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Issue Home March 29, 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
Earth Talk

Slices of Life

The Clean Plate Club

There has been much ado about super-sizing in the food industry, and even a movie to that effect. Its implications are not lost on me, as I sit here eating roast pork with mashed potatoes and gravy for the third day in a row. I ordered it at a local restaurant the first evening. Knowing there was no way I could finish the whole meal, that also included a full-sized salad, I asked for a take-out container. You see, waste was not allowed when I was growing up. With seven mouths to feed regularly, and many times extras at the table, we were all members of the Clean Plate Club. And once you have learned that lesson at your mother’s knee, you do not cast it off easily.

So I brought home the excess of this delicious meal and refrigerated it. The next evening I thankfully pulled it from the refrigerator and warmed it in the microwave. Adding only a vegetable, I had a whole meal.

Today, rallying myself from a morning of working on choir plans, I suddenly realized my oatmeal and hot-cross bun breakfast had worn off and I was hungry again. So back to the refrigerator I went and unearthed the rest of the pork and gravy. (Notice that most of the potatoes are now gone.) With some of last night’s beets still left, I "nuked" my lunch, and with no fuss, I was fed again.

Now this only works for those of us who really don’t care much about what we eat, only that we do eat regularly. After six years of cooking, basically, for one person, I’m not too creative anymore.

Casseroles are easy, but they have two drawbacks. Most are heavy on fats and calories. Fancy desserts can only be made when company is coming and I can send the remains home with them. Any dessert left in my larder is consumed immediately. Will power, in relation to food in my presence, is not a concept that has meaning to me. As witnessed by how fast six hot cross buns disappeared from my kitchen. The one I had for breakfast, actually before breakfast, was the last one.

With healthy heart guidelines stating that a serving of meat is the size of the palm of your hand, I’m not going to be making too many roasts. And hamburgers are taboo. But I did buy a George Foreman grill and once in a while I buy a lean ground round patty and indulge with George’s help. Good, but not the flavor of real fat-laden hamburger.

The potatoes that I love should only be boiled or baked. Not much sense in boiling one potato, and to heat the oven for an hour for one potato is ludicrous. I used to eat fried leftover potatoes, but those are definitely once-a-year delicacies now.

I’ve always been fond of chicken, but I’ve eaten it with such regularity that it has lost its appeal. Besides, a lean skinless chicken breast seems to have no relation to those plump hens my Dad decapitated and Mom stewed, fried, and used their gravy for floating biscuits.

I guess it’s time to crack the covers on that whole bookshelf of creative, low fat cooking cookbooks and lose the restaurant habit. But while I’m complaining, did you ever try to make a low-fat biscuit?

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100 Years Ago

SPRINGVILLE: Did you ever stop to appreciate the fact that Springville is one of the nicest little towns in northeastern Pennsylvania? Nowhere can be found more attractive or busier stores--their proprietors are courteous and pleasing. And where can a cleaner, better hotel be found than the Springville Hotel, under the proprietorship of Jos. H. Kelly? We have a stone quarry industry doing its thousands of dollars of business yearly, conducted by Lott Bros. The milling interest is ably taken care of by Mr. Thomas. P.W. Terry makes the best harness in existence and story would be incomplete if we did not allude to the tonsorial artist, C.H. Young, whose work and courteous ways elicit the highest praise.

FOREST CITY: Dr. William J. Hansee, a nomadic physician, and for years a picturesque figure in northeastern Pennsylvania, died at the McLaughlin hotel Tuesday, March 21, aged about 70 years. Death was due to acute gastritis. The doctor had been in town about a week and up to Saturday was going about among his old friends in apparently the best of health. He was a large man, over 6’, with flowing beard and fine physique, and had been away from this section for about 4 years. He was, as far as known, not a graduate of any medical school, having as he said on the witness stand at Montrose on the Waltz-Lemon case “learned his profession in the school of Hard Knocks, and received a diploma from the college of Experience.” For 50 years he has doctored in northeastern Penna., for the most part, and 30 years ago he was located near Equinunk, Wayne Co., and had a thriving practice. The body was taken to Bell’s morgue and from there it was laid to rest in Hillside cemetery. There were no services and no mourners to follow the remains to the grave. Deceased is said to have 4 daughters and one son, but their whereabouts is unknown.

PARKVALE, Dimock Twp.: Homer Smith has accepted the agency for the Bates-Hawley patent signal mail box for the R.F.D. route that comes from Montrose south to this place. He will call on the patrons soon, and it would be advisable for everyone to see his samples before purchasing, as this is certainly the best box in every way that there is on the market.

