EwEind Fs R the
Seanna’s Creatures Great and Small Rural Vet Dr. Seanna Brown Heals the Animals of the Countryside That Helped Heal Her
By Brendan O’Meara Burt Cleveland Talks Turkey Williamsport’s Victorian Christmas Turns 20 Holiday Gift Guide Inside!
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Volume 13 Issue 11
14 Of Bikes and Men
Seanna’s Creatures Great and Small
By Gayle Morrow
Fast Eddie Fisher, WWII veteran and motorcyclist extraordinaire, reminisces.
By Brendan O’Meara Rural vet Dr. Seanna Brown heals the animals of the countryside that helped her heal.
26 Old World Café By Mike Cutillo
30 Neither a Cook nor a
By Maggie Barnes
Our columnist throws a lot of love (and cream cheese) at her cupcakes.
By Don Knaus On Gobbler’s Knob, Burt Cleveland lauds the longbeards.
34 Back of the Mountain By Linda Stager Crisp and cozy.
16 Mansions, Music, and Merriment
By Linda Roller Williamsport celebrates its twentieth Victorian Christmas. Cover by Tucker Worthington. Cover photo Linda Stager. This page (top) Linda Stager, (second) Burt Cleveland (left) with longtime friend and hunting buddy, Gary Gee, courtesy Burt Cleveland; (bottom) Larry Flint, Flint Photo.
w w w. m o u n ta i n h o m e m ag . co m Editors & Publishers Teresa Banik Capuzzo Michael Capuzzo Associate Publisher George Bochetto, Esq. D i r e c t o r o f O pe r a t i o n s Gwen Button Managing Editor Gayle Morrow S a l e s R ep r e s e n t a t i v e s Robin Ingerick, Richard Trotta Gallery Manager/ Circulation Director Michael Banik Accounting Amy Packard D e s i g n & P h o t o g r ap h y Tucker Worthington, Cover Design Contributing Writers Maggie Barnes, Mike Cutillo, Elaine Farkas, Alison Fromme, Carrie Hagen, Paul Heimel, Lisa Howeler, Don Knaus, Nicole Landers, Janet McCue, Dave Milano, Cornelius O’Donnell, Brendan O’Meara, Peter Joffre Nye, Linda Roller, Diane C. Seymour, Karey Solomon, Beth Williams, Dave Wonderlich C o n t r i b u t i n g P h o t o g r ap h e r s Bernadette Chiaramonte, Diane Cobourn, Bill Crowell, Bruce Dart, Lisa Howeler, Jan Keck, Mike Kissinger, Nigel P. Kent, Roger Kingsley, Tim McBride, Heather Mee, Jody Shealer, Linda Stager, Mary Sweely, Sue Vogler, Sarah Wagaman, Curt Weinhold,
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On the road again: Dr. Seanna Brown readies BeBe for another day of driving farm to farm.
Seanna’s Creatures Great and Small Rural Vet Dr. Seanna Brown Heals the Animals of the Countryside That Helped Heal Her By Brendan O’Meara
ive a.m. comes quick, especially for the light sleeper. Dr. Seanna Brown, a large animal veterinarian at the Troy Veterinary Clinic, has been conditioned this way for thirty-one years. Thirty-one years of deep sleep rendered to a minimum because the phone—a veritable time bomb of medical emergency—could go off at any hour of any day at any time of year. Brown, fifty-nine, starts her day slowly, reading scriptures before throwing on her coveralls and lacing up her boots. Bittle or Bittle’s Baby (BEBE), her two Jack Russell terriers, her “truck dogs,” accompany her for the long day of driving from farm to farm to farm, county to county to county. Tioga. Bradford. Lycoming. She steers her one-ton Chevy, extended cab, Porta-vet stocked with all the goods of her trade. Brown tells her husband Robin to “put Bittle’s bra on,” which is a dog harness. Bittle stands up like a groundhog. BEBE looks at her in disgust. “Don’t worry,” Brown tells BEBE,” your day is tomorrow.” She and Robin met in 1983, married in 1985, and, once Brown finished veterinary school at Virginia Tech, they threw all their belongings in a trailer and, with nothing but
