HomeColumnists ( May 27, 2020 )

100 Years Ago

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

Gibson – An explosion of gasoline at the home of William DuVall [Davall], near South Gibson, Sunday morning, had tragic results. Mrs. DuVall died from results of injuries received and Mr. DuVall being painfully burned about the face and arms and their splendid home and contents destroyed. Wishing to hurry a coal fire, Mrs. DuVall added kindling wood; then, as she thought, sprinkled kerosene on the wood. But what she believed to be kerosene proved gasoline and then ignited flames causing the can in her hand to explode and setting her clothing on fire. The operator at the South Gibson telephone exchange, on hearing of the fire, immediately hastened to the nearby church and a hundred people were soon on the scene. Mr. DuVall is one of the townships most prosperous and highly esteemed farmers. His home was one of the finest in Gibson township, being situated at Kentuck, three miles from South Gibson.

Heart Lake – An opening dance will be held at Heart Lake resort, Monday evening, May 31st, commencing at 8:30pm. Music by a Binghamton orchestra. Come and enjoy yourself – the first out-of-door dance of the season.

Montrose – The interior of the Court House is being re-decorated by the Andrews Decorating Co., of Chicago. ALSO Every ex-service man is requested to meet in the American Legion room, Monday, May 31, at 1 o'clock, to participate in the Memorial Day exercises. If possible, please report in uniform, without a blouse, as blouses will not be worn. ALSO The Daughters of Veterans wish to urge the children of the town to gather flowers for the Memorial Day bouquets. They should be left at firemen's hall, Saturday, before 3 o'clock.

Hallstead – The noted castle at the foot of Mount Mianotonoime [Manotonome] has been taken down and drawn away. It is the intention of the purchaser to erect several bungalows along the river for which there is a good demand when the road is in fit condition for automobile travel. With good roads and all the beautiful scenery this locality can boast of, there is no reason why many people from Binghamton, Scranton, Philadelphia or New York City cannot be attracted here.

Springville – Mr. and Mrs. Philip Conrad are entertaining their two sons and wives, of Newark, NJ. They are planting the garden and helping their parents in numerous ways. Mr. Conrad is improving very slowly and has had to give up his shop down town. A calamity to him and the people, too, for now we will be obliged to seek a shoemaker out of town.

Oakland – Miss Katherine Florence was robbed of $5 by a daring purse-snatcher one evening last week. Miss Florence was on her way home and to make a short cut started through an alley, the man following her. He made a run, snatched her handbag and darted away. It was all over so quickly that Miss Florence hardly realized what was taking place. The next morning the stripped handbag was found in a dooryard. Miss Florence is unable to describe the man, but believes that he followed her for a considerable distance.

East Rush – On account of the nature of our superintendent's symptoms of diphtheria, there was no Sunday school last Sabbath at this place.

Auburn Four Corners – Levi Warner, a respected citizen of this place, died at his home on Wednesday, May 19, 1920, with pneumonia, following an illness of influenza. He was 74 years of age on the day of his death. Mr. Warner was a veteran of the Civil War. His wife and several children survive him.

Harford – Mrs. M. C. Richardson and Mrs. Fred Merritt entertained the Book Club on Friday. Several of the gentlemen came with their hoes and planted Mrs. Richardson's garden.

From the Tunkhannock New Age: The Northeastern Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Company has ordered a drilling outfit, including engine, derrick, drills, pipes, casings and blacksmith forge and tools, at a cost of about $8,000, and will commence drilling near Lovelton as soon as the outfit arrives and can be set up. Experts from the oil territories are keeping tabs on developments here, and it is expected that there will be interesting news before snow flies. It surely is to be hoped that oil or gas in paying quantity will be found there because the increasing demand and decreasing supply is sending the price of gasoline farther skyward.

Death of Hon. James T. DuBois. One of he best known and most admired men of this county died in Dr. Cowles Private Hospital, New York City, due to bronchial pneumonia. The Hallstead resident was US Minister to several countries and was held in high esteem as an editor, author and lecturer. Mr. DuBois was born in Great Bend, April 17, 1851. His parents were Joseph and Emroy (Taylor) DuBois, early residents of Great Bend, as was his paternal grandparent, Abraham DuBois. Besides his diplomatic career he was editor of The National Republican in Washington, DC and in later years engaged in writing the life of Galusha A. Grow, a life-long friend. [Much more information on the life of Mr. DuBois may be found in the Independent Republican, May 28, 1920.]

Almost 100 Years Old: Anna Very, 99, was born on May 26, 1920 to William and Lena Overfield, and passed away on April 24, 2020. Anna was almost 100 years old. Her goal was to celebrate her 100th birthday but, sadly, that goal was missed by a month. Family, friends and former neighbors eagerly awaited that milestone. Because of the Corona Virus none of us could properly mourn her passing, but perhaps this small tribute to a life well lived will tell you about Anna [Ann]. She had a sharp mind and memory, a great sense of humor and an ever-present smile. She resided at Montrose Square and lived an independent life. She was waiting for the spring crop of rhubarb to bake her favorite recipe. Road trips with Ann were a history lesson of who lived where and when in Bridgewater and Auburn Twp. While living on Jessup Street with her late husband, Asa, both took delight in watching the ongoing feud between groundhogs and our garden. They were champion blueberry pickers for the Festival and oh, those cinnamon buns and mints. Their dining room was referred to as "puzzle town" with 500 to 1000 piece puzzles shared with neighbors and friends. There are so many more stories and memories of Ann and we will celebrate her life of almost 100 years on May 26, 2020, perhaps with her rhubarb coffee cake.

