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Legend and Lore in the Weather Capital of the World The Tradition of Forecasting

On the cover: Groundhog Day 2009! Cover photos by: Zambelli Fireworks and George Powers Photography

Pittsburgh Steeler Poster Inside this Issue ‘Punxsutawney Hometown’ magazine © Copyright 2009 — All Rights Reserved.

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By S. Thomas Curry of Hometown magazine

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long time ago, when our forefathers were entering the Punxsutawney area to settle and farm, there were no thermometers (for measuring temperature), anemometers (for measuring the speed of wind), or barometers (to measure air pressure). There were no such things as weather stations, no weather satellites orbiting Earth, nor was there radar to follow storms. There was no radio, no television, or computer technology to announce the weather conditions that would affect the livelihoods of those living off the land. Weather forecasting from the past was of the human kind. Learning from centuries of observation before them, people read the signs of change seen in the sky, from animal life and the plants around them. They learned that these elements of their environment were sensitive to changes in temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, and wind direction. There were few meteorologists then, if any, but these people were nonetheless weatherwise, and they learned to expect a particular kind of weather at particular times of year. Their weather knowledge and beliefs were shared orally or written down in simple statements — many times as rhymes — to become a part of the weather lore that now adds a little fun to our living when we test them to see if they are fact or fiction. A line in the November 12, 1868 edition of the weekly Punxsutawney Plaindealer (186871) was evidence of a necessity to “read” the weather signs: “WEATHER PROPHETS tell us that flocks of wild geese are flying southward earlier than usual this year, and this, they add, is a sign of a hard winter.” And two weeks later came the observation: “SNOW — The old woman in the clouds ‘picked her goose’ on Friday, and our streets and housetops were covered to the depth of several inches with the pure white feathers.” Another example of traditional weather lore was to be found in the Punxsutawney News.

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2 – Punxsutawney Hometown – January 2009

The hibernating groundhog was used by German settlers in Pennsylvania to predict weather according to an old Candlemas Day saying. (Hometown photo by Alan Freed)

The editor, H. G. Miller, a man of German descent, made an observation in November 1885 and offered it to his readers: “The corn husks are very thick this year, and from this sign a hard winter is predicted by the ‘oldest inhabitant.’” Before Groundhog Day in 1908, the Punxsutawney Spirit had reported the observations of some of the old-timers. The writer referred to them as weather prognosticators and divinators of lesser assertion and dependability when compared to the Punxsutawney Groundhog. He commented: “The disciples of goosebone, cornhusks, hornet’s nest and fur artists have shot their wads... None of them have given us any guarantee of what to expect of the meteorological and climatic conditions next summer.” Many of the old, time-honored methods of “prognosticating” were short-term forecasts and others were long-range weather speculations. To predict the severity of a coming winter, a popular seasonal forecasting tech-

nique in the fall is observing the “Wooly Bear” caterpillar. Early pioneers considered it an infallible prophet of winter weather. Haven’t you found yourself finding one, and inspecting it to read its “forecast?” The wider its middle brown band, the milder the winter, some say! At various places there are groups of people meeting to locate the caterpillars and make a forecast, but as far as is known, there is not yet a “Caterpillar Day” on the calendar for November. The “goosebone prophets” would say to expect a cold winter when a goose’s usually white breastbone is red or dark-spotted. The notion was among many sayings to come to America from Germany. It followed the verse: “If the November goosebone be thick, so will the winter weather be; if the November goosebone be thin, so will the winter weather be.” In November 1904, an annual prediction from a “goosebone weather prophet” in - Continued on next page


Groundhog Day became an American holiday when German immigrants settled in eastern Pennsylvania and established their farms. The hibernating groundhog was found in plentiful numbers and would replace the badger that would have been in their old country in Europe. Many of these German natives moved west of the Allegheny Mountains to settle and develop new farmlands in Western Pennsylvania. They carried with them the folklore about looking

for the groundhog’s shadow on February 2, a day that marks a midpoint of the winter season. Farmers would want to know whether there would be a continuation of winter weather conditions, or if spring would be early. The settlers from Northern Europe had learned if February 2 is sunny and the groundhog sees its shadow, expect six more weeks of winter weather. If there is no sunshine and no - Continued on next page

100 W. Mahoning Street Downtown Punxsutawney LocaL & rEGionaL artists Recognized as a Pennsylvania wilds aRtisan tRail RetaileR Table arT • Personal accessories • Home Décor jewelry • PrinTs • arT glass • PHoTograPHy scenTs • baby & ToDDler gifTs Early pioneers used observations of the sky, animals and plants to forecast weather. Studying the “Wooly Bear” caterpillar, with its bands of black and brown, is a popular method of weather lore. (Hometown photo by Thomas Curry)

Legend and Lore

Continued from previous page Reading appeared in the Spirit and read: “I find that the bone is dark all the way through, and according to the discolorations, the winter of 1904 and 1905 will be very severe... The indications are that we will have some great snow storms.” The newspaper, the strong community- and Groundhog Day-booster it was, commented with its own words, “With all due respect for the traditions of the Reading seer, it will be necessary for our people to consult the Punxsutawney Groundhog at the official weather works, if they expect to cut ice to any great extent.” Some of the short rhymes and sayings about weather from an observation of nature are these: • “Blue jays loudly cry / When a shower is nigh; / But look for a downpour / When birds sing no more.” • “When birds feed late in the day, / Sure sign that snow is on the way.” • “A cat, back to the fire, they say; / Sure sign that snow is on the way.” • “If there will be ice in November that will bear a duck, there will be nothing thereafter but sleet and muck.” There are many of these rhymes. The sayings help us to make some connection with our world as we observe it. Whether they rhyme or not, they can lead us to want to try them out and see if they work. Try these:

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• “An abundance of acorns predicts a harsh winter.” • “Expect a cold winter when hornets build their nests near the ground.” One of the best-known sayings to predict weather overnight (with some accuracy) is one found in various forms. One reads: “Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailors delight.” Or maybe: “Evening red and morning gray / Will speed the traveler on his way; / Evening gray and morning red / Will bring the rain upon his head.” Many people would be surprised to know that a version of this familiar old weather saying is spoken by Jesus to the Pharisees and Sadducees, as recorded in Matthew chapter 16. It reads: “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”(NIV). When it comes to telling people about the weather, most of the time about the severity or the length of winter, animals and their behavior are often used. And when it comes to weather prognosticating only one creature of the world has a special day on the calendar. That day is February 2, the animal is the groundhog (or woodchuck, if you wish). The place today where crowds of people gather to wait the word of the “Seer of Seers and King of the Weather Prophets” is Gobbler’s Knob on a hill outside of Punxsutawney.

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The Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney gained worldwide attention when word is announced from atop Gobbler’s Knob as to whether or not the “King of Weather Prophets” has seen its shadow. (Hometown file photo)

Legend and Lore

Some variations of the saying read: “...Winter will have another bite;” and another would begin “If Candlemas be fair and clear, There’ll be two winters in the year....” but whatever the wording, it was important to early farmers, as landowners, to have a proper and adequate winter of snow and cold as preparation for crops. A significant part of the Candlemas lore is the difference between “fair and bright” and “clouds and rain.” That difference is whether the groundhog sees its shadow. Early reports of Groundhog Day at Punxsutawney’s Gobbler’s Knob had a greater emphasis on the condition of the shadow: Was it bold and dark? Was it long and thin? Was it weak and gray? And the stories would often observe the fright and fear of the groundhog upon observing its shadow, and then hurriedly scampering back to its den. There is a version of the Groundhog Day legend that tells of the symbolism of the shadow and the association between shadows and death in medieval Europe. This version could have led to the adoption of the hibernating badger or hedgehog, or maybe the bear, as an interpretation of the Candlemas saying. Animals that sleep in the ground during the winter will sleep in a lifeless state, as if dead. The ancient belief that the “underworld” robs an animal of its shadow could help explain the meaning of the fright of the groundhog upon seeing his shadow as he emerges from a deathlike state. A lack of a shadow would

Continued from previous page shadow, it means an early spring. To the farmers in the region there would be some anxiety if there would be a short winter and a lack of snow cover to store up moisture for crops, the loss of bitter cold to destroy harmful weed seeds and larvae of insects. Years ago, too, an early spring (or warm winter) could mean a shortage of ice in the rivers and lakes to store up ice for refrigeration throughout the year until the next winter. The editor of the Punxsutawney News reported this observation to his readers: “If the weather does not stay cold for some time there will be a sad time getting ice for our next summer’s supply.” In early Christian tradition, February 2 is also Candlemas Day (or Purification Day). That day would mark the end of forty days of isolation of Mary after the birth of Jesus and the day Mary would fulfill her self-purification according to Mosaic law. The occasion would be celebrated with a candle procession and blessing of candles, hence “Candlemas.” The early German settlers used Candlemas Day to also look for the hibernating groundhog and follow tradition according to the old saying: “If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, Winter will have another flight: But if Candlemas Day be clouds and rain, Winter is gone, and will not come again.”