seven dollars to their name, made the trek to Pennsylvania where they hoped to take root. They moved from a place that had no running water and no television. They shot the deer they ate. It was the kind of rough living that appealed to her. Some of her best memories were from this time. She thought they must have looked rough around the edges because her new employer gave her an advance on her first paycheck. Thus she went to work. Around 8:30, lunchtime by dairy farm standards, Brown calls the clinic to check in. She rarely goes to the clinic since she spends most of her day in the truck. The Chevy roars and she hits the road, up to 300 miles in a day, 25,000 miles a year. She’s one of the few who loves what she does, has a deep passion that one hears in her voice. As a young woman growing up in a Washington, D.C., suburb, she longed for rural life, horizontal in the spread of the land, not vertical buildings piling people atop each other. She loved camping and hiking and riding on horseback. For five dollars an hour, she used to rent a horse and climb atop its back. See Brown on page 8
Brown continued from page 7
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“Oh, it’s a total adventure,” Brown recalls. “You can go fast. You had something powerful underneath you. It’s thrilling. It’s a wonder none of us were hurt. We’d go ripping through those fields. The feeling of freedom. We’re always looking, as kids, to express ourselves, our free spirit.” The author and veterinarian James Herriot captivated Brown at a young age. She loved how he would traipse around visiting farms caring for cattle, horses, or the farm dog or cat. At the start of All Creatures Great and Small, Herriot writes, “They didn’t say anything about this in the books…I lay face down on the cobbled floor in a pool of nameless muck, my arm deep inside the straining cow, my feet scrambling for a toe hold between the stones. I was stripped to the waist and the snow mingled with the dirt and the dried blood on my body. I could see nothing outside the circle of flickering light thrown by the smoky oil lamp which the farmer held over me.” That, to Brown, was sheer magic, and nothing short of it would suffice. • Dr. Brown sees her job more as a people job than an animal job. She sees the care and love the people put into their animals and how the animals give so much of themselves to people. “It’s a part of rural living, being on the farm—you never know—you go out there, the farmers—men and women—you might be the only person they see for conversation. You might be a marriage counselor. You could be a psychologist. Give a hug or a shoulder to cry on. When you’re dealing with animals it’s unpredictable. Most vets have a servant heart and they want to pour themselves out for people. I enjoy that.” Over twenty years into her career by 2007, that was still true. The nature of Brown’s work is physical. Standing at 5-foot4-inches and dealing with animals ten times her size and a thousand times as strong puts an enormous amount of strain on the body. Having a torn ACL in her left knee and feeling some odd sensations to the left side of her body, not to mention headaches pulsing from the back of her head, she sought an MRI that year. “I had an odd headache in back of my head, which is a weird place to get one, and I started having things happen on the left side of my body,” Brown says. “I thought it was a disc at first. I’d ruptured my ACL on the left knee before. I had weakness on my left side. The doctor said you need an MRI.” Aside from these discomforts she felt strong, powerful, invincible. It couldn’t disrupt things too much. She had her farm visits to tend to. She had the one MRI for her knee and went back out to the field. She came back to have one done on her neck and went back out to the field. This second MRI triggered concern with her doctors. They told her she needed to come back, this time to inject dyes into her body so to look for abnormalities often missed with un-dyed imaging. She went back out to work. Later that day, her home phone rang. The doctor said she had a brain tumor. The doctor said there was good and bad news. The good news? The tumor was benign, relatively small. The bad news? It was at the base of her skull right where the spine enters, a place so hard to access that it wouldn’t be a simple excision. “I was numb,” Brown says. “I kept working until the first surgeries. I had to keep doing stuff.” See Brown on page 10
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Pinpointing procedure: Dr. Brown uses acupuncture to treat many ailments.
