June 30, 2007. Celebrating anniversaries today are Jerry and Donna McMichael, Frank and Rebecca Beishline, Jim and Ramona Bonham and Tami and Kris Letteer. Tanner Lenhart was born 7 years ago today on his Aunt and Uncle Tami and Kris Letteer's wedding anniversary. The radio frequency for the OATS music was incorrectly initially reported to the performance audience and subsequently reported incorrectly in the Benton News. The correct frequency to listen to the concert is 89.5.
Be thinking about the BTAA (Benton Tiger Athletic Association) group that will hold its 3rd Annual Golf Tournament to benefit student athletes in the Benton Area School system. This group has given money for travel of our basketball teams to go to games in the summer and supplies to some baseball players in need. The group also bought a hot dog machine for a booster group. We'll give you specifics in a few days.
If you are reading this email it means you're not standing in line for a $600 i-Phone! Is it really an i-Phone or an i-Phoney?
From the OATS Festival...
. Congratulations to Joe Feola. Joe retired Friday and proudly walked around the OATS Festival with his retirement present--a Cocker Spaniel puppy, Mickey. It appeared as though Mickey will take a few more sessions before he becomes completely enthused with bluegrass music.
. I did snap the picture, but don't have the time to share it with you today. In front of the kielbasa stand at the OATS festival, John Kogut and Kelly Yost were belly to belly chomping down monster sandwiches. It was gratifying to see all the local folks at the OATS Festival, especially because every one of them seemed to be having a hoot!
. Richard Sutliff may have come the longest distance to the OATS Festival--from Aurora, Illinois. If he didn't set that record, he certainly did set the record for coming the longest distance to the festival without bringing his purchased-in-advance ticket.
. The most gratifying sight at the festival was the bus load of residents of the Grandview Nursing Home, Danville. None of the bus passengers were able to clog any longer, but their hands and bodies were moving in perfect time with the music. Lisa Boone Slusser, Millville, tries to get them out every month to something local and judging from the expressions on their faces, they had lots to talk about for this month when they returned to Danville.
. The introduction for the band Remington Ride included this story about Steve, one of the featured performers of that group. Steve was a pastor at one time and as the story is told Steve wanted to sneak out one Sunday and play golf, but he knew that he had a commitment to preach so he asked the assistant pastor to preach for him, saying he would be out of town. Steve went about 50 miles up the road and tore into the golf course. His first hole was superb: a hole in one, featuring a shot that seemed to hang in mid air over the hole before the ball dropped in. Steve was elated. An angel asked God why he had permitted that to happen. God simply shrugged his shoulders and quietly asked, "Who is he going to tell?
. Deserving a medal was Joanne Yanchik, Hunlock Creek, a sister-in-law of Bill Yanchik of Benton Coins and Collectibles fame. First, she sang for the first time at a bluegrass festival and was great. Second, on Friday and again today, she took the youngsters under her wing and taught them bluegrass songs, helped them build their self confidence by learning to belt out songs, and play simple instruments. Stop at the KIDZ KORNER today and watch an amazing educator at work.
. If you enjoyed OATS, you might listen on the internet Sunday nights from 9 until midnight to Bill Knowlton's Bluegrass Ramble radio program over the airwaves of WCNY in Syracuse. The program is in its 35th year.
. Last night's program was notable for the close harmony of the Gibson Brothers and for the gallant effort on the part of Valerie Smith, recovering from a recent throat operation. I think that she was foolish to give 100% in the cool evening air. Noticeable also was the beautiful full moon over the upper Fishingcreek Valley and the view to the east just after the sun went down of the steam coming off the nuclear power plant beside the Susquehanna River. The only complaint was that the feet of those on the stage are hidden from view by a curtain. Some of the foot movements would have been interesting to watch.
Some people have energy that overflows. Danny Stewart is one of those guys. I remember a few years ago at the OATS Festival on an unusually hot and sticky summer afternoon when Rev. Al Lumpkin was tearing down from doing a two-hour Sunday morning set in the sun. I forget his exact words, but essentially he said that no one will ever know how much work a performer does to get ready for a set. I thought of Rev. Al when Danny Stewart and I had a chance to talk Friday morning at OATS.
Danny told me about his bluegrass roots and the three groups that he heads or will join for this weekend festival. Thursday night he played traditional bluegrass with the group Second Wind featuring banjo, mandolin, flattop guitar and slap style upright bass. Saturday afternoon he played with a "woman's band," the Danville-based Outskirts. Today, Danny will pick up his mandolin and walk on stage as a sideman with Louie Setzer & Appalachian Mountain Boys. Danny didn't mind the full schedule, saying there is no "weight on my shoulders."
Some musicians should never give up their day job. The same applies to Danny but with different reasoning. He is a foreman on his day job laying lines for Verizon Telephone in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area, extending to the Bloomsburg area.
I said to Danny that he didn't have a Lacyville accent. A faint smile broke over his generally serious, well-tanned face. "No, I moved up here 12 years ago from Delaware County, near southwest Philadelphia" following his parents who bought land in that area in "78-79." Friends who were seasonal campers started buying land, until "we all own the whole mountain." Dan drives a 1962 GM bus, a 4106--meaning it originally hauled 41 passengers and was Model 06. Danny bought the conversion bus about a year ago and took me on a chilly tour Thursday during the hottest part of the day. There is no doubt that the air conditioning works and is used in that "garage-kept" condition tour bus. The bus is Danny's second tour bus, after his first "ripped the heart out of me" for being a lemon.
Dan talked about his parents playing in the New Jersey area, in a completely different form of music, but eventually they got burned out by it. He talked about the problems his parents faced, which he also faces in the band that he heads. Dan gets all the responsibility of the group firmly on his shoulders.
Danny provides a jam tent at OATS and assigns someone to keep it on track during most of the waking hours. I heard a report from Mark Doncheski that it was still running at 3:30 Friday morning, although at 2 AM Saturday it was closed for the night.
I commented on the number of "pickers" in his jam tent at the same time he was performing on the stage Thursday night. "That's all right," Danny quickly said, "Most people are not here to listen to who is on the stage, unless it is one of their heroes, a national act. He contrasted the bluegrass festival in Benton with the one that just took place last month at Gettysburg. In Gettysburg, Danny said, you go and pay the big bucks to listen to performers. When you buy your ticket at Benton, you are getting your money's worth by having lots of places to pick, as well as listen to groups on the stage.
Dan spoke of the influence that his uncle, George Campanile, had on him. George plays the five-sting banjo. "Young Danny," Danny Stewart Jr., is following in his father's footsteps. Young Dan sings duets with his dad and recently backed up Danny Paisley for a three-week tour of Canada. The elder Danny said mater-of-factly "he is better than me right now!" Danny said he "likes it where its at," meaning that he wants to stay in the Pennsylvania/New York area Speaking of his son, his father said simply, "he's a long-distance guy."
Danny's whole personality changed when our conversation switched to his son, Dan, just awarded a $40,000 performance scholarship at East Tennessee University, one of the few universities in the United States to offer an opportunity to major in bluegrass, The chartering of the school goes all the way back to 1794 as Blount College in the territorial capital, Knoxville. Since 1840, it carries the name East Tennessee University. During the Civil War, both sides occupied buildings on the campus, which often were used as hospitals.
Today at OATS there is a mix of outstanding musical talent from four Grammy-nominated lead performers. Today's lineup includes eight first-rate bands, four of which are on the national bluegrass circuit.
There will be the high-energy Bluegrass Brothers. Brothers Robert and Victor Dowdy provide exceptional drive with banjo and bass. They are joined by Victor's two sons, Donald and Steve, who both play guitar. Brandon Farley plays intense mandolin and fiddle. The band has recently released a new album entitled "Appalachian Memories." Cherryholmes is the reigning IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) "Entertainer of the Year" act. The group was nominated for this year's Grammy for "Best Bluegrass Album," and they've just released another album entitled Cherryholmes II: Black and White.
Michael Cleveland began playing fiddle at four years old. He appeared with Alison Krauss on the Grand Ol' Opry in his mid-teens. He was awarded the coveted IBMA "Fiddle Player of the Year" in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2006. When he played with Dale Ann Bradley and Rhonda Vincent, people were mesmerized by the fiddle playing of this remarkable blind performer. He has now created his own band, Michael Cleveland and the Flame Keepers (featuring Audie Blaylock). In fact, you may see flames coming from Michael's fiddle before the performance is over. The group will appear in two shows on Saturday.
The fourth national band to appear today is Valerie Smith who won the hearts of the audience in Friday night's performance. Val was performing by the age of five, and she knew that music was her life's work. She received a degree in music from the Conservatory of the University of Missouri, which prepared her to teach music for a time in grade school and high school. After performing with Black Water, she found her way to Nashville in 1992. Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike appeared three times previously at the OATS Festival. Valerie has a Grammy nomination for her work on the Ralph Stanley project, Clinch Mountain Sweethearts. Her award-winning album Patchwork Heart made its debut with Charlie Louvin on the Grand Ol' Opry, and she has just released a new project entitled Wash Away Your Troubles.
--As always, the bluegrass background for articles in the Benton News comes from Rev. Al Lumpkin.
June 29, 2007. Happy birthday to Richard Kriebel. Marjorie and Dick Shoemaker celebrate their wedding anniversary today. The saying, "If You Don’t Like The Weather, Just Wait Ten Minutes" was certainly true from yesterday to today.
A temporary low-wattage radio station has been set up at the OATS Festival so that all stage activities are broadcast. Everyone in the Borough and many in the Township will be able to listen at 89.5. Better yet, come out and support the event.
The Legends will be at the Millville Carnival tonight, the place where legends in good carnivals have been made and set for generations. You can find the complete schedule for the carnival at http://bentonnews.net.hosting.domaindirect.com/millvillecarnival1.htm .
Director of the Community Center, Rob Hutchison, is spending many days and parts of day working at the center and is therefore not in the temporary office on Main Street. If anyone wants to see him they can go to the center. They will find him in the gym.
The Benton Foundry keeps forging ahead. Read about it in today's Press Enterprise. A $9 Million expansion and 25 new jobs will result.
• July 19, 2007, 6 PM at Orangeville Nursing and Rehab Center, 200 Berwick Road, Orangeville: James Siberski, Assistant professor and Coordinator of Gerontological Education at College Misericordia, will present "Alzheimer's Disease: Past, Present and Future". Mr. Siberski received his BA in psychology from Wilkes University and his MS in Human Resource Management from College Misericordia. Mr. Siberski is also an Affiliate member of American Geriatric Psychiatric Association, Certified in Remotivation Therapy, Activities and Gerontology, and Adjunct Instructor of Psychiatry School of Medicine, Penn State University. He has multiple publications, lectures and consults in geriatric/psychatric/mental retardation populations. The event is free and open to the general public. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, call the Orangeville Nursing and Rehab Center at 683-5036.
• July 26, 2007, at 6:30 PM at Orangeville Nursing and Rehab Center, 200 Berwick Road, Orangeville: Attorney Richard Scheib of the Scheib Law Offices, Lewisburg, will present "Elder Law Care". This event is sponsored by the ACTION Health Aging and Wellness Task Force. The event is free and open to the general public. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, call the Orangeville Nursing and Rehab Center at 683-5036.
Appearances of The Gibson Brothers and Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike are headline performances for the OATS Bluegrass Festival stage today. They will be joined by a band out of Raleigh, North Carolina, that was very much enjoyed by the audience Thursday night. The group is Kickin’ Grass and they certainly kicked some Thursday night. Another North Carolina group, Buncombe Turnpike makes their first OATS appearance.
The Gibson Brothers need no introduction to the Benton festival. Eric and Leigh Gibson stand among the best brother harmonies in the history of country and bluegrass music. The decades-old tradition of brother harmony duo, calls up names like Louvin, Crowe, and even Everly, and the Gibson’s are adding to that genre with skilled songwriting and an open-minded approach to the music they fell in love with years ago. The brothers were born less than a year apart and grew up on a dairy farm in Ellenburg Depot, New York. When they were in their early teens, they began playing guitar and banjo in church. Under the influence of renowned resophonic guitarist Junior Barber, the Gibsons formed a bluegrass band in the early nineties, with Junior's son, Mike Barber on upright bass. They’ve released a total of seven albums since 1992, the latest of which is entitled Red Letter Day. The sound is vibrant, as lively as the music it presents. No question about it, the Gibson Brothers are masters of their craft.
Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike will make an OATS appearance on both Friday and Saturday. Music has always been the lifeblood that flows through Valerie’s veins. Her musical parents valued the talent she showed an early age, and she soon began singing rousing Baptist hymns in church. She chose music as her life’s work and graduated from the Conservatory at the University of Missouri, with some sojourns along the way to teach both elementary and high school music. But performance is her first love, so she found her way to Nashville and performances at the Bell Buckle Café (Tennessee), where her national career took root. She appears with a gifted band, including Becky Buller, a fiddle player and song writer whose musical reputation is flourishing. The music of this group combines the energy of Valerie with the authentic and soulful songs she chooses. It will be reunion time for Rick Marcera, Stillwater, the master of bass, guitar, mandolin and vocals with Stained Grass Window, when he gets back together with Valerie Smith.
I mentioned Kickin’ Grass, an exciting new group from Raleigh and Buncombe Turnpike from western North Carolina. The Kickin’ Grass Band combines traditional, old-time and progressive bluegrass renditions with their tight vocal harmony and driving instrumentals. They incorporate standard bluegrass tunes, rock, country classics, and a number of into their act. Buncombe Turnpike (Old Drover's Road) is a 75-mile route that runs through Buncombe County from Greenville, Tennessee, to Greenville, South Carolina. The band chose its name in memory of music sung by drovers at public lodgings along this toll road from 1820 to the time of the Civil War.
Friday’s schedule will also include a rich mix of local and area bands. Stained Grass Window and Outskirts are based in Danville and they serve each year as unofficial host bands for the festival. Second Wind is a band out of Lacyville that provides a refreshing blend of real traditional bluegrass entertainment, thanks to the talent of people like Danny Stewart. Remington Ryde, McClure, Pennsylvania, was formed in 2002 and is experiencing a growing reception in Central Pennsylvania. The Remington Ryde Bluegrass Festival will be held at the Mifflin County Youth Fair Grounds in Reedsville July 20-21. The festival includes an exciting line-up of twelve bands.
--As is always the case when we refer to bluegrass, we defer to Rev. Al Lumpkin, who provided the source material for much of this article
For those who like both detective stories and baseball games, there is a quiz waiting for you here.
The Guv signed a bill into law Wednesday to amend the state building code. Act 9 of 2007 amends the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code to exempt state builders from the residential construction requirement to use anchor bolts in foundation and retaining walls construction--a requirement imposed to reduce the damage caused to homes by earthquakes and coastal storms. The requirement was said to increase the cost of an average sized single family home by up to $3,000.
June 28, 2007. Today is Ken Kelsey's 84th birthday and Jan Laubach's birthday, and the wedding anniversary of Carl and Ann Spiece and John and Diane Laubach. On this date in 1914, World War I began. Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated while at (what is now known as) Sarajevo, Bosnia. The Archduke was chosen as a target because Serbians feared that after his ascension to the throne he would continue the persecution of Serbs living within the Austro-Hungarian empire. Exactly five years after it began, World War I ended with the signing of The Treaty of Versailles on this date in 1919, the very same day that Elizabeth 'Bess' Wallace became Bess Truman when she married the future U.S. President, Harry S Truman. Truman often introduced his wife as "the Boss" and his daughter, Margaret, as "the Boss's Boss. To see what Benton looked like a year ago, head here.
Lets make the Benton Volunteer Fire Company annual firemen's parade on August 4 the biggest and the best in a long time. Buster and Chloe will be in the parade and the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center decided to sponsor a float, and you and your organization might as well do that, too. Design a float to show the community how you serve them. The parade line forms at 4:30 in the afternoon at the Benton Rodeo Grounds and the parade will begin to move at 5:30. There are prizes, too: $75 for the Grand Poobah, $50 for the High Muckety-Muck and $25 for the King of Wawhoo. The carnival runs from June 30 to August 4. You can reach the Benton Fire Company at 925-5542.
I enjoyed talking with Don Kissil, Morristown, New Jersey, an occasional writer for the magazine Bluegrass Unlimited and a frequent visitor to the O.A.T.S. Festival who proudly passed around a recent article of his from the magazine that had been translated into Japanese and then published in www.bomserv.com/ . I looked at the article and asked how he knew it was his, since it was all in Japanese. The only clue he had was that he recognized a picture he included in the original article. What we say has a way of coming around full circle...
From the time you get this message until Sunday night, I am at the O.A.T.S. Festival. I will be providing the Benton News, but not at the regular schedule.
Didja hear about the trooper who pulled alongside a speeding car on I-80? The woman driving the car was knitting! She was completely oblivious to his flashing lights and siren, so he rolled down the window and through a bullhorn yelled "pull over." "No!" the woman yelled back, it's a scarf."
Members of Boy Scout Troop #51, their parents and advisors toured the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center Tuesday night. One of the highlights of the tour was outside the main part of the building, north on Community Drive toward the Fire Station. At that location, a pavilion is being built and concrete slabs have been poured.
Thanks to the generosity of two local men, Carlton "Butch" Young, New Columbus, and Harold Ackerman, Jamison City, the horseshoe pitch area is coming to life. In fact, Carleton has a tournament scheduled for August 25. Carleton, a third-grade teacher at Huntington Mills Elementary and President of the New Columbus Academy and a member of the Board of Directors of the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center is a community-minded person who believes that if you see a young person "on the court, you won't see him in the court." The sport provides a means for people of all ages to enjoy good exercise while having fun and provides a way of growing up playing a sport with our children.
Carlton made a big point of telling the Boy Scouts that "this is "not just an old folks sport." Friends and neighbors, young and old, from all phases and walks of life enjoy it. As a summertime activity, horseshoes allows people to meet new people and compete in a friendly manner and simply have an enjoyable, healthy time together. The sport has been popular since Roman soldiers first came up with the game.
A lot of people in this area pitch horseshoes, according to Carlton, at family outings, picnics and reunions. Carlton had as his ambition to get a quality facility in this part of the state "where we can interest people and also educate people about the sport."
The horseshoe facility at the Center will be a regulation horseshoe facility so that sanctioned horseshoe tournaments can be held in Benton. The horseshoe pitch is 40 feet long from peg to peg. There are two ends, each of which has a "pitching box," a six-feet square marked on concrete. Inside each pitching box is a smaller rectangle which measures around three by four feet and is referred to as "the pit." The pit is filled with clay to absorb the impact of a horseshoe. In the middle of each pit is a metal stake one inch in diameter sticking up fifteen inches above the surface and inclined about three inches from the vertical towards the thrower.
The area within the pitching box but outside the pit forms two platforms on the right and left and it is here that the players must stand when throwing their horseshoes. Where pitching is done behind a line, both feet must remain behind the line while pitching.
Horseshoes can come from K-Mart or Wal-Mart for informal games, but for league competitions regulations have to be followed. Typical rules require that each horseshoe should weigh around two pounds eight ounces, be seven and five eighths inches long, seven inches wide and the gap should be three and a half inches wide.
Carlton told the Boy Scouts that "if you are my age you throw 40 feet," although after reaching the age of 70 pitchers can move to the 30-foot line. Women throw from a 30-foot line, and younger children advance that line by a few feet. Carlton took the doubts out of the boy's mind about hitting the concrete during a pitch, saying that it happens on occasion, but almost never in league competition. "The best pitcher in Pennsylvania hits 76% ringers from 40 feet," Carlton pointed out. Carlton pitches an average of 41% ringers and is very happy about that. Any horseshoe that completely surrounds the stake is called a "ringer."
Carlton then introduced "Peanut" Long, Shickshinny, who was helping tamp clay into the pits. "Peanut" now shoots at about the same skill level as Carlton since "he got a little older," down from the 60% bracket. He won several Pennsylvania state tournaments and went to a world tournament and won his class there. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame for horseshoe pitchers.
"It is my ambition to educate people about the game. We will get the word out when this facility is ready. We are looking for people of all ages, men and women, to play the game," Carlton told the boys. "Peanut" reminded the boys that in horseshoes whatever percentage of ringers you throw is the class you are in. "If you throw 10% ringers, you'll be in the 10% class. You won't be pitching against the 70% people."
Carlton contrasted the pitching style of himself and "Peanut." Carlton throws one complete flip (known as a "flip-shoe thrower), while "Peanut" spins the shoe. "Peanut" talked about a former world champion, Ted Allen, who in a world tournament that would begin at 8 in the morning and run until 11 at night, threw 72 straight ringers--which if compared with bowling would be six 300 perfect games in a row! Allen averaged about 89%. In the 1946 world tournament, for example, there were five 90% games, with Allen getting four of them.
Next year in York, Pennsylvania, will be the first time in 17 years that the tournament is in the eastern part of the country, with about 2,500 pitchers.
Carlton told the excited boys that leagues would be formed after the courts are up and running, and invited them to come out and learn the game. Hopefully, their parents will join them in this family sport. The Center and its horseshoe courts are available for guided tours by calling Rob Hutchison, Director of the Center, at 925-0163.
Dairy producers are happy as the Class I price of milk reached 9 cents shy of $21. For July, the Class I price will be $20.91, according to Dairy Herd Management magazine. That is $9.57 more than a year ago and $3.07 higher than June. Consumer demand will probably wane a bit as retail milk prices climb.
The state Senate Tuesday approved a ban on indoor smoking by a 33 to 17 vote that includes a lengthy list of exemptions and sent it across the Capitol to the State House for consideration. According to news reports, the Guv says he'll approve a smoking ban that exempted areas in casinos, private clubs and bars with minimal food sales .
The state House gave final passage for the $700 million transportation funding legislation, making I-80 a toll road. The June 27 edition of the Press Enterprise reports that Rep. Boback and Rep. Millard voted against the bill. The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate where the measure could face a more difficult approval.
The state Senate approved legislation on Tuesday that would exempt landowners from liability for accidents or injuries that are caused by someone hunting on their land, whether the injury happens on or off their property.
Chinese regulators have closed 180 food plants following the uncovering of more than 23,000 food safety violations. According to the New York Times, industrial chemicals, dyes and other illegal ingredients were used in making food products from candy to seafood. According to the article, illegal food making dens, counterfeit bottled water, fake soy sauce, banned food additives and illegal meat processing plants were found
June 27, 2007. Happy birthday to Cindy Hose, Greenwood Township, and Jane Ackerman, Jamison City. The Continental Congress met at York from September 30, 1777, to this date in 1778. Ruth Sutliff Phillips is back in the Bloomsburg Hospital with pneumonia and your prayers are needed again.
For those who loved the pun-ishment of the hot sticky weather of yesterday, I'll tell you about the beautiful young woman who tugged constantly at her dress and wiggled uncomfortably. She was obviously a "chafing" dish. Maybe you heard about the mailman who cut a hole in the bottom of his pouch so that the mail could go through. Or the inmate at the old Retreat State Hospital who hooked up an airplane propeller to his Ford and tried to fly the coupe. Or maybe you happened u-pun the man in white in a corridor at the Bloomsburg Hospital who was working with a pretty nurse. He cauterize and winked. She interne winked back. They were both helping a limping patient who kept complaining, "My heel is Achille-ing me." And maybe you heard about the pun-icious young thing who stopped at Ed Cole's Barber Shop to get her hair bobbed, but didn't have the money to get it done. She told Ed that her father had an apple orchard and wondered if it would be OK if she paid him in apples when they got ripe. Ed's indignant reply was something like, "Look, Toots, I stopped bobbing for apples when I was twelve years old." And maybe you heard about the rich guy who altered his will eleven times in two years. Obviously, a fresh heir fiend.
AARP Driver Safety Program - Wednesday & Thursday, August 1 & 2.
Open your calendar and mark August 1 and 2 for the next AARP Driver Safety Program sponsored by the Benton Women's Club. The insurance cost of your automobile policy could go down if you qualify for and complete the course. The class will be held at Christ the King Catholic church, Mendenhall Lane, Benton, from 5-9 PM both days. The Benton Women's Club will provide refreshments. Both husbands and wives must attend the course in order to obtain the certificate. The cost is $10 per person, and both must bring their driver's license and a pen or pencil. To register or get more information call 925-6242.
Didja know that...
. For those who have been waiting to see Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, they may get their chance on August 15, the Wednesday of Penn State's Ag Progress Days August 14-16. The Guv traditionally addresses the agriculture community that day, and is hinting of bringing Obama. The companion show in New York state is the Empire Farm Days, August 7-9 in Seneca Falls, 158 miles from Back Home in Benton, PA, straight north of Towanda and Watkins Glen.
. For those who can't make the Ag Progress Days, there is a 12-day summer showcase of the best of New York State's agriculture, entertainment, education, industry, and technology during their state fair August 23 through September 3. There are over 375 acres of animals, exhibits and displays. Be warned: almost a million people visited the fair last year. The fair is in Syracuse, 183 miles north of the local area.
The career of Theodore Burr (1771-1824) was a tragic one. Burr was an inventor credited with the Burr Arch Truss bridge design once popular as a form of construction of covered bridges. The style was identified by a curved arch with ends toed into the adjoining piers and supporting the upper and lower horizontal "chords" which formed the support for the bridge floor and roof. Several king posts between the chords, each firmly pegged to the arch, completed the structure.
Burr was responsible, for example, for building a bridge to cross the Hudson River at Troy, New York, in 1804, and a five-span bridge over the Delaware River at Trenton which lasted for ninety years. He came to the local area to build the bridge at Nescopeck Falls (Berwick) and the covered bridges at Columbia, Northumberland and Harrisburg. His last bridge was the 4,170 foot long over the Susquehanna River near Port Deposit, Maryland.
The Pennsylvania Assembly chartered a company to build a 1,256 foot long, 28-foot wide covered bridge at Nescopeck Falls in 1807. Burr was hired, but faced lots of obstacles. Remember that in 1807 Robert Fulton's steam-powered paddle boats were just hitting their stride on smooth water at 5 miles per hour. Building huge covered bridges was no small feat!
