of appeal: “On November 22, 2004, Arbitrator (John Paul) Simpkins issued an opinion and award in which he: (1) sustained the subject grievance; (2) directed the county to reinstate the grievant, Erik Knifer (hereinafter “Knifer”) to his former position or a comparable position with no loss of seniority or benefits and with full back pay; and (3) directed that the county may not take credit for any earnings of Knifer during the period of his separation.”

‘Nuf sed!

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From the Desk of the D.A.

The corpus delicti rule states that a defendant’s confession to a crime cannot be used against the defendant unless there is some other evidence to prove that a crime occurred. Literally, corpus delicti means “body of the crime.” Historically, the rule has evolved to prevent someone from being convicted based solely upon his or her confession to the crime.

In Commonwealth v. Dupre, the Pennsylvania Superior Court recently considered that corpus delicti rule in the context of a murder conviction for the death of an infant child. In that case, an infant corpse was found in a trash compactor at a waste station. The defendant was the mother of the child. Although she initially denied any involvement, the defendant eventually confessed that she had given birth to the child in a bathtub, that the baby was born alive, and that she allowed it to drown. The defendant and her boyfriend took the infant corpse to a dumpster with the other household trash. A medical examiner conducted an autopsy of the infant, and determined that the infant had died as a result of asphyxia, caused by (1) drowning, or (2) a tightly wadded tissue in the back of the infant’s throat. Based upon this evidence, a jury convicted the defendant of first-degree murder (as well as numerous other charges), and she was sentenced to a period of life imprisonment.

On appeal, the defendant contended that the conviction for the murder of the infant was defective as it violated the corpus delicti rule. Defendant contended that it was her confession alone that had resulted in her conviction because the Commonwealth failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the baby was born alive. The Pennsylvania Superior Court rejected this argument, noting that the medical examiner specifically testified that the infant had taken several breaths before death. When this testimony was considered with the other evidence, such as concealing the pregnancy, the wadded tissue that had been forcefully pushed into the infant’s throat, discarding the body, and failing to contact medical authorities for aid, the Commonwealth presented sufficient evidence that the infant had not died of natural causes. Therefore, the corpus delicti rule had been satisfied, and the jury properly considered the defendant’s confession to drowning the infant.

Dupre provides a good example of the corpus delicti rule, but it also provides another horrible incident of the death of an unwanted infant. As I noted in an article last year, Pennsylvania has enacted a law known as the Newborn Protection Act. Any person may take a newborn child, defined as being 28 days old or younger, to any hospital and leave the child with no questions asked. The hospital then takes custody of the infant and contacts the local Children and Youth Services Office, where the appropriate steps are taken to care for the infant, including contacting the other parent (if known). The law has been called the “Safe Haven” for infants. The purpose is to avoid circumstances such as Dupre. Hopefully, parents, in situations similar to those involved in Dupre, will learn of the “Safe Haven” so that they can give the infant the chance to live, not be killed and discarded with the trash. Public awareness of the “Safe Haven” is essential to its success, and, in reviewing Dupre, I would be remiss if I did not remind everyone that a “Safe Haven” does exist for these unwanted infants. Let us all hope that “Safe Haven” truly helps to prevent cases like Dupre in the future.

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

Neighbors standing in their driveway saw flames coming from Donny Haynes’ house (formerly home of Wayne and Iona Bunting) and they immediately called 911. At quarter of eight a.m., radios at Thompson Fire Co. then blared forth that there was a fire in Starrucca. They found the house fully enflamed and put in calls to Susquehanna who responded full force, to Hancock, NY asking for pumper-tanker and the same from Clifford Fire Co. Lakewood was called but couldn’t find a driver. Pleasant Mount assumed the role of standby for Thompson.

The firemen fought the fire doggedly but found a stubborn blaze in the partition made when an addition was added to the house. Water had to be tanked in from the bridge in the village. Some of the front of the house is still standing but the inside is gutted, probably being declared a total loss despite the valiant efforts of the firemen. At 3 p.m. they abandoned the scene of the fire.

Town council was to meet February 7, with some hard decisions to make concerning the bridge on Erk Road.

My son, Nelson was down last weekend and did some necessary chores for me, as I haven’t been able to get out in this cold, snowy weather.

Laura Brownell left Friday for Long Island to attend a baby shower and visit friends. She was accompanied by a friend.

An item in the “50 Years Ago” in the Weekly Almanac caught my eye. The Wesleyan Sunday School Class of the Bethany UM Church had a skating party. There were good skaters and some not so good. When getting ready to go home, Johnny Beers, the Watkins man said, “Tomorrow I’m going to have a special on liniment.” Whether this was said in jest or for real, I don’t know but Johnny and I are old friends and he probably wanted to make some sales.

I hadn’t talked to the sisters at the convent since I’ve been home, so I gave them a call and this is what Sister Therese told me. Three weeks ago, three new sisters joined the convent. They came from Florida, Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia. There was to be a fourth who wanted to join her sibling, Sister Scholastica. She was taken ill and died suddenly from a rare heart disease, which the doctors never discovered until after her death. Because it was her dearest wish to join her sister here, her parents brought her to Starrucca and had her buried in St. John’s Cemetery, so now she’s where she wanted to be but in a different dimension.

Their ice skating rink has been flooded by the Thompson Fire Co., after their exhausting day at the Haynes’ fire.

Plans are going forward to renovate the old cow barn on their property for retreat rooms for priests. Sister Therese will be seeking the approval of the bishop.


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