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Dr. Frank Lorenzo 1940s thru 1952 Kept the Groundhog Legend alive for nearly fifty years

Sam Light 1952 thru 1976 Bestowed ‘formality’ upon Groundhog Day tradition

Charlie Erhard 1976 thru 1982 Beamed the word of Phil around the world

Jim Means 1982 thru 1993 Built the stage for the World’s Greatest Forecaster

Bud Dunkel 1993 thru 1997 Introduced Groundhog Day as a mid-winter tourist attraction

Punx’y Community Leader, Inner Circle President to Retire

Cooper Moved Groundhog Legend Into 21st Century By Marsha Lavelle and Bill Anderson of Hometown magazine ollowing this year’s Prognostication on Gobbler’s Knob, Bill Cooper, a well-known face in Punxsutawney, as well as around the country and the world, will be stepping down as president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. But after 13 years of devoted service as head of the Groundhog Day tradition, Cooper is not really going anywhere. "I will still be around and still be involved, though in emeritus status," he said. Soon to retire from his position as Regional Vice-President of Commercial Lending at S&T Bank, Cooper says he'll have more time for the school programs that he and other Inner Circle members have been involved with through the years. Traveling to the many schools and teaching the young students about Groundhog Day and Punx’y Phil is something Cooper enjoys doing. "I've been in the Inner Circle for 21 years. I was there three or four years before the movie [“Groundhog Day”]. During that time, a lot has changed." And many of the changes and improvements that have occurred over the past decade have been a direct result of the hard work and dedication that Cooper and other club members have put forth. One of Cooper’s biggest accomplishments for Punxsutawney and Groundhog Day was getting Phil on the Internet. He explained that by getting on the Internet early, the Groundhog Club has kept the momentum going and sparked new enthusiasm around the globe for Punxsutawney’s day. The first website showed a 360-degree photo of Gobbler's Knob and all the people, and that image re-

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mained for several years. "Alan Freed, of Punx’y, has also done a lot to maintain the site and tell the history. It's gone all over the world," Cooper pointed out. Mike Johnston, 17-year veteran of the Groundhog Club and club vice-president, says Bill Cooper was the president that really moved the Groundhog Club into the 21st century. "Our introduction to the Internet was all Bill's doing," Johnston said, "It was a move we had to make.” "If I had to say what my legacy is, it's that the Groundhog Club now owns Gobbler's Knob," Cooper added, "We are now a 501C3 [corporation]. We now have so much potential and can make it a real community asset." It was on Gobbler’s Knob that Cooper said his most memorable moment as a member of the club occurred. “On the first Groundhog Day following the release of the movie, I ascended the steps and looked at a crowd of up to 40,000 people,” he recalled. “It was the most impressive sight.” As big as the moment, Cooper's connection with the Ty Toy Company, makers of the Punx’y Phil Beanie Babies, worked out well for the club and the community. The father of his daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, was the president of Ty. "We were the first copyrighted toy that Ty had ever created," Cooper said of his relationship with company. "We convinced them that there was a market beyond Punxsutawney. That [Punx’y Phil Beanie Babies] is where we got the funds to buy Gobbler's Knob." As far as the Groundhog Day phenomenon

6 – Punxsutawney Hometown – January 2009

Bill Cooper 1997 thru 2009 Moved Punx’y Phil into the 21st century with the Internet (Hometown photo by Alan Freed)

itself, Cooper says the most rewarding part of it is meeting new people. He and his wife, Joyce, who recently retired from the local school district, have made friends from all over the country and beyond. According to Joyce, not only have she and her husband had fun over the years, but also it has been a wonderful experience for their three grown children, daughter Emilie and sons Will and J.T.

"When they went off to college, they would bring home their friends for Groundhog Day, and they would have a ball. One Groundhog Day weekend, I counted 42 bodies sleeping everywhere. They all came back from Gobbler's Knob that morning and were just exhausted and just slept everywhere,” Joyce said. "Whenever we go places, Groundhog Day - Continued on next page


Bill Cooper Continued from previous page

always seems to come up in the conversation. It's been great fun over the years. I feel my role for Groundhog Day is doing very little but for taking care of Bill. I help him in

any way I can," Joyce added, explaining that the weeks leading up to Groundhog Day can be stressful for Inner Circle members. "By the time Groundhog Day is here, all the work is done." The retiring president recounted several Groundhog Day experiences. Cooper recalls the time that he and fellow club member, Butch Philliber, traveled to Woodstock, Ill., where the 1993 movie was being filmed. For one two-minute scene, Cooper said they stood outside near a park and watched for two days as movie crews worked. "It was a long and boring two days. It was extremely tedious," Cooper explained, "But we did get to see the sights around Woodstock. The scenes at the bed and breakfast were the only interior shots in the movie everything else was a mock-up." According to the club president, the movie, which stars Bill Murray, has done a lot for Punxsutawney and for Groundhog Day. "It has probably doubled our attendance and [that attendance] has stayed pretty consistent,” he said of the movie’s impact. "I met some folks from Australia who came here to Groundhog Day. I asked, 'What did you really come to the States for?' They said they came just for Groundhog Day. They'd been planning it for years." He met a man who had a "bucket list." He had seen the Great Wall of China, and the second item on his list was to come to Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney. Another man also had a list. With an inoperable brain tumor, he arrived and checked Groundhog Day off his list. Cooper met him at the Groundhog Banquet the night before Groundhog Day. One couple had celebrated their 50th anniversary a few years ago, Cooper said, and had been here for Groundhog Day at least 15 times. "It's a people event," Cooper said, "People all over the world get to share it." "He has worked tirelessly to promote Groundhog Day,” Johnston said of Cooper. “He is a good extemporaneous speaker and has done a good job of conveying the message of Groundhog Day, and protecting and perpetuating the legend of Punx’y Phil." "Not only does he leave an electronic footprint with our Internet exposure, but Cooper

was central in acquiring Gobbler's Knob as well. He'll be sorely missed," Johnston said, "No pun intended - his are big shoes to fill." “The outlook of Groundhog Day is very bright,” Cooper said. “The movie came out in 1993 and it introduced an entire generation to Punxsutawney and Groundhog Day as a national event. We have 16-to 18-yearolds growing up with Groundhog Day engraved in their minds and calendars. As long as we maintain it, then the interest in Groundhog Day will continue to grow.” Cooper said the new president of the Groundhog Club wouldn’t be chosen until late spring. “We’ll have six more weeks” before the Club’s reorganization meeting, he added. “We have no favorites at this point.” He best described the role of the Groundhog Club Inner Circle. “We are like worker ants around a queen [Punx’y Phil]. We labor tirelessly with little recognition for the bene-

fit of the colony [Punx’y.]” "It's been a lot of fun," Cooper said, "But that doesn't mean it's not a lot of work. It takes all the resources this town has to do this thing. It's [club presidency] not a life-long thing anymore. It's time for someone else to step in and come up with new ideas and creativity," Cooper said, "Fresh ideas can carry us to another level." Cooper was named Punxsutawney’s Man of the Year for 1995 for his efforts while serving on numerous board of directors and agencies, including the Punx’y Area Hospital, Jefferson Regional Health Services, IUP College Trust, NAC Carbon, Jefferson County Area Agency of Aging, Jefferson County Development Corp., Punx’y Regional Development Corp, Home for the Holidays Committee and the Chamber of Commerce. •••

Legend and Lore Continued from page 4 mean his hibernating “death” time is completed, the shadow is left underground, and spring is near. Upon sighting a shadow, it would return for six more weeks until the shadow is taken away. For many who arrive in Punxsutawney to follow the tradition of weather prognosticating by the world famous groundhog, and in the midst of continuing skepticism, what the members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club work hard to guarantee is what the club president reminds us “...we have a good time. That’s what it’s all about.” ••• Hometown magazine... one more thing that makes punx’y great!

