New Year's Eve, December 31, the final day of the year 2007. Happy birthday to Silvia Vincent, Frank Gould, Marie Castrogiovanni and Richard Savage. Happy anniversary to Deb and Scott Jones.
On this date in 1935, a patent for a "Board Game Apparatus" was issued for Monopoly and assigned to Parker Brothers, Inc., by Charles Darrow, an unemployed salesman and inventor living in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Darrow struggled with odd jobs following the 1929 stock market crash. He drew the streets of Atlantic City on his kitchen tablecloth, complete with little houses and hotels. Darrow began selling copies of his board game for $4 each in Philadelphia department stores. He wrote to Parker Brothers to see if the company would produce and market the game. The company turned him down, explaining that his game contained "fifty-two fundamental errors" of taking too long to play, rules too complicated and no clear goal for the winner. Undaunted, Darrow had 5,000 copies printed. A daughter of the Parker Brothers' founder bought a copy of the game, described it to her mother and shortly in a series of moves Parker Brothers developed a shorter variation of the game. The royalties from Monopoly made Darrow a millionaire. There is a plaque in Atlantic City dedicated to Darrow on Boardwalk, near the corner of Park Place.
The year is going, let him go; ring out the false, ring in the true.
--Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Because of the long tradition of fine cooks, Marcia Kay and I tried the Maple Leaf Inn, about two miles south of Monroeton on Route 220. The owners are Joe and Mert (Mary Elizabeth) Keeney. Mert is the daughter of Robert and Betty Lewis. Other great cooks in the family include Libby Lewis, Phoebe Jean Walters and the now deceased Tone Perry who once served up delicious food in Elk Grove. The ownership of the RicMar Restaurant, Northumberland, comes from this line of food preparation. The Sunday afternoon meal was excellent. Mert served up a hug for us to the consternation of other regulars in the restaurant. The Eagles/Bills game was on softly in the background and we were immediately checked by patrons to make sure we were not Buffalo fans. We passed all the tests, and so did the food served to us...
We recently mentioned Dorothy Mae Moser, the mother who died 12 years ago whose daughter in Tampa, Elaine Miller, was attempting to learn more about her mother. There wasn't much to go on, but--what the heck--we thought that we would give it a whirl. A Bloomsburg reader and former Bentonian wrote that she had just arrived in Florida (to 80° temperatures). She read the Benton News and immediately emailed saying "My cousin married the brother of Dorothy Mae Moser." The man now lives in Horseheads, New York. Elaine wrote that she was soon reunited (by telephone) with "Uncle Lowell Sam" and his lovely wife, Marion!" She continued, "I called them (Sunday) morning with much nervousness thinking perhaps it was another Dorothy Mae Moser that they were related to. As soon as I started talking with Marion she mentioned the name "Sissy," my childhood nickname. I am overwhelmed for after 12 years of researching someone read it and the connection was made!"
Google is the greatest! It is a search engine to end all search engines! Here are some examples...
. Businesses. Enter the name and location in the search box; i.e., "old filling station benton pa".
. Residential phone number: Enter the name and location in the search box. You'll also get street-level maps and links to more detailed information.
. Stock market and mutual fund quotes: Enter the ticker symbol into the search box. Google will return the current price, charts, volume and other information.
. Maps: Enter your address in the search box and Google will return a small map of the area. Click on the map or the "Get Directions" button to get a street map and turn-by-turn driving direction TO or FROM this location.
. Track a UPS, FedEx or USPS Package. Enter your package-tracking number to get the information
. Scan a Product. Enter a UPC bar code number to "scan" a product.
. Dictionary and Spell Check. Enter "define bloomsburg pa" into the search box. Don't worry if you spell it wrong. Google will give you a link to what it thinks is the correct word. Click on the link and the next page will show a definition, with a link to more definitions and information.
. Calculator and Converter. Need to add, subtract or multiply some numbers? Just enter your equation in the box.
. Convert units from one system to another.
. Flight Tracker. Enter the flight number. Enter the airport name and Google will return a message like "View conditions at Chicago OHare International Airport (ORD), Chicago, Illinois." Find out if a plane is leaving on time. Enter an airplane's FAA registration number (found on its tail) and get a link to the FAA's aircraft description, owner and airworthiness report. Or enter a Vehicle Registration Number (VIN) and the number will be decoded to show the year, make, model, engine type, etc.
. Look up area codes, patent numbers. Want to buy a GPS in the range of $300 to $400? Simply enter "GPS $300 - $400" (without the quotes). Try different things, like "weather benton pa" or "weather in Orlando fl" or "P. S. I Love You."
In Search Of...
• Information about a painter by the name of Mary Weisgold, Red Rock. There are multiple paintings by her on saw blades and slate, she has worked with stained glass and she may have written a book.
• Photographs of the former Bednark's Bar on what used to be called Dark Hollow Road. The present address is 674 Mossville Road.
Please drive safely tonight. We'll see you again next year,
same time, same place.
December 30, 2007. Happy anniversary today to Chris and Pam Young. Matt Lauer of Today Show fame was born on this date the year I graduated from high school. In 1975, Eldrick Woods was born. He grew up to be a real tiger on the golf course.
He used to carry his golf clubs in a golfing bag
and learn to swing just like a pro and that's a fact
The man went to the Masters in Augusta shade
and was in his 20s and got it made
When CBS saw him, the commentators say
"Oh, look at how Tiger Woods could play!"
Congratulations to Benton wrestlers Coltin Fought, Mike Rhone, Eric Hess, Billy Pasukinis and Corey Lear as champions at the Bob Rohm Tournament Saturday at Nelson Field House. And congratulations to coach Russ Hughes for a job well done. The Press Enterprise gives the five champions a nice write-up in Sunday's newspaper.
With this edition of the Benton News, we'll take a minor break until the new year is well launched and in fact for the next seven days. Except for things of a major nature, the Benton News will be silent much of the time for the next week--and, contrary to popular opinion, it will not be so we can start our Christmas shopping.
The Columbia-Montour County Visitors Bureau maintains a Visitors Center at 121 Papermill Road, Bloomsburg, at I-80 exit 236, Bloomsburg/Lightstreet. The Visitors Center installed a kiosk at the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center (N4C) Saturday and will outfit it during the coming, shortened week. The kiosk will be an excellent source of information for visitors to the popular local community center.
. January 16, 2008. Eileen Drummond will be a guest speaker at the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center (N4C) at 7 PM. Accompanying her will be trained therapy dogs and volunteers of the Canine Connection Chapter #187, a local organization which is a chapter of Therapy Dogs International. Each dog must pass the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen Test and undergo a temperament evaluation for suitability to become a therapy dog. Dogs range from ones with pedigrees, some come from local shelters and some are rescued animals. The program will be of interest to all age groups. Eileen is an Air Force Vietnam veteran, a Certified TDI Evaluator and an AKC "Good Citizenship" Evaluator and an EMT. The program is free for members of N4C and visitors. Non-members are charged a $5 day-pass rate. Snacks and beverages are available as a good-will offering.
Didja ever think...
. where the word news comes from? It doesn't come from the combination of "North, East, West, South."
. it is best to be early if you are a bird and late if you are a worm.
. that Pennsylvania is the only state that prohibits municipal police from enforcing speed limits with radar? Only state troopers can use radar. There is legislation--HB1957--for consideration immediately after the start of the new year which would permit local, full-time police officers who work for full-service police departments to use radar. The bill would allow fines from speeding to be used entirely to compensate towns for the costs incurred to keep their program running--with revenue over that routed to the state police.
The Pennsylvania Senate wrapped up 2007 without advancing a bill--SB369--which would require truck drivers to travel 5 mph slower than they do now and stay in the right lanes on certain highways in the state. The bill would mandate that vehicles with a registered gross weight in excess of 26,000 pounds be slowed to 60 mph on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, rural interstates and other limited-access routes. All other vehicles would be allowed to continue to travel at the current 65 mph speed limit. Some claim it would make for safer travel, while opponents say requiring trucks to drive at speeds slower than other vehicles won't do anything for safety on the highways.
Goodbye to an old friend. Netscape Navigator, now under the ownership of AOL, will no longer be supported after February 1, 2008. How times have changed. In the mid-90s, the web browser was used by more than 90% of web users and was the browser that helped to get the commercial web cranking.
For many, the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year is a depressing time. It is at this time that a sense of humor, the ability to see the funnier side of life, an appreciation of the ridiculous can be a saving grace. If you want to find out something about your very best friend, just watch and see what he or she laughs at. It is an acid test of character.
There is a woman I know who laughs whenever anyone trips or falls. This woman is kind-hearted and if she thought that the fall would be at all serious it would not tickle her funny bone and she would be the first on the scene to aid in the person's recovery. But she reserves her laughs to the smaller accident in life. She loves slapstick in movies, yet she is far from foolish.
I once asked her shortly after I inverted my tin cups what she found so funny in a fall. She told me about being away from home in her first year of college and while her dormitory was excused to return home for Christmas she was obligated to stay at college and away from friends and family. In desperation, she decided to decorate her room for Christmas rather than bury her sorrow in a good book. A chair placed on a table gave way and the girl tumbled to the floor landing on her knees in a praying position on the sofa cushions she had carelessly littered on the floor, her chin upended on the corner of the table as if in prayer.
She knelt in that position assuming that some bone somewhere was broken until she began to laugh uncontrollably until she cried and then began to laugh again. The fall without injury had brought her out of her blues and she always remembers that situation when a similar situation arises.
Many a quarrel between friends has been diverted by the use of a well-placed piece of humor or by taking advantage of a funny incident. At the same time, it becomes tragic to laugh at the wrong time or laugh at another instead of with him or her. A lack of humor might be the biggest hindrance in falling in love and working through awkward situations. Laughing when the lover is serious can be a serious impediment to a relationship!
Humor doesn't need a smile or a laugh. It is an outlook on life that decides whether one has a sense of humor. Humor should make you tolerant and kind-hearted. It won't make you sacrifice reverence or lose sight of the finer sensibilities of your friends. It should make you restrain a laugh when necessary. Wit is like the sparkle of newly-opened wine. A German or French joke book wouldn't sell a copy. The French seem to have wit, but no humor. The English, on the other hand, seem to have humor, but no wit. Jokes that made the previous generation laugh seem dull today. Here is an example of a joke told exactly a century ago...
Lord Chesterfield complained about dishes being dirty at an inn where he was eating.
"Every one must eat his peck of dirt," coolly observed the waiter.
"True," was the instant retort, "but no one is obligated to eat it all at one meal."
And here is another from a hundred years ago...
A man on his deathbed was finally visited by his doctor, who apologized for being so late. He explained that he had attended to a man who had fallen down his well. "Did he kick the bucket?" asked the patient.
We are nearing the closing out of a happy, healthy and prosperous year. And I wish you the best in everything that 2008 brings.
December 29, 2007, the fourth day of Christmas, the 363rd day of the year with two days remaining until the end of the year. It is the birthday of inventor Charles Goodyear, born in 1800. Rubber once was messy stuff which froze bone-hard in winter and turned glue-like in summer. Goodyear accidentally dropped a mixture of rubber and sulfur on a hot stove, and that led to the development of the process of vulcanization, which made the invention of the automobile possible.
It is also the birthday of Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of the United States, born in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1808, in a two-room log cabin to nearly illiterate parents, Johnson grew up in poverty, was apprenticed to a tailor as a boy, but ran away. His wife, Eliza, improved Johnson's reading ability at the age of 17 following their marriage. He is credited with once saying, "It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word," a motto we live by at the Benton News. With the assassination of Lincoln, the Presidency fell upon this old-fashioned southern Jacksonian Democrat of pronounced states' rights views. He was strongly opposed to secession, which made him the enemy of many southerners.
It is also the birthday of someone I can relate to--William Gaddis, a novelist born in 1922. He wrote some important stuff, but the total of his royalty checks was $4.35.
Quote of the Day:
"There have never in history been so many opportunities to do so many things that aren't worth doing."
A reader asked what I would be doing on New Year's Eve. I won't be doing the same thing as last year when we toasted the new year at home. Marcia Kay had rye and I had whole wheat! It isn't a big holiday for our family. I take New Year's Eve with a grain of salt--and a couple of aspirins. This isn't a family where the sobering up takes place on the first day of the new year--when the charge slips from the night before are seen with clear eyes.
Fans of the rodeo and of bull riding will be thrilled with today's edition of the Press Enterprise and its coverage of the sport as practiced at the S. R. Bucking Bulls arena on the farm of Tom Benjamin on Shale Ridge Road.
Upcoming...January 26, 2008. PPL naturalists (570 251-6196) at Lake Wallenpaupack will hold a free Eagle-Viewing Trip from 9 AM to noon Saturday. Eagles have been spotted on the ice on Lake Wallenpaupack and in trees around the lake and resting on the dam. The eagles migrate from Canada this time of the year when their water sources freeze over as they head for the upper Delaware where they can find open water.
An interesting story about eagles appeared in the March 31, 1907, Philadelphia Inquirer. It was about an eagle that wreaked havoc on the Indian River in Florida with a girl from Cincinnati, her brother and her cousin. According to the article, it was about nine in the morning when a dark shadow swept over the water, and the three were startled by the "shrill, guttural, angry cry" of an eagle that flew toward them.
As the eagle approached, the "fierce, gleaming, yellow eyes and outstretched beak" came into view. The three began shouting at the bird, tossing up their hats and brandishing their fish poles. The eagle was not daunted by these efforts and swept toward them with increasing speed.
The three didn't realize they were being attacked and didn't try to beat him back when he swooped close enough to clutch at the girl's hat in his talons. She swung her fish pole and caught him with a resounding whack and one of the boys smacked him with a glancing blow using an oar.
The eagle flew off in pain and anger, then circled to an elevation of a couple hundred feet and again hurtled toward his prey.
Hastily telling the girl to sit on the bottom of the boat, the boys each seized an oar and mounted a defense. The girl grabbed the boat anchor. As the huge bird approached both swung with their oars, but both missed. The eagle didn't miss however, and grabbed the girl's hat and attempted to fly away. Because of the wind, the girl had tied her hat with a strong cord and when her hat wouldn't come off her head the bird paused in the air for a moment. She clonked the bird with the anchor (a boat hook). The frantic eagle struggled so furiously with his wings and feet that the girl tumbled overboard into the water. One of the boys was thrown to the far end of the boat, the other knocked out of the boat landing about twelve feet away in the water.
The anchor cord wrapped around the eagle's head and the flapping bird kept the girl afloat until she could grab the side of the boat, but the bird in his attempt to escape had pulled her about twelve feet into the channel. When one of the boys regained control of oars he found that the boat was being dragged into the middle of the river. Finally, the bird was again clanked over the head with an oar and this time it stayed in the river almost causing the girl to drown as it fell on her. She bravely slid the bird off her shoulders and with help climbed back into the boat. Her hat was torn to ribbons, but none of the three was injured. The bird was captured alive.
You can probably learn more about eagles when you attend the Early Bird Sports Expo, Jan. 24-27, 2008, at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds. Call 799-0896 for more information.
The great American Eagle,
That wonderful bird of prey,
He flapped his wings in Avoca
And pooped in Duryea.
--A dubious ditty once popular in Central, according to native Dick Sutliff
When I was growing up, I heard that in China the doctor was paid as long as the patients were kept in good health, and when their health got worse the payment to the doctor stopped. I probably heard that from a family member or close friend and therefore I believed it. Years passed before I found this was not true, yet still I thought this was an ideal way in which a doctor would earn his living. We have modern examples of stories of this kind running rampant on the internet, especially as relates to specific people who are running for President of the United States. The story either sounds like it could be true or is true because it recites the same thing you believe. One example recently found its way into my inbox. After reading what appeared to be a well-structured and well-reasoned attack on a candidate I was ready to shoot the man myself. How could this man run for public office? A quick scan of Snopes revealed that the email was simply full of bullcrap. I still am not voting for the man, but I choose to form my own opinions based on facts and not on bias.
December 28, 2007, the 362nd day of the year with three days remaining until the end of the year. Happy birthday to Rev. Dr. Donna Laubach Moros, and Happy Anniversary to Dr. Edgar and Rev. Dr. Donna Laubach Moros. We are rapidly approaching the time when we say "Farewell, 2007." On this date in 1954, Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance.
When things go wrong, don't go with them.
Few places impress me more than the Dietrich Theater and the Wyoming County Cultural Center, Tunkhannock . Last year, the WCCC hosted 174 events for 5,448 participants. Stop by and see what I mean the next time you are in Tunkhannock.
The following is in answer to a question about how long churches have existed in the upper Fishingcreek Valley...
. The church which became the United Methodist Church of Benton was formed in 1868 or 1869 and met in the home of Charles Snyder and in a church identified as being in "West Creek." In 1870 a group of sixteen people formally organized the Methodist Episcopal Church and continued to meet in homes until 1872 when a frame-church building was erected and served as Benton's place of worship for thirty-five years on the spot where the present brick building now stands. The church was rebuilt in 1907.
. The Hamline Church was built in 1879 to replace a similar church built nearby in 1845. For many years, it was known as the "Hamlin" Church.
. St. Gabriel's Church held Presbyterian services as early as 1812 and also met several times in the first Hamlin Church prior to 1872. At that time, Hamlin was in a "more convenient location" than St. Gabriel's Church, but the congregation wanted a place of its own to meet and chose the location at the site of the present Raven Creek Presbyterian Church. That building was completed and dedicated November 7, 1874.
. The Methodist Church in Sugarloaf Township first met in school houses. The first church was built about 1865 and was known as Simpson Chapel. The first church in Sugarloaf Township was completed in 1812 and dedicated fourteen years later by Right Reverend Henry M. Onderdonk according to the ritual of the Protestant Episcopal Church. This church was the "old" St. "Gabriel" Church used for 64 years until it burned to the ground on Palm Sunday in 1876. The church was jointly owned by Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Lutherans. The cornerstone for the new St. Gabriel's Church was laid in 1876 and the church was dedicated the following year.
. The Christian Church in Benton was organized about the year 1836 by John Ellis and John Sutton with thirty members. Elder Ellis was the author of the poem the White Pilgrim, a poem (see below) widely copied by the press at that time and made popular in recent years by recordings of both Doc Watson and Bob Dylan. The first "meeting house" (church) was built in 1856 near the present Hoboken Sub Shop. The church later met on Hill Street, Benton. The church building at Third and Church Streets has been home to the congregation since the construction of the building from 1894 to 1896.
I came to the place where the lone pilgrim lay
And pensively stood by his tomb,
When in a low whisper I heard something say,
"How sweetly I sleep here alone.
The tempest may howl and the loud thunder roar,
And gathering storms may arise,
But calm is my feeling, at rest is my soul.
The tears are all wiped from my eyes.
The cause of my Master compelled me from home,
No kindred or relative nigh.
I met the contagion and sank to the tomb,
My soul flew to mansions on high.
Go tell my companion and children most dear
To weep not for me now I'm gone.
The same hand that led me through scenes most severe
Has kindly assisted me home."
--Elder John Ellis
In Search Of...
. Information on Dorothy Mae Moser. Elaine Miller, Tampa, Florida, writes that her mother died 12 years ago and never talked about her childhood. Elaine has been trying to research her background, but has little to go on. The mother applied for a social security card Sept. 17, 1937, under the name Dorothy Mae Moser, worked at the Hotel Magee Coffee Shoppe, Bloomsburg. Her father's name was listed as Harry Simon Moser and her mother as Celia Bertha Steffen, both of whom were killed in a train accident. In the 1920 census she was listed as a month old, living with grandparents William and Emma Daubaumayer (SP?), Fifteenth Street, Bloomsburg. She married Kenneth Israel Miller at a young age and left Pennsylvania. She had an uncle, David Davies. She said she lived with him and his wife. She said he was a country doctor and that although he wanted to adopt her, his wife didn't because they had a daughter close to her age who had died. Do any readers have further information about Dorothy Mae Moser?
. A story entitled Ollie and the Purple Nightgown.
• Clean air. The air quality in the area around "the square" in Benton Thursday night was flat-out unfit for humans. It was a public health concern! To learn more about the respiratory effects from exposure to wood smoke, read the article here.
. The National Shooting Sports Foundation says that Pennsylvania hunters spend more days hunting than any other state.
. Signs are posted advertising the new year's eve festivities planned for Mechanicsburg as the annual "Wrench Drop" takes place on Main between Arch and Market Streets. There will be food and ballroom dancing instruction.
. Christine's Karaoke will be at the Jamison City Hotel New Year's Eve, although Hilary and Barack won't be there. The Ladies' Home Journal noted that 24% of Americans would rather go to a karaoke party with Hilary Clinton than any other presidential candidate. Barack Obama was second, at 15%.
. A Lehman Brothers survey indicates that about 4.5% of auto loans made in 2006 to top-rated borrowers were at least 30 days delinquent as of the end of September.
Favorite license plate seen over the Christmas holiday...
Ah, the joys of writing a rant like the Benton News. I am sitting on the couch with my perfect cup of coffee--well, perhaps not "perfect." After all, Beethoven counted out exactly 60 beans for a "perfect" cup of coffee which always makes me smile as I watch a local waitress ladling out two packages of coffee into three approximately equal helpings of coffee in order to brew up coffee water.
Now that Christmas is out of the way, we can add the coming new year to the docket of business, time for me to list my resolutions for the coming year. The Babylonians were probably the first people to make New Year's resolutions and all over the world people have been making and breaking them ever since.
The resolutions I used last year generally worked fine for me, so I'll use most of them again next year. In case they might apply to you, here they are.
Become a hero to someone. Become a leader, remembering that only the lead sled dog has a view worth remembering. Don't underestimate the power of words to reconcile relationships; learn to disagree without being disagreeable. Keep all your fires filled with irons, take the time to enjoy what you have, save 10% of what you earn, don't tell anyone that you are tired, angry or sick or that you have problems. Learn from the lending excesses of 2007 and embrace an era of austerity. The United States is buried under a mountain of debt; do your part to get out of debt. Keep your wallet and car keys in the same place every time you come into the house. Assume that no one will pay any heed to any advice you pass out, enjoy the magic of the moment rather than daydream of what might happen, send flowers to someone you love and if necessary think of a reason why later.
Don't under tip the waiter when you receive bad food. He didn't cook the food. Show enthusiasm when you answer the phone. Try hard to remember people's names. Don't accept "good enough" as good enough. Get priorities straight. No one ever lamented on their death bed that they didn't spend enough time working in the office. Start your meetings on time, regardless of who is missing, but avoid committees, remembering that every world-changing idea originated with just one person. Acquire things the old fashioned way; i.e., save for them and pay cash. Don't be fooled. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Keep a wary eye out for the person who tells you how honest he is, and the same for a person who shares a "secret" with you. Don't believe people when they ask you to be honest with them and be prepared for the consequences when you are honest with that person. Think twice before you burden a friend with one of your secrets. Leave the toilet seat down. Support the local high school, church and community center. Forget the Joneses. Forget the "tricks of the trade," learn the trade.
Stop telling people that you don't have enough time. You have the same number of hours in a day that Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Thomas Jefferson and Helen Keller had in theirs. Travel. Develop an interest in history and introduce a friend to the Benton News. Learn that a Sunday afternoon nap is a good thing. Lock your house and your car. Get and stay in shape. Don't use a toothpick in public or a cell phone while driving your car or in a restaurant. Understand that it takes years to become an "overnight success." Give up nagging. Don't ask someone you just met what they do. Enjoy their company without attaching labels to the person. Watch lending money to friends or you might end up losing both the money and the friend. Hang a bird feeder and fill it with waxed sunflower seeds. Don't major in minor things. Drink milk of the low-fat variety, eat less red meat and throw away the salt. Don't tell people how something is to be done, but tell them what needs to be done. Their solutions will please you. Write a will. Listen when someone tells a story, don't interrupt and don't try to top their story with one of yours. Learn to identify verses from the Bible, as well as local wildflowers, birds and trees.
December 27, 2007. Happy birthday to Chris Dawson, Harry Schlichter and Nancy Leh who celebrate their birthdays the same day as French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur, born on this date in 1822. Pasteur proved that microorganisms cause fermentation and disease. He originated vaccines for rabies, anthrax, and chicken cholera.
