HomeColumnists ( September 15, 2021 )

100 Years Ago

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

Montrose – The County Fair is now in full swing and it is conceded on all hands that it is the biggest event of the kind ever held here. Everything from exhibits and the trade displays, to the amusements, is on a quite gigantic scale for places anywhere near the size of Montrose. The flying stunts, over the grounds by the aviator, brought real thrills. Yesterday was "School Day" and great crowds of students from all over the county contributed to the gaiety of the day. Their bright faces, showing the keen enjoyment of all the fair features, and the school display, is difficult to find a suitable adjective to describe it. ALSO Ann and Mary Wharton, of Philadelphia, are in town. The former is a well-known author, one of her books, "Through Colonial Doorways," being on the shelves of the Montrose Public Library. A picture of one of Montrose's fine old homes, the property of John Lyons, on the corner of Cherry and Church streets, adorns the volume.

Forest City – The body of Sergeant George Payne, who made the supreme sacrifice overseas in the World War, arrived here. It was escorted to the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Payne, by members of Charles and Martin Skubic Post, American Legion. Sgt. Payne was one of the first to enlist from this place and the first to lose his life. His funeral was held from Christ Episcopal Church and the American Legion attended in a body.

Gelatt – School opened here Monday, Labor Day, with Mrs. Sarah Walker as teacher and twenty-six scholars.

Silver Lake – Catherine O'Day announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for prothonotary. Mrs. O'Day is a very competent woman and would give a satisfactory administration if elected; and the further fact that she is the first woman to seek a county should stimulate the Democrats, both men and women, to rally to her support and give her a record vote at the primaries.

East Rush – We understand that the Dimock base ball team claims to be the champion team of Susquehanna County. We would like to know how they claim this – for if my memory serves me right, East Rush beat them two games out of the three played, and if they had had a fair umpire would have beaten them in the three games. We would like them to come down with their own team and play us a game or two to prove their right to the "laurels."

Hop Bottom – School re-opened Sept. 5th with an enrollment of over 160 pupils. The school house presents a fine appearance, having been painted outside and thoroughly cleaned and renovated during vacation. The teachers are: Principal, O.L. Mittan; Vice Principal, Mr. Carey; grammar school, Miss Lillis Pratt; intermediate, Mrs. May Miller; primary, Miss Lillian Byram.

Dimock – Geraldine Rhodes is attending the high school at Montrose, driving her white pony and cart to and from each day. ALSO W. J. Cronk has had new electric lights placed in his store, house and barn, and also R. W. Palmer, in his garage. ALSO W. L. Stillwell, who has faithfully carried the mail for seven years, from the train to the post office, has been obliged to resign owing to ill health. Mr. Stillwell is 76 years of age, and has done remarkably well to keep up such an active business so long, besides carrying on his farm work.

Uniondale – Kenneth Cable entered the Department of Commerce of Temple University, at Philadelphia, as a student. He is a graduate of the Uniondale High School and of the commercial course of Wyoming Seminary.

Springville – Helen Gregory, of Wilkes-Barre, is the new assistant principal this winter and is boarding at the Hotel Fisk. ALSO Tramps and chicken thieves have made their appearance in our vicinity. Meserole Bros. have flash lights and guns a plenty.

Lake View – We were visited with showers last Friday, although it did not rain. J.C. Morse had a barn struck by lightning. It shattered the barn and immediately set it on fire. Some of the neighbors, seeing the bolt of lightning strike, hastened to the fire in autos, but before anyone could get there the whole barn was aflame. The wind carried sparks and set the house on fire and in an hour's time both barn and house were burned to the ground. Both were built over 75 years ago. Expensive equipment was consumed and the buildings were not covered with insurance. Mr. Morse was away at the time and his man that works the place was plowing in the back lot and did not see the fire until some of the neighbors had arrived.

Susquehanna – The home of Hon. C. Fred Wright, was burglarized recently and over $1000 worth of personal property taken, the interior of the house being badly damaged by the thieves in their search for valuables. The Wright home has been closed for the summer, the family occupying their summer home, Pinecrest, on the Susquehanna River.