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Punxsutawney Hometown – January 2009 – 7


Stay clear of tax preparers offering shady loans By M.S. Enkoji Sacramento Bee

t's time to start rooting through that shoe box for receipts and check stubs. With the economy heading south, tax filers will be scrambling to get those refunds fast, but tax preparers caution against deceptive practices that could chisel away at your return or land you in front of an Internal Revenue Service agent asking a lot of questions. "This year is going to be particularly difficult," said Catherine A. Apker, executive officer for the California Society

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of Enrolled Agents, based in Sacramento, Calif. The organization represents "enrolled agents," who are federally licensed to prepare taxes and can represent taxpayers who are audited. Tax preparers who offer an advance loan on refunds can charge exorbitant fees, Apker said. Immigrants unfamiliar with how refunds are distributed or others who are desperate for money are often targeted, Apker said. "They take people to the cleaners, they really do," she said. The practice of offering "refund anticipation loans" has been scrutinized by consumer advocates and legal authori-

ties. California Attorney General Jerry Brown recently won a $4.85 million settlement against tax-preparer giant H&R Block over what he called deceptive advertising. H&R Block, which denied wrongdoing, will have to be more up-front about the terms, fees and other costs, according to the settlement. Opting for direct deposit on your tax forms will mean refunds can be deposited into your bank account in two weeks, said Linda Dong, executive vice president of the California Society of Accounting and Tax Professionals. Consider that before agreeing to advance

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loans, she said. Tax preparers have different levels of expertise, from tax attorneys and certified public accountants to state-certified tax preparers, and their fees will range accordingly. The fee for preparing a return should be based on its complexity, not the amount of the return, Dong said. Beware the gimmicks, Dong said. She recalled one tax preparer who set up a buffet dinner for customers, which raised her suspicions. Guaranteeing a refund or claiming to boost your refund are also suspicious come-ons, she said. "If one guy is going to give you a $800 refund and another one says he can get you $2,800, you better ask why," she said. (E-mail M.S. Enkoji at menkoji@sacbee.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.) •••

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Groundhog ‘Comedy Club Nights’

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t’s that time again, featuring the eleventh annual “Groundhog “Club Comedy Nites” to be held at the Punxsutawney Elks Club on Friday, January 30 and Saturday, January 31. There are two Groundhog “Club Comedy Nites” with three comedy shows in two nites produced by WPXZ Radio & mikescomedymagic.com If you can’t make the first show, come on

Groundhog Weather Center). The headliner star is nationally known comedian Sean Morey from the Famous “Bob and Tom Radio Show.” Back by popular demand, Sean has appeared on Jay Leno Show, Showtime, HBO, Comedy Central, VH-1, an MTV. Sean looks forward to performing again at the Punx’y Elks for the 2009 Groundhog Weekend. Host for the evening will be award-wining comedy magician “MICHAELANGELO”. Part of the proceeds will benefit Local Elks Youth Charities and Scholarships. You do not have to be an Elks member to attend this Spectacular Event! Seating is limited, so reserve your tickets today! To purchase tickets, please call credit

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in to the second or third, or come to all three! Showtimes are 7 and 9:30 p.m. on Friday, January 30, with doors opening at 6 p.m., and then One show on Saturday night – January 31. The Showtime is a “Punx’y Late Night Show” at 10:30 p.m., with doors opening at 9:30 p.m. The public is invited. Early Show Trivia, Contests, and Events feature give-a-ways including Groundhog souvenirs and cash prizes. Food and beverage will be available. These Comedy Shows are being held at the Punxsutawney Elks Grand Ballroom on 205 North Findley Street, (beside the Punxsutawney

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January 5, 1871 — RUN-OFF. Camden Mitchell, with his wife and child, were taking a sleighride last Wednesday forenoon, and while turning the corner of Union and Gilpin streets at a pretty brisk trot, the sleigh upset, spilling the occupants and frightening the horse, which ran away. The vehicle came in contact with a hitching post in front of the Post Office was was slivered to pieces. (Punxsutawney Plaindealer)

January 29, 1892 — James McCarty, of Gaskill township, one of the most unique characters of Jefferson county and perhaps of the State, died last Friday, aged 79 years. His death was caused by overheating himself dancing in the open air, for old as he was McCarty could still keep step to a tune in a very lively fashion. He would often play the violin and dance to the music for half an hour at a time, greatly to the amusement of the onlookers. He thought nothing of walking from Winslow, Gaskill township, to Punxsutawney, a distance of about eight miles, and returning the same day. (Punxsutawney Spirit)

January 8, 1919 — The first girl’s basketball team to be regularly trained and organized in Punxsutawney will leave today for Reynoldsville and tonight will meet a similar organization of that place. The team is the product of the girls gymnastic class of the Y.M.C.A. here and is composed of the following girls: Georgie Stiteler, Melle Fenton, Belle Ramsey, Josephine Estricker, Mary Crissman, Sara Hastings and Joan Nichols. (Punxsutawney Spirit)

January 31, 1894 — If the weather does not stay cold for some time there will be a sad time getting ice for our next summer’s supply. There has been but a few inches as yet and the season is well over. It does not take long to make ice when the weather gets right but it takes several days to put it up when it is made. For this reason it will take several weeks of freezing weather to allow our people to get their supply. (Punxsutawney News) •••

(Editor’s Note: ‘From Our Past,’ researched by S. Thomas Curry, features items of interest from past editions of Punxsutawney and area newspapers.)

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January 13, 1870 — The following is the question for debate at the meeting of the Mahoning Literary Society, on Saturday evening next: “Resolved, that the Bible should be used in our Common Schools.” Our citizens should turn out and hear it discussed. In No. 2, New School Building. (Punxsutawney Plaindealer)

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Red wine, chocolate Continued from page 5

three times, and competes frequently in shorter races. Maroon and Wright have written books describing how we can live longer -- or at least healthier -- lives. In "The

was especially beneficial was the red wine. It contains a substance called resveratrol, which triggers genes in humans that promote survival. His research has led him to drink a glass or two of red wine each day. But the limit should be two glasses for the typical man, one for the typical woman, he cautioned. If you drink more than that, the detrimental effects of the alcohol overwhelm the beneficial effects of resveratrol. "We're talking about the compression of morbidity," Maroon said. "We want you to live well, long, and to die quickly." E-mail Jack Kelly at jkelly@postgazette.com (Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.) •••

The illustrated history book by Bill Anderson, Hometown publisher and Groundhog Scribe available for $5.95 at:

Hometown Magazine Office B&P Railroad Building 938-0312 • 938-9141 or Mail a Check or Money Order for $5.95 + $2.75 Shipping = $8.70 to:

Hometown Magazine P.O. Box 197 Punxsutawney, PA 15767

Also Available at:

The Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce The Pantall Hotel Punxsy Phil’s Restaurant

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Longevity Factor," Maroon explains how substances in certain foods trigger a specific set of genes in humans that make us healthier and cause us to live longer. "In Fitness After 40," Wright explains why exercise is so important for warding off disease, describes simple exercises that anyone can do at home without special equipment, and has special advice for arthritis sufferers. About 30 percent of longevity is determined by our genetic makeup, and we are genetically programmed to wear out after a time, Maroon said. But about 70 percent of what we regard as aging is determined by our eating and exercise habits. "Your body will change because of the biology of aging, but without the devastating factor of disuse, we are capable of remaining amazingly fast and functional as we age," Wright said. "Many of the changes popularly associated with aging are less the result of biology and more the result of the lifestyle choices you make as you grow older." A few good habits can overcome some bad ones. Calment attributed her long life and good health to her habit of taking long walks virtually every day, and drinking a glass or two of red wine each night. She rode a bicycle until she was 100. But Calment also smoked until she was 117, and consumed two pounds of chocolate a week. Maroon discusses the "French paradox" in his book. The French consume considerably more fat in their diets than we do, yet suffer heart attacks at half the rates Americans do, and have far fewer obese people. The right kind of chocolate (in smaller amounts than Calment consumed) can be good for you, Maroon said. But what

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The Punxsutawney Spirit, as a weekly newspaper until 1906, had been located in a building on East Mahoning Street, west of the Pantall Hotel. Many of the imaginative February 2 announcements in the early 1900s came from the mind of editor Clymer Freas. (Photo from Punxsutawney Spirit Industrial Edition)

A Glimpse into the Past Newspapers recount Groundhog Day origins

By S. Thomas Curry of Hometown magazine

T

he value of old newspapers is indisputable for anyone who researches the past. The news “papers” themselves have little value beyond recycling through scrap drives, arts and crafts projects, insulation, or even wallpaper, but it is not the paper that has value, but the content of the printed information, especially for historians. In this time of “computer news,” there are some people who no longer have any use of the “hard copy” news. Thankfully, there have been thoughtful people who have properly preserved past newspapers, or the content of the newspapers, anyway, in microfilm or digital forms. The truth is that these old papers remind us of where we have been as people, a community, and a nation. Gathering “snapshots” from past newspapers can make clearer some of the confusion around the origins, the activities, and the sense of importance that some past events have today. Considering the worldwide interest in the celebration of Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, that is especially true. Annual news stories that follow February 2 usually preface the event with its origin. Book writers, Internet websites, and the television correspondents also refer to the start of Groundhog Day. In a few words, they attempt to explain the foundation of what has become a midwinter

12 – Punxsutawney Hometown – January 2009

event unique to one small town in rural America, one that has continued for over a century. Although with good intentions, most of these sources today include grave errors about the true origins. One example found in error that remains a popular belief today is from the website stormfax.com/ghogday. It writes, “Pennsylvania’s official celebration of Groundhog Day began on February 2nd, 1886 with a proclamation in the Punxsutawney Spirit by the newspaper’s editor, Clymer Freas: “Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow... The legendary first trip to Gobbler’s Knob was made the following year.” A similar erroneous summary was repeated in a child’s library book about the Groundhog Day holiday, on a page titled “The Birth of Groundhog Day.” It is an excellent little book with many photographs about Punxsutawney and the appearance of the groundhog on Gobbler’s Knob, but the page reported: “On February 2, 1886, people in Punxsutawney gathered to watch a groundhog peek out of its hole... This was the first official record of Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney. The next year Gobbler’s Knob became the official site for the groundhog’s festivities...” The Washington Post, in an article in January 2006, had this statement: “The groundhog thing all started at a well-lubricated 1886 groundhog hunt and picnic, - Continued on next page


WISHInG you a

Great

GrounDHoG Day!

