Category Archives: Columnists

Jerry’s Journal

I’m going to make this short and sweet.

Now as this year ends and a new one begins, I want to thank the Valley News for putting me to print every other week.

Actually, I must thank Vince Caravan, God rest his soul, for getting me interested in writing again back in 1980, when he said, “Jerry, why don’t you do something with your writing? You can write a column for us, just pick your subject.”

Well, a lot of water’s gone over the dam, as they say, and I’ve been a prolific writer ever since Vince’s gentle prodding.

Story writing, letter-to-the-editor writing, newsletter writing, fun writing, serious writing, poetry writing, column writing — you-name-it writing — but yet to write a book writing!

And along the way I’ve meet a lot of good people who also like to write, among them Roy Hodge, whom I want thank for the opportunity of having Jerry’s Journal appear twice a month for a couple of years in his newspaper, the Fulton Patriot.

It was a sad day to many when that venerable old newspaper finally had to give up the ghost with times changing and people depending more on electronic news these days.

(Having said that, I do have to admit to very much liking my desk computer, as well as my electronic tablet, to help keep up with my writings, emails, and the daily news.)

In any case, as I tell everyone who writes, or calls or emails, or stops me on the street to share their story or just say how much they like reading my stuff: if you keep on reading I promise I will keep on writing!

So, to you, Dear Readers — near and far — I wish every one of you a happy and blessed New Year.

See you in 2014!

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

I received a special Christmas card this year, sent to The Valley News by Bea LaClair.

I knew that Bea wouldn’t just sign her name; I was sure that she would write a few lines. And she did.

Bea, who now lives in Liverpool, wrote, “The Fulton Patriot may be out of business, but your column is still going. You still write a good story and bring back memories. I hope you will continue for a long time.”

Bea, who wrote that she is now 85, also had praise for my son, Jeff, now known as “Rev. Jeff”.

Bea must read each week’s paper very thoroughly. In a recent column I wrote that plum pudding “is composed of many dried fruits and is held together by eggs and suet, sometimes moistened by treacle or molasses.”

Bea asks, “What is treacle?” Bea, my dictionary describes treacle as “a mild mixture of molasses, corn syrup, etc. used in cooking or as a table syrup.”

I have known Bea LaClair for many years, but before I met Bea I knew her mother, Angie LaClair, who was known to everyone in Fulton as Gram, and likely is still remembered by many.

I met Gram when two of my sons and two of her great grandsons were in Cub Scouts at State Street Church in the 60s.

She was Gram to everyone, and I wrote in a column in 2006, “The neatest thing about Gram was that she was always willing to sit down at the old piano in the church basement to get the group of young boys and their parents singing.”

I continued, “Later on I got to know Gram as Angie LaClair. I was around many times when Gram would keep an old piano in this room or that hallway busy, and someone was always willing to join in on the song.”

I heard from my friend Bea after the column featuring Gram.

“I loved the column,” Bea said, “but you got one thing wrong — I forgot to tell you that our name is spelled with an a, as in LaClair, not with an e, as in LeClair.”

Bea explained, “When our family came to Canada many years ago from France our name was spelled LeClair as that is the French Canadian spelling of the name.”

Bea said when her father, Edmund, moved to the United States from Cornwall, Ontario he wanted to honor his new country by using the American spelling. “So he had his name legally changed from LeClair to LaClair,” she said.

Thanks for the card, Bea. And thanks for the memories.

‘Tis the season for cookies

An important part of the Christmas season for me and those around me through the years — wherever I have been hanging around — is making, eating and sharing with other people those wonderful morsels of holiday cheer — the cutout, decorated cookie.

For the uninitiated — if there is such a thing — that would be the flat, shortbread-y (new word) cookie of many holiday shapes, covered with colorful frosting and “sprinkles,” baked by the dozens — and eaten the same way.

We have a large jar full of cookie cutters in many, many shapes. Some of them definitely fit into the holiday scene – Christmas trees, Santa’s boot, and yes, Santa himself, along with stars, bells, angels and a gingerbread man.

Most of those shout “Merry Christmas” right back at you, but there are many other cutters of many different shapes in that jar.

When is the last time that you saw a pig in your Christmas stocking? Wait a minute — could that be in honor of Christmas dinner?

Also in the jar are a hippopotamus and an elephant. Forget about Christmas dinner for those two. There are a couple of mooses (or is it meese?)  Well, wait a minute — we could have a couple of different relatives of Santa’s reindeer here.