It wasn't until mid-August, 1812, that Burr's bid of $40,134 to build the covered bridge was accepted and the chartered company agreed to pay Burr one eighth of the bid price as a down payment. Part of the payment would come in the form of company stock, repaid as people used the bridge. It apparently looked like a pretty sweet deal to Burr, but the cost of construction went up as did the overall cost to build the bridge. The bridge was finished in 1818, the year that Berwick was incorporated.
As a penalty for the increased costs, the company reduced the amount of stock that Burr received. The bridge company was only authorized to sell $40,000 worth of stock, and $12,000 of that was given to Burr. So off to Harrisburg went the officials to get a Government grant. None was offered. Businesses along the Susquehanna & Tioga Turnpike and the old Lehigh-Nescopeck Highway at both ends of the bridge were eager to invest, as were some residents of Berwick and Nescopeck, but coming up with the $100 to buy one share of stock just wasn't that easy. Compounding the problem was the financial panic sweeping the country in 1819 following the reckless speculation following the War of 1812. It was one of the worst economic depressions that the young county had experienced.
The state finally came through in 1821 with a grant to help the bridge company, and slowly the company began to make a small profit. In fact, the bridge company eventually funded Berwick's first water company. That year and the following year the bridge company paid $6.50 a share dividend.
Burr's covered bridge was washed away in the winter of 1836. A second wooden bridge was built in 1837 and stood for 67 years until it was washed away by high water and ice in 1904. It was replaced by an iron bridge in 1907 and eventually by the bridge that today spans the river.
Burr was also in Northumberland in 1812, and submitted bids to five different companies that had been chartered to build bridges over the Susquehanna at Northumberland, Harrisburg, Columbia and McCall's Ferry."When it rains, it pours," goes the old adage, and Burr won all the bridges except for Columbia Crossing. Burr got the job done, but consider the monumental job and the era in which it took place. He over extended himself and became deeper and deeper in debt, eventually dying almost penniless. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Middletown.
--The fascinating study of covered bridges can be made more interesting by visiting the Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society of PA, Inc.
The following article entitled Why Bluegrass Anyway was written by one of the area's bluegrass experts, Rev. Al Lumpkin, one of the featured entertainers Sunday morning for the devotional services.
Oatsfestival, Inc. presents its eighth annual OATS (Out Among the Stars) Bluegrass Festival from June 28 through July 1 at the Benton Rodeo Grounds in Benton, Pennsylvania. The festivities begin on Thursday evening at 4:00 p.m. with a pot luck dinner sponsored by the "Grillbillies." Everyone on the grounds is invited to bring a dish and join in. Music begins at 6:00. and continues until Sunday noon. A total of 18 groups will be performing at this year's festival. But what it this "bluegrass music" that is growing in popularity all over the world so that there are numerous festivals every week of the year here in the United States?
As a musical style, bluegrass derived its name from innovative sounds first heard on the radio from "Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys." Monroe's music seems to have been merely a variation in country music of the 1940's and 50's, but that changed when Earl Scruggs joined him in 1945, adding the sound of the three-finger style banjo (called "Scruggs Style") to the rhythm guitar and Monroe's mandolin. The fiddle and acoustic "dog house" bass rounded out the band. The other instrument often heard on the festival stage, though it is less common, is the "resophonic guitar," or "dobro," which is played by sliding a steel on the strings.
Bluegrass performances are filled with roots music that preserves tradition. Many songs performed by popular bluegrass groups even today derive from Scottish, English and Irish music that was planted in America by people who settled in Southern mountain communities. Ralph and Carter Stanley's earliest songs, for example, had been passed down through several generations. There is also a rich gospel tradition in bluegrass which sometimes includes four-part a capella renditions of African-American and White Spirituals.
You'll hear Carter Family songs at every festival. During the 1930's and 40's they produced the most popular recordings in America. A.P. Carter arranged melodies his family had learned in this folk tradition and published them, hundreds of songs like "Wildwood Flower" and "May the Circle Be Unbroken." Many instrumental songs you'll still hear at a festival are versions of fiddle songs popular in the rural south in the 1800's. Bluegrass is recognized as one of America's folk music styles, one that has maintained its connection to the roots from which it grew. Some of its earliest artists, Ralph Stanley, Mac Wiseman, and Jesse McReynolds, for example, continue to perform in the festival circuit.
So why is this form of music increasing in popularity? First, enthusiasts enjoy the sheer quality of the instrumental performance, where these musicians weave guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle breaks through the upbeat songs. The music is alive! Some people are fascinated with the vocals and, often cast in the melancholy or wistful "high lonesome sound," of the tenor lead singer and tight three-part mountain harmony that are often chilling. Bluegrass is singable music. Many of the folks in the audience know and play these songs themselves. For others, the attraction is that bluegrass songs are drawn from Americana. People identify with the history and remember some of these songs from childhood years. Much of the music picks up common themes from the lives and struggles of common people, but even with the human turmoil it depicts, bluegrass music is uplifting.
One frustration for bluegrass fans is that, even with hundreds of festivals held in the US each year, bluegrass is rarely heard on commercial stations. It doesn't fit the music industry, with its need for constant turnover of "hits." Bluegrass recordings are created by small labels like (like "Rounder," "Rebel," "Scaggs Family Records" and "Flying Fish") and sold in specialty stores or by the performers themselves at festivals. That's changing, as bluegrass has become more readily available on XM and Sirius satellite radio dedicated channels. The Cohen Brothers film, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" popularized this music several years ago.
A word about bluegrass fans. The bluegrass festival replicates the American "melting pot," with people from many walks of life who are drawn to and are extraordinarily loyal to this music. Many will travel hundreds of miles to camp in a field and listen to the music. It's difficult to stereotype "bluegrasser's." When you attend a festival, there's a warm and friendly spirit. The audience is made up of people across the spectrum. Rural and small town folk might be drawn to the "early country" sounds of bluegrass, and many festivals like Wind Gap and Delaware Valley draw heavily from urban areas. Some years ago, a popular Boston band was named, ironically, "Southern Rail." Their music is made up of mostly new compositions that sound as though they come from a century ago. All the members of that band teach at MIT.
With most music forms, people will go to a concert performed by a single popular artist. Only in the folk and bluegrass festivals that people come to stay for three or four days, listening to music continuously from 10 in the morning until midnight. Why bluegrass? In the final analysis the proof is in the hearing. You catch the spirit of this community when you attend a festival like OATS. It has to be the greatest bargain you'll ever find in entertainment. The gate price for the entire weekend, Thursday to Sunday, is $65 per person, and that admission includes the cost of camping in a picturesque setting.
Monday night, the state House of Representatives approved an amendment to House Bill 1590 that would allow for a partnership between the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and PennDOT. That partnership would make I-80 a toll road and would study making I-95 a toll road, which in turn would provide funding for the state's public-transit systems and bridge and road repairs. The bill was under debate in the House Tuesday and the bill will go to the state Senate for consideration if the House approves it.
June 26, 2007. Today is the first birthday of Joshua Jackson Fritz, son of Richard and Tracy Fritz, Fritz Hill. Grandparents are Barbara Fritz, Benton, and the late Jack Fritz, and Bobby and Betty Watkins, Westminster, SC. It is the wedding anniversary today of Rich and Sherri Plocinski and the birthday in 1819 of Abner Doubleday who had something to do with the game of baseball twenty years later. The Bloomsburg and Sullivan Railroad terminated its rail service to Jamison City on this date in 1926. Track crews at work the following day tore up the tracks beyond the Benton Borough limits. On this date in 1963, President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin and at the City Hall announced Ich bin ein Berliner. The Soviet Union had erected the Berlin Wall to stop the mass exodus of people fleeing East Berlin for West Berlin and the non-Communist world. Ironically enough, the word "Berliner" in German means a particular kind of jelly-filled pastry as well as a citizen of Berlin. Twenty-four years later, President Ronald Reagan in the same city said, Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin. ["I still have a suitcase in Berlin."] The wall was taken down in 1989.
The Benefit for Albert Wood's family comes up July 14 at the Millville Legion from 4 to 8. Christine's regular karaoke show will follow. Donations of food and door prizes are needed. Please contact Christine at 441-9809.
Alanna Bath, Bendertown, was accepted into the Intermezzo Opera Young Artist Summer 2007 program. Events will take place in Port Richey, Florida, from July 2-August 6. Auditions took place in New York, Boston, Miami, and Chicago. Alanna will receive daily voice lessons and coachings, participate in master classes, attend career development workshops, and perform in fully staged operas. Alanna will again be playing the role of "Lady Billows" from Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring under the direction of Andrew Eggert of Chicago Opera and under the baton of J. David Jackson of the Metropolitan Opera. She will work with voice teachers from Manhattan School of Music, Metropolitan Opera, Chatelet Opera Paris, and other fine institutions. She asks you to keep her in your thoughts and prayers during her travels.
So you think our gas prices are high! CNN reports that the price of a regular, unleaded gallon of gas is $6.48 in the Netherlands and $6.27 in Oslo, Norway. It is high in London ($5.79), Paris ($5.54) and Tokyo ($4.24). If you head to Moscow, you'll currently pay $2.10, in San Juan $1.74, and Caracas, Venezuela $0.12. Back Home in Benton, PA, the Monday afternoon prices were $2.879 and $2.939.
Didja know that...
• State law requires that youths ages 8 through 15 take a safety-training course prescribed by DCNR and have a safety-training certificate issued by the department before operating an ATV off their parents’ or legal guardians’ property.
• On July 1 the state's minimum wage rises to $7.15 per hour, amounting to a $2 increase since January.
• The web site for the Red Rock Job Corps Center is http://philadelphiaregion.jobcorps.gov/Trades/Center-RedRock.html.
I had coffee with Leon Robbins Monday and we chatted about his health. At first, he seemed reluctant to talk about his recent trip to the Bloomsburg Hospital for x-rays that resulted in him being air lifted from that hospital to the Geisinger. "I don't know what to tell you this day--there hain't much a-going on," Leon told me when I asked about his back and his aneurism.
He clarified his coon hunting after being released from the hospital, saying "I didn't get out and walk much." After he brought up his favorite topic--hunting--he seemed more inclined to talk about his health. "I have fallen over logs--and I've fallen farmin', too. If my back was good, hell I would be good." Pat Stemrich, former owner of Whispering Pines Camp Ground, reminded the 92-year old, "Leon, I don't know if you know this or not, but your back is just as old as the rest of you." Leon thought for a second, then responded, "I know it is, but the rest of it is pretty dang good." He wasn't absolutely certain about the doctor visit he had scheduled for Monday: "I don't know if them medical doctors knows too much about that stuff." Just in case, he also scheduled a visit to a chiropractor Monday.
Leon revealed that although he did go coon hunting Saturday night, he had to "stay in the truck," but had "walked around all day." He admitted that "when it gets me" is in the mornings, then continued, "Boy, I'm going to tell you 90 some years is a good while. I hunted a lot. I like to do anything. I played ball, baseball--Unityville and all over the little towns." Leon was a supervisor for 36 years in Jackson Township, the way he remembered it. Leon was a former boxer, with over "30 some fights." Leon admits that his aneurism could have come from his welterweight boxing days, when I "hurt my guts, I suppose." Leon was a boxer "up the river." He wasn't very specific about when his fighting career took place, but said "Oh, geeze, I was about 18 or 19 years old--figure back. I was a kid--you know, young. Well now I'll tell you how I got up there. I'll tell you about it. They used to raise tomatoes in those bottoms, you know, by the river, in the flats. Truck farms, yeah, I was like a migrant." The pain Leon was experiencing, however, never let Leon finish his story, and he returned to his current ailments.
"I feel pretty good, except when I first get up my back hurts like hell. The doctor said you might have that--anybody might have it and not know it." Leon said that he had told the doctor about his weakness--Tastee Cakes. "Yes, I told him I ate a hell of a batch of them." "They didn't recommend me getting operated on down at the hospital. They probably figured I was too old." The question is who would chase the coons around if something happened to Leon. Leon turned reflective, saying "I don't kill them now. Just run the dogs. Oh, I suppose I've killed thousands." Leon still has his dogs, "about 5 or 6 up there now; another fellow has two of mine. I would get rid of the dogs if I couldn’t hunt, you know what I mean."
His Bluetick Coonhounds now are used mainly for hunting coyotes. Leon got ten coyotes last year and "about the same amount" the year before. I asked how he keeps up with the dogs and coyotes. As for coyotes, he said, "Outrun me--I guess he can! What I do is head for a ridge, let the dogs out. They find the scent and take the chase. When the coyote heads for another ridge, I get in the truck and go around and there he is. Maybe if I have someone with me--a young fellow--he can walk across the way the dogs went over." You sneak in and listen to them comin' around. They circle once in a while and I recognize the sound of the dog." He keeps in touch when he hunts with someone else with what he called a "talkie-talkie." If the hunt is over and the dogs aren't back, Leon lays his coat on the ground and leaves. When he comes back, the dog will be asleep curled up on his coat waiting for his master. "They will always come back to where you left him off." The dogs are on their summer vacation now. Leon says it is just too hot for them.
His health problems continued to be a recurring theme of his conversation. "I'll tell you something. You could have one in your head right now (an aneurism) and never know it. You're gonna die of something, I'll tell you that." Before we got off the subject of his health, he grew reflective and told me that "every day I say a prayer. A lot of people don't, but I do. I don't care what they do. If they don't want to say a prayer, they don't have to, but I always did. Every Sunday morning we had to walk a good ways to church, you know, and before we started out we had to read a verse out of the Bible, then father would tell us what it meant. I do that today. A lot of them don't do that, I know they don't."
Then he returned to the subject that seemed to be worrying him. "Well I am glad that I am still a-going. I don't know about that thing in there. I am going to the doctor. That is the only thing that I can do, hain't it? Never know."
When the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) picked their 2005 "Entertainer of the Year" they chose Cherryholmes, the family name of the six-person group appearing Saturday at the OATS Bluegrass Festival at 2:30 and 9:30 PM. The festival at the Benton Rodeo Grounds is honored to have this wildly popular group at this year's event.
The group has six impressive musicians, and each will sing lead and harmony parts throughout each set. These veteran musicians play traditional bluegrass with a burst of energy beginning with the first song and growing throughout the hour. Other musicians refer to them as "the group nobody wants to follow."
Sandy Lee Cherryholmes, a Bell, California, mother, created a family bluegrass band as part of her home schooling curriculum in April, 1999. Each of their four children were challenged to learn an instrument. They began performing at churches and festivals in the Southwest. The father of the family, Jere Cherryholmes, quit his job in mid-2002 and the family moved into a 1960 GM bus to begin touring the US. They’ve released four albums since 2001, and the fifth, entitled Cherryholmes II: Black and White from this Grammy-nominated family bluegrass band, features lead singer/banjo picker Cia Cherryholmes. "You Don't Know What Love Is," "Don't Give Your Heart to a Knoxville Girl," "Greedy Hands," and "My True Love," are some of the songs on this album which you'll get to hear Saturday.
Jere Cherryholmes plays upright bass and serves as a uniquely funny emcee who relates with the audience by telling stories about his "Cousin Myron," travels of the family and warning the boys away from his daughters. He opts for songs that reflect the band’s traditional style. His wife, Sandy Lee, is the veteran musician who began teaching her children their instruments and dance, made their stage costumes and managed the group’s business. She plays the mandolin in a style reminiscent of Bill Monroe and, on mountain songs, plays clawhammer banjo like the early Ralph Stanley.
The four children are incredibly accomplished musicians. Cia Leigh, 23, started on the guitar. Jere asked if she were willing to learn banjo, and she threatened to have him arrested for "child abuse," but in 2005 she won the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America "Banjo Performer of the Year." She has a fast, powerful banjo style, and her lead singing is soulful. While learning banjo in 2000, she taught her brother Skip, who recently turned 18, to play guitar. He has been featured in Flatpicking Guitar magazine.
Cherryholmes features twin-fiddlers. B.J., 20, the eldest son, arranges most of the fiddle parts. The energy of his playing contributes greatly to the group’s energy. It is characterized by hot licks and aggressive twin-fiddling he performs with his left-handed fiddle-playing sister, Molly Kate, 15. Molly is frequently compared to the young Alison Krauss. When Molly Kate was 13, she recorded her tune Frankie Belle on Rhonda Vincent’s CD, One Step Ahead.
In the first year of being on the road, Cherryholmes appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and Earnest Tubb’s Midnight Jamboree. They have hosted their own festivals in LaGrange, Georgia, and Bullhead City, Colorado. Folks who come to Cherryholmes’ two OATS performances Saturday will experience high-energy bluegrass music. Saturday’s lineup also includes four area bands and three other national acts: Michael Cleveland and the Flamekeepers (featuring Audie Blaylock), Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike, and The Bluegrass Brothers.
The OATS Festival at the Benton Rodeo Ground begins Thursday, June 28 at 4:00 PM with a "potluck" dinner free for all who bring a dish. Music begins at 6 PM. The festival continues until Sunday afternoon at 5. In Benton, follow the blue and white bluegrass festival signs at the north end of town. Tickets are available at the gate for all four days or for individual days. For more information, head over to www.oatsfestival.com . You can view pictures from each day's performances by going to http://picasaweb.google.com/bentonnews/OATSBluegrassFestival2007 . Daily performance schedules are listed at http://bentonnews.net.hosting.domaindirect.com/oatsschedule07.htm .
--As with all things bluegrass, the Rev. Al Lumpkin of the Benton Presbyterian Church provides most of the content for articles related to the O.A.T.S. Festival.
June 25, 2007. Happy birthday to Jill Pascale, Manassas, Virginia.
We enjoyed reading the June 24 article in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette about Sharon Remphrey's wig shop. When you need a good wig, what is a few extra miles to travel?
The Old Harveyville Cemetery near the Hunlock-Harveyville Road is the final resting place of some of the earliest settlers of Huntington Township. Some grave sites date back to the mid-to-late 1770s. Sunday's Times Leader tells about dedicated volunteers like Ruth Frey and Sheila Brandon who are enlisting help to clean up the cemetery. The next clean-up day will come in August.
After watching how hard the firemen of Columbia County and surrounding areas worked Saturday keeping the Starr Tire Fire under control, it was gut wrenching to read about rogue firemen and policemen in other parts of our county. There were the three former volunteer firefighters among the five teenage friends arrested for setting fire last month to Knecht's Covered Bridge in Springfield, Upper Bucks. The three are suspected of being involved in five other arsons in the Quakertown area. Authorities arrested a police officer in Summit County, Ohio, on murder charges. He was the boyfriend of a missing pregnant woman. Hopefully, the "salt-of-the-earth" public service people of the local area won't engage in shenannigans like that. And speaking of salt of the earth, here is one many of you know.
Leon Robbins is a remarkable man, not just because he is 92, not because he undertook a major restoration of the former Bittenbender's Covered Bridge 70 years ago, not because he trained scores of kids to love coon hunting, not because he had to be airlifted from the Bloomsburg Hospital late last week to get to Geisinger Hospital for emergency treatment of an aneurism, not because the day after he was released from the hospital he spent the night and the wee hours of Sunday morning in a coon hunt--his favorite pastime. Leon is a character, we'll give you that--but he is exactly the kind of person that down through the years has made the upper Fishingcreek valley a wonderful place to live.
About 200 camping vehicles and an unknown number of participants were at the rodeo grounds this weekend from the Keystone Junior Rodeo Association, a non-profit association made up of kids between the ages of 3 and 18. KJRA was started to give kids experience with sportsmanship and competition in the sport of rodeo. There are four age groups and each one is divided into boy's and girl's section for a total of eight groups. The age groups include 5-6, 7-9, 10-13, 14-18 years old.
This was the sixth and last of the Junior Rodeos of the season at the Benton Rodeo Grounds. The club will finish the season at Buffalo Valley Riding Club. Because the event was a two-day event, it counted as two rodeos. We were happy to see that the Benton Roller Mills had a tent set up and was busy selling items. It also sponsors a bull-riding event. Later in the week, we'll have many more visitors.
It is the week of the 2007 version of O.A.T.S--The OATS Festival at the Benton Rodeo Ground from Thursday, June 28, through Sunday, July 1. The "Out Among the Stars" Bluegrass Festival evolved from a family festival in Jerseytown where people camped on a hillside for the weekend and listened to the likes of Ralph Stanley, Jimmy Martin and Jim and Jesse McReynolds. When it was decided not to have a festival in 1999, an Independence Day weekend celebration took place that year at the Danville farm of Dr. Mary Hermann. Many of the people were Grillbillies, an informally organized group of bluegrass enthusiasts.
The festival was revived with the name "OATS" Bluegrass Festival and moved in 2002 to the Benton Rodeo Grounds. Benton has an ideal location for a bluegrass festival, nestled in the Fishingcreek Valley alongside West Creek. The Rodeo Grounds is ideal for people who bring motor homes, campers and tents to stay for a long weekend of music. Many prepare their meals at their campsites, while others seek out the food venders.
Matt McBriarty is president of OATS and he remembers 2006 and the heavy flooding of a year ago all too clearly. Many regular patrons didn't feel they could work their way into the festival grounds last year. In fact, Mendenhall Lane, the main entrance to the OATS Festival and the rodeo grounds, was under water for the opening day of the festival last year. A good attendance this year will be critical to recouping some of the losses the festival had last year. The group will begin Thursday night with a super potluck dinner for everyone who buys a four-day ticket. Each person will bring a casserole dish, just about the best way possible to enjoy good summer eating.
The lineup this year includes 18 different groups. We'll tell you about the family band Cherryholmes in tomorrow's report. They group was recently awarded International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) "Entertainer of the Year." Kelly Yost likes the high-energy Bluegrass Brothers for their traditional music. I am a huge fan of Michael Cleveland, IBMA's "Fiddle Player of the Year" in four of the past six years. He appears with his own group, "The Flamekeepers," which features guitarist Audie Blaylock. Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike return to OATS before leaving for a European tour. The Gibson Brothers, Eric and Leigh, bring duet harmonies to O.A.T.S. Emerging artists include acclaimed North Carolina bands Kickin' Grass and Buncombe Turnpike.
Local groups like Stained Grass Window and Outskirts will be back, but we wish that Like Father, Like Son were here. The 2007 festival will also present Aimless Pursuit, Blue Roots, Forgotten Mountain Boys, Louis Setzer and the Appalachian Mountain Boys, Remington Ryde, Second Wind and Texas Rose.
Sunday morning features religious music integral to bluegrass. The Rev. Al and Jean Lumpkin and Friends begin Sunday's lineup at 9:30 AM with their presentation of "Music of the Spirit." The Lumpkins are backed by Mark Doncheski and Mary Hermann. The Sunday festival activities will continue until 5 in the afternoon.
Stage performances at O.A.T.S. are where the festivities begin. Jams between campers and in the parking lots continue late into the night. There are workshops about playing various bluegrass instruments and activities for children. Joanne Yanchick is in charge of the OATS Kidz Korner and will have all Kidz activities. The children's activities are in the building just past the workshop area. Activities include nature walks, nature crafts, Aunt Joanne's Silly Song Sing Along, Kidz Olympics, Playing with Paper, an Invention Convention, lots of sing alongs and a scavenger hunt. All that makes OATS a family event with something for just about everyone. Rough camping comes free with a four-day ticket. Children under 12 are admitted without charge. Tickets are available at the gate for all four days or for individual days. For more information, head over to www.oatsfestival.com or you can view pictures from each day's performances by going to http://picasaweb.google.com/bentonnews/OATSBluegrassFestival2007. Performance schuedules are listed here
June 24, 2007.
A potentially toxic fire was extinguished Saturday afternoon at the Starr Tire Pile in Greenwood Township in a tire-shredding machine called a "screener" owned by a company known as Environmental Quality Management. The pile was at one time Pennsylvania’s largest collection of waste tires. As a Millville fireman told me, "pretty much everyone" was dispatched to the fire to follow the lead of "first due" Millville--Orangeville, Benton, Berwick, Montoursville, Buckhorn, Mountour Township, Espy, Mifflinville, Unityville, Forksville, Lightstreet, even ladder trucks from Bloomsburg, and probably more that we didn't see. In fact, there were fire trucks on scene from every fire company in Columbia County. More than 100 firemen fought the blaze. There were two injuries, including one Benton fireman, Tyson Matthews, who was taken to Geisinger Hospital with an asthma attack. Tyson's injuries were compounded when he could not find his inhaler. He later returned to continue fighting the fire.
The fire was called in initially as a machinery fire at the tire pile, and fireman believed that it was something like a hot bearing that caught fire.
Picture courtesy of Bruce Anderson
Fire companies took no chances on the blaze following in the footsteps of an expensive tire fire under a major highway in Philadelphia which affected commuters and businesses over several months. Tire piles like the Starr accumulation can burn for weeks causing the rubber to decompose into oil and can pollute ground and surface water. This fire was in the processed tires
DEP is overseeing the removal of millions of waste tires from the site, processing the tires into high-value mats, playground surfaces or carpet underlayments. Tires also can be used for fuel or civil engineering projects like backfill for walls and bridge abutments or for approved on-lot septic system installations. Whole tires can be used for erosion control, crash barriers and artificial reefs.
We show a total of 31 pictures of the Starr Tire Fire, thanks to our own pictures and those supplied by Bruce Anderson and Robbie Karschner. The Press Enterprise in their Sunday edition have some excellent pictutes at the fire scene.
The Benton firemen sprayed 93 gallons of foam and approximately 30,000 gallons of water. Sunday's Press Enterprise reported that about 40,000 gallons of water and 200 gallons of foam were used by all companies.Thirty-one fire fighters from the Benton Volunteer Fire Company responded to the 12:30 PM blaze and fought fumes, fire, wind and exhaustion all afternoon.
Fireman Jim Albertson got the prize for being the dirtiest when he returned from the fire. He is shown here receiving his "Saturday night bath."
As the plumes of smoke turned to white from the initial dense black smoke, fireman breathed a little easier for the first time. Large amounts of Class A foam were in route at the time from several sources to help with the blaze.
We have lots of pictures for you, thanks to Robby Karschner who snapped the pictures that you can see here. These pictures were generally snapped quickly, but all are shown.