GREAT BEND: The high water between Hallstead and this place is causing much inconvenience.

ARARAT: Following is a list of the people of Ararat who have passed the age of 70 years. When the size of the place is considered, the longevity of the residents of this mountain town is really remarkable: Wm. W. Cobb, 70; James P. Wademan, 72; Jones W. Walker, 72; Leonard O. Baldwin, 73; William Harris, 75; Mrs. Samantha Slocum, 76; Mrs. Minerva Carpenter, 77; Mrs. Olive Bushnell, 77; Mrs. Amanda Ferris, 78; Mrs. Desdemonia Borden, 76; Mrs. Georgiana Avery, 79; David Miller, 79; Rolla Carpenter, 80; Abner B. Avery, 80; Mrs. Emily Williams, 81; Mrs. Deborah Dexter, 83; Mrs. Caroline Yarns, 84; Mrs. Harriet N. Hathaway, 84; Mrs. Lettitia Shaver, 84; Ezra Ferris, 84; Mrs. Freelove Brooks, 85; Mrs. Jane Beaumont, 85; Mrs. Margaret Sartell, 86; Mrs. Hannah Burman, 89; Edward Atwater, 89; Mrs. Susan Baldwin, 94. Average over 80 yrs.

MONTROSE: Miss Eliza J. Brewster leaves for New York the first of the week, where she will act as private secretary to Mrs. Charles M. Schwab, wife of the steel magnate. Miss Brewster has known Mrs. Schwab for a number of years, having made her acquaintance while a teacher in the school at Weatherly, PA.

AUBURN 4-CORNERS: On Sunday night, while Mr. and Mrs. Harry Grow were milking, their house caught fire from the chimney. When discovered, it was under considerable headway, and had it not been for the timely assistance of neighbors and a supply of water near by, it would have been completely destroyed.

UNIONDALE: The young men here have presented to the M.E. church a very beautiful Rochester hanging lamp. They believe in letting their light shine. Probably so the other members can see to walk in the light and not stumble.

FOREST LAKE: C.W. Brown is the new steward at the Auburn and Rush Poor Asylum.

SKINNER HILL, Franklin Twp.: Rufy Summers lost one of his work horses and a cow recently. Bad luck for Rufy.

RUSH: The roads are very muddy now and the stages are generally late.

LITTLE MEADOWS: Mr. Hartigan is one of the county’s largest and most successful growers of potatoes, having over 1,300 bushels of fine tubers in his cellar yet.

CHOCONUT: The house of Frank Dugan, near the Crystal spring Creamery, was burned to the ground Sunday last. Mr. Dugan was lying on the couch reading, when he heard something drop. On investigation he found the house to be on fire, sparks having dropped from the chimney to the roof and igniting it. All he saved was about one half his clothes and his face was badly burned in trying to extinguish the flames.

HARFORD TWP.: A very pleasant surprise occurred at the home of Austin Darrow, Feb. 28, it being his 80th birthday. Forty-three persons sat down to a sumptuous repast. Austin, son of Gurdon, was born Feb. 28th 1825. Gurdon was born in Groton, Conn. and came here in 1812, arriving on the 12th day of May at the old Avery tavern, now the property of T.J. Davies. The following winter he taught school at Kentuck [Gibson Twp.] and the next winter he taught at New Milford. If not the first, Gurdon was certainly among the earliest teachers in this vicinity. At that early day there were only a few houses where the borough of New Milford now stands, and those, as well as the school house, were of a comparatively primitive type. Gurdon took the place of his brother-in-law during the war of 1812 and afterwards married Sally Moxley. In 1816 he purchased a tract of land and commenced a home on the line of marked trees between South New Milford and Harford, at that time a wild, unbroken wilderness. Here were born their 6 children, including Austin. “Uncle Austin.” as he is called, is well preserved for a man of his age and his memory of the many scenes and events of the olden times, when log houses and log barns and log fences and far reaching forests were in vogue. He has built many buildings, among the rest the Baptist church at S. New Milford.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

Once Again, If It’s Not Broke...

How many times have you read in this column the familiar saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it!” Well, my friends, here we go again with that familiar theme and yet another questionable decision by our county commissioners.

It happened last week when the commissioners scheduled a rather urgent special jail board meeting for Monday, March 23 in the courthouse. In case you did not know it, the jail board consists of the three county commissioners, the district attorney, and the sheriff. Members of the Fourth Estate were not notified but fortunately we do have some friends that tell us about things like special meetings.