Mrs. Pringle’s cookies

I wrote about Mrs. Pringle’s cookies in December, 1985:

Mrs. Pringle was the mother of one of the girls who worked in my wife’s office at the telephone company in Syracuse more than 25 years ago.

My association with Mrs. Pringle during the past 26 years has been once a year during the holiday season by way of a recipe in our Christmas cookie file.

For years, I guess I never questioned the genealogy of our Christmas cookies. On Sunday, with the holiday cookie baking process getting underway at our house, I discovered the true story behind how Mrs. Pringle’s Christmas cookies made their way into our cookie jar.

I was told on Sunday that when my wife was growing up, one of the expected treats of the season were the cookies baked by her grandmother – the kind shaped like Christmas trees, Santa Claus, angels and bells.

Grandma probably inherited the recipe from her family in Germany, and turned the holiday favorites out by the hundreds every year. Grandma probably never gave a thought to the fact that the ingredients list started out with five pounds of flour and a dozen eggs.

The problem came after the new bride asked for Grandma’s recipe. No one could figure out how to turn five pounds of flour and a teacup of this and another teacup of that into just enough cookies so we wouldn’t still be eating them at Easter time.

That’s where Mrs. Pringle came to the rescue. It seems that Mrs. Pringle’s family had passed along the same prized recipe and someone along the way had translated it into cups and teaspoons.

As a tribute to the holiday season, Grandma Seils, Mrs. Pringle and the hundreds of those cookies I have eaten over the years here is the recipe:

Grandma Seils’ Christmas Cookies

3 cups flour, ½ tsp. baking powder, 1½ tsp. salt, ½ cup sugar, 1 egg, unbeaten, 2 tsp. vanilla, 1 cup margarine.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Beat margarine and sugar thoroughly. Add egg and vanilla. Beat until fluffy.

Gradually stir in sifted dry ingredients until well blended. Roll small amounts of dough 1/8 inch thick.  Shape with cookie cutters.  Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes.  Ice with different colors frosting

Okay, we’re ready.  (You could let the frosting dry.) Chomp happily away … and Happy New Year.

… Roy Hodge

In And Around Hannibal, by Rita Hooper

Can’t believe it’s almost Christmas – I’m suspending the “schools” series till after the first of the year.

Christmas is the time of year we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I’m not too sure how many folks know that anymore. Seems to me we talk more about Santa and Frosty than we do the Prince of Peace. More about Black Friday and the bottom line than the reason for gift giving.

Our lives have been made richer by the treasured memories of our holidays past – the warm smells of traditional foods, mulled cider and wines, Christmas goose and turkeys, fish or oysters on Christmas eve, pierogi, latkes and sufganyot for Passover, mince pie or paneltone, figgy or plum pudding with that wonderful foamy or hard sauce.

Do you head to the woods to get that fresh cut tree or up to the attic to get that old tried and true that only hurts you if you have an allergy to dust? Do you put it up Christmas Eve or a week or two before? Do you think about the history of each of the ornaments as you put them on?

I remember as a child, running home from school so I could get to the cards before anyone else did and display them on the piano. Now most of my Christmas greetings come by cyber space but I look forward to them just the same. I remember when I was a preacher’s wife, I would make garlands with the cards and hang them around the rooms. I musta had too much time on my hands!

I used to spend a week making cookie doughs and then Sunday afternoon we’d all gather at the dining room table and shape and decorate them. Now I make only the favorites and send packages of them to those not able to be home for the holidays.

Over the years I have amassed a sizable Christmas village – Hannibalville.

It features Hooper Lane – the street with the churches on it and Rita’s Point – the lighthouse of course! James Way and Starr Trek are housing developments and Lake David and Courtney Pond are joined by London’s Bridge. Alyssa Lane goes to the park and Noel’s Inn is the nativity. You’d think I’d named the folks in my family so I could use them in my village!

I still love to watch the classic Christmas movies and take in a live play or concert.

And of course Hannibal has it’s own traditions of the tree lighting, church services and Christmas Bureau. My husband and I did the shopping for new gifts for the Christmas Bureau for 20 years beginning in the 70s. When we began, we were allotted $1 to buy a new gift for each child.