Activities for kids at the O.A.T.S. Festival beginning Thursday will be listed the day before the activity takes place. The OATS Kidz Korner is supported by Benton Coins and Collectibles, 99 Main Street, Benton, 925-1055, whose hours are 10 AM to 5 PM daily, closed Wednesdays and Sundays. The shop has an extensive inventory of US and foreign coins and paper money and is an authorized dealer in White’s metal detectors and Champion safes.
The Benton Dam as it looked on this date in 2004
June 23, 2007.
The Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center is attempting to accomplish a number of things with volunteer help in order to keep the costs of opening the Center to an absolute minimum. Volunteers on Friday built an extra level of protection into the walls of the gym by putting up studding around the bottom eight feet of the gym walls. Today, volunteer help will install 3/4 inch plywood and will concentrate on finishing a gym storage area where a portable stage can be kept, as well as gym equipment. Hi-impact drywall will eventually cover the walls. By doing this, indoor soccer can be played in the gym and future maintenance will be kept to a minimum. The Center can use your volunteer help today beginning at 8:30 this morning. There will be jobs for all age groups. Your help is sincerely appreciated.
As the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center nears completion, there are things that are needed for the Center and in the coming weeks we will list some of them on the outside chance that a reader would have what the Center is looking for or would be willing to purchase and donate the item. Please understand that if the item is used it must be in good to excellent condition for it to be considered. This list will expand daily. You can find the list here.
The Saturday Press Enterprise reported that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has granted $670,000 to Columbia County to replace the 103-foot long West Paden bridge, the missing link from the Twin Bridges at Forks. The bridge was lost in the No-Name storm of June 28, 2006. Lycoming Supply of Williamsport submitted a non-compliant bid of $632,570 for the replacement of the missing span of the former Burr Arch bridge. The contractor did not include a "conceptual drawing" of the completed bridge in the submission of his bid. It will be up to PennDOT to determine if this requirement can be waived. The conceptual drawing of the completed bridge is important since the county used a "design-build" approach that provided only rough specifications in seeking bids. There were no other bidders. The former bridge, structure #79003179 on the National Register of Historic Places, was built by W. C. Pennington in 1884.
The East Paden Bridge immediately following the loss of the West Paden
Esther Vincent has a lot of grass to cut and years of experience in doing it, but this week bent her glasses badly when they dropped onto her mower deck. She needed her glasses to continue mowing, so she decided to try to get to Bloomsburg for repairs. First, she needed gas for the car. She stopped at Uni-Mart and fumbled around trying to read what was on the pumps. A stranger began talking with her and she explained what had happened. He said he would fix the glasses, and because of his wife and children in the car Esther believed him. He corrected the problem immediately. Later he explained that he was an Optometrist from Wilkes-Barre and lived at Harveys Lake. He was driving to see family in Ohio via a fill up at a local gas station. Nice things happen in small towns...
. July 13, 2007. Friday night from 6:30 to 8:30 PM the Brew-Grass Grandes will perform free at the Bakery Antiques Company, 230 Main Street, Benton. If you love bluegrass music, be prepared to tap your toes to some fine pickin' and some soulful harmonies. This band of local musicians will perform as a house band at The Bakery Antiques Company. You will be hearing much more from this group over the coming months. Call 570 925-5186 for more information.
. July 21, 2007. Iron Heritage Festival, Danville. Celebrate town history and the Iron Age from 1829 to 1950 during this event featuring artisans demonstrating skills of the past, a garden symposium, train rides, a baseball game and fireworks. Call 570 275-6700.
• July 21, 2007. Waller Ice Cream Festival, Saturday, 4-7 PM, Waller Memorial Hall. Sponsored by Waller United Methodist Women. Homemade ice cream, pies, cake, bean soup, hot dogs, barbecue, soda, ice tea, coffee.
Congratulations to Jim Albertson, on the dean's list as a computer forensics major at Bloomsburg University with a 3.6 GPA for the 2007 spring semester. Jim is a 2005 Benton High School graduate, the son of David Albertson, Waller, and Donna Russel, Lebanon. Jim will be a junior at Bloomsburg University,
Monday will be an interesting day in Harrisburg when the transportation plan comes to a vote. At issue is the potential for making I-80 a toll road similar to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Later in the week, both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate will address legislation to ban smoking in nearly all indoor public areas, including bars, restaurants and workplaces.
There is an Open House at the McClure House from 1 to 4 this afternoon. The old fort is on the river road known as McClure Boulevard, south of the Town Park, Bloomsburg. Certainly we have all heard about the Fort, but how many of us know much about it? We hope that you take time from your busy schedule today to attend the open house and experience the history of the former Fort, but if you can't here are some things that you are going to miss.
The spot where you'll stand along the beautiful Susquehanna River is very scenic and historic, one of the more famous landscapes in all of Columbia County. There is little that is more distinctive in the county than the sweep of the river and when the leaves are off the trees visible in the distance is the gentle curve of Knob Mountain, and the now feeble flow of Fishingcreek.
With that as a background, close your eyes and think of the past, of the history of the fort during the anxious days and nights of its infancy during the wilderness days of our county. It is little wonder that the white man and the red man fought for control of this area. Consider the courage and daring of those who dared protect our forefathers, and slowly turn around so that you can fully measure the tranquility you feel at being able to live in a country where, because of people like the ones we are going to tell you about, the bloody raids that once characterized this fort are a distant memory in our lives.
If we have an interest in any of the early settlers of the area, it should be the McClure family. Think, for a second, of the turmoil when McClure arrived here in 1772 from the Lancaster area with his wife and children and settled on what he called McClure's Choice by authority of a patent obtained from the heirs of William Penn. If you track this ownership back even further to 1769, the tract was known as Beauchamp, and contained a little less than 300 acres.
Guides will tell you about Col. James McClure who died here on October 4, 1850, the youngest son of the original owner, the first white child born in this section of Pennsylvania. You'll hear about three stockades built around dwellings and the outbuildings of early settlers: Fort Wheeler, Fort McClure and Fort Jenkins.
About 1778, a lieutenant by the name of Van Campen and a Captain by the name of Salmon were sent to the mouth of Fishingcreek where they made their way upstream for the purpose of fortifying the area. The site they selected was on the farm of a Mr. Wheeler. He had a daughter who looked pretty darn good to the away-from-home soldiers and they vied for her hand in marriage. Rank has its privileges, and the Captain and Annie married. They had a son who became sheriff of Columbia County in 1834.
Moses van Campen found himself in trouble in 1778 when ten Indians killed and scalped his father and he was made to march up what was called Fishingcreek Path from the Susquehanna River through Benton and Sugarloaf Township to Long Pond (now Ganoga Lake) and on to what was called Tunkhannock Creek. Van Campen and two others escaped, stole a river raft and floated back in the night to the safety of the forts in the Bloomsburg and Sunbury area.
Van Campen returned to the McClure homestead where Mrs. McClure and her daughter, Margaret, needed a stockade fort around her house. Van Campen turned his attention to Margaret and his building skills to construction of the stockade in 1781. When you go to the fort today, you'll stand on the exact spot where Moses Van Campen once stood although what you see may no longer be original; after all, the construction took place over 225 years ago. But if you look closely at the old logs, you'll certainly notice the cuts of the axe and the absence of cuttings from a sawmill. The stones of the foundation don't show the marks of a mason chiseling on rock, but were laid up as they were carried from the bed of Fishingcreek. The fort was made by the sheer brute force of manual labor with only limited benefit of tools. You can read an interesting article about Fort McClure and visit the website for the Fort McClure Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Major Moses Van Campen is a hero to many people, whether they are from Angelica, New York, where he lived in his later years, or those who know of his exploits in the local area. Benton at one time even had a hotel named in his honor. Van Campen was born in New Jersey in 1757, the son of a family originally from Holland who came to Pennsylvania, settling in Northampton County near the Delaware River. Moses found his way to Northumberland where he met James McClure who induced him to stay to help the settlers in their continuing battle with the Indians. Van Campen remained in the area of the Forks of the Susquehanna until the end of the Border Indian War.
About the end of the year in 1783, Moses Van Campen and Miss Margaret McClure were married. Van Campen took over the family estate, later moved to Briarcreek, and still later, around 1796, moved to Allegany County in New York state. Margaret McClure Van Campen died in Dansville, New York in March, 1845, and the aging retired Major, 92, died four years later.
Robert H. Smith (January 8, 1930-May 18, 2007), passed away recently at his home at 107 Wildwood Dr. Somerset, Kentucky. He was 77. He was a son of the late Harley and Eileen Bittenbender Smith, Benton. Bob graduated from Benton High School and Stroudsburg State Teachers College. He was a Marine veteran of the Korean War and a recipient of the Purple Heart Medal. He began work with the JC Penny Co. as a manager in a store in Paramus, New Jersey, and continued managing other stores for many years before retiring. He is survived by his wife Diane McGrath Smith, Somerset; a son, Scott Smith (Becky), Atlanta, GA; a daughter, Susan Smith Lewis (Greg), Cincinnati, Ohio; a step-son, Donald Park (Melissa), Menominee, MI; a step-daughter, Darlene Park, Aroura, IL; four grandchildren, George Lewis, Lindsey Lewis, Robert Smith, and Amy Smith; three step-grandchildren, Austin Park, Braden Park, and Marin Park. Memorial services for Robert were held on May 22, 2007, at the Chapel of Wyoming Presbyterian Church in Wyoming, Ohio.
June 22, 2007. Jim Remley and Bernie Shultz celebrate birthdays today. Happy wedding anniversary to Carl and Crystal Faust, Orangeville. Sunrise this morning will be at 5:32 AM. Sunset, at 8:42 PM. There are 92 days until the official start of autumn.
The newspaper industry has changed over the years. In the year 1898, the following newspapers were published in Columbia County: Berwick Independent, Columbia County Republican (Bloomsburg), Columbian and Bloomsburg Democrat, Bloomsburg Democratic Sentinel, Bloomsburg Daily Sentinel, Catawissa News Item, Danville Intelligencer, Montour American, Danville Sun, Danville News, and Millville Tablet. (Source: Columbia County Historical & Genealogical Society).
Many will remember when...
• Ed Schuyler, Sr. served his community both as a sportswriter and editor of the Morning Press. Schuyler started with the Morning Press in 1923 and his career with the newspaper spanned 47 years . He wrote a daily column known as "Fanning," although as I remember he never signed the column with his name nor allowed a picture of him to appear alongside the column. He was inducted into the Bloomsburg University Sports Hall of Fame in 1989. He helped develop Bloomsburg's Town Park.
• the national anthem was played at movie houses before the start of film features.
• Grand opening of the Bakery Antique Company, Main Street, Benton. The third floor will open to the public for the first time. Chris Dawson from the Old Filling Station will stop by with finger food. There will be a free drawing and some surprises.
• Summer Festival at the Ol' Country Barn, 10 AM to 5 PM.
• Auction this morning at 10 at 230 Fifth St. Benton, third house from Market Street. Under tent. Lunch available. Bring chairs. Watch for signs.
• Volunteers are needed at the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center about 8:30 AM to help put up siding and roofing or to help assemble library shelves. Please bring a cordless screwdriver or similar tools.
• Founders’ Day, Tunkhannock. Celebrate the town’s history during this event featuring local crafts, specialty foods, street actors, historic displays and musicians. 836-0765.
June 26 to 28, 2007. The Wild Canines from 9 AM to noon at Ricketts Glen State Park. Through various activities, games, stories and exploration, this program will give youngsters an opportunity to study animal behavior, learn tracking skills and identification, and create some tracks of their own. For ages 9-12. Call 477-5675 for more information.
• July 6 and 7, 2007. The tenth anniversary Briggs Farm Blues Festival at the Briggs Farm, on Route 239, Nescopeck. Tickets are $15 for one day in advance and until July 5 and $20 at the gate. Advance camping ticket is $55 per adult on or before July 6 and $65 at the gate. More than a dozen performers and groups will be at the festival which will be held rain or shine. For information, call 379-2003.
• through July 15. Pots, Prints and Pods, abstractions from nature presented by Jeff Krankoskie and Deborah K. Rhodes at the Artspace Gallery, 221 Center St., Bloomsburg. Call 784-0737 for information.
The local area got a plug when Rider Magazine listed the Brass Pelican Restaurant as a place to include on a trip. Marcia Kay and I found out about it while eating breakfast with Allen and Shirley Roberts and Richard Lehet at the restaurant. Ed Vansant, Binghamton, New York, had a pained look on his face, which formed the basis for a conversation. Turns out that he was experiencing buckwheat cakes for the first time. He rode his motorcycle from Binghamton, New York, on the recommendation of the national magazine. He did show mild amusement when others in the restaurant referred to the city as "Bimington," as we locally often do. The road trip will eventually be listed on Rider Magazine's web site, www.ridermagazine.com/, but it had not been posted at this writing.
Lawmakers in Harrisburg currently seem to be in favor of making I-80 toll and then in a "rob Peter to pay Paul" maneuver would borrow against future toll revenues to generate new funding. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission would pay a lease fee to the state to manage I-80 as a toll road. An argument is that if evil doers stopped to pay a toll when they arrive in our state someone might deter any crimes they were about to commit. Oh, dear, oh, dear! Anyway, a vote on the measure was delayed Thursday night until Monday, after debating the issue in the House until 11 o'clock last night. If the measure gets initial approval Monday, the bill would still face a final vote before it could be sent to the Senate.
Didja know that U.S. Route 220 is 680 miles long and sections are or will be known in places as Interstate 73 (North Carolina) and Interstate 99 (Pennsylvania). Back in 1927, US 220 absorbed most of U.S. Route 711, which had run from Northumberland north to the New York state line. The portion south of Muncy was already part of U.S. Route 120. Former US 220 north to the state line at Lawrenceville became part of an extension of U.S. Route 111. Originally, Route 220 was a north-south highway that passed through various county seats: Towanda, Laporte, Williamsport, Lock Haven, Bellefonte, Hollidaysburg, continuing south through West Virginia, Virginia and ending at Rockingham, NC. The highway was designed and built to accommodate 30 mile per hour cars and Sunday drivers.
Donations to help Bruce and Sandra Young, whose house burned in Jackson Township, last Saturday can be made at any branch of Columbia County Farmers National Bank.
I have decided that I won't run for President in November, 2008. On the Democratic side, there is the frontrunner and polarizing Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), the charismatic Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), former Senator John Edwards (D-NC) and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM). There is also former Vice President, Al Gore, waiting in the wings for the call. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, never really a Republican, might end up as a "spoiler," but hardly a credible candidate as an independent. On the Republican side, Sen. John McCain, the onetime front-runner for the presidential nomination, is tied for fifth place in Iowa and fourth place in South Carolina. Sen. Fred Thompson appears to be on the rise as does former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, while Giuliani appears to be slowing down a little. Anyway, if I did run for President against these fine people I could not be elected. One of the reasons is that I was once fired from a job and the press would make fodder out of me.
Just in case I do decide to run, I best come clean up front. Back in 1957, Kelly Brewer, Orangeville, recruited three of us from the Benton area following graduation from high school to work for the tree-trimming outfit, Asplundh, Inc., to spray underbrush from power lines. Allen Roberts, Jonestown, got a job first; David Dodson and I signed up late that Friday afternoon. We were told to report to New Jersey to spray brush killer under transmission lines beginning at daylight Monday morning. Allen signed on first and recruited the two of us so he was made the "boss," and was paid 10¢ an hour premium. David Dodson and I were the lackeys, the ones who dragged hoses and sprayed poison. Allen's job was to drive the water truck. Somehow the easier job was to walk and spray. The engine of the water truck threw off huge amounts of heat, so much that our lunch every single day was a can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup for each of us. We heated the cans on the manifold of the truck, ate the soup straight from the can and worked through the heat of the day, essentially skipping a formal lunch period.
The reason I won't bother to run for President occurred on the day that David Dodson and I got fired. We would take turns giving Allen a break from driving the water truck by alternating driving and spraying. A high muckety-muck in the company walked onto the job one day and I was taking my turn driving. I got fired because I wasn't doing the job I was hired to do, and had (temporarily) displaced the boss. David Dodson didn't take kindly to me being fired for essentially doing the same thing that he did from time to time, so he spoke up and suddenly both of us were unemployed. Somehow, I don't think that the country is ready for a President who has been fired, so, as I said, I am not going to be a candidate for President in 2008.
The water truck and the spray gang, plus "dressed-up" unidentified men. From the right, Allen Roberts in his GI hat, unidentified, David Dodson (deceased), David Kline, the rest unidentified. The picture was taken in Front Royal, Virginia, on a very hot summer day.
Didja hear about the wise man who advised an incoming President to prepare three envelopes? During the first year, when the going got tough he was to open the first envelope. The message in the envelope read, "Blame the guy who had the job before you." If things were still not smooth in the second year, he was to open the second envelope. The paper in that envelope said "Blame Congress." At the end of the next year, when he was battered and bloody, he was to open the third envelope and read its message: "Prepare three envelopes."
Thursday, June 21, 2007. Jeff and Sandra Kelsey celebrate their anniversary as do Fred and Florence DePoe who are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. On the birthday side are Joseph Robert Pascale, Don Miller, Sheila Thompson and Max Hartman. Today is the first full day of summer in the northern hemisphere, the longest day of the year and the shortest night. Summer officially begins with the solstice at 2:06 PM EDT. Both Ruth Sutliff Phillips and Elizabeth "Libby" Lewis were released from the hospital Wednesday.
Congratulation are in order to Jessica and Ken Lewis, King of Prussia. On Monday, the couple will arrive in Guatemala for the formal adoption of Wilmar Kenneth Lewis. The maternal grandparents are John and Shirley Kitchen. Lila Allen, Benton, and Ken Lewis, Bloomsburg, are the paternal grandparents.
Looking for information on the Millville Carnival? Go here.
There is a $100 reward to persons reporting Borough vandalism and/or theft upon the arrest and conviction of the reported person. Reports should be made to the Benton Police at 925-5432.
From time to time I get busy and have Staff Reporter Buster, a Bichon Frise, to write a column. He has written one for today, and it follows...
I saw Mother getting ready to go somewhere yesterday. She was wearing a purple dress and a red hat and Leader was telling her something about old women wearing purple with a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit her and I didn't understand any of that. How nice it is not to have to put on a lot of extra things when I go out of the house and how nice my bed is beside Leader's desk where I can guard him from the mousies that I occasionally hear outside the house. Every once in awhile, I allow Leader to take me to the nasty lady who bathes me and cuts my hair. Every day Leader gives me a biscuit when he thinks I have been good. I take drinks of water, then climb up beside Leader and lie quietly as if I am asleep listening to the sounds he makes when he watches the evening news and I know everything is OK.
I love to demand a walk when Leader dozes off, or just before bed or a few minutes after visitors come to where I live. I calm people's nerves by letting them pat my head and stroke my back. I listen to the stories that Leader tells people about the fine things that I do and I don't get disagreeable when he calls me "him."
I have never told Leader and Mother how much I love then--until now. I give them exercise when the grass that I eat doesn't agree with me, as they prepare the food exactly the way that I demand, when I drink dirty water out of my dish to give them a complex. I take them for walks and permit a collar around my neck so they don't get lost when we are outside. I try not to get embarrassed when Leader wears short pants when it is cold. I rest my chin on his feet in the winter to keep him warm and I eat what he spills from his dinner plate so the floor doesn't get messy. I bark incessantly to remind Leader that I need to eat regularly.
As soon as I finish my nap in his easy chair I retrieve the ball for him when he throws it. Once he tricked me by going to the window and yelling, "Here comes the cat." When I flew to the window like a fire engine, he walked to my chair and sat down and took a nap. That trick won't ever happen again.
I allow him to think of me as the smartest in the pack. I know my eyes fill with love for him and I always want to snuggle up and lick his hands and think wonderful thoughts about him. He is special among all the pack.
A report that I heard from the back yard, difficult to track down but believed to be accurate from a big Golden Retriever that I consider reliable says that that Leader is getting old, his walk is slower, his naps more frequent, his outings with me taking less time. I will accept him for what he is and what he has always been to me. I appreciate his every moment in my life and I intend to take care of him until he is no longer able to lead the pack. If you have a Leader and a Mother in your life, you understand.
Lou and Angie Traini stopped at the house Tuesday for a visit, and it was truly "Old Home Week" as the couple toured our home, the house they called home for many years when Lou worked at the Benton Air Force Station. The area lost a fine couple when they headed to Maryland.
Another "visiting fireman" will arrive Back Home in Benton, PA, next week for a two-week stay. Richard Sutliff, Aurora, Illinois, will visit the O.A.T.S. Bluegrass Festival June 28 through July 1. Richard just finished "celebrating the 50th anniversary of the incident that came close to putting out my candles." As Richard told it, "It was a hot, sultry afternoon on Pennsylvania Route 45 southwest of Milton as I motored along in a car without air-conditioning on my way home on a two-week leave from my Air Force radar tech job at Rockville, Indiana."
Richard had been driving the back roads for nearly 18 hours straight on that hot June day in 1957. Suddenly gravel began striking the undercarriage of his 1953 Ford. Richard saw a utility pole coming straight at him. Richard laid across the seat as the pole surrendered to his two-ton weapon of mass destruction. He reached down to put the brakes on but the pedal went all the way to the floor, and the car continued to roll along. He rode the storm until the car stopped about 100 yards off the highway.
Carefully, he opened the door, looked for downed wires, saw none, and started to alight from the car. Alas, roughly 50 yards away was another car, upside down, its wheels spinning furiously and people climbing out of it. He thought to himself that it was strange that two cars would have separate accidents together. Of course, that was not the case. He had fallen asleep, and his trusty Ford had swerved off the highway into a field where the collision occurred.
The other driver said he was trying to get away from his out-of-control vehicle but the cars came together about 50 yards off the highway fifty feet or so from a farmer on his tractor.
No one was hurt and obviously Richard was at fault. The insurance paid for everything except for the utility pole--a bill for $54 from the Buffalo Valley Telephone Company.
Will an accident like this ever happen to Richard again? Probably not, since he says "To this day, if I feel the least bit tired, I will pull over some place and take a nap. In fact, I've been known to pull over and sleep a mile or two from my destination." A lesson well learned, I'd say.
Richard was born April 20, 1935, a son of Claude and Marguerite Sutliff. He graduated from the Benton schools with the Class of 1953. Alice Sutliff, Jamison City, is a second cousin and is one of the reasons Dick comes home.
Richard smoked his first cigarette in the Welle Hess bridge, beside George and Geraldine Follmer's farm (Geraldine was Richard's first- and second-grade teacher at Sugarloaf), with high-school classmate Bob Lewis. Slats on the side of the covered bridge were missing, and it made a convenient way of ditching a cigarette if a car came by. The first cigarette led to the first cigar. Richard recalled that his dad smoked King Edwards, only a nickel at the time. Richard knew the story of King Edward VII ascending to the throne, then proclaiming, "Gentlemen, you may smoke," thereby ending Queen Victoria's ban on smoking on the royal premises. Needless to say, the King earned a place in cigar history and Richard wanted to be part of that history.
He stole a cigar from his father, then peddled his bicycle over the covered bridge which many folks in Central called the "back bridge" and up Stevens Hill. Richard found a little cave on the side hill and lit his stolen cigar. Richard didn't know at the time that he was not supposed to inhale cigars and he proceeded to get really sick. With his head spinning he got on his bike and attempted to keep the bike between the two tracks in the gravel road, He went home and laid on the couch. His mother was in the kitchen and asked what was wrong. She went through a litany of questions--what was wrong, what were you doing, who were you with. Her last question was "How was that King Edward cigar you were smoking out there?" Aren't mothers something! He laid down for about an hour, and never smoked another one.
Richard has come a long ways from the days when he was "9 or 10 years old, 11 maybe" and rode his Hawthorne bicycle to Wilkes-Barre from Central to get tutored at WBRE-TV by Franklin D. Coslett, the anchorman for the station and the face of local news to viewers throughout the Northeastern Pennsylvania region. Richard speaks fondly of his mentor. "He is dead now, you know. Light Colonel. Rather distinguished military career. Always signed off with 'There you have it. You have it. That's the news.' He always saluted people." Richard's parents would drop Richard off at the studios in the two or three times a year when they would go to Wilkes-Barre "for serious shopping." On a day when we have more time, I'll tell you the rest of the story about Richard and the facts of his mid-west career in the reporting of news.
• The Sullivan County Museum, Laporte, is now open for the summer Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1 to 5 PM through Labor Day weekend.
• If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?
• The state Senate Wednesday approved a $27 billion budget--a $709 million increase from last year--for fiscal year 2007-08 The budget now moves to the House of Representatives.
• The Benton Area High School Class of 1957 and some friends of the class are going to cruise to Nova Scotia and other ports. There has been a cancellation and one cabin is available. The seven-day cruise on the Carnival Victory begins September 8 from Back Home in Benton, PA, by bus to New York City from a central parking location in Benton. The Victory sails from New York City at 4 o'clock on the 8th, and returns to New York City at 8 AM September 15. The ports of call are New York, Boston, Portland, Maine, Saint John, NB, Canada, Halifax, NS, Canada, and back to New York. Two days are spent at sea. There are "inside" cabins, "outside" cabins and balcony cabins. The rates are $705, $855 and $1,005. Call David Kline, 925-6974, for additional information. The cabin must be booked by Friday in order to get these rates.*
* Rates (U.S. dollars) are per person, based on double occupancy. Government fees/taxes and optional air transportation are additional for all guests. Rates are subject to availability and may change without prior notice. Restrictions apply. Port charges did go up $10 as of January 1, 2007.
--The dreaded fine print!
• Ronald E. Hontz, Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, has penned an article of interest to Luzerne County readers which he calls The Struggles of Suldon Lozau & Minnie Lozau Smith, about the tough lives of his grandma and great grandpa. The article is part of his Pit Stops in the Road of Life series at home.att.net/~ronhontz/index.html.
• Dollar General shareholders are expected to approve the sale of the retail chain for $7.65 billion today. The sales price amounts to $22 a share.
