Main News
County Living
Church Announcements
Dated Events
Military News
Subscribe to the Transcript

Look For Our
Up Coming
In The
March 30th
Issue Of The
County Transcript

Please visit our kind sponsors

Issue Home March 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

Got Me Again

This age of computerized technology is going to be my undoing! I have decided that there is a gene missing from my body, which I have to compensate for and find ways to work around, just as I find ways to work around the computer terminology that others seem to understand.

One of the problems is too many choices. Take the lights on my new car. It was so simple when we had high and low beams – period! Now I have all these "settings" which determine what they will do – not what I want them to do. Having not knowingly changed anything, I got in the car a couple Sundays ago and when I started the car all my interior lights came on. I tried in vain to turn them off. So I drove to Vestal in broad daylight with all those lights shining. When I shut off the car, the lights stayed on. Not knowing how long this could go on without running down my battery, I hailed the first man I found in the parking lot and asked for his help. He didn’t know the answer, but was braver than I at pushing and pulling things. He finally got them to go off, but I’ve never had interior lights since.

I’ve read that vehicle manual over and over, trying to get a sense of the big picture (or even small bits of the big picture), but it’s not working.

And neither was my computer working as I struggled to finish a magazine story. As long as I don’t change anything, I can go in there and whip out these weekly pieces, which get e-mailed. But when I actually have to print something out in a specific layout, I’m in trouble. Which reminds me, when I’m struggling through the process, why I am reluctant to sign on for these pieces.

I had toolbars I had never seen before decorating the top of my screen, and lost essential tools. Trying to work around these inconveniences and still accomplish what I’d set out to do, I finally lost Microsoft Word altogether. Now that is a catastrophe!

I got out my many computer books, which proved to be mumbo-jumbo. I called people whom I thought might work with iMacs. I talked to my sister who has as much trouble with her new iMac as I do. Finally, I shut the whole operation down and went to bed.

The next morning when I turned it back on, at least Microsoft Word was available again. Never have found my missing toolbar.

Then to add insult to injury, I was listening to the radio while I was getting dinner last evening, and heard about the death of the inventor of the iMac, whose goal had been to make this user-friendly computer! See what I mean about the missing gene?

It’s why I won’t buy a new sewing machine, why I never have mastered my kitchen stove, why I hesitate to replace the alarm clock that just gave up the ghost.

I have spent more hours that I’d care to count, reading more manuals than I’d ever planned to read. I could have read "War and Peace", "Atlas Shrugs" and the whole Bible, including all the begats, in the time I’ve spent with user manuals.

I’m tempted to join the Amish in their less technical lifestyle. But we all know that I’m much too lazy for that.

Back to Top


100 Years Ago

Dimock: M. H. VanCamp took a sleighload of neighbors to the home of John Wallace, where they spent a very pleasant evening. The chief attraction was a phonograph of which they have a fine one. AND: The M.E. ladies’ aid society met at the pleasant home of Mrs. F. H. Wanick, March 2nd for dinner. This home is noted for its large aids, never yet having been excelled, and this one went far ahead of any on record, there being 102 present.

UNIONDALE: The many friends of Miss Nina Raynor will be pleased to know that she carries off the highest honors in the graduating class of Vassar college, being valedictorian of her class.

BROOKLYN: Dave Catterson now drives the school sleigh, which brings the Watrous school children to town.

SOUTH GIBSON: The singing school, taught by Prof. John Sophia, of Harford, has a membership of 54.

LAUREL LAKE, Silver Lake Twp.: The people of this place are very much interested in the prospects of a telephone line extending from Hawleyton, N.Y. to Laurel Lake.

MONTROSE: J.B. Stephens has added an assortment of Columbia Graphophones and Records to his stock, also over 500 new Edison Records, and several Edison Phonographs. AND: F. P. Mills, of Gordon, Neb., has been here the past week and disposed of a carload of fine horses at the Tarbell House barn. Those who purchased animals are: John Blaisure, W.B. Davis, D.Yeoman, Clark Brant, S. W. Bunnell, H. J. Bush, Hanie Travis, G. Snover, A. L. Burke, Canfield Estus, W.A. Norton, Rev. L.T. VanCampen, Bert Very and W.T. Grow. They are a fine, sound lot of horses and brought good prices. Mr. Mills has sold horses here for a number of years and his word goes with horsemen. He is very well pleased with his sales here and expects to return next spring with another carload.