A single woman who has been a bridesmaid twenty-seven times prepares to support her sister at the altar on number twenty-eight despite being helplessly in love with her sister's handsome husband-to-be. This is the story line of a new movie that will be released on January 11. The title of the movie is 27 Dresses with Kristen Ritter making an appearance. A trailer of the movie can be seen here.
The Christmas Day reenactment of a major turning point in the Revolutionary War didn't go well this week. The reenactment was of the Crossing of the Delaware River on Dec. 25, 1776, by 2,400 soldiers, 200 horses and 18 cannons and led by George Washington. The river current was too much for the reenactment to take place.
The discovery of gold on the American Fork River in California created quite a stir. Thousands of acres of woods fell in the late 1800s to the axe of the lumberman in the local area. There have been stories of the discovery of copper in the mountains surrounding Jamison City. Natural gas has gone through its phases and through November the Department of Environmental Protection issued about 4,160 permits to drill natural gas wells. Dallas-based Chief Oil & Gas LLC has leases for more than 200,000 acres in Lycoming County alone, and leases are being written in Sullivan and Columbia Counties as well.
In October, 1884, all signs pointed to the discovery of a vein of coal in Fairmount Township and the southwestern portion of Luzerne County. Workmen who were "sinking" a well on the farm of H. H. Holmes found a vein about half an inch thick according to an article in the October 9, 1884, Bloomsburg Republican. The coal was immediately proclaimed to be "well-defined anthracite bright and sparkling as any taken from the mines of this region," according to an article in the Wilkes-Barre Record.
Geologists who had been blindsided by the find immediately began the "I told you so" scenario noting that they had long felt that the mine did not end with the little Salem mine on the west side of the river, but that it appeared as a terminal outcropping which dips to the west to reappear somewhere near the base of North Mountain. A report was immediately issued that "it is not impossible that coal in paying veins may exist west of the Susquehanna Valley, and that a boring of a few hundred feet will bring to light facts that will make Fairmount and our western country territory as important a point for mining operations as the Hazleton and vicinity fields are today."
It is always fun to comb through the pages of local history where names pop out at us as if we were looking a current phone book. Here are some examples...
. Benton. There isn't much history on the subject that we can find, but before the plot of land that is now the Borough of Benton was known by that name a man by the name of Daniel Hartman owned the land. The land had been surveyed by a man by the name of Robert Colley. The area was known as Dansbury. In 1912, the Bloomsburg Republican attempted to determine when the name change took place, but never got to the bottom of the question.
. Benton Cemetery. Another subject that is hard to get full information on is the cemetery, identified as the "old" cemetery and the "new" cemetery. In recent years a third section was added thanks to the gift of the land from Dayne and Ruth Kline. This section of the cemetery is east of the other two parcels.
The "new" section of the cemetery--and remember that this isn't the "newest" section--was billed as one of the "most model burial grounds in the state" when it opened in April, 1912. Landscaping was provided with 50 young spruce trees, then about three feet high, to mark the earthen driveways and the avenues. It is worth a drive through the "new" cemetery today in order to marvel at the height of these trees. The promise was made that "crushed stone" would be added "in time." The caretaker of the cemetery was A. H. Follmer and he was empowered to sell burial plots. He had a large blueprint of the grounds which showed every lot, walk and driveway. Each purchaser received a receipt and a deed to their lot. The Benton Cemetery remains an active burial site.
. School Board. In 1912, the school board met in the Benton Store Company building on Monday nights. Members included men with the last names of Smith, Hartman, Hosler, Shultz and Coleman.
December 26, 2007. Happy birthday to Ray McCourt, just five years short of half a century old today. Ray is the webmeister of the Benton Rodeo Site, the Columbia County Community Website and the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center website. On this day in 1909, Philadelphia was hit with 21 inches of snow in a coastal storm that also brought record tides. In Camp Hill, where Santa found Marcia Kay and me on Christmas Day, the sun was out for Christmas, but a reader in Buffalo, New York, reported she had a white Christmas of about three inches. The last Buffalo Bills home game is history, and that city is now turning the stadium's field into an outdoor ice rink for the New Year's Day game between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Didja know that Pennsylvania opens more than 2,000 miles of state forest roads and more than 1,000 miles of trails in state forests and parks to snowmobiling? The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has condition updates on its toll-free snowmobile hot line, 877 766-6253. Condition messages are updated around noon each Tuesday and Thursday. Snowmobilers also can find maps, condition reports and other information at www.dcnr.state.pa.us.
In Great Britain, Canada, and Australia today is known as Boxing Day, but it has nothing to do with Rocky Balboa or pugilistic competition of any kind. The name of the holiday comes from the Old English custom of giving Christmas "boxes" to tradesmen, postmen and servants. The original boxes, once made of earthenware, contained money retrieved by breaking the boxes open. You may also hear references to Kwanza which begins today and lasts through January 1, African Americans celebrate Kwanza, the time of year when African tribes traditionally celebrated the first harvest of their crops.
The day after Christmas is sometimes known as the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. He was stoned to death. If the name St. Stephen sounds familiar, think of the Christmas carol and the words about good King Wenceslas made to a poor man whom he observed struggling through the snow "on the Feast of Stephen."
Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, gathering winter fuel.
"Second Christmas" in early Pennsylvania was celebrated the day after Christmas as a secular holiday. The day's activities included shooting matches, games of chance, and wheelbarrow races.
Beth Schwing, a member of Bloomsburg University's women's cross country team will be featured on the national TV broadcast of CBS Sports Presents Championships of the NCAA Saturday, December 29, at 3 PM on CBS WYOU-TV. The program will feature highlights and stories from cross country, field hockey, soccer and volleyball.
Now that Christmas has passed for another year, the next holiday is rapidly approaching and with it comes the Pennsylvania Dutch New Year's tradition of pork and sauerkraut Ever wonder why pork and sauerkraut? The old story is that because a pig roots forward, eating pork on New Year's Day helps a person move ahead.
Sauerkraut eaten on New Year's Day equates to a prosperous new year. Betty Ruckle once told the story of when Sue Artman stirred her sauerkraut one New Year's Day, saying "if it wasn't for the money, I just wouldn't like this stuff." Sauerkraut is finely-sliced white cabbage fermented with lactobacillus bacteria. The sugar in the cabbage is converted into lactic acid and acts as a preservative. The German word Sauerkraut literally translates to sour cabbage.
We often say that watching the making of public policy, sausage and sauerkraut should be avoided, and this year I have to add that people should not have had to watch yesterdays preparation of our Christmas dinner. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes and three other vegetables, homemade bread and scads of grandchildren filled our tiny kitchen. I'll never understand how people can run a restaurant and make all the food come out at the same time. Throw some grandchildren into the mix and it is "take what you can get" time!
The German side of our family always thought that to bring "good luck" in good health, wealth and happiness, we should eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day. To prevent illness through the year, we ate smoked sausages on New Year's Day. To bring "good luck" for the rest of the year, we ate the boiled cabbage on New Year's Day.
In the South, of course, it is black-eyed peas! The black-eyed peas tradition goes back to the Civil War. According to a story that we heard, Northern troops destroyed all the crops in the fields of the south except for the black-eyed peas because they thought they were grown to feed livestock. The peas were left, so Southerners were able to get through the Civil War with them and they should get through the new year with them, too!
I remember a rainy New Year's Eve in 1965 when three local boys and their dates went to Painter Den Hunting Club to celebrate the arrival of the new year. We won't bother to divulge the names of the three boys. The date (from Kingston) of one of the boys was so happy to be invited to "Painter Den Lodge," a vision that conjured up thoughts in her mind of evening gowns and romantic music, that she wore a party dress for the occasion. The group arrived in a drenching rainstorm in one of the boy's father's new white Chevrolet, which his son had promised not to get dirty. Two of the boys filled a five-gallon pickle jar with a drink made with a gallon of Seagram's VO and various juices and fruit according to a recipe invented that night. Shortly before the end of 1965, in the romantic glow of the fireplace, one of the boys proposed to his date and shortly after the arrival of 1966, she accepted. The five-gallon pickle jar of "old fashions" was drained by daylight in celebration. On New Year's Day, with the temperature approaching 60 degrees, father and mother sloshed into camp through the mud and rain and prepared roast pork and sauerkraut. The food was largely uneaten.
In Europe, New Year's Eve celebrations range from grapes and pigs feet to red underwear and fireworks. In Spain, New Year's Eve is known as nochevieja. Restaurants, bars and hotels offer dinner and champagne for one price and in Madrid thousands gather in the square and watch the clock tick down. The event is covered live on Spanish television and is much like New York City's ball drop in Times Square. Eating grapes, however, is the most bizarre. When the clock strikes 12, people try to eat one grape for each chime of the clock, trying to get a dozen grapes down the gullet before the New Year. Those who do receive good luck. Those who don't--well, figure it out for yourself! Somehow, we don't want to wine, but we don't think this is a "grape"way to start the new year.
In Russia, dreams on New Year's Eve are shared over Russian caviar. Caviar is fish eggs--or roe--taken from sturgeon. Most of the world's caviar comes from the sturgeon of the Caspian Sea, an inland sea between Russia and Iran. The most prized varieties are beluga, osetra and sevruga, all considered a delicacy and a food with healing qualities.
In Italy, many foods and traditions abound, but a common theme is "out with the old." In earlier times, people really threw old things out the second floor windows, the bad things that had plagued the year. Turns out the tradition was hard on heads of people walking the streets, and it is today rarely followed except in small towns.
Italians sip on spumante and dine on lentils and pig's feet, believing that the feet are rich in fat and symbolize a year filled with abundance, be it money, love or health. Fireworks go off for about 24 hours.
In Germany, New Year's Eve is known as Silvester, and is celebrated much as the way we do it in this country: noisily, merrily and with glasses of sparkling wine or champagne just before midnight. Typical German new year's food is split pea soup with sausages and smoked pork chops with sauerkraut.
December 25, 2007, the 359th day of 2006 with 6 days remaining in the year and 86 days until the official start of spring. The next full moon will be January 22, 2008. Ralph Ford, Huntington Mills, is 63 today. Milton and Mary Kline, Orangeville, celebrate 50 years of marriage today.
It is Christmas, a word which comes from the words Cristes maesse, or Christ's Mass. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus for members of the Christian religion. On this date in 1818, Silent Night was performed for the first time, in Austria; in 1776, Gen. George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces; in 1946, comedian W.C. Fields, 66, died in Pasadena, CA; in 1977, comedian Sir Charles Chaplin, 88, died in Switzerland.
In the Wilkes-Barre Times of December 20, 1906, Captain James Bowman recalled his Christmas confinement in a Confederate prison during the Civil War. Captain Bowman wrote his story about half a century after the episode happened, yet the picture in the mind of the former soldier of that Christmas Day in a Virginia prison was "just as strong, vivid, and impressive as though it were but yesterday."
Bowman was part of the Sixth Pennsylvania Reserves captured in the fight at Yellow Tavern on May 11, 1864. Bowman was confined in an old abandoned tobacco warehouse in the suburbs of Danville, Virginia. Part of the roof was blown off and the windows broken out by storms. Bowman and others were confined during the winter of 1864 and 1865 and suffered terribly from the cold in that fireless, damp, chilly and cheerless prison.
Bowman wrote in his memoirs about "Sunday, 25th December, 1864." He remembered that "it happened so long ago that we had entirely forgotten the incidents of the day," and had to refer to his diary to see how the soldiers spent Christmas Day in a rebel prison, "inside the Confederacy, far away from home, loved ones, and the Flag we loved so much."
Bowman continued, "We had no Christmas services, no Christmas carols, no Christmas presents, no Christmas entertainments and no Christmas social gatherings that makes Christmas day the day of all days, the most blessed of all religious festivities. We, however, extended to each other Christmas greetings and then gathered together in groups and discussed our environments, and talked about our homes and loved ones, and wondered what they were saying, and what their thoughts were concerning us in our far away Confederate prison."
He continued, "We had no extra rations or allowances for Christmas dinner. It was the same old sparing thing. Half pound of musty corn-chop bread and watered soup. We were all grievously disappointed, because we expected some extras. If anything, the soup was poorer than on other days. We were supposed to have a pint of soup. It was made out of black Virginia field beans, about as large as early June peas. For Christmas dinner we anticipated at least a couple quantity of beans in our soup, but in these were disappointed. It was the same old quantity, about six beans in a pint of soup. It was about one-third soup, the balance water, dirt, bugs and weevils. We were glad, however, to get the soup, bugs, weevils, dirt and all. Nothing seemed to turn our stomachs, because there was nothing in them to turn."
The forlorn and cheerless surroundings in which Bowman found himself did not cause Bowman to lose track of the real meaning of Christmas. He and the others worshipped "the Christ of Bethlehem" and silently said their prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude that they were still alive in an environment that meant death to so many of his comrades.
Remember Captain Bowman and all servicemen and servicewomen as you gather at your well-laden tables at this holiday season. Thank your blessings for that which is yours.
Older readers will remember their first Christmas morning about the time they learned the meaning of the celebration. There were the presents that Santa Claus had hung on the tree or laid close to their beds. Do you remember the wonder you felt as to how he got in and why you couldn't see the tracks of his reindeer? Clearest of all to me was the big, red stocking hanging over a fireplace.
Those crisp Christmas mornings were full of delights. But if I had to go back and live it over again, and if it were ordered that I could have only one of the old joys, I would pick the stocking.
Egg-Nog was part of Christmas as I grew up, not the boxed kind in the dairy compartment at the grocery store, but the real honest-to-goodness hand-made kind. Here is the recipe from the family cookbook, under the notation "Egg-Nog for Christmas Morning." The recipe was as follows...
"Beat separately the whites and yokes of fresh eggs until very light. Put the yokes in a glass with two-thirds of a glass of cold, fresh milk, a pinch of salt, flavoring of brandy or whiskey, vanilla or lemon extract and sugar to taste, stir all. Pile the white on the milk, stirring it gently in, but allow it to rise some above the edge of the glasses and serve at once." Ah, those were the days, as Archie might say.
• January 18-20, 2007. The annual Huntington Mills United Sportsmen's Club Coyote Hunt. Get information at 256-3933 or 683-5472. The hunt for Pennsylvania's elusive coyote involves an intelligent critter with a keen sense of smell and good eyes. Pennsylvania hunters are just a bit better than the coyotes, thought, and last year 36,175 coyote hunters and trappers killed a record 21,601 animals in the state.
• February 10, 2008. The Harlem Globetrotters at Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township Sunday at 3 PM. Tickets are $15, $25, $40 and $98.
• February 22-23, 2008. The Professional Bull Riders Wilkes-Barre Invitational Friday and Saturday at 7:30 PM both days. Tickets are on sale at all Ticketmaster outlets, the arena box office, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 693-4100.
I enjoyed reading the latest article by Dale Machesic in www.phillyburbs.com in which he reviewed the Sullivan Review. The bottom line is that he called the newspaper a "real treat," a "throwback" to the days when newspapers were neither too political or controversial and cited as an example a recent headline "Dogs Older Than Three Months Need PA Dog License." He commented on the pages and pages of all the successful hunters showing off their deer in front of the newspaper office in Dushore, and repeated many of the comments of the hunters relating to the "big buck" they shot or the one that got away.
The songs of Christmas were mentioned in a recent article on the Benton News. What I didn't say in that article was that Christmas songs need to be looked at in a new light. An email making its rounds attempts to make the claim that the song The Twelve Days of Christmas was developed by Christians who could not openly practice their faith because they lived where Christianity was banned and that the Christmas song somehow preserved the tenets of Christianity in a society where Christianity was banned, a claim about as far fetched as the story line of National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
Other Christmas songs need to be looked at carefully.
The days of lollygagging in front of the fireplace dreaming thoughts of sugar-plum fairies or dreaming of a white Christmas are over as we contemplate how to get the car started on these frosty mornings or how to pay for the fuel swooshing through the oil burner.
Most of us simply can't afford to deck the halls with boughs of holly at a dollar a bough. I've always known that I should have made a smaller hall.
And remember that little kid who talked with a lisp and who only wanted two front teeth for his Christmas? Well, those teeth came in and now he is putting the bite on his parents for things that cost a bit more money.
And what about the guy who promised to be home for Christmas--if only in his dreams. We have thousands in the same boat this Christmas. Every one of them would love to be home even to watch chestnuts roast on an open fire. There is a light in the window because we know it is no fun to ride the interstate in a 300 horsepower closed car--laughing all the way.
And I haven't had a silent night in years. With a watering hole next door, a mother-in-law with two defective hearing aids, two dogs who bark incessantly whenever terrorists attack or someone walks by the house, a phone that never stops ringing and eleven grandchildren--this house is anything but silent!
I once tried to assemble a child's toy that used the words "12 easy steps." The objective of Christmas was bent a bit with some of the words I used when I attempted to follow the assembly instructions for a child's toy. The best I can say is that the child loved the instructions and made a coloring book out of them.
I certainly don't want my true love to give me a partridge in a pear tree, especially one that is given twelve days after Christmas. What a mess that would be!
As the song suggests, Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
December 24, 2007. It is Christmas Eve. Happy Christmas Eve Birthdays to Logan Ackerman and Rodney VanPelt. Attend the church service of your choice this evening. Alanna Bath will sing at the 7 PM service at the St. James Church.
• Wade Andrew Johnson, 27, killed Saturday in a car crash on Route 254 leaving three daughters. A memorial service will be held this afternoon at 1 at Susquehanna Revival Center, 1338 Old Berwick Road, Bloomsburg.
• Noreen E. (Nickleson) McDormand (August 8, 1919-December 23, 2007), a resident of Benton since December, 1983, died Sunday morning at her home at 320 Everett Street. She was 88. Born in West Lorne, Ontario, Canada, she was the daughter of the late Cornelius "Neil" Nickleson and Louise (Van Loon) Nickleson. She was a graduate of West Lorne-Dutton High School, Dutton, Ontario, Canada; attended Alma College in St. Thomas, Ontario; attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas, and earned her registered nurse’s degree from Westmoreland Community College, Greensburg, PA. Mrs. McDormand formerly worked as an RN in the nursery of the Monongahela Hospital, Monongahela, PA. During her working career she was employed by the Girl Scouts and was Secretary for All Canada Churches of Christ in Toronto, Canada. She had been an active member of Benton Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) where her husband served as pastor for many years. She served as an elder, church secretary, sang in the choir, worked with children’s groups and was active in the ladies organizations of the church. She also had served on the state board of the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. Mrs. McDormand was a former member of the Benton Lions Club and the Order of Eastern Star, Bloomsburg Chapter. She and her husband, the Rev. Vernon W. McDormand, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on May 1. In addition to her husband, Vernon, are her children Kenneth Henry McDormand (Lynn), Racine, Wisconsin; the Rev. Dorothy Ann McDormand, Pittsburgh; and Frances McDormand (Joel Coen), Manhattan, New York. Also surviving are four grandchildren and ten great grandchildren; her brother, Carmen Nickleson, St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada; and close friends, Gary and Alice Strauch, Waller. Funeral services will be held Thursday at 1 PM at the Benton Christian Church, with burial in the Waller Cemetery. A Visitation will be held Wednesday evening, from 6 to 8 PM at the Church. Arrangements are under the direction of the McMichael Funeral Home, Inc., Benton.
-Obituary courtesy of the McMichael Funeral Home. A complete obituary will be published in the December 24, 2007, edition of the Press Enterprise.
• Sarah "Sally" (Fleming) Hartman (December 14, 1944-December 22, 2007), a resident of Benton since 1977, a former schoolteacher and active member of the Benton United Methodist Church through her fundraising efforts in the upgrading of the kitchen facilities of the Main Street church, died Saturday morning at her home at 345 Main Street following an illness of about a year. She was 63. Born at the Bloomsburg Hospital, she was a daughter of Hazel I. (Hartman) Fleming, Catawissa, and the late Wilbur P. Fleming. Mrs. Hartman was a 1962 graduate of the Catawissa High School and a 1966 graduate of Bloomsburg State College where she earned her B. S. in Secondary Education, majoring in French. She taught French for a year in Muncy and for two years in Mifflinburg. She also was a substitute teacher in the Benton Area School District for 15 years. Surviving are her mother; husband Edwin E. Hartman with whom she celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary June 18; and her children Scott Hartman, M. D., Chicago; Sandra Knudsen, M. D. (Jens), Ambler, PA; and Ginger Croom, P. E. (Tyrone), Boston. There are three grandchildren; a sister, Sandra Shearer (Robert), Carlisle; brother, Michael Fleming (Susan), Elysburg; brother, Jeffrey Fleming (Connie), Catawissa. Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 1 PM with visitation preceding at the Benton United Methodist Church with burial in the Esther Furnace Cemetery, near Catawissa. Arrangements are under the direction of the McMichael Funeral Home, Inc., Benton.
-Obituary courtesy of the McMichael Funeral Home. A complete obituary will be published in the December 24, 2007, edition of the Press Enterprise.
While many fables begin, "Once upon a time," the Benton News often begins a story "In the old days..." This Christmas Eve is no exception.
In the old days, the Christmas holidays began on Christmas Eve and ended on Twelfth night--January 6. During this period there was feasting and merrymaking carried out on a much more elaborate scale than it is today. Our ancestors in feudal times celebrated with wining and dining which frequently developed into something akin to an orgy. According to the church calendar the eves of great ecclesiastical festivals are times of fasting and penance, but in the case of Christmas Eve it seems that rulers who were high muckety-mucks decided that the night before the celebration of the birth of the Child should be one of merriment.
Early in the Christian era Christmas Eve became almost as important as Christmas Day itself. The importance of Christmas Eve has prevailed in Germany much longer than in other countries. Children sat up half the night waiting for Saint Nicholas to come and trim the tree which their parents had set up. The parents had food and drink in honor of the Christ Child who was born "on the morrow."
Henry VIII had a devilish form of celebration on Christmas Eve. The much-married monarch loved watching his subjects play the game of "snapdragon" on Christmas Eve in a darkened room where flames had the weird effect of a Druid fire worship of centuries before. He loved seeing the discomfort that his people went through when they burned themselves in the flames. The "game"--his term, not mine--was played by placing raisins in a large, shallow bowl and pouring brandy over the fruit. The brandy was lighted and the player attempted to grab a raisin by plunging his hands through the flames. One needed a lot of courage and a high degree of quickness. Shreaks of laughter would come from the assembled crowds when the attempt was unsuccessful.
Henry also loved a similar game on Christmas Eve in which a lighted candle was put in a can of ale or cider and then someone--never Henry, mind you--was told to drink the contents of the vessel. King Henry would laugh when one of the long mustaches or flowing beards would catch fire.
The Mummers, often called "Kris Kringles," came from the English Christmas Eve of centuries ago. Men and women would dress in fantastic costumes and masks, then went from house to house telling course jokes and singing songs. Church fathers feared that the disgraceful scenes of the old Roman feasts were being revived and they introduced miracle plays in which the Mummers played a part. These dramas continued for centuries and have evolved into our Christmas charades and pantomimes.
The Lord of Misrule is another Christmas Eve custom. On that day, the Mayor of London appointed a man to lead the revelers of Christmas Eve and be known as the "Lord of Misrule." Often he was the king of the festival until Twelfth Night when he was abdicated.
Christmas Eve had a supernatural side in many countries, perhaps because the Church has hallowed the night above all others of the year. The shepherds keeping watch over their flocks announced the message of His birth and this is possibly the origin of the midnight mass of Christmas Eve celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church. With all the religious ceremony of the night there is a touch of paganism in some of the beliefs.
Didja ever hear the legend of the Breton blacksmith who was found at work after the ringing of the bell for midnight mass? While he was bending over his forge a tall, stooping man with a scythe came in and asked him to put in a nail. He did and the visitor then told him to send for a priest for this work would be his last. When the strange man had gone, the blacksmith felt his limbs fail him and at dawn he died. He had mended the scythe of the Ankon--Death, the Reaper.