Brown continued from page 8
Brown told her colleagues at Troy Vet and Dr. Dean Elliott, one of the “smartest people she knows” at work, went into research mode to find the best operative procedures. He found some hope at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where doctors were doing some pioneering brain surgery. Brown soon consulted with doctors at the UPMC. The treatment would require several surgeries as part of a procedure known as endoscopic endonasal approach, or EEA, a minimally invasive surgery. The first surgery would be to drill corridors through her nose and sinus cavity to access the back of the brain. To keep the tunnels from closing, the doctors would use fat from her abdomen. “My glass is usually overflowing—not half empty is the way my perspective is,” Brown says. “I drive people crazy with my optimism.” Still, when that tumor appeared at the base of her skull in a spot few doctors can reach, it led to some grim
thoughts. At age forty-eight, in her career prime, a time when she was thriving at the Troy Vet Clinic, this brought her to her knees. “I had a lot of anxiety,” she says. “I surrendered everything to God. ‘Take me home if this is my time.’ If you’re going to leave me you’re going to have to do it. I reached the end of myself. I felt I could hardly go on. In that surrender, I was flooded with peace, got more resolution. It’ll be all right. It’s not me, it’s Jesus. That was the lowest point of my life.” Brown’s husband showed resolve as well, and it was exactly what she needed so she could focus. “I don’t remember him falling apart,” Brown says. She recalled a trip she and Robin took to Israel. She admired all the gates that surrounded Jerusalem, very Biblical, and one gate stood out: the Lions’ Gate. They mused that when they passed away and went to heaven they’d meet at the Lions’ Gate. See Brown on page 13
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Brown continued from page 10
She and Robin talked about what would happen if she didn’t survive the surgery, or, if she did—alive but not alive—what should happen. She didn’t want to leave that burden to her loved ones. The day of the surgery came. Family was allowed to be with her until she was at last wheeled away. Brown still had it together until Robin called out to her, “I’ll meet you at the Lions’ Gate.” That’s when she lost it. • The surgery removed the tumor, but there would still be more surgeries and other complications. The recovery was long and tiring. Dr. Brown’s once “invincible” and strong body had wasted away to ninety-two pounds. “I had no muscle,” she says. “My skin hung off me. I couldn’t walk. I had double vision. At that point, I felt like that was definitely a dark night of my soul. There’s no way I’ll get out of here and wrestle cows and horses. I’ll be lucky if I can do anything.” Recovery did not come easy. She had trouble walking. She couldn’t keep food down. “I didn’t have that positive [outlook],” Brown says. “I put on my game face at times. I really felt like, ‘This isn’t life.’ I couldn’t do anything. That was truly where faith was the only thing that got me through. At that point if I leave this earth I’m going to go to Jesus and be in glory. If I’m left here [on Earth], there’s nothing left to me. I had no fight. I was so tired and so weak. I remember talking to God one night. ‘My will, my everything, I surrender it. It’s got to be you. I have nothing left.’ I was flooded with such a perfect peace. I can’t explain it. I never want to go back to that place of total weakness, but that sense of peace? That was so awesome.” • Remember that Dr. Brown always maintained that being a vet had more to do with people than animals. The dairy cattle, so docile and giving, hand over their lives to their caretakers. When they fall ill or face difficult births, it’s someone like Dr. Brown who drives out to the farm and helps assess what’s wrong with the animal so the farmer can still make
her living. By doctoring the animals, by treating these wonderful critters with care, she’s caring for the caretakers. By extension, she’s healing and helping a neighbor. The timing of the tumor—never opportune to begin with—came at a particularly vulnerable time for Brown. She was dealing with her own debts, buying into Troy Vet Clinic as a partner, and was the primary earner for her family. But the love and attention she showered on the animals and, by extension, the farmers, would come flooding back to her. When news spread of Brown’s illness and the complications inherent in her recovery, they came to her with all they could give her. “My rural community, they rallied,” Brown says. “People would send a calf to the market and bring by the check from that calf and give it to us. At that time, I hadn’t paid off all my debt and I was buying into Troy Vet and I had a lot of bills and a mortgage. It was a financially hard time. I was the breadwinner. I couldn’t work. They had spaghetti dinners for me” They even opened a bank account for her, and several people visited her in Pittsburgh at the hospital. She never knew the impact she had made on people’s lives. “It was really amazing,” Brown recalls. “It’s almost like glimpsing in the casket or the urn, paying the respects. It was kind of like I got to see that before I died. I think, you always wonder, am I doing a good job? Am I making an impact? Am I showing people God’s love? Do I even matter? When I saw people pouring out their love and service and giving and finances, it made me so humbled and I was so overwhelmed with gratitude. Maybe I have been doing something right.” “She’s the example of perseverance,” says Dr. Marsha Rosanelli, a partner and colleague at Troy Vet. “She’s never stopped pushing. Plenty of people who could be in her situation would stop working. She had an intense drive to come back to work and return to life as usual and be the best she could be.” • For a time, Brown’s “truck dog” didn’t recognize her. Brown lacked the aromatics of being out on farm calls all See Brown on page 20 13
Lifetime triumph: Ed proudly displays his 2014 Denis McCormick Award for lifetime achievement from the Triumph National Rally.
