HomeColumnists ( February 1, 2023 )

100 Years Ago

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

Harford – William Seymour Sophia, aged nearly 82 years, widely-known gardener and respected citizen, succumbed to a paralytic stroke. He was born on the farm where he has always lived, it being the old Sophia homestead. He was known as an expert gardener, and always enjoyed showing visitors his crops. He was a school director for a number of years and also president of the school board. His vegetable exhibits at the Harford Fair were always looked forward to with interest. He is survived by his wife, Lucy; daughter, Mrs. Louise Alexander, of Butte, Montana; step-daughter, Mrs. J.W. Nicholson; six grandchildren; one brother, John A. Sophia, of Harford. Six of his near neighbors were bearers and it was a sad procession that wended its way to the cemetery where he was carefully laid away. ALSO Harry Shannon has constructed a radio receiving set, which works fine. O.F. Maynard is busy making one, and Howard Merritt will soon have one completed. When the neighbors all "get 'em" we will know where to go and spend the evenings.

Fair Hill, Forest Lake Twp. – We sure have some snow so far this winter. The roads are in a bad condition and we have not had preaching on the Hill for four weeks.

Montrose – E.J. Dorey [Dorcey?] who operates the White Bus Line between Montrose and Binghamton, has been unable to make trips for several days on account of the deep snow. He has a snow plow and tractor at work, besides a force of men and hopes to have the road open soon. It is reported Mr. Dorey has bought a snow plow four feet in height, which he can combat almost any drift.

Bridgewater Twp./Heart Lake – The heavy snows recently have hampered the ice cutting gangs at Lake Mont Rose, retarding the filling of the large ice houses. Several times the ice fields had to have the snow removed and although the ice is of fair quality, it is not as clear as usual. The Borden ice house will probably be filled by the last of the week, and J.A. McCabe is making good progress in filling his. Charles Hoyt is also planning to fill his house with the completion of the Borden job, on which he is engaged. The ice runs from 12 to 14 inches in thickness. At Heart Lake over forty men are at work filling the big ice house. With the completion of filling the ice houses at Lake Mont Rose, ice will be cut in large quantities for farmers and others having individual storage houses.

Elk Lake – John Fitzsimmons has a saw and engine for cutting wood and ice and is doing good works.

Jackson – C.D. Washburn, born in Gibson township, April 6, 1847, passed away January 28th at the home of his son, Dr. H.D. Washburn, in Susquehanna. He was a member of the North Jackson M.E. Church, a tax collector and justice of the peace. In the spring of 1864, at the age of 17, he enlisted in Co. C, 1st PA Light Artillery, and served until the close of the war. In later years he was deeply interested in his comrades in GAR and for15 years acted as commander of Myron French Post. He married Arvilla French in 1868 and four children were born to them: Raymond, Clayton, Mrs. A.E. Henderson and Dr. H.D. Washburn. ALSO A number are drawing ice from the Griffis pond these days.

Rush – Reports are that Miss Arlene Pickett is going to take up training in Sayre hospital for a nurse.

Forest City – The southbound passenger train on the O&W, due here at 3:52, was held at Lakewood until the following morning. A car was run up Tuesday morning and the belated passengers transferred. The delay was occasioned by the derailment of several cars at Poyntelle.

Great Bend – While bus lines were blocked and many other trucks and passenger cars dared not buck the snow drifted roads of the north county last Friday and Saturday, the fleet of ten and a quarter Larrabee Speed Six Trucks, operated by the Great Bend Bakery, went through the biggest of the drifts and covered their routes completely both days. Larrabee trucks are sold in Hop Bottom by M.E. Rynearson.

Brooklyn – Prof. S.S. Beach and three boys from our vocational school, Thomas West, Edwin Engates and Chas. Sesky, spent three days in Harrisburg attending the Pennsylvania Farm Show. Ed. Engates won third honors in the poultry-judging contest out of sixty-eight contestants.

New Milford – The following young people enjoyed a sleigh ride to Jackson Friday night and attended the dance: Betty Pedrick, Agnes and Lucille Fernan, Anna and Jack Pressman, Charlotte Dearborn, Katherine Cosgriff, Miles DeWitt, Chase Norris, Arnold McIntosh, Robert Zeller and George Grotty.

Uniondale – S. Bert McPherson has purchased the farm formerly owned by his grandfather, the late Seth Walker, in Herrick Township. The tract consists of 198 acres and the consideration was said to be $3,000. J.G. McPherson, the former owner, is now a resident of Wayland, NY.