June 20, 2007. Happy birthday to Gerri Newhart and Ed Vandergrift and happy anniversary to John and Jessica Geffken. Everyone is born on a special time and day. A calendar illustrates how special the day was that you were born. It tells how long you have been alive on this earth and when you were probably conceived, but doesn't bother going into the details of how you were conceived. After you've finished reading the information, click again, and see what the moon looked like the night you were born.
On this date in 1863, The National Bank of Philadelphia became the first bank to get a charter from the United States Congress.
In February, 1946, Frank C. Yost sold Yost's Restaurant "at the bridge" to Emerson Stoneham and Lee Yost. To many older residents, the Sub Shop is still called Yost's Restaurant, but after 1946, the Stoneham family set the table for their guests. The current owner is Becky Stoneham Green. Many of our friends who come Back Home to Benton, PA, often ask for a sub from the Sub Shop, skipping our home cookin' completely.
Jeremy Reese tells me that "we no longer have any barbers operating in Millville (only beauty salons) so one like myself who enjoys the conversation of a barber shop while getting his hair cut must travel elsewhere to find this valuable piece of Americana." I first ran into Jeremy in Ed Cole's Barber Shop, but regretfully I was doing so much talking that Jeremy never got a chance to say a word. Bill Mather happened to be in the shop, and Bill and I started talking about the Tannery--which became the nucleus of an article that I recently had in the Benton News about that former employer in Jamison City.
Jeremy's mention of the beauty salon reminded me of the old story about the new man in town who walked into the barber shop and asked for the works. As he was being shaved, he tried to make a little time with the manicurist, and casually mentioned dancing and dinner. The manicurist shyly said she didn't think that she should, after all she was married. The young buck laughingly suggested that she ask her husband if they could do some dancing. Her response was simply, "Ask him yourself. He is shaving you."
Jeremy is President of the Millville Community Fire Company, and said that the theme of their Fourth of July parade will be "Fireworks on the 4th of July." There will be two great fireworks shows this year for the 78th celebration of the carnival. The first show will be on July 4 at 10 PM, a new event of a low-level display on the little league field. There will also be a very large display on July 7 at midnight.
In tomorrow's Benton News, I'll include the complete lineup of events at the Millville Carnival June 29 through July 7. And I suppose I should tell you a little about the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center Golf Tournament July 21 at the Mill Race Golf Course. And heck tomorrow I should tell you about the August 25 horseshoe pitching tournament planned for the Community Center courts. Go to www.pennshoes.com/ to learn more, or wait and I'll get around to it soon.
A reader once found us by googling for "fritz, and wrote, "How about a little lesson on the origin of the term fritz as used when something doesn't work right, as in 'My toaster is on the fritz'"? We'll try...
Fritz: pronounced "frits."
. -n. On the fritz, not in working order: Our TV went on the fritz last night.
. -v. fritz out, to become inoperable.
We'll say right up front that we haven't a clue where the term came from. We know that at one time the word fritz was used in an offensive manner to describe a German soldier and it is a popular given name in the Benton area (Fritz). The word is commonly used when something is malfunctioning or broken: "Laptop Larry is on the fritz again," just as the Brits and the Australian would say that Larry is "on the blink." Some claim that fritz is an imitation of the pfzt noise from a faulty electrical connection or the sound of a fuse blowing, but the word actually was around both before the invention of electricity and before the nickname for a German soldier in the first World War.
The word may actually have come from someone called Fritz, someone like "Fritz" in the comic strip The Katzenjammer Kids. In this strip, two youngsters called Hans and Fritz get involved in all sorts of capers, fouling things up to the point of putting everyone involved "on the Fritz." Rudolph Dirks created The Katzenjammer Kids in 1897 for the American Humorist, the Sunday supplement of the New York Journal. Inspired by Max Und Moritz, the German children's stories of the 1860s, The Katzenjammer Kids featured the adventures of Hans and Fritz, twins and foes of any form of authority. "The Katzies" rebelled against their mother, called Mama, der Captain (the father-image shipwrecked sailor and der Inspector (the dreaded representative of school authorities).
Take a break from the hectic pace of life and listen to some of the comedy of Aaron Wilburn by going here.
Wayne Baker sent along a 27-year-old article from the Country Impressions about recognition given by Jeff Farley, owner of the Sweet Valley Golf Course for four men who played his course each week: George Fisher, 70; Robert Kline, 83; Harry Katerman, 84; and Karl Fritz, 86. The four men had a total age of 323 years and an accumulated handicap of 92. Fisher and Katerman lived in Bloomsburg. The four were members of the Susquehanna Valley Retired Men's Association and started golfing together through that club. The four would golf in the mornings before the heat of the day--and never used a golf cart--then enjoyed lunch together. The courses they enjoyed included the Country Club, Mill Race, Sugarloaf and Cherokee at Elysburg.
Incompatibility should be a word we all understand. When a husband loses his job, notice how quickly his wife loses her patibility.
Lee Eugene "Gene" Greenly (January 5, 1957-June 19, 2007), Sportsman Club Road, Orangeville, died Tuesday morning from injuries sustained in an accident involving an overturned payloader. He was pronounced dead at his home early Tuesday morning. He was 50. Born at the Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, he was a son of Lee and Caroline (Snyder) Greenly, Millville. He was a 1975 graduate of Millville High School and lived his adult life in the Rohrsburg area. He owned and operated Greenly Heating and Air Conditioning. Surviving are his wife, Kay L. (Allegar) Greenly, and his two children: Wade E. Greenly (Melissa), Talmar; and Heather Ellsworth (Peter) Columbia Falls, Montana; a sister, Carol Selby, Houston, Texas; four nephews; and his mother and father-in-law Robert and Lois Allegar, Stillwater. Funeral services will be held Friday at 10 AM at the McMichael Funeral Home, Inc. Burial will be in St. James Cemetery. Friends and relatives may call Thursday evening from 6 to 8 PM at the funeral home.
--Obituary courtesy of the McMichael Funeral Home. A complete obituary will be published in the Press Enterprise in the Wednesday edition.
June 19, 2007. Happy birthday to Sherry Jones, Judy Paul and Ricky D. Karns. Today is the anniversary of the day that the United States Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
• Congratulations will soon be in order for Howard Leh who will graduate from Wesley Theological Seminary on July 19.
• John Deeter was bit on the hand Saturday near Noxen by a timber rattlesnake. This is the second time John has been bitten by a rattlesnake. The first time protective leg chaps he was wearing protected him. This time, the fangs of the snake penetrated his hand by an estimated quarter of an inch. John "kept his cool" and found help after driving his truck away from the blow-down timber that he was marking for a timber sale. Death due to a rattlesnake bite is unlikely. Rattlesnakes control the injection of venom when biting saving their potent injections for food gathering. John received one of the estimated 60% of all poisonous snake bites to humans that contain no venom. Edd Sidinger told us that the rattlesnake suffered no injury from biting John's hand!
• Libby Lewis remains a patient in the Bloomsburg Hospital as does Ruth Sutliff Phillips. Ruth has pneumonia.
As we get older, our ability to hear diminishes. As the story goes, a senior, puffy as a pastry and deaf as a rock, laid out $4,000 for a new hearing aid, "state of the art," he said. A neighbor asked him what kind it was and his response was simply "Twelve thirty."
Robert Dunkelberger, archivist for the Bloomsburg University and member of the Columbia County Historical and Genealogical Society came to the Brass Pelican Monday as a featured speaker at the North Mountain Historical Society. His packed PowerPoint presentation paralleled his book, The Future Comes to Columbia County: The Era of the Trolleys, 1901-1926. The presentation was about the local trolleys that once served "Bloomsburgers" who traveled between Danville, Catawissa, Bloomsburg and Berwick.
Thanks to historians like Bob Dunkelberger, we can learn about a subject that otherwise would be lost to the years. His book is for sale at the Brass Pelican restaurant and we recommend that you take the time to read it.
Photo by Richard Shoemaker
The subject has always been an interesting one, especially for those who can remember the devastation of Hurricane Agnes--named as a hurricane on this date in 1972. Agnes moved into Pennsylvania starting June 21, 1972. She became nearly stationary over Pennsylvania by the morning of June 23. The rainfall from June 20-25 reached 18 inches in the Susquehanna River basin. On Thursday night, June 22, Agnes wiped out sixty homes in Shickshinny and Mocanaqua. At Harrisburg, the Susquehanna rushed more than a half-mile out of its banks. Pennsylvania had a reported $2.1 billion in damages and 48 deaths, making Hurricane Agnes the worst natural disaster ever to hit the state, a declared disaster area by President Richard Nixon. At other locations between Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre, towns like Bloomsburg felt the fury. Only the March, 1904, flood was worse in Bloomsburg's history and only by water depth of a few feet.
One of the hardest hit locations in the town of Bloomsburg was the Magee Transportation Museum along Millville Road, once one of the most interesting trolley-car museums in the country . The flood swept across the Magee property, destroying track and overhead wires beyond any hope of repair. Harry Magee, possibly overwrought by the devastation of the flooding and possibly the result of a childhood spinal injury, began to have his health slip. On October 9, 1972, Harry Magee died, and the museum died with him.
The autos and carriages from the Magee Museum were cleaned of mud and his heirs sold most of the vehicles, then held an auction June 16, 1973, to get rid of the rest. The New York Museum of Transportation in Rush, New York, just south of Rochester, got much of their collection from this auction. One of the cars went back home to New York state as a result of Agnes. New York State Railways Rochester & Eastern trolley #157 provided transit service in the Finger Lakes until 1930 and later was converted into a retreat for a minister on Irondequoit Bay, New York, until it was acquired by the Magee Museum. Following the Agnes flood, the car went to the New York Museum of Transportation.
Edward Blossom is an important name to remember in the preserving and restoring of electric trolleys. Ed had bought Danville & Bloomsburg streetcars #10 and 11 after their service life was over. They had been converted to cottages after being abandoned for almost 40 years. Harry Magee, owner of the Magee Carpet Company, Bloomsburg, helped Ed preserve the two trolley bodies. Magee agreed to let Ed store them in a barn at Crescent Farm on Millville Road about two miles north of Bloomsburg.
The two men had a vision of a museum featuring operating trolley cars. Crescent Farm became the site where the vision would become reality, and the Magee Transportation Museum was formed. Ed took a full-time position with Magee’s museum, and in 1968 and 1969 worked around the clock without regard for his diabetic condition to restore two cars originally from Rio de Janeiro. He slept in the trolley workshop and resumed his work each morning at daybreak.
Ed was instrumental in the construction of the museum’s rail line and installation of the overhead wires to power the cars. By 1964, Ed was the manager of electric railway operations at Magee's transportation museum. The public loved the Magee operation of classic autos and carriages, the antique music boxes, and the open trolleys from a previous age. Ed was responsible for both the construction of the demonstration railway loop and the restoration of car bodies from Rio de Janeiro and from Pittsburgh Railways.
When the Magee Museum closed, Ed had no place to store his trolley equipment. The way the New York museum people tell it, Ed dismantled the Magee trolley overhead wires, received his final paycheck and was given notice to vacate the premises immediately. He single-handedly moved his Lehigh Valley Transit interurban, #801, in one day to a new storage location.
Ed made the 210-mile trip to the fledgling New York Museum of Transportation museum site outside of Rochester many times, usually via U.S. 220 through Dushore. Ed, with the help of some friends, established the Dushore Car Company on Railroad Street in Dushore on the site of the original State Line & Erie Railroad. The influence of the trolley continued in Dushore. A popular destination today is the Jolly Trolley Variety Store, at the red light in downtown Dushore.
Three years later, the Dushore Car Co. restoration shop moved again, this time to a two-track car barn adjacent to the Topton-Kutztown branch of the former Reading Railroad in Berks County.
The idea of a trolley museum in Scranton was gaining favor, and in 1984 a trolley division of Steamtown was inaugurated and within the year Ed moved former Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company/SEPTA 7 from Topton to Scranton. He soon moved himself, his dozen or so cats and his restoration business to Scranton. Ed then contributed to the formation of the Electric City Trolley Station and Museum at Steamtown .
If you would like more information about Electromobiles, a visit to the Electric City Trolley Museum, Scranton, is in order. The museum is open seven days a week during the summer months from 9 AM to 5 PM. The entrance is at Cliff Street, on the grounds of the Steamtown National Historic Site, exit 185 off I-81. Additional information on The Museums of Harry L. Magee is available in a book by the same name by Pat Parker. For additional information on Ed Blossom, go here. The Future Comes to Columbia County: The Era of the Trolleys, 1901-1926 is available at the Brass Pelican Restaurant and other locations. The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, 285 miles from Back Home in Benton, PA, located south of Pittsburgh, houses the oldest known trolley car in existence and has about 45 preserved trolley cars.
June 18, 2007. Happy anniversary today to Allen and Michele Turner. Don't forget the monthly North Mountain History Group meets this morning at 8. A fine program on the Future Coming to Columbia County is lined up. Keep Elizabeth "Libby" Lewis, 89, in your prayers as she recovers from pneumonia in the Bloomsburg Hospital.
The calendar points out that there are three days until the official start of summer. Summer follows the world clock, which uses the old Greenwich Mean Time, officially beginning June 21 at 2:06 PM EDT.
Those of us from an older generation remember singing songs like In the Good Ole Summertime and nonsense songs at Camp Lavigne about people like John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmitt and listening to the Beach Boys go on about their Endless Summer.
John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt,
That’s my name too,
Whenever I go out,
The people always shout,
John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt
When I was growing up, I was free to swim at the Benton dam or at the rock hole, I could play baseball or haul my butt onto the bleachers at the park and watch former high school baseball players whiz around the bases. It was a time for making hay and watching as Dave Floyd's combine swept from farm to farm and field to field daylight to dark, his flashing eyes always glancing at the sky watching for any signs of rain. It was a time to make a little money and to put some away for college. It was a time I dreamed of nine months out of the year and rejoiced when it arrived. It was a time to cut and stack wood and a time when Mother's garden always needed weeding, and that always fell on my shoulders. Mowing the lawn was a chore and no fun--and has remained so into my senior years.
All the chores that were piled on our shoulders prepared us for the difficult road of life that lay ahead. We were busy and we didn't always like it, but we can sit back today and observe that it is an element that is missing from many children of this generation. Watch how busy the workers are at the Sub Shop or the Taste Crème and I betcha if you were to talk to the people who have to pay the bills and keep those restaurants running they would say finding enough good people to work is one of the hardest parts of the restaurant business.
When I was growing up, summer didn't begin at this time in June. Summer began when school was over for the year, which meant that our friends from Millville celebrated the start of summer on a slightly different day than our friends from the Bloomsburg area, and much of that depended on the number of snow days--those popular winter breaks from school that turned not so popular in the summer when the end of school could be delayed if we had too many of them. Usually by the "old start of summer" I had taken my first swim in Fishingcreek, pretending all the while that it was not as cold as my shaking made it out to be. I also had friends who started their summers much earlier, electing to start to coincide with their father's need for summer help on the farm.
Summer meant taking off our shoes until school resumed. I can proudly say that I could run along the path beside the old Bloomsburg and Sullivan railroad tracks in my bare feet. Today, I immediately feel a pebble under the leather of my shoes! Summer was a time for dreaming, a time to count the hours until the carnival and the beloved fireman's parade arrived in town. I would sit under a buttonwood tree along Fishingcreek talking about girls with my friends, but would be too shy to talk to girls in person. I would wait each day to see the train slowly making its way into town. I would always stop what I was doing and watch it sway its way up the tracks, doing exactly what it did every day it came to Benton. I still do the same when I see a train or a bear in the wild or a deer in a field or a flock of turkeys ready to take cover.
Have you noticed that...
• if you sit with a man with a mustache for a few minutes he invariably touches it a couple of times?
• people who ask for stock tips yell the loudest when the market goes down?
• the term "mulligan" is really a contraction of the phrase "maul it again."
• flat girls don't look good to me when they emphasize flat.
• the people who make the most mistakes most often blame the other guy?
• when you don't mind playing golf in the rain, the snow, even during a hurricane, your life is in serious trouble.
I stopped at Ricketts Glen State Park Sunday to congratulate the staff on its recent designation in the top 10 in the United States for "up and coming" tourist attractions. Ellie Buckalew, Stillwater, was unfazed by my congratulations. She said, "Hey, we are in the top four at another site." She then proceeded to show me www.terntec.com/ricketts_glen.htm that has many fine pictures of hiking Ricketts Glen, along with a map of the park. And just as Ellie claimed, there were three other great hiking trails shown at that site. They included a 16.4 mile hike up Half Dome in the breathtaking Yosemite Valley, hiking the big island of Hawaii and the most popular hike in the Mid-Atlantic region--Old Rag, Virginia. I was pretty darn proud! I had hiked two of the four.
Ellie was an excellent tour guide for the beautiful Ricketts Glen Visitors Center and showed me the recent addition of the mounted Sullivan County black bear brought to the state park by Bill Williams, an upcoming speaker for the North Mountain Historical Association. She showed me all of the mounted donations that Mayor Jan Swan made to the park, an impressive list. And she showed me a picture of Robert Bruce Ricketts, 92, who made a surprise visit to the visitors center Saturday.
The aftermath of the hail storm in the Derrs area about 2 PM Saturday.
Hail measuring a reported 16" deep is neatly wind-rowed against a mobile home owned by Walter and Lori Cole, Derrs, near Little Fishing Creek. The hail measures to the bottom of the seats of the chairs in places, yet the grass is completely blown free of hail in the front of the picture. There were very few reportings of hail in the area Saturday, but those who got the hail really got nailed. The Cole family had damage from water eroding their driveway and from the hail.
June 17, 2007. Happy anniversary to Ed and Alice Allegar. Valerie Wojton, 22, has been diagnosed with leukemia and has begun chemo at the Hershey Medical Center. She is the daughter of David and Teresa Wojton, owners of Whispering Pines Camping Estates. Please keep Valerie, David and Teresa in your prayers.
Austin Wary, a 2006 graduate of Benton Area Junior/Senior High School, recently completed his first year at Pennsylvania College of Technology, where he is pursuing a B.S. degree in automotive technology management. He completed the year with a GPA of 3.36; his spring semester GPA of 3.7 placed him among the exceptional students named to the Pennsylvania College of Technology Dean's List. Austin is the son of Scott and Pat Wary, Stillwater, and the grandson of Carol Vance, Benton.
Readers want to know...
• A reader says that his family has taken the correct steps to protect their computer system, but their computer keeps getting re-infected. I suspect that the problem comes from someone in their own house, someone using the computer for activities that are questionable, downloading software with hidden code in it, going to web sites loaded with exploits, etc. I believe that if this behavior stops, so will the infections. Any good computer repairperson can fix the computer, but may stop short of mentioning the abuse problem. Talk to users of your computer and deal with the problem.
• A reader fell in love with cell-phone salesman Paul Potts and asked where she could hear more of his singing. Well, go to the talent show out of the United Kingdom, "Britain's got Talent." Paul has a good presence on Google. Learn to google and you will soon know three-quarters of everything you need to know about the internet.
Today's post comes from the hamlet of Piffard, New York, just outside the Town of York and the village of Geneseo. Piffard was settled about 1822 and named for a wealthy gentleman farmer David Piffard. It was here in 1837 that Major William H. Spencer purchased 3,000 acres of land after he retuned home from the War of 1812. He grew wheat and produced wool on the property. Here in 1850 he began building his Greek Revival home that he named Tuscarora for the Indians that once made their home there. Spencer never lived in the home, now known as Westerly, but died of a stroke before its completion. His widow finished the home and lived there with her children. Upon her death in 1864, ownership passed to her oldest son William.
William H. Spencer, Jr. married Julia Tyler, daughter of John Tyler (1790-1862), 10th president of the United States. In the spring of 1871, Julia Spencer's mother, Julia Gardiner Tyler, widow of the president and former mistress of the White House, arrived at the house to help her daughter through childbirth.
Julia Tyler Spencer died within hours after giving birth. The fireplace in her bedroom caught fire and her death is attributed historically to the shock and exposure of taking her from the bedroom and the house. A bucket brigade put the fire out. Her mother, the former president's wife, literally left her mark on the house. Using her diamond ring, she scratched her name in one of the windowpanes and began to do the same on a second window, but did not finish it. After all, the Genesee valley is a lonely place compared to the glitz and glamour of the nation's Capital. The window, with the name clearly visible, is still in place in the master bedroom of the house.
Spencer never recovered from his grief and sold the house in 1873 to Charles F. Wadsworth, oldest son of General James Wadsworth, one of the first in the United States to establish the shorthorn breed of cattle. The property was owned and occupied by this family for over 100 years. Later, the farm was used for breeding of thoroughbred race horses. Westerly has been a nationally registered historical landmark since 1974. Westerly is a manor house--a "large residential building with some architectural distinction central to a large estate."
The scratching of the president's wife's name on the window 136 years ago might seem a bit strange. After all, how would you account for the presence of the widow of John Tyler in rural western New York state? In 1844, Tyler, 51, two years after his first wife died in the White House, met Julia Gardner, then 22, under tragic circumstances. In a celebration to honor former President Washington on the anniversary of his birthday, both boarded a new warship, the Princeton, in Alexandria, Virginia, for a cruise down the Potomac River to Mount Vernon.
When the ship turned around at Mount Vernon for its return trip, the ship's guns were fired in salute to the President. A gun exploded, killing five including two Cabinet members and former State Senator David Gardiner, the owner of Gardiner's Island at the end of Long Island. Julia was Gardiner's daughter. The middle-aged widower who also happened to be President was attracted to the pretty young thing and a brief, but formal, courtship followed. The couple quietly married in New York City on July 25, 1844, and Julia presided over the social life of the White House for the remaining seven months of the President's term.
Julia was considerably younger than the president and the country went into shock. One writer noted "Infatuated old John Tyler was married today to one of those large fleshy Miss Gardiners. Poor, unfortunate, deluded old jackass!" He was frequently referred to as "His Accidency," since becoming a President without being elected was a concept no one seemed to have thought much about.
A painting of Julia hangs to this day in the dining room of Westerly and I would say that the President knew exactly what he was doing. His young bride bore him seven children, and I have found references where Tyler told a friend, "I have a houseful of goodly babies budding around me." The babies kept him happy and Julia kept him busy until the day he died 18 years after his second marriage.
Tyler, the first Vice President to become President through death of the incumbent, died in 1862 while serving in the Confederate Congress. Tyler fathered 15 children, eight by his first wife of 29 years. Over the next twenty years, his second wife would provide seven more. The third child of the second marriage, born in 1849 when Westerly was still in the planning phase, was named Julia, after her mother. In 1869, she married William Spencer, Jr., and the couple moved into the home.
And what of the baby? The motherless baby, christened Julia, was adopted by an aunt who lived for a time at Westerly. The former First Lady never again visited Westerly, filled with remorse from the house that held such sad memories for her. Only her name remains, still embedded in the windowpane.
June 16, 2007. Happy 28th today to Scott and Karen Edwards. There are lots of things to do today in the local area, including the "Save Our Bridges" Spring Festival from 7 this morning until 4 in the afternoon at the Orangeville Masonic Lodge. You can attend a Native American Pow-Wow from 10 AM today and Sunday at the Sullivan County Fairgrounds between Forksville and Worlds End State Park. Starting at 4 PM, you can have truly delicious ice cream at a social at the New Columbus Academy. And if you have any room left, beginning at 4 PM is the Ham Supper at the Waller United Methodist Church and the ham dinner at the Fairmount Township Fire and Ambulance Company, Route 118, near Ricketts Glen State Park.
Siding and roofing go on a 20 X 20 storage addition to the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center today. If you can handle a hammer, great. If not, carpenters will need people to hold siding in place while screws are added to it. The Center can use volunteer help, even just to hand material to the carpenters. If you could help, the Center really needs it. They don't want to pay prevailing rate just to do a small job.
VirtualTourist.com, the largest online travel research site and travel community in the world, has just announced its list of this summer's top 10 U.S. and international up-and-coming locales both in the United States and overseas. VirtualTourist is based on 100% user-generated travel comments from over five million travelers monthly. The organization lists places "before it's on the radar of the tourist masses," places with "spectacular offerings."
Places like Cody, Wyoming, the gateway to Yellowstone National Park; Xining, China, a main stop on the Qinghai-Tibet railway; Sitka, Alaska; San Ignacio, Belize; Crested Butte, Wyoming; and Olympic National Park, Washington, make the list. And this summer a local attraction made the list for the first time: Ricketts Glen State Park. Learn more by going to www.prweb.com/releases/virtualtourist/summer_travel/prweb533278.htm. This is a real honor for the folks at the park and for the local area and for the state of Pennsylvania.
Thinking of getting a Global Positioning System (GPS) for your car now that the price has dropped? A good place to start with GPS is http://gpsnow.com/ .
The Pennsylvania state government could come to a halt on June 30 as a result of its annual budget flap, according to the Patriot News. According to the newspaper, the Rendell administration has advised state lawmakers that about 26,000 "non-essential" state employees would be furloughed if the budget impasse runs past July 1. Another 58,000 would continue to work because they perform duties that are "essential" to the health, safety and welfare of citizens. The truth is that never once during the Rendell administration has a budget been finalized by the June 30 deadline and never once has the state government missed a beat.
An article in the Press Enterprise Friday hinted at school consolidations for the Benton Area School System as part of 34 potential consolidations that could save a combined $81 million a year in operating costs and potentially provide better academic choices for students--but don't count on it ever happening. There might be a willingness on the part of some to consolidate, but local community opposition would almost certainly override a consolidation effort. The plan is a little like voting for incumbents. No one likes the incumbent and everyone speaks out against the incumbent. Then when the election curtain is closed, the lever for the incumbent is yanked and back into office he goes. In the case of schools, there are too many economic differences, parents suddenly understand that it would mean longer bus routes and longer days, school-board policy would be yanked out from under those who understand the local area and placed in the hands of "newcomers." Unless the state mandates a consolidation, I suspect it just isn't going to happen.
As most readers know, when we give computer tips we only give them for Windows XP and for laptops. Regretfully, we need more help with laptops than we dispense, especially with sending email from random wireless access points. Here are some things you should know about wireless access...