Of Bikes and Men
Fast Eddie Fisher, WWII Veteran and Motorcyclist Extraordinaire, Reminisces By Gayle Morrow
hunk resident David E. Fisher, AKA Ed or Fast Eddie, can be forgiven if he can’t recall the entirety of his experiences as a World War II Army combat veteran. But, at ninety-three, he’s got a fairly extensive collection of memories from those years. Ed, born in 1925 Lancaster County, was one of thirteen children in the Fisher family. He served in the Army from 1943 to 1947, where he trained as a mechanic but ended up as a Jeep driver for his company commander. Ed counts himself lucky to have been ordered in that direction, as, otherwise, he would likely have been with other members of his company who were killed in a training accident. He saw action in the Battle of the Bulge, which was the last German offensive campaign on the Western Front, got frostbitten feet, and recalls that, after crossing the Rhine in an amphibious vehicle, he picked up a wounded German soldier and subsequently delivered him to
a medical facility. The soldier—whether by accident or design—happened to leave his briefcase and his service pistol behind. Ed still has the pistol. To hold it serves as tangible evidence of a horrific time, even as the living memory of those days slips away. He can also tell you about being in General Dwight Eisenhower’s honor guard in Berlin during the last months of 1945. Ike, he says, “was a very nice man.” Berlin, at the time, was “in shambles.” At any rate, the war ended, and Ed found himself on the Queen Mary, an ocean liner designed to carry 3,000 but which, for this voyage, was packed to the gills with 17,000 homeward bound soldiers—men and women both, although Ed notes a bit wryly that “we never saw the women.” A parade planned in New York City was postponed for a week, he says, until the Queen Mary arrived. From New York, Ed went to Fort Indiantown Gap for his discharge. There were two lines there to process the outgoing soldiers, he
says—one, the shorter line, for those who had no issues, no complaints, and a longer line for those who may have had a medical problem or other reason they may have needed to file the dreaded extra paper work. Despite having had, in his words, “frozen feet,” Ed picked the short line. Let me outa here, right? How did Ed Fisher celebrate his homecoming? He ordered a new Indian Chief. If you’re not a bike enthusiast, you may not know that Indian was America’s first motorcycle company. It was also the first motorcycle Ed bought, back in 1941, before the Army and the war. A friend of his also had an Indian racing bike, and Ed remembers, with a bit of a twinkle in his eye, that he “rode it long enough to blow it up.” Because of the war, this new Indian was on backorder, so it was seven months before it arrived. When it showed up, the first place he went with it was to Langhorne, Pennsylvania, to a 100-mile race. It was good to be home.
welcome to It wasn’t long after that an Indian dealer in Ephrata asked him to ride; Ed ended up working for him and then for a couple of other Indian dealers. He went to school to learn how to fix the bikes, and continued as a factory rider, but the company was having problems. As his racing career with Indian was stalled, Ed opted to open his own garage. Enter Triumph. The company was interested in making inroads in the American market, and company officials approached Ed about racing. By 1952 he was a Triumph dealer—he ran his dealership until 1998—as well as a nationally renowned road racer. In motorcycle racing lore, his most famous win was the 1953 Laconia (New Hampshire) 100-mile National Championship. That determination, the closest in the history of the event, wasn’t made until months afterward, as the top four riders finished within just seconds of each other. So how did he end up in Shunk? “I bought some property,” Ed explains. Actually, what he did, around 1970, was build, with a partner, the Buttermilk Falls Campground, which, though he is not associated with it anymore, isn’t far from where he lives now with his extensive collection of motorcycles and his wife, Suzi. He sold the facility in 2000. He and Suzi, married for sixteen years, each have a son and a daughter from previous marriages. Ed’s son, Gary, has been known to race a motorcycle or two. They are, in fact, the only father-son duo to win at Laconia. Suzi says her dad was a motorcycle dealer, as well. “I took my first ride when I was six weeks old,” she says, but admits that these days she rides only as a passenger. The couple spend winters in Florida, and haul one of Ed’s road bikes down with them. There he rides weekly with a group of friends; last year he put 2,000 