Early Scandinavian countries had a vivid sense of the supernatural on Christmas Eve. They believed that the dead came to revisit their homes on that night. The living prepared for these visits with a mixed dread and anxiety to make the departed welcome. Candles were left lighted, beds were made and warm baths prepared for the uncanny visitors. Their being done, the family retired. Early the next morning the chairs were examined to see if someone had used them during the night.
In some locations in Europe, milk was set outside the houses while the midnight mass was being sung as food for the Christ Child and His Mother. This custom had its origin in the Feast of Juul.
At one time, it was believed that animals had the gift of speech on Christmas Eve. The custom probably had its origin with the legend of the cattle bowing in adoration before the Child in the manager at Bethlehem.
Prior to the eighteenth century, if a Slav girl wanted to know what sort of a husband she was to marry she put a loaf of bread, a plate, a knife, spoon and fork on the table before she went to bed. After midnight, the spirit of her future husband was said to have come to her bedside and thrown the knife at her. If the knife fell without injuring her she was sure of a good husband, but if hurt she would remain young. When young men waited to try their luck, they had to wait until everybody was at midnight mass and then go out and sift ashes. While the man was at work his future bride appeared and pulled his nose three times and then ran away.
Spain had a beautiful tradition which accounts for the fact that in nearly every room of the Spanish home once finds a picture of the Savior. This is because there is a beautiful belief rooted in the minds of the people that when the hour of midnight strikes on Christmas Eve the Virgin bringing blessings to every house where she can find an image or portrait of her son.
Italy had a large flesh-colored doll as a representation of the Christ Child. This figure was supposed to possess miraculous powers in healing the sick on Christmas Eve. In France at one time, there was a belief that while the midnight mass was being chanted hidden treasures were revealed. In Russia, the people believed that the waters of springs were turned to wine and those who didn't accept the miracle would die. In Germany, a representation of the Christ Child would appear on Christmas Eve--usually a girl with golden hair who left presents for the children.
The idea of hanging up one's stockings on Christmas Eve dates back many centuries to Italy, where the children hung up their stockings and prayed to the Holy Kings who were on their way to the new-born King. In Spain, the children always left a little hay or straw outside the door for the horses of the Wise Men.The celebration of Christmas Eve began many centuries ago and like a number of our festivals it has touches of legendary and the weird. However you choose to celebrate your Christmas Eve, we wish you a Merry Christmas tomorrow as you celebrate in the fashion of your family whether it be Back Home in Benton, PA, or elsewhere. Our wishes are with you for Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year.
The expression, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" originated in September, 1897, when eight-year old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a Letter to the Editor of the newspaper New York Sun questioning if there was a Santa Claus. Here is the reply from editorial writer Francis Pharcellus Church to that question exactly as it appeared the Sun.
DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.' Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.Now--if you will kindly shield the eyes and ears of your children--the high-tech version of Christmas is available courtesy of Wired Magazine and Adam Rogers, a senior editor from the magazine. This version of the popular story details the hi-tech operation of how Santa makes his yearly deliveries, how toys for the tots get to this country via a massive network of container ships, how "naughty/nice surveillance" works, and the way special-ops helpers trained for covert entry work their way into homes. Go here and enjoy. (Be patient, it is slow loading)
December 23, 2007. Happy birthday today to Donna Remley. Happy 50th wedding anniversary to Roy and Betty Kilczewski, Fairmount Springs. Roy has been a pharmacist in Benton since about 1980. He started at Sands Pharmacy, and was behind the counter at the Benton Pharmacy and continues to fill in at Colonial Pharmacy. Roy was originally from Philadelphia and Betty was from Vermont. They moved to this area in 1973. Roy and Betty have two children and four grandchildren.
I heard a fellow on television saying that this would be the greatest Christmas ever.
I always thought that the first was the greatest.
Look on the bright side! There are only 88 days until the official start of spring.
Voices of Bethlehem, the Christmas program postponed from last Sunday night, will be held tonight at 7 at the Waller Church. There will be lots of music and will be well worth attending. The program is open to the public.
The Benton News is primarily written for people who have an interest in the upper Fishingcreek valley, yet we get questions about other facets of the state, many of which are about the Pennsylvania Germans. A reader asked about Pennsylvania riddles and proverbs. Over the years, I have probably written about all those I remember.
The riddle actually was an Oriental means of amusement, just as common thousands of years ago as it is today. Even in the rude times in which Samson lived, it was often the custom at a feast to propound such conundrums for the purpose of making merry. In addition to eating and drinking, questions were proposed to tax the ingenuity and learning of the guests.
The oldest record of a riddle is found in the book of Judges, chapter 14, verses 14-18. We'll give you a couple of riddles and proverbs to get you in a thinking mode. Here is an example. It is the riddle of the Sphinx to the people of Thebes, "What is that which goes on four legs in the morning, two in the daytime and in the evening on three?" The answer is man, who creeps in infancy, walks erect in maturity and in old age uses a cane. So now you understand how to do it, lets give it a try with proverbs and riddles. They may not be exactly as you remember them since I am going from memory.
• "Listeners hear no good of themselves."
• "Children and tools speak the truth."
• "Stretch yourself according to the corner," which I suspect is somewhat akin to "little boats must keep near the shore."
• "Every man must carry his own hide to the tanner."
• Do tallow or wax candles burn longer? (Answer to this and the following riddles at the end of today's rant.)
• There is a mill with seven corners.
In each corner stand seven bags,
Upon each bag sit seven cats,
Each cat has seven kittens,
Then the miller and his wife come in the mill,
How many feet are in the mill?
• What kind of apples don't grow on trees?
• What has flesh at both ends with iron and wood in the middle? (Think a hundred years or so ago)
• What is older than its mother? (Think of our Campbell cider story of a few days ago)
• What is bought by the yard and worn by the foot?
• What is the difference between an old penny and a new dime?
• Why does the sculptor die such a violent death?
In mid-December last year, Timmy Adam Junkins, 26, at the time a resident of the Hess Hotel, and Jamie Dorothy Gledhill, 25, Third Street, stole a checkbook, credit cards and $500 in cash from a car owned by Emma Lou Savage which was parked at the local post office, then forged six checks totaling $682 to buy car tires (later returned in a damaged condition) from Shannon Tire and to purchase items from the Riverside Market. The two were each charged with felony counts of forgery and criminal conspiracy to commit forgery. They were also charged with stealing from a car, receiving stolen property and related counts. The couple has now been sentenced, Junkins six to twenty-three months and Gledhill six to twenty-four months in prison. Additionally, Gledhill is to make restitution of $1,242.
Phillip Kline, a 1965 graduate of Benton Area Schools, is currently serving in Balad, Iraq, on his second tour with the 213th ASG out of Allentown. His parents, Clifford and Martha Kline, live in Jonestown, and his wife, Carol, lives in Kaska, PA. His address is MSG Phil Kline, 213th ASG, SPO S&S NCOIC, DSN 318-433-2941. I'll betcha MSG Kline would be thrilled with a New Year's greeting via a card from his friends in the local area.
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
--Irving Berlin, 1942
Didja ever think that this year's Christmas presents will be next year's garage sales?
Congratulations to Chase Kline who on Saturday received his Associate of Applied Science in Baking and Pastry Arts and made the Dean's List from Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport.
• Do tallow or wax candles burn longer? Candles burn shorter rather than longer.
• How many feet are in the mill? Four. Cats have paws, not feet.
• What kind of apples don't grow on trees? Mayapples.
• What has flesh at both ends with iron and wood in the middle? A farmer plowing with horses.
• What is older than its mother? Vinegar
• What is bought by the yard and worn by the foot? Carpet
• What is the difference between an old penny and a new dime? Nine cents.
• Why does the sculptor die such a violent death? Because he makes faces and busts.
December 22, 2007. Happy 89th birthday to Mary Janney and to Dick McHenry, Enterprise, Alabama. The winter solstice is one of the two times each year that the sun is at its farthest point from the equator. It occurs today at 1:08 A.M. EST.
On this date in 1968 the 82 members of the crew of the United States intelligence ship Pueblo were released after being seized by North Korea. The USS Pueblo, which was attacked and captured by the North Korean Navy on January 23, 1968, was the first United States Navy ship to be hijacked on the high seas by a foreign military force in over 150 years.
There are two shopping days remaining until Christmas. If you need a quick present for a member of the family, consider a gift membership in the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center. Another very nice gesture would be to give a monetary gift to The Center which will in turn be given as a gift membership for others less fortunate.
The Benton Women’s Club held their annual Christmas party on December 19 at The Center, which happens to be a great place for a party. In lieu of exchanging gifts this year, a monetary gift was collected for Your Loving Choices in Bloomsburg and presented to Kathy Leamont, their Executive Director. Hats, mittens and scarves were purchased by the members and earlier in the week given to the Benton Head Start for the children as well as the contribution of a wide assortment of Weekly Reader books and DVDs for their library. The next meeting will be held on Thursday, March 13, 2008. If you would like to join the group or for more information, please contact Lorena Bennett, 925-6861.
Several Power Point emails are being distributed this Christmas season using Microsoft's PowerPoint. If you don't own the program, but want to view the emails, download the free viewer for Power Point here. PowerPoint Viewer 2003 lets you view full-featured presentations created in PowerPoint 97 and later versions.
It was refreshing to see the Christmas tree ornaments on the tree in Mary Hartman's Market Street living room. Her Christmas tree doesn't have a huge array of colors. Mary has a novel way of getting a startling effect using achromatic white and it comes out beautiful.
The dark green of the tree made a splendid background for her handmade ornaments, myriads of them, in all shapes and all in white which crowd the tree amid the sparkling lights. All color is eliminated except the green of the tree itself, whose branches are laden with the ornaments. The tree looked like a fairyland--with all her ornaments made from thread which has been soaked and then dried. A balloon is put inside the threads, then the threads are put around the balloon, then both the thread and the balloon are hung to dry.
Didja ever think...
• that Claustrophobic would be a good word to describe kids who are afraid of Santa Claus?
• that if you don't have the money to give a festive Christmas gift, love would make a fine present?
• what would happen if a former president became The First Laddie? He was good at being president but has a history of falling short on ability to be a president's spouse.
"Have you ever seen a laddie, a laddie, a laddie,
have you ever seen a laddie go this way and that?"
A reader who gives me thunder about my spelling noticed the spelling of words on a box of Keebler's Town House Original Crackers. On the back of the box, there are several phrases "extolling the virtues of the product and how one might use it to prepare a delicious snack. One of the secrets propounded is, 'Add a decorative flare to special occasions.' Yes, that's the way they spelled it--F-L-A-R-E." The reader continued, "Correct me if I'm wrong but I think they were looking for F-L-A-I-R unless they were lighting it and setting it on the highway to warn motorists of a wreck ahead."
A Press Enterprise reporter sent me 449 emails Thursday night when his computer apparently got stuck in the SEND mode. Since each email said the same thing, it only took one email to respond. Actually, I would much rather get a bundle of 449 emails from the newspaper than that many copies of its printed edition.
A tractor-trailer hit a parked tractor-trailer on I-80 near Lemar Thursday night killing a 57-year old Northumberland man. The accident occurred when another driver came upon a dead bear in the roadway, surrounded by four additional live bear. A car hit a second vehicle in the eastbound land which hit a third vehicle--well, you get the idea.
On February 9-10,2008, there will be a gun and outdoor show at the Benton Volunteer Fire Hall where you can buy, sell or trade guns, knives and other related items. There will be 80 tables of inside and outside exhibitors with no flea market items. The kitchen will be open for breakfast and lunch. The admission is $4 and those under 12 are admitted free. The parking is free and there are daily-door prizes. All proceeds benefit the Benton Volunteer Fire Company. If you aren't interested in a gun show but your spouse is coming we recommend that you come along and take advantage of a special one-day pass issued by the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center a short walk away from the show. Enjoy the library and the museum and the exercise room and everything The Center offers.
Two emails arrived about the subject of "buckwheat" and are worth mentioning. Arlene Bartlow, New York city, wrote that she cannot get buckwheat pancakes to "taste like what I remember my grandmother's buckwheat pancakes tasted like to me probably 70 years ago." She lived in Lycoming County, Moreland Twp, on a farm for many years and then in Muncy. Arlene says she has been using organic buckwheat mix from Arrowhead Mills which was grown in Texas. The mix includes buckwheat flour and whole-wheat flour."
Arrowhead Mills, Inc. includes a recipe on their packaging--which, by the way, is "Certified Organic by the Texas Department of Agriculture." The recipe includes the mix, an egg, Canola oil, honey, milk or soymilk or rice milk or water. Arlene uses 1% milk. The recipe suggests that chopped walnuts can be added.
Arlene's memory of buckwheat cakes extends back to when she was 12, but notes that "this doesn't taste like what I remember. Maybe I did not have it mixed with wheat flour." She asked where to buy buckwheat-cake flour in New York city. I haven't a clue to the answer for that one. I know where knock-em-dead bagels can be found on Sixth Avenue at Murray's Bagels, but buckwheat flour in New York City... That one is over my head.
In Saturday's mail, I am sending Arlene a bag of local buckwheat-cake flour and the recipe for making buckwheat cakes. The recipe is compliments of a man who knows--Whittier Letteer. I am also sending a bag of buckwheat-cake flour to Janice Dietrich, Clearwater, Florida, who wrote, "I don't ordinarily make pancakes, but your perpetual "food-outs" on Benton News about them has got me hungering for them." The first lesson of buckwheat cakes, Janice, is not to call them "pancakes."
We look forward to their taste test when the flour arrives after Christmas.
The carpenter and his helpers
A Night in Bethlehem is being presented at the Benton UM Church tonight from 6-8. The production is excellent and well worth attending.
Since about 400 A.D., the 25th of December has been regarded as the Festival of Nativity by the Christian world. Little is more enjoyable than the songs of Christmas, both in sound and spirit. The carols that we sing came from many different countries and some of the best have their origins lost in antiquity. Here is the story as we sort it out on some of the most popular songs of the Christmas season...
• The First Noel has been around since 1833 when it was published in a book Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern. It appears to be actually French in origin. The tune comes from a medieval shepherd's song, Noel, which in turn comes from the Latin word meaning "birth."
• God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen has been around longer than Shakespeare and when translated from the Old English got slightly misconstrued. The intent is not "God rest you, merry gentlemen," but means "God keep you merry, gentlemen." Remember the little boy who was frightened away by Scrooge as he sang through the key-hole, "God rest ye, merry gentlemen." The small boy was a representative of the waifs of the olden time, who went about on Christmas Eve singing their songs. The custom in some places is still in vogue. The village children used to march up to the manor and then sing their carols, in return receiving gifts of cake or money.
• O Come, All Ye Faithful is credited to St. Bonaventure, the 13th Century writer and teacher.
• Stille Nacht was composed for the guitar in 1818 in Oberndorf, Austria. A broken church organ prompted the Pastor to write the words to what we know today as Silent Night. The organist, out of job because of the defective organ, wrote the music and the song was sung at the midnight mass.
• O Tannenbaum honors the evergreen as an emblem of immortality. In the United States, the familiarity of the tune comes from O Christmas Tree, which then got copied into the state song, Maryland, My Maryland.
• Hark, the Herald Angels Sing was written in 1739 by Charles Wesley as he walked to church on Christmas Day.
• Messiah , by Handel, was first performed in Dublin in 1742. A portion of Joy to the World comes from Messiah.
• O Little Town of Bethlehem was written in 1868 by the rector of the Holy Trinity in Philadelphia after visiting the holy place.
Christmas music predates the birth of Christ by several centuries. Shepherds felt they heard angels singing "Glory to God in the Highest." Psalms about the Nativity were composed by David as a shepherd boy before he became the king of the Jews. His words "The kings of Tarshtsh and of the isles shall bring presents the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts," Psalm 72.10, David was preparing the world for the song We Three Kings. David wrote, "Unto Thee will I sang with the harp, O Thou Holy One of Israel," Psalm 71.22. These words from the old Testament before the birth of Christ belong to the legends of Christmas.
Carols of Christmas began in the second century AD as songs of praise "In Celebration of our Lord" as the Bishop of Rome directed his following. In the fifth century, St. Francis of Assisi and other priests during the Roman Empire urged what we would call carolers today to sing. St. Francis, in fact, is known as the "father of caroling." In 1223, he built a "crèche," a miniature Nativity scene. Other churches took his lead and built crèches to use when they acted out Nativity plays by walking through villages singing.
And now that you are a little more informed about Christmas carols, take the quiz on the subject.
December 21, 2007, one day until the sun is at its farthest point from the equator. It occurs Saturday at 1:08 AM EST.
On this date in 1620, the "Mayflower" and its passengers, known as "Puritans," landed at Plymouth Rock and later that year founded Plymouth Colony as a holy Commonwealth in New England, stressing the importance of personal religious experience. The Puritans felt the English Reformation had not gone far enough in reforming the doctrines and structure of the church. These people wanted to purify their national church by eliminating every shred of Catholic influence. Puritans insisted that affairs should be conducted according to God's will as revealed in the Bible, arguing that Christians should only do what the Bible commanded. Anglicans contended rather that Christians should not do what the Bible prohibited. The Puritans were "Bah, Humbug!" people as relates to Christmas.
Someone once said that Old age is when former classmates are so gray and wrinkled and bald, they don't recognize you. Whether that is true or not will be determined today when the Class of '57 meets in reunion for a luncheon.
Terms from the Past...
• Getting Your Goat. Relates to the horse industry where a goat and a skittish thoroughbred racehorse were penned together to calm the horse down. Gamblers would bet that the horse would lose and then would steal the goat, an annoying measure somewhat skin to losing an old friend. Mother would often use the term when referring to her youngest son.
• Loggerhead. To be at loggerheads with someone means to be embroiled in an argument or quarrel, especially one that shows no sign of easy resolution. Legislators in the state and U.S. Congress, for example, are often "at loggerheads" with each other over legislation, implying bull-headed stubbornness. Being "at loggerheads" is rarely a position reasonable people adopt, unless that person is a politician. The root of "loggerhead" is the word "logger," but not the kind who chops down trees. "Logger" is also an archaic English dialect word for a heavy block of wood, used to attach to the leg of a horse to prevent it from wandering away. Shakespeare used "loggerhead" the same way we would use "blockhead" today, meaning an extremely stupid person, and it's possible that the phrase "to be at loggerheads" simply arose as a way of saying that people who get involved in long, stubborn arguments must be idiots.
Didja ever notice that the less power a man has
the more he brags of what he'd do if he had it?
Four short days from now, Christmas will be here, the merriest day of all the year our ancestors would say, a day around which we all have wonderful recollections. It is a day set aside for instilling the concept of charity and good will into the minds of children, a day when parents truly understand how much better it is to give than to receive.
Only four short days are left in which to plan and decide and execute, four days in which to determine what you will buy and to do the shopping. Phone lines and email are busy with the question, "What can I get you for Christmas?" "What does Cousin Clarita need?" "What size shirt is Buxom Bernice up to now?" With some, the question as to what can be bought involves a fixed sum, which is not large this year the price of fuel being what it is. With others, the only question to decide is what will be most appropriate and what will please the most.
What follows next in this diatribe is for the men, and so you women who have your Christmas shopping finished can go back to the wrapping of presents and the baking of cookies and the setting of the sheets just right in preparation for the return Back Home to Benton, PA, of loved ones for the Christmas holiday. Christmas shopping is left pretty generally to the female members of the family, which is the reason sharp-witted mall owners usually have benches where the men can sit and ponder what they will buy while the women go out and actually do it.
Women seem to have studied the art of pleasing more thoroughly than men and are better judges of what should be purchased. Women are more patient and spend more time on a selection, while men rush in, make their selections quickly without invoking any thought processes. When the men get home, they immediately discover their mistakes and realize they bought something they and no one else would ever in their right minds want. To men, Christmas shopping is a bore. It is a care to the women, too, but they seem to make sacrifices on the part of those they love more willingly than men.
Many store clerks say that women are entirely too deliberate. On those rare occasions when Marcia Kay and I shop together, I fill my shopping cart while Kay decides whether the 16 oz. or the 24 oz. size is more economical, which color of dish-washing liquid will look best inside the cupboard, or whether there are fewer calories in frozen Brussels sprouts or in a can of spinach.
Mother used to decide on an article of clothing, ask that it be set aside (for reasons unclear to me, to the store keeper and probably to Mother) for a period of time, and then later decide that it wouldn't do at all, while the owner of the store had half a dozen opportunities to sell the item. At times, Mother would come back two or three days after the holding period had expired and complain that the item was gone.
But, men, what I am trying to say is "get with it." It is time to begin your Christmas shopping! If you now put off your Christmas shopping until one or two days before Christmas, everything will be done in a rush and you'll have most unsatisfactory results. Christmas shopping is one of the things that must be done if you are to remain a hero in the eyes of your significant other and if you put it off too long you will regret it. Here are some shopping tips...
• Shop very early in the morning and two hours before closing when the stores are generally less busy. You won’t have the long lines or need to fight crowds. Some larger stores are remaining open 24 hours a day from now until Christmas all because you men haven't yet started your shopping.
• Have your money or debit/credit card ready. Don’t apply for a store-credit card in order to save 10% on your first purchase. The terms, rates and conditions of these cards will not be in your favor. Only consider these cards if the store is one in which you consistently shop and only after you check the fine print for hidden fees.
• Don't dig in your pocket for small change or for your debit card. If you write a check, have it partially filled out as you begin the transaction.
• Clerks are not paid to do your thinking. Don't ask, "Which is better?" when you compare 90% rayon and 10% polyester with 40% something and 60% something else. Don't ask which SD card you should buy for your digital camera. The clerk doesn't know. Write it down before you leave home. Don't get to the check-out counter and ponder "Now what else was I supposed to get?" Again, the clerk doesn't know and doesn't care. Neither do the customers behind you.
• Things are "picked over" pretty well this late in the shopping season. If the item does not have a bar code on it, don't grab it. Get another of the same size. The check-out clerk will not have to then call for assistance.
If you don't know where to find what you want, consult the BUSINESS section on the side panel. These are fine local businesses and have the special gift you need during your moment of crisis when you realize that you haven't bought anything for that special someone.
Happy shopping, and happy holidays! I am heading off now to do my shopping before most of the men begin to do theirs.
December 20, 2007. Happy birthday today to the First Lady of PA, Judge Marjorie O. Rendell. Do you realize how many days remain before Christmas? On this date in 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was completed. In 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union, and in 1980, the Soviet Union confirmed that former Premier Alexei Kosygin had died a couple of days earlier at the age of 76.
Beginning tonight and running through Saturday is a production of a "Night in Bethlehem" at the Benton United Methodist Church, Main Street. Bethlehem comes alive on these three nights from 6 to 8 PM. A free-will offering will be accepted, but the most important thing here is that families walk away with a different feel for this Christmas--a more Spiritual, Merry Christmas! You can always find local upcoming events on the side panel of the Benton News.
Have you ever considered doing the impossible? For example, moving the O.B. Savage Barn! A somewhat similar barn is located off Route 283 on Nissley Road in Lower Swatara Township, near Middletown. It is known as the 135-year-old "Star Barn," built about 1872 for banker and gentleman farmer John Motter.
The Star Barn and the O. B. Savage Barn
The three-story Star Barn has been an important part of the Central Pennsylvania landscape since master carpenter and designer Daniel Reichert built it. The agricultural history of the Star Barn land dates to the sale of the property by the Penn family in 1765. Preservation Pennsylvania, the owner and caretaker of the Star Barn, is selling the historic structure which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The huge, 135-year-old barn has been sold with its three outbuildings to Middletown-based Agrarian Country, a nonprofit organization established in 2006 and dedicated to preserving Pennsylvania farmland and farm buildings. The buildings will be moved to another south-central Pennsylvania site and will be used in a proposed agricultural center. The move and rehab is expected to cost between $2 million and $4 million.
The Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau (CMVB) has just released its 64-page 2008 Visitors Guide. The guide covers hunting, fishing and hiking, antiques, covered bridges, Knoebels, the Bloomsburg Fair, the Benton Rodeo and the O.A.T.S. Festival. For business or pleasure, we have it all in Columbia and Montour Counties, and the Visitors Bureau is telling the world to come visit us here in the heart of Central Pennsylvania.