Forest Lake – A local woman, Mrs. Earl Smith, is fast putting the adage, "he-was-that-long-but-he-got-away," to shame. In fact, her success here this summer has been remarkable. Her catches of bass break all local records. One she landed the other day weighed four pounds – and he did not get away.

New Milford – One of the best dances of the season will be held in the New Milford Opera House this evening. The Arlington six-piece jazz, of Binghamton, will furnish the music. This is one of the best dance orchestras in this section of the country and should assure everyone of a good time. The floor is also one of the best. And as for the roads – with the exception of a short detour on the New Milford end – there is concrete all the way.

Brookdale – George Lindsley lost his horse a few days ago. The children found some paris green and sprinkled it on the grass and the horse ate some of it and died. ALSO Our school opened on Sept. 6th, with Miss Loretta Allen, of Montrose, as teacher. We are glad to welcome her back again this year.

Heart Lake – Luther Whitney has returned home from the army, where he spent nearly a year.

Back to Top

Letter of the Law

By Jason J. Legg

There has been a great deal of media coverage on the case of Whole Woman's Health, et al v. Judge Austin Reeve Jackson, et al, i.e., more commonly referred to as the Texas abortion law case. Texas passed a law that prohibited abortions in Texas after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which Chief Justice Robert described as equating to approximately 6 weeks of gestation. The plaintiffs in the litigation sought an injunction to block enforcement of the Texas law contending that it violated the United States Constitution. A federal district judge refused to issue an injunction – and the matter immediately made its way to the United States Supreme Court.

Lost in the noise generated by this decision is the actual basis upon which the 5- justice majority based its decision. This is particularly strange as the majority's order is only a single paragraph in length, i.e., it would not take much effort to actually read it and report on it if you were inclined to do so. It may also be likely that plenty of media people read it – but simply decided to ignore it because it was not controversial enough to generate sufficient public outrage.

The 5-justice majority made clear that it was denying the injunctive request on procedural grounds – not substantive grounds. Given the hyperbolic media coverage, a casual observer might think that the Supreme Court had overruled Roe and its progeny. Instead, the 5-justice majority specifically noted that "serious questions [had been raised] regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law" and they made clear that they were not engaging in any constitutional analysis whatsoever. What were the procedural issues that that caused in the 5-justice majority to decline immediate injunctive relief?

First, the 5-justice majority noted that it was not clear that the Texas law had any enforcement mechanism – or would even be enforced at all. Indeed, the State of Texas told the court that "neither it nor its executive officers possess the authority to enforce the Texas law either directly or indirectly." What does this mean? Well, in order to get preemptive injunctive relief against a state actor for a constitutional violation, it must be demonstrated that a constitutional injury "must be certainly impending." If the State is representing that it cannot enforce the law, then it is hard to say that any injury is certain to immediately occur; rather, it is more likely that no injury would occur because Texas represents that the law is not enforceable. Given the absence of any certainty of constitutional injury, a procedural hurdle necessary for preliminary injunctive relief had not been cleared.

As to the state judges named as defendants, the 5-justice majority also questioned whether an injunction could be issued "against state judges asked to decide a lawsuit under Texas law." Can the Supreme Court tell a state judge in advance whether he or she can even hear a case? What if the Texas judge decided that the Texas law was unconstitutional and refused to enforce it?  It would be particularly offensive to issue an injunction against Texas judges by presumptively concluding that Texas judges would refuse to follow Supreme Court precedent. The breadth of the injunctive relief being requested was simply too much for the 5-justice majority – especially where there was no showing of any impending enforcement of the law in the first place.

Based upon these procedural issues, the 5- justice majority refused to issue a preemptive injunction not because they concluded that the Texas law was constitutional; rather, there were several necessary procedural hurdles that were simply not satisfied. The 5-justice majority concluded by making clear that "we do not purport to resolve definitely any jurisdictional or substantive claim" and that their order was "not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas's law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts."

This column was actually twice as long as the 5-justice majority's written explanation for its refusal to issue an injunction based solely upon procedural deficiencies – not constitutional grounds. It was a simple decision that the media, legal pundits and social media largely misinterpreted or misreported.

Back to Top

How To Take Pills©

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro

Why do we write obituaries?