• When an unsecured access point like "Free Internet Service" shows up as one of the available wireless networks and the internet doesn't work you may have logged on something that isn't really an internet-accessible network, but is just a peer-to-peer or "ad-hoc" network that connects one computer to another. Attempts to connect to these networks usually results in the user getting frustrated at the lack of an Internet connection and eventually disconnecting. But, according to this article the feature can be used by attackers to learn a victim's IP address and directly access the computer. The risk is especially high if you have file sharing turned on. If an attacker plants malware on your laptop, you could have a lot of work ahead of you.
Some hackers play the "evil twin" approach where a signal is sent out resembling a legitimate hotspot like an airport Wi-Fi service. When you enter credit-card information to buy a few hours of internet access you are actually turning over your account numbers to an evil doer.
Make sure your own Wi-Fi system is using the latest encryption standard, WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2) which is discussed in an article you can find here. On your own system, turn off Wi-Fi when you are not using it. Your laptop computer has a physical switch to toggle the wireless capabilities. You can also turn off Wi-Fi in Windows XP by right-clicking the wireless icon in the taskbar "tray" and choosing Disable. To turn it back on, go to Control Panel and open the Network Connections window. Right-click the Wireless Network Connection icon and choose Enable.
Make sure the firewall is enabled on your laptop. If you don't have a third-party firewall, you can turn on Windows built-in firewall by opening Control Panel and launching Windows Firewall. You should have installed XP Service Pack 2 so that the firewall is enabled by default.
Never connect to an unknown ad-hoc network. In XP, the Wireless Network Connection window clearly distinguishes between the two types of networks. An ad-hoc network is labeled as a "computer-to-computer network." Infrastructure networks are labeled as "wireless networks" and icons differentiate between the two types of networks: Ad-hoc network icons show two computers, while infrastructure network icons show an antenna.
Use Windows Control Panel to open the Network Connections window. Right-click Wireless Network Connection and choose Properties. Click the Wireless Networks tab, which displays the list of networks you have connected to in the past. While you're there, select they suspicious-looking networks--like "Free Public Wi-Fi"--and click Remove.
If you're going to connect to a public network, such as an airport hotspot, you can reduce the risk of unwanted intruders by turning off file sharing. Launch Windows Explorer and right-click the folder or drive that's shared. Choose Sharing and Security, and turn off sharing for that folder. Click OK.
The Benton Borough Council meeting minutes of June 11, 2007, chaired by O. Grant Little, are summarized in the following paragraphs. Attending the meeting were Grant Little, Daniel Hartman, Allen Hess, Dan Jankowski, Mayor Jan Swan, Ed Kocher, Joseph Peters, Harold Morris, and Kay Yankovich. Lila Allen, John Watson and Shirley Hittle also attended.
Vandalism continues in the park. Park benches, picnic tables, garbage can lids, and swings have been broken and/or stolen. All incidents have been reported to the police. The steel doors for the grandstand and the bathrooms have not yet been installed. A schedule for installation will be determined.
Zoning Officer Ed Kocher reported the Benton High School FFA has contacted him about the possibility of a Farmers Market to be held behind the fire hall. The FFA should apply for a permit. All trailers in the mobile home parks now have proper “house” numbers. One trailer, in very poor condition, was dismantled. Letters will be sent to landlords who failed to submit the Landlord/Tenant Report.
Mayor Swan requested that a $100 reward be approved for persons reporting Borough vandalism and theft. Allen Hess suggested that a reward be provided when the vandal/thief has been convicted. The person making the report must be willing to testify if required. The motion carried.
Mayor Swan provided information on a taser gun. The estimated cost is $1150. Following discussion, Council directed the Police Committee to provide their recommendation on the purchase of a taser gun at the July meeting. If the Police Committee is not ready to make a recommendation at the July meeting, Council will make a decision on this issue.
A new sign marked " Community Center Drive" will be ordered through the Borough, with the cost paid by the Community Center.
Grant Little reported that the secretary for the Benton Water & Sewer Authority is resigning at the end of August. Grant proposed having one secretary for both offices and will advance this concept at the Water & Sewer Authority meeting on June 12 and present this concept to the Board Members.
The Park Committee met with Larson Design Group on June 6, the “kick off" meeting for the Park Master Site Plan. Future meetings will be held as follows:
• August 15: Park Steering Committee, Council Members, Larson Design Group.
• September: School Officials, Fire Company Representatives, Park Steering Committee, Larson Design Group.
• October: Open Public Meeting at the Benton School.
• December: Final meeting with Steering Committee. A final version of the Master Site Plan will be presented
A survey will be sent to all Borough residents seeking their input on the Park design. Grant applications will be submitted to DCNR for additional funding. Although the grant applications will be submitted in the early part of 2008, it is likely that the actual work will not be started until 2009.
June 15, 2007. We celebrate the birthday today of Allen Turner, whose birthday is the same day as former New York Governor Mario Cuomo.
After driving to the Rochester, New York, area yesterday, I felt like the Philadelphia socialite who returned home from a two-month tour of Europe who was asked if she saw any signs of poverty while she was on her trip. Her husband replied bitterly, "Not only did I see signs of it, but I've brought some back with me."
Marcia Kay and I love to drive north on Route 15/I-99 from the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Altoona, or from Williamsport to the New York line. Lawrenceville is the last town north on this corridor in Pennsylvania and if we'll be gone for awhile we always stop there and fill our gas tanks with the last of the cheap gas until we got out of New York state. Yesterday, things had changed. After filling up Back Home in Benton, PA, at $2.759 for regular, unleaded gasoline, we found that the cheapest price for the same grade in Lawrenceville was $3.029. Ten miles up the road in New York state the price was only three cents more than the Pennsylvania price. Those who have to drive far in this day and age will certainly bring "poverty back with them."
Want to entertain your kids with readings from books? Listen to free audio books for the kids here.
Have you stopped to consider that the major cities of Pennsylvania, including the capital city of Harrisburg, are along the rivers that flow through our state including the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, in the east; the Susquehanna, in our part of the state; and the Ohio, Allegheny, Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers in the west.
The state's most prominent natural feature is the Appalachian Mountain Range in the center of the state while southeastern Pennsylvania has much of the population and most of the oldest communities in the state.
The northeastern region of the state is known for coal mining and tourism, among other things. Scranton is the largest community in the region. When you head west and south of Scranton the hills become "mountainous" and rather sparsely populated. Until visitors arrive in the fall to view the brilliant display of fall colors, there are as many critters as there are people. The northwestern corner of the state contains the Allegheny National Forest, the largest natural area in the state.
Our best to Barry Warner, Pennsylvania Game Commission Northeast Region Director since 1987, who retires effective June 15. Warner was responsible for all Game Commission information and education programs and law enforcement activities in the agency's 13-county Northeast Region. He also oversaw the habitat improvement projects and all other land management activities on the nearly 367,000 acres of State Game Lands in the region. The agency's Northeast Region office is at the intersection of Routes 118 and 415 in Dallas.
"What is this world coming to," Mother used to ask, and I would simply roll my eyes thinking that she was off on another one of her rants. And here I am thinking, "what is this world coming to?" Take these two examples, the first of a man whose only claim to fame is that he got a personality pregnant and the second, a man of the law, in a huge lawsuit.
Larry Birkhead, Anna Nicole's ex-boyfriend, is being sued by his former lawyer, Debra Opri, for something like $800,000 following her defending him in his endeavor to get custody of his own daughter. Debra Opri allegedly defrauded him of over $600,000, a week after she sued him for not paying legal fees. Little Dannielynn Hope is cute and the rightful father is certainly entitled to his daughter but should a father have to pay anything to keep what is his. And down in Washington DC a judge recently filed a $67 million lawsuit against his dry cleaner because the establishment lost a single pair of the judge's pants. The suit alleges that there was "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort" and compensation needed for "10 years of weekend car rentals so he can transport his dry cleaning to another store." If he had been successful, the judge would have bought over 84,000 new pairs of pants at the $800 value he placed on the missing trousers. A judge says she'll rule on a multi million dollar lawsuit over a pair of pants by the end of next week. What is this world coming to?
After listening to a person "hack" yesterday I remembered back to the summer colds I have experienced. They are no fun--and if Mother had anything to do with the cure, the remedies were no fun, either. Most of Mother's medicine cures were to be taken warm. And all of them worked. Take her cough medicine, for example. Mother would take some white lightning. We won't tell you where we got it, but we'll give you a clue. Read the article on O.B. Savage in the FEATURES section.
With the white lightning, she would mix equal parts of honey and lemon. Mother always had some peppermint candy on hand, and she threw in a piece for color (it turned the mixture red) for the soothing effect it provided. The candy would soon melt, although many is the time I searched the brew for that piece of marinated candy not realizing this fact. The concoction improved as it aged in a closed container. Mother always loaded me down with covers and sent me to bed to "sweat it out" of me.
George Pavalonis (January 21, 1916-June 13, 2007), died Wednesday at his home on Upper Raven Creek Road, Benton. He was 91. Born in Scranton, he was a son of the late Simon and Agnes (Kerogas) Pavalonis. He served in the US Merchant Marines. George was a cement mason and worked at that profession in Philadelphia, Allentown and the Poconos. George finished virtually every concrete joint on the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike from the Wilkes-Barre exit to the Clarks Summit exit, and was meticulous in making sure that all joints were absolutely level. He last worked for the Bechtel Corporation in Beach Haven, retiring in 1976.
Surviving is his wife, Frances C. (Jasler) Pavalonis, with whom he would have celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary September 1. Two children also survive: Sophie C. Welsh, Berwick, and George Pavalonis, Jr., Bloomsburg. There are two grandchildren: Brian DeFebo, Berwick, and Brenda Shepko, Houston, Texas. There are three brothers: Albert Pavalonis (Jean), Benton; Andrew Pavalonis, Benton; and John Pavalonis (Joann), Belle Vernon, PA. He was preceded in death by siblings Simon Pavalonis, in 1986; Frank Pavalonis, in 1988; Anthony Pavalonis, 2006; Blanche Pavalonis, 2003, and Lillian Falvey.
A viewing will be held Saturday from 10 until 10:45 AM at the McMichael Funeral Home, Inc., Benton. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday at 11 AM at Christ the King Catholic Church, Mendenhall Lane, Benton. Burial will be in the Raven Creek Cemetery.
--Obituary courtesy of the McMichael Funeral Home, Benton. A complete obituary will be published in the June 15 edition of the Press Enterprise.
Thursday, June 14, 2007. Happy anniversary today to Don and Barbara King and to Will and Sherry Jones and congratulations to Barbara McHenry who has completed 50 years of playing the organ at the Benton Christian Church for their Sunday morning services. The church recently recognized Barbara's "God-given talent and dedication to the ministry." On the national level, Donald Trump was born on this date in 1946. And we can't forget that the American Flag, a symbol of freedom, will celebrate its birthday today. It is Flag Day. Flag Day was first celebrated in 1877, on the flag's 100th birthday. Have you displayed your flag today?
The American flag is an enduring symbol of liberty, democracy, and justice. It is fitting that the House act to protect it as we approach our nation's birthday, and as our men and women in uniform rally behind it in Iraq's battlefields.
It is pop quiz time again, this one directed at how well you observe what goes on around you. Here is a question to get you started. In 1962, the phone number in Benton did not begin with 92x-xxxx. What did the phone numbers, if you'll excuse my poor English, begin with? Answer at end. Head here for the rest of the quiz. (This quiz might not work on a Macintosh computer or when using Firefox)
The first new application in a quarter century for a nuclear reactor in Pennsylvania could come soon from PPL Corp., Allentown, as various news sources reported it is "taking preliminary steps" toward building a third nuclear reactor at its Susquehanna nuclear plant, located north of Berwick in Luzerne County. The existing 2,360-megawatt, two-unit Susquehanna plant is owned jointly by PPL Susquehanna, LLC and Allegheny Electric Cooperative Inc. and is operated by PPL Susquehanna. The pricetag could approach $70 million and would be a huge boon for employment in the local area. PPL closed Tuesday's regular trading session at $43.21, down $1.10. The plan was announced before trading began Wednesday. PPL stock closed the day Wednesday up $1.19 to $44.40.
The Benton area was full of excitement in late November, 1929, as the Benton Vocational School Football Team was the focus of the Benton Booster Club as they honored the local team. The town was decorated in the school colors and the Benton band spent long hours practicing for the next game.
Ward McHenry, Coach, Robert Unbewust, Assistant Manager and Woodrow Brewington, Manager. The players were Emerson Stoneham, Wayne Hartman, Frank Keeler, William Wenner, Jr., Clyde Karns, , Raymond Baker, Harry Davis, Eugene Treasure, Irvin Diltz, Lee Yost, Joseph Seward, George W. Hess, Donald Healy, Ralph Hartman, Carl Hess, C Kermit Shultz, Marion Smith and Howard Coleman
Didja see that sewage might generate electricity for the Milton Regional Sewer Authority? Sewage that comes into the treatment plant will be turned into a usable resource. The process will cost about $30 million but will provide sources of revenue and reduce operational costs. Some of the electricity would be sold and the rest used at the treatment plant to eliminate the power bill, according to a Harrisburg Patriot News article.
Jules McHenry, Back Home in Benton, PA, from Apache Junction, Arizona, where he now calls home, tells about paying $3.60 for a gallon of gasoline on his trip to Pennsylvania. Locally at the moment, regular, unleaded gasoline is selling for $2.759 and $2.819. Five days ago, the lowest price--until I arrived at the Borough--between Camp Hill and Benton was $2.959.
According to someone who apparently sits and watches, the world consumes 173 billion barrels of oil every 2.4 years. New oil fields need to be found. When they are discovered, they always seem to be deep under the ocean or in the backyard of a country that doesn't like us. The United States imports 12.2 barrels of oil per day for a population that's less than a fourth the size of China. That country imports 3.5 million barrels a day. To make it "worse and more of it," as Marcia Kay is fond of saying, the Energy Information Administration estimates that global demand for oil will reach 98 million barrels per day by 2015 and we suspect that if China and unfriendly countries are able to develop new oil fields, they'll probably just put that gasoline into their own tanks.
People who say they know what they are talking about at Colorado State University forecast 17 named storms in the Atlantic this season beginning June 1, with five of those turning into major hurricanes. Saudi Arabia and Iran border Iraq and it isn't any secret that al Qaeda hates the Saudi Arabian government as much as they hate the United States. We can only hope that al Qaeda doesn't turn its attention to Saudi soil. And the same to our own refineries in the United States.
When you need to find a business in the local area, we suggest that you turn to the BUSINESS listings on the side panel. It is quick and easy to find phone numbers and people in that location by simply using the CTRL key and the letter "F." Here is the newest listing from the business section...
"Prim Crow Studio Candles N Such, Jodi English, owner. 1556 State Route 239, Stillwater, PA 17878, 570 864-0873! We offer Oodles & Oodles of Handmade PRIMITIVES, CANDLES, FOLK ART, ANTIQUES, DECOR & GIFT'S Galore! In a variety of natural waxes too~ SOY ~ Beeswax ~ Palm Wax! Grab up some Bakery Candles, Electric Grubby Candles, Tart Melts, Wax Embeds, Votives, Bowl Fillers, Gift Sets & Stitcheries for yourself! Be sure to visit our website at www.primcrowstudio.com where we have lots of sales and even charity items too!"
There will be good eating this weekend at the New Columbus Hall and at the Waller Ham Supper. In 1962 the price of admission when the annual event was a fish supper was an absolute bargain. Adults paid $1.25 and children paid 65¢. At that time, the serving began at 11:30 in the morning, and then resumed again in the afternoon at 4.
And while we're thinking of the year 1962, we'll remind you that Benton Cleaners "At-the-Bridge, Benton, Pa." was the area dry cleaner. J. C. Knouse sold tires and tubes "at the bridge" at the Texaco Service Station and Yost's Service Station on the Hoboken side of the bridge sold Firestone tires and tubes. Richard Sands sold Mobilgas and provided "lubrication and service" "on the square." North of town, McCern's Essoservice on Route 254 was in business. Baker & Baker, Rabb's Rexall Drug Store, Chapin Insurance Agency, Frank Houseweart, Neil Harrison and the Hess Bakery were in operation, as was Carl L. Kline with his DuPont paints and James Dildine with his Clewells Milk. There was furniture from the Mika Furniture Store. Otto G. Little & Son sold Frigidaire Appliances.
Clair Harvey sold "blue coal," and advertised that consumers should "heat with the cream of coals. Clair's phone, as did all the phones in the Benton area, began with the prefix WAx-xxxx. Clair bought his business from Jim Dildine and his father, Howard Dildine. Clair had three trucks on the road and employed three drivers. He kept the trucks in a barn on Distillery Hill and was a very busy man, since he was still working at the milk plant. Clair worked for the milk plant for twenty years and was with the Benton plant when it was closed in 1962.
After being in business for about five years, Clair remembers that he knew the milk plant was closing and he began eyeing an oil business that was for sale. At that time, people were beginning to switch to oil away from coal. When the milk plant closed, Clair was offered a good job in Dushore and after thinking over whether he should take the Dushore job he discussed it with Dick Sands. Dick immediately told him to sell him the coal business and move on to Dushore, which Clair did.
Some readers will not know the term, "The "Milk Plant." The processing plant was in the large open lot generally behind the D.R.'s QuickMart, between McHenry Alley and Park Street, Benton. The plant primarily shipped milk to Wilkes-Barre and to the Philadelphia area. Both George Yost and son Frank Yost hauled cans of milk to Glendale in Wilkes-Barre for many years.
After Harrington's sold the Benton milk plant, Philadelphia Dairies purchased the plant (selling ice cream under the Dolly Madison label), later the plant was sold to Foremost Dairies, then to Minneapolis Moline and finally to Smith Brothers (operating under the Dolly Madison name).
The Dushore plant closed approximately 1973. Byron "Barney" Dickson was plant manager for a number of years until Foremost sold out, then Willard Fritz became manager. Other employees of the plant included Charlie Knowles, Earl Brewington, A.J. Hartman and Arden Harvey. Barney Dickson was a milk inspector for Philadelphia Dairies when the plant closed.
Emily M. Dickinson, (April 6, 1922-June 11, 2007), Elk Grove, Sullivan County, died Monday. She was 85. Ms. Dickinson was born in Whitpain Township, Montgomery County, a daughter of the late Frederick and Elizabeth (Eddleman) Saylor. Preceding her in death were her husband, Walter P. "Barney" Dickinson III, on Feb. 24, 1996; and a daughter, Elizabeth Ann Moore, on May 17, 2005. Surviving are a son, Harvey R. Knisell (Dolores), North Wales; two grandsons: Dwayne Moore, Camp Hill and Kevin R. Knisell (Carolyn), Ambler; two sisters: Mabel Ross (Courtland), Hatboro and Katherine Reibsame, Ambler; and many nieces and nephews. Services will be private at the convenience of the family with interment following in Whitemarsh Memorial Park, Prospectville, Montgomery County. Arrangements are in charge of the Dean W. Kriner Inc. Funeral Home, Benton.
--Obituary courtesy of the Press Enterprise, where a complete obituary can be found in its June 13, 2007, edition
The Columbia County Traveling Library brings the world to about 40 locations in Columbia County through the Bookmobile. The CCTL also has a Library in Bloomsburg on Perry Avenue which is available for the book collection and public-access computers. The CCTL provides a free service to locate ancestors through 25,000 family and local history books, or the complete U.S. Federal Census from 1790-1930. Pennsylvania legal forms can be downloaded or answers can be found to basic legal questions, or practice tests are available. The Library and its bookmobile are up to date with adult and juvenile books, including best sellers, large print, fiction and nonfiction, audio-books on tape and CD, videos and DVDs.
The Columbia County Traveling Library Bookmobile
at the Riverside Market, Benton
The Library maintains open access to materials, programs, information and services that fulfill the community's educational and enrichment needs. The Library actively promotes and supports reading, literacy, information technology, and lifelong learning. It is a Library focusing on open access to materials, programs, information and services that fulfill the community's educational and enrichment needs. The Library actively promotes and supports reading, literacy, information technology, and lifelong learning.
On Tuesday, there was a line to get into the Bookmobile when I snapped this picture. By the time I got out of Librarian Dorothy Coady's way, there were 15 eager people looking at books. Please take advantage of this wonderful service to the community.
The Friends of the Columbia County Traveling Library, a separately incorporated volunteer organization (501C3), was founded in 1991 to encourage people to read, and to support and promote the services of the library.
June 13, 2007. Happy birthday to Dianne Laubach and Shirley R. McHenry.
Didja ever wonder why people in old photos never smile? Were they afraid of the bright lights and the puff of smoke? Did they peter out waiting for the photo to be taken? Were they thinking about milking the cows? Were they really trying to look natural? Did they all have bad teeth and was that the reason they didn't smile? Was picture taking such a serious time that smiling was taboo? Was smiling or laughing in a photo undignified? Maybe it was because it took so long to take a picture that the subject had to sit still for a long period of time and a frown was easier to maintain than a smile. The "instant click" camera came along later. And we're glad that smiles came along, too!
My Favorite Paper...
There's a little country paper, that I love to sit and read--
A paper poorly printed and behind the times, indeed.
With pages small and narrow, and ink inclined to spread--
And here and there a letter gravely standing on its head.
Or caps, a bit erratic, boldly popping into view
In unexpected places, and knocking things askew.
A real old-fashioned paper, from my little native town!
Each week I hail its coming, and I never put it down.
Till I've read its every column, all the local news, you know;
About the dear old country folks I lived with long ago.
I note who's barn is painted--whose cattle took the prize.
And how Iriah Pitts has raised a squash of wondrous size.
--Author unknown. Found in an advertisement for Hood's Sarsaparilla Cures
The local area has been in an extended period of a deficiency in its water supply. Last night, the upper Fishingcreek valley received a hard shower, to the extent that water was ponding in fields south of Maple Grove. The rain made me think of the story about the farmer whose prize rooster was run over by a car in a driving rainstorm. The driver just didn't see the bird crossing the road. The owner of the car was distraught and said that he didn't mean to run over the rooster and that he would do anything to replace him. The farmer said, "Well go ahead then. Introduce yourself to the chickens--they are in the back."
Farming in our state has long been a family affair--a son or a relative frequently becomes a tenant and that in the eyes of most is a sign of prosperity, not of poverty. The Amish of the state put it a different way. The young Amish men start out as laborers, work toward becoming a share tenant in some small part, work toward owning a share of the farm in a larger sense, eventually invests some cash in the operation and finally works up to being an owner or the owner. Many local farms, although not Amish owned, have worked the same way over the years.
A joint farm operation between father and son is quite common in our area. A farmer who has spent forty or so years on the same farm in developing a successful operation is likely to want one and sometimes more of his children to carry on the family business during his declining years. Most local farms are not of sufficient size for all children to continue in the family business and most farms only have one house. Some farmers say they don't want their children to follow in their footsteps, then gently steer him down the same path they took years before.
Many farmers pay wages to the son who stays on the farm. Some pay wages plus some sort of a bonus. Sometimes the son ends up renting the farm and sometimes a partnership arrangement is worked out. The goal is usually to "keep it in the family."
The goal of many farmers is to retire, rent the farm and sell most of the household items and move to town. Dotting our hillsides are peaceful little communities where retired farmers are enjoying the twilight of their years while cherishing their agrarian heritage. Sometimes the farm gets gobbled up for a development. Although most of us don't have anything against developments, we know that if the farm is to be saved, we have to save the farmer. Here are some ways to do that...
• Buy freshly picked produce from a roadside stand or a farmer’s market. Visit www.buylocalpa.org to find markets where you live. Last year, Pennsylvania had an estimated 3,500 farm families who managed 50,000 acres of vegetable crops and produced 240,000 tons of vegetables for fresh processing.
• Buy products from Pennsylvania, often labeled Simply Delicious, Simply Nutritious Pennsylvania vegetables.
• Get behind the local Future Farmers of America at the high-school level. Go to their spaghetti suppers or other events, buy their fundraiser items, be sure your school board understands the value of FFA.
• Enjoy a day in the country. Get a copy of The Joy of Farm Watching from your County Cooperative Extension Office. Penn State Extension publishes this travel guide to Pennsylvania agriculture.
• Wave a howdy as you pass farm equipment on the road, or extend an arm and drive at an appropriate speed as you pass an Amish wagon. Teach your kids what the piece of equipment is that you are seeing. Enjoy seeing the arm raise in greeting back to you.
• Get smarter about the impact of agriculture in your community. Didja know, for example, how important agriculture is in the Pennsylvania Economy. For example, in 2001, the total value of farm production in the state exceeded $4.5 billion, providing more than 84,300 jobs. According the Pennsylvania Agricultural Statistics Service, the state has more than 59,000 farms, comprising 7.7 million acres. Agriculture is an important economic activity in Columbia County. To learn more about agriculture in your county, go here.
• Plan to attend the Pennsylvania Farm Show January 5-12, 2008. It is a great show and even if your father told you that it always snows for the farm show, it is no longer true.
• Tell a friend from out of state to come Back Home to Benton, PA, and get acquainted with our state agriculture. Smile as you pass the slowly moving farm equipment and remember the person driving the equipment probably got up hours before you even opened your eyes for the first time this morning, and they'll be working long after you end your day.
We've told the story before about the farmer and the state lottery, but we'll bore you with it again. When the farmer won the lottery, he was asked what he would do next. He said that he would continue farming until the money was all gone.
June 12, 2007. Hobe Whitenight celebrates his birthday today along with the 41st President, George Bush. Tom and Denise Kline celebrate 31 years of marriage today.
Didja know that...
• According to figures released by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Sullivan County hunters accounted for 18 bobcats in the 2006-07 bobcat seasons. Pennsylvania hunters and trappers took 258 bobcats during the same period. That's the most since bobcat season was reopened seven years ago.
• The Sullivan County Museum, Laporte, will officially open for the summer on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays starting June 13 from 1 to 5 PM.