miles on it during their four months in the sunny south. There is no garage down there, Ed laments, so they have to stay busy doing other things—bocce ball is one pastime. Ed quit racing professionally in 1957, although he never stopped riding or competing—he continued participating in hillclimbs, drag racing, and vintage events. In the years since, he has been honored with a variety of awards from his peers, including placement on the famed White Plate Flat Tracker monument at the motorcycle mecca known as Sturgis. And just last month, Ed led, on one of his Triumphs, a 150plus bike ride through the scenic hills and valleys of Sullivan and Bradford counties. The ride ended at the Rialto Theatre in Canton for the screening of a documentary, Fast Eddie. The film’s creators, husband and wife team Kyle Pahlow and Brenna Eckerson, discovered Ed by chance and decided his story needed a wider audience. Three days after the ride and the screening, Kyle, the proud new owner of Ed’s Triumph, was strapping it onto a trailer. Before he headed out, he passed a shiny Eisenhower dollar to Ed, who turned it over in his fingers a few times before relaying the following story. When he left for his wartime service, a businessman in Gap, where Ed grew up, gave him a silver dollar, with the admonition to bring it, and himself, home safely. Ed kept it with him for the duration of his time in the Army but, in the rush and excitement of being discharged (remember those two lines at Indiantown Gap), the dollar was left behind. Here was a replacement.
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On Gobbler’s Knob, Burt Cleveland Lauds the Longbeards By Don Knaus
en years ago: I had volunteered to host the annual spring conference for the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association. At these gatherings of professional communicators, the first day involves outdoor activities. In the northern tier of Penn’s Woods in May, the major outdoor activities are trout fishing and gobbler hunting (more on that momentarily). Writers had the choice of trout angling via casting, spinning, or fly-fishing. Though I had secured a couple of guides, and provided directions, the escorts were gilding the lily. The fishing was self-guided. But, to add extra help, Sherwood Motel owner Bob Chesko posted the hatching flies on Pine Creek. An amazing number of attendees opted for a rattlesnake hunt. My Main Line Philly friend, Tom Tatum, got all excited when he spotted a rattler and hunched down to take a photo. He heard another
rattle and realized that another snake had crawled between his legs and within striking range of his butt. The pursuit of turkeys presented a problem. Gobbler hunters, as a group, are a secretive sect of nimrods. I know many persons who have taken the bearded bronze birds nearly every season, and none will divulge the exact spot. I lined up Joe Davis to guide a highly feted and awarded writer and radio personality, Charlie Burchfield. According to Charlie, Joe blindfolded him until they were at the calling station. I got Russ Manney to guide Doyle Dietz, yet another big city columnist with a highly regarded radio show. Doyle also announced high school football games for years. He had announced Russ’s high school games and the hunt provided a great reunion for two football fans. But, I needed a guide for the Keystone State’s “Mr. Turkey”—Bob Clark. Bob
had been instrumental in founding the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and was elected its first state president. He had tagged numerous turkeys in numerous states. He had written books on the subject: Longbeards, Long Spurs and Fanned Tails, A Cure for Turkey Fever, and Bob Clark’s Wild Turkey Primer. In addition to his fame, reputation, and expertise, Bob had a rather acerbic way about him. Who could I get for him? It had to be the best bird guy we had, and there was only one who fit that bill: Burton Cleveland. So I phoned Burt at his home on Gobbler’s Knob (I swear. That’s his address.) in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Fifty years ago, with a fade-in to the present: I first met Burt when he was in eighth grade and I was a rookie teacher. I didn’t have him in class, but students told me that he called gobblers without a call—just using his own voice. I found that See Turkey on page 18