This Christmas, as you gather around the dinner table, share what Christmas was like when you were a child … maybe that was when all Christmas trees looked like Charlie Brown specials … or when the only toy you got was a stuffed animal that your mom made for you, or maybe you only got a lump of coal in your stocking.

The traditions of family and holidays keep moving and changing but they make us who we are … keep the spirit and meaning of Christmas alive this blessed season and see you in church!

*********************

Hannibal Senior Dining Center meets at noon for dinner at the Senior Center (Library Building) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Come early for coffee and news or to work on a jigsaw puzzle or play games or just some chit-chat! Give Rosemary a call and make your reservation, 564-5471. This week’s menu is:

Monday, Dec. 23:  Pasta with sauce and meatballs, Italian vegetable, dessert

Wednesday, Dec. 25:   CLOSED:  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, Dec. 27:  Homemade macaroni and cheese, stewed tomatoes, vegetable, cookie

Come join us for good food, conversation and games.

The Hannibal Methodist Church will gather at 8:30 p.m. for its Candlelight Christmas Eve Service.

Rita Hooper 706-3564

Twohoops2@juno.com

A Sportsman’s World, by Leon Archer

By Leon Archer

Just as most outdoorsmen are getting their ice fishing gear in order and enjoying the new snowmobiling season, a cadre of diehard water fowlers are preparing for the late duck and goose season.

In the western zone of the state, ducks and geese become legal game again from Dec. 28 until Jan.12.

Lake Ontario and the largest Finger Lakes provide hot hunting on very cold days. Open streams can be great producers of puddle ducks, but the lakes will host considerable numbers of diving ducks. Those hunters who love to hunt divers are willing to put up with rotten weather, bitter cold and iced up decoys, just to bring home a few bluebills, canvasbacks, and redheads.

The Niagara River is another diving duck magnet, and so has an equally strong attraction for the cold weather hunters who pursue those hardy birds. The Niagara gets a big influx of canvasbacks, and there are hunters who wait all year for this short opportunity to match wits and skills with the reputed king of waterfowl. All the other divers are represented there, but it really is the cans that lure the hunters.

Other hunters will still be looking for Canada geese and snow geese, and a stubble field with a light dusting of snow is attractive to both hunters and geese. Mallards may also swing into a big corn field to feed. Hunters drag their layout blinds and decoys far away from roads to set up early before the birds have started to fly.

Geese usually keep a safe distance between themselves and roads. The goose hunters can get up a little later than their open water brethren, because very few geese get into the air before the sun is well up. Flights of geese may move only for a few hours in the morning, but many days they will trade from field to field most of the day.

I have hunted hunkered down in snow covered fields, and I have hunted from ice covered blinds overlooking the dark gunmetal waters of big lakes. There is a thrill and a challenge to such activity that is hard to describe or understand. I have asked myself on more than one occasion, “What the heck am I doing here?”

But when a big flock of geese swing into the wind with their feet down, talking to the decoys below, and loom huge with their wide wingspread, it all seems to become worthwhile.

At that moment, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. The cold that had been creeping into my body disappears as I sit up and swing the barrel of my shotgun out in front of a goose clawing for altitude.

I have set decoys from a boat being rocked by waves on water that could bring on hypothermia in short order. Wearing a life jacket was a necessity on water like that, but it also helped to be just a little crazy. It also helps to be putting out decoys while it is still dark out; you don’t get a full picture of just how foolish you are being.

On the other side of the equation, late season water gunning can be some of the fastest, most challenging shooting there is. Passing shots are the rule rather than decoying birds, and unless the duck drops dead at the shot, a wounded bird can give a hunter a merry chase, out on those waves where he would rather not be.

Fortunate is the man who has a retriever he can depend on to do the job for him. But for all the discomfort and potential danger, such days will probably remain fresh and fond in a hunter’s memory as long as he lives – mine have.

For those guys who just can’t get enough, snow goose season is open until April 15. I have never shot a snow goose, and spending much of my winter in Florida does not make it likely that I ever will, but I’d sure like to have the chance at least once. You diehards will have to take a few for me.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Views from the Assembly, by Will Barclay

On any given week, tens of thousands of unsolicited checks end up in New York residents’ mailboxes — making these checks easy targets for criminals looking to capitalize on someone else’s line of credit.

Last month, the governor signed a bill into law that will put the onus on those issuing checks if they are lost or get into the wrong hands.