GLENWOOD: Don’t forget the Public sale at Wm. Pratt’s on March 22nd. Mr. Pratt leaves the farm on April 1st to reside in Hopbottom, where he goes after spending nearly his life- time in active service. He has worked hard, has dealt with his neighbors honestly, owes no man a dollar, and is entitled to a life of ease and plenty. We all wish him a long life, that he may enjoy the fruits of his labor.

PLEASANT VALLEY, Auburn Twp.: Mrs. B. B. Smith and family expect to move on her farm at Opposition, which she recently purchased. We regret to have her leave us.

FAIRDALE: Mrs. J.O. Bullard was taken very ill with pain in her side at about midnight on Saturday at the residence of Bert Risley. Dr. Wilson was called by telephone and was soon at her bedside and gave her medicine which partly relieved her of pain. Today (Monday) she is better. AND: There will be an entertainment at the Fairdale M.E. church, singing and recitations on March 17. B.A. Risley will be there with his new talking machine, the male quartet from Dimock and two young ladies with their musical instruments from a nearby town.

JACKSON: In a Jackson family, out of a membership of five, three die within a month. The sudden and unexpected death of Mrs. Mary French and her daughter, Mrs. Lena Houtalin, the former occurring March 2nd and the latter, March 6th, has caused a terrible shock, not only to the family, friends and neighbors, but to all the surrounding country by whom they were universally known and respected. Their deaths following so closely that of their son and brother, Albert French, whose death occurred Feb. 8, breaks all records for terrible fatality in a family and is unequaled in the township’s records of history.

SUSQUEHANNA: In matters firemanic, Susquehanna is going forward rapidly backward. On Saturday she had a splendid chemical fire engine. Today she has none. About three years ago Keystone Hook and Ladder company, a wide-awake organization, purchased the engine with its own funds. When it arrived in town the fire department paraded, red fire was burned, and there was rejoicing galore. This is about the only recognition the machine or the company ever received. Since that night of jubilation, successive Common councils have failed to provide a proper place to house the engine or the company, and the engine, like a tramp, has hibernated in barns. Patience finally ceased to be a virtue and the company sold the machine to Fountain, No. 4 Fire Company, of Binghamton, for less than half of its original cost. There was no red fire when it departed, but many a good citizen said things not to be found between the covers of the revised edition. Eventually Susquehanna will return to the bucket brigade. A chemical engine is too rich for her blood. (From Correspndent Whitney, of Susquehanna.)

FRANKLIN FORKS and BROOKDALE: Mr. and Mrs. Clare Summers, who were married on Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, spent the forepart of the week in town with Mr. and Mrs. F. L. Tuttle. Mr. Summers formerly lived at Franklin Forks, PA, but is now located in Cando, North Dakota, where he has taken out one of the United States Government claims. Mrs. Summer’s home previous to her marriage was at Brookdale, PA.

FACTORYVILLE, Wyoming Co.: Factoryville people had some exciting events in their midst in the past 24 hours. Yesterday morning a fierce fire swept away a number of buildings at the heart of the town and last evening burglars visited the place. They broke into the post office but did not secure much. They then entered the barn of Benton Coleman and stole a valuable horse and carriage. With this they went on to Dalton where they effected an entrance into the post office of that pretty little place. No clue has been had as to the identity of the burglars, but a telephone message received at the “Leader” office this morning describes the stolen horse as being a sorrel, with white stripe in face and white hind feet; weight about 900; bar shoes on front feet. The carriage is nearly new, with side springs. As the men are supposed to be coming this way [toward Susquehanna Co.] the above description of horse and rig may help in effecting their capture.

VISIT OUR WEBSITE at for previous issues of “100 Years Ago.” Take advantage of the indexing feature.

Back to Top



Along the Way...With P. Jay

Commissioner Optimistic About The County

The Kelly Administration appears to be settling-in at the Susquehanna County Courthouse after a rather shaky start that pitted the two Republican commissioners against each other through much of 2004.

In her second year at the helm, Roberta Kelly, chair of the Board of Commissioners, appears to have prevailed thanks in part to having had the cooperation of Mary Ann Warren, Democratic minority commissioner. Commissioner Jeff Loomis has apparently accepted Mrs. Kelly’s leadership and the three commissioners now appear to be functioning harmoniously. For the time being anyhow.

“We have got to get together a bit more and come together as a team,” Mrs. Kelly said. “I believe we are and it is working.”

The commissioners were all smiles earlier this week at the ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the installation of an elevator in the courthouse. Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth W. Seamans was one of the first passengers in the new elevator that extends from the basement to the top floor and empties out near his courtroom.