Let me digress for a moment please. Pennsylvania law provides that a county or municipality must put its legal advertising – notices of meetings, bidding projects, etc. – in a newspaper of general circulation in the county. Contrary to what county officials tell us, the code does not say the ad must appear in two newspapers of general circulation in the county.

We were told at the meeting that the ad calling attention to the meeting was placed in a Binghamton, New York newspaper. One question comes to mind immediately about this move. Can an out-of-state paper be considered a newspaper of general circulation in Susquehanna County? Because if it is, add the New York Times, New York Daily News and the New York Post to newspapers eligible for legal ads in Susquehanna County. In fact, these three newspapers are available on more newsstands in the county than any Binghamton paper.

There is a related point of interest to the county’s logic about legal advertising that should be mentioned here. The county spends a lot of money doing legal advertising in Scranton and Binghamton newspapers. Recently ads appeared in these papers for bids on repairing the roof on the county office building on Public Avenue in Montrose. The commissioners could have placed the same ad in the three weekly papers in the county and had enough money left over to take the Planning Commission to dinner.

I tried to explain to the commissioners and the chief clerk that contractors interested in bidding on local projects generally subscribe to area newspapers and have a member of the office staff look for advertisement relevant to their line of work. Lacking the resources to do this, they will subscribe to a clipping service that will cut out legal ads from all area newspapers and send these legal notices on bidding and other information to the appropriate contractors.

Back to the jail board meeting.

On March 11, a correction officer, whom the jail board refused to identify, left his post in the jail. After investigations by Warden Bill Brennan and Deputy Warden Nick Conigliaro, the correction officer was suspended for 10 days without pay.

End of story? Should have been but it wasn’t.

On March 18, one week later, the commissioners learned about the incident and decided they too should conduct an investigation. Why it took a week to get the information from South Montrose to the courthouse, was not revealed. Perhaps the stagecoach was held up on Ellsworth Road and the mail pouch stolen. Anyhow, the commissioners ran an ad in the Binghamton paper for a special jail board meeting on March 21 at 12:30 p.m. in the courthouse.

Commissioner Jeff Loomis, who is chairman of the jail board, convened the meeting at 12:30 p.m. and then immediately called for an executive session to discuss a personnel matter. Obviously the personnel matter was the suspended jail guard.

At 12:45, Mr. Conigliaro was summoned into the meeting room and he was followed at 1 p.m. by Mr. Brennan. At 1:15 p.m., the meeting was reopened to the public.

Mr. Loomis said that after his investigation, the jail guard in question was suspended without pay for 10 days. He said the commissioners convened the special meeting to see if the proper protocol was followed and that the action taken was correct.

“We wanted to find out if what the warden and deputy warden did was proper,” Mr. Loomis said. “We determined the decision they made was correct. The person in question admitted he did wrong and that is the end of it. We shouldn’t even have meetings like this. I hope we agree that for the future, protocol should be that we should just back them up.”

Was it really necessary to spend money for a special meeting notice? In fact, was the meeting itself necessary? I don’t think so. When you have department heads like Warden Bill Brennan protecting your interest in the jail, you have to trust him to do what is right for the jail, the prisoner and the county. Jeff Loomis said it at the end of the meeting when he said meetings like the one on March 21 are not necessary. And, like we said in the beginning, if it’s not broke...

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From the Desk of the D.A.

Terri Schiavo. As I prepare this article, the news media has devoted non-stop coverage to Terri Schiavo, the removal of her feeding tube, and her parents’ efforts to save the life of their daughter. By the time this article hits the press, there is no way to know the fate of Terri Schiavo. In any event, I have been struck by the strong personal emotions evoked and experienced by those with no connection whatsoever to Terri Schiavo. With those emotions in mind, and the difficult issues involved in the case, I would make the following observations.

First, I would defend, to some degree, the state and federal judiciary. The media, especially conservative media, has castigated the judiciary for failing or refusing to intervene to save the life of Terri Schiavo. While I do not claim to know all of the evidence and specifics presented in the case itself, the judiciary is designed to safeguard the rights of all litigants through evidentiary rules, hearings, and the appellate process. In this case, both state and federal judges have reviewed the facts and the law. While there may be those that are upset that judges are not intervening to do more, I would suggest that many of those people who now complain about the judiciary are the same persons who decry “judicial activists,” warn against a judiciary that is out of control, and complain that the judiciary is usurping the power of the states. It seems to me that you cannot have it both ways.

