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Issue Home March 22, 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

Enjoying The Night Life

Remember how in elementary school we sang, "Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play"? Well, the deer were doing the roaming tonight as I drove home from Vestal by way of the winding Forest Lake Road. The weather had warmed a bit and the deer were busily getting from one side of the road to the other as they grazed in the fields. You know the old saying that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Sometimes I thought they were actually inviting me to hit them. And a few times I was tempted, but my wiser instincts prevailed.

And the deer weren’t the only creatures of the night. As I pulled into town a huge skunk was moving lazily across the road. I slowed right down to give him all the room he wanted. So he stopped midway across the expanse of blacktop and looked me over, almost daring me to get those tires moving again. I didn’t until he finally ended the standoff by inching his way to the other side. I knew that in a fight with a skunk, there was no way I could win. I remember too well our dog, Queen, and the time she thought it would be fun to antagonize a skunk when we were visiting two hundred miles away from home. We actually thought the spray had miraculously missed her. That is until we got her in the car and headed down the highway. With every mile, the small got stronger. It was a very long ride home. We were all about half sick when we got here.

Many, many trips our family made back and forth across the northern tier of Pennsylvania with that big dog as a third passenger in the back seat. At least once a month we would make that trip. We should all have stars in our crowns for that feat.

Driving at night gives a whole different perspective on life. I’ve seen the times when the road would be alive with toads. On a rainy spring night, you can almost hear them squishing under your tires. Not a pleasant thought, but unfortunately true. Other times it’s been salamanders.

There is something about the dark of night that does make the roadway an obstacle course. My fear would be that I would hit an animal and wound it. Then I would really be in a dilemma, because I wouldn’t want to leave it hurt along the roadside, but definitely wouldn’t be brave enough to get out of the car and administer first aid. Or to kill it if it was too badly hurt.

What I do now is get my power of positive thinking revved up. When I start the engine, turn on the headlights and begin to move, I start telling myself that I’m going to have a safe, uneventful trip. So far those affirmations have worked. As I said, there are lots of wild things out there frolicking around, but they and I have not made contact – yet. I was beginning to think that tonight might be the exception, but here I am safely ensconced on my couch with my own "wild" animal, who is curled up in a ball and snoring away. She may be sleeping soundly now, but you can be sure it won’t take her long to join me once I hit the bed. Besides, she’s always hopeful that there might be a bedtime snack forthcoming, and she definitely wouldn’t want to be sleeping so soundly that she would miss that.

So with another uneventful drive behind me, Mrs. Morris and I will have our snack and head off up the stairs to bed, counting our blessings. Soon she will be snoring again as she curls in the hollow of my bent legs. Life doesn’t get much better than that.

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100 Years Ago

SPRINGVILLE: Elaborate preparation is being made by the high school graduates for the commencement exercises, which are to be held in the evening of April 5th. The graduates will also have a banquet, April 2d. The baccalaureate sermon will be preached by Rev. Williams, of Auburn, on the evening of April 5th. Graduates are: Mabelle E. Stark, Charles W. Lee, Addison W. Lyman, C. Audley Stark, Wade A. Brink, Glenn L. Voss, Myra H. Fish, Sadie F. Rogers, C. Leon Thomas, Vannie M. Wilson, Halford Culver, Ernest C. Deubler, Bessie U. Smith, William Turrell.

CLIFFORD: Our tin shop has turned out a lot of sugar-making utensils lately.

LAUREL LAKE: The ladies of this place met with Mrs. G. C. Hill this week, Thursday. Sewing carpet rags was the order of the day. AND: Clarence Hill, of this place, and Fred Gage, of Binghamton, are repairing the cottages at Quaker Lake that they may be ready for occupancy the coming summer.

WYALUSING, Bradford Co.: An ordinance passed by the Wyalusing council makes it cost a man one dollar for spitting on the sidewalk. Two dollars [for the] second offence.

SUSQUEHANNA: Jas. Paye’s elegant big barn and livery stable, on Church hill, was burned early yesterday morning, caused by an overheated stove. The loss was large. He carries $2000 insurance with Lathrop and Titsworth. It was necessary to remove the furniture from Mr. Paye’s residence. Had it not been for the snow on the roofs of the surrounding buildings, the conflagration might have been a very serious one.

MONTROSE: Harry W. Beach has purchased a fine new White touring car, made in Cleveland, which is of higher horsepower than his present machine. Percy Ballentine also intends buying two new cars this spring--one of which will be of 25 horsepower, while the other will be more ostensibly for short trips and will be less powerful. Attorney W.D. B. Ainey is also considering buying a swifter machine than his present one and with the advent of summer our residents will probably see “Cap” defying all speed regulations on the Grow Avenue boulevard. H. E. Cooley is among the prospective purchasers, too, and would dispose of his neat runabout and purchase a larger and speedier one if the opportunity offered. Mr. Cooley made over 2,000 miles in his auto last summer and the total expense for repairs was covered by a few dollars, which may well be considered a remarkable record as well as a remarkable machine. There are others who have the “craze” and it is quite likely several more new machines will be seen on our streets (or in ditches) the coming season.

