HomeColumnists ( September 18, 2019 )

100 Years Ago

By Betty Smith, Susquehanna County Historical Society, Montrose, PA

Montrose – September 23rd will be the 75th birthday of Dr. Charles Decker, and this will find him, if alive, alone and in his old home. Send him a birthday card, some words of help and sympathy, and above all, something substantial as a reminder that you, his friend, have not forgotten him. Could the doctor receive only the amounts due him from debts that are due him, it would place him on "easy street." As it is now, he is needy from sickness and misfortune, the old home needs repairing and winter is coming on. Now you who are his friends take notice of this appeal and remember him on next Tuesday. If you send the doctor a message, enclosing a two-cent stamp or more, you will receive something unique in return. He has served this entire vicinity faithfully, ministering to the sick and the dying, and the poor have not been turned away. Signed, His Friends and Neighbors. ALSO Miss Eloise Warriner, who was driving a horse home from the Montrose fair, ran into a Binghamton auto, smashing the windshield, and cutting the driver's hand. The horse was not injured, but the wagon was badly damaged.

Western end of the County – To those autoists who enjoy an afternoon spin, and appreciate beautiful scenery and good roads, we would recommend a trip between Montrose and Wyalusing via Rush, Lawton, Rushville, Stevensville and Camptown. The speedometer will show a distance of just a trifle short of 30 miles. The road between Montrose and Rushville is undoubtedly the best stretch of dirt road, of equal length, in the county and the macadam between Camptown and Wyalusing is in perfect condition. An exceedingly prosperous agricultural section is traversed.

Harford – Raymond Cameron and Leon Rundell, staff writers of the Elk Music Co., of Binghamton, have just published a new song, entitled "That Dixie Jazz." This song promises to be one of the season's most popular hits and the friends of Mr. Cameron will be pleased to learn of his acquired fame. Mr. Cameron was formerly of Harford, where his people now live.

Choconut Valley – The Choconut creek seems to be filling up with fine fish. James Gilroy, while out fishing, caught an eel, twenty-nine inches in length, weighing two and one-half pounds, and another which was at first supposed to be a bass.

Williams Pond – Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Lewis have moved to their new home at Heart Lake. ALSO H. M. Howard had the misfortune to break his wrist while trying to start his auto.

South Ararat – The Hunters' picnic, held at Fiddle Lake, Labor Day, was largely attended. The ladies' Aid, of Herrick, furnished dinner, which was fit for a king, and all there could not say enough in praise of it.

Brooklyn – Miss Clara Winans, Ass't. Supt. of Schools, and Miss Noble, the new Domestic Science teacher, were in town Tuesday. Beside the classes of Domestic Science in the High School, a course in cooking and home sanitation for the women in the community will meet soon.

Susquehanna – The Business Men's Association has decided to form a Realty Co., with a capital stock of $25,000, for the purpose of building houses to be sold to the people of Susquehanna, Oakland and Lanesboro. Several houses will be built and it seems as if there may be some relief at hand for the many who, while working in the Erie shops, are compelled to make their home elsewhere, but would gladly make this their home town could they find houses for rent or purchase.

Scranton – The late John Mitchell, former president of the United Mine Workers of America, was buried in St. Paul's cemetery, Scranton, because of a dying request that he be buried near the homes of the miners he knew so well. Agitation for the building of a monument in Scranton as a tribute to the memory of Mitchell already has been started.

Forest City – The Slovenian Katholic Dramatic and Singing society has been organized and it is expected that plays will appear in the near future. The society is composed of a number who have appeared in various dramas presented here in the Slovenian language and have been prominent as well in musical circles. ALSO John Grum was in Scranton yesterday to file his final papers in the naturalization court. His witnesses were Joseph Kameen and John Dutchman. ALSO A pretty wedding was celebrated in St. Joseph's church yesterday morning when Miss Mary Pauline Zaller was united with Frank Becyan by the pastor, Rev. Joseph Tomsic. Frank Simkovitz was the best man and Miss Julia Dressler was the bridesmaid. A wedding dinner was served at the home of the bride's mother, Mrs. A. Zaller, of North Main Street, at which many invited guests were present. Music was furnished by an orchestra and members of the Zvon Singing society. The bride is one of the most popular young ladies of this vicinity, having been employed for some time in Mrs. Really's store. They will locate in Cleveland, Ohio, where the groom holds a lucrative position.