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absurd, so I looked him up, and I was absolutely astounded. His voice call sounded more like a turkey than a turkey! I was so taken by his calling ability that I asked him to do the call for me at least once a week. I’d listen, smile, and walk away, shaking my head in amazement. The gobblers’ woods were quite an uphill hike from Burt’s home in a small Tioga County town. He usually hunted with his best friend, Gary Gee, and the two slogged through swamps, chugged up mountain inclines, and slithered their way surreptitiously toward roosting sites. They made taking tom turkeys a religion of sorts. Nothing got in the way of their hunting. There lay a problem for me. I coached track and field, and Gary was the best half-miler I had. Both the young hunters were, shall we say, “pistols.” Gary was at practice most afternoons and he never missed a competition. But, every once in a while, they’d get a gobbler going and they’d stay in the woods until quitting time. In those days, quitting time was 11 a.m. Already late for morning classes, about once a week they simply skipped school. One time, they had hiked to Fay’s Fields, hunted until scholarly pursuits called, and then hitchhiked to school. My lovely bride, on her way to work, noticed two camo-clad guys with shotguns waving thumbs. She slowed, recognized my two pistols, picked them up, and delivered them to the high school office. Burt and Gary remained hunting buddies for more than half a century. They hunted all over the United States. Several years, they had spring turkey tags for Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. They set a goal to take turkeys in each state in three days. Burt smiled slightly when he admitted, “Took us five days.” Sports are about statistics. The hunting, fishing, hiking, and outdoor sports are no exception. For some, just length and maybe weight of the conquest will suffice. As in, “I took an eighteen-inch rainbow outa the Bear Run Hole on Pine Crick. Figure he weighed about two pounds. They were takin’ the wooly bugger.” Or “We hiked thirty miles on the Appalachian Trail last week in two days.” Or, “My kid shot a ten-point buck. We had a rough drag. Musta weighed more’n two-hundred pounds.” Really good hunters keep really good records. Burt Cleveland keeps meticulous records, and evidence of them in various trophies. The Pennsylvania Game Commission keeps records on bear and deer. The bears are measured by weight and circumference of the aged skull. Burt has a number of bear skulls, with one listed in the PGC Record Book. His 700-pounder is a huge black rug that covers his pool table. During the first Pennsylvania early archery season for bear, he recorded the only bear taken on opening day. But turkeys are really Burt’s thing, and gobbler mounts fill the trophy room. The NWTF maintains numerous classes of records for wild turkeys. There are four U.S. subspecies of wild turkeys: the Eastern that roams our hills and ranges from Canada to mid-Florida, west to the Mississippi, and with a fair number crossing the Big Muddy; the Merriam resides in the Rocky Mountains; the Osceola is hunted in south Florida only; the Rio Grande tracks the dust of America’s southwest. Take all four subspecies and a hunter qualifies for the Grand Slam. Additionally there are Gould’s in northwest Mexico, with Linda Stager
In between hunting, deer processing, and part-time work as a driver for the Endless Mountains Transportation Authority, Burt Cleveland puts his artistic talents to use making unique furniture, lamps, jewelry, and an assortment of other home decor products featuring turkey beards, feet, and feathers, as well as deer skulls and hides.
seven turkeys in the back of a pick-up, they stopped for breakfast at a truck stop. As they got out, they noticed about twenty cars and trucks invading the parking lot and surrounding them. They feared the
Courtesy Burt Cleveland
a very sparse population in remote areas of Arizona. Add the Gould’s to the Grand Slam and you have a Royal Slam. Then, without doubt, the most beautiful turkey is the ocellated turkey that is found only in the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula. If one can harvest an ocellated and add it to the other slams, he or she can enter the records with a World Slam. The World Slam is the least accomplished feat in turkey hunting. When last checked, a guide in the Yucatan charged $10,000! Burt is a blue collar guy and, considering travel expenses alone, he is satisfied with the Grand Slam. He is also proud that he did it with no guides and no decoys. Ten springs ago in Kansas, he took the Eastern, Merriam, and Rio Grande. He knew a relative of his brother’s wife, and he and three friends set out for Kansas, an eighteen-hour drive. They arrived in the Sunflower State at 2:30 p.m. By dark, they had killed three gobblers. One of the hunters had wounded a bird and they tracked it for some time. The next morning, they each had taken turkeys early. With