I was pleased to support this in the Assembly. Hopefully, this measure will reduce the volume of checks like this and better protect consumers from fraud.

The bill, A3601, which became effective last month, aims to protect consumers from liability for unauthorized use of unsolicited convenience checks. These checks are mailed by credit card companies to account holders in the hopes that consumers take out more credit.

Many of people throw them out. It’s best to shred or destroy them somehow if you do not intend to use them.

The problem with the checks is consumers do not know when they are mailed. A few things can happen and do: the mail gets into the wrong hands and then, the check is cashed, or they are stolen if consumers simply place them in the recycle bin.

In the past, unless a consumer acted quickly and was able to convince the credit card company the checks were not cashed by the cardholder, the consumer is held liable.

With this new law, companies would be held responsible, not the consumer. It amends the general business law and adds a section, clearly stating that consumers sent such convenience checks by credit or debit card issuers shall not be liable for the use of such checks unless the consumer has accepted the check.

Hopefully those convenience checks will be reduced with this measure.

There are a number of ways scammers can infiltrate our finances. It’s important to remain vigilant and help loved ones to do the same.

Good guidance and tips, as well as scam alerts can be found on the State’s Division of Consumer Affair’s website at https://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/.

The site also contains good information on preventing identity theft. Unfortunately, seniors are unwitting targets of many types of scams.

A good number to keep handy is the Division of Consumer Affair’s phone number, (518) 474-8583 for guidance or assistance on consumer matters. Residents may also file a complaint there as well, and be placed on the Do Not Call list.

If you have any questions, comments or would like to be added to my mailing list, please sent a letter to 200 N. Second St., Fulton, 13069, or an e-mail to barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or call 598-5185.  You can also friend me, Assembly Barclay, on Facebook.

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

Dear Dad

First there was a note on my dresser with a message – Dear Dad, see page 242 in the Christmas catalog.

That subtle missive led me to a check mark in the Christmas catalog next to something called “Radio Controlled Fat Wheels.”

A couple of days later copies of an intricately prepared 15-item Christmas list began appearing around the house. Lest prospective readers of that list be discouraged by its length, asterisks led to a supplemental listing whereby each item was given a yes, no or maybe, denoting its importance.

Not surprisingly, the yes column held a healthy lead at last look, strengthened by number 13 – money, with its yes in capital letters.

Another sure sign of the approaching season – a few days ago we were asked for Grandma’s address. No doubt, in a few days Grandma will be receiving one of her annual letters reading something like this: “Dear Grandma, how are you and Grandpa? I am fine. Here are some things I would like for Christmas this year.”

Then will follow Grandma’s own copy of the hallowed list. And, if she’s lucky, it won’t even be a carbon copy. But the crayons will be getting dull by then.

I think I may have found something useful in all of those catalogs and TV commercials, though. Someone is advertising a durable 42-key toy typewriter. Could that lead to a much improved, neater Christmas list next year? Maybe even double-spacing.

-Hodgepodge, Nov. 20, 1979

Other Christmases

I started writing “Hodgepodge” in 1979. In December I wrote my very first “Christmas column.”

That year I wrote about people watching at airports, about letters kids wrote to Santa, and about one special letter I was given to mail that year: On the outside of the envelope was the following note: “Dear Santa (or Dad) please send a copy of this list to Grandma.”

The following year 1980, I wrote this column:

It’s a well-known fact that television watching is down this week before Christmas. I also read somewhere that people, this week when they are deeply involved with last minute holiday preparations, will just browse at the ads and the headlines in the newspapers.

That’s okay with me. If the readers are too busy to read, the writers won’t have to write. And it couldn’t come at a better time. Since I’m not going to write a column this week I won’t have to interrupt watching the 54th television special of the Christmas season.

I’m glad I’m not going to write a column this week. Instead of laughing at and cleverly detailing this last hectic week before Christmas, I can just ignore it and relax.

If I were to write an article this week I’d probably have to think of something cute to say about that last Christmas shopping expedition; the one you make a couple of days before Christmas – long after you have vowed not to spend another cent. That’s when you find yourself face to face with a sweet old grandmother who could probably go eight rounds with Ali and you’re having a tug-of-war over the last pair of stockings in your wife’s size.

Since I’m not doing a column this week I won’t have to go into detail about those Christmas letters we receive from our friends every year. The ones that go on and on about the many accomplishments of themselves and their kids and make you ashamed to look at your kids or into a mirror for a week.