Uniondale – Bert McPherson drove his Ford truck over the new road, known as the Eli Crandall road, last Sunday. He thinks that when the road is hard that he can go the entire distance "in high."

East Rush – On Saturday last, at the church in this place, was held the funeral of one of our esteemed neighbors, Mrs. Harvey Estus, who lately moved from this place to Montrose to reside with her son, E. W. Estus, who is the manager of the Brown & Fassett feed business. Mrs. Estus was a person whom one felt the better for knowing. She was always cheerful and had a pleasant word for everyone and was a devout Christian, being a member of the East Rush M. E. church for nearly fifty years.

Marriage Licenses: Willis Clark Sherman and Helen Brooks, Springville; Wm. H. Berg, Franklin Twp. and Mary S. Canfield, Montrose; Rolland B. Leslie, Bridgewater Twp. and Eunice L. Mathews, New Milford Twp.; Daniel H. Bonner, Thompson and Aletta H. Sampson, Jackson; Harry A. Brown and Anna M. Lindsley, Hallstead; Eugene P. Gallagher, Montrose and Ruby V. Shoemaker, Springville; Harry P. Watson and Jane L. Guiton, Middletown.

News Briefs: A half-million dollar fire visited Scranton Wednesday night and several persons were seriously burned. The Sall Mountain Co. plant was destroyed, and the Williams Chocolate Co., Clark box factory, Quackenbush warehouse and other adjoining buildings were burned. The heat was so great that horses and fire trucks were scorched by the flames. ALSO Joseph Moessew, a Binghamton grocer, pleaded guilty to profiteering in Federal Court the other day and was fined $500. He had been selling sugar at fifteen cents a pound and was reported to the authorities. ALSO Wireless telephone messages have been received in Norway from a station on our Atlantic coast. As usual, America is the first in inventions and progressive methods. And now that the voice of America is the first to make the transatlantic flight, well may we say that wonders never cease.

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Letter of the Law

By Jason J. Legg

In November 2014, Desmond Sinkler was shot four times outside a bar in Philadelphia. Shortly thereafter, Sinkler died from the gunshot wounds. The police suspected that Leonard Knox (Sinkler's step-brother) was involved so they went to the Knox's residence the next day. Knox willingly accompanied the police back to the police station where he was read his Miranda warnings, waived those rights and agreed to talk to the police without an attorney. Knox initially denied any involvement in the shooting.

While he was being interviewed, the police had executed a search warrant on Knox's apartment where bloody clothing was found in Knox's bedroom. When confronted with this new information, Knox admitted to the killing and told the police he would tell them the truth. After making this admission, the police again read Knox his Miranda rights, Knox signed a form acknowledging that he understood his rights, and confessed to killing Sinkler but claimed he acted in self-defense.

Approximately one month after his arrest, the trial court found that Knox was not mentally competent to stand trial – and thereafter made five additional incompetency findings between September 2017 and December 2017. During his incarceration, however, Knox was eventually observed communicating effectively with other inmates, speaking on the telephone without difficulty, and otherwise acting competently. After receiving this information, the mental health professionals determined that Knox was competent to stand trial, i.e., he had been intentionally deceiving the evaluators in order to avoid a finding of competency.

At that point, Knox filed a motion to suppress his confession – noting that there was a judicial finding that he was not competent and that judicial finding was made only one month after he had confessed to the police. Knox argued that if he was incompetent then he could not have knowingly waive his Miranda warnings, i.e., he lacked the legal capacity to understand what he was waiving. The trial court rejected Knox's argument. He was convicted of third-degree murder and sentenced to a period of incarceration of 20 to 40 years. He appealed his conviction contending that his confession should have been suppressed based upon his incompetency. The case made its way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

In response to Knox's argument, the Supreme Court observed that there is no per se rule that a defendant with a mental disability is incapable of waiving Miranda rights. When a person is suffering from a mental illness, the question remains whether the Miranda waiver was "the product of a free, unconstrained, and rational choice." While the Supreme Court conceded that Knox had been found incompetent only one month after giving his confession, the record itself did not demonstrate that he was not competent at the time he actually gave his confession to the police.