On the other hand, I can understand the complaints of inaction. If we, as a society, routinely grant stays of execution for those on death row to ensure that their rights were not violated, why do we hesitate to allow a federal court to review the state process that led to the decision to terminate the life of an innocent human being. If a convicted murderer is entitled to judicial review of the state process that led to the imposition of the death penalty, does justice likewise require that a parent be afforded some type of review prior to the termination of a child’s life? The United States Constitution, after all, provides in the Fourteenth Amendment that no person’s life shall be taken without due process of law. Is not federal judicial review of the state process necessary to determine that due process was provided by the state court?

It is ironic that we provide suicide watches on death row to ensure that a convicted murderer does not end his life prior to the state sanctioned execution, but we do nothing to stop death by starvation and dehydration of an innocent person who can no longer communicate her desire to live or die. Likewise, we make it unlawful under the Crimes Code for any person to aid another person in committing a suicide (18 Pa. C.S. § 2505), but we allow the judiciary to do that very thing through a court order allowing an estranged husband to play the role of executioner.

The United States Supreme Court has determined that it is unlawful to execute a mentally retarded convicted murderer because of his or her limited mental capacity, but there is no such prohibition against the civil termination of life by the removal of a feeding tube from a person with limited (or non-existent) mental capacity. Similarly, the mode of execution has been challenged as being cruel and inhumane, such as the electric chair, yet a good portion of society apparently has no qualms over slowly allowing another human being to starve to death. After all, euthanasia is defined as “putting a person to death painlessly,” while starvation and dehydration cannot legitimately be called painless. Furthermore, there has been much outrage over alleged prison abuse in Iraqi prisons and widespread condemnation of torture, while the sudden deprival of food and water, resulting in the slow deterioration of the human body over many days until a sudden death by failure of bodily organs is hailed in some circles as a dignified way to die.

As I type these words, it is Holy Thursday, the beginning of the holiest period in the Christian calendar throughout the world. I cannot help but wonder whether Terri Schiavo’s story is being played out during Holy Week by coincidence or providence. In a recent conversation, I inadvertently hurt someone close to me – with my cavalier attitude toward Terri Schiavo and my defense of the judiciary (and, I suppose, attorneys in general). I did not initially intend to compose this article as it involves such a “hot” topic. As I prepared to type, however, I felt the need to do so, perhaps as a penance of sorts for the pain I have caused. It may be mere coincidence that has thrust Terri Schiavo into our homes during this holiest of weeks, when Christians consider the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Even if coincidental, Terri Schiavo certainly provides us all with an opportunity to assess the entire concept of euthanasia and the right to die with dignity. On the other hand, what if it were providence intended to provide us with guidance to understand the sanctity of life?

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

Taking a pre-spring break, Carl and Virginia Upright, accompanied by Carl’s brother and wife, David and Chris from Bangor, PA motored down to Sarasota, Florida to tour around and get away from the snow for ten days. On their way down they stopped in Asherville, NC, visited sister, Vicki and husband, George Walker in Florida and on way back visited Carl and David’s brother, Donald, Pennsville, NJ. They all had a jolly good time.

A veteran of World War II, Charles Kerr passed away at Veterans’ Hospital in Wilkes-Barre, Friday, the eighteenth of March. Services were held at Hennessey’s on Monday, burial was in Gelatt Cemetery. He is survived by his wife, Helen and two sons. Both Charles and his wife were members of Senior Citizens. My sympathy is extended to the family.

Mary Pat Upright, Gang Mills, NY spent last Saturday afternoon with her mother, Doris Davidson.

Vivian Baker has arrived home safely, driving up from Florida to the Carolinas alone, where she picked up Eleanor Buchanan, who had been staying with her daughter since Vivian dropped her off on the way to Florida before Thanksgiving. They sure are two courageous ladies. Knowing them, they passed the time pleasantly.

The home of Marie Swartz on Friday night was crowded with people when she hosted a family dinner for 18 in honor of Matthew Greenwood. Matthew had a two-week’s leave to come home from Iraq. He is married to Brenda Greenwood, who is the daughter of Ann Strohl, Marie’s daughter, who lives in Allentown, PA. After his leave is up he returns with some misgivings to Iraq.

Has anyone seen a flock of geese flying over? Several flocks have been seen here. I read of one girl who always had a “peeper party.” When they first heard the peepers in the spring they donned their coats and boots and took to the swamp where they heard them calling to one another. The article showed a picture of one throat all swelled up. Tiny – no bigger than the end joint of your thumb. Needless to say they had fun carrying out a family tradition.