Although hearings on the Uniform Construction Code were recently held in Harrisburg and many spoke against it, when push came to shove apparently few supported repeal. Builders claimed problems on limiting how much in fees third-party building code inspectors charged commercial builders. Builders said that the code has yielded inconsistent enforcement from municipality to municipality, and there was discussion of delayed projects with slow inspections, costing builders and homeowners money. Some municipalities have failed to create appeals processes, as required by the law. Despite all the outcry against the building code, and some lawmakers suggesting there's a need to repeal the law, construction industry and township officials oppose an outright repeal of the code. Lawmakers are interested in reform, but not to returning to the days when building codes were optional.
Todd Roup of Senator Gordner's office tells us that "We have tentatively scheduled the next hearing for August 16 in Westmoreland County. At the same time, Rep. Belfanti has started UCC hearings in the House Labor Committee. I would expect we would be ready to forward some reform legislation during the fall session."
• Benton Elementary Summer Basketball will be held June 19, 21, 26 & 28, and also July 10, 12, 17 & 19, at the Benton Elementary School Gym from 6 PM until 8:30 PM. The program is free and is open to all boys and girls who were enrolled in grades 3 thru 6 this past school year. Any questions please call 925-2938.
• June 16. Family Fishing Program with information and instruction on fishing, fish habitats, safety and basic fishing skills. All equipment and materials provided. Visitors Center, Ricketts Glen State Park, Route 487, 2 to 5 PM. Free. Registration: 477-7780.
The hybrid poplars may be good for making ethanol, but they definitely have drawbacks in the home landscape, according to Larry Paul who lives along Red Gravel Road. Larry planted some of the trees about 20 years ago and now regrets it. The trees that Larry planted have roots very close to the surface and often "rise above the ground and you can't cut the grass around them." The roots send up shoots (sometimes 30 or 40 feet away from the tree) which will eventually grow into trees. Larry "can mow over these and cut them down and 2 weeks later they spring back up." Larry also complains that in a hard wind storm small branches snap off and makes for some cleanup work before the lawn can be cut.
Several years ago the top half of one of Larry's trees snapped, but the tree continued to grow. Two trees were cut a few years ago, and piled the logs on the ground. Some of the pieces began to sprout and send out roots. Branches off one of the trees were pushed into a wet-land area and are now about 30 feet tall. "The roots are so bad you can't even walk under the trees." Larry concluded his rant against the hybrid poplar by saying "if anybody wants to cut them down and make ethanol, they are welcome to them. But, I sure wouldn't recommend planting them anywhere near their home. Hybrid? maybe, or maybe Frankenstein trees!"
A strong draw to former residents to come Back Home to Benton, PA, is an event that started in horse and buggy days in a building that is over 150 years old and is still going strong. At this event as it was conducted each year over most of its life, about 600 pounds of fish would be served, eight dozen heads of lettuce, and about 60 pounds of beans were baked along with 70 loaves of bread. Over 125 pies were donated, five bushels of potatoes were mashed, thirty pounds of butter and sixty quarts of canned corn were used. And it was all washed down with 17 pounds of coffee. It is, of course, the yearly supper at Waller, which started out as a fish supper and has migrated into being a ham supper.
Much of the food was donated, like the pies, relishes, milk and potatoes. The community hall folks prepared the corn the preceding summer. Millard Ash was superintendent of the Waller Sunday school for 28 years and was president of the hall association for many years. Under his direction, the concept of standing outside in line--in rain or the heat of sunshine--was changed so that tickets were purchased in advance. The hungry and impatient people would mill around places like the cemetery and wouldn't hear their numbers called and that brought problems to those who patiently stayed in line. Benches were added where folks can sit and chat, and the old system was put back in place.
The event started in 1900 by the Waller Methodist Congregation as a means of providing some financing for the church program. The Waller Methodist Church is over a century old, built during 1899-1900 and has been going steadily for the past 105 years. Horses and buggies originally brought people to Waller for the Fish Supper over the road between Unityville and Benton that was constructed in 1828. Many came from Jamison City and Bloomsburg on the Bloomsburg and Sullivan Railroad, then rode the rest of the way on wagons courtesy of local friends. Waller itself extends back before 1821-22 when a school opened beside the location of the Union church building.
The fish supper was originally held in the basement of the church. In 1954, the event moved to the Waller Memorial Hall which could accommodate 90 at a time. Services had not been held in the building for a number of years, and the building had fallen into a state of disrepair until some local residents decided to repair and remodel and make it into a community center. The building was originally the Union church building, built in 1854.
The supper--once known as the Jackson Fish Supper--has probably always been held on the third Saturday of June. It was the oldest fish supper in the area and a tradition in the upper Fishing Creek valley. Records show that for the first fish supper, the congregation purchased 25 pounds of fish at 7¢ a pound. By 1958, prices had jumped to 29¢ per pound for fresh mackerel and 550 pounds were purchased.
This year the menu is ham. Fish is no longer available, but the homemade mayonnaise recipe hasn't changed in a hundred years and neither has the quantity or quality of food. The group plans to buy about a pound of ham per person and they will ladle out about 25 pounds of baked beans between 4 and 7 PM on June 16. The admission is $7.50 for adults and $3.50 for children ages 6-12. Children under 6 eat free.
June 11, the 160th day of 2007. There are ten days until the official start of summer. In Hawaii, today is King Kamehameha I Day. King Kamehameha once ruled the large island of Hawaii and nearly 200 years ago conquered all the Hawaiian islands and made them one kingdom. His grandson King Kamehameha V, the last king of Hawaii, proclaimed June 11 as the day to honor his grandfather. Alanna M. Bath, Bendertown, celebrates her birthday today and Paul and Joan Franklin celebrate their wedding anniversary.
Yesterday I had a chance to hear a ring tone, but apparently have crossed the age barrier and never heard it. The sound is one that the younger generation can hear, but I cannot. It all comes from technology called "the Mosquito" that was developed in Britain as a 17-kilohertz buzzer designed to help shopkeepers disperse young people loitering in front of their stores while at the same time not bothering the adults. I could not hear the sound because of presbycusis, or aging ear.
The ability of adults to hear frequencies higher than the normal frequency range between 200 and 8,000 hertz fades out in early middle age. The Mosquito sound is gaining popularity as a ring tone. You may be able to hear the Mosquitotone--or not, as the case may be--advertised as "the authentic Mosquito ring tone," by going here.
Never forget that you are unique. Just like everyone else.
Anthony "Tony" Soprano remained the boss of the DiMeo crime family and patriarch of the Soprano household as the season finale ended last night. It looked grim for Tony as the television screen went black at the end of the show, but he lives to make a movie.
We applaud the Lebanon Daily News for suggesting that mini-vacations would be just great at Ricketts Glen State Park.
The O.A.T.S. folks are continuing the $10 evening admission for local folks and will begin letting people in for that admission after the dinner break for the evening program. The ten bucks would be cheap for just one set of Cherryholmes or Michael Cleveland.
The seventh annual OATS--meaning Out Among the Stars--Bluegrass Festival begins Thursday, June 28, and runs through Sunday, July 1, at the Benton Rodeo Grounds. Eighteen groups will perform, starting early Thursday evening and continuing until Sunday afternoon at 5. The activities begin Thursday afternoon when everyone gathers to shake and howdy and eat a pot-luck dinner at 4 for all ticket holders who bring a covered dish. The evening's music will begin at 6 with Kickin' Grass, Second Wind, Remington Ryde and Grass Stained Genes.
The Friday program features four national bands, such as Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike in their fourth appearance at OATS. The Gibson Brothers return with their close harmonies that deliver songs which are invariably heartfelt. Kickin' Grass and Buncombe Turnpike are acclaimed new groups from North Carolina that are emerging onto the national bluegrass scene. Local and area bands appearing Friday include "Blue Roots," "Second Wind," "Stained Grass Window," and "Outskirts."
The outstanding lineup Saturday includes "Cherryholmes," the family who recently won the "Entertainer of the Year" award from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). Their latest album was nominated for the "Best Bluegrass Album" Grammy Award. This family sings, plays, dances, and entertains with everything they've got. The Bluegrass Brothers return by popular demand to present their high-energy musical drive. Michael Cleveland is an fiddler you'll never forget. Michael Cleveland appeared at OATS with Rhonda Vincent's band, and has been IBMA's "Fiddle Player of the Year" four times in the past six years. He appears with the FlameKeepers, featuring Audie Blaylock. Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike is another favorite group returning to OATS this year. They've recently completed a new album entitled "Wash Away Your Troubles," and two days after the festival they depart for a tour in Germany and England. For the Saturday lineup, "Stained Grass Window" and "Outskirts" present additional sets, along with "Remington Ryde" and "Louie Setzer and the Appalachian Mountain Boys."
"The Music of the Spirit" open the OATS Festival Sunday with the Rev. Al and Jean Lumpkin and friends with music that recognizes and celebrates the consistent bluegrass emphasis on songs about faith and the human struggle. Sunday's schedule will include "Aimless Pursuit," "Forgotten Mountain Boys," "Texas Rose," and "Stained Grass Window."
For additional information, head over to www.oatsfestival.com. Tickets are available at the gate. Full festival admission includes free camping. Tickets also may be purchased for each day's concerts. The OATS Festival is a Pennsylvania non-profit agency.
If someone asks you for $20 and you lend it to him and then never see that person again it was probably worth it.
Didja know that on a good day an average cow will eat about 90 pounds of feed and drink a bathtub full of water all in about six hours. She'll take an additional eight hours chewing her cud. While doing that, she will produce from five to six gallons of milk a day, enough to fill 80 8-ounce glasses. Farmers milk their cows at least twice a day, every day of the year, including Christmas, Easter and the opening day of buck season. When the milk gets to the dairy plant, it can make fluid milk products or cheese products or dry milk or whey. A hundred pounds of milk can make 9.8 lb. of cheddar cheese and 90.2 lb. of whey byproduct, or it can make 93.6 lb. of 1% milk and 6.4 lb. of 40% cream. The 40% cream can be made into 3.2 pounds of butter and 3.2 pounds of sweet-butter cream milk. About 40% of the milk produced in the U.S. is sold as fluid milk--whole milk, reduced fat milk, low fat milk and fat free milk.
It takes about 10 pounds of milk to make a pound of cheese. It takes 22 pounds of milk to make a pound of butter. Stores sell butter by the pound for about $2.99 while milk is about $3.51 a gallon? Isn't there something wrong here?
The state sets minimum prices for milk but not for milk by-products. In Pennsylvania, minimum retail prices are set by the Milk Marketing Board, which compiles prices received by the farmer with the costs of processing, packaging and delivery to stores and the handling costs in the stores. The federally established prices a farmer receives for milk produced since 2000 have been based on prices at which cheese, butter and other commodities trade at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. When milk leaves the local farmers, the check the farmer eventually gets for that milk is dependent on how the milk is utilized. There are three different classes of milk; i.e., Class 1 is fluid milk, ranging from skim to regular milk. Class 2 goes for cheese and butter. Class 3 goes for dry milk and for whey.
The Milk Marketing Board sets minimum prices at the farm and store for a range of milk products including standard whole milk, reduced-fat milk, flavored milk, buttermilk, and cream, but does not set store prices for ice cream, cheese and butter.
--Based on information provided by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
Sometimes I feel as dumb as a dodo bird. The Dodo was a bird that never flew and lived on the island nation of Mauritius, off the coast of Africa east of Madagascar in the southwest Indian Ocean. It stood about three feet tall and lived on fruit and nested on the ground. They had no local enemies. When man arrived in 1598 and found out the dodo was a tasty morsel, the dodos who probably were not much brighter than a rock just stood and stared until they were killed and nailed to a skewer. By the mid-to-late 17th century the bird was extinct. So not only can one be as dumb as a dodo, but one can be dead as a dodo.
The stuffed body of the last Dodo ever seen in Europe was by 1755 so moth-eaten that the curators did not want to spend the money to preserve it. The decrepit stuffed bird was just tossed into a fire. Only a leg and the head survived the flames. We wonder what that bird would be worth today if someone had just cared enough to preserve the past. Remember as you think about the things you have collected of local memorabilia over the years. Never throw anything away just because it's in bad condition. It very well could be the only example of an item still remaining.
And so here is where the shameless pitch comes in when we ask you to think about those items of historical value to the upper Fishingcreek valley. Please consider donating them to the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center for future generations to love and enjoy. Call David Kline at 925-6974 or Russ Seward at 925-6253 about what you might donate so others can enjoy our cultural history.
It is always about this time of the year, when the heat and the humidity settle in, that I decide to hunker down and do something about the "Battle of the Bulge." Overweight is a condition I have lived with since I gave up the game of tennis. Darn wrist, anyway!
It seems easier to my retired mind to get more exercise in the winter. Shoveling snow, hikes in the cold, hunting, trudging to sports events all bring down the waist line. When the humidity arrives at this time of the year, I stay inside nestled beside the air conditioner with a dish of ice cream.
I once tried the South Beach Diet, which holds that all sugars, fruit, and bread should be removed from what you eat each day. Eventually, sheer boredom will kick in and in the hours before you die of boredom you will lose a pound or two.
But frankly I would rather look the way I do than look the way Nicole Richie looks on the covers of tabloids at the checkout counter.
June 10, 2007. Shirley Wodrig celebrates her birthday today. Dale and Deanna Ruckle, Plato, Texas, have an anniversary today. Keep Dexter Ribble and Dorothea Mather in your prayers today. Dexter had a heart operation Thursday in Geisinger Wilkes-Barre and Dorthea fell Thursday and is in the Geisinger Hospital, Danville.
On the outside chance that someone gives a hoot, seven seasons--eight years and 86 hours--of The Sopranos on HBO comes to a close tonight, probably with a whack or possibly with a whimper. The show is about a New Jersey gangster, Tony Soprano, and his wife Carmela and their children, Meadow and A.J. and his mother who hated him, Tony's home away from home the Bada Bing, and a whole bunch of mobster mayhem including guys with funny names like "Big Pussy," Paulie Walnuts and Bobby Bacala, along with Tony's best friend, who turned out to be an FBI informer.
It was great seeing Benton's Out among the Stars festival mentioned in the American Profile section of Saturday's Press Enterprise and Sharon Remphrey's Wig Shop mentioned in Sunday's New 'Do for a Day article.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is looking into the proposed $84 million rate hike--13% annually--requested by PPL Electric Utilities, effectively suspending it until Jan. 1, 2008. PPL said the rate hike is necessary to cover the rising costs of equipment, materials, employee health care and fuel. The higher rates also will fund a meter data management system, conservation and consumer education programs. The average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours would pay $6 more a month, rising to $103 from $97. The rate hike would affect approximately 1.2 million residential customers, including ones in Columbia County.
Voices Out of the Past...
Doug Cole is a former pianist/organist at Brandon-Central UM Church (now Christ UM) and waited tables at the Brass Pelican about ten years ago. Today, Doug lives in Harrisburg and works for the City of Harrisburg as a part-time supervisor in their 911 Center while holding down a full-time job in the Emergency Operations Center of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
Yesterday was "old newspaper" day, and when I got to the Philadelphia Inquirer of April 2, 1918, I spotted some familiar names. I'll quote the paragraphs that caught my eye.
"When Senator Sproul, aspirant for the Republican nomination for Governor in voicing his platform proclaimed to the distinguished company assembled recently in the quaint college borough of Swarthmore that he was intensely devoted to the welfare of the farmers of Pennsylvania, and that if elected to the office of Chief Executive he would seek to advance their interests, there were few in the audience acquainted with Senator Sproul's sympathetic concern in the promotion of the great orchard properties in the Keystone State. Senator Sproul has for years been actively engaged in the cultivation of orchards in different sections of the state and he has made a signal success in the practical operation of these properties. He is the dominant factor in a great fruit-growing proposition which has been in progress of development during the last seven years. More than fifty thousand fruit trees have been planted during that period and many of them have reached a stage which insures a profitable return on the original investment.
"One of these orchards is located in Cumberland County, near Shippensburg, another is near Vosburg, Wyoming County, in the northeastern section of the state, and another is the model farm at Benton, upon which the late former Congressman John G. McHenry spent a fortune. Apples and peaches were grown in abundance on all of these properties, which comprise in the aggregate nearly two thousand acres. Homer B. Howe, of Wellsboro, Tioga County, is the expert who attends to the technical work of planting, protecting and cultivating the trees and he is predicting that the yield of fruit of the coming season will be far beyond the most sanguine expectations. Senator Sproul makes frequent trips to personally inspect the orchards."
Hold on to the thought about Senator Sproul, since we'll return to him in a moment. John G. McHenry (April 26, 1868-December 27, 1912) had 30,000 peach trees planted on Pioneer Farms, apparently planning to add peach brandy to whiskey as a future McHenry product. Peach trees take up to 15 years to produce, so the operation was strictly a money loser. Other farm crops, including rye, were grown under the watchful eye of a State College professor and the care of three dozen employees. A vineyard was planted. The farm was under the direct personal supervision of Prof. M. E. Chubbuck while John G. was in Washington, D.C. Chubbuck was a graduate in agricultural science from the State College, as it was then called, now Penn State University. The farm also included building for the incubating and breeding of poultry on a large scale. Local farmers watched and predicted the financial outcome. On the night of the foreclosure of Pioneer Farms, John G., then 46, passed away.
After the death of John G. McHenry, the Fleitz & Sproul Fruit Farms, under the direction of Homer Howe and under the ownership of the Frederick W. Fleitz Estate and William C. Sproul took over. This partnership owned the 1,600 acres of orchards in Vosburg, Benton and Mechanicsburg, continued the headquarters of the farm in Benton and continued calling it Pioneer Farms. Homer Howe lived in the Third Street property now owned by Grant and Sharon Little. Frederick Fleitz was a Republican Presidential Elector for Pennsylvania.
William Cameron Sproul (1870-1928), a member of the Republican and Washington Parties, did become Governor of Pennsylvania (1919-1923). The Lancaster County native served his state as editor, publisher and president of the Chester Daily Times and the Morning Republican. He also held key positions and interests in manufacturing, mining, iron processing, railroads, banking and farming in Pennsylvania. He was elected to the state senate from Delaware County in 1896, and re-elected five times. He was elected president pro tempore of the senate in 1903 and 1905. He was a trustee of Swarthmore College, and the college's Sproul Observatory was later built and named after him. Sproul received a doctor of laws degree from Franklin and Marshall College in 1912 and later received honorary doctorates from numerous Pennsylvania colleges.
Sproul was offered but declined the nomination to become the running mate of Warren G. Harding. Had he accepted and been elected, it is probable he would have become president of the United States assuming Harding had still died in office. Instead, Calvin Coolidge stepped into that role.
Quote of the Day:
"Of all the many places I have seen in the world, I remember not one better seated."
--William Penn (1644-1718), after his first visit to Pennsylvania in 1682
June 9, 2007. Happy birthday to June Hartzell; Fran Adams, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Heidi Kline, Piffard, New York; and Betty Fritz Victory, Fritz Hill. Christopher Stephen Michael Diltz turns 18 today, the day after he graduated from Benton Area Schools. Happy birthday to all these fine people. Congratulations to the Class of '07, now graduates of the Benton Area School System. Last night, they were given $276,000 in awards and scholarships.
If you consider McDonald's a welcome night out, don't bother going here, but if you know something about good food with an international flair, take the quiz here.
• Today: Homemade Ice Cream Social, 4-8 PM, Benton Volunteer Fire Hall, Columbia County Garden Tour, Waller Area community yard sale from 8 AM until 4 PM. “Get to Know a Turkey” at Ricketts Glen State Park at 7 PM. Guest speaker is Nevin Dressler.
• Sunday: Dream Machines Auto Show, 16th annual event with 32 classes of vehicles, door prizes. DJ music by Randy Lawton. Bloomsburg Municipal Airport, 301 Airport Road, off Route 487, Bloomsburg, 8 AM to 3 PM. Advance registration $10, day of show $15. 275-0748 or 784-9665.
• Bloomsburg University's Alumni Players will present The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 by John Bishop. Opening night is Friday, July 27, at 8 PM at Gross Auditorium, Carver Hall. Other performances will be on July 28, August 3 and 4, at 8 PM. Sunday matinee shows will be on July 29 and August 5 at 3 PM.
Benton Borough Mayor Jan Swan is looking for Benton Area Business Owners to purchase fall banners with their business names imprinted on the banner. The banners will be displayed along a two-mile stretch of Rt. 487, from Maple Grove to approximately the Lutz Real Estate Agency.
Each banner measures 30”w x 60”h and is made of heavyweight Sunbrella fabric. The background is a rich fall aster purple. A design of four various sizes of leaves in bright autumn colors are displayed underneath the heading Fall For Benton. The name of the business will be printed across the bottom of the banner.
There are 42 banner locations available. The banner price will depend on the number of banners ordered; i.e., for an order of 24 banners, the price will be $135 each; 25-42 banners, $112 each. These prices include business name imprint, shipping cost, annual installation, removal and storage.
Banners will be displayed for approximately ten weeks from mid-September until the Christmas banners are installed during Thanksgiving week. Banners installed outside of Benton Borough on Route 487 will require a one-time purchase of a banner bracket holder at $85 per banner. There are bracket holders on the poles within the Borough. The first 23 Banners ordered will be placed in Benton Borough with subsequent orders placed north and south of the Borough.
For more information or to order a banner, call Mayor Swan by June 20 at 925-5292. Checks should be made payable to Benton Borough/Fall Banners. Mail check by July 10 to Benton Borough, PO Box 520, Benton, PA 17814. Please include how you want the business name to appear on the banner.
Any email you receive purporting to be from the Bank of Hanover is probably a hoax. Some emails promised a $500 deposit for filling out a survey, another told of a possible "phishing" attack, and requested that the recipient click on a link to "update your account and benefit from new facilities." As the scam unfolded, the fake Bank of Hanover web page registered in Zimbabwe asks some questions, requests a user's name and telephone number and eventually asks for credit- or debit-card numbers, the cards' expiration dates and the user's personal information number (PIN). No bank will ask for personal information via email and if you are unsure simply call a representative of the bank.
The Garrison Keillor joke of the week goes something like this: The geologist said to a creek, "I feel very strongly that your bottom is composed of dirt, silt, small rocks, bits of dead animals, and other particulate inorganic matter." The river replied, "Yes, those are my sediments exactly."
A topic hitting the news recently concerns a bear trying to pull a New Jersey Girl Scout, 11, from her Eastern Pennsylvania tent. The Pennsylvania Black Bear is a topic that is always of great interest in the local area. On the third Monday of September, Bill Williams of the Pennsylvania Game Commission will present a program on bear biology and behavior, including denning and breeding population trends. He will cover nuisance bears and the trapping and transfer of bear. He will talk about hunting bear and will host a question and answer period. The program will be at the North Mountain Historical Society's September meeting. The program includes a twenty-minute narrated video.
The current "crops of choice" for producing ethanol and biodiesel are corn and soybeans, but keep your eyes on switchgrass and hybrid poplar for curbing greenhouse gases. "Hybrid poplar" may be a new term to you. It is possible for farmers to raise fast-growing hybrid poplar trees yielding 3 to 6 dry tons per acre per year. The crop can be harvested on 5 to 15 year cycles, and often regrow from the roots and trunks so that replanting is not necessary.
It takes energy to produce energy; i.e., operating a tractor to plow, harrow, plant, fertilize and harvest takes gasoline or diesel, which then releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases which are tied to global-climate change. Bioenergy crops remove carbon dioxide from the air and then stores it in crop roots and soil as organic carbon. They produce coproducts like protein for animal feed, which saves on energy to make feed by other means, and they replace a fossil fuel with a biobased one.
Agriculture Research Center scientists now predict a 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions if ethanol and biodiesel from corn-soybean rotations were used instead of gasoline and diesel, a reduction about two times greater than using ethanol produced from corn grain alone. ARS then predicted that using switchgrass and hybrid poplar would produce nearly a three-fold greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to corn-soybean rotations. The bottom line is that biofuels do indeed have potential to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere while helping American farmers and at the same time reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil.
--Read more on this subject by going here.
June 8, 2007. Mary Lou Buckalew and former First Lady Barbara Bush celebrate birthdays today.
Last weekend I attended a wedding in Wilmington, Delaware, and spent the night in Philadelphia. I described the trip as "murder" to a friend, but didn't realize how close to the truth it was. There were 406 murders in Philadelphia last year and the city had the highest murder rate and the highest rate of violent crime among the ten largest cities in the U.S.
The Fishing Creek Femme Fatale chapter of the Red Hat Society will meet for a noon picnic June 20 at the Mill Race Golf Course. The price, including tax and tip, is $13.46, and includes hamburgers, hot dogs, macaroni salad, drinks and cake. Proper attire of a red hat and purple outfit is required. Guests are welcome and the chapter is open to new members.
For the readers who have Microsoft Excel on their computers but have never used it, head over to the START icon in the lower left of your monitor, go to ALL PROGRAMS. Open Excel and we'll create a simple formula. Click in the Excel cell where you want the answer and follow these simple steps.
• Type an equal sign (=) in the cell.
• Click the first cell that you want to use in the formula.
• Type in one of the four mathematical operators (+, -, *, or /).
• Click the second cell you want to use in the formula.
• Press Enter.
• The results of the formula will be displayed in the first cell you selected.
Happening in Harrisburg...
A state Senate committee Wednesday approved a bill (Senate Bill 674) that would permit consumers to purchase 6 or more packs from beer distributors and enable customers to purchase up to three carryout six-packs from bars and restaurants. The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
On Wednesday, welfare reform proposals were introduced that would cut off cash assistance to recipients who use drugs, institute a 120-day residency requirement for benefits, require electronic fingerprinting for welfare applicants and reduce funding to the Department of Public Welfare if its welfare-to-work program doesn't improve, according to a Thursday article in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette.
--Read press releases on legislation affecting Pennsylvanians by going here.
We'll conclude the article about bottles that we began in Thursday's edition. We were ready to tell you that bottle making in the American Colonies didn't make it big until well into the eighteenth century. Glass makers originally built in or near wooded areas so there would be enough wood for fuel. Coal replaced wood in the 1800s, and that allowed glassmakers to become more sophisticated. The first of the smooth-sided vessels began to appear.
How to date your bottles:
. • Seams. The shorter the seam from the bottom, the older the bottle.
• Applied lips often appear on nineteenth-century bottles.