News Brief: The growing popularity of the closed types of automobiles is indicated in the statement that about sixty percent of the cars manufactured last year were of the enclosed styles. Their high price has, until recently, made them more in demand by the wealthier class. The tendency has been to reduce the price of enclosed cars the past year or two, and as they can be used in all kinds of weather they have a wider appeal, both as pleasure and business cars. ALSO Those who arose early Tuesday morning report the mercury the lowest for the year. In Montrose, it is stated, thermometers registered from two to six degrees below, at Susquehanna, 12 below, while Birchardville has a claim for the record depth of 18 below. It might have been lower in Montrose but we failed to find anyone who got up early enough to establish creditable testimony. Montrose may be outdone as to coldness, but with nearly two feet of snow on the level, we think it can hold the record for snowfall.

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Letter of the Law

By Jason J. Legg

On January 1, 2021 at approximately 8:30pm, Elsa Mertira and several other family members were leaving a restaurant located at Camelback Lodge in Monroe County, Pennsylvania. At that time, a winter event was occurring – and had been occurring for several hours. In the midst of this winter storm, Mertira noticed that the sidewalk area was covered in snow and ice and decided that she would leave the sidewalk in order to walk on a grassy area. Mertira believed that she would have more traction if she walked on the grassy area rather than the paved area. Unfortunately, Mertira slipped, fell and injured herself.

Mertira filed a civil lawsuit against Camelback Lodge contending that it had breached its duty to make the sidewalk area safe for customers to walk to and from the parking lot and restaurant. In response, Camelback Lodge moved for summary judgment, which means that Camelback Lodge wanted to win the case without having a trial because there were no disputed facts in the case. Camelback Lodge pointed to two facts that it contended supported its request for judgment in its favor: (1) Mertira did not fall on the sidewalk but fell on the grassy area adjacent the sidewalk for which Camelback Lodge had no duty to keep free from snow or ice; and (2) Camelback Lodge had no duty to remove the snow and ice from the sidewalk area until the storm had stopped – and there was no dispute that the storm continued for several more hours after Mertira's fall. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Camelback Lodge and Mertira filed an appeal.

The Superior Court observed that a business owner only has a duty to remove snow or ice from a sidewalk or parking lot area if (1) the snow has accumulated to such a height or character as to obstruct travel and constitute a danger to pedestrians; and (2) the business owner had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous accumulation. When there is a winter storm creating a dangerous accumulation of snow or ice, the business owner's duty to take remedial action does not arise until a reasonable time after the storm stops. In other words, a business owner is not required to be outside in the middle of a winter storm shoveling and salting the sidewalk and parking areas constantly.  Rather, a business owner has no duty whatsoever until the storm itself has stopped – and then the business owner must act within a reasonable time to make the sidewalk and parking areas safe for customers and pedestrians.

The Superior Court observed that there was no dispute that Mertira left the restaurant in the middle of a winter storm which had been ongoing for several hours prior to her dining at the restaurant and continued for several hours after her fall. Because the storm itself was an ongoing weather event, Camelback Lodge's duty to take remedial measures never arose prior to Mertira's fall.

Mertira argued that Camelback Lodge had a duty to pretreat the sidewalk area prior to the storm itself but the Superior Court rejected this argument: "Under Pennsylvania law, an owner or possessor of land generally does not have a duty to pretreat walkways or take other measures to prevent the accumulation of ice and snow prior to or during a winter storm." The duty to take remedial measures arises after the storm has ended – not prior to or during the storm itself. Even if Camelback had been trying to shovel and salt the sidewalk area in the middle of the storm, these voluntary efforts would not have created a legal duty that would have made Camelback Lodge liable for any injuries sustained by pedestrians who slipped and fell. The duty itself only arises at the completion of the winter storm.

Judge Bowes authored a concurring opinion which summarized (and criticized) the law relative to sidewalk maintenance in winter weather as follows: "Overall, private businesses in Pennsylvania are empowered to remain open for business to all potential invitees irrespective of potentially dangerous winter weather conditions. During such inclement time periods, businesses are not required to take any ameliorative actions until a reasonable time after natural precipitation ends. Further, businesses may not be held liable for incomplete or lacking attempts at treating slick surfaces during the same period of time. Despite the axiomatic, heightened duty of care applicable to business invitees, when the snow begins to fall, Pennsylvania law largely leaves individuals out in the cold."

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How To Take Pills©

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro

Sometimes a beard is just a beard

The delivery guy swaggered into the pharmacy carrying the day's provisions. The pharmacist was always in awe of the man's full beard – glorious in its length and sheen. "How long is that bush of yours now, Clem?" he asked the delivery man. "Four inches now," he replied, proudly giving his whiskers a five-finger stroke.