As a weekly newspaper, beginning publication in 1868, the Punxsutawney Plaindealer preceded the Punxsutawney Spirit. In the small village, its editors acknowledged the tradition and lore of Groundhog Day with a brief announcement in early February issues. (Hometown photos by Thomas Curry)

A Glimpse into the Past Continued from previous page

when the editor of the colorful local paper dubbed his local gang the Groundhog Club.” Perhaps it is necessary now to follow the appeal of the editor of the Punxsutawney Spirit, when on February 7, 1900 he urged, “The groundhog needs a press censor.” Using February 1886 as a “beginning” for Groundhog Day has been a misinterpretation of a very brief announcement by the editor of the Spirit, which read: “Yesterday was ground-hog day, and the venturesome woodchuck that was curious enough about the weather to come out and take a look around would undoubtedly see his shadow, then sneak back into his hole... and stay there for six weeks.” There was nothing “official” about it. The new owner of the publication was Davis Goheen, who came to Punxsutawney from Trade City and purchased the local newspaper in 1885. Shortly thereafter, he hired W. O. Smith as editor, not Clymer Freas. Smith was born in Reynoldsville in 1859 and came to Punxsutawney in 1884 to start the Punx-

sutawney Tribune when, like many other young men who established newspapers in small towns at the time, he edited, set in type, and printed it on an old hand press. In 1886, Clymer Freas was a young man of 19. He attended the country schools in Porter Township where he was born near Ringgold. His parents were Pennsylvania Dutch from eastern Pennsylvania who settled in Jefferson County in 1834. Freas later attended Edinboro State Normal School prior to pursuing training that would prepare him for future work as a clerk in the U. S. Census Office in Washington, D. C. Clymer Freas returned to Punxsutawney in 1902 to become editor of the Spirit at a time when W. O. Smith was running for U. S. Congress in the election of 1902. Smith was elected in November 1902, moving on to Washington, D. C. and leaving Clymer Freas in his position as editor and a chapter in Freas’ life as the colorful writer behind the stories about the summer Groundhog Hunts and the February 2 Groundhog Days at Gobbler’s Knob in the first decade of the 20th century. After Freas’ death in October 1942, the Spirit would crown him as “father of the conception that Punxsutawney is the home of the ‘Groundhog.’” The statements that 19th century men

PROUD TO BE yOUR MAyOR! (and women) living in the farmlands and wooded areas of Pennsylvania had hunted and ate groundhogs is true, though they were not the well-organized summer “hunts and feasts” that developed in the early 1900s. At the end of the 1890s, the hunts, to be followed by a feast, were becoming better organized and Clymer Freas would dub the little group organized in 1899, as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. Soon to follow would be the imaginative accounts by Freas of an annual trek to the Knob on February 2. The 1886 edition of the Punxsutawney Spirit that anticipated the groundhog emerging from its burrow was the earliest edition available to those folk years ago who attempted to establish the long history of Punxsutawney’s Groundhog Day. Eventually, the old, carefully bound but yellowed pages were wisely put on microfilm to be researched. Older than those Spirits are valued copies of another local newspaper, The Punxsutawney Plaindealer, bound and carefully guarded at the public library. Its pages from 1868 through 1871 offer a glimpse of an earlier time and are a major source about a way of life when Punxsutawney was just a village, not the town

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A Glimpse into the Past Continued from previous page that began its “boom years” in the mid1880s with the entrance of the railroads and the opening of many mines in the area. The population of Punxsutawney in 1870

was a little over 500 people. Clayville was nearly 200 in population, and another 2,500 people were living in nearby townships and towns. By 1890 the population of Punxsutawney and Clayville had jumped to 3,100 while the townships surrounding them exceeded 12,000 people. Two men who came to town from Brookville, where they had apprentice

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The lithograph drawings of 1878 illustrate the early years and operation of a small-town newspaper by an owner who edited, set in type, and printed the newspaper on an old hand press. (Caldwell’s Illustrated Historical Atlas of Jefferson County)

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with the Brookville Republican, started the Plaindealer. After a couple of years, the newspaper changed ownership (and name) twice, leading to its purchase in 1873 by Frank Smith from Indiana who changed the name to the Mahoning Valley Spirit. That name lasted for six months until new owners W. P. Hastings and G. M. Keck changed it to the Punxsutawney Spirit. The paper continued with W. P. Hastings until Davis Goheen purchased it in 1885. Typical of small newspapers operated by one or two men, there were the “local intelligence” columns for the brief local news. There was the expected independent voice from the editors for social responsibility and the hopeful influence to direct public opinion. One plea that is familiar even today is this from January 1871: “An ordinance should be passed by our borough ‘dads’ requiring the removal of snow from the pavements within twenty-four hours after its fall. What do you say?” Another that reminds us of community responsibility is also appropriate even today: “People who complain of ‘too many advertisements’ in the papers forget that without advertisements not one journal in a hundred could be published, and even those would be so high in subscription price that men of moderate income could not afford to take them. In this - Continued on next page


A Glimpse into the Past Continued from previous page country the publishers have to depend on the advertisements altogether...” There were listings of businesses, from hotels to wagon and buggy makers, blacksmithing to barbers and hair dressers. Professionals such as attorneys, physicians and surgeons advertised alongside feature columns that emphasized methods to improve farming. There were the marriage and death announcements. State and national news would be added as the telegraph was improved to reach the small town from the big city news enterprises. From the pages of the January issues of the Plaindealer, the anticipation of Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney did not exist, although on January 26, 1871 the young editors did point out to readers: “ST. VALENTINE’S DAY comes on Tuesday this year, February 14th, and will no doubt be only observed by love-sick swans and lasses.” The editors would point out the uniqueness of the month of February, consisting of only 28 days but packed with holidays, listing them as Groundhog Day, Valentines’ Day, Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’s Birthday. In the issues of February 1870 and 1871, the editors acknowledged the groundhog lore that had existed as tradition among the many early settlers with European roots, especially German ancestry. The comments were brief: “GROUND-HOG DAY - Believers in this sign can prepare for an abundance of cold weather, for yesterday was a sunshiny day, which would afford the ground-hog a delightful opportunity to see its shadow if it ventured out.” (February 3, 1870) “TO-DAY (Thursday) is ‘ground-hog day.’ If not too thin he could see his shadow, as the sun shone quite awhile this forenoon.” (February 2, 1871) There were no crowds, no celebration noise, and no proclamation whether the groundhog did or did not see a shadow, nothing official to record for future reference. Nevertheless, the lore of Groundhog Day existed in the lives of the people. Thirty years later the observance grew into a major event that can be credited to many folk in the early 20th Century who captured the moment to connect it all to the town of Punxsutawney, boosting its awareness to people around the world.

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Punxsutawney Hometown – January 2009 – 15


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Reprinted from Go Magazine Winter 2008 with permission from PA Visitors Bureau id you ever wonder who takes care of Punxsutawney Phil and his family all year long? Well, it’s the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle—the guys in the top hats. Together they carry forward the Groundhog Day tradition, plan the annual festivities, and do a good job of making sure Phil is protected and cherished. Throughout the year two members of the Inner Circle, Ben Hughes and John Griffiths, serve as Phil’s chief handlers. Recently we had the chance to ask Ben and John what it’s like to be stewards of Pennsylvania’s furry superstar. Here’s what they had to say— What are your responsibilities as Punxsutawney Phil’s handlers? BEN—Caring for Pennsylvania’s greatest living treasure is an important job. Phil is Pennsylvania’s second most identifiable icon and let’s be honest, the Liberty Bell only requires a bit of polish now and again. JOHN—As handlers we are charged with the duty, no let’s call it the honor, of feeding, interacting, and cleaning up after the Seer of Seers. We also take care of his wife Phyllis and cousin Barney who live with him in the Groundhog Zoo. We escort him to many different

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events during the course of the year including school visits, parades, fairs, et cetera. We also get to peripherally bask in the glow of the attention he is given. What is your favorite part of being Phil’s handler? BEN—I would like to say it’s the VIPs or the incredible moment each year when Phil predicts the weather for the world, but in fact it is the day to day interaction that I have with Phil. It is a side that very few people get to see. He is one cute weather prognosticator. When you spend a lot of time with him, you get to see his kind and gentle side. He is hibernating now… he sleeps a lot and loves to snuggle next to me and watch TV. But not the weather…he doesn’t need the meteorologists input. JOHN—Meeting people from all over the world and hearing their reasons for making the pilgrimage to Punxsutawney and in particular, Gobbler’s Knob. What has been your best experience handling Phil? BEN—There are too many to name. But you don’t have to be around Phil long to be reminded that it is all about him. John and I are simply care takers of Pennsylvania’s most photographed resident. And I have to admit, he is cuter than me, at least he has more hair. JOHN—Any time I am not bitten it is a

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Punxsutawney Phil’s handlers Ben Hughes and John Griffiths at Gobbler’s Knob with Punxsutawney’s most photographed resident, Phil. (Hometown photo by Alan Freed)