“The elevator was a long overdue project,” Mrs. Kelly said. She added that she feels good about what her administration has accomplished to date and the fact that the present commissioners are there almost on a full-time basis.

“We are here and we are trying to handle the issues,” she told me. “There were a lot of challenges waiting for us when we came into office.”

Mrs. Kelly is also encouraged about the future of Susquehanna County.

“I see big things coming,” she said. “I cannot wait to be able to talk more about it, but I cannot say much at this time. Susquehanna County has nowhere to go but up.”

Mrs. Kelly touched briefly on PENNDOT’s proposal to improve access routes into Montrose which is the county seat. She said improvements to Route 706 should begin in 2007 and will include a third lane from Tiffany Corners into Montrose. She tagged that as the initial phase of PENNDOT’s plans and said the next step will be improving Summit Hill which begins at Route 11 in New Milford and climbs the mountain heading west toward Montrose.

I approached Mrs. Kelly about a question that has been asked of me quite a bit in recent weeks.

“Why do we still have an Economic Development Board when we no longer have an Economic Development Department?”

She said the board will serve as a liaison between the county and the Central Bradford Progress Authority, a Bradford County firm that was hired when the commissioners abolished the Department of Economic Development. The authority will be paid $20,000 by the county to help secure industrial and commercial growth along the Interstate 81 corridor and other parts of the county. Besides serving as a liaison, Mrs. Kelly said the board will serve the commissioners in an advisory capacity.

“I have good feelings about this group,” Mrs. Kelly said about the Central Bradford Progress Authority.

Mrs. Kelly said another sore spot with some taxpayers – the leaky roof on the county’s Public Avenue building – will also be addressed this year. She said the last time the roof was repaired it was a “hodgepodge job that was poorly done.”

“This time,” Mrs. Kelly said, “it will be an absolutely professional job.”

Is the song and dance over and are things really on an upbeat for Susquehanna County? I am not from Missouri, but I am afraid I will believe it when I see it. However, I admire Mrs. Kelly for her positive attitude and I think what she is saying goes beyond the customary political rhetoric.

I especially appreciated her closing comment: “We (the commissioners) cannot be asleep at the wheel. We have to be here (in the courthouse) and we are. It is called a part-time job but we put in 35 to 40 hours a week.”

Back to Top



From the Desk of the D.A.

Where have you gone sweet, sweet federalism? For those of you wondering why I lament, the United States Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, recently determined that capital punishment is unconstitutional as applied to juveniles between the ages of 16 and 17, as it constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.” What does that decision have to do with federalism?

We live in a federal system of government. A federal system consists of a group of sovereign states banding together to form a central government with limited powers. In the formation of the social contract (the Constitution), the states ceded certain power to the central (or federal) government. In a federal system, however, the states retain their own powers unless those powers have been given to the federal government. In terms of traditionally retained powers, sovereign states have the power and authority to enforce their own criminal laws and punish offenders who commit crimes within the state’s jurisdiction – subject to constitutional restraints and review by the federal judiciary.

How did five members of the United States Supreme Court come to the conclusion that sovereign states may no longer execute 16 and 17 year old convicted murderers? First, it is apparent that there was no reliance whatsoever upon historical practices, as throughout the history of this country there has never been such a prohibition. Furthermore, in 1989 the Supreme Court itself found that the use of capital punishment to those over the age of 15 was constitutional. What caused these five justices to turn their backs upon hundreds of years of history and the court’s own precedent?

In part, the five-justice majority cited the “international consensus” that had developed against the use of capital punishment against juveniles. Consensus is a fancy word for conceding that there is no clear majority view on the topic. Furthermore, it should not matter what Belgium, France or Germany do with reverence to capital punishment as those countries are not part of our federal government. Our constitution gives the states the power and authority to police their territory. There is nothing to suggest that the states must now be constrained by the laws of other nations! Quite simply, the law of Estonia, for instance, has absolutely  no relevance to whether the federal constitution prohibits states from enacting certain forms of punishment. We should all be thankful that the founding fathers did not follow the “international consensus” when creating this government for, if they  had, we would never have known the form of representative democracy that has thrived for over two centuries. For five justices of the United States Supreme Court to allow an “international consensus” to influence the manner in which the Constitution is interpreted is abhorrent to the very principals of federalism that this nation has been built.