The CMVB distributes the guide through local and national advertising, mails the guide upon request, and distributes it throughout New York, and select Welcome Centers and Rest Stops across Pennsylvania.
This visitor’s guide is in a magazine-style format with eight different articles throughout the guide. Articles include "Taking Flight" about Knoebels Amusement Resorts new Flying Turns ride, "Rails to Riches" on Danville’s Iron Heritage, "Premier Performances" based on the experience of seeing a production at the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, "Saving the Past" a history of the Josiah Hess Covered Bridge, "Feathered Friends" covering birding at PPL Montour Preserve, "Shifting Gears" giving the history and details on the Columbia County 50 road bike race, "Everyone has an Angle" featuring fly fishing in our area, and "Where There’s a Wool, There’s a Way" on alpacas. The cover features a yellow warbler at PPL Montour Preserve.
Pick up a free copy of the new Visitors Guide at the CMVB Bloomsburg (121 Papermill Road) or Danville (316 Mill Street) office.
The pages of the Benton News often stray from the realities of today to the memories of the past and after passing the limits of our recollection we often look at the local area as prior generations must have looked at it. Today we make a stop in a crossroads community on what was considered the "first well-constructed road" through what is now Jackson Township. The location was known until the 1860s as Hilltown and was about half a mile east of Polkville (named for President James K. Polk). Hilltown was named for the gently rolling hills that surrounded the hamlet.
A view of the village as it looks today
The area just north of Hilltown was first settled by a Paul Hess in 1811 on a tract of two hundred and forty acres. A man by the name of Levi Priest lived southeast of Hilltown, and George Farver lived nearby on land he had purchased in 1809. These men and their families, in fact, comprised the entire population of what is now Jackson Township.
Both church and school were needed. John Denmark was the first teacher in Jackson Township in a school which opened in the winter of 1821-22 near what later became the Union church. In 1823 the first actual school house was built and teachers John Keeler and William Yocum provided the instruction. Baptist ministers began visiting the area where they preached in "houses, barns, in the open air, in the woods and in school-houses" when they were erected. Other ministers served the area, usually without compensation. Jackson Township was formed in 1838.
For church services to accommodate the "Christian, Evangelical and Methodist members of the community," a church was organized in 1846 under the direction of Frederick Wile, David Remley and Henry Wagner. The Evangelical Association was established by Reverend James Dunlap, who preached at Hilltown in 1846 and by Jeremiah Young. The first class was formed by Reverend James Seybert and consisted of Henry Wagner, Michael Remley, David Remley, Frederick Wile and George Hirleman.
George Hirleman was a farmer, born in France, the son of a former soldier under Napoleon Bonaparte during the war with Russia. One of their children, son Henry, will be covered in a later paragraph. The family sailed from Havre de Grace, France, in 1829, arriving at Philadelphia after a voyage of forty-two days. They settled in Pottsville, and moved from there to Columbia County in 1846 and settled in the area then known as Hilltown on a seventy-five acre tract which he cleared.
Michael Remley (b. 1801) who helped build the Union Church in Waller along with his brother David (b. 1806) moved their families to Jackson Township in 1840 from Centre Township where they were born. He settled in Divide. He was the grandfather of Michael S. Remley and Greatgrandfather of Elvin M. & Elma. He is buried in the cemetery next to the church he helped build.
Michael S. Remley was also a farmer, born on the family homestead. In 1881, he married Mary M. Kline, and in 1882 moved to the Hilltown area where they bought fifty-three acres of land and built a house. Michael S. built the house where Carl & Betty Remley now live. Prior to that time there was a log cabin there occupied by the Getty family and then by the Hoffman family. The couple had thirteen children including Coy, a Raleigh products distributor who lived on Mill Street, Benton; Elvin, a builder and contactor and father of Lee Remley; and Elma Remley Smith, born in 1906 on the Remley homestead in Divide, the eleventh child of thirteen born. Elma, now over a century old, still drives her car near her home in the Rochester, New York, area.
The area as it appered in 1876
The building housing what became known as the Union Church was built in 1854. Like St. Gabriel's Church, the Union Church had an undenominational ownership and it was not until into the 1890s that the church began to divide into congregations.
Plot plan courtesy of Carolyn Hartman
In the 1860s, the residents of the village decided they wanted a new name and they asked a civic leader and Presbyterian minister in Bloomsburg for guidance. His suggestions were not quite right for the residents of Hilltown, and the village with the name the residents didn't want decided to name the community in honor of the minister who had been wise council to them. The name Waller was chosen and adopted in honor of Rev. D. J. Waller, Sr. His son, the Rev. D. J. Waller, Jr. was president of Bloomsburg College and Superintendent of Public Instruction in Pennsylvania at that time.
The History of Columbia and Montour Counties, edited by J. H. Battle, noted that in 1887 the village consisted of a church building, school-house and store, thirteen buildings" and commented that "the fine location and central situation warrants the prediction that it will become a place of considerable local importance."
Years slowly rolled on and about the time that Butch Cassidy was pulling $60,000 at a time off trains he robbed and the Literary Digest was predicting that the horseless carriage would never "come into as common as the bicycle," the community got together and agree to build a church.
Henry and Elvira Hess Hirleman had a general store and in 1899 land was purchased from him upon which the present Methodist Church was built. Hirleman later began farming and huckstering and sold the store because of poor health. His health issues could have been the result of his years from 1839 to 1845 of operating a canal-boat loaded with coal from Pottsville to Philadelphia, New York, Wilmington, Governor's Island and Long Island. At that time, he owned a deck boat capable of hauling about seventy tons. In 1845, he drove a five-mule team, hauling coal from Broad Mountain to Schuylkill Haven. Even as a resident of Jackson Township, he bought, sold and delivered livestock out of the area. He was also in the lumber and shingle business. as well as serving for eleven years as school director and treasurer and six years as supervisor.
The Waller United Methodist Church still serves the area proudly. There is additional information available about the Waller Church and community here.
December 19, 2007. Happy birthday to Alyssa Kramer. On this date in 1843, A Christmas Carol was first published in England. It is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge learning the Christmas spirit of generosity from three ghosts who show him his past, his present and his future. Charles Dickens got the idea for the book in late October, 1843, and finished it in time for Christmas that year. It became a huge bestseller.
Quote of the Day:
"And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!"
--The closing line of "A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens.
Today and December 21 and 22 are Ember Days. Folklore has it that the weather on each of the three days foretells the weather for three successive months; that is, for December’s Ember Days today forecasts weather for January, Friday for February, and Saturday for March. Historically, they have been times of public prayer and fasting. Some think that Ember days were so called from a German word signifying abstinence; other that they are derived from embers, which signifies ashes which were used when it was customary to accompany fasting with sprinkling ashes upon the heads of the faithful.
The Benton Fire Company elections were held Monday night. The results were as follows:
President: Ed Musser
Vice President: Harry Wenner
Secretary: Dave Albertson
Treasurer: Missy Morris
Financial Secretary: Cindy Matthews
Chief: Harold Morris
1st Asst. Chief: Carl Spiece
2nd Asst. Chief: Ron Robbins
Ambulance Chief: James Albertson
Trustees: Wilson Lynn, Andrew Funk, Charles Schriner.
If you attend Church in the upper Fishingcreek valley. Check the CHURCH section on the side panel for your church. If our information is not up to date, please have your contact person update the information. The Talmar and Waller Churches are in revision. Please help us help you...
Didja ever have one day when you were the pigeon,
and the next day you were the statue?
The word "catawampus" is rarely seen any more. The word as used when I was growing up referred to the way Mother placed the couch in the living room, a bit askew, placed crooked as if Terrance the terrier had a tick in his tuckus, or as if it referred to Father when he was "out of joint." The Kansas City Journal once used the word "catawampus" in a sentence in 1890 when the paper reported that there were "27,000 well-armed Sioux" Indians in the country. A western bard, whose name few ever heard, wrote these lines for the newspaper...
"There ain't no trustin' an Injun.
He's a catawampus case,
And when he's a doin' somethin' bad
He's a wishin' "twas somethin' wuss."
"Between Hell and high water" often seemed to creep into long-ago conversations, sometimes used by Father to describe the torture of 60+ miles a day on back roads of Rural Route #3 out of the Benton post office, six days a week, dust and rain and snow not withstanding. Father would use that term in the winter and in the spring and at times in between, but he loved the other two seasons of the year and never complained about his job. In the winter, however, he was caught between "hell and high water," as in the snow of the winter was the hell and the floods of the spring were the high water, somewhat akin to the situation that Cdr. Lloyd Bucher found himself in on January 28, 1968, when the Pueblo, Bucher's intelligence-gathering ship, was approached by six North Korean vessels in international territory and was captured. He was between hell and high water--he was in a difficult place with no satisfactory solution.
Didja hear about the country doctor who went over Waller way to see Farmer Fritz who was on the fritz? After getting out of his buggy, he stopped at the well for a cold drink of water. The crank backfired and the rope pulled him down twenty feet in the well. Luckily, the farmer's son saw this happen and rescued him. We can all stand to learn something from this. A doctor should take care of the sick and leave the well alone.
Which is the best dairy breed? Back in the "fifty's" that question was constantly asked and never satisfactorily answered. Which girl would make the best wife? Which is the best car? Is Häagen-Dazs Walnut or Bryers Peach ice cream the best?
Back then, ranked with reference to the amount of milk produced, the breeds stood as follows: Holstein, Ayrshire, Guernsey and Jersey. With reference to richness of milk: Jersey, Guernsey, Ayrshire, Holstein. With reference to color of milk: Guernsey.
There is very little difference in the amount of butter fat that is produced on the average by various breeds. There is a great deal more difference between the individuals of a breed than between the breeds. Good cows are found in every breed. And poor cows are found in every breed. A good Holstein is better than a poor Jersey and a good Jersey is better than a poor Holstein. The selection of a breed then, is not so of much importance as the selection of the individuals within the bred.
John Unbewust at one time picked up Golden Guernsey milk at the dairy farm of Dayne and Ruth Kline, just below Benton. The house and the barn were demolished in 1970 when route 487 into Benton was widened. A white building--the milk house-stood at an entrance to the barn. The house was at the north side of the barn. This picture of the barn and John's truck dates from about 1961.
John Unbewust picking up Golden Guernsey milk at the dairy farm of Dayne and Ruth Kline, just south of Benton. The house and this barn were demolished in 1970 when route 487 into Benton was widened.
Photo courtesy of Zane Unbewust
The white building in the front of the barn was the milk house. The house was to the left of the picture and route 487 was behind the photographer's back. This picture dates from about 1961.
John Unbewust also picked up Golden Guernsey milk from Bub Laubach, Wayne & Lundy McHenry, the Joseph Sutliff farm (now owned by an Amish family and then farmed by Donnivan Bender [father of Virginia Yorks]), Eli McHenry, Alvin Sutliff, Chris Wolfe's (father of the current Secretary of Agriculture for Pennsylvania) farm near Millville, Darwood Laubach (Orangeville), and the Charles Smith Thunderbird Farms. The 100% Guernsey milk was and is ideal for manufacturing dairy products and results in delicious and creamy ice cream, butter and cheeses. The Guernsey cow is known for producing high-butterfat, high protein milk with a high concentration of beta-carotene.The 1961 International shown above made the trip over route 309 to Foremost Dairies in Philadelphia with many loads of milk in the bulk tank.
This truck is also the same truck that John navigated to the bottom of Red Rock Mountain when the truck "came out of gear." John is lucky to be alive today as a result of that frightening trip down the mountain in September, 1969.
December 18, 2007. Happy birthday to Mark Travelpiece and R. B. Powell. On this date in 1865, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was declared in effect. On this date in 1957, The Bridge on the River Kwai" opened and went on to win seven Oscars. Richard Sutliff remembers that during his DJ days, he referred to the movie as "Kwy Me a Wivver."
To answer the question of what was the first Christmas present on the first Christmas day, go here.
With the Christmas season rapidly approaching, many will spend their nights during their travel in hotel and motel rooms. You might want to take a look at this before you make your trip.
Didja hear about the woman who visited the post office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards? She asked for 50 Christmas stamps, and in response to the question of "what denomination," she threw up her hands and with an exasperated tone in her voice said, "Has it come to this? Give me 6 Catholic, 12 Presbyterian, 10 Lutheran and 22 Baptists."
There is an old story about the American shoe company that sent two sales representatives to different parts of the African backwoods to see if they could drum up some business among the natives. The company heard back from both agents. The first said, "No business, natives don't wear shoes." The second one said, "Great prospects, natives don't wear shoes!"
With that introduction to different perspectives and to shoes, lets head into the subject of shoemakers.
Our early ancestors were clothed from the products of the domestic spinning-wheel and hand-loom, except for what he or she put on their feet. Itinerant shoemakers went from house to house setting up their benches and plying their vocation in farmer's kitchens. In larger cities, the shoe peddler carried his shoes from house to house and itinerant shoemakers sold their boots on the street while the customer waited.
Men wore their trousers in their boots, the fit being more important in the waist than in the length, the theory being that it was easier not to clean boots left by the kitchen door than it was for "Mother" to wash muddy clothes.
There is an old story about the shoemaker and the leg of Apelles. This artist from the late fourth century BC would display his paintings to the public and, standing out of sight, listen to what was said. Once, when a shoemaker faulted Apelles for drawing a sandal with one loop too few, he changed it overnight. The next day, the same shoemaker found fault with the leg of the person in the painting, Apelles looked out from behind the picture and yelled that a "shoemaker should not go beyond his sandal!"
In the world there are certainly millions of people who still don't wear shoes and somehow charge barefooted through thickets of African thorns or the hills of California or the sandy loam of central Pennsylvania. When I was growing up, I ran barefooted on summer days along the tracks of the Bloomsburg & Sullivan railroad on a path littered with cinders from trains of a bygone era. I didn't strap a sandal of leather to the bottom of my foot. I was tough back then. Today, I stub my bare foot when I enter a room with a chair in it, even if the chair is ten feet away!
Among the American Indian and the Eskimo, the duty of tanning leather and making boots falls nearly always upon the woman. I remember once reading something to the effect that an Indian chief said as he offered finely beaded moccasins for five cents a pair, "Buffalo hide plenty; woman make moccasins when have nothing else to do."
I remember being in Maricopa County, outside Phoenix, on a Navajo Indian reservation and watching a pair of moccasins being made with bone and iron needles. A pair of dance moccasins, nearly a yard long, with pointed toes and heels, were marked "right" and "left" by a foot painted on each shoe. The seams were reddened with ochre so the maker would not get sore eyes. The toes of the shoes were stuffed with straw so in the dance the marks made in the dust would look like the trail of a snake.
Later on an Apache Indian reservation in Whiteriver, Arizona, the moccasins had a round toe to be used to press down sharp cactus spines from jabbing their toes. I have read where some original American Indian women wore boots and the men wore shoes. This was because the women's moccasins and leggings were in one piece, while the men wore them separately.
Combined with rawhide for soles, sinew for stitching and an awl, the Indian was ready to make his footgear. Before the shoemaker began his work, it was always necessary for the Indian tanner to strip the hide from a deer or elk with his bowie knife in order to get pliable buckskin. Locally, this process was accomplished by the tanners in Jamison City, and at tanneries in Catawissa, Lightstreet, Millville and Slabtown.
I asked Bill Mather if Jamison City ever had a shoemaker, since much tanning took place in the valley. Bill was not aware of one. Several shoe makers and shoe-repair men plied their trade in Benton. The house at 407 Main Street which belongs to Carolyn Hartman was once owned by Sara Elizabeth Ikler, the mother of Darl I. (Mather) Myers, and the building adjacent to the alley was at one time occupied by a shoemaker. Jim Kinney was one of the later shoemakers who occupied the building.
Fred Wood's Harness Shop, Main Street.
Fred Wood, who lived on Third Street, was a harness maker and did some work on shoes. His shop was on Main Street and later behind his Third Street house.
Warren Thompson, who died in 1933, was once a shoemaker in Benton according to Carolyn Hartman.
The upper Fishingcreek Valley has never attracted many shoemakers. I found little reference to the itinerant shoemakers who traveled the countryside. Shoes, boots and shoes were sold in the Borough in stores like Hedden and Company (located across the street from the McHenry House). Lopez had a combination shoe repair and harness shop.
Back in 1720-21, Pennsylvania make it a crime for a tanner of leather to become a shoemaker. Section 7 of the law read, in part, "And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that no person occupying or using the mystery of the shoemaker, shall make or cause to be made any boots, shoes, or slippers for sale but of leather well and sufficiently sewed with good thread well twisted and made and well waxed." The law further forbid the "mingling" of overleather and did not allow putting into "any boots, shoes or slippers for sale any leather made of sheepskin, bulls hide, or horses hide."
There are probably as many fashions for the foot as for the head. Climate and material used for shoes have much to do in producing the different forms of shoes as does the tastes of man and woman. The sandal, for example, was designed for wearing in hot climates to protect feet from the hot ground and keep it cool. Wooden shoes began in damp, muddy places where leather rotted and in cold climates, places like Michigan. These soft basswood shoes, cut with strange Dutch tools patterned after "old world" tools were common in the early years of that state. I found an old advertisement from that state where a dozen shoes were tied together on a stick and they sold for $3 a dozen.
The shoes worn by the ancient women of China caused the women to hobble around on compressed feet. They looked fine, but the women must have thought it important to have tiny feet adorned in red satin, embroidered with gold, held up by thick felt laced with leather. They had to represent an enormous amount of misery in a very small space, a little like I imagine modern "spike heels" must feel to a woman.
A shoemaker was a tanner, furrier, woodcarver, carpenter, inlayer, weaver, painter, metal worker and decorative artist. He was a "jack of all trades."
The shoemaker in his day had all material furnished and worked for something like 50 cents a day, plus room and board. The early family would take their finest breeches and hunting shirts of the men, the linsey petticoats and the prettiest dresses of the women and hang them in full view on a wooden peg in a display of early wealth. On the floor, under the peg, would be their best shoes.
The market for early home-made shoes was somewhat limited, since most shoes were handed down from child to child and all were hand worked to keep them serviceable as long as they would last. Many of the shoemakers would also sharpen knives, saws and axes, would mend furniture and repair clocks, cut hair and if need be would pull teeth--but most of all the traveling cobbler was the local news carrier and gossip spreader for the rural communities.
Changes began occurring in shoemaking in the middle of the eighteenth century when the itinerant began to settle down in local shops and even began to employ others. As the process became more refined, divisions of labor sprung up with one person cutting, one sewing, another fastening soles to the shoes. Hand sewing was often done by girls and women in the home or the shop as illustrated in this early song...
Poor lone Hannah,
Sitting at the window, binding shoes:
Sitting, stitching, in a mournful muse.
Bright-eyed beauty once was she,
When the bloom was on the tree:
Spring and winter,
Hannah's at the window, binding shoes.
--Lucy Larcom. (1826-1893)
December 17, 2007. On this date in 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright went on the first successful manned powered-airplane flights on the outer banks near Kitty Hawk, NC. Orville took off in his machine, built up a speed of about 10 mph, rose to about ten feet, and landed immediately. They made two more attempts, then Wilbur took over. Flying straight into the wind for nearly a full minute, the machine covered 852 feet. After Wilbur landed and got out of the plane, it rolled over and months of repair were necessary.
The Keystone State Tournament at Penn State University saw some excellent wrestling. The Benton Area School placed second out of 37 teams, taking two first place, one second place, two thirds and a fourth.
The American Kennel Club/Eukanuba National Championship will be simulcast on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel on February 2, 2008, from 8-11 PM (ET/PT) as well as highlights of the AKC Agility Invitational which will be broadcast on Animal Planet on February 10, 2008, at 8 PM (ET/PT).
Two years ago at this time the upper Fishingcreek Valley received a few inches of snow followed by freezing rain which affected an estimated 1,500 homes north of town. We missed a real winter blast yesterday, but as Eliza Doolittle said, "Just you wait Henry Higgins, just you wait!" There are five days remaining until the official start of winter. "Just you wait!"
W. C. Fields would say that a day like yesterday "ain't fit for man nor beast." Locally, most got between four and six inches of ice/snow/sleet/rain and roads were drifting heavily late Sunday night as the temperatures plunged into the low twenties. What happened in the higher elevations wasn't pretty and with the high winds and cold temperatures and drifting snow, Monday morning won't be nice. The local schools are on a two-hour delay.
Is the earth getting warmer or colder? Both Al Gore and science seem to be inclined to think that it is getting warmer, and even in my short lifetime have to agree the modern winters lack the snap and vigor of winters of a previous generation.
Lets look at some statistics. In 1664, the Thames, in England, was covered with ice sixty-one inches thick and twenty years later coaches rode across the ice on the Thames. In both 1691 and 1693, the cold was so intense that wolves entered Vienna and attacked men and cattle in the streets. In 1709, the winter was so cold it was simply known by the name "the cold winter." Rivers and lakes were frozen in England, and even the sea for several miles from the shore. The ground was frozen nine feet deep. Birds and beasts died in the fields, and men perished by the thousands in their own homes.
In 1737, the ground in New England was frozen four-feet deep. In 1744, snow fell in Portugal to the depth of twenty-three feet on the level. In 1771, the Elbe was frozen to the bottom. The year 1816 was "the year without a summer." In that year, there was frost every month, and people all over the world began to believe that some great and definite change in the earth was taking place. Winter was winter that year, but as spring began to arrive in April the month turned colder ending with snow and ice and winter cold. In May, ice formed half an inch thick, buds and flowers were frozen and corn died. Frost, ice and snow were common in June. Almost every green thing was killed, and the fruit was nearly all destroyed. Snow fell three inches deep in New York and Massachusetts and ten inches in Maine. July had frost and ice. Ice formed the thickness of a window glass in New York, New England and Pennsylvania and corn was nearly all destroyed in some areas of the country. In August, ice formed half an inch thick and during the last two weeks of September ice formed a quarter of an inch thick. October had frost and ice, November was cold and blustering with enough snow for good sleighing.
In an edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer of December 10, 1911, the paper quoted The Climatology of Philadelphia, which noted that the winter of 1697 was long, stormy and severely cold all over the United States. The Delaware was closed with thick ice for more than three months, so that sleighs and sled passed from Trenton to Philadelphia, and from Philadelphia to Chester on the ice. The winter of 1741 was intensely cold. The Delaware was closed from the 19th of December to the 13th of March. As late as the 19th of April, snow fell to the depth of three feet. The year 1742 was one of the coldest winters since the settlement of the country. A gentleman drove with horse and sleigh through Long Island Sound on the ice to Cape Cod. In 1750, snow lay on the ground as late as the 30th of May.
As mean, nasty and depressing as yesterday was, we can be thankful that the winters of old didn't clobber the area.
Early Sunday morning, Rev. Al Lumpkin confirmed that the annual Christmas concert at the Presbyterian Church would go on Sunday as planned. Rev. Lumpkin and his group performed in concert in Forty Fort Saturday night and he said the roads were a "little soupy" at midnight. He held church services in Benton and Raven Creek Sunday morning and he and his group played their beautiful music Sunday evening at 7 PM at the Benton Presbyterian Church, although Jean Lumpkin had lost her voice and husband Al had to sing both the male and the female parts on a number of songs. Jeremy Lumpkin was not able to attend because of icing conditions. Mark Doncheski took Jeremy's place.
Since "the group" is somewhat new to the upper Fishingcreek Valley, it would be best to introduce them. They are known as String Theory and technically, Jeanie and Rev. Al appeared with String Theory.
The group consists of (left to right) Judy Ellis (hammered dulcimer), Rev. Al (guitar and mandolin), Jeremy Lumpkin (bass), Jeanie Lumpkin (guitar and banjo), Warren Fisher (guitar and autoharp), and Ann Fisher (mountain dulcimer and autoharp).
The newcomers who joined Jeanie, Rev. Al and Jeremy Lumpkin are Warren Fisher, retired professor of Economics at Susquehanna University. Warren built the autoharps that Rev. Lumpkin plays, and he most recently was the bassist in the Celtic group Black Bear Crossing. Ann Fisher, Warren's wife, is a retired economics professor at Penn State. Judy Ellis is retired from Admissions at Bucknell University. Many folks have heard these folks in the Frosty Valley Dulcimer Friends.