BROOKLYN: The death of Dr. Chamberlain occurred early Tuesday morning. The doctor was an old resident of Brooklyn and was widely known and esteemed as a physician and citizen. AND: In Alford, Sherman Ralph, the Alford blacksmith, will soon move to this place and work for E.E. Lewis.

HARFORD: Ira Osmun, of this place, who has served as a member of the hospital corps, U.S.A., in the Philippines for three years, was honorably discharged at San Francisco, and is home once more. During his stay on the islands he saw some service, also was sick with typhoid fever. He has a genuine bolo, which he brought back, and a collection of other relics.

GLENWOOD: Sugar camps are in full operation. It makes good syrup to eat but Oh the trials of the sap-boilers. We can assure you it is no picnic to stand 18 hours out of the 24 to keep the sap boiling.

MIDDLETOWN: Edward Kelly, one of Middletown’s oldest citizens, died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. John Maloney, March 9.

HALLSTEAD: W. H. Austin has traded his fine residence on the West Side with H.J. Deakin for his farm in Franklin, which is one of the finest farms in the township. Mr. Austin will move his family to their new home on April 1st.

RUSH: This is a list of some of the families which are moving in or out of [the] neighborhood: Ray Daugherty is moving near LeRaysville, Ed Donlin goes from the poor farm to Meshoppen and a Mr. Brown, of Forest Lake, comes to the A. & R. [Auburn & Rush] poor asylum. Elia Jones to Rush, Mrs. W.A. LaRue to Rush and Mr. Shaner, of Elk Lake, on her farm. John Gardner to Shannon Hill, [the] Will Severcools move to Auburn and James Robinson to the Risley farm, near Springville. James Bishop to the Grow farm near Auburn 4 Corners and M.H. Crisman and family move to Meshoppen. Clarence A. White and wife run the store here and H.R. Bertholf and wife move from the store building to Hallstead where he will take another store.

FOREST CITY: W. F. Yarrington has resumed his duties as mail agent on the Erie Flyer, after nearly a year’s absence on account of injuries received in the wreck at Uniondale. AND: George Simons, for some months employed in McGrath’s barber shop and Thomas Francis, the versatile young gentleman who this winter has been “soapin’em up” for Richard Gray, are negotiating for the purchase of Truman Sprague’s barber shop in the Osgood building. Just at present the business has been put “hors de combat” by a landlord’s warrant, but Mr. Sprague expects to emerge from his difficulties this week and then the young men will take charge. Here’s luck to them.

ARARAT: George Burman called on his numerous friends here Thursday, soliciting the ages of the “three score years and ten.” AND: The Erie yard in this place has resumed operations and a force of men are again employed therein.

SOUTH GIBSON: John H. Pritchard, candidate for sheriff subject to the Republican nominating convention, was fixing his political fences in Forest City on Monday. Mr. Prichard has many friends who hope he may be successful in capturing the nomination he seeks.

VISIT OUR WEBSITE at for back issues of “100 Years Ago.”

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

Merging Is Not A Bad Idea

It has been about 20 years since Attorney Bob Fields came up with the thought of a merger of the boroughs of Forest City and Vandling and the villages of Browndale and Richmondale.

Mr. Fields may have been ahead of his time with his suggestion but it really wasn’t as bad as people imagined. In fact, it might have been a damn good idea had it not been for a handful of dissidents in each hamlet who refused to listen to merger talks that would cost them the identity of their individual communities in behalf of progress.

And so, here we are in another century and residents of these communities are still insisting on retaining municipal services they cannot afford. The two boroughs are struggling to stay afloat with very little income other than real estate taxes, wage taxes and an occasional stipend from upper-echelon politicians who believe it is politically astute to keep the status quo.

I seem to recall some mighty unhappy people in the area when regional school districts began replacing small town schools. But regionalization was the answer to the diminishing student population and the concept was accepted. And what have we got today? The student enrollment from kindergarten through high school at Forest City Regional is at 904. And while the enrollment is dropping, instruction costs and unfunded state mandates keep school expenses on the rise.

In the 2000 census, Susquehanna County showed up with a population of 42,238. In 1900 the population was 40,043. We have 40 municipalities in the county and 22 of them have populations of less than 1,000. Do we really need 40 municipalities? Or do we continue watching municipalities faced with financial woes and residents either hit with tax increases or facing cutbacks in services?

A few issues back we mentioned the terrible thought of our municipalities being faced with the possibility of having to hire manpower for fire and rescue services. Volunteers just are not stepping forward like they did 20 or 30 years ago. Think of the impact this could have on municipal tax rates and you must consider merging fire companies wherever it is feasible.

And what happens when the day comes that the Pennsylvania State Police are told to stop responding to municipal calls? It has already been mentioned a number of times in Harrisburg and the good-natured politicos kept it from happening. But it will be here one day and then what?

This is not painting a bleak picture of the future of Susquehanna County. Not by any stretch of the imagination. This county has some mighty fine people living in it. People who trace their family histories back a couple of centuries. And it is the people who contribute to the success of a municipality or a county not names or boundary lines.