Punxsutawney Phil

Continued from previous page good experience. I don’t have one in particular that stands out, just the accumulation of many good experiences. What has been your strangest experience handling Phil? BEN—Let’s see, John and I care for a weather predicting groundhog that millions of people follow each year and countless thousands walk, ride or dance their way in freezing weather to see him emerge from his burrow at sunrise each February 2. Could it be more strange…and wonderful? It’s like being the press agent, body guard, chef, house cleaner and personal companion of Barbra Streisand, except Phil is cuter and more approachable and loved by more schoolchildren across the country. OK, Barbra can sing better, but can she predict the weather? JOHN—During one parade Phil had a little bout of incontinence (remember he is at least 122 years old) that...well, let’s just say I sat by myself on the bus ride home. Why should people attend Groundhog Day and visit Punxsutawney? BEN—There is a reason that thousands of people come to Punxsutawney. It is our special way of celebrating winter and welcoming spring. If you are looking for that Norman Rockwell feeling of small town coupled with an adventure of a lifetime…there’s one good reason, but there are so many others. Food, fun and fri-

volity. The Inner Circle loves to welcome people to this special small town...Come visit us. Say hello. Meet Phil, dance, sing…do many crazy things all to stay warm of course. JOHN—I had a couple from the state of Washington sum it up for me as to why you should come to “The Knob” at least once in your life. They said it was not a political, religious, or corporate event, it was just FUN during a time of the year when everyone could use a little fun. I am sure that every town across the nation thinks their town is the best and they probably can present very convincing arguments, but what I hear the most from visitors is how nice everyone in Punx’y is and how well they were treated. Successful Groundhog Days rest squarely on the shoulders of the many volunteers that donate their time in miserable weather conditions with smiles firmly planted on their faces. What will you be doing on February 3? BEN—Groundhog Day is Pennsylvania’s biggest all night party. And since I’m not as young as I used to be, I’ll be catching up on sleep. But only for one day…Groundhog Day activities occur 365 days a year. JOHN—February 3rd I will be sleeping and probably having nightmares about the meeting we will have a week later that starts the process all over again. Did I say nightmares? I meant sweet dreams. ••• Hometown magazine... A Punx’y Phil Booster!

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Steelers happy NFL is not BCS-like By Gene Collier Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

ith the whispering humility of his authentic locker room persona, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu devoted part of an allegedly normal Wednesday discussing the generally abnormal circumstance of another Super Bowl coming around just three years after his first. "It's a blessing," said the compact safety without whom neither of Pittsburgh's past two Super appointments could have been arranged. "God had mercy on us, saying, 'If I send you to Detroit, then I'm going to have to

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send you to Tampa, too.'" A little midweek slice of meteorological humor wouldn't figure to be lurking in Troy's media repertoire, but God has no monopoly on the whole working-in-mysterious-ways gig. There was, in fact, right there in Polamalu's reliably graceful observations, a blessing no one might yet have counted relative to these 2008 Steelers. When Mike Tomlin's second edition qualified for the AFC playoffs, there were two teams in the field for whom the Steelers held no empirical evidence that they could beat. Indianapolis won at Heinz Field in Novem-

18 – Punxsutawney Hometown – January 2009

ber, and Tennessee delivered for Christmas week the second-worst whipping of the short Tomlin era. Both those teams were eliminated by teams the Steelers had beaten, San Diego and Baltimore, and knew they could beat again. Could these Steelers have handled the Colts at home Jan. 11? If so, could they have returned to Music City with something vastly more melodious than the 31-14 karaoke they squealed out just four weeks earlier. "Yes," said defensive end Brett Keisel. "It's just like in 2005; we're the hottest team at the right time. You have to go into these games with momentum, and that's what we're doing

now." What they're doing is beating postseason opposition by an average of 10 points, very similar to what the Arizona Cardinals are doing, beating postseason opposition by an average of 11. When you do that in theatre of what Tomlin calls January football, well, that's when you get to play February football. What a relief it is, frankly, that the NFL season never degenerates into this type of discussion. If the BCS were running this league, the Titans and the Giants would be headed to Tampa, at least ideally, but they both lost key games late, which is much worse than losing 'em early, except that the relative strength of schedules weighed against the adjusted annual estimate for pork futures divided by the average annual temperature in Brisbane could easily put the Jets in Tampa against the Bears. That's how the colleges like it, apparently. Barack Obama has indicated repeatedly that the business of remaking America should include a playoff system for D-I football, but apparently it's not right at the apex of the presidential to-do list. I did read an Internet headline on the 44th president Wednesday, however, that appeared to be football related: "Obama draft order calls for closing Guantanamo Bay." I thought the draft order started with Detroit this year, but he's the boss. The fact is, in four of the seven years in which the Steelers have advanced to the Super Bowl, they were not the best team in the AFC judging strictly by their regular-season record. Their 2005 mark of 11-5 was good only for a tie for fourth in the conference, which might have put them in the equivalent of the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Kansas City had a better record than the 115 from which Bill Cowher's team launched itself to Super Bowl XXX. The dynastic '70s Steelers included two teams that had the best record in the AFC, but the '74 team's 10-3-1 was bettered by Miami (11-2) and Oakland (12-2), and the '79 team, though it tied for the best record with the Chargers, got spanked 35-7 at San Diego late in the season. That might have sent them to the Sun Bowl real quick. "This will be like going to a bowl game," said Steelers corner Bryant McFadden, the former Florida State standout who follows the college game closely. "Palm trees, the whole bit." But Bryant flatly dismissed any narrative that would suggest the Steelers are anything but the best team in the AFC. "We beat a very explosive, impressive San Diego Chargers team, and, after that, we beat a great Baltimore team that just knocked off Tennessee, the supposed best team in the conference," McFadden said. "And we earned the first-round bye against one of the toughest schedules in recent history." "I don't think there's any question we're the best in the conference," said Keisel. "We did get beat a couple of times, but we're winning the games that count, in January, because we're the best team in the conference." And here's how you know that; it's the same way you know the Cardinals, the 9-7 Cardinals, are the best team in the NFC. They're both in the Super Bowl. What a system. Pity it has no standing in higher education. (Contact Gene Collier at gcollier@postgazette.com.) (Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.) •••


roEthliSbErGEr’S ScramblES producES biG playS P By Ed Bouchette Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger was the first quarterback to win his first 13 starts, the youngest to win a Super Bowl, the fastest to 50 victo-

throw it away. I knew Santonio was over there, I was going to throw it over his head and, at the last minute, the guy's back was turned and I just threw it where he could make a play. When you get him the ball, he'll do the rest." Holmes caught the pass at Baltimore's 47 and ran through and away from Ravens defenders to complete a 65-yard touchdown for a 13-0 lead. It was Roethlisberger's second touchdown

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pass in two postseason games with no interceptions. He has a 90.8 passer rating in those games and should have had two more touchdown passes if Limas Sweed, Willie Parker or Holmes had not dropped the ball. "Ben was Ben," was how coach Mike Tomlin described his touchdown toss. "He created an opportunity and found Santonio." Roethlisberger hurt the Ravens with his ability to scramble away from their pres-

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Ben Roethlisberger put the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII with the kind of performance that his teammates have come to expect. (Hometown photo by Alan Freed)

ries, and now another historical marker looms. Roethlisberger can become only the second quarterback to win his second Super Bowl by age 26. Tom Brady is the only one to accomplish that. He helped put the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII with the kind of performance that his teammates have come to expect -- not with big passing numbers -- but by making the plays when they counted against one of the NFL's toughest defenses. "I tell people all the time, he's a good quarterback but he's one heck of a football player," receiver Nate Washington said. "There's a difference in those two. That's what Ben does, he prides himself on making plays." The highlight of the AFC championship game -- before Troy Polamalu's knockout touchdown return -- occurred early in the second quarter. Roethlisberger, on thirdand-9, stepped forward in the pocket against a blitz and then to his left. He was about to throw the ball away when he spotted Santonio Holmes on the right. Holmes had inside position on cornerback Fabian Washington. Roethlisberger lofted a pass inside, where only Holmes could catch it. "I don't even remember what play was called," Roethlisberger said. "I remember scrambling left and looking back to see if anyone was coming, and no one was. I stepped up and was really getting ready to

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sure and complete passes, even though they sacked him four times. "We didn't want him escaping too much because that's where he tends to make most of his plays," said Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs. "He's a good quarterback. It's his ability to make plays is why he is who he is, so you take your hat off to him. They're the AFC champions, and he's a good quarterback." - Continued on page 25

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Patrons’ Drive Begins

iNViTeS yOu TO SHAre

THE MYSTERYS THE MELODIES AND THE MERRIMENT Of Our 34th Star-Studded Season of Live Stage Plays *Schedule includes: “Perfect Crime” by Warren Manzi

(Longest running non-musical on or off-Broadway) 7:30 p.m. March 5, 6, 7, 12, 14 (no show on 13th) • Middle School Auditorium

“Once Upon a Mattress” a laugh-filled, big scale musical Book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, Marshall Barer Lyrics by Marshall Barer; Music by Mary Rodgers Local shows in late June