• Blob tops are common on 1880's soda and mineral bottles.
• Pontil marks, formed when the bottles were twisted off the panty rod, most likely means an eighteenth- or nineteenth-century date.
There doesn't seem to be a lot of rhyme nor reason to the pricing of bottles. The price depends on domestic or import, age, condition, color, shape, marks, labels, embossing, demand and rarity. The length of the seam is an important consideration. Bottles from the 18th century were free blown. As a result, there are no seams on these bottles and they are somewhat irregular. When glassmakers later began to form bottles in piece molds, these products had seams. Seams stop short of the shoulder on bottles before 1860, extend most of the way up the neck on bottles made between 1860 and 1880, end just beneath the hip on bottles from 1880-90, and continue the entire length of the bottle after 1903.
The pontil mark--the scar left on the base of the bottle when the newly formed bottle was twisted off its supporting rod--can be used for dating. Eighteenth-century bottles usually have a rough scar on the base where the rod was attached. After 1850 the pontil mark is smoother, and sometimes it has a black deposit from iron oxide, which was used to grind away the rough edge on the bottom. In the later 1800s, a four-pronged harpoon that cradled the bottle during finishing didn't leave a scar, but an slight indentation was formed at the base of the bottle. The bottoms of bottles made after the invention of the automatic bottling machine in 1903 show a slight ring. Definitions used in bottle collecting can be found here.
When I got involved in hunting for old bottles I concluded that any old bottle is a good bottle, even if there is not much of a financial gain to be had in digging.
I also found that boots, work gloves, a container like a bushel basket, a sandwich and a drink, and a few simple tools are needed for the hunt. Of course, I think that a sandwich and a drink go with any task!
Bottles are often found in low areas near abandoned homesteads, along old stone walls and roads, and in abandoned cellars. Glass was often discarded with metal, which makes having a metal detector a handy aid in discovering old dumps. Detectors, which are sold by several manufacturers, are available from Benton Coins & Collectibles, Main Street, starting new at $188. The store also has a good selection of rental and used detectors.
The only tools required to unearth bottles are a hand or clam rake and a small shovel. To clean the empty bottles at home, remove as much surface dirt as possible, then soak the bottles in sudsy ammonia for a couple of days. Use a stiff bottle brush to loosen dirt. Exteriors can be scrubbed clean with soapy steel wool. The inside of the bottles is more difficult, but can be polished by swirling water with tiny pebbles or shotgun pellets in the bottles.
Well, sure, it is always possible to head for a garage sale or an antique shop to find bottles, but nothing beats the excitement of digging for them. Dig on your own land, or have permission to dig from the landowner. Dig carefully, or you may break a perfect piece.
Here are some ways to value your bottles.
• If the bottle is threaded ("screw top"), it was made by an automatic bottling machine sometime after 1910. Bottles of this type are generally of little value.
• If the bottle has a recognizable brand name, like "Clorox," "Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce," "Listerine" or "Lysol," it is not of appreciable value because of the number of them manufactured.
• An embossed bottle is generally more valuable than one that is not embossed. Colored ink wells without embossing are an exception.
• Most bottles are aqua, the natural color of glass, the product of mixing the basic ingredients to make glass. Aqua is a very light, clear blue like fresh water. Colors like blue, green, amber and puce (a grayish purple) are very collectible. Clear, or aqua-colored, bottles are less valuable.
• The condition of the bottle is important. Rare bottles are virtually worthless if there is damage. If the damage is minor, the seller may assign a considerable value to the bottle. "Let the buyer beware" is a good rule here!
• If a bottle has a pontil, chances are that it was made before 1860. A pontil doesn't guarantee that a bottle is valuable, but it generally means that it is old.
Good luck in your hunt for the perfect bottle or for a valuable metallic object if you try a metal detector. Let us know what you find.
--This article has been added to the FEATURES portion of the Benton News and will be deleted from the daily articles at some point in the near future.
June 7, 2007. It is the birthday of Donald Hess, Michele Gould and Richard Lehet.
It isn't something that I ever thought that I would do, scrounging in cellars, looking in dumps, brushing through accumulated dirt to find an empty whisky bottle or Mason jar or other piece of glass that might date back to the Civil War. But here I was on a cold May morning, feet soaked from squatting in the small stream, pulling apart the sand and clay looking for round-bottomed ballast bottles from Belfast embossed Cochrane & Co.
I had first found the evidence that remnants from a previous age might be at the bottom of a ravine when I came upon a flat spot at the top of a bank. I had heard that a former occupant of a nearby house held church services during the summer months at that spot. When services ended, the parishioners would pull out their bottles of soda for a cool refreshment, and then toss the empty bottles down the steep slope into the underbrush.
As the stream wore the valley deeper over the years, the bottles slowly came to rest in the sand and stone of the creek bottom. Picking them was a breeze.
The bottles are from over a century ago from companies like Cochrane & Co and the Cantrell & Cochrane Group. These companies developed a method of carbonating pure water, an invention they called Soda Water. The company dates back to 1852 when Dr. Thomas Cantrell began an apothecary business in Belfast. He dug what became artesian wells in Belfast to get pure crystal water for his aerated waters which he then sold all over the world.
Joseph Priestly, once a Northumberland resident, began experimenting in 1767 to "stimulate the fixed air found in natural waters." In one of his attempts, he used a primitive apparatus to pour water from one vessel to another held near fermenting vats at a local brewery. He found that the water absorbed gas later identified as carbon dioxide, the same modern-day "fizz" that tickles our tonsils in drinks like ginger ale. Priestly published his findings in a paper titled Directions for Impregnating Water with Fixed Air.
Dr. Cantrell formed a partnership with Alderman Cochrane, who later became Lord Mayor of Dublin and had the honor of adding "Sir" to the front of his name. In 1869 they opened a factory in Dublin and created the foundation of a business that was to become a thriving international industry. This partnership lasted until 1885 when Dr. Cantrell retired.
The drink was exported until the war years, when the company retrenched and concentrated only on their home market from factories in London, Stockport and Glasgow.
The cork stopper was used to close the bottles, but the cork stopper had to remain moist. One of the methods used most commonly in Europe was to invert the bottle to keep the liquid in continuous contact with the cork. The bottoms of the bottles were rounded to prevent them from standing upright.
These early bottles were hand blown and had blob tops, named for the mass of glass used to form the lip on the bottle. Tops were applied in a separate operation during manufacture.
When I attempted to find out about this highly prized bottle, I soon learned that there are many bottle collectors in the local area. Just as the size and shape of those who collect bottles varies, the actual bottles come in many different sizes and shapes. There are tons of variations of bottles: medicine bottles, beer, whiskey, inkwells, flasks, perfume, baby, oil, apothecary, milk, soda, sarsaparilla, tonic, bitters, and medicinal bottles. Some of the more unusual shaped bottles are shown at www.fohbc.com/PDF_Files/UnusualBottles_Sp2006.pdf .
Unique advertising labels are also a draw for the bottle collector. A bottle with the label intact, advertising cures for everything from consumption to rheumatism, epilepsy to a cure-all for every ailment you can think of are prized. If it came in a box and you can find that to go with the bottle, all the better. Prices for these will of course vary, but many are still available in the $5 to $20 range, priced low today because of the large number that were manufactured. Apothecary jars, as once found on the pharmacist's shelf, are just as desirable. These came with paper labels, milk glass, even different colored glass. Besides advertising what was in them, many also listed the name of the store.
Milk bottles, both round and square, are often collected in the local area by people like Brian Bower (See the June 4, 2007, Benton News). Motor oil once came in clear and colored glass with both paper or embossed labels.
Here are a few of the terms used in bottle collecting..
. Pontil, a mark or scar on the bottom of the bottle, made from the rod the glassblower used.
. Mold-blown refers to a process where in the glassblower blew the glass into a mold.
. Free blown is exactly what it sounds like. The glassblower, without any mold, shaped the bottle by blowing.
. Sun colored refers to glass that has become colored from the sun's rays, such as a purple that comes from exposure to the sun and sand.
. Etched refers to a design cut into the glass
. Embossed refers to a design layered on by a process resulting in raised lettering.
What I was finding this May morning were green bottles embossed with the name Cochrane & Co Belfast, a bottle that originally contained soda water. The bottles served as ballast in a ship's cargo. My search resulted in finding a lot of broken glass and rusted metal. I knew the round-bottom bottle was not particularly old, it was an import and therefore not of great value--interesting, but not something many would want to collect.
We'll conclude the article on bottles in Friday's edition.
Didja know that the first carnival held in the Benton Park ran from June 26 to July 1, 1939? And didja know that the very first Fire Company carnival held in the Borough was in 1917 and was held on the school grounds of the old school? Ben McHenry was in charge. And didja know that the first fire company for the town had 20 members? And didja know that between May, 1935, to August, 1938, the only piece of fire equipment that the fire company had was an old Model T Ford? And didja know that the 2007 Benton Volunteer Fire Company Carnival returns to the Benton Rodeo Grounds July 30-August 4? During the week, there will be a Pet and Toy Parade, 50/50 drawings, nightly drawings, business displays, Chicken Bar-B-Que, and the last night of the carnival is the famous water battle. It will take place from North Street to Center Street following the Fireman's Parade, Saturday, August 4. Bring and fill your own balloons.
Other Upcoming Events...
• June 18-22, 2007. Benton Community Vacation Bible School (non-denominational), sponsored by the Benton Council of Churches, will be held at the Benton Christian Church from 6 PM until 8:30 PM. The theme will "Son Force Kids" (spies & secret agents). The closing program will be held on Friday, June 22, at 8:30 PM. All children from age 4 to those in 6th grade are welcome.
• July 14, 2007. Eagles Mere 23 Summer Antique Market, 8 AM to 4 PM.
• August 11-12, 2007. Eagles Mere 27th Arts and Crafts Festival, 10 AM to 5 PM.
• September 1, 2007. 25th Fall Antique Market, 8 AM to 4 PM.
AYSO Fall 2007/Spring 2008 registration will be held on Tuesday June 12, 7-8:30 PM, and Wednesday, June 20, 7-8:30 PM at the soccer fields. Prices are $35 for the first child, $30 for second sibling, $25 for third sibling and thereafter.
A Message to Graduates
All over the United States high school graduates and college graduates are entering the stage of life at a time when business opportunities are plentiful.
Although young graduates arc not too often prone to take freely-offered advice, we will nevertheless offer a few points, as a general guide, which we believe might be helpful to those leaving school at this time.
The first thing worth mentioning is that every graduate, or even those who did not graduate, can succeed in life. We live in a country where success can he achieved as a result of sustained effort, or determination. One does not have to be a genius, brilliant, or even smart to achieve this success.
Fortunately, in the United States we have such plentiful opportunities that a determination to succeed, and a willingness to work, will produce very gratifying results.
Perhaps the most important single piece of advice to be given to graduates or those entering the business world at this time is the suggestion that they develop an individual Christian philosophy. This means that each person develop a set of principles and a philosophy by which he will try to live his life. Naturally, he will sometimes fail, but the point is that he will be attempting to live a life in harmony with certain basic guidelines.
Another suggestion is for youngsters today to resist the temptation to overemphasize the importance of money, The great values of life, and of time are not dependent upon financial means.
These things--a life patterned on the Christian philosophy of Jesus, one in which hard and sustained work is respected, one in which money s not worshipped as a god, and one in which help is extended to our fellow men, and evil gossip resisted, add up to a life of good citizenship, and a contribution to one’s community, city and state.
--Editorial, Benton Argus, May 31, 1962
Don't lay on the horn when you drive through Harrisburg, thanks to a horn-blowing ordinance passed Wednesday by the city council of that city. The ordinance also limits hours for construction noise and bans blaring car radios. Almost everything is covered, except for shouting street preachers exercising their First Amendment rights. Harrisburg's noise standard is simply controllable noise that is plainly audible 50 feet from its source in a residential section, or 75 feet on Second Street.
The McHenry Reunion Committee met at the former home of Congressman John G. McHenry Tuesday evening to plan for their upcoming reunion in the Benton Park August 11. The meal will be served at noon. The McHenry committee will provide the meat. Those attending should bring a covered dish, place settings, a non-alcoholic beverage and small bingo prize. There will be door prizes, a 50/50 drawing and a special raffle item. It is important to contact Vinnie Hippensteel, 907 E. 8th St. Berwick, PA 18603, 570-752-1761, if you plan to attend.
The lovely former home of Congressman McHenry is now the residence of Doyle "Terry" and Denise Stout, descendents from the line of Thomas.
The Stouts have two daughters, one of which was raised at the Distillery Home. Terry's mother was Grace McHenry Stout, daughter of Oliver Kline.
The reunion was started by Larry McHenry, now deceased, but all of the McHenry family, "no matter how deep in the woods," are invited. Attendees of prior reunions have been from other McHenry lines; in fact, descendants have attended from all the male children of John and Susannah.
Seated on the bench: Gerald McHenry and Vinniedee McHenry Hippensteel. Vinnie is holding a copy of her book, McHenry Connections.
Second Row: Barbara McHenry (Wife of Gerald), Denise Stout (House owner), Dawn McHenry (Wife of Donald).
Third Row: Donald "Don" McHenry, Sandy Schamberger (She was the McHenry and wife of Bill), Eric Fricki (son of Nancy & Bill), Bill Schamberger, Nancy Fricki (Wife of Bill), Bill Fricki
Two sons of John and Susannah McHenry stayed in this area. John is buried in Pottsgrove and Susannah lived with son Daniel and is buried at St. Gabriel's Church Cemetery. Daniel is the McHenry Distillery line and Gerald and Don are descendants of this son
Thomas (Twin of John who moved to Southport, New York) was a farmer and is buried in McHenry Cemetery with his wife although the tombstone only cites his name.
June 6, 2007.
Have you ever wondered what the role of the vice president would be if Hillary Clinton and her husband, the former president, were elected to the White House?
Several great events in the folklore and history of Pennsylvania transportation happened in the 1800s just outside of the northern end of Columbia County.
• We have told you about the provincial assembly naming the Susquehanna River "a public highway" and setting aside money to make it navigable back in 1771. The first families to come up the river were propelled by four men with setting poles, cruising about two miles an hour against the current, but it was not a successful concept. In the Pine Grove Cemetery, Berwick, are headstones of two men killed in the explosion of the steamship Susquehanna at Berwick May 3, 1826. These men died because of attempts to mechanize navigation of the Susquehanna. You can read more about navigating the river here.
• Readers and anyone familiar with our area know about construction of turnpikes authorized by a Pennsylvania act of 1806. In 1807 a company called the President, Managers and Company of the Susquehanna and Tioga Turnpike Road incorporated to build a turnpike from Berwick to the Tioga River at Elmira, New York (at that time called Newtown). The Berwick and Towanda Turnpike Company began running stages in 1827. The turnpike, improved in places like the road "over Jonestown Mountain" and "up Red Rock Mountain," is still used in some locations. The turnpike over Painter Den property was vacated in 1907, after serving the area for almost 100 years. You can read more about the Susquehanna & Tioga Turnpike by going here. .
• Transportation also was attempted by canal which began at Northumberland and ran parallel to the Susquehanna River for 169 miles. The first boat--the Tonawanda--navigated the length of the canal in 1856 ending in Elmira, connecting then with New York state canals. The North Branch Canal Company incorporated in 1843, and acquired part of an unfinished canal between the Lackawanna River and the state line. The company didn't comply with the conditions of transfer and had to revert back to state control in 1848, under whose control it remained until Pennsylvania sold its public works in the mid-1850s. The canal just didn't produce the anticipated revenue or improve the growth of the area as anticipated.
The people of the state were told that the canal would provide the state with a cheap and safe means of transporting its vast coal resources to the New York market, but the cost to the state of building the North Branch Canal exceeded a million and a half dollars, and floods and other natural causes kept running up costs.
You can find more on the subject of canals in the Berwick area when Stephen Runkle of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission gives a PowerPoint presentation on Canals and Canal Life in the Susquehanna River Basin Region to the Northern Columbia County Historical Society at 9 AM, Monday, August 20. The presentation will be given to the group at the Brass Pelican Restaurant, Elk Grove.
This presentation gives an overview of the region's canals and their engineering and construction. Canal boats and their operation are discussed. Additionally, the presentation covers the life of canal families, the various canal occupations, and recreation on the canals.
The presentation utilizes canal photographs from the archives of the National Canal Museum, Easton, and the Erie Canal Museum, Syracuse. In addition, pertinent photographs from the personal collection of William Shank of the American Canal and Transportation Center are used. One of the highlights of the presentation is listening to audio recordings of canal songs.
The speaker is a Hydraulic Engineer and Engineering Supervisor formerly with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. He also has served as an independent contractor with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission in the field of water resources engineering. Steve’s engineering experience spans over 36 years. Steve resides in Mechanicsburg and is active in local historical groups. Steve has a keen interest in local history, the civil war, area canals, and Indian tribes that once lived in the Susquehanna Basin. He will speak as a volunteer with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission’s Public Information and Outreach Program.
Wouldn't it be nice if common sense was--well, more common!
Icehouses have long since disappeared as a means of keeping our perishable food cool. The memory of what happened on North Mountain at the 40-acre Mountain Springs Lake when the ice was harvested is just a memory for people like Mary Lou Buckalew who grew up there. The harvesting of ice is remembered only as a subject in books like Peter Tomasak's The White Gold of Mountain Springs. The concept of an iceman is only a legend today. The relic that remains is the old wooden icebox, once relegated to oblivion, now enjoying a decorative comeback in almost any room of a house.
Iceboxes date back to 1850 or so. They were then and are now elegant pieces of furniture, even if they were simple in design. The price to buy them ranged from $7.25 to about $67. If the icebox had nickel-plated hinges, no casters, one food compartment, some insulation, zinc or tin lining, lead drain pipe, an ice capacity of about 30 pounds, an ice chest could be purchased for about $7.26.
If the icebox had rich, hand-carved, raised ornaments, if the hardware was polished brass equipped with strong steel, easy-rolling casters, if it had several food compartments, was fully insulated and lined with sanitary white porcelain (advertised as being as easy to clean "as a china dish") and had easily removable shelves and ice rack, door gaskets and an ice compartment that could hold 175 pounds of ice in one chuck, it was the most expensive and the most luxurious and it cost $67.50. All the cabinets, regardless of size, were either sturdy ash or a solid oak case.
The walls of the iceboxes were hollow, lined with tin or zinc and filled with insulating materials such as sawdust, cork or straw. An open jar of calcium chloride was usually kept in the food-chamber box. As the top of the chloride became moist, it was scraped off until it became dry. Advertisements for the ice boxes often warned purchasers not to keep their milk in an open container or the milk would absorb the tastes and smells of the food kept in the icebox.
Some of the well known brands in the late 1800s and early 1900s were Seroco, Michigan, Economy, Puritan, Maynard and Windsor.
These old iceboxes today end up as filing cabinets, junk drawers, child's clothes closets or toy chests, blanket chests, family reference centers, china closets, storage for winter clothing, linen closets, bookcases, game cabinet, hope chests, medicine cabinets and hobby display cabinets. If the top lifts up, it could turn into a planter.
Four rusty-red colored red-fox kits with white underbelly, black ear tips and legs, and bushy tails with white tips play on a spring morning near their den in this photo by Cathy and Barry Beck Photography. Even at this early age, the eyesight of a fox is as sharp as that of a feline. These animals will have great speed when they are full grown and could eventually weigh in the neighborhood of 12 pounds. The red fox will munch on rats, mice, squirrels, insects, fruits, worms, eggs, birds, and other small animals. The red fox is most active at night and at twilight and generally hunts alone, pairing up only in winter.
Red Fox Pups courtesy of Cathy and Bary Beck Photography
Barry and Cathy Beck have their photographic prints on display and for sale at Headwaters Gallery, located on St. Gabriel's Hill Road, about 1½ miles from Route 487. The shop is open by appointment only, except during the holiday season when it is open on weekends. Pictures are also displayed at The Old Filling Station, Benton, Creekside Restaurant, Orangeville, and the Bakery Antiques Company, Main Street, Benton.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007. Happy birthday today to Edd Sidinger, III.
The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal in its Monday edition included an article about Howard Peterman on his 100th birthday yesterday in Elizabethtown. As many residents of Sullivan County know, Howard has written columns for small-town newspapers in north-estern Pennsylvania newspapers throughout his life.
Howard began by writing about automobiles, but his topics grew to hunting for criminals to metal detectors at schools, local flooding and care for the elderly. His memories date to 1910 and were what most readers liked about him the most. He wrote about schools and roads and memories and logging. He wrote about floating logs down Muncy Creek, as an example
Howard was born on a farm near Nordmont, the second of six children and the oldest of Glen and Lizzie Little Peterman's three sons. His father and one of his sisters died from typhoid fever when Peterman was still a child. Peterman attended the 69-pupil Sugar Point School, then attended Sonestown High School by driving a horse each way. He has two daughters, Lois and Janet Peterman, plus four grandchildren. Howard has two siblings still living, an older sister, 103, and a younger brother.
He taught all elementary grades at Davidson Township, Sonestown and Laporte schools. He did auto repairs at his father's general store in Nordmont and once owned the Picture Rocks Garage, where he sold Atlantic and Amoco gas. He taught auto mechanics at the former Williamsport Technical Institute and worked on aircraft engines at the former Avco Lycoming during World War II. Peterman moved to Hughesville in 1951 and worked part time at Avco, in local garages and for Freezer's Auto Parts, Hughesville.
Peterman came out of retirement eight years later when he began part-time shift work in the maintenance department of Lycoming Mall in Muncy Township. He worked at the mall for the next four years. In 2003, Peterman wrote the book, Letters from Elizabethtown: Memories of a Sullivan County Man, for a fundraiser for the Sullivan County Historical Society. The book is sold at the Brass Pelican Restaurant, Elk Grove.
• June 7, 2007. The German Heritage Society of the Susquehanna Valley will hold its monthly meeting on Thursday from 7 PM to 9 PM. The GHSSV meeting will be held at the Degenstein Library, 40 South Fifth Street, Sunbury. The public is invited to join members and guests as they learn about the ‘Servus Program’ that promotes cultural understanding, friendship, and peace through foreign travel. Society Member Susan Robishaw will relate her Servus experiences traveling in the German speaking countries of Europe where she was a guest in the homes of local families. As always, socializing will precede and follow the meeting. For more information, please feel free to contact GHSSV President Jeff Sheaffer, 374-7730.
• June 8, 2007. This Friday night at Max’s Restaurant, Second Street, Harrisburg, from 7 to 11 PM, the Andrew Bellanca World Trio, with John McHenry on percussion.
• June 9, 2007. Residents of the Waller Area will hold a community yard sale on Saturday from 8 AM until 4 PM. There are about 14 or 15 locations. Maps will be available to show these locations. It will be held rain or shine. Gary Strauch, 925-6610, can answer questions.
June 9, 2007. Home-made ice cream social with strawberry shortcake, ham and other sandwiches, Philadelphia cheese cake and the delicious home-made French fries everyone loves at the Benton Carnival. From 4 until 8 Saturday night. All proceeds benefit the Benton Volunteer Fire Company. At the fire hall.
A reader wrote saying she realized after taking care of several of her grandchildren that God invented menopause because he loves us.
A Call for Artists for the Northern Columbia Community & Cultural Center (N4C)
The N4C is applying for a grant through the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts Program for a program to be held at the center called, Experiencing the Arts. The program would consist of classes of hands-on introduction to as many various art disciplines as we can find instructors willing to share their expertise. We are looking for instructors in stained glass, using watercolors, drawing ink or chalk, quilting, needlepoint, calligraphy and other disciplines. We are looking for people in our community with expertise and are willing to share and to help.
Each discipline could have four to six classes of instruction for which the instructors could receive a stipend through the grant, and hopefully to provide the necessary art supplies and equipment to the class participants as well.
Experiencing the Arts could possibly be a springboard to further the growth of the Art and Cultural aspects of the N4C. Deadline to submit for a grant is July 12, so the need to hear from artists as soon as possible is evident.
A couple of things crossed my desk today that I found interesting. First was curiosity over the term, Mind your own beeswax. I suspect that the origins are lost for many old sayings like this, but I once heard that the term came from the days when smallpox was a regular disfigurement. Ladies filled in their pocks with beeswax. When the weather turned warm or the lady sat too close to the fireplace, the wax often melted. It usually didn't work to tell some ladies that her makeup needed attention for fear of hearing "mind your own beeswax!"
The next thing I found interesting was an email from an acquaintance from 20 or so years ago, who found something on the Benton News through a Google search, and subsequently contacted me. We had known each other in Arlington, VA, a county certainly small in size but not in density or population. He asked about living in a small town, and that will be the subject of today's rant.
In my view, there is a broader range of friendships and relationships in a village, town, Borough, Township (or whatever the small area happens to call itself) than in a city. There is a greater sense of responsibility for one's neighbors and a greater sense of support by one's fellow man. People grow to a responsible adult life where institutions are within the scale they can comprehend and are within the grasp of responsibility and their capacity to manage.
Historically, the Borough of Benton has been divided by Main Street, the old Bloomsburg and Sullivan Railroad tracks, Market Street, three churches and a lot of opinion. Many residences have been in the family for generations, and the same applies to farms in the surrounding countryside.
In the larger cities, half the population has no idea how the other half lives. Tain't so in the local area. Someone once said if no one knows the trouble you've seen, you are not living in a small town. Here, women don't need to engage in idle gossip--they know! Everyone knows whose check is good and whose husband isn't. If a fellow gets a black eye, no one asks about it. They know about it. Some people don't even know what they are up to until the gossip gets back to them. There may not be much to see here, but what there is to hear makes up for it. The term "mind your own beeswax" doesn't apply here.
Most of us have set down with members of previous generations and heard stories about things like out-houses, food and hard work. We have heard about the baths in the community wooden tub on Saturday nights, cooking on wood and coal stoves, doing the laundry with a washboard, the daily grind from sun up to sun down. But we suspect that never once did you hear that life was unfair or that someone took advantage of them. They were self-reliant and had something called "gumption," they rejoiced in their opportunities and basked in the glory of the accomplishments of their family members.