We can save money by stopping the duplication of services or by merging services through consolidation. Sure it is a bitter pill to swallow. Most of the municipalities in Susquehanna County have proud histories. It will not be easy to eliminate the names of these municipalities. But it may not be necessary to abolish the names completely.

Let’s imagine for example that Little Meadows, Apolacon, Choconut, and Friendsville merged and became Apolacon Township. Little Meadows, Choconut and Friendsville could retain their names as villages and probably their post offices and zip codes, if they have them.

It would be nice if the politicians in Harrisburg would take the bull by the horns and appropriate funds to finance a feasibility study that would provide municipalities with the pros and cons of mergers. It is just inconceivable to imagine that small municipalities can keep supporting separate municipal services at the expense of the taxpayers.

Believe me my friends there are worse things than settling for the name of a neighboring municipality in Susquehanna County. You could live in places like Two Egg, FL; Bird-in-Hand, PA; Monkey’s Eyebrow, AZ; French Lick, IN; Boring, MD; Can Do, ND; or, Hell, MI.

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From the Desk of the D.A.

On November 25, 2002, the first day of bear season, a defendant killed a bear in the early morning hours in Wyoming County near the defendant’s hunting camp. As a result of a “tip,” the Game Commission discovered that the defendant had used bait to entice the bear into the shooting area. Upon receiving the information, a game officer went to the hunting camp to investigate. When the game officer arrived, there was no other person present at the camp. The game officer had to walk up an access road, which ran for approximately 600 feet as the camp itself was not visible from the public roadway. The entire camp property, however, was clearly marked with “no trespassing” signs. Approximately 90 feet from the hunting cabin, the game officer observed, in plain view, a pile of “apple mesh,” in which was imprinted a large bear paw print. The game officer also found leaves with blood droplets near the pile. The game officer located a second “apple mesh” pile approximately 150 feet from the cabin. Finally, the game officer located a pile of bear entrails, which demonstrated that the bear had eaten corn and mashed apples prior to being shot. As a result of the investigation, the defendant was arrested for the unlawful use of bait while hunting.

The defendant sought to suppress the evidence, contending that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy at his hunting camp as the entire camp was posted with no trespassing signs. In other words, the defendant contended that the “search” that located the bait pile was unlawful as the game officer was trespassing. The defendant argued that the officer should have obtained a search warrant prior to entering his private property.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court considered these facts in Commonwealth v. Russo, 864 A.2d 1279 (2005). The court noted that the Game Code provided game officers with the power to “go upon any land or water outside of buildings, posted or otherwise, in the performance of the officer’s duty.” 34 Pa. C.S. § 901(a)(2). In rejecting the suppression argument, the court concluded: “Here, the signs, while legally placed by [the defendant] in an attempt to keep unwelcome and unlawful trespassers off his property, do not negate a game officer’s right and authority to investigate a crime scene relating to game or wildlife. Thus, [the defendant’s] posting of the signs cannot form any basis of a reasonable expectation of privacy; it would be unreasonable for him to expect that game officers, who are privileged to enter the land, would not do so to assure compliance with the Game Law… [I]f [the defendant’s] position were the law of the Commonwealth criminals could very easily carry on illegal enterprises merely by placing “No Trespassing” signs around the perimeter of their property.”

Russo is an important decision for enforcement of the Game Code. Game officers must have the authority to enter and access real property for purposes of enforcing the provisions of the Game Code. If a game officer were not permitted upon posted real property, it would be impossible to enforce the Game Code. In short, the courts will not allow the Game Code to be thwarted by posted signs.

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

The schedule for Holy Week at Thompson United Methodist Church is as follows: Maundy Thursday, service begins at seven p.m. Good Friday services begin at noon with a prayer vigil to follow until 3 p.m.

Easter Sunrise Service will be held at the Church at Ararat with breakfast after. This is such a beautiful service, with the sun just rising and birds singing, ducks swimming on the pond; just a serene and thoughtful Easter morning.

Helen Parsons, Deposit, NY paid a visit to her mother, Doris Davidson, recently and brought her a nice lunch.

Gale Williams entertained her family at Sunday dinner. Coming were Greg and Kim Williams and baby, Taegan from Sayre, PA; Ginny and Danielle Williams, local; Kristen and Donald Potter and daughter, Rhiannon, local; and Amanda, Nathan and baby Carson, Gale’s great-grandson – the first one.

For the history buffs in Starrucca, Helen Dickey, whose funeral was Saturday, the 12th, used to play the piano for the silent movies that were shown in the Community Hall in the 30’s.

The deer have been quite sociable. Their tracks tell me they have been on  my front porch eating the greenery.

Most of my family was home a week ago, to attend their Aunt Helen’s funeral. Nelson and Phyllis, Little Falls, NY; Dan from Harpursville; Nancy and daughter, Kelly, Moscow, PA. Also visiting later in afternoon were Matthew Chesik and friend, Tony from Moscow. We played Quiddler.

Daylight saving time will soon be here and we lose an hour’s sleep. Oh, well! I guess we should be thankful we’re still on the planet.


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