December 16, 2007. Today is the birthday of Peter Hauber, Solvang, CA; Robert Keller, downtown Dotyville, Anna Pennington, Green Acres and Kris Letteer. Today is the anniversary (in 1773) of the Boston Tea Party. In 1944 on this date, the World War II Battle of the Bulge began as German forces launched a surprise counter-attack in Belgium.
• It is the time of the year when I think of warmer, less severe weather. An excellent guide to visiting locations with warmer weather is published in the form of www.southerntravelnews.com/, an online newspaper dedicated to editorial coverage of travel within the U.S. South and cruising from southern U.S. ports. The Editor-in-Chief, Susan J. Young, is a 20-year travel industry veteran and former magazine and newspaper reporter. It is a site worth checking out!
• Earlier this week when snow hit the Borough, nineteen "first-notice" citations were issued for parking on town streets during a snow emergency, sort of a "friendly reminder" that the streets need to be kept clean of snow to the maximum extent possible. The notices on windshields when over two inches of snow falls will not be as friendly as the earlier notices.
• After paying $2.769 a gallon for regular, unleaded gasoline Saturday evening in Camp Hill, the local prices of $2.999 and up shakes us up. The Camp Hill price reflected a 30¢ per gallon discount for shopping in GIANT® Food Stores.
• Freezing rain begain falling in the Borough about 10 PM Saturday. By 2:30 AM Sunday, the sleet and freezing rain had accumulated about half an inch with a couple of flakes of snow thrown in for good measure. By 7 AM, there was a "solid" inch on the ground and the rain continued with the temperature at exactly 32°.
"Those were the days," as Archie and Edith would say. A newspaper report of how Hobie Whitenight homered in the 11th inning of a game in the early 1950s surfaced, so we'll mention a couple of other things about the game. The article says that "Albert Casey's Benton Tri-County League won a tight eleven-inning game from son Robert Casey's Columbia Country All Stars at Benton Park by the score of 5 to 4." The article says that "Whitenight with two doubles besides the game clinching blow," led the hitters on both sides. Joe Franczak started for the local team and allowed 8 hits over 8 innings. Names like Kline, Whitenight, John Spencer, Fritz, Chapin and Wenner were the stars of the game.
This is a reprint from a previous edition, but we love to wade through it from time to time if for no reason other than giving my spell checker a fit!. We found the letter in the Philadelphia Balance of January 31, 1821. We'll start out by reminding readers that turkey and sauerkraut were common on Christmas and New Years Day.
"Ah, ha! I had sitch a nise Krissmass tinner, und dit soe winsch dat you, mein friendt, vas hier zu helb me to ead it-dere vas one tisch, a kreat bick one es vas too, full mit schweet schmelling sourkrout, and a fein fett schmoakt koose rite on de dop of de tisch; at de onder endt of de dabel vas a goot flitch of paeon, amoast kiverd all ofer mit schweet schnitz, barsnips and tumplings-dont it maik yure mout wader ven you readts dis ledter-I know mein does ven I only dinks apoudt it. Veil, I did eadt und dit eadt, bis, als mein sohn Beeder dells me, I fallt fasdt aschleeb, mit one of de vings of de koose in mein mout."
Here are some shortcuts for Internet Explorer, Windows XP and Windows Vista. Several of these shortcuts work in other programs, too. F5 refreshes a web page. To find something on a web page use Control + F or F3. Control + E will bring your cursor to the Search Bar. Control + H will show your history. A click of the ESC key will stop a new web page from loading. F11 toggles to and from "Full Screen" mode. Additional tips can be found at www.bentonnews.net/howto.htm.
"Your sled can't go as fast as mine!" was the challenge. There were no hills around as fast as Hiscox Hill with its long, steep incline with a jump that would take a fast sled like a Lightning Guider five feet off the ground, down an additional twenty-foot slope onto a frozen driveway where the sleds would spin uncontrollably before coming to a stop.
There were many sleds, from what the old-timers called the "long bobs" to the smallest flat piece of plastic to new sleds and plain home-made ones. I remember one Christmas when I received a new Lightning Guider, about as light as a toboggan, with the brightest steel-tipped runners and trimmings on the hill. It was the handsomest sled I ever saw. I headed for the top of the hill, the proudest kid in Columbia County. I inhaled with a decided note of anticipation, then whizzed--helmetless--down the steep hill, passing kids hauling up the hill as if I were sent for! Older folks would stop and watch the proceedings with as much pleasure as us kids were experiencing.
I wonder what our anthropoidal ancestors would think of a plastic boogie board or modern sled, quite unlike the slabs of woods originally thrown down to transport goods and materials over the frozen ground. Today's sleds use laminates, epoxies and carbon fiber developed by aerospace engineers. Many don't even have steel runners on the bottom and therefore don't have to rely on ice in order to work to their best. Today's sleds include plastic discs and inflatable tube sleds.
On snowy afternoons and evenings as a kid, I watched the weather forecast to see if school was cancelled so I could get on my Lightning Guider sled--which was pronounced locally as "glider"--for some good old-fashioned fun.
The Standard Novelty Works of Duncannon, Pennsylvania, helped contribute to a lot of those good times. They made the famous Lightning Guider sleds from 1904-1990. Millions of these sleds left this historic factory that now houses the Old Sled Works, an antique mart of about 125 dealers.
When conditions were right, sledding was a ritual as soon as we got out of school. I remember, for example, a toboggan ride where we began at the top of the hill near where Bill and Lorena Bennett now live, riding straight down the hill so we could jump what was then called "Grant Brink Road," now called Sunny Hillside Road. Once a high-school classmate whooshed down Hiscox Hill on his Lightning Guider and drove it between the front wheels of a car arriving in the driveway of the house where Chuck and Kay Chapman now live. Somehow, injuries were minor.
Many don't realize that Lightning Guider was a Pennsylvania product, manufactured until 1990 in Duncannon, about 15 miles northwest of Harrisburg. The factory where the sleds were produced is now a large antique mart, but remnants of the Standard Novelty Works remain. The Standard Novelty Works produced millions of the sleds and the building houses a museum where the history of the company is recounted.
And when you stop at the Old Sled Works factory, you can sit at a marvelous working Old Time Penny Arcade and Soda Fountain, browse the Sled Museum for a look at some of the early Lightning Guider sleds and other items produced for 85 years in this old factory. You can climb the Duncannon Tower, a restored 110' old forest fire lookout tower which gives a wonderful view of the Susquehanna River.
The Old Sled Works is unusual on New Year's Eve as a 12-foot-long illuminated metal replica of a Lightning Guider sled coasts down a wire from the top of a 125-foot tower. It can actually be seen from across the Susquehanna River.
Cancellations because of adverse weather...
• the Jerseytown Jam at the Jerseytown Community Center on Sunday. For information call 925-5201 or 584-4396
• The Monday morning North Mountain Historical Society meeting at the Brass Pelican restaurant.
• Vincent Lee Cerreta, born in Shickshinny in 1916 where he graduated from high school in 1933, grew up in Mocanaqua, known in later years as Lee Vincent, passed away at his Kingston home Wednesday at 91. Lee played with the Glen Miller orchastra and started the Lee Vincent Orchestra when he returned from the war.
• Leona V. (Melick) Kile (August 17, 1910-December 15, 2007), Dutch Hill Road, Bloomsburg, died Saturday at the Bloomsburg Health Care Center where she had been a resident since September, 2004. She was 97. Born in Mt. Pleasant Township, she was a daughter of the late Charles and Carrie (Bogart) Melick. She was educated in the Mt. Pleasant Township schools. Mrs. Kile had worked at Magee Carpet Company in Bloomsburg in her younger years. She was later employed by the Hanover Cannery, Bloomsburg, and also assisted with the operation of the family farm. She and her husband, Oliver H. Kile, celebrated their 74th wedding anniversary September 14. Surviving, in addition to her husband, are her children Dawn E. Szoke (Stephen), Danville; Harlan E. Kile (Bonita), Bloomsburg; Kermit C. Kile (Veronica), Stillwater; Derl E. Kile (Karen), Bloomsburg. Also surviving are eleven grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren, two great, great grandchildren, a niece, Lillian Seybert Gross, Bloomsburg. She was the last member of her immediate family being preceded in death by siblings Edna, LaRue, Arthur and Daisy. Funeral services will be held Thursday, December 20, 2007, at 1 PM at the McMichael Funeral Home, Inc. Burial will be in the Waller Cemetery. There will be no public viewing.
--Obituary courtesy of the McMichael Funeral Home. A complete obituary will be published Sunday in the Press Enterprise.
• Gladys (Fritz) Strauch (October 28, 1921-December 13, 2007), Waller, died Thursday at Balanced Care at Bloomsburg. She had been in ill health for several years. She was 86. Born in Jackson Township, she was a daughter of the late Karl A. and Sarah (Appleman) Fritz and was a graduate of the Benton High School. Mrs. Strauch had worked for the former Dockey Shirt Factory and later for the former Dol Ang Manufacturing, Benton. She was a member of the Waller United Methodist Church, a Sunday School teacher, a member of the church choir and the Ladies Aid Society. She was preceded in death by her husband, Harold E. Strauch on August 25, 2006, breaking a marital span of 67 years, and a son, Colin Strauch, in 1954. Surviving, are her children Loretta Hiscox (Bill), Palm City, Florida; Ronald C. Strauch (Alice), Waller; Gary K. Strauch (Alice) Waller; Sally Bergstrom (John), Waller; Heather Strauch, Bloomsburg; Betsy Strauch, Waller; and Patti Strauch, Stuart, Florida. There are 13 grandchildren, 34 great grandchildren, two great-great grandchildren. Also surviving are sisters Eleanor Sands (Robert), Benton and Hester Andreas, Berwick Funeral Services will be held Wednesday afternoon at 2 at the Waller United Methodist Church. Burial will be in the Waller Cemetery. There will be no public viewing.
--Obituary courtesy of the McMichael Funeral Home. A complete obituary will be published Sunday in the Press Enterprise.
December 15, 2007. What is with this date? In 2003, streets in Benton were filled with snowmobiles, ATVs, garden tractors, snow blowers, tractors, and end loaders as six inches of snow fell, followed by sleet. By the time the storm was over, snow was piled eight feet high in the D.R. QuickMart parking lot. In 2005 on this date, we had an ice storm. On this date in 1941, Lena Horne sang the torch classic "Stormy Weather" for the first time, a good prelude to tonight's weather.
The Instructor of the Year at the Red Rock Job Corps Center is Joe Entiero. Joe isn't a household name locally, but he was the person responsible at the Job Corps who came to the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center with a bunch of kids who were "learning the trade." His crew did the stone work on the planter, reception desk, Elsie Buyer's sign and the sign at the entrance. The kids who actually did the work showed great respect for their teacher and Joe in turn treated them like responsible adults. The resultant product is something the local area can be proud of for years. Well done, Joe! The "Instructor of the Year" is a title you can wear with honor!
Among other things, the Christmas season is a time for music. For those with high speed connections, here are some excellent examples of music, some related to Christmas, some related to absolutely nothing, but all worth a listen...
Few would agree that today, with six inches of newly fallen snow on the ground, is a good time to talk about a grim subject like a "reaper." Well, actually, I don't really mean the "grim reaper," but the reaper that Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809-1884) "lifted from the brow of his father," Robert McCormick, to quote from the Daily Herald newspaper of October 10, 1910.
The descendants of Robert McCormick, who died in 1846, collected and published letters, statements and affidavits which tended to show that Robert McCormick, and not his son Cyrus, was the inventor of the McCormick reaper.
From the publications of the family, it would appear that the father, after many years of experiments, built a successful reaper in 1831 and for several years after he manufactured and sold a large number of these machines with the aid of his son, Cyrus. When Robert's final years approached, his wife urged him to give the invention to his oldest son, with the understanding that all of the children should share in the profits. In 1834, Cyrus received a patent on the invention.
Cyrus, however, maintained that his father's inventions weren't worth a hoot, that Cyrus had built a successful reaper in 1831 and that it was that machine which was patented. To the contrary, roared other members of the family, neighbors and acquaintances, saying that Robert was the true inventor of the reaper. Other neighbors came forward saying that the elder McCormick was a blacksmith and the inventor, but his machine "would start off all right and for about ten feet would cut the straws clean. Then it would begin to clog and pull the straws up by the roots, and at two rods it would choke completely." After a couple of trials, the reaper failed and the visiting farmers went home.
According to this account, the elder McCormick was so disappointed and chagrined that he took sick and then and there abandoned the machine. His son, Cyrus, who was assisting saw what the mistake of construction was and the next years remodeled it, and from that time the reaper was a success.
A statement made during a resultant trial was that the proper proportion of gearing was missed, so that the machine traveled a little faster than the sickle could cut; hence the ultimate choking and pulling up of the straw.
Whoever was the true inventor of the reaper, it is clear today that the bitterest of rivalries prevailed among the different types of reapers and the numerous variations of each type. As the Macon Daily Telegraph of December 30, 1907, put it, "there was no pool, no gentlemen's agreement, no community of interest." The "harvester business" was not business, it was a riotous game of "Farmer, farmer, who gets the farmer?"
Mechanics became millionaires, and millionaires became mechanics. The whole business was rife with risk and rivalry and excitement as if the quest to built a reliable reaper was instead a search for gold. There were names like McCormick, Osborne and Whitely who were collectively known as the "reaper kings." But there were others with names like Deering, Glessner, Warder and Huntley.
Every inventor had to struggle for patents. Whoever built a reaper had to defend himself both in the courts and in the harvest fields. William Deering soon learned that Cyrus McCormick "wielded the big stick against every man who dared to make reapers." McCormick was the grizzled old veteran of the trade and he went after competitors with as much vigor as if they were a herd of trespassers. He was the common enemy and the reaper money that was squandered on law suits brought a golden era of prosperity to the lawyers. The battles raged all the way to the Supreme Court and even to the halls of Congress.
In 1855 McCormick charged full tilt upon John Manny, inventor of the Manny Reaper, who was making reapers at Rockford, Illinois, which resulted in a three-year struggle that became the most noted legal duel of the day. McCormick hired a bevy of lawyers that he felt was invincible. Manny made a giant effort at self-defense by hiring Abraham Lincoln, Edwin Stanton, Stephen A. Douglas, a Congressman and a herd of other lawyers. McCormick finally lost thanks to Stanton who made an "unanswerable eloquent speech" for which he was paid $10,000 and Lincoln who made no speech at all was given $1,000.
The man who made out the best in this battle was Lincoln for it was the $1,000 that enabled him to carry on his famous debate with Douglas and thus made him the inevitable candidate of the Republican party.
The McCormick Patent Reaping Machine required two people for operation (a person to ride the horse and a man to rake the cut grain from the platform), it cut as much grain in one day as four or five men with cradles or twelve to sixteen men with reaping hooks.
The McCormick company and subsequent companies (International Harvester and J.I. Case) produced the reaper and other farm machines which allowed fewer farmers to produce more food.
This picture is of a McCormick reaper with a man by the name of Jonas H. Shultz and a man by the name of Downing B. Carey riding the machine. The picture is courtesy of Mariann Houseweart who would like more information about the two men. Jonas, according to the Pennsylvania 1910 Miracode Index was 48 in 1910 and had a wife, Dora S., the same age. In 1880 when he was 18, he lived in Greenwood. His father's name was John. His occupation was listed as "farm laborer. In the 1910 United States Federal Census, Downing B. Carey was 30, the son of Bateman E. and Mary E. Carey. He at that time lived in New Columbus.
Friday, December 14, 2007. Chase Kline turns 21 today.
The minutes of the Benton Borough Council Meeting of December 10, 2007, follow. They are modified for brevity, but are otherwise as submitted by Borough Secretary, Kay Yankovich...
In attendance were John Jankowski, O. Grant Little, Daniel Hartman, Allen Hess, Dan Jankowski, Michael Klem, Mayor Swan, Randy Karschner, Ed Kocher and Kay Yankovich. David Albertson, Lila Allen, and Joshua Price also attended.
"Ed Kocher presented his report for the month of November. He indicated he has received complaints concerning the smoke caused by outdoor furnaces within the Borough. Attached to his report was information on outdoor wood furnaces. Also attached is a copy of the ordinance enacted by the Borough of Canton with their requirements for outdoor fuel burning appliances. Council referred this matter to the Ordinance Committee and requested they consider a "clean-air ordinance."
"Mayor Swan reported that Officer Harold Morris has taken a full-time police officer's position with Hemlock Township. There will no longer be on-call coverage as Harold was the only officer available for this coverage." The incident report for the month of December will be presented at the January meeting.
"Mayor Swan stated that Borough residents are using the Municipal Parking Lot and it is becoming difficult for business patrons to find a place to park their vehicles. She requested a two-hour time limit be placed on the first five sections (on both sides) in the front area of the lot."
"The Mayor reported that she, along with Joe Peters and Dan Hartman, met with PennDOT representatives to discuss the placement of crosswalks on Main Street. PennDOT agreed that the areas in consideration were appropriate for crosswalks. Maintenance and liability are the responsibility of the Borough and they must be kept freshly painted. Dave Albertson questioned the placement of the crosswalk signs and the ability of large trucks to make turns without knocking them over. Council stated the signs could be placed in such a way that would allow trucks to make necessary wide swings. Dan Jankowski moved, Grant Little seconded, to place three crosswalks in the Borough: (1) Intersection of Colley and Main Streets (2) Intersection of North and Main Streets (3) Intersection of Market and Main Streets. The motion carried."
"Grant Little presented the proposed budget for approval. Mayor Swan indicated that the $8,000 police grant funds which have been received are not included. Grant replied that these funds are earmarked for definite items and it is not necessary to change the budget for this item. Mike Klem moved to approve the 2008 proposed budget as presented. Dan Hartman seconded. Motion approved."
"John Jankowski announced that he would like to appoint a committee to explore building options to create office space for the Borough Office. It was decided to wait until the January meeting to form the committee."
"Dan Jankowski stated the fire company has hired a cleaning person who would also be willing to clean the Borough Offices for $10/hour. Council directed staff to contact this person to provide cleaning services as needed."
"Grant Little stated the preliminary estimate for Park renovations is approximately $425,000. This does not include playground equipment purchases. Fund-raising and solicitation letters to campaign for financing will begin in the near future."
Funds to pay the Sokol, Inc. bill, in the amount of $131,045.99 for the Cemetery Hill/Hill Street Project will be transferred from the Capital Account into the General Operating Account and the bill will be paid as follows: $96,045.99 from the General Operating Account and $35,000 from the Liquid Fuels Account. Council agreed.
Many graduates of the Benton Area High School have made substantial contributions locally, statewide and nationally and will be recognized through the continuing Hall of Fame program of the Benton Area School System. The Hall of Fame recognizes the outstanding contributions of graduates of Benton Area High School by honoring success and excellence while inspiring present and future students. The Hall of Fame seeks to engender a tradition of pride and history to relive, celebrate and motivate.
Nominee must have graduated from Benton High School although honorary nominees will be considered. Nominee must be a person who has excelled in his or her career, and/or has achieved statewide, national, or international recognition. Nominations may be presented on behalf of a candidate who is deceased. If a nominee is not selected, his or her nomination will be retained and re-evaluated for future consideration. Please provide a resume and extensive information about the nominee. Nomination deadline is February 1, 2008.
Nomination forms are available here for regular graduates and for honorary graduates here.
Signs of the season Back Home in Benton, PA, as found in 2003.
. the Paul Shaffer Disposal Service wish you Happy Haul-a-Days!
. the door of a festively decorated gift shop in town: "Please open before Christmas!"
Although the Robert Bruce Ricketts house on North Mountain was patterned after a large Pennsylvania Colonial house, it didn't quite fit the mold of any other state houses. Remarkably, the property began to expand. In 1872, a wooden structure was built adjacent to the stone house and connected by a walkway to the main house. The wooden part opened in 1873 as The North Mountain House, a three-story hotel for the convenience of Ricketts' relatives and friends. The younger brother of Col. Ricketts', Frank Ricketts, Orangeville, deaf as a result of scarlet fever, was the primary man to run the hotel.
In addition to the hotel, Col. Ricketts sponsored a summer school and camp on the shore of what is now Ganoga Lake. In 1876, Dr. Joseph Trimble Rothrock (1839-1922), who then lived in Wilkes-Barre and practiced medicine, founded the North Mountain School of Physical Culture (sometimes referred to as the "North Mountain School of Physical Education") on the property. For about $200, boys from Wilkes-Barre and as far away as Philadelphia came for four months over the summer. Dr. Rothrock's ambition was to take "weakly boys out into camp life in the woods [snip] so that the pursuit of health could be combined with the practical knowledge outside usual academic lines."
Today's nearby Red Rock Job Corps Center, a fixture since May of 1978, has related objectives. The Center is a year-round center of instruction serving at-risk youth ages 16-24 at the location of the former Benton Air Force Station.
The Rothrock summer camp began operation in 1876 after Elizabeth (Reynolds) Ricketts and Robert Bruce Ricketts opened "the stone house" as a summer resort. The school was gone by 1883, when the "large and substantial two-story house, a three-story frame boarding house, barns and other buildings" were operating in full swing as a "Summer Watering Place."
The school was under the watchful eye of the man who later was the head of Pennsylvania forestry, Dr. Joseph T. Rothrock, Wilkes-Barre. Dr. Howard Kelley, Philadelphia, one of the founding physicians of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, was involved. Other participants included Dr. Lewis H. Taylor, Wilkes-Barre, and an artist by the name of Eugene C. Frank, Wilkes-Barre, who assisted the camp with painting and drawing. William Reynolds Ricketts remembered that in the first year there were "twenty-six scholars" attending for a two-month period. The school consisted of two small one-story houses and a "tent colony" for the boys and some of the masters. There was also a large dining tent. The school continued in 1877 with 17 students, but without Dr. Rotherock.
The school was located in the "field and maple grove southeast of the stone house." Aquatic sports were accommodated by a camp landing on the "shore of the lake with boats for rowing and fishing and a raft with a diving board for swimming." Reynolds noted that "from this small beginning has grown the great summer schools of today."
In 1903, the frame house was torn down and debris removed to make way for the landscape garden at the north of the house. In 1913, Henry H. Atherton, Wilkes-Barre, prepared plans to renovate the stone house and during that summer and fall that was carried out with an addition to the north side built.
Col. Ricketts hired a Lopez lumber company by the name of Trexler and Turrell to cut his lumber. The Colonel arranged for a railroad to be built from the main line of the railroad which led to Williamsport and Wilkes-Barre to the Stone house to bring paying customers in and take lumber out. A sawmill was built seven miles away in what became known as the town of Ricketts and by 1898 was cutting 100,000 feet of lumber daily, declining to 80,000 board feet by 1910. Three years later, the mill had all but closed.
In 1894, Col. Ricketts became involved in an operation known as the "Ganoga Lake Ice Company." The company had two large ice houses--a reported 300 feet long, eighty feet wide and 35 feet high--built on Ganoga Lake
The house on North Mountain served the Ricketts family well. After the Colonel passed away in 1918, the house remained as the family residence for forty years. The Ganoga Lake Association purchased the property in 1958 and today the building is used for occasional weddings, association meetings and get-togethers and has been used for church services. The building remains unique in the state as a residence in the woods far from the demands of modern life, a symbol of what can be done.
For further information on the Life & Times of Robert Bruce Ricketts, consider buying the book by the same title written by Peter Tomasak on sale at the Red Rock Corner Store.
George A. Glarner, Benton, and formerly of Thornbury Township, Delaware County, passed away Thursday, December 13, 2007, at Union Hospital, Elkton, Maryland. He was 95. He was the son of Andrew Glarner and Catherine Ott Glarner He was born in Moscow, PA, and grew up in Hazleton. He served in the US Army in Europe during WWII, and was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in action. He worked in the textile industry for American Viscose Corporation for 35 years, retiring in 1974. Upon his retirement, he and his wife, the late Dr. Jane U. Glarner, settled in Benton. He is survived by a daughter, Sandra Caddell, of Elkton, MD, a son, David (Regine), Downingtown, four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. Funeral services will be held Monday, December 17, 2007, at 3 PM with a viewing preceding at the McMichael Funeral Home. Interment will be in the Raven Creek Cemetery with military honors accorded by a combined veterans group.