We were loved by our parents and might have disagreed at times with our siblings, but would have defended them to the death. Parents constantly improved the lives of their children even when they did without themselves.
As our worlds moved from the Saturday-night tub to air conditioning and the hot tub, some wholesome values were lost. It just might be that the family isn't one iota better today, that the individual is no stronger and self-reliant and that our country is no more spiritually strong and well grounded as it was back a hundred years or so. Mother, if she were alive, might very well look at the world situation and say something like the "world is going to hell in a hand basket."
June 4, 2007. The 19th amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote was passed by Congress on this date in 1919 and in 1942 the Battle of Midway was waged in the Central Pacific Ocean. Happy birthday today to Calvin Follmer, a former high school classmate. Pam Andrezze, Helen Harvey and Amy Remley Vincent also celebrate their birthdays today.
Monday's Press Enterprise reports that Benton Area School Director Evy Lysk has charges of unfair labor practices through an "anti-union publicity campaign" filed with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board by the Benton Area Education Association." The school district was also charged for Lysk's actions since they did not order her to stop.
I have given up health foods. I decided that I need all the preservatives I can get.
A new bluegrass band has formed in Benton and will begin playing in the near future as a regular feature of Kristie's Kafe. We'll provide full particulars soon.
I believe that I am getting old. I am getting the same sensation from a rocking chair that I once got from a roller coaster.
A reader asked if I would write a "short" tribute to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Regretfully, I can't write anything "short." I can, however, clearly recall three short but dynamic tributes that others have written about the state. Here are the three: "Keystone state." "Arsenal of Democracy." "Cradle of Liberty." Think about them.
Quote of the Day:
"The things that truly last when men and times have passed--they're all in Pennsylvania."
Our state is a state of contrasts, our seasons, our terrain, our trails, our turnpikes, the English, the Amish. In our state, we have a waterfall higher than Niagara, an area known as the "Switzerland of America," and we have our own Grand Canyon. We claim some pretty illustrious people from Boone to Buchanan, Penn and Paine, Peary and Priestly, and a Laubach and a McHenry that we are quite proud to call our own. We've had our share of firsts in music; i.e., the first organ, piano, orchestra, symphony and conservatory arrived in the new world via our state. So it is no wonder that our state has produced a Foster, a Nevin and a Cadman and is the birthplace of Ave Maria, Whispering Hope, We Three Kings, and the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Oh, and did I mention that Penn's Charter formed the basis for the Republic? On our soil was framed the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. It was here that the Liberty Bell proclaimed its historic message to the entire country.
Look at our state this way: America was born in Philadelphia, baptized at Valley Forge and preserved at Gettysburg.
• June 8, 2007. The Dallas Eastern Star Building Association will hold a chicken and biscuit supper at the Dallas Eastern Star Hall, Foster & Woodlawn Street, Dallas, behind the CVS drug store, starting at 4:30 and running until 7 PM or until sold out. Takeouts will be available starting at 4. Their famous Welsh cookies will be for sale. Tickets are available at the door: adults for $7 and children for $3.50. Preschool children are free. For information call Dianne Corby, 675-4893
• June 8, 2007. Christine's Karaoke will be at Kameeo's in Benton from 9:30 to 1:30.
• June 8-9, 2007. The Orangeville Sportsmen’s Club will hold a groundhog hunt from 3 PM Friday to 1 PM Saturday. Weigh-ins will be held from 7 to 8 PM Friday and from 10 AM to 2 PM Saturday. Prizes will be awarded at 2 PM Saturday. The registration deadline for the event has passed. Thirty percent of the registration fee and a trophy will be awarded to the hunter with the heaviest groundhog. Ten percent will go to the hunter with the second heaviest animal and 10 percent to the hunters with the heaviest three groundhogs, based on combined weight. Additional information on the event is available at The Benton Sports Center and other locations.
• June 10, 2007. A bingo fundraiser will help Nyssa Hittle, 15, a Benton High School student, raise money to visit the United Kingdom as a "People to People" student ambassador. Twenty games cost $20.
• June 23-24, 2007. Summer Festival at the Ol' Country Barn, off Route 487, 10 AM to 5 PM.
• July 14, 2007. Car and Bike Show to benefit the family of Albert Wood at the Millville American Legion from 4 to 8 PM. Regular karaoke show to follow. The admission is $5 per person if paid by June 30; $7 after. Contact Christine Karns, 678 Central Road. Benton, PA 17814, 441-9809
• August 9, 2007. Christine's Karaoke contest at the North Mountain Fire Co. Carnival with $100 to the winner. Must be pre-registered!
The Times Leader in their Sunday edition had an interesting article about Brian Bower, Jonestown, and his more than 700 milk bottles covering walls in three rooms of his Jonestown house. The milk bottles are from local dairy operations in Columbia and Luzerne Counties. His interest in collecting bottles dates back to his days of hauling milk from the Huntington Mills area to the Kingston Dairy and other dairies in the Back Mountain area. One bottle that is near and dear to his heart is from the former Thunderbird Farm Dairy, Benton, worth an estimated $300. One of the rarest in his collection came from the Ralph R. Smith dairy, Benton, before doing business as Thunderbird Farms. One bottle he doesn't have, according to the article, is a bottle from the Byrne E. Winn Dairy, Benton.
It is possible that some people over fifty don't have babies because if they put them down they might forget where they left them.
June 3, 2007. It is the birthday of Caitlin Curtin and the wedding anniversary of Harry and Shirley Ritter.
On March 1, 2007, the town of Enterprise, Alabama, was hit hard by a tornado killing eight students at the high school and one woman in town who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The high school was completely demolished along with Hillcrest elementary school. Two of the students were seniors at the high school. The senior class graduated three days ago on the football field after massive clean up of the field.
Dick and Janet McHenry were in Enterprise that day and recently reminded me that the town still has a long way to recovery. There is a new high school and elementary school to build plus many, many homes to rebuild. Their home that was about 55% destroyed is still the same as it was the day three months ago when the tornado tore it apart. They are having problems finding a general contractor that their insurance company will accept. Earlier this week, they had a couple of general contractors look at the house and are giving bids to our insurance company so hopefully something will start happening. Please keep Enterprise, Janet and Dick in your prayers
Every other day
Take a drop in water.
You'll be better soon
Or at least you oughter.
Benton lost an old friend on this date in 2004 when the building that burned on March 28, 2004, was demolished.
A fire broke out about 10 PM March 28 in the rear of the Benton Flower Station building on Main Street. The building was between DR's QuikMart and the building at 215 Main Street housing Brian Laubach's beauty shop and the offices of Clark, Schaeffer, Jones & Eichner, Certified Public Accountants, at 219 Main Street.
The Flower Station building was extensively damaged before it was brought under control by an estimated 100 firemen from Benton, North Mountain, Espy, Orangeville and Millville. Two trucks from Bloomsburg, including Ladder 42, were on the scene. Espy's Rapid Response Team was also on the scene. Insurance estimators decided that the building was a total loss and it would have to be torn down. Edwards Construction began the demolition process at first light of morning.
The first time I can remember seeing the building, the store was a five and dime store called Buckley's Store. The building was sold in 1963, when Ray and Alice Davenport sold their business, which had operated under the name of Buckley's 5¢ to $1.00 Store, to Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Fullmer, Bloomsburg.
The name of the store came from Mr. and Mrs. Willard Buckley, Shickshinny. The couple operated a variety store in Benton for many years, in the location where the Benton Flower Station was on Main Street when it burned. The couple had three daughters, Mrs. John (Laura) Devens, Shickshinny, Mrs. Walter (Grace) duBose; and Mrs. Ray (Alice) Davenport. Alice Davenport lived in Benton for many years in the present location of the Old Filling Station, and now lives in Houston, TX.
. June 7, 8, 9, 2007. Christ the King Church will hold its annual Rummage Sale Thursday from 8-3; Friday. 8-3 and Saturday 8 till noon will be Bag Sale Day. The church is located on Mendenhall Lane, near the rodeo grounds. Sale will take place in building behind the church. Parking in the church parking lot and follow sign path to sale.
. June 7, 2007. Richard Huskey, MD, geriatrician with Bloomsburg Physician Services and board certified in long-term care will speak about Rehabilitative medicine for the Elderly on Thursday, at 6:00 PM at the Orangeville Nursing and Rehab Center, 200 Berwick Road. Dr. Huskey is a recent addition to the medical staff at Bloomsburg Hospital. For more information, please call the Orangeville Nursing and Rehab Center at (570) 683-5036.
• July 14, 2007, in conjunction with the Iron Heritage Festival, a 300 person work crew is being formed to "grub" a section of the North Branch Canal Trail (NBCT). Your help that day would be appreciated. The NBCT is a hiking and biking trail system linking the towns of Danville and Bloomsburg. The trail is the first section of a proposed system that would eventually connect Northumberland to the Wyoming Valley. The $50,000 in "matching dollars" required to move forward with the NBCT has been raised. The NBCT will provide an economic stimulus to the area. On Tuesday, June 19, the quarterly meeting of the NBCT project task force will convene at 7 PM and is TENTATIVELY set for the Inn at Turkey Hill.
. June 22, 2007. Orangeville Nursing and Rehab Center, 200 Berwick Road, Orangeville, will host its annual Animal House Day on Friday, June 22, from 9 AM to 3 PM. Fun, food and many exotic animals and wildlife will be on display for everyone to enjoy. "Elvis" the alligator will also make an appearance. The event is free and open to the general public. For more information, please call Darlia Sponenberg at the Orangeville Nursing and Rehab Center, 683-5036.
June 2, 2007.
The first time around in 2003, Evy Lysk won her seat on the Benton Area School Board with 15 write-in votes. This time around, it was the luck of the draw to get her on the Republican ballot for Region II of Benton and Sugarloaf townships. Evy tied in the primary election with opponent Stephen E. Root with Republican voters. The determination of who would represent the Republicans was made by pulling numbered balls out of a plastic bottle with the lowest number getting the nod. Evy lost in the primary election to Root on the Democratic side, but Root is now expected not to run for the four-year term. Fellow Patriot Voice representative, Kathy Wells, lost her Republican nomination for school board to represent Fishing Creek Township and Stillwater Borough.
If politicians in Southern California get their way, it may soon not to be legal to throw a log on the fire or use a wood-burning fireplace if newly proposed air quality regulations are adopted. To meet air pollution plans to comply with federal deadlines, officials for the South Coast Air Quality Management District have proposed a ban on wood-burning fireplaces in all new homes in Los Angeles, Orange and portions of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Additionally, on those days when pollution levels are their highest wood-fueled blazes in all fireplaces would be banned in highly affected areas.
Studies have shown that the fine particulate matter in soot sinks deep into the lungs, causing serious health problems. California must achieve a daily reduction of 192 tons of nitrogen oxides, an ingredient in harmful particulate pollution, to meet the Clean Air Act requirements. Wonder how the Borough would make out in the winter months if the same standards were enforced here.
The National Weather Service ireported a hazardous weather outlook for Friday night for northeast Pennsylvania, although it ended up missing our area. Because of unsettled air in the area for the next several days, follow the weather by clicking here.
Life in the Slow Lane,
Back Home in Benton, PA
Photo courtesy of Barry and Cathy Beck Photography
You can keep busy over the weekend in the upper Fishingcreek valley. There is the chicken barbecue beginning Saturday at 4 PM at the Millville Fire Company. The children's fishing derby begins Saturday afternoon at 2:30 at the Mill Race Golf Course for kids 5-12. At the mall at Buckhorn, is the used book sale by the Friends of the Columbia County Traveling Library. Sunday is the all-you-can-eat breakfast at the Fairmount Twp. Fire and Ambulance Co., Sweet Valley, beginning at 8 AM. And there are a couple of public auctions to consider.
From spring through late fall, an excitement settles over the area as people head for their cars and the open road to look at precious heirlooms and attic discards and listen to wisecracks from a man on a podium as they attempt to outbid their neighbors when they find the perfect item. They then return home with their treasures, the tensions of the situation in Iraq and their domestic problems forgotten for the day.
We're talking about buying and selling at auction, an event as American as eating Mother's apple pie or going to a Pennsylvania fair or festival. People are flocking to auctions more than they ever have. We even list local, upcoming auctions on the side panel of this web site, under UPCOMING EVENTS.
When I first married, many years ago, my bride and I furnished our first apartment with treasures from auctions and garage sales. My first purchase was a half-pedestal Edwardian-style desk, purchased at auction on North Main Street. The price was $5. As I struggled to load it into my Volkswagen Beetle, someone offered me $10--either out of pity for me trying to get it home in a vehicle just slightly bigger than its driver or because it was still a bargain at $10. I think it was the latter, since later I sold it for $45 and it is worth hundreds today.
An auction brings out collectors searching for unique items and these are the guys who seem to pay almost anything to get just the right piece. Second-hand furniture dealers are there to stock their shelves. Some people stop for amusement, some for diversion, some to talk and observe. Newly-weds come to fill their apartments and houses.
An attorney and his wife from Fairfax, Virginia, once visited, and Kay and I took them to an auction in Laporte--not so much that we thought they wanted to go, but there was something to be sold that caught Kay's eye. I haven't a clue how we got home that day. The attorney's wife filled the car with things. She got caught up in the spirit of household goods spread over the porch and the lawn, the folks meandering with their ever-watchful eyes gazing at the ground as if they were oblivious of others. Some checked drawers for dove-tailed corners, some carefully examined a poured top or pontil mark to make sure that the piece was authentic.
I once saw a woman buy a dressing screen at auction in Arlington, Virginia. She quickly paid for it and went home with her purchase. Almost as quickly, she returned and convinced the auctioneer to put it back up for sale. The color did not match her walls. It would not work in her house. Surprisingly, the auctioneer did put it back up for sale. Guess who bought it and paid $12 more than the first time she bought it? The woman did, when she saw a neighbor she didn't like bidding on it.
Usually in a shady corner of the lawn, women of a local church or a mom and pop food-vending operation dispense homemade vegetable soup, pie, sandwiches and drinks.
The auction can be a success or a failure and much of that is up to the auctioneer. The old-time auctions were run by local farmers or tradesmen who had a "way with words" and threw in plenty of funny one-liners. Professionals are the auctioneers today. An item held up for sale instantly becomes the center of attention. The crowd hushes during the bidding. The volume builds up after the sale as comments are offered about the sale price or the item.
The auctioneer must feel like a nap when the day is over! "Six, now seven, now seven, now seven! Eight, now ten, now ten, now ten! Ten, now twenty, now twenty." A voice from the sidelines yells out, "A dollar, a dollar" and from ten or so feet away someone yells, "Five, I got five." Suddenly, the bidding is up to $40 and the sweating auctioneer points to a previous bidder and asks in a voice that is almost demanding, "At forty, now fifty, will you? Fifty, will you make it? After a bit, knowing there is much more to auction, the auctioneer asks, "Are you satisfied? Are you all through? Are you all in, all done? Last chance, at forty, forty once, forty twice--short pause--forty third and last time--and s-o-l-d."
The next painting that comes up for auction has a chip out of the frame, and the auctioneer tells the crowd, "there is a chip missing from the frame and if there isn't, just bring it on back." An item of unknown use is described as either a sprayer or a stomach pump. Flaws, when known, are pointed out, usually in the context of making the item seem like it is worth more since it obviously has been used.
A young single girl is encouraged to buy a crib, "just in case." Boxes of "knick-nacks and what-nots" are held up. A chrome bed pan is described as a large coffee cup, but finally the auctioneer admits what it is. The auctioneer tells the roaring audience that he has the catcher, now he just needs the pitcher.
Auctions, like life, follow certain rules, always publicly announced before the bidding begins. Terms are always cash (or "good check") and the high bidder gets it. The item is rebid if there is a dispute. The buyer is responsible for whatever he buys from the moment he buys it, even though he hasn't paid for it at that point. Title for the item passes with the announcement of the word "SOLD!" Nothing can be removed from the auction site until payment is made.
Bidders sometimes yell their bids, especially women who find something like a quilt that they think they have to acquire for the spare bedroom. Their yelling of the price is like the roar of a lion--telling everyone else that this is theirs and all others should move out of the way. But there are bidders who simply wink an eye or touch their ear or scratch their nose. A movement of the hand often indicates a bid, but many an item has been bought when someone spots a friend across the way and waves to him or her. Auctioneers have a way of making a light moment out of it, but the same mistake is rarely ever made twice by the person again. Dealers often have others do some bidding for them, so as not to signal the real worth of an item.
When the auctioneer feels the time is right, out come the antiques, the big-ticket items, like drop-leaf tables, corner cupboards, parlor lamps, four-poster beds. A rule is that if it is prime if it is primitive. There are spinning wheels and and-irons. The sugar bowl without the lid is advertised as a flower pot, a brass pail that no one wants is a wastebasket and suddenly four people begin bidding. Items that should bring the big bucks have stories--real or made up on the spot--to go with them. "The owner's grandmother was holding the little tyke in that fiddle-back chair when President Roosevelt died."
The man who came to purchase stained pine shelving suddenly buys a cardboard box of whiskey bottles along with a wooden box of doodads. The lady who came to work at the food stand suddenly buys a five-piece bedroom suit for $20 just because no one--probably including herself--wanted it. The price was right, as they say on television. I once bought a cardboard box of what appeared to be sheet music for a piano, only to find that it mostly contained newspapers published by the Ku Klux Klan. Another lady bought an old four-poster bed and discovered a stash of cash in one of the bed's false tops.
Jim Vance, Orangeville, is a local auctioneer. His son, John, follows in his father's auctioneering footsteps. Jim got his start as an auctioneer back in 1980 by asking Gele Derr, Bloomsburg, if he would teach him to be an auctioneer. Gele and his father, Pinky, told Jim to be in the south end of Bloomsburg at noon on Saturday and they would see if he had any potential. Jim arrived early, nervous, not knowing what to expect. Gele weaved his magic for a little while, then announced that he had a man in the audience who thought that he would make a good auctioneer and that he was there to apprentice for a job. Jim, sweat dripping from his hands, mounted the stage and Gele handed him a box and told him to auction it off. Jim opened the box, looked inside, sighed, closed the box and began the bidding by telling the women in the audience that it was a product that all the women needed. The bidding began and the box and its contents went to $15. A local woman purchased the box--sight unseen. After Jim cried out s-o-l-d and the woman picked up the box, she opened it. The box contained used feminine hygiene products. Jim had passed his test and went on to be one of the best local auctioneers in the area. Today, Jim always announces the contents of boxes before the bidding begins.
The crowd slowly begins to thin as the day rolls on. Box lots are all that are left. Items are pushed and shoved and throw into the waiting vehicles, sometimes strapped to the roof or piled in a trailer, then taken down the road to a new destination and adopted into a new life. Someday, the contents of that house will be offered as prized items to new owners in a new generation. Life and things acquired at auction have a way of traveling in big circles sometimes.
Quote of the Day:
" What goes around, goes around, goes around Comes all the way back around."
-- Justin Timberlake, lyrics from What Goes Around
If you would like to try your hand at auction, Saturday would be an excellent day to do it. At 520 North Main is the auction of the house and contents belonging to Ruth Brewington Sutliff with things like a hand-made desk with pigeon holes and hidden top storage. There is an auction in Orangeville where a used hot tub is offered. On Knouse Road, a country Hepplewhite chest with four graduated-beaded drawers and a jelly cupboard are offered. If you happen to see a half-pedestal Edwardian-style desk auctioned, please don't tell me how much it brings!
Have a wonderful weekend!
Friday, June 1, 2007. Joshua Vincent and Sandy Kogut celebrate their birthdays today.
There is no doubt that our state has a love affair with birds, animals and flowers. For example, didja know that Pennsylvania has town and county names that are derived from birds and animals?
Our state animal is the white-tailed deer and there is a town known as "Deer Lick." There are also derivations of town and county names that come from elk, bear, wolf, buffalo, leopard, panther and fawn. Domestic critters are not excluded, either. There are towns named after horse, mule ox, pig, bull and lamb. Even little critters are important: raccoon, frog and turtle make the list. Even the lizard (Lizard Creek Junction in Carbon County), frog and turtle gets their turn. The rattlesnake gets a town (or area) named in his honor in Florida, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon and Colorado--but not our state. Skunks and weasels didn't make this list, either, although Richard Sutliff remembers that there was an area about a half mile from Joe Laubach's store known as Skunks Misery, its name derived, I suppose, from the preponderance of skunks killed by motor vehicles in the area. It may not have been official but it was there.
Birds get mentioned, too. The eagle, the hawk, pigeon, peacock, crow and quail, raven and rook, woodcock and joy, lark and plover, duck and turkey. The state bird, the grouse, missed out on this one.
With names running out, some industrious people had to switch to naming their towns for the flower of the month, the violet; the laurel, the state flower, for the rose and the lily, pansy, primrose, cover and daisy, fern and moss. With the good comes the bad, too. There is a Weedville, 147 miles from Back Home in Benton, PA, west on I-80.
If you can pronounce the Indian names
Of towns and streams and rivers,
You belong in Pennsylvania,
Forever and forever.
The McHenry Reunion will be held at Benton Park, August 11. The meal will be served at noon. The McHenry committee will provide the meat. Those attending should bring a covered dish, place settings, a non-alcoholic beverage and small bingo prize. There will be door prizes, a 50/50 drawing and a special raffle item. It is important to contact Vinnie Hippensteel, 907 E. 8th St. Berwick, PA 18603, 570-752-1761, if you plan to attend.
Didja hear about...
• the young couple who in order to keep costs down helped the contractor who was building their new house? The wife was nailing house siding and would reach into her nail pouch, pull out a nail and either toss it over her shoulder or nail it. The exasperated husband asked why she was doing that. The wife explained that when she pulled a nail out of her pouch, half of them had the head on the wrong end so she threw them away. The frustrated husband yelled, "You moron! Those nails aren't defective! They're for the other side of the house!"
• the proposal to put up an historical marker where Babe Ruth hit his longest home run at Wilkes University’s Artillery Park, adjacent to Kirby Park? Babe Ruth is said to have clobbered a homer of over 600 feet during an exhibition game between Hughestown and Larksville back in 1926 at Artillery Park.
• the 150th anniversary of Stegmaier beer Saturday from 11 AM to 9 PM? Charles Stegmaier established the Stegmaier Brewery, Wilkes-Barre, in 1857, and personally delivered his beer from a goat-drawn cart. The Stegmaier facility has been restored as a modern office building.
Quinnipiac University regularly surveys residents in Connecticut, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania about political races, state and national elections, and issues of public concern, such as schools, taxes, transportation, municipal services and the environment. Recent polls, for example, indicate that a majority of Pennsylvanians want the Legislature to eliminate 20% of its members, cutting its current roster of 253 to 201. To see some of Quinnipiac's recent polling finds, head to http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1326.xml .
A recent Quinnipiac poll showed that Pennsylvanians rank their schools higher than do the residents of New York, Ohio and Florida. According to the poll, Pennsylvania taxpayers are willing to pay more to keep schools at a high level of quality, saying they are willing to raise property taxes to spend more on K-12 education. That same poll indicated that eight out of 10 voters felt that property-tax reductions were very important or somewhat important to them.
Benton Borough Council met in session May 14 at the Benton Volunteer Fire Hall with John Jankowski, Daniel Hartman, Allen Hess, Dan Jankowski, Michael McCormick, Mayor Jan Swan, Ed Kocher, Joseph Peters, Randy Karschner, Harold Morris and Kay Yankovich attending. Eleven guests were also present.
Items of interest...
• John Jankowski reported that he has met with the Solicitor to discuss a general nuisance ordinance which would cover noise and outdoor furnaces in the Borough.
• Police Chief Randy Karschner reiterated that unregistered vehicles will be removed from the streets following the 30-day time limit. The no-parking rule between 12 midnight and 6 AM on Main Street will be reviewed for the need for such a regulation on days when a snow emergency is not in place.
• There have been 24 incidents reported to the police from May 1-May 14. Chief Karschner reported that the lights at the dam are very beneficial in deterring crime in that area. He suggested additional lights be placed to illuminate the area by the gazebos, which would decrease the potential for crime in that area as well. Chief Karschner was directed to prepare a proposal for the purchase of a taser gun and a speed gun and present to Council at the June meeting.
• Frank Brennan, Chief, Berwick Police Force, former Commander of the Bloomsburg State Police Barracks, was introduced by Mayor Swan. Chief Brennan provided information on crime waves which are moving into rural areas, and suggested possible solutions for deterring this from becoming a serious problem. He stated that the police must be “out among the people” in order to remain on top of problems. With criminals being pushed out of larger cities, the small towns in rural areas are being targeted as their new territories. He suggested the state be contacted to perform an assessment for a regional police force. There are no costs involved, and this could be extremely helpful to the Benton area.
• There was discussion of trail markers from horses on area streets because of the Amish family and their frequent visitors. Several residents have contacted John Jankowski with complaints. Dan Jankowski responded that he has researched this problem and there are several courses of action which can be taken; however, none of them are favorable to the Amish community, as they infringe on their religious beliefs. Also, Council does not want this family to feel unwelcome. Street Commissioner Joe Peters will continue with the clean-up process. Concerned residents may attend future council meetings to address their concerns.
• Joe Peters reported that prisoners from the Columbia County Prison have been providing help with the park clean-up. Painting is finished. Work on the baseball-field grandstand is underway.
• Vandalism is occurring in the park: ten picnic tables have been broken, swing seats have been stolen, benches have been broken, and a new trash barrel has been stolen. Residents are asked to assist the Crime Watch group and the police in this regard.
• In the March meeting of the Town Council, a motion was approved to place a two-hour parking limit on vehicles using the municipal parking lot. Mayor Swan stated that a two-hour limit places a hardship on visitors to our area (fishermen, tourists, etc.) and several residents in the Hess Hotel have no other parking spaces available to them. A motion was made and approved to withdraw the parking restriction on the municipal parking lot and open the lot for use by everyone with no time limits.
• Larson Design submitted a cost estimate for the Cemetery Hill Street project. The estimate was higher than expected. Larson Design will be directed to prepare the bid notification.
--Borough Secretary Kay Yankovich greatly contributed to this report.