The pharmacist was reading his friend's obituary in the local paper. "Bernard Tudball fell asleep in the arms of His Lord on Tuesday after a long battle with Terwilliger's Syndrome. He was 78. An avid bingo-player and fire ant farmer, he leaves behind his wife, Pear Blossom, their conjoined twins, Rue and Sue, and his late non-binary cat, Mr. Wiggins. Services will be held Saturday at Our Lady of the Sorrows on Teardrop Lane. Donations can be made in Bernard's name to the Adult Fingerpainting Club, of which he was Corresponding Secretary." How depressing, thought the pharmacist. Nothing was mentioned about Bernie's love of whoopie cushions, his monogrammed earmuff fetish, or his wish to go to the African nation of Chad and sit on their vast beaches. No pizzazz. No oomph. Must obituaries be so final? We are born. We live. We die. End of story.

While obituaries go back to colonial times when the first US newspapers were printed, they were typically about public figures who had passed. That is because typesetting was a primitive, slow process that involved performing tedious tasks by hand. Thus, print newspapers had a 4-page maximum length that did not change until linotype machines became common in the late 1880s. Even then, the news had to compete with revenue-generating advertisers, so obituaries had to be short and snappy. Although the 2015 death notice of North Dakota man Doug Legler was ultra-concise. Along with his photo, it simply read: "Doug died."

Obituary writing became essential when ordinary folks came to rely on the death announcements to keep tabs on their family connections. Local newspapers publish death announcements to notify the community of funeral services. One important note: A child might rush to the newspaper to get to the comics page first. But by the age of one's first heart attack, one may scan the death notices page first. Why? It is local news, no matter who died. It's a relief not to see your name on that page on that day. If someone younger than you has croaked, you will consider it a modicum of success.

How about your picture with your obituary? A photo would complete the news of your final exit. Make sure that your image was not clipped from a group shot. What's eerier than a disembodied hand hanging over the shoulder of the dearly departed, even if it's your bowling buddy, George? Do not use a photo with oxygen hoses up your nose. That will only remind people of the time your wife "accidentally" stood on your mother's air hose for 14 minutes while "she died peacefully surrounded by her loving family." Sure, a picture of yourself when you are in your prime is terrific. But beware of snarky readers who might say, "Yes, she was lovely back then, but she sure looked like hell at the nursing home!" Use a trained photographer. Do not be shy about saying, "I want a nice obituary photo for the paper." And it is cool to think outside the box. Use the snap of when you caught the 15-pound bass, okay. Photos at the autopsy or the wake are never advised.

Should an obituary mention how a person died? Words like "died suddenly" usually arouse suspicion if the person is under 40. Suicide? Murder? Fell down the stairs? The reader can only assume. "Died of natural causes" is common when the person is elderly. No one wants to know that she popped off after choking on the 47 pills she took to keep her alive. The phrase "died after a long battle with" only makes you wonder whether you yourself would want to endure a 10-year death watch. When one finally dies, people will look dumbly and say, "Didn't he die 5 years ago?"

We write obituaries to celebrate our lives, to instruct, inspire, and even to get a chuckle. Write your own if you must, the pharmacist suggests. But keep it the way you want others to remember you.

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

Back to Top

Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork

By Valerie Senese

For many small rural communities who are not overflowing with excess revenue, the budget gap is closed with volunteers. Volunteers have a federal value of $28.54 an hour. Despite their federal value, we know that they are worth much more. Without people coming together for a common purpose to make their corner of the world a better place, we would not have the nurture we need to flourish as a community.

Volunteer efforts bring us: gardening, first responders, food banks, community events, clothing drives, conservation, animal care, women's resources, public health, emergency management, donated blood, youth mentors, parks and more.

However, no man is an island, and for these mighty volunteers to accomplish great things, they have to come together in numbers and work alongside each other. From planting a tiny seed to developing a major park, team work makes the dream work.

Without volunteers working together despite differences, our world would be bleak, hopeless and devoid of so much around us that we often take for granted.

As Susquehanna continues to grow, so does the volunteer list. With the growing number of volunteers who have been dedicated to work together, you can expect to see the community change in such a way that can turn the impossible to possible.

Do you want to get involved as a volunteer but don't know how or where to get started? You can contact for a listing of various volunteer opportunities in the Tri-Boro region.

Back to Top