“Moon over Buffalo” a zany farce about theater life By ken Ludwig • To be performed in early fall

PTAG Patrons’ Campaign Join our patrons’ drive by completing this form and returning with payment to: P.O. Box 152 Punxsutawney, PA 15767

YES, I want to be part of the fun of the PTAG’s season by helping to underwrite the costs of high-quality, live stage performances in Punxsutawney. Please indicate the level of your support below by checking appropriate box:

_____Patron ($40 minimum donation; receives 6 tickets good at all local shows. _____Sponsor ($55 to $99 donation; receives 8 tickets good at all local shows. _____Benefactor ($100 minimum donation; receives 10 tickets good at all local shows) Make Check Payable to PTAG and send to address indicated above. Deadline is Feb. 25 Questions? Call Terry A. Fye at (814) 938-6928 *Program subject to change if performance rights become unavailable

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PTAG Season Promises Mystery, Melodies, Mirth

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he 34th season of the Punxsutawney Theatre Arts Guild (PTAG) will feature mystery, melodies, and mirth spotlighting local talents in a trio of lively, colorful plays derived from Broadway and offBroadway hits. Audiences are sure to find each production is a well-staged evening of entertainment at an economical price. PTAG will maintain the same box-office prices as it has had for the past five years. Launching the new year will be a taut, intriguing, and witty mystery entitled "Perfect Crime," by Warren Manzi. The show is the longest-running non-musical on or off Broadway. It opened in 1988 and is still playing at the Snapple Theater in New York City. At the helm of the local version is firsttime director, Bob Starzenski, who has seen the professional production several times. Excited to bring this "complex and challenging drama to local audiences, he and his cast and technical crew are already hard at work on the show. Performances have been set for March 5, 6, and 7, and again on March 12 and 14 at the middle school auditorium. The plot centers around Margaret ThorneBret, an accomplished psychiatrist and a potential cold-blooded killer. When her wealthy husband turns up dead, she orchestrates a diabolical game of cat and mouse with a deranged patient, a former lover, and a handsome but duplicitous police inspector. As soon as the curtain goes down on the winter show, the energetic members of PTAG will focus their energy and talents upon the full-scale musical, "Once Upon a Mattress." The crowd-pleasing retelling of "The Princess and the Pea" is a classical fairytale come to life; the original Broadway production helped to launch the career of Carol Burnett. Veteran director Jef Dinsmore declares, "This show is colorful, whimsical and a spectacle for the senses. It has rich characters, emotive songs, hot dance numbers and show-stopping moments of laughter."

Performances will be held in late June in Punxsutawney and at Sawmill Theater in Cook Forest during the week of July 4. The smiles, grins, chuckles and guffaws will continue right into the fall as the Guild wraps up its season with the rib-tickling presentation, "Moon Over Buffalo" by Ken Ludwig. Kathy Dinsmore, a veteran Guild performer and director, said, "This hilarious farce centers on a husband and wife duo, who are fading stars of repertory theater in 1950s Buffalo. The plot is full of misunderstandings, misplaced affections, and missing persons. The show premiered on Broadway with Carol Burnett. There is much running around, as well as mistaken identities and lots of physical comedy." Tentative production dates will be in early fall. To encourage theater goers to be part of the season, the Guild is launching its annual patrons' drive. Those who contribute designated amounts in three categories (patrons, sponsors, and benefactors) will receive books of tickets good throughout the season at any or all of PTAG's local productions. Although the tickets are also transferable, they cannot be used at the shows in Cook Forest. More details are available in the Guild ad which appears on this page of Hometown magazine.

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Remembering Punxsutawney’s Big Snowstorms, Frigid Cold By Bill Anderson of Hometown Magazine ith shovels in hand and children perched atop high mounds of snow, Punxsutawney families posed for photos taken in front of their homes. The pictures provided a record of the big snowstorms of 1992 and 1993, a time when the weather captured newspaper headlines. ‘Storm of the Decade’ Rumors of the nor‘easter of 1992 began circulating in Punxsutawney days earlier. The storm was developing in classic form along the mid-Atlantic and began its trek up the eastern seaboard. Before the snow began falling on Thursday evening, December 10, 1992, Punx’y residents rushed to the local grocery stores. Checkout lines were as long as the grocery aisles. Weathermen were forecasting two feet of snow and when it hit Punxsutawney, it was everything they said it would be! At first, the falling snow provided a winter wonderland of beauty, but as it continued through Friday, it created havoc, dumping up to 30 inches in the Punx’y area. The accumulation of snow knocked down trees and power lines. It disrupted phone and electric services to thousands of area residents for several days. Power

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was out for five hours in downtown Punx’y on Friday afternoon. The National Weather Service called the storm “one of the most epic storms of all time.” In Punxsutawney, we called it the “storm of the decade.” Schools closed, businesses shut down, and many of those who did make it to work did so by braving the elements. Family members came together as a team to dig out their cars from their driveways or street parking. Fearing that their roofs would collapse under the tons of snow — as several did —many home and business owners spent Saturday shoveling the heavy snow from their rooftops. It seemed every resident in Punxsutawney was doing the same thing on that December weekend — moving snow. In Saturday’s edition of The Spirit, I (being publisher at the time) chose the headline “Buried” and emblazoned it across the front page. It was the largest headline in decades. I believed at the time that another snowstorm of that magnitude would be a longtime in coming. ‘Great Blizzard of 1993’ Three months later, on March 13, 1993, Punxsutawney was — as the banner in Monday morning’s newspaper proclaimed - Continued on next page

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— “Buried Again!” The nor‘easter that hit that mid-March weekend was the biggest snowstorm in the lifetime of any Punx’y resident. The weather service said that the last time a storm of this magnitude had taken place was in 1888. Weather forecasters called it the “Storm of the Century” and the “Great Blizzard of ’93.” Every person in Punxsutawney was affected when the fine snow began falling early that Saturday. Residents spent the afternoon shoveling as the storm continued throughout the day, building in intensity into the evening hours. The snowfall alone was estimated at two feet, but the snow wasn’t the only problem. The community was paralyzed when the strong winds kicked up Saturday evening blowing the snow from one place and depositing it in another, creating drifts in the area measuring up to fifteen feet. State and township snowplows found it difficult, and in some places impossible, to stay ahead of the drifting snow. Area coal operators put their employees and front-end loaders to work assisting road crews in clearing the rural roads. Private owners of the large equipment in the surrounding townships spent the weekend digging out their neighbors. Most churches cancelled services on Sunday morning. The area came to a standstill. The local radio station’s list of cancellations was ten minutes long. By Sunday evening, blowing and drifting snow continued to make travel difficult. School was closed on Monday.

The Coldest Day on Record Equaling the huge snowstorms in weather stories to remember was the deep freeze the following year. Fifteen years ago — Wednesday, January 19, 1994 — the all-time, record-low temperatures brought the region to a dead stop. As mercury dipped, residents were forced into hibernation, and schools suspended classes for days. Water mains froze in many communities. Businesses closed, pipes burst in homes, furnaces overheated, car engines failed to start, kerosene supplies dwindled, and the dogs were called in to the warmth of the kitchen. Gov. Casey once again declared a state of emergency and the banner across the top of page one in the Punx’y newspaper exclaimed, “Brrr…It’s A Record!” The temperature was the lowest since record keeping began in 1871. Thermometers plunged to an official 25 degrees below zero, but readings came in at 30, 35 and 40 degrees below zero in surrounding villages. Wind-chill factors were calculated at a minus 65 degrees. The previous record was 20 below recorded on Feb. 10, 1899. A blanket of snow and a lack of cloud cover for insulation to the atmosphere led to the perfect conditions for the record-making cold. Many residents kept a watch in their homes throughout the night in an effort to keep their overworked furnaces running and water pipes — that had never before frozen — from freezing. Everyone did his or her best to defend against the arctic - Continued on page 25

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Gov. Robert P. Casey issued an emergency declaration, the first in the state since an ice storm in the early 1970s.

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o, how do you get your car organized, prepared and safe for any trip this winter? Keep your eyes on the road and we'll tell you how. Sarah on "Get a Tune-up": You may be thinking, "Well, it's already January; it's too late to get a winter checkup." But with at least two more

Think Spring! Check out All These Car Care Specialists for Your Winter Maintenance

months of bad weather ahead, it's certainly not too late. Make an appointment this week with your local garage to ensure your car is winter-ready. Have them change the oil and check the tire pressure, fluids, anti-freeze, heater and tire alignment. If you need new tires, consider replacing your current ones with the all-weather variety, which can handle snow and ice better. You'll feel better just

a&l auto Sales and the the auto lender We Sell • Rent • Fix • Full Service Notary Vehicle Rental • Direct Bill Insurance Companies • 4 Wheel Alignments • Tires Mounted & Balanced • Rotors Turned Full Service Facility • oil Changes Inspections • Transmission Service

A&L Auto Sales - 923 N. Main St. • 938-6780 The Auto Lender - 925 N. Main St. • 938-3124

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knowing your car has been put through its winter paces by the experts.