--Obituary courtesy of the McMichael Funeral Home. A complete obituary will be published in the December 14, 2007, Press Enterprise.
December 13, 2007. Joe Griffith and Jane Sutton celebrate their birthdays today. The forecast is for an accumulation of three to six inches of snow today, with a nor'easter as a possibility for late this weekend. As usual, there is a lot going on this weekend, but little will be more entertaining than the concert by Rev. Al Lumpkin Sunday night at the Presbyterian Church and the talk by Bob Webster Monday morning at the North Mountain Historical Society at the Brass Pelican.
It is time to honor the seasoned citizens of the area and here is an excellent place to visit.
Didja know that the first Sullivan County Fair took place in 1854 in Forksville? The fair seemed to move around in the years following, with fairs taking place in Millview, Eldredsville (Elkland Township) and Laporte. The present fairground was purchased in 1891.
Quote of the Day:
"Pennsylvania's libraries, museums, and historic sites are the guardians of pioneer ideas and achievements that guide us toward the future. The treasures they hold preserve our freedoms and fill our lives with knowledge, opportunity, and a connection to our past."
--Michele M. Ridge, former First Lady of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Users of the exercise room in the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center wish readers a "Merry Fitness and Happy New Rear!"
In the rush of events of the season, we didn't mention the 40% set-aside apportionment of the county hotel room rental tax which supports cultural, historical and recreational assets for underwriting special events to develop tourism within Columbia and Montour Counties. Awards are granted annually by the County Board of Commissioners upon the recommendation of a Grant-Review Panel. The grant is administered by the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau.
The Columbia County Commissioners voted the following entities be awarded County Commissioner Tourism Fund grants in 2008:
. The Columbia County Covered Bridge Association, $5,000, for stone foundation repairs on the Josiah Hess Covered Bridge. The foundation needs to be re-pointed to reinforce the structure.
. The Fishing Creek Sportsmen's Association, $5,000, to build and market a visitors information booth at its fish nursery on Shannon Mill Road. The grant includes signage to explain the workings of the hatchery and its daily operations. On behalf of the Columbia-Montour Tourist Bureau the visitor's information booth will pass out pamphlets of a tourism nature, including Ricketts Glen, the Benton Rodeo, the O.A.T.S. Festival and the history of the adjacent Shannon Mill.
. Fishing Creek Township, $5,000, for repair of Twin Bridge Lane. With the prospect of the West Paden Bridge joining her sister to once again complete the Twin Covered Bridges, award dollars would repair the roadway leading to the play ground area adjacent to the Twins.
. The Benton Volunteer Fire Department, $3,000, to regionally market its two gun shows. A 2007 grant allowed the organization to market outside the local region for the first time in its history and as a result the 2007 attendance jumped 52% over 2006 attendance figures.
. Stillwater Borough, $5,000, to assist in the development and marketing efforts of their second annual Stillwater Poetry and Music Festival. Poets and musicians from across Pennsylvania perform their work and conduct workshops. The event takes place at the Stillwater Municipal Stage and Stillwater Covered Bridge.
At the Benton Borough Council meeting Monday night, it was decided to mark crosswalks on Route 487 at the Fishingcreek bridge, at Market Street on Main Street, and at North Street on Main Street. Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks.
If a pedestrian is at the curb of or in a crosswalk all vehicles must slow down or stop to allow him to reach either the opposite side of the street or a "safety zone." If a pedestrian is not in a marked or unmarked crosswalk, then he must yield to all other traffic.
The article which originally appeared in this section about the Benton Cider Mill has now been moved to the FEATURES section.
Didja ever consider why some things are raving successes and other things are complete failures? Businesses are notable for their failures when a well-known brand goes down the tubes or for criminal activities resulting in legal or financial problems. Ford experienced this with their Edsel and who can forget DeLorean Motor Company and the Tucker Corporation. Think of Eastern and Pan American Airlines, World Championship Wrestling and the Enron Corporation. Some local restaurants have fallen into this category.
Imagine walking into a local bank and saying that you have a vision for a restaurant in Elk Grove at the end of a road (at least it is three months out of the year) at least ten miles from any reasonably sized town and you want to borrow a whole bunch of money in order to build a building and open an eatery. Imagine the pained look on the banker's face knowing that it was a good idea, would be run by good people, but who would come? "If we build it they will come" works in the movies but what about in real life?
Think back to 1850 when John Cowan, Williamsport, sold almost 6,000 acres of land to brothers by the name of Ricketts. The land was just west of what was called Long Pond on top of North Mountain. Nearly at the top of a gently rising incline, a building was built to the ridicule of the sparsely populated local population who insisted on calling it "Ricketts' Folly." Why would anyone build such a large house and so out of style with other local residences in the middle of nowhere?
Only a few local residents knew that the huge stone house on North Mountain resembled the farmhouse-like Bartram and Johnson Houses in Philadelphia. Although I am not personally familiar with Clivedon, the Chew mansion in Philadelphia, Harry Ackerman suggests the similarity of this mansion with the Ricketts' house.
Probably a few of those who saw the resemblance of the Bartram House didn't have a huge amount of respect for the common sense of John Bartram, a Quaker farmer who stopped plowing his fields when he focused on a daisy whose simplicity and beauty inspired John and his son, William, to spend the rest of their lives exploring, collecting and seeking to understand nature. For most of the Ricketts' neighbors, many of whom could not even keep the cold of the winter from their hastily laid up wooden structures, the large house made no sense.
The Stone House on North Mountain also resembled the unusually large and extravagant Johnson House at the corner of Washington Lane and Germantown Avenue, Germantown. This house was built between 1765 and 1768 by a Quaker family. Later, the house became famous for the Battle of Germantown in 1777 which raged outside its door. Still later, the house served as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
We'll continue with this story when we return Saturday.
Rev. David Diehl was discharged from the hospital Tuesday afternoon and is home under home-health care. The final tests revealed that he had a subdural hematoma (bleeding surrounding the brain) that is usually caused by a blow to the head in the form of a fall or banging the head on something. He doesn't recall anything, but that explains the headache and nausea and vomiting. He is now off his stroke-prevention drugs, but will need to be restful for the next month. Carolyn will be at home with him as he recuperates and he may have visitors, but Carolyn points out that "we also have to be careful to not let him overexert himself."
December 12, 2007. There are ten days until the official start of winter. Happy birthday to Peg Root who turns 90 today, and to Ann Marie Nesbitt, Cheyenne Geffken, David Arthur Powell, Dennis Threlkeld and Harry Ritter.
• The Geminids are arriving and the best time to see them is coming up Monday night, Dec. 13. Sky watchers around midnight that night can expect to see dust which we know as dozens to hundreds of "shooting stars" trailing asteroid 3200 Phaethon.
• For those Windows XP users operating on a network, betcha you didn't know about the program called Winchat that lets you carry on a real-time chat with other users on your network. To begin the program, open the Run command and type in Winchat. The Chat interface will open. Click the Dial button to call another user’s computer. Type in the name of the computer you want to chat with or select a computer from the list. When the remote user agrees to connect with your computer, you can begin your chat session.
• The Blueberry Fields Music Festival, Dushore, is scheduled for August 2-3, 2008 at Berry Fields Farm on Cahill Mountain.
• Eighteen more miles of I-99 between Tyrone and State College is expected to open on most of the northbound portion this week. A five-mile southbound stretch between Skytop and Port Matilda will open next year. The highway connects existing I-99 from Bald Eagle, north of Tyrone, to the Mount Nittany Expressway.
• USA Today is launching a magazine called Open Air in Friday editions of USA Today four times a year beginning March 7.
• AT&T Inc., plans to get out of the pay phone business after 129 years from when the country's first pay phone in 1878 came along. The first coin-operated model was installed at a bank in Hartford, Connecticut.
• Bethel Hill UMC is having a Christmas play December 15 at 7 PM and December 16 at 4:30 PM. The play is "A Stranger In Bethlehem" written by Charles George. The story is based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, around a family of four. They are a poor family with many troubles until they are visited by a stranger Christmas Eve. There is no charge for the play, but a freewill offering to benefit a needy family in the area will be taken.
Didja ever think that people who have babies never say they sleep like one?
The article which originally appeared in the section about the Benton Cider Mill has been transferred to the FEATURES section.
Naomi "Ann" Gaito (November 13, 1926-December 10, 2007), Huntington Mills, died Monday at home following a lengthy illness. She was 81. She was born in England and came to the United States as a war bride of Frank Gaito, Sr. who died in 1990. She lived in New Jersey before moving to Pennsylvania in 1971. She was preceded in death by her husband and a son, Anthony Gaito, who died in 1975. She is survived by children Frank Gaito, Jr., Shickshinny; JoAnne Gaito, Guttenburg, New Jersey; Catherine Spencer (Mark), Huntington Mills; James Gaito, Fairmount Springs; Susan Lawson (Joe), Berwick; and Lisa Mowery (Britt), Leesburg, VA. Grandchildren include Janet Cumberland, Rachel Myers, Tony Lawson, Steven Lawson and Jessica Ramirez. There are six great grandchildren. Funeral services will be private and held at the convenience of the family. Arrangements are under the direction of the McMichael Funeral Home, Inc., Benton.
--A complete obituary will be published in the December 12, 2007, Press Enterprise
December 11, 2007. Wilbur Kocher celebrates his birthday today, and Betty and Ray Weston celebrate their wedding anniversary.
After taking a look at the latest "30 Seconds,"
I realize that Abe Lincoln was about right
when he said that "A friend is one who has the same enemies you have."
The Benton Area Schools and members of the faculty honored the senior members of the local community Sunday afternoon with a luncheon. To see many of the people who attended, go here. Double click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.
The 2007 version of Breath of Heaven in the village of Central was a huge success, with director Gail Stark saying "it seems to get better every year." Gail expressed her appreciation to all who participated. There was a good crowd, which "filled up our brand new bleachers our men built, there was standing room only, all our seats were filled." Some people came from Canada just to see it. The kids from the area took part and did a fantastic job. There isn't any doubt that the production would not have been as enjoyable had it not been for the efforts of Gail Stark and the Erney family. Carrie Lewis and Margaret Steege, among others, provided mountains of cookies which were consumed along with gallons of hot chocolate, prepared by Ed and Alice Allegar and their crew. This was truly a community effort. It was a wonderful way to begin the Holiday Season.
Didja ever think that since a mushroom only grows in a damp place
it is only natural that it would develop into the shape of a mushroom?
• the crafty folks at the Bloomingdale Bible Church who have turned the old West Nanticoke train station on Route 11 into what they are calling Inspiration Station. The new store features many items made by the church members, including artwork, homemade jewelry, quilts, candles, and bath and body products.
• the innovative folks at the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center who are planning an antique and appraisal show March 29 and 30, 2008. The hours will be Saturday, March 29, 10 to 5; and Sunday, March 30, 11 to 4. There will be food and drinks and a gymnasium full of antiques and antique dealers. John A. Shuman, III, Bloomsburg, author of ten books, a lecturer and appraiser will provide appraisals of the value of your antique. There is a $3 admission and it will be a guaranteed learning experience.
Edison didn't invent the first talking machine.
He only invented the first one that could be turned off.
Buster and Chloe asked that you take the time to listen to the advice of Logan, the Sky Angel Cowboy, which you can find here.
If you are sending Christmas cards, Ora Karns would love to hear from you. Her address is Ora Karns, c/o Loyalton of Bloomsburg, 420 Shaffer Road, Bloomsburg, PA 17815.
We have had days and days of rain or freezing rain and gray drearies. Although there was a report of a "yellow ball in the sky" in the Huntington Mills area a few days ago, it didn't make it to Benton! Little beats the $3 billion flooding the state experienced in June, 1972, when Hurricane Agnes swept up from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, or 1975 during the "no-name" flooding that we suffered locally. The Great Flood of 1993 in the American Midwest, the most costly and devastating flood to ravage the U.S. in recent history, did little damage locally. Still, those floods were nothing compared with the flooding that hit the upper Fishing Creek Valley in 1849.
In 1849 the flooding was so intense in the Fishing Creek valley that the flour mill above the Borough owned then by Isaiah Cole, along with his sawmill and his house, were caught in high waters destroying the mill and badly damaging the house. Lives were saved by climbing on the roof of the house. We have read reports that the deluge of water was so great that a man by the name of Charles Knauff, up on the North Mountain, saved himself from drowning by grabbing a large piece of hemlock bark, holding it over his head to divert the downpour.
According to William C. Heacock, who wrote about the episode in the Benton area following the Civil War, the amount of water was so intense that water from Fishing Creek and West Creek joined crossing the Fishingcreek valley where Benton is now located and flooded the entire valley as far south as Stillwater (which was about as far as local history then recorded). The History of Fishingcreek Valley, written by Rachel P. Evans Kline, also discusses the flood, saying, in part, that "the bed of the stream was moved several rods east to the present course on the east side of the valley."
William Heacock wrote that shortly after the 1849 flood, Isaiah Cole's house was "moved to its present location and the same stones of the huge chimney which were in the old house were brought down in stone boats and set up again" at the location later known as "The Two Sister's Curve" beside route 487 just north of the present golf course. Isaiah Cole's house was moved to the new location on rollers. To show the force of the flood a millstone was carried a quarter of a mile down the stream.
The original mill of Isaiah Cole dated to 1799 and operated for almost half a century until the cloudburst and flash flood destroyed it in 1849. The mill which later became known as the Swartwout Mill was constructed by a man named Robbins about 1849 about fifty yards below the original Isaiah Cole Mill. Later, Bent Cole operated the second mill. "Bent" Cole refers to Thomas Benton Cole, who at one time lived in the stone house next to the present Mill Race Golf Course. Robert Swartwout purchased the mill and about 150 acres of land in 1858. His brother, John, came from Albany, New York, in 1859 and managed the property. Swartwout sold the mill to Joseph Follmer and there were several sales after. Across what is now route 487 from the Swartwout house, an electric company supplied Benton with electricity. A concrete dam, 280 feet long, was built by 1914 at the site of the old Swartwout mill, and the powerhouse contained a 75-kilowatt generator, operated by a 100-horsepower turbine. The Benton Electric Company provided electricity to Benton until the 1920s when it became the property of the Pennsylvania Power and Light CompanyThe article on the Benton Cider Mill which originally appeared in this section has been transferred to the FEATURES section.
December 10, 2007. Happy birthday to Larry Paul who turns 67 today. Larry is one of the hard-working volunteers at the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center. Happy anniversary to David and Theresa Hilley, Sr. Rev. David Diehl was transferred out of the CICU to a medical floor Sunday. His headache remains along with a slow heart rate, so we need to continue to pray that his original symptoms can be alleviated. Carolyn Diehl again thanks everyone "for your support and prayers through this 'bump in the road'."
Two years ago, the snow accumulation in Benton Borough exceeded 8" and higher amounts were recorded in outlying areas. The Benton Area Schools were closed.
On this date in 1927, radio announcer George Hay introduced the "WSM Barn Dance" as "The Grand Ole Opry." Originally known as the WSM Barn Dance, the show started its career in the station's fifth floor Studio A on November 28, 1925. "Uncle" Jimmy Thompson "fiddled the bugs off the tater vines" in the first show. The name of the show changed when announcer George D. Hay ad libed after the WSM Barn Dance came on the air after a broadcast of the NBC Music Appreciation Hour. Hay said, "For the past hour, you have been listening to Grand Opera. Now we will present Grand Ole Opry!" Want to listen to the Grand Ole Opry? You can, on SIRIUS Satellite Radio or by going to www.wsmonline.com .
The Concert Choir, the mixed ensemble, concert band and the jazz band presented the Sounds of the Season Sunday in the Richard E. Martin Memorial Auditorium. Jennifer DiLossi and Jennifer Welliver directed.
Picture courtesy of Anna Dressler
The annual Christmas Musical at the Fairmount Springs United Methodist Church was Sunday. Arithe and Ashley Sorber led off, followed by some congregational singing and prayer. The trombones came next thanks to the Baer Family. Lorraine and Joe Feola performed. Pastor Mike brought out his trumpet, followed by Gail and Adam Sorber in a duet and then Adam all by himself. Thelma Steinruck brought the audience to their feet with her yodeling and then the Birth Brothers calmed them down with a couple of slow, romantic numbers. Pat Hess did a solo as did Helen Masters and Connie Johnson. Ed Campbell proved to be an able musician. This is one of the joys of the holiday season, a tradition for probably the last 50 years thanks in great part to the musical ability of Helen Masters, her family and friends of the Fairmount Springs church.
If you like Christmas puzzles, you'll love this.
We are springing a pop Pennsylvania quiz today. The question is which of the following names do not belong in this group and why? The names are Adams, Clinton, Jefferson, Monroe, Washington.
The Darwin Award is made each year to the person who has managed to kill themselves (and therefore prevent the survival of their genes - hence Darwin!) in the most bizarre way imaginable. Since this is a sensitive subject for those of us who are not trying to kill ourselves, some may want to skip this next paragraph.
A Darwin Award was given to a woman named Linda who went to Arkansas to visit her in-laws, and while there went to a store. She parked next to a car with a woman sitting in it, her eyes closed and hands behind her head, apparently sleeping. When Linda came out a while later, she again saw the woman, her hands still behind her head but with her eyes open. The woman looked very strange, so Linda tapped on the window and said "Are you okay?" The woman answered "I've been shot in the head, and I am holding my brains in." Linda didn't know what to do; so she ran into the store where store officials called the paramedics. They had to break into the car because the door was locked. When they got in, they found that the woman had bread dough on the back of her head and in her hands. A Pillsbury biscuit canister had exploded, apparently from the heat in the car, making a loud explosion like that of a gunshot, and hit her in the head. When she reached back to find what it was, she felt the dough and thought it was her brains. She passed out from fright at first, then attempted to hold her brains in.
The Benton Area Schools will present the musical production The King and I April 4, 5 and 6. M.R. Daniels will direct. The show will be open to all 9th-12th grade students.
The article on the Benton Cider Mill which appeared in this section has been transferred to the FEATURES section.
Which of the following names do not belong in this group? Adams, Clinton, Jefferson, Monroe, Washington. If you don't have the answer, think a second longer before you read the next paragraph.
We suspect that you got the right answer, but possibly for the wrong reason. All the names are of counties in the state of Pennsylvania. All the counties but one were named for U.S. Presidents. William Jefferson Blythe IV, later known as William Jefferson Clinton, was never the namesake for a Pennsylvania county. DeWitt Clinton gets the credit.
In the rush of things, most of us paid scant attention to the 20 survivors who attended the dedication ceremony for a long-awaited monument on Ford Island to the USS Oklahoma, which capsized 66 years ago after being hit with at least nine Japanese torpedoes in the harbor at Pearl Harbor. Dewey Harris, Kailua, Hawaii, was unable to attend the Official December 7 ceremonies at Pearl Harbor, but was able to see the Naval and Air tributes to the Fallen.
If Dewey's name is familiar to readers and members of the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center it is because he donated an old, hand-drawn fishing map circa 1935 drawn by a Mr. D.W. Barnes in ink on oil paper. The map details the area of North Mountain from northern Columbia County to the Bradford county line. The approximate center of the map is Lopez pond. It covers all the creeks in the area and is accurate. It is on display at The Center.
Dewey reports that during the ceremonies, the USS Lake Erie (CG70), conducted a pass-in-review with 50 attack survivors on board. At 0755 hours she sounded the ships horn as she passed the USS Arizona. This was followed by a flight of four twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift Boeing helicopter Ch-47 Chinooks from the Army airfield at Wheeler flying the "missing-man" formation. Then, out of the dark, rain-heavy skies, a lone B-2 made a low-level pass over the memorial. Dewey noted everything was "Very impressive!"
The USS Oklahoma memorial honors the 32 men who were rescued from the ship that "date which will live in infamy" and the 429 who were lost when the battleship overturned and sank, trapping dozens within her hull. Of the dead, only 35 have been positively identified, while 13 remain unaccounted for.
The monument consists of 429 white marble columns in a V formation, fronted by black granite. Both the columns and the granite have the names of the fallen. Oklahoma architect Don Beck took the inspiration for the memorial from standing at the pier where the battleship was moored and had sunk. He watched as a ship came into the port with hundreds of sailors in their dress whites saluting on the deck. A Navy sailor explained that the sailors were "manning the rails," a method of rendering honors of naval vessels. Beck said he fell in love with the white of the sailors and the gray ship and was the inspiration for the memorial.
The USS Oklahoma is capsized at right as the USS West Virginia, torpedoed and bombed by the Japanese, begins to sink after suffering heavy damage, center. The USS Maryland, left, is still afloat in Pearl Harbor in this Dec. 7, 1941. U.S. Navy photo
December 9, the 343rd day of 2007. There are 13 days until the official start of winter. There is a buffet-style buckwheat cakes and sausage breakfast with Santa Claus at the Millville Community Fire Company from 7 AM to noon today. The price for adults is $7, children 6-12 $4 and children under 6 eat free. St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Bloomsburg, presents the Jubilate Choir at 3 PM in its third annual Christmas Cantata, under the direction of Alan Hack. The sixth annual free holiday dinner for the senior citizens of the Benton Community will take place in the Benton Middle-High School Cafeteria beginning promptly at 1 PM. Reservations are recommended but--heck--it is Christmas and no one will be turned away hungry. The Sounds of the Season concert follows in the gym at 2:30. The annual Christmas Musical at the Fairmount Springs United Methodist Church takes place today at 2 PM.
Rev. David Diehl was removed from the ventilator Saturday evening and is communicating with his family and his medical team. He remains in CICU at Geisinger. Your continued prayers for his full recovery are greatly appreciated.
The Benton Uni-Mart reopened two years ago on this date with regular, unleaded gasoline at $2.099. Three years ago on this date, Benton logged the lowest reported prices in the state of Pennsylvania as regular unleaded gas dropped to $1.61 and $1.63. Last year on this date, local gasoline prices were $2.359 and $2.299. The Benton Uni-Mart was tied with two other gas stations Saturday with the lowest gasoline price in the state--$2.939 for regular, unleaded gasoline, up from $2.909 the previous day.
The Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center will hold a Christmas party for members on December 15 from 2 until 4 in the afternoon. Members are asked to bring a snack and a wrapped gift under $5. The Center is holding a membership drive for Christmas and the new year. Any yearly membership purchased before January 31 will receive the first month free. Speaking of Christmas, a membership in the Center would make a wonderful Christmas present.
In addition to joining The Center, we often suggest Christmas presents, including books. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently looked the other way and awarded the title of the world's worst book title to Cooking With Pooh. You probably won't find a copy since it is out of print and the price of a single used copy on Amazon.com is $199. Other poorly thought-out titles include Letting It Go: a History of American Incontinence, The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification, and Everything You'll Need to Remember About Alzheimer's.
A question was emailed from a recently retired former Bentonian who asked, "What is happening to our Social Security Plan, what with the daily debt of 1.4 million dollars we are running up with the war in Iraq? What is happening to the U.S. economy, and what has happened to our retirement security? Questions like those can't be answered without making someone mad, but as I see it...
Before we started our Christmas shopping we--every one of us in in the United States--were something like $30,000 in debt. I never computed the national debt, but it appears it is a whopping $9.13 trillion expanding by $1 million a minute. This is more than I have a hope of comprehending and most don't seem to care. As baby boomers begin to tap into the Social Security system I suspect Congress will simply raise the government's debt limit again which is somewhat akin to asking Bank of America to raise the credit limit on your VISA card. The current administration has raised it five times and it currently is $9.82 trillion. There are probably only a handful of Americans who really think this is fiscally responsible--and I fully expect to hear from at least one of them after reading this.