Beards are those creatures that males sport for specific reasons or for no good reason. Both good men and bad men have had beards: Santa vs Satan, Jesus vs Pontius Pilate, Papa Smurf vs Bluto. Beards have gone in and out of style since antiquity. During the Renaissance, beards were synonymous with masculinity. By the 18th century, beards were deemed unfashionable. Hello 19th century! Men wanted to look fresh have the luxury of shaving at home instead of having to visit a barber. By the 20th century, beards went in and out of style as often as world wars.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, beards – including goatees and moustaches – were linked to subcultures such as the Beat Generation. Young men would sport a beard to exhibit their individuality and creativity. And, Buddha forbid, one should never look like the Aqua-Velva-soaked Ward Cleaver or Ozzie Nelson models set by their parents. By the 1990s reared their ugly heads once more as young men emulated the grunge look, a la Kurt Cobain, by growing a goatee, a soul patch or by simply wearing scruff. Beards did not make a major rebirth until 2007 with the hipster style and the 'lumbersexual' style. Men seemed to lose interest in growing facial hair for a while until the current beard trend made its debut over the last decade. As always, queer men lead the way with fashion, and once straight bald men realized they could counter their cueballs with a heavy and lengthy crop of chin fur, the Walmart-class followed.

Where do females factor into the beard craze? Some hate them. Some give their wearers an ultimatum. Others think they are the essence of maturity (until the whiskers turn grey). Often, the clothes a bearded man wears do not matter if he has a terrific crop (and piercing blue eyes to match do not hurt his cause).

Beards can mask facial flaws in some guys. A guy with a pointed or weak chin can conceal it with a beard. A beard can hide acne scars and wrinkles. Neck hair can obscure double chins. Other men grow beards because they believe their clean-shaven faces are too feminine or pretty.

OK, let's get down to the hygiene factor. Are beards dirty? According to Tania Elliott, MD, who specializes in infectious diseases at New York University, a well-kept beard has about the same number of germs as a clean-shaven chin. However, beards can potentially harbor infectious bacteria like staphylococcus and enterococcus, which can make you sick if they enter the bloodstream through a cut or other opening. To keep your beard clean, wash it two to three times a week with shampoo, and brush it regularly. The marketplace is replete with all sorts of beard combs, and conditioning products if you want to spend the bucks. Women certainly indulge themselves on their hair products.

While psychiatrists, historians, and even politicians can debate forever whether or not a beard means something other than what it is, or whether it can turn your world upside down or even right side up, think as Sigmund Freud once (supposedly) said about cigars: Sometimes a beard is just a beard.

Ron Gasbarro, PharmD, is a recovering pharmacist and writer-in-residence at Rx-Press.

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Help Kids Beat the Blues

By Shannon Madden

As a recovering cold weather curmudgeon, I've often experienced the winter blues. Winter blues are feelings of sadness, tiredness, and lack of motivation during the darkest, coldest months. Difficulty sleeping and trouble getting up again in the morning often go along with winter blues too.

The winter blues are not the same as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SADD), which is a clinical diagnosis that may require more than lifestyle changes to treat. I'm not a medical professional, so this list is just some tips to make winter more fun for your family (you can see our full disclaimer at If you suspect you or a family member needs professional attention, you should seek it out.

Fortunately for most of us, feeling down in winter is due to lack of sunlight, inactivity, and the aftermath of the holidays. It's also true that kids are not exempt from these effects on their dispositions. We can all take a few simple steps to perk up without having to wait for spring.

Get Some Sun

Humans need sunlight. It gives us vitamin D and helps our bodies regulate our circadian rhythm. Between the short hours of daylight and lots of cloud cover, we get precious little sun on our faces. Some people can go days without seeing or feeling natural light.

Luckily, kids in school get some recess time during the day and have classrooms with windows. Keeping curtains open at home fills the house with natural light. If you have windows in your workplace, then let the sun in whenever possible.

Planning to spend time outside when the weather permits helps you get some sunshine and physical activity.

Stay Active

Get outside as much as you can in winter. Since that's not always possible, you can plan other ways to keep your bodies moving through the coldest time of year. We recently joined our local YMCA and signed the kids up for swimming lessons. We are hitting the gym, too.

If a monthly membership is not something you're interested in, you can stay active at home. There are hundreds of free videos on YouTube from HIIT training, walk-in-place programs, yoga, Pilates, and more. You can find anything to suit your fitness level. Getting the whole family involved will be fun for all.