Instead, the interviewing police officer testified that Knox was cogent and not having any difficulty understanding him. The police officer also noted that Knox was speaking logically and was responding appropriately to questions that were presented. Knox had never suggested that he was having any difficulty understanding the police during the questioning or when his Miranda rights were read to him. Knox never indicated that he did not understand his Miranda rights – and he waived those rights on two separate occasions. The Supreme Court concluded that there were no grounds for suppressing Knox's confession as the record supported the trial court's conclusion that Knox understood his rights and knowingly waived those rights.

This case demonstrates just how important timing can be when addressing competence. A defendant cannot necessarily rely upon a later finding of incompetence as a basis for retroactively negating prior conduct. For those challenging a particular action based upon allegations of a lack of competency, it is important to build a record as to the defendant's state of mind at the time of the challenged action – not the defendant's state of mind at some point in the not so distant future.

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How To Take Pills©

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro

Caged today, broken tomorrow

Mandy came into the pharmacy with her twin moppets, aged 6, to get prescriptions for their coughs. As they were waiting, Mandy said to the pharmacist, "Those poor kids in cages down at the southern border! Locked up! No soap, no clean clothes, and no family to love and reassure them! I don't know what I'd do!"

As part of its "zero tolerance" policy on illegal immigration, the current administration is holding immigrant children in overcrowded cages after ripping them from their parents. This type of incarceration will come with a hefty price tag as these children mature. A 2016 article in The American Psychologist stated, "Nearly all youth detained in the juvenile justice system have experienced traumatic events leading to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)." The article suggests that these children will likely commit criminal acts in the future unless they receive treatment for PTSD conditions.

Furthermore, the tumultuous reunification process has worsened the problem.

A report released in September 2019 by the Department of Health and Human Services, showed that separated children experienced more PTSD symptoms, such as fear and worries of abandonment, than those who remained with their caregivers. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry involved 12,288 adolescents who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, a nationally representative study of adolescents in grades 7 to 12. The study found that those children who experienced trauma – neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, parental incarceration, witnessed or was the victim of violence – were anywhere from 2 to 25 times more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system when they became adults.

The pharmacist explained to Mandy that all of us experience stress. Most of us deal with it and move on. But there are two kinds of stress: normal stress whereby our blood pressure and heart rate temporarily skyrocket. The other type is chronic stress in which one is relentlessly bombarded by assaults to one's mind and body. When (and if) the stressors cease, the memories remain and the pathologies, like nightmares, flashbacks, and insomnia, take hold, perhaps permanently. 

Treatment for PTSD is imprecise. The patient may receive an antidepressant such as citalopram (Celexa®) or fluoxetine (Prozac®); these are effective in about half PTSD cases, particularly if treatment is initiated before symptoms become severe. Drug treatment works better if combined with counseling. However, because PTSD manifests itself in many ways, from complete withdrawal to uncontrollable anger, treatment success cannot be guaranteed. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) seeks to change the way a person feels and acts by changing the patterns of thinking or behavior, or both, responsible for negative emotions. In CBT, individuals learn to identify thoughts that make them feel afraid or upset and replace them with less distressing thoughts. CBT has been an effective treatment for PTSD and is the standard of care for PTSD by the US Department of Defense. 

The young Christian refugees held at US detention facilities were in shock before they arrived at our border. The countries from which they fled are fraught with violence, coercion, rape, and poverty. Holding them against their will is, in the pharmacist's opinion, unimaginably cruel and damaging.

Ron Gasbarro, PharmD, is a registered pharmacist, medical writer, and principal at Read more at

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