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Earth Talk

Dear EarthTalk: What are “energy efficient mortgages” and how do I qualify for one?

Matt Hoffman, Seattle, WA

A movement is afoot among real estate lenders to offer special mortgages and other incentives designed to reward energy efficiency and green-friendly building and restoration. Borrowers planning to purchase new energy efficient homes, as well as those looking to do ecologically motivated renovations on older homes, can take advantage of such programs to increase their mortgage amounts while offsetting construction costs.

Fannie Mae, the Congressionally chartered company that works with lenders to back mortgages for low and moderate income Americans, is the prime mover of “green” mortgages through its Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) program. To qualify for the program, homeowners must either buy a new energy efficient home, or commit to upgrades of an existing home as recommended by an inspector certified through the Home Energy Rating System (HERS).

Such HERS inspections can run as much as $400, but the projected savings from energy efficiency are considered part of the borrower’s income and can help homebuyers qualify for larger mortgages. By increasing borrowing power, the EEM allows homeowners to fold the costs of energy efficiency into the total mortgage amount. Factors such as window efficiency, heating and cooling system efficiency, wall-to-window ratios, insulation levels and local climate – even the solar orientation of the home – determine a home’s HERS rating.

In a home that needs energy improvements, the HERS report will suggest specific improvements and estimate both the cost of the improvements and the expected energy savings. The cost of the energy improvements can be included in the homeowner’s mortgage, but is limited to 15 percent of the home’s value.

A borrower opting for new construction can qualify for an EEM if the home in question is to be built according to guidelines set by the Energy Star Builder Option Program, a project of the Environmental Protection Agency to encourage energy efficient building and design. Once construction on the new home is complete, a HERS inspection is conducted to determine the home’s energy efficiency, which will in turn dictate the specific terms of the EEM.

Eligible borrowers can obtain an EEM backed by Fannie Mae with as little as a three percent down payment. Detailed requirements for EEM qualification are available on the Fannie Mae website, which also posts a list of participating lending institutions from coast-to-coast.

Dear EarthTalk: What are the environmental impacts of our voracious appetite for coffee?

Augie Dent, Capitola, CA

According to the Specialty Coffee Association, Americans alone consume some 300 million cups of coffee every day. Globally, coffee is second only to oil in terms of dollars traded, and it has a tremendous social and ecological footprint, particularly in regions of the world that also host some of the planet’s greatest, and most threatened, biodiversity.

Prior to the 1960s, most coffee was grown under the shade canopies of other plants in conditions not unlike natural tropical forests. These traditional coffee plantations harbored a wide range of plant diversity, and therefore provided valuable habitat for large numbers of migratory birds and other wildlife. The abundant flora and fauna also helped keep pests in check while providing a wide range of natural nutrients for the soil.

But over the last four decades, the growing popularity of coffee began to dictate the need for greater production, and coffee growers started clearing their land in order to grow higher yield coffee that thrives in direct sunlight. While financially productive, this sun-grown coffee takes a heavy toll on the environment, on wildlife, and on workers‚ health by eliminating the surrounding biodiversity and requiring heavy use of toxic fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides.

Among others, the Starbucks chain of coffee shops has been a recent innovator in trying to turn the situation around. In 1998 the company formed a partnership with Conservation International, a leading environmental non-profit, to encourage sustainable, shade-grown coffee production while also ensuring that small farmers and agricultural co-ops earn a living wage for their labors, a concept known as “fair trade.” Starbucks‚ Organic Shade Grown Mexico, Decaf Shade Grown Mexico, and Conservation Colombia coffees are all grown in an ecologically sound manner that protects the surrounding natural environment and respects the economic needs of farmers.

Shade-grown brands are also becoming more widely available to those more inclined to brew their coffee at home. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo website features a handy listing of “bird-friendly” coffee retailers (that is, bean sellers committed to shade-grown coffee only), searchable by zip code. The organization Rainforest Alliance, which also works to get the word out about coffee’s big footprint, certifies several brands, including Oriole Blend and Columbia Mesos de los Santos. And the website Coffee Review lists Green Mountain, Kaldi's, Thanksgiving Coffee, New Harvest, Kaffe, Café Campesino and Coffee Tea Etc. as coffees that top the list in terms of pairing excellent taste with environmentally-responsible growing practices. Many of these brands are available at organic food specialty stores and at natural foods supermarkets like Whole Foods and Wild Oats.

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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