Social Security, as I understand the original purpose, was intended as a stand-alone, self-financing program with its taxes and benefits not blended with the general budget. As Social Security taxes were raised on the bottom 90% of the population, income and capital gains taxes for folks making over 200,000 dropped. Social Security taxes for ordinary working people generated a surplus. The surplus was then borrowed into the general budget where the extra money prompted a tax cut. Ordinary workers and small businesses didn't make out on that one. An increasing budget deficit resulted.
In 1979 the top income tax rate was 70% on income above 200,000, and the capital gains tax was 28%. The top rate dropped by 1986 to 50%, and the capital gains tax was 20%, with 60% of income excluded. Today, the top rate on capital gains is 15%, and the top rate for income over 250K is 35%.
The Social Security tax is 12.4%, half coming off the top of employees' checks and half paid by employers. Both halves are part of the employee's compensation. The kid working for Weenie Beenie at minimum wage gets taxed nearly as much on a percentage basis as Warren Buffett gets when he sells a share of Berkshire Hathaway and takes capital gains. The franchise owner of the Weenie Beenie also gets nicked because as a small or medium-sized business he is more labor intensive than a giant corporation.
Here are figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association for the third quarter of 2007. About one in every six subprime borrower was delinquent on his or her house payment in the third quarter. About one in every thirty-two homebuyers was unable to keep up in the third quarter. Homebuyers with adjustable-rate mortgages were more than twice as likely to be delinquent in their house payments than those with fixed-rate mortgages. About one in fifteen VA loans are now delinquent and more than one in eight FHA borrowers were behind in their payments in July, August and September. It was back in 1986 when delinquencies were this high. The mortgage foreclosure rate is up 70% since the third quarter of 2006.
So if you were Ben Bernanke, what would you do? Before you give me an answer, remember that an election year begins in less than a month.
The article on the Benton Cider Mill which originally appeared in this section has been moved to the FEATURES section.
A row of bottles on my shelf
Caused me to analyze myself.
One yellow pill I have to pop
Goes to my heart so it won't stop.
The red ones, smallest of them all
Go to my blood so I won't fall.
The orange ones, very big and bright
Prevent my leg cramps in the night.
A little white one that I take
Goes to my hands so they won't shake.
The blue ones that I use a lot
Tell me I'm happy when I'm not.
Such an array of brilliant pills
Helping to cure all kinds of ills.
But what I'd really like to know...
Is what tells each one where to go!
The purple pill goes to my brain
And tells me that I have no pain.
The capsules tell me not to wheeze
Or cough or choke or even sneeze.
December 8, 2007. Happy birthday today to Kim Notestein and Anna Dressler.
Tonight is the Night At the Races from 6:30 at the Shickshinny American Legion, 575 SR 239, Shickshinny. "Breath of Heaven" is a live musical drama nativity at 7 PM at the North Mountain Fire Company grounds, 991 Elk Grove Road, Central. Whispering Pines Camping Estates, 1557 North Bendertown Road, Stillwater, is having a one-day Christmas sale with 30% off all toys and gifts and 20 to 50% off everything else. There will even be door prizes.
Sunday is a buckwheat cake and sausage breakfast from 7 AM until noon at the Millville Fire Company with Santa making an appearance about 10. The annual Christmas Musical begins at 2:30 in the cheerful Fairmount Springs UMC, featuring music by twins Arithe and Ashley Sorber beginning at 2 PM.
On this date in...
. 1980, John Lennon was shot and killed as he stood outside his New York City apartment house, the Dakota. The "fan" was quickly apprehended. Mourners listened to Give Peace a Chance as a tribute to the musician and songwriter. Yoko Ono, Lennon's wife, and others set up a permanent memorial to her husband in an area of Central Park called Strawberry Fields.
. 1941, the United States entered World War II as Congress declared war against Japan, the day following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
We are throwing a quiz this morning. What is the shortest day of the year? Here is a clue. It has nothing to do with the winter solstice. Answer at the end.
Didja ever think that
. when we mess up our lives a simple "Ctr Alt Delete" would be a nice thing to get things right again?
. we should have known that raising kids would be hard when it all started with something called labor.
. a good friend is like a good bra--hard to find, supportive, comfortable and always close to your heart.
. natural foods may not be all that good for us, judging from all the people who are dying from natural causes.
. Microsoft Outlook does not display holidays on the calendar unless you tell it to do it. To display holidays, open Outlook. From the tools menu, click OPTIONS. On the PREFERENCES tab, click CALENDAR OPTIONS; click ADD HOLIDAYS; place a check beside United States; click OK; click OK to close the calendar options dialog box and OK to close the options dialog box.
. If you think that time is flying for you, consider those who made the video at www.biertijd.com/mediaplayer/?itemid=4262 .
. The winter solstice occurs this year on December 22, and is the day with the fewest hours of daylight. The shortest day of the year, however, is the second Sunday in March when we turn our clocks forward to go on Daylight Saving Time. When we move the clock forward, we subtract an hour from the day. Therefore, that day is only 23 hours in length.
. A reader asked for a tip to help her research material on the internet. Well, not much beats a Google search, but the best way to group resources is to search from one page to multiple browsers. Sputtr provides this service. The main page provides a number of icons for different services. It is best to then customize the page by deleting what you don't want, adding what you do want, or rearranging their order.
Didja ever notice that some folks have the gift of gab
and some have the gift of grab?
The article about the Benton Cider Mill which originally appeared in this section has been moved to the FEATURES section.
Strevig's Family Restaurant and Tavern, 925-0330, Route 487, across from the Riverside Market, is now open for business.
Lynn & Greg Strevig are the hard-working owners of the 54-seat restaurant designed in a family atmosphere.
An addition is planned for the restaurant and is expected to open about March 1. The addition will seat about 45 in a private dining area and a non-smoking environment. April dispenses legal drinks from a recessed bar.
December 7, 2007. Please keep Rev. David Diehl of the Benton Christian Church in your prayers. Thursday he was transferred to ICU at the Berwick Hospital while awaiting a room at Geisinger. About 35 attended a prayer circle Thursday night at 7 at the Benton Christian Church for Rev. Diehl and approval to transfer him to the Geisinger Medical Center came between 7:30 and 8 PM. His condition had worsened so a decision was made to fly him. "He was remarkably calm," his wife Carolyn said, "and able to respond to some questions, but is very fatigued due to the blood loss." He is too weak for visitors at this time, and the family has asked that you honor their request for prayers, not visits.
Rev Diehl underwent a surgical correction Friday to repair an esophageal tear and at 10 AM was reported to be resting comfortably. We will continue to provide updates as received.
On this day in 1941, Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor. Soldiers at Pearl Harbor detected more than 50 planes heading toward them and telephoned an officer to ask what to do. The officer replied that they must be part of an expected shipment of B-17s arriving at the base, and he told the soldiers not to worry about it. What they actually saw was the first wave of 183 Japanese planes attacking the American naval base. In two raids, lasting only minutes, nineteen ships, of which eight were battleships, were sunk, damaged or capsized. There were 292 aircraft including 117 bombers damaged or destroyed. And the worst part was that 2,403 Americans, military and civilian, were killed, with another 1,178 wounded. Franklin D. Roosevelt called December 7, "a date which will live in infamy." December 7, 2007, has been designated by President George Bush as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in honor of those who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.
Are you not in the Christmas mood? Go here and start thinking about the holiday. If that doesn't get you in a Christmas mood, perhaps one of these two events will get you there...
• Today and tomorrow there will be Christmas in Tunkhannock. The event is an old-fashioned weekend of Christmas joy held in historic Tunkhannock. Horse and buggy rides, carolers, living nativity, nuts roasting in an open fire, old trolley-bus provides free neighborhood tours. Family-friendly and camera-encouraged. 836-0765.
• Today and Tomorrow t he folks from the Central area are offering the live nativity musical drama, Breath of Heaven, directed by Gail Stark, at the North Mountain Fire Company grounds at 7 PM. Arrive early to get a good seat or bring a comfortable chair. There are beautiful-homemade costumes made by Henrietta Erney, which compliment the realistic "true-to-biblical-life set" built by Elwood Erney. Live animals of all kinds will be available to visit in their mangers after the show. After the performance, everyone can enjoy homemade cookies, hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows on a huge bonfire, plus the best part is that it is all FREE, a gift to the community. Come, relax and visit Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago when Jesus was born!
• If you are a senior, don’t forget to sign up for the senior-citizen luncheon at the Benton Area School cafeteria Sunday at 1 PM. Call the middle school office at 925-0914 for reservations.
• I recently met a doctor who believed in the shock treatment--not when I was in his office, but when I received his bill.
• Due to unforeseen problems, the Basket Bingo scheduled for Dec 9 has been postponed until after the holidays.
• The rates charged by the PPL Electric Utilities will go up by $55 million with residential customers paying about $47 million of that. The monthly bill for the typical residential customer will rise by about 4.7%, according to PPL at its website.
We don't want to be picky about the Christmas trees that you use to decorate your home this holiday season, but if you want a tree that smells like citrus you would be very happy with a Concolor fir. Concolor firs have two-inch-long soft, fragrant needles. The smell is the big draw. Your living room can smell like a tangerine from Florida this holiday season with just one Concolor fir.
Concolor firs are usually found in the forests of California, Oregon, Colorado and northern New Mexico. Fraser firs grow in the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. Douglas firs grow throughout the Pacific Northwest. Blue spruce comes from Colorado. Only the white pine in indigenous to Pennsylvania, and the branches of that tree are rather weak for use as a Christmas tree.
Didja know that China's economy is expected to expand about 11% this year? It is expected to surpass the United States as the second largest exporter, and next year is expected to surpass Germany, the largest. India is the world's fastest-growing major economy. Its middle class alone is in excess of 300 million people--about the size of the entire population of the United States! They have their wealthy, too, with 83,000 millionaires in 2006, and the number of millionaires grows about 19% yearly.
This subject came up because a reader asked about what sectors of the stock market are hot at the moment. Who knows? That is like playing the Ouija Board. But consider what types of stocks might turn out to be winners. The people of India are furiously buying cars, homes, clothes, air conditioners, consumer goods--and gold! The demand for gold rose 30% in the third quarter of 2007 according to the World Gold Council as buyers in India and China are picking up the gold as fast as they can. The demand for gold among Indians is greatly surpassed by their desire to acquire diamond jewelry, and that could surge up to 80% this year. Diamond sales in China were up 70% last year.
For grins and giggles, I made a mental note to track what gold does for the next year. I decided to track a fund called Streettracks Gold TR, listed on the NYSE as GLD. It closed Thursday at $79.37 and a stock known as Minefinders, Ltd. trading on the AMEX as MFN. It closed Thursday at $11.99. Minefinders is a precious metals mining and exploration company which is building the open-pit Dolores gold and silver mine in Chihuahua, Mexico. .
Current tax laws require gains on Streettracks Gold TR to be taxed as ordinary income, at a maximum of 28%, regardless of an investors' holding period. As good as you might think an investment in gold or diamonds might be, remember that gold prices have historically fluctuated wildly. I'll revisit GLD and MFN in a year and we'll see how the two make out.
The article which originally appeared in these spaces on the Benton Cider Mill has been moved to the FEATURES section.
Do these Red Hatters know how to party or what?
Charlotte Sibly, Carol Vance and Jackie Malhoyt in Benton's Halloween parade.
December 6, 2007. Jim and Elaine Laubach celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary today and Nina Ford has her 66th birthday today. Additional birthdays today include Corinne Houseweart Fornwald Hess, who turns 70 and Nicholas Geffken, 8, Central. On this date in 1944, Corporal Joseph Robert Sands was injured in action in Germany, and his wife, the former Eleanor Fritz, was notified by the War Department. On March 4, 1945, a year later, Corporal Bob Sands was a patient in a Belgium hospital because of shrapnel wounds he sustained of the forehead, ear and left leg. The War Department wired that the twice-wounded soldier held the Bronze Star, two Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart medals. Today, Bob is retired Back Home in Benton, PA.
• The Columbia County Traveling Library recently sponsored a drawing to encourage parents and children to read together during November in observance of Children's Book Week, November 12-18. Prizes were a book each for the parent and child. The lucky winner is Kathy Harvey and her daughter Hannah, Benton, who read together Junie B., First Grader: Boss of Lunch, by Barbara Park. Kathy and Hannah are planning to come to the bookmobile at Riverside Market December 11 to choose their prizes.
• During the September 18 meeting of the North Mountain Historical Society, Bill Baillie, President of the Columbia County Historical & Genealogical Society shared the fascinating stories of the five Whitmore children who were taken captives by Indian raiders during the Revolutionary War. The children saw their parents, brother and baby sister killed and scalped, then lived as adopted Iroquois for up to seven years. Later, they lived in widely scattered spots in two different countries, and they or their children were sometimes shooting at each other in warfare. W. M. Baillie's new book, The Whitmore Saga, Tales of Five Indian Captives, will be published about December 20, 2007. The price for members is $13.50 and for non-members $15 plus tax. Contact the Society for more information or for ordering.
• Have you noticed that presidential candidates are not addressing agricultural issues in an effort to distance themselves from specific discussion of immigration, trade and farm subsidies. Iowa, it would seem, would be an ideal place to talk about agricultural concerns, but it isn't happening in the Hawkeye state even after the $286 billion farm bill (HR 2419) got logjammed in the Senate when the current administration threatened to veto it. Ethanol is about as close to agriculture as the candidates are coming.
• In order to learn what the perfect man and the perfect woman are doing this Christmas, go here.
• Pennsylvania's statewide ban on smoking seems to have gone up in smoke for this year according to the Patriot-News. Wonder why it takes some people so long to "just say no."
• The Allentown Morning Call reports in its issue of December 5 that a loan guarantee provision that PPL Corp. considers essential to build a nuclear reactor at its Susquehanna plant in Salem Township was not included in an energy bill due to hit the House floor this week. The Senate passed a version of the bill in July. The provision would have done away with a cap on the amount the federal government could guarantee in loans for new energy technologies. Without government backing, Wall Street hiccups at loans for new reactors costing several billion dollars. The move is a setback for PPL and the industry in the building of new reactors throughout the country.
Quote of the Day:
"I've missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost over 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to make the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over again. That's why I succeed."
The fellow who figured out how to get 25,000 units of vitamin A
in one tiny capsule must have been a bus driver.
Chas. A. Edson, born in 1867, started his career as a rural mail carrier and he became the postmaster at Tie in 1889. He operated a small general store at the east end of the covered bridge over Fishingcreek near what is now the Inn-Under Tavern. The store and post office were near what today is Shannon Mill Road leading to the Benton VFW, in an area often referred to as "Edsons." Today, the location is on the Mill Race Golf course. The name "Tie," grandson Jim Edson remembers, came from the railroad ties that were dropped off at that location for transfer to the Bloomsburg & Sullivan Railroad.
There are unsubstantiated reports that "tens of thousands" of railroad ties and mine props were shipped from this location over a century ago.
The only evidence that a general store and post office once existed in this location is the fieldstone house adjacent to the present Route 487 near the golf course. In 1890, he began his plumbing business which was carried on by his family for over a century. In 1901, Charles lived on Second Street, now Main Street, in the Borough.
One of the items Charles sold was the Champion improved mower. Old journals claimed that the one exhibit in a machinery hall that "attracted the attention of the farmers and machine men more than anything else was that made by the Champion improved mower," manufactured by the Warder, Bushnell and Glessner Company. A special feature of the mower was the oscillating gear that moved only one-eighth of an inch on its bearings at each throw of the knife. The pitman had no swaying motion, but moved in a straight line with "not a particle of friction nor wear." The Champion was a popular machine. President Harrison even got into the act when he appeared in a suit and hat in an advertisement for the new "Improved Champion Mower."
According to the May 2, 1877, edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Champion light mower was known for its lightness "of draft and cutting the shortest stubble. The mower recorded the wonderful light draft of 131 pounds," which still made a long day for a horse!
The Inquirer noted that about one-hundred thousand reaping and mowing machines were produced annually in the United States. The Champion Company manufactured more than two-fifths of the entire product, turning out more than forty thousand Champion machines for the harvest of 1876.
If the name of the manufacturer isn't familiar to you, the name International Harvester Company (now Navistar International Corporation) will be a name you recognize. The IHC came along following a 1902 merger between the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, Deering Harvester Company, and Warder, Bushnell, and Glessner.
After the post office and general store burned, Charles went into the plumbing business, providing plumbing services to the developing hamlet of Benton from a location on the west side of Main Street, near the former Horace Harrison food market.
An Advertisement from a Hundred-Year Old Former Benton Business
With your New Champion mower, you can drive right up to a tree and raise the cutter bar to pass it without leaving your seat.
Remember the Champion Binders and Mowers will work as well for you as they did for this farmer. I recommend them and would be glad to show you Samples.
Chas A. Edson, Benton, PA
December 5, 2007. Linda Lee Kline and Bob Kelsey celebrate their birthdays. It is also the 65th birthday of Joseph Grenewich. Joe has worked at the Benton foundry for 33 years and lived in Benton 20 some years. He likes hunting, trapping, fishing, and camping and going to all the fairs that come along. He loves wood working and makes bird houses, chairs, tables--anything made out of wood.
Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in Vienna, Austria, at the age of 35 on December 5, 1791. On this date in 1933, national Prohibition came to an end as Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, repealing the 18th Amendment. Today is the first day of Chanukah, the eight-day Jewish festival that began at sundown on Decembr 4.
If you were in Holland tonight, children would be visited by St. Nicholas, just as in this country on Christmas Eve they are visited by Santa Claus, the American Christmas Man.
Keep Shirley Lockard in your prayers as she recovers from an artificial pacemaker insertion. She is expected to return home today and appreciates everyone's thoughts and concerns. The Rev. David Diehl of the Benton Christian Church was admitted to a hospital Tuesday for heart-related problems and should be remembered in your prayers. Further details are not available at this writing.
Time heals almost everything, but you have to give time time.
. The cookbooks available through the Christian Church are the same ones that were available last year; this is not a new version. Because of the popularity of the cook book, additional copies of the first one have been ordered.
. The Columbia County Bookmobile will be at the Benton Schools today. It will stop at the elementary school from 8:45 AM-12:45 PM; Benton Head Start, 12:45-1:15 PM; Benton High School, 1:15-1:30 PM. Thursday, the Bookmobile will be at the Millville Head Start and EIEIO, 1-1:30 PM and at Bear Essentials Country Store, 3-4 PM; Millville Christian Church, 4:30-6 PM. The bookmobile offers adult juvenile books, including large print, books on tape and educational videos. The office and main library collection are located at 15 Perry Ave., Bloomsburg. Requests for service, books, inter-library loans and information can be made by calling 387-8782.
. The Pennsylvania Senate approved legislation prohibiting state-government agencies from regulating Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
A Night At the Races comes up December 8 sponsored by the Shickshinny American Legion on State Route 239, Shickshinny. You can get your ticket at the door. Doors open at 6:30 PM and the racing begins at 7 PM. For information, call 683-5472.
To eliminate icy steps in freezing temperatures make a solution of warm water and Dawn dishwashing liquid. Pour it over the steps and they won't refreeze.
Advice from a hundred years ago...
"Jist git what you kin and keep what you git,
And Dicky you'll be a rich man yit."
Term of the Day: "Fix."
1. The estimated position of a boat.
2. The true position a boat and its crew are in most of the time.
A former gas station at the corner of Main and Market, Benton. At the time this picture was taken, Clair Lewis operated the station. He offered 24-hour towing using the truck shown on the left and provided general auto repairs. The Veteran's Memorial is now situated on the land, as is the drive-in for the Columbia County Farmers National Bank. The land is owned by the bank.
The Sixth annual free Holiday Dinner for the senior citizens of the Benton Community will take place in the Benton Middle-High School Cafeteria Sunday, December 9, beginning promptly at 1 PM. The menu is ham, scalloped potatoes, cabbage salad, green beans, roll, dessert and drinks. The dinner is funded through donations made by school faculty and staff and local businesses. Reservations are recommended but not required. Call 925-0914. Leave message if after business hours.
Robert Rabb lifts the head of the whitetail buck he shot at Painter Den Monday. The ten-point buck had a 23" spread.
December 4, 2007.
• Tonight. Do you want to get the skateboards off your sidewalks and streets, out of your parking lots, and off the school property? These kids are good kids and deserve a place to skate just as much as our kids deserve a place to play tennis or baseball. Come to a meeting tonight at the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center starting at 7 PM. to discuss what this community can do to create a suitable place for them to enjoy this rapidly growing sport.
• Friday, December 7, and Saturday, December 8. The folks from the Central area are offering the live nativity musical drama, Breath of Heaven, directed by Gail Stark, at the North Mountain Fire Company grounds at 7 PM. Usually, about 1,000 people show up for the show so arrive early to get a good seat or bring a comfortable chair. There are beautiful-homemade costumes made by Henrietta Erney, which compliment the realistic "true-to-biblical-life set" built by Elwood Erney. Live animals of all kinds will be available to visit in their mangers after the show. After the performance, everyone can enjoy homemade cookies, hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows on a huge bonfire, plus the best part is that it is all FREE, a gift to the community. Come and relax and visit Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago when Jesus was born!
• Saturday, December 8, 2007. Whispering Pines Camping Estates, 1557 North Bendertown Road, Stillwater, is having a one-day Christmas sale with 30% off all toys and gifts and 20 to 50% off everything else. There will even be door prizes. Call 925-6810 for more information.
• Monday, December 17, 2007 A meeting of the. Northern Columbia County Town Watch (NCCTW) will take place at 7 PM at the Benton United Methodist Church. New members are needed and voting will take place for new officers. NCCTW is a joint effort between law enforcement and the community designed to enhance security and keep our neighborhoods safe!
• Thursday, December 20, Friday, December 21, Saturday, December 22, 2007. Are you ready to take your family back in time? Want to make some family memories you'll treasure forever? And would you like to have a blast as you do it? Then reserve for a Night in Bethlehem at the Benton United Methodist Church, Main Street. Bethlehem comes alive on these three nights from 6 to 8 PM. As soon as you pass through the 'Gate of Bethlehem’ your family will travel back to this ancient city. You'll taste, see, and smell what daily life was like when Jesus was born. You’ll visit a Jewish home and synagogue, find shops and activities for kids of all ages, you’ll register with the Census Taker and, of course, pay your taxes! Visitors will enter the gates of Bethlehem, directed by angels, and once inside the gate, will meet the Census Taker and Roman Soldier. They will visit the Synagogue, Jewish homes, women at the well with children playing. The Marketplace will include shops that will help visitors experience crafts (carpentry, stone-cutting, candle-making, flute-making), sounds, smells, and tastes of the old city. They will, of course, have to pay their taxes (with coins given to them by the angels); they'll find 'no room at the inn' There is even a surprise waiting at the end of the performance. They will also enjoy a 'choir of angels' in the sanctuary. A free-will offering will be accepted, but the most important thing here is that families walk away with a different feel for this Christmas--a more Spiritual, Merry Christmas!
• January 5-12, 2007. The 2008 Pennsylvania Farm Show is right around the corner! The Farm Show displays the best of Pennsylvania agriculture in products, farm equipment, livestock, farmers and youth. The Farm Show includes approximately 300 commercial exhibitors and includes over 13,000 competitive exhibits, everything from draft horses, beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, swine, goats, rabbits and poultry, to eggs, fruit, Christmas trees, apiary products, maple products, nuts, horticultural products, mushrooms, wine, vegetables and many other Pennsylvania products can be seen here.
• January 7, 2008. Under the Borough Code, borough councils are required to reorganize on the first Monday in January of each even-numbered year. Therefore, the January meeting will be held on the first Monday, January 7.
• July 3-6, 2008. An idea for a Christmas present would be tickets to the Out Among The Stars (OATS) Festival, July 3-6, 2008, at the Benton Rodeo Grounds. The outstanding entertainment scheduled includes Karl Shiflett, the Doerfel Family, Pine Mountain Railroad, Chris Jones and the Night Drivers, David Davis and the Warrior River Boys, Dan Paisley and Southern Grass, Hillbilly Gypsies, Lonesome River Band, James King, NewFound Road, Special Ed and the Short Bus, Aimless Pursuit, Hillbilly Water, Stained Grass Window, Reverend Al Lumpkin and Friends, and Folk Spirits.