Eat Healthy

We should eat well all year, of course. But it is especially important when we are coming down off the Christmas sugar high. I know that by the time the holidays are over, I'm ready to lighten our daily diet. We still enjoy treats, comfort foods, and desserts often enough. Lately, though, I've found that simple fresh fruits and veggies go well with meals and kids love them. Chopping up some carrot sticks or slicing apples makes for an easy side on busy weeknights anyway.

Get Enough Sleep

Young children need 10-12 hours of sleep each night. Having a bedtime routine helps. Teens tend to experience a shift in their sleep rhythm where they fall asleep later and wake later in the morning. If you can accommodate this shift, that's great. If not, then a bedtime routine that limits screens and caffeine after a certain hour is good for helping them get 8-10 hours each night.

Enjoy Time Together

You can ease winter blues by enjoying family time. This can take almost any form. Our family enjoys board games and doing puzzles together. We also like to host parties. You can do those things, enjoy a funny movie with popcorn, do art projects, read aloud together, assemble Legos, and more. Your imagination is the limit. The point is to have fun together and laugh. It will keep everyone's mood up through the doldrums of winter.

I hope this list inspires you to try some enjoyable and healthy activities. Show us all your winter fun by tagging us @trailfamilylife on Instagram.

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Pastor's Corner

By Pastor Vince Chiaramonte

Good day dear hearts, I love you. A few weeks back when we first started this journey I suggested how important it is for us to be in prayer and in God's Word every day. There are many advantages to having our personal time with God. First and foremost, we establish a personal relationship with God and much more. Staying in God's Word everyday gives us insight to the truth.

For some of us, equipping ourselves to read the Bible daily, many of us read a daily devotional. There are some daily devotionals written by well known preachers and teachers. And then there are some devotionals known as the Upper Room or Daily Bread. I like these a lot because I find them to be very meaningful. They are very short stories written by people like you and me. They start off with a Scripture and then a very brief story of how this Scripture affected them.

Today I want to share one of those brief stories I read many years ago that is appropriate to my point. It was in the Daily Devotional known as the "Upper Room". Here's the Scripture. Psalm 34:8, "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him."

Here's the story. It starts off with a woman who explains that for some unknown reason her neighborhood had developed an overpopulation of stray cats. It began to become a problem because the cats would continually tear everyone's garbage apart for their meals. Several of the neighbors got together and decided to provide food and drinking water for the stray cats to stop them from making the mess they always made. Apparently, the people in the neighborhood all must have loved cats because they named all of them.

The woman goes on to tell the story of the situation turning out pretty good. All the cats cooperated and were well trained except for a cat named Smokey. Smokey was seen eating from the bowls and drinking the clean water from time to time, but for the most part he would go to the garbage, tear things up and then drink the water from the gutter and puddles.

One day, the woman caught Smokey going through a neighbor's trash and yelled at Smokey. She said, "Smokey, why are you messing with that garbage when I've got so much better for you here".

Later on, the woman remembered the part in Psalm 34:8 where God's Word said, "Taste and see that the Lord is good." The woman thought, how many times has God asked her that question. Yes! God talks back to us through His Holy Spirit. You may think I'm nuts with that statement, but I challenge you to develop that intimate relationship with God and He will talk to you. Then we can be nuts together.

God's way has so much to offer us, yet we choose to pick through the garbage of life to meet our needs. And that garbage ranges from anger, alcohol, eating disorders, abusive relationships and so forth. This one verse I quoted to you does not mean check out God's credentials. Instead it's a warm, loving invitation, like mama inviting you to take a taste of your favorite meal. My point is with Jesus in our life, with reading God's Word and praying, God will present to us the best of the best. God won't make our problems go away, but He will teach us how to deal with them properly.

I want to bring your attention to the plight of Felicia Scrivner, Kenny Scro and baby Logan. Many of you are aware but the latest report is that prayers are being answered. This little guy was struck with a myriad of illnesses. COVID, Pneumonia, infection in his lungs and so forth. Let's be Susquehanna strong for this family in prayer and let's keep filling up the coin cups in the various locations.

Let us pray: O God, help us to taste the goodness of you. And that through your Word we will stop at the garbage pile of life, pick it up, and throw it in the garbage truck to be taken away forevermore. Bless our community and let your Spirit hover over us until we meet again. May God bless you all.

How am I doin'? Send me an email Talk to me, ask questions. Is there anything specific you would like me to address? We are in the process of building a new website with a prayer wall. Join us on our FB page at First UMC of Susquehanna, PA for prayer requests, watch our Sunday service at 11:00am, or if you need to talk call 570-853-3988.

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