Another good thing about not writing this week: I won’t have to agonize any further by telling readers about my annual five-hour bout during which I transform a beautiful tree growing freely in the great outdoors into a poor bedraggled heap of needles standing in the corner of my living room.

And best of all, if I don’t write a column this week, I won’t have to re-live in type those horrible hours spent every Christmas Eve assembling this year’s new toys.

It’s a real load off my mind now that I decided to take a vacation from writing this week.

If I were writing this week (but I’m not) there is one positive thing I would say:

Have a Merry Christmas.

No “Christmas column”

So for the next several years I didn’t write a “Christmas column” — my column the week before Christmas was about my pledge not to write a Christmas column. But I did and that week I wrote my last “I’m not going to write a column this week” column.

From December 22, 1986:

Some traditions aren’t all that easy to get established, but then again, they don’t die off without a fight either.

A few years ago I started what I thought would be a long standing tradition during the week before Christmas. I decided to write my Christmas week column about how I wouldn’t be writing a Christmas week column.

The problem is that some opposition seems to have grown up around that concept.

“Don’t tell me that you’re going to write that same old column about not writing a column.”

So, it’s time for a change in strategy. This year I’m not only not going to write a column; but I’m certainly not going to take the time to write a column about not writing a column. And that’s final.

Good advice from Dickens

Several years since then I have ended my Christmas week column with this:

Charles Dickens, who wrote and said a lot about Christmas said, “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty founder was a child Himself.”

Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

. . . Roy Hodge

 

Bodley Bulletins, by Julia Ludington

Christmas break is almost here!

It is hard to believe this school year is almost halfway through and we will be entering the year 2014 in just a couple of weeks.

This Friday, 15-week progress reports will be mailed. These reports do not count toward the final 20-week report card, but they are a way for students to see how they are currently doing in their classes.

After you receive it, make sure you make adjustments according to how you would like your grades to look for the final report card.

Don’t forget, to receive honor roll status you must achieve an average of 84.5 or higher. For high honor roll status, you must achieve an average of 89.5 or higher.

You may have seen paper bags in your Guided Study Hall for the past week — they were for donations going toward Kids for Kids, an organization aiming to help children admitted to Golisano Children’s Hospital. Thank you to all those who donated.

The kids’ holiday season is sure to be a bit brighter due to your generosity.

The holiday cheer does not end when we come back to school. The G. Ray Bodley French Club will be having a King’s Day Celebration in honor of the French holiday.

King’s Cake will be provided for anyone who signs up with Madame Honeywell by this Friday.

Today is a busy day in sports at GRB. The varsity girls’ basketball team takes on CBA at home at 5:30. The varsity boys’ basketball team also takes on CBA; however its game will begin at 7 after the girls.

The JV girls’ and boys’ basketball teams take on CBA at CBA high school at 5:30 and 7 respectfully..

Enjoy your recess!

Light In The Darkness — The Blessed Virgin Mary

“Gabriel appeared to Mary and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”  

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” 

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God”

I cannot think of anyone who was more blessed by God than this young virgin. To be chosen by God to be the mother of His only begotten Son is unparalleled.

Such a blessing could occur only once in all of history and Mary was the appointed one.

During this season, it is right for us to remember and honor her. She suffered much for this honor, of course. As I pointed out last week, the blessings of God bring the curses of the world, but His Blessings are always worth the price.

So, we should honor her memory and exalt her as the one chosen for this unique role.

At the same time, we must be careful not to exalt her to a position higher than is proper. Mary, though righteous and blessed as no other, was born of a man and she would need the savior who would be born to her every bit as much as any other human being.

Being chosen to be the mother of the Messiah, the Son of Man, did not change her status as a human being. She would not become as God any more than the Prophets who were appointed by the Lord to their special calling.

Mary was not sinless as  Pope Pius IX proclaimed in his doctrine of  Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8, 1854. There is no scriptural basis for The Assumption of Mary into heaven after the manner of Enoch and Elijah nor did she become, “exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things”  as Pope Pius XII proclaimed Nov. 1, 1950. And there is no basis for believing that Mary remained perpetually a virgin.

Let us rejoice with the one God chose to be the mother of the Messiah; respect and honor her and hold her is highest esteem, but do not worship her, or pray to her, or in any other way exalt her to a position equal with her blessed Son.

Pastor David M. Grey

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church