worst. It seems that word had spread about their gobbler success, and thirty or so locals simply wanted to know how they had done it. Burt held court, explaining the calling process. He even volunteered to take a See Turkey on page 28
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day. Her hair was short. She smelled so sterile from the hospital. But as soon as she donned the gear of her trade, traipsed around amongst cow patties, suddenly her dog recognized her. Dr. Brown’s first visit back was a cow off-feed. She was back to work, back doing what she loved, and doing it with that overflowing sense of optimism and rigor she built a life on, tumor free. • That was eleven years ago. Think of all the lives she has managed to touch since then. Think of all the lives potentially missed had the tumor prevailed. Sure, someone would’ve stepped up to fill the space, but it would not have been her special touch. James Herriot wrote, “At times it seemed unfair that I should be paid for my work; for driving out in the early morning with the fields glittering under the first pale sunshine and the wisps of mist still hanging on the high tops.” The times when Dr. Brown feels most engaged and most alive in her work are not when she’s tending to a cow, or a horse, or a yak, or giving acupuncture to animals, or the one day she works with small animals. It’s the moments in between, or the moments before she sees another person or another animal besides Bittle and BB. “It’s all good, seeing the sunrise,” she says. “It’s been a long winter. It’s a beautiful spring day. You drive farm to farm. The leaves are starting to come out. You catch a sunrise—the big picture, not even [anything] to do with the animals. It’s part of rural living.” It’s a pretty sight to behold, this battle-tested woman who beat back her tumor into retreat, this doctor who throws on her coveralls and laces up her boots to do her job, her mission, to serve animals and people. It all comes back to Herriot. So many of his quotes are a north star mapping out Brown’s course. Herriot wrote, “Everybody was asleep. Everybody except me, James Herriot, creeping sore and exhausted towards another spell of hard labour. Why the hell had I ever decided to become a country vet? I must have been crazy to pick a job where you worked seven days a week and through the night as well. Sometimes I felt as though the practice was a malignant, living entity; testing me, trying me out; putting the pressure on more and more to see just when at what point I would drop down dead.” Brown signed this contract a long time ago. The good and the bad. When the phone rings, “it can be an anxious feeling,” she says. “Most of the time, when I get home and take off my coveralls and my boots and I have had dinner…Worse yet, you just get out of the shower and your phone rings and I have to admit, ‘Oh, this job.’ You’re ready to go bed and turn off. “In the middle of the night you don’t have time. You wake up on the first ring and got that adrenaline going, ready to go— [that’s] the way you wake up like that. Thirty-one years of the phone ringing. “I sleep very light.”
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Mansions, Music, and Merriment Williamsport Celebrates Its Twentieth Victorian Christmas By Linda Roller
he leaves are off the trees, the last of the fruits and vegetables have been harvested, and it’s time for holiday feasting and remembering. But at around this time of the year, twenty years ago, a group of friends who were passionate about Williamsport and its extraordinary Victorian architecture got together and planted the seed of an event. Gloria and Marcia Miele, Ted Lyon, and Nan Young had been hard at work for years restoring and preserving the old mansions along the city’s Millionaire’s Row. Over wine at the Herdic House, they planned a small event, during which a few of the houses could be open to the public. They wanted everybody to see the beauty they saw. Before they knew it, they had four houses for people to tour, a luncheon at Park Place, a carol sing, and a tree lighting. It was a success the very first year. Two decades later, what started as a simple afternoon event has become an annual weekend that ushers in the holiday season and draws people from far beyond Williamsport. This year, the third weekend in November, Victorian Christmas welcomes some of our most beloved Christmas characters to weave a spell as they look at Christmas in Williamsport with the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Thad Meckley, local historian and the featured speaker at the YWCA on Friday, November 16, uses the Dickens characters as a metaphor for the city’s fortunes.