Alicia on "Drive Intelligently": Unfortunately, many people keep driving in winter as though the road conditions have not changed much. They don't pay attention when signs say "Bridge May Be Icy" or "Maximum Speed 25." Especially in the winter, with black ice and snow, extra caution is always necessary. And remember: Unless there's some bona fide emergency, you never have to drive. If news reports tell you to stay off the roads, well, take that to heart. The warnings are issued for your protection. Here are some additional ideas for getting your car squared away for the rest of winter. 1. Ensure Your Car Has a Proper Kit Every car, regardless of the climate, should be stocked with a basic emergency kit. Your glove compartment should hold a pair of sunglasses, the trunk should have extra water and a blanket, and you should have a first-aid kit under the passenger seat. In case of an accident, a helpful tool is something called Collision.kit by Buttoned Up, which in-

cludes information cards and a camera to ensure you have everything you need to record the details of the incident (Available at www.getbuttonedup.com and Target stores; $15). 2. Keep a Universal Charger If you're going to take a substantial trip, take a cue from truck drivers, and be sure your car is equipped with a universal charger. A universal charger plugs into a cigarette-lighter plug -- and which any normal, two-pronged plug (like the wall chargers for your phone, camera or iPod) can plug into. They're also lifesavers if you're on a longer family trip and need a way to recharge batteries. 3. Keep 'Em Entertained Now for the hard part: the back seat. Don't worry, though, since a little preparedness will go a long way in keeping kids (and adults) not just occupied but genuinely entertained. Always bring plenty of snacks, plus trash bags and wipes for the resulting mess. As far as keeping kids entertained, DVD players are becoming ubiquitous. But try some of the classic games, such as keeping tabs of the states listed on the various license plates of cars on the road. Not only are these more interactive, but they tend to be the ones your kids will remember when they grow up and go on their own road trips. (The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife@getbuttonedup.com. For more columns, go to scrippsnews.com.) •••

K&d

auto & transmission service repaired • rebuilt transmissions auto • truck

Mon.-Fri. 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Sat. 7:30 a.m. - Noon

Indiana street, Punx’y OWNEr

Independent Auto Parts of America

foreign & domestic free estiMates

LESA WALkEr

116 N. Park Street Sykesville

Valley Tire Co. All Major Brands Available

• Computer Diagnostics our Winter • State Inspections • Brake Service Tires Are • Steering & In Stock... Suspension Repairs • Computerized Wheel Ready to Go... Alignment Most Major Credit Cards Accepted 24 Hour Road Service Available 517 e. Mahoning St. Punxsutawney

894-7924

yoUr CooPer tIre heaDqUarters a’s The Are wing Gro Fastest Store Tire

N EW LOCATION!

Mon-Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat. 8 a.m. to Noon

814-938-4055

www.valleytireco.com

24 – Punxsutawney Hometown – January 2009

• Tires for all applications • All major brands available • 30 day price protection • Major league service • No major hassles

Now Located behind Mahoning Valley Milling Co.

Speed and Sport Cycle Center Rt. 436 • 430 S. Main St., Punx’y • 938-8780 or 938-6952 SALES • PARTS • SERVICE Cylinder Boring • PA State Inspection *$1000 Customer Cash offer good on select 2008 models between 1/1/09 and 3/26/09. **On approved Yamaha card purchases made between 1/1/09 and 1/31/09. Valid on any new Yamaha Motorcycle, ATV and Side by Side. 9.99% APR and $69 (purchase between $4,801 and $7,700), $89 ($7,701 and $10,000), $139 ($10,001 and $15,500) payment until 2011. The minimum monthly payment may increase due to any debt cancellation or late payment fees. Paying only this amount will not pay off the purchase during this period. Thereafter, the regular Minimum Monthly Payment and Standard Rate APR of 12.99%, 16.99%, 18.99% or 22.99% apply. For Accounts not current, the promotion is cancelled and regular Minimum Monthly Payments and the Default Rate 24.99% APR apply. Minimum Finance Charge $1. Certain rules apply to the allocation of payments and Finance Charges on your promotional purchase if you make more than one purchase on your Yamaha Card. Call 1-888-367-4310 or review your cardholder agreement for information. Dress properly for your ride with a helmet, eye protection, gloves and boots. Do not drink and ride. It is illegal and dangerous. Yamaha and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation encourage you to ride safely and respect the environment. For further information regarding the MSF course, please call 1-800-446-9227. • ATVs with engine sizes of 90cc or greater are recommended for use only by riders age 16 years and older. Yamaha recommends that all ATV riders take an approved training course. For safety and training information, see your dealer or call the ATV Safety Institute at 1-800-887-2887. ATVs can be hazardous to operate. For your safety: Always avoid paved surfaces. Never ride on public roads. Always wear a helmet, eye protection and protective clothing; never carry passengers; never engage in stunt riding; riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix; avoid excessive speed; and be particularly careful on difficult terrain. On the Yamaha Rhino, always wear your seat belt, helmet, eye protection and protective clothing. ©2008 Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A. Cypress, CA 90630. yamaha-motor.com


roEthliSbErGEr Continued from page 19

Said Roethlisberger, "I've always enjoyed getting out of the pocket, rolling out, making plays. It's hard for guys to cover for a long time as you saw tonight. We play backyard football sometimes." With Hines Ward out, Roethlisberger completed two big passes on a field goalscoring drive that put the Steelers ahead by nine in the third quarter. On third down at his 24, he completed a 20-yard pass over the middle to Carey Davis. On second-and24 from his 30, he completed a 30-yard pass to Heath Miller on the left. "Ben is a special guy," Tomlin said. "He is at his best in the midst of the most difficult adversity, in other years and in this year. He recognized the magnitude of the game, and he did what his team needed him to do. He was very efficient and made great decisions. He was a special guy for us." Roethlisberger did not have a great day passing in his first Super Bowl, but he did things to help the Steelers beat Seattle, 2110. He ran around end and dived for a 1yard touchdown on third down to put them in front, 7-3, in the second quarter after he completed a 37-yard pass to Ward on thirdand-28 that carried to the 3. He took another shot when he was sandwiched by two Ravens while throwing a pass Sunday. As a doctor and trainer checked on him, Byron Leftwich warmed up on the sideline. Roethlisberger did not miss a snap. "It hurt. It still does," he said right after the game. "But winning always takes away a little bit of the pain. I always say it's going to take a cart to get me off the field." (Contact Ed Bouchette at ebouchette@post-gazette.com.) (Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.) •••

hometown Tales Continued from page 22 blast. Those who couldn’t win the battle called those in the business of towing cars, servicing furnaces, and plumbing for help. One resident made the remark, “If it gets any colder, might just freeze time.” In my home on Snyder Hill, it did. On the kitchen windowsill — I recorded the date, time and temperature for posterity. •••

2009 Theatre Arts Guild's 34th Season: • "Perfect Crime" - a murder mystery by Warren Manzi (Longest running non-musical on or off-Broadway) Performances at Middle School Auditorium; 7:30 March 5, 6, 7; 12, 14 (No show on March 13). Director: Robert Starzenski • "Once Upon a Mattress"- lively, comic full-scale musical based upon "The Princess and the Pea." Book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, Marshall Barer Lyrics by Marshall Barer; Music by Mary Rodgers Punxsutawney performances in late June; Shows at Sawmill Theater in Cook Forest 8:00 p.m. July 1, 2, 3 & 4. Director: Jef Dinsmore

The original Punxsutawney Spicy groundhog Cookies 2 c. sifted all purpose flour 1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. ground ginger 1 tsp. ground cloves 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 c. soft butter 1 c. sugar 1/2 c. molasses 1 egg yolk 1 egg, slightly beaten Currents or raisins Sift flour, salt, soda, baking powder, and spices together. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar to-

Stay Warm This Winter With...

• "Moon over Buffalo"--a zany farce about theater life by Ken Ludwig Performances in early fall Director: Kathy Dinsmore For more information or to become a patron, sponsor or benefactor, contact PTAG president, Terry A. Fye, at (814) 938-5928.

gether until fluffy. Blend in molasses and egg yolk. Stir in flour mixture and mix well. Form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Chill one hour or longer. Roll out a small amount at a time on a sugarsprinkled board. Roll 1/8-inch thick. Cut out cookies with lightly-floured groundhog cookie cutter. Place cookies on greased baking sheet. Brush with slightly beaten egg. Decorate with currant eye, raisins, etc. Bake 8 to 10 min. in a preheated 350 degree oven. Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet. Yield: Makes 12 to 15 large size groundhogs, or 3 to 4 dozen smaller ones.

Many Styles & Colors to Choose

"Quality Friendly Service" 1845 Philadelphia St., Indiana Weekdays 9-7; Sat. 9-4

bob’s

the place where greAt Meals begiN

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guns 250 or less .... 10 off guns $601 - $800 ......$30 off guns $250 - $400 ......$15 off guns $801 - $999 ......$40 off guns $401 - $600 ......$20 off guns $1,000 & over ..$50 off $

814-752-6334

5 off

insulated hats & gloves

insulated boots

Select Models

May tHRU octobeR...

orange hunting coats, coveralls, bibs 30% off

ice skates

John biggie, Jr.

om www.doublediamonddeerranch.c • Covered Walkway - Handicap Accessible • Wildlife Oriented Gift Shop

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flannel shirts

insulated clothing

Come to Biggie’s Quality Meat. See What Everybody’s Talking About. It’s Worth the Drive. biggie’s stands for qUalIty.