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Letter of the Law

By Jason J. Legg

The federal courts in Kentucky continue to rule on constitutional challenges related to the "stay-at-home" orders issued by local and state officials. You may recall the column a few weeks back regarding a case where a federal judge struck down the Louisville's Mayor's prohibition against a drive-in Easter religious service. Now, in a broader challenge, the Tabernacle Baptist Church, Inc., of Nicholasville, Kentucky, sought injunctive relief so that they could resume in-person religious services. Kentucky's Secretary of Health issued an order preventing mass gatherings, which included religious services. The Kentucky Governor issued an order differentiating between "life-sustaining" and "non-life sustaining" businesses. Church services were deemed to be "non-life sustaining."

Tabernacle Baptist abided by these prohibitions for more than a month – but determined that the "stay-at-home" worship was not fulfilling God's command to celebrate communally. As such, they filed their federal action seeking a federal court to restrain the state from enforcing the emergency orders and thereby allowing them to resume in-person religious services again.

Federal district judge Gregory Van Tatenhove started his opinion with the following introduction: "We are a relatively young nation. But our Constitution is the oldest in the world. We describe it as enduring – a value that must be protected not only when it is easy but when it is hard." While that recognizes that state officials had an "honest motive," the judge noted that any state attempt to infringe upon religious freedom must be narrowly tailored to serve a legitimate state interest.

In this case, the judge indicated that the executive orders were not neutral, i.e., they treated religious services different than other secular activities such as grocery stores or hardware stores which were permitted to remain open. Based upon the lack of neutrality in the executive orders, the state needed to demonstrate a heightened justification for an infringement upon a constitutionally protected right, i.e., the freedom of religion.

While the judge conceded that the COVID-19 pandemic provided a compelling government interest related to protecting the public health, the executive orders were not narrowly tailored as religious services were plainly treated differently than similar commercial enterprises where similar (if not greater) numbers of people congregated together. Judge Van Tatenhove reasoned: "But evidence that the risk of contagion is heightened in a religious setting any more than a secular one is lacking. If social distancing is good enough for Home Depot and Kroger, it is good enough for in-person religious services which, unlike the foregoing, benefit from constitutional protection."

The judge not only granted the temporary restraining order as to Tabernacle Baptist – but ordered that the restraining order apply throughout Kentucky so that all religious entities would be permitted to conduct in-person religious services provided that CDC guidelines relating to social distancing were followed. At the end of the opinion, Judge Tatenhove concluded: "The Constitution will endure. It would be easy to put it on the shelf in times like this, to be pulled down and dusted off when more convenient. But that is not our tradition. Its enduring quality requires that it be respected even when it is hard."

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How To Take Pills©

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro

Can you die laughing?

Harvey came into the pharmacy and said to the pharmacist, "Do you want to hear a good joke?" "The way things are happening now with this virus and people not able to pay their bills, yes, a joke would be great," replied the pharmacist. "OK, here goes," began Harvey. "This man walks into a bar with a monkey and an aardvark…" When the pharmacist heard the punch line, he doubled over and began to convulse. His face was purple, and tears were cascading down his face. Then, he let out a roar! "That. Was. The. Funniest. Thing. I. Ever. Heard," he said between gasps for air. "Gee, Doc," Harvey exclaimed. "For a minute there, I thought I would have to call 9-1-1."

Laughter is good medicine, to be sure, especially during these tough times. However, history recounts some events where the funny bone killed its owner. The Greek philosopher, Chrysippus of Soli (c. 279 – c. 206 BCE), was watching a donkey eat some figs and cried out, "Now give the donkey a drink of pure wine to wash down the figs!" Evidently, the scene was so uproarious to Chrysippus that he died in a fit of laughter. (The sight may have been funnier if one was in a Greek orchard at the time). In 1920, a 56-year-old Australian dog trainer named Arthur Cobcroft was reading a five-year-old newspaper. He was amused at the prices for items listed in the ads in 1915 (pre-World War 1) versus those in 1920 (post-WW1). While relaying this information to his wife, he burst into laughter, and suddenly collapsed and died. The doctor arrived and stated that Mr. Cobcroft's demise was the result of heart failure, triggered by excessive laughter.

To be honest, most people who died laughing had some type of underlying condition such as heart disease, which can result in cardiac arrest. Nevertheless, there are other ways. Pietro Aretino was a Tuscan author, playwright, vulgar poet, satirist, and blackmailer, who wielded influence on contemporary art and politics. In 1556, at the age of 64, he suffocated to death while laughing, presumably at an obscene joke. Perhaps he was eating a meatball at the same time, and it "went down the wrong tube."

Some individuals have a history of brain injury caused by a stroke, Alzheimer's, or trauma that causes them to laugh uncontrollably. The condition, called pseudobulbar affect (PBA), is characterized by sudden, frequent, uncontrollable episodes of laughing (or crying) that do not match how one feels. In 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the marketing of dextromethorphan and quinidine capsules (Neudexta®) to control such embarrassing outbursts.

But for the everyday person, why does laughter happen? We laugh because we like to connect with people. One study shows that humans are 30 times more likely to laugh when in a group. Kids between 2 and 4 years old were found to be eight times more likely to laugh at a cartoon when they watched it with another child than when they watched it alone. All societies laugh, albeit for different reasons. The tale of the flatulent hippopotamus at a head-shrinking ritual would likely only be funny to a select few (aka "You had to be there!). Even apes laugh, as reported by scientists who have gone out into the jungle expressly to tickle them. Laughing is healthy, normal, relieves stress, and is probably great for the cardiovascular system.

Why was Harvey's joke about the monkey and the aardvark so funny? No one ever found out because the pharmacist could never finish the joke without laughing so hard that he was forced to change his underwear.

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

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