The four dissenting justices (O’Connor, Scalia, Thomas and Rehnquist) strenuously objected, and noted that the majority was simply substituting their moral opinion for the duly enacted laws of the sovereign states. Democracy works for the very reason that the people are trusted in making important decisions. To allow five persons to unilaterally overturn the statues created by representative democratic sovereign governments simply because it offends their moral sensibilities serves only to shatter and destroy the very federal framework carefully crafted by the founding fathers.

The five-justice majority clearly stated their moral opinion; 16 and 17 year olds are immature, vulnerable and lack a fully developed character, and, as such, are “categorically less culpable than the average criminal defendant.” Where did this sweeping characteristic come from – are 17 year olds that much different than 18 year olds? Why allow the potential execution of one and not the other based upon an age difference of months, days, or even hours? The so-called “bright-line” rule established by the court itself creates substantial dangers of unequal treatment and punishment without any rational justification.

In the states that allow capital punishment for juveniles, the ultimate decision always rested with the twelve-member jury. Age or youth was a factor to be considered, as would have been the sophistication of the particular defendant. Why not trust the jury to determine the maturity of the particular defendant, and whether execution was a proper punishment. In the end, the crux of the matter was that the five-justice majority simply did not trust juries of common Americans to make such important decisions. In the course of the decision, the majority noted that jurors could not be trusted to weigh such important issues in determining whether a particular juvenile should receive the death penalty. Implicit in the reasoning itself is that the five-member majority clearly has the wisdom to know that all juveniles should be spared from capital punishment.

Oh, federalism, how I weep for you today. I have no strong personal opinions regarding juveniles and capital punishment. I am passionate about the enduring federal government created by the founding fathers, with its concepts of limited government and the sovereignty of the state governments. When a federal court ignores the history of this country, its own precedent, and relies upon “international consensus” to support the imposition of moral theory to supplant the duly enacted statues of the people of the sovereign states, the very foundation of federalism quakes. There are those that agree with the holding of this decision, and, I suppose, care not how the court reached its conclusion. The holding, however, is less important than the manner in which it was obtained. When justices abandon the law and substitute their personal mores and “international consensus” in place of the statues of sovereign states, federalists everywhere should cry foul! For what it is worth, so I cry.

Back to Top


Straight From Starrucca

I became interested in the King Cake when a friend of mine always receives one from a friend in Louisiana, so here’s a synopsis that came with the cake this year.

In European countries, twelfth night, to celebrate when the Wise Men brought gifts to the Christ Child – Little Christmas or Epiphany was the time of exchanging gifts and festivities. One of the most popular customs is still the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings – the King Cake.

The Europeans hide a bean inside their cake and the person who receives it must portray one of the kings. In America, they put a small figure inside the cake, representing the Christ child. It is said that a whole year of good fortune awaits the person who gets the figure – usually a plastic doll.

Coastal counties along the Gulf Coast like the idea of perpetuating the celebration by having the person who receives the doll continue the festivities with another cake and a party. Starting the twelfth day after Christmas, King parties continue until the first day of Lent, ending on Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras Day.

King Cake was originally a little ring of dough with little decoration. Today they are decorated with three colored sugars – green representing faith, purple representing justice and gold, the voice of power.

A cultural gumbo of European tradition, pagan celebration and religious doctrine spiced with more than a dash of local flavor, Mardi Gras has evolved as an American phenomenon unique to the Gulf Coast region.

Laura Brownell’s lower extremities complained loudly for the extent of the miles walking she did when she went to New York City to visit her son, Joe and participated with the crowd that was intent on seeing the artwork in Central Park by “Christos” and “Jean Claude,” called “The Gates.” This was not ordinary art that one would see in a museum, but seventy-five hundred orange flags suspended from sixteen-foot poles. It was exciting to see them all a-flutter along the park’s twenty-three miles of pathways. What they represented remains locked in the artists’ brains – gates of what?

Mary Pat Upright, Gang Mills, NY, spent four days with her mother, Doris Davidson, who had been released from Barnes-Kasson Hospital just a few days before. Also visiting were Mary Pat’s daughter, Erika and her two sons, Luke and Nicholas from Corning, NY and Brent Upright, who came later in the week.

Thank goodness my two men, Dan from Harpursville, NY and Nelson, from Little Falls, NY were here over the weekend; of course I had countless jobs lined up for them. How on earth I create so much wastepaper, I’ll never know. One thing is a lot of junk mail.

Just eyed the snow on my picnic table, and looks like ten inches.


Back to Top


News  |  Living  |  Sports  |  Schools  |  Churches  |  Ads  |  Events
Military  |  Columns  |  Ed/Op  |  Obits  | Archive  |  Subscribe