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camo coats

in stock items only Now thru feb. 9th

specializing • pacKage in the finest deals quality available beef, pork, • daily chicken & specials smoked We accept Visa, Mastercard Meats and Access Card

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OPEN YEAr rOuND - CALL FOr HOurS

insulated

winter clearance

bring your “deaR” Family to visit our “deeR” Family

RT. 36 SOUTH OF COOK FOREST STATE PARK

Men’s

Knives

bob’s

army and Navy store

%

25 off

Original Price

gun cleaning equipment

25% off

Select Models Of

scopes & binoculars

15% off gun safes $50 off

1-800-838-2627 (BoBS) or 814-765-4652

229 East Market St., Clearfield www.bobsarmynavy.com

Mon. 9-8; tue., wed., thur. & Sat. 9-5; Fri. 9-9; Closed Sun.

(Sale Prices Valid On In-Stock Merchandise Only.)

Punxsutawney Hometown – January 2009 – 25


ENJOY YOUR

VALENTINE’S DINNER Fall in Love with Our NEW tusCAni $ 99 lAsAgnA

14

Family Size serves 3 to 4 people includes 5 Breadsticks

piZZa hut walmart Plaza Rt. 119 n., Punx’y

938-2400

AT THE

Walston Club

REGULAR DINNER SPECIALS FOR FRIDAY AND SATURDAY FEB. 13TH AND 14TH (814)

938-5368

2509 Walston Road PUNX’Y

Back to Nature Massage

Therapeutic Massage

give your Valentine a gift Certificate for a

Massage!

(1/2 Hour or 1 Hour)

Warm the heart of your valentine with a mccafe® coffee from our new line of specialty coffees.

egg McMuffins 2 for $3 Downtown Punxsutawney

Thank You! to all the Punx'y and area businesses that supported this year's 'Groundhog Day' edition!

Lo okin g fo r the Pe rfe ct Va len tin e’ s Da y Gift...

The Right Sound Car Audio & Security

Satellite Radio • Car Audio • Mobile Video Car Alarms • Remote Starters Keyless entry • Neon • Custom Installation

(814) 938-2428 Chris Limrick - owner

525 East Mahoning Street

Enjoy One Sweet Valentine’s Dinner with your Sweetheart at ThE EAgLES Saturday, Feb. 14 RESERVATIONS ONLY 2 Seatings 5:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

King Cut Prime Rib or Stuffed Chicken Breast

Includes twice baked mashed potatoes, assorted bread, vegetable, salad, assorted dessert, complimentary champagne

$40 per couple

D.J. at 9:00 p.m. 238 E. Mahoning St., Punx’y A PuBLiCATiON OF PuNxSuTAWNEY hOMETOWN MAGAziNE

26 – Punxsutawney Hometown – January 2009

938-9976

To schedule an appointment, Call Gwen at (814) 590-1812 or Holli at (814) 591-7857 or the office at (814) 938-1090 Available appointment Mon.-Fri. 9-8; Sat. 9-1

Country Junction Restaurant

at “The Farm” in Smicksburg, PA “A Reasonably priced family restaurant with homestyle cooking at it’s best!”

VALEnTInE’S SPECIAL

Friday, Feb. 13 ™ 4 p.m. to Close Saturday, Feb. 14 : Open til 9 p.m. (extended Hours!) Sunday, Feb. 15 ™ 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Surf & Turf Dinner CAB Flat Iron Steak Dinner Breaded Shrimp Dinner Meals include: Dinner choice, potato, vegetable, salad or slaw, homemade bread and choice of any of our mouth watering homemade desserts!

DAILY SPECIALS Reg. Hours: Mon.-Sat. 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Sun. 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.

814-257-0152

tHE

Pantall Hotel

and confEREncE cEntER Downtown Punx’y

938-6600 or 1-800-872-6825

Celebrate Romance with a Valentine Dinner turkey Dinner for tWo - $18

DeLicious Prime riB greAt riBeyes


Valentine's Day Dinner-Dance Saturday, February 14

Country Road Gifts something for everyone including you...

unique

Dinner • 7 p.m. (featuring our new chef's menu)

Dance • 9 p.m. Music by "Midlife Crisis"

Punxsutawney Country Club

Open to the public. Tickets available at the club or from any member or call 938-8243

valentine gift baskets ™ valentine candles valentine coffees ™ valentine decor valentine pencil tree ornaments & garlands

Custom Design Gift Baskets

also visit:

www.ourfashions4less.com

983 Laska Rd., Punx’y • (814) 938-0980 Winter Hours: Thur. and Fri. 10 to 4; Sat. 10 to 2

1 dozen CARNATIONS with baby’s breath and greens, in vase or boxed $20 FREE delivery in Punx’y - phone orders appreciated unique Valentine's gifts and fresh flowers...bouquets, bunches, or singles.

December Rose

All you have to do to register to win is clip, or photocopy, and complete the coupon and mail to:

2009

Valentine’s Day Giveaway Punxsutawney Hometown magazine P.O. Box 197, Punxsutawney, PA 15767 ONLY ONE ENTRY PER ENVELOPE PLEASE — ONE WINNER CHOSEN AT RANDOM

Yes, enter me in the Punxsutawney Hometown magazine Valentine’s Day Giveaway. Name__________________________________________________ Address________________________________________________ City____________________________ State_______Zip_________ Phone__________________________________________________ Should I win, I would like to redeem my gift certificate at (list participating advertiser on pages 26 & 27):________________________

xing

wl

865 harmony road on rt 310, see signs, punxy open 9 to 5 monday thru saturday

938-8564

See our table groundhog weekend at the Community Center for groundhog day corsages, fresh flowers and more!

Cupid Knows...

Punxsutawney Hometown magazine’s Valentine’s Day Giveaway. All Register to win a $25 entries must be received gift certificate. by Feb. 11,

b

1 dozen ROSES with baby’s breath and greens, in vase or boxed $45

our online clothing store Primitive decor, candles, tarts, warmers, wide array of dips, cookie mixes, kitchen mixes, coffees, gourmet drinks, Redneck items & even a selection for your pet! 1 1⁄2 Miles from Wal-Mart, Follow Signs across from CMA Church

Enter and Win...

Kels's m

valentine's day special

Gourmet Bakery Fresh Made Sweets and Baked Goods

Valentine's Day delicious sweets by Kelsey

Valentine’s chocolates, candies, fudge, cakes, cookies, and more! Stop out or order yours today! We will be at the Community Center groundhog weekend stop and see us for FUDGE, COOKIES, CAKES, GROUNDHOG BAKED GOODS Located 1 mile north of Sheetz on Rt. 310 HOURS: Mon.-Sat. 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. • To order call 952-1322

Say it with a Diamond this Valentine’s Day,

Lorelli’s Fine Jewelry

Indiana Mall (724) 349-2500

Join us Saturday, Feb. 14th Barb is re-opening

CedaR FRont ReStauRant opening Date...Feb. 4th

9810 Rt. 536

938-7010

Delicious Home Cookin’ Kind, Friendly Service open Wed., Thur., Fri. & Sat. 11 to 8

Sweet Treats from our bakery

we use only fresh ingredients for all our recipes and your family favorites.

stock up on all your favorite food & snacks for your big steeler Party

53 taylor st., brookville

Valentine

Cakes ™ Cupcakes ™ Cookies West End

938-6961

KoRneR KuPBoaRd 9 rooms of: Antiques • Collectibles • Quality Furniture • Refinishing Products

Valentine Gift Certificates Available Give your sweetheart a piece of the past! 25% Storewide discount thru Feb. 14 814-653-2178 502 Main St., Reynoldsville Hours: Tues.-Sat. 10-4:30 Call ahead on bad weather days! Owners: Pat & Doc Gordon

C&S Restaurant DAILy SPECIALS HoMEMADE PIES

Tues.,-Thurs. 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Sun. 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

938-3523

• 849-8395

oPEN 7 DAyS A WEEK

Delicious heart Cookies Order TODAY from the bEST bakery Around!

1028 W. Mahoning St.

Serving Up Romance!

SUPER MARKET

baked with love for your Valentine!

Just outside Punx’y on Rt. 36

7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Punxsutawney Hometown – January 2009 – 27


The best relationships fortify us to face the future, no matter what it may bring, and grow stronger season after season. For over a century we’ve provided solutions to individuals like you...one customer at a time.

Bill Cooper, President of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club and a member of S&T Bank’s Commercial Lending staff, up close with Phil at Gobblers Knob. Photo © Alan Freed

28 – Punxsutawney Hometown – January 2009

Hampton Avenue • 814.938.1101 Mahoning • 814.938.1125 stbank.com • Member FDIC


January 2009 #100