How about this as a perfect gift for your special someone? Enchanted Thymes Custom Gift Baskets is a new business to the Benton Area offering an array of custom-gift baskets specializing in teas for one. The creative design team, both local women, will work with you to create the ideal gift for anyone on your list, from party favors to deluxe gift baskets. Business cards, brochures and website (under construction) are all available by contacting Enchanted Thymes via email Enchanted.Thymes AT yahoo.com or contact Jill Good, 394-3860, or Janese Fundock, 204-1057.
It doesn't seem like I pleased anyone with my rant on the Fifties. One reader called it "publishment." Kay Taylor noted that "the 50's were a time of innocence, family togetherness," a time when it was safer to walk the streets, a "time to sit on the porch and enjoy simple things." Kay said she "would welcome a little of the Fifties in today's society."
Jack Taylor, who with his wife Kay were authorized Lincoln Log dealers since 1984 passed away from a form of leukemia. (Kay continues the business.) Many of his friends never knew that he was the 'official' Army photographer and he often talked about spending the entire day with Marilyn Monroe while she took a day off from her honeymoon in Japan with Joe DiMaggio while she visited the troops. Kay notes that Jack was always quick to add, "the day, not the night." In those days Marilyn was a little risqué but even Marilyn might blush at today's Brittney and Paris.
This photo went all over the world with the heading of "US Army Photo." In those days they never credited the photographer.
Picture from the collection of Jack Taylor and used with permission of Kay Taylor.
Sheila E. Schu (daughter of Janet Knouse Beck Zenyuk) wrote to say that her son is in the Navy and serving in Iraq. He has been there since June and at the end of this month, gets a two-week leave to join his wife and daughter (in the United Kingdom), then back to Iraq for another six months. Sheila asked for prayers for our "military families because it is also very hard on the families left behind. Our son tells us not to worry, he isn't in harm's way. But we mothers know, they are only trying to protect us from worry. But we do worry all the same."
Charles E. Laubach, Sr., Elizabethtown, died December 2 at ManorCare Health Services, Elizabethtown. He was 82. Born in Columbia County, he was a son of A. Gwynn and Florence M. Eveland Laubach, Benton. He was employed by the Benton Foundry for 25 years while he operated his farm and stayed active in 4-H work. He then began work as a foreman constructing the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant and Safe Habor Dam. With his wife, Mary R. Hess Laubach, he operated a craft and novelty stand at Saturday's Market, Middletown.
He is survived by sons, Kenneth C. (Nancy) Laubach, Benton; Barry L. (Denise) Laubach, Benton; and Charles E. Jr. (Gloria) Laubach, Elizabethtown. There are eight grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and a brother, Jack Laubach, Benton. A graveside service will be held on December 6 at Mount Tunnel Cemetery, 1058 South Market Street, Elizabethtown at 1 PM. A complete obituary is listed here and in the December 3 Press Enterprise. Miller/Sekely Funeral Services, Inc., Elizabethtown, provided the funeral arrangements.
December 3, 2007. Betty Kelsey Miller, Grove, Oklahoma, celebrates her 83rd birthday today. Paul and Barbara Henne celebrate their wedding anniversary.
On Monday morning, we all need a little inspiration, and you'll get lots of it by hearing about Patrick Henry Hughes by going here.
Here is the calendar of upcoming events for the local Red Hatters:
. January 16, 2008, at 2 PM, luncheon, Becky's Hoboken Sub Shop
. February 20 at 2 PM, Creekside Restaurant, Orangeville
. March 19 at 2 PM, Becky's Hoboken Sub Shop
. April 16 at 2 PM, Ricketts Glen Hotel
. May 3, Femme Fatales will be co/hosting the Northeastern Regional Queens Council, 12 PM at Lookout House, Route 93, Nescopeck/Hazleton Highway
. May 21 and June 18 to be announced
. July 16 at 10:30 AM, Old Fashioned Summer Social, Benton Fire Hall, vendors, food, fun and music.
Didja ever consider that quite a bit of the world's trouble is produced by those who don't produce anything else.
Here are some information about deer which you may find interesting...
. Doe normally give birth to twins.
. Fawns are usually born in May and June. They start to lose their spots in September and are then considered to be adult deer, ready to breed.
. Deer shed their reddish-brown coat in late August and grow a heavy-grey winter coat. In March and April they shed their grey-winter coat and grow a reddish-brown summer coat.
. Tame deer will lick your hand, not only to get to know you but to show affection.
A reader asked if I would say something about the Fifties. It is a huge subject, something that I should know about and yet I seemed to be in la-la land back then. World affairs were a long way off to a little farm boy. Still, looking back, it is easy to remember the things that I didn't like and the things that I liked a lot. It is also amazing the things that I forgot. I liked the duck-tail and didn't like the flat-top look on the men or the short-hair style for the women. Things I remember I didn't like included Roy Cohn, nonsense songs like How Much is that Doggie in the Window and It's Howdy Doody Time, sack dresses, plastic pink flamingos in the front yard, the Russians, Franco-American spaghetti, bomb shelters, chug-a-lugging beer, white bucks splattered with trail markers on the sides, the bomb--whether it was "ours" or "theirs." It was the era of the Korean War and jitters from flying saucers were everywhere.
Senator Joseph McCarthy ranks at the top of the "didn't like" list with his "I have here...a list of 205 that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who, nevertheless, are still working and shaping policy in the State Department." McCarthy spoke from the floor of the Senate where he was immune from laws relating to slander and libel and when the opportunity arrived he would scream Point of Order!" During these years, there were people in high places who assumed one was guilty and not innocent until proven guilty.
I was thrilled when "I Like Ike" fever hit me and crushed when Ike had his heart attack. The rebel James Dean was the greatest, but was killed without cause in an automobile crash when he was only twenty-four. Colored tile in the bathrooms and green or brown refrigerators were the worst and has kept me to this day from buying "trendy" thingies. This was the age of Formica, Davy Crockett hats and ankle bracelets.
I thought that the marriage of Nickie Hilton and Liz Taylor was made in heaven--and haven't felt that way about marriages since. The concept of 3-D movies arrived and was much more exciting that anything around today although it probably hasn't progressed one iota from back then. Gimmick ideas followed, some good, some bad--ideas like Cinerama and Smell-O-Vision. Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner were exciting, but poodle cuts were not. I pulled for the American Cocker Spaniel "Checkers" and the "Power of Positive Thinking" and I Love Lucy. Arthur Fiedler made things "pop" in Boston, and the women felt that Marlon Brando was a wild one! I couldn't see what Marilyn Monroe saw in Joe DiMaggio, and Mother wouldn't let me see any of Marilyn. I couldn't see what anyone saw in Debbie and Eddie!
Derl Derr, Millville, was the captain of the Cornell University soccer team and in 1950 kicked 12 of the team's 19 goals. The Stillwater Covered Bridge was selected for maintenance "for all time as a memorial to all covered bridges in Columbia County." The Rohrsburg post office closed, Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance, and the last Luzerne county-owned bridge was destroyed. A bobsled grazed a tree and crashed into a lumber sled and Jared Ketner and Philip Shultz, both 14, were severely injured.
In 1956, members of the talented class of '52 started their employment for the first time. William Follmer began his career at Philco Research Labs. John Herbert Laubach concluded his studies as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Bonn, Germany, and University of the Saar. The actress Frances McDormand was born in Illinois. Earnest and Anna Roberts operated the Jonestown general store from 1953 until 1957 when it burned. Bill Mather took over as the postmaster of the Benton post office in 1958. The Ikeler Covered Bridge was torn down in 1958 and in that year Congress authorized the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Alaska became the 49th State in 1959, as did the 132 islands comprising Hawaii which became the 50th state.
I pitied the women when high heels and pointed toes came along, detested the dresses that hung two inches below the knee, thought that the pink shirts I owned ratcheted up my sex appeal a notch or two, pitied the evil doers when Sir. Anthony Eden appeared on the scene and couldn't see why all the girls went so crazy when Elvis came along. And what did Marilyn see in Arthur Miller and why did my parents want to watch The Ed Sullivan Show Sunday nights when I could have been at Grassmere Park roller skating or watching Dale Ruckle whipping around on his Chicago skates with yellow puff balls? Stenkos in Berwick was a fine place. The fins were huge on the Cadillacs, and the '57 Chevrolets and Mike Todd made sure the diamond was huge on Elizabeth Taylor's finger. There were so many $64,000 Questions and I had so few right answers when I arrived on the college scene.
I started college when the hula hoop arrived, about when Fidel Castro came into power, when Cliburn climbed behind his grand piano, when Gibbons was $.45 a quart at Ray Hottles on South Main Street, Wilkes-Barre, and I had a $1 a week allowance. I met, dated and wed my first wife under those budget constraints. The first major speaker I heard at Wilkes was a Senator from Massachusetts and I soon was firmly hooked to his star.
The year 1958 was a year of keeping my nose a few inches from the grindstone in college. Maybe Mary Hartman was right after all! At first, college didn't come easy. My best friend was the President of the Freshmen Class at Wilkes and my roommate was Vice-President of the class. I did much of their work, and spent little time on class work.
For Halloween one year, I taped sideshow hawkers at the Bloomsburg Fair and played the tape loudly in front of an elaborately decorated spooky mansion on South Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre, while straddling a horse that Gerry Newhart brought from Benton. The display took first place, but didn't help my homework situation. Life was great fun as I helped make Harry and Burt Piel a household name.
I have read about the Great Kitchen Debate, but have no memory of it. I do remember trying to set a record for cramming into a phone booth and the fear that soon ensued when I realized that I could not get out from my entrapment. I remember Pope John XXIII coming to the international scene, Ben Hur coming to the movies and Liz Taylor teaming up with Eddie Fisher again.
I don't miss listening to Mockin' Bird Hill or being around ugly houses thrown up in never-ending developments by people in ugly-looking horn-rim glasses and ugly-looking clothes, but I do miss the ugly automobiles with the huge fins.
The Fifties represented the calm before the storm for black people, starting in Montgomery, Alabama. It began a long period of political instability. Now that I think about it, I don't miss the Fifties one bit!
December 2, 2007. It is Bradley Allen Kocher's birthday. He celebrates his birthday with Britney Spears, 26. The following businesses are holding Christmas open houses this weekend: both antique shops in town, the Filling Station, Stoney Acres, Ol' Country Barn--all having open houses Sunday.
On this day in 1859, United States anti-slavery activist John Brown was hanged following a raid on a federal arsenal on October 16 of that year. In that raid, John Brown led 21 men against the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, and seized the armory to provide for his militia. His plan to arm slaves with the weapons he and his men seized from the arsenal went askew thanks to local farmers, militiamen, and Marines led by Robert E. Lee. Within 36 hours of the attack, Brown and many of his men had been killed or captured.
The Rev. Al Lumpkin of the Benton Presbyterian Church will hold the annual music program on Sunday evening at 7, December 16. Jeanie Lumpkin will play banjo and guitar, and Al will play guitar and mandolin. Jeremy Lumpkin will play bass. Three musicians have been added this year. Warren Fisher is a retired professor of Economics at Susquehanna. Warren built the autoharps Rev. Lumpkin plays, and he most recently was the bassist in the Celtic group "Black Bear Crossing." Warren will play guitar and autoharp. Ann Fisher, Warren's wife, is a retired economics professor at Penn State and plays mountain dulcimer and autoharp. Judy Ellis plays hammered dulcimer. Judy is retired from Admissions at Bucknell University. Many folks have heard these folks in the Frosty Valley Dulcimer Friends. The program is open to the public.
This group will perform various times during December. The Red Carpet Cafe in Forty Fort (sponsored by Rev. Bill Lukesh's Presbyterian Church) will host the group for two sets of music on Saturday evening, December 15. In addition, Jeanie and Al will provide Christmas music at Raven Creek Church on Sunday morning, December 23, at the 10:15 worship service.
The stock market is worrying me a lot. During the 48 weeks of trading this year, the weeks of an up market outnumber the losing weeks by only six and for the year the market is only up 4.6% from where the year began.
Rose's are red.
Pearl's are white.
I seen 'em on the clothesline
Just the other night.
Snow is here. You can find out the status of the storm by clicking on Weather Radar at the top center of this page and a more complete weather forecast by clicking on Benton Weather in the top right of this page.
The conversation over morning coffee was mostly about hunting deer and listening to “who saw the biggest bear” stories, but as conversations between anchor-clankers are apt to do, Pat Stemrich and I began talking about the Navy and the “old days.” Pat was a sub-mariner, a member of the elite of the Navy, a member of the submarine force. The conversation drifted to a term I had never heard before. Pat told of a conversation he had in 1945 in Arlington, VA, with a former member of the Navy who was a “Coal Passer First Class.” As I recall our conversation, the man who was the object of the story shoveled coal on a Navy vessel. He lost his wife unexpectedly one day and because of cruising schedules he had to bury her the same day. He immediately felt the loss of companionship and so he approached a widow he knew and asked her to marry him. She accepted and late that night the two married and by the light of the following day the coal passer was hard at work shoveling coal as his ship steamed out of port. Pat claimed the story was true, and I must admit that I forgot some of the details because I was concentrating on the term “coal passer” rather than the details of the story.
This is as much in this article as there is about the local area, so if you want to skip to something more interesting, I can’t blame you.
Feeding the massive furnaces on ships was never something that I had thought much about. “Coal passer” was not a term I knew. I scooped up my collection of newspapers and reference books and went to work.
My assumption was that a coal passer was a male occupation, I found an article from the Biloxi Daily Herald of September 14, 1898, telling of finding “fair Japanese maiden labor as coal-passers and doing longshore work.” The writer told of seeing 50 to 100 women at work with an equal number of men coaling a ship in a Japanese harbor.
The writer noted that at “one time the work was done almost exclusively by women, but the girls and women gradually gave way to their coolie brothers or sons."
According to the newspaper account, the coaling at Nagasaki was done from “lighters,” flat-bottomed, unpowered barges used to transfer goods to and from moored ships. The vessels were moved and steered by long oars called "sweeps" and operated by workers called lightermen.
From the lighter, a series of elevated and inclined platforms resembling a step ladder on the side of the vessel reached from the deck of the lighter to the main deck of the steamer. The coal was handled in small baskets that held from 30 to 40 pounds. The coolies formed a line on the ladder-like scaffold, and the baskets were quickly passed from one to another, somewhat like the old American bucket brigades working on a roof fire. The coal passers worked quickly, and "one gang of mixed coolies, working from several lighters, have been known to give a ship 437 tons in an hour."
The article noted that the women were given no favors, although they were usually positioned in the center of the line. The first position was difficult and at the top of the line the lift over the tail was difficult. The women were favored by placing them in the center. The writer noted that the workers seemed happy in spite of the hard work and flying-coal dust. They laughed and jibed as they hurriedly passed the seemingly endless line of laden baskets. The women seemed to have good health and color. Some of the women showed biceps and shoulders that would make some men "shamefaced." The women were easily spotted, since all wore their native costumes and nearly all protected their hands with gloves of bindings of cloth.
The women were not paid as well as the men, although they did as much work. Wages varied, but 25 cents per day was considered a good compensation and many worked for less. They were given extra pay when they worked at night.
For many of us couch potatoes, the concept of going through life as a “coal passer” seems alien, but it had appeal to some. Take the tale of the sailor told in a Philadelphia Inquirer story of April 16, 1919. A ‘bos’un’s mate” was in the brig when he arrived in the United States on the transport ship K. I. Luckenbach because he had smuggled his French sweetheart aboard in the guise of a coal passer. His sweetheart ended up at Ellis Island. The sailor had brought his girlfriend with him after he had tried without success to get married in France. She had cut off her hair and smudged her face with coal dust in order to get on board the ship.
A humorous account of a coal passer appeared in the Duluth News Tribune of October 12, 1915. The article did not refer to the men by name, but instead referred to them by their height. The article began, “The Long and Short of it entered Recruiting Officer Coyle’s office in the federal building yesterday and requested that Coyle supply them with information regarding the navy. “ According to the article, Coyle did so “at some length.” When he finished, both decided to enlist. Said the shorter, “Gee, and I thought I had to wait till I was dead to go to Heaven.”
Coyle examined the Long of It first and found him to be “a highly desirable physical specimen” and announced that he would make an excellent coal passer. Then Coyle examined the Short of It. But, alas, the latter couldn’t pass, not by a mile. His sight, hearing and walk were affected. He admitted that he had came out second best in an argument with a stick of dynamite while a youth and might not be quite as good a man as his partner. He admitted that about all he could do was keep his friend company, all the while “keeping a pleasant smile on his face.”
When it was explained to the Long of It that he had passed, and his “li’l pal” hadn’t, he refused to have anything to do with the navy.
Putting his arm affectionately over Shorty’s shoulder, he walked out. And Shorty’s voice could be heard, drifting back along the corridor, “I thought all along while that bloke was spllin’ the beans to us it sounded too good to be true.”
“Shorty” may have thought he missed an opportunity to be a coal passer, but consider a January 2, 1903, cable from Admiral Dewey from San Juan: “E. Brailey, coal passer, drowned in sinking of Newark’s steam cuter by collision with torpedo boat.” Shorty was probably better off finding a different line of work!
Wonder what subject will come up Monday when I have coffee with the boys?
December 1, 2007. There is lots of news today, ranging from a large bear shot on the side of the Dug Hill overlooking Benton, to reports of flag-waving Ron Paul for President devotees attracting traffic in front of the Kozy Korner, to a change in an institution of the local area.
For some, this weekend will provide a slight lull from deer hunting, a good time to take in the spaghetti and meatball dinner from 4-7 PM today at the Shickshinny American Legion on State Route 239, or to drive down memory lane on Market Street Christmas Boulevard which opens today, sponsored by the Berwick Jaycees. There is the bazaar and bake sale from 9 AM in the social room of St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church to support the women's guild. Henny Penny's Country Store, outback at 230 Main Street, is having a winter open house with refreshments, door prizes and discounts. The Benton elementary basketball program begins today in the gym of the L.R. Appleman Elementary School. Advance registration is not required. Sunday morning from 8 until 9 is breakfast at the Benton United Methodist Church. A freewill offering is taken.
A reader told us, "Be kinder than necessary today, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." A good example is Valerie Wojton from Whispering Pines Camping Estates, Stillwater. Valerie's leukemia has returned. She was at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to begin the harvesting of her stem cells for an upcoming transplant when her blood work came back from the lab. The family was dumbfounded to learn the leukemia has returned. Her doctor has now started her on a more aggressive chemotherapy. Valerie's brother, Brian, will miss a few days of school as he has volunteered to donate his stem cells because Valerie is no longer able to be her own donor. Please keep Valerie and the members of her family in your prayers.
You can rest easier now that you know that Indian Summer is officially over for this year, according to definition, the chill in the night air and the forecast of snow Saturday night and Sunday. The generally accepted definition of an Indian Summer is "any spell of warm, quiet, hazy weather that may occur in October or November."
Didja ever notice that when a husband says
he never made a mistake he always has a wife who did?
Jamie Westover has started something called "Caring Connections," a referral service to connect people looking for help like babysitting, yard work, computer support and errand running with people who perform those services. Jamie is getting her business cards and a website prepared now for when the business begins in the new year. She is gathering contact information for people that provide those services. To have a provider base ready when she opens, she would like to hear from non-profit organizations, business, and individuals that are mechanics, junkers, babysitters, people willing to help others out with their errands, computer technicians, people looking for community-service opportunities, and anybody else that is skilled at any legitimate service. Contact Jamie at 394-6679 or via email at caring.connect AT gmail.com.
Didja ever notice that troubles are a little like babies?
The more you nurse them, the larger they grow.
Two local banking institutions, both more than a hundred years old, have agreed to merge according to a press release provided to us at 4:08 PM Friday by Michelle M. Karas, of First Columbia Bank. The CCFNB Bancorp, Inc. and the Columbia Financial Corporation have agreed to combine in a merger of equals. CCFNB Bancorp, Inc. is a financial holding company and the parent company of Columbia County Farmers National Bank with eight full-service branches. Columbia Financial Corporation is the parent company of First Columbia Bank & Trust Co. with nine branches in Columbia, Northumberland and Luzerne Counties.
The merger will create the "second largest independently publicly traded bank holding company headquartered in the four-county region of Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, and Luzerne counties," according to the joint press release. According to the press release, the resulting company will have "total assets of approximately $575 million and total deposits of approximately $433 million. The combined holding company will be state regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and not by the Federal Reserve System.
The proposed merger has been approved by the board of directors of both companies. Columbia shareholders will receive 0.72 shares of CCFNB stock for each share of Columbia stock. Columbia will be merged into CCFNB and Columbia County Farmers National Bank will be simultaneously merged into First Columbia Bank & Trust Co, a state-chartered bank. The resulting holding company will remain CCFNB Bancorp, Inc. and the resulting bank will remain First Columbia Bank & Trust Co. The stock of the CCFNB will continue to trade under the CCFN symbol and be quoted on the OTC Bulletin Board.
There will be personnel changes, but all employees of both banks are expected to remain with the resultant corporation. There will be changes, however, including...
. The eight directors of Columbia will join the CCFNB Board, and the current Columbia Chairman, Glenn E. Halterman, will be the Chairman of the combined board. The eight outside directors of CCFNB will remain on the board, with one CCFNB director retiring at the end of his term in 2008.
. Lance O. Diehl, CCFNB's President and CEO, will remain on board in the capacity of President and Chief Executive Officer.
. Shirley K. Alters, the Columbia Chief Financial Officer and interim President, will become the Chief Financial Officer of the combined bank.
. Edwin A. Wenner, the current Chief Operating Officer of CCFNB, will remain as Chief Operating Officer of the combined company.
. Paul Page, current Chief Lending Officer of Columbia will become the Chief Lending Officer for the bank.
CCFNB will increase its quarterly dividend to $.23 per share so that Columbia shareholders will receive the same dividend as in the past. The stock of CCFNB (CCFN) closed Friday at $25.75. Columbia (CLBF) closed at $14.09.
If there is such a thing as an "institution" in Benton, it has to be the Columbia County Farmers National Bank. Prior to the fire of July 4, 1910, a bank existed in a frame building on Main Street next to the building housing the present Kozy Korner restaurant at Main Street and Market Street. This bank was organized by John G. McHenry in 1902, 105 years ago, and subsequently destroyed in the July 4, 1910, Benton fire.
The Farmers National Bank of Orangeville, established in 1917, later merged with the Benton bank and the Columbia County Farmers National Bank was created. You can learn more of the history of the bank by going to http://www.bentonnews.net/Features/ccfnbhistory.htm. You can learn about bank notes issued by the bank by visiting http://www.bentonnews.net/Features/nationalbanknote.htm. CCFNB can be found on the worldwide web at http://ccfnb.com/. According to the statement of financial condition ending in September, the assets of the corporation are in excess of $254 million.
The First Columbia Bank & Trust has been a banking institution in Bloomsburg for the past 108 years, and predates the Columbia County Farmers National Bank. First Columbia traces its roots to 1899 when The Bloomsburg National Bank opened its doors on Main Street in Bloomsburg with Paul E. Wirt as Vice-President. Mr. Wirt, a Bloomsburg attorney and a director of the Bloomsburg National Bank, developed an early fountain pen.
The Bloomsburg National Bank and the Columbia County Trust Company, formed in 1916, merged in 1926 and formed the Bloomsburg Bank-Columbia Trust Company. The name of the Bank was changed in 1990 to First Columbia Bank & Trust Co.
Columbia's headquarters have been at 11 West Main Street in Bloomsburg since the doors first opened in 1899. First Columbia has banking locations in Benton, Berwick, Buckhorn, Catawissa, Elysburg, Bloomsburg, Scott Township and West Hazleton. The Benton location is at 4375 Red Rock Road (Route 487), and is reachable at 925-5586. First Columbia can be found on the worldwide web at http://www.firstcolumbiabank.com.
The merger, which is expected to be completed in the July, 2007, timeframe is subject to the receipt of governmental and stockholder approvals and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.
Many in the area should be pleased that the banks did not merge with large banks but chose to retain their "small-town" flavor.