“Like the Christmas classic, Williamsport’s story is one of perseverance, hope, and rebirth that resonates today, possessing life and business lessons that are every bit as relevant as they were in Victorian England,” says Thad. That’s not the only event on Friday in the block that houses both the YWCA and Park Place. There will be a tree lighting with Santa, and the opening of an artisan’s market. This is a juried show/ market showcasing twenty juried artisans, most from north central Pennsylvania. Visitors will find an assortment of crafts and art including pottery, glass, jewelry, ornaments, soaps, pet portraits, pastels, fiber art, and handmade Santas with sculpted faces. The market will be open Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Uptown Music Collective joins in the celebration with two concerts on Friday and Saturday night at the Community Arts Center. More Than a Feeling is a tribute to 1970s arena rock, featuring music made famous by Boston, Styx, Journey, Kansas and more. But the star of Victorian Christmas is always the tours. This year, seven homes and seven churches have opened their doors to the public for tours on Saturday, November 17. The homes include three of the mansions on Millionaire’s Row (Fourth
Street), all built before 1900, a 1917 Georgian-style house with a Mediterranean influence, two traditional Colonial-style homes from the 1920s, and one mid-century contemporary house built in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright. All seven houses are filled with period architectural detail, and are rich with historical significance. The churches are older structures in the downtown area, with several built before 1900, and replete with such architectural gems as Tiffany windows and regionally quarried stone and marble. All are steeped in the history of this area, with a few sitting on land donated by famous locals such as Peter Herdic. In addition, the Rowley House Museum, the Community Arts Center, the Genetti Hotel, the Scottish Rite, the James V. Brown Library, and the Old Corner Hotel are open for tours. Volunteers will be on hand to serve as guides, to highlight special points at each location, and to answer questions about these treasures. For the younger set there are children’s activities at the YWCA, along with lunches and refreshments at several churches on the tour route, and a saxophone quartet at the Transportation Museum. The Williamsport Music Club will play throughout Saturday at the Park Place gazebo. The Loyalsock Middle School Student Works will present an exhibition inspired by the city’s historic district at the Hartshorn House. The Duboistown Garden Club has had its Holiday House event for fifty-five years, and has participated in Victorian Christmas for many of those. This year its Holidays in Candyland will be at Lycoming College’s Pennington Lounge and will be open Refined yuletide: From both Saturday and Sunday. art and music to antiques For those who love the toy trains associated and toys, Williamsport’s Victorian Christmas with the Christmas season, one of the weekend’s tours provide holiday special events is the Will Huffman Toy Train wonderment to visitors Expo on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to young and old. 4 p.m. Toy trains are always on exhibit at the Taber Museum, but, for Victorian Christmas, most of this enormous train collection will also be displayed at the Herdic Transportation Museum behind the Taber, and at the Park Place next door. One more event is slated for Sunday only. The art and antiques from the Park Home will be displayed at the Meadows on Warrensville Road. There, among the gracious items from the long history of the home as a retirement facility, there will be musical entertainment, refreshments, and tours. From the Victorian past, and those buildings that have remained over the years, through to the art and industry of the present, this beloved holiday happening shines a kindly light on the future of both an event that brings so much pleasure, and the town where history is visible every day. Tour tickets are twenty dollars and are on sale at eventbrite. com; at the Community Arts Center, 220 West Fourth Street; at the Historic Genetti Hotel & Suites, 200 West Fourth Street; and at the Lycoming County Visitors Bureau, 102 West Fourth Street, (800)358-9900. On the day of the tour, tickets will be available at the Transportation Museum, 810 Nichols Place; at the various homes on the tour (see eventbrite.com or victorianchristmaspa. com for a listing); and at Lycoming County Visitors Bureau. Mountain Home contributor Linda Roller is a bookseller, appraiser, and writer in Avis, Pennsylvania. 23
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t’s safe to say that, if nothing else, when Chris and Jennifer Herman set out to do something, they wrap their minds around it, get it done…and then ride it out. The owners of the super successful Old World Café and Ice Cream at 1 West Market Street opened their diner/shop/parlor in 2002—after hunting around for where to locate and coming up with a menu while sitting at her pool in New Jersey, where she lived at the time. And today, they’ve changed very little about it. “There was nothing here, it was an empty space, so we started from scratch, and it is pretty much the same now as it was then,” Jennifer says with a laugh. “I think we’ve changed only two sandwiches in fifteen years.” Another way to say that: don’t mess with success. And there’s no doubt that Old World, as it’s known locally, has thrived. From paninis to fresh salads to luscious soups to sixteen flavors of ice cream, it all works at the bustling eatery that seats about fifty and has eighteen or so employees in the busy summer season and about half that at other times. Chris, who worked in restaurants from coast (Seattle) to coast (Maryland), is the master in the kitchen and sometimes has to be told by Jennifer and staff to leave because he spends so much time there. Jennifer, who owned a gourmet sandwich and cheese shop in Jersey for thirteen years, once worked a stretch of eighty-six days in a row at the Old World. Neither is complaining, however. “We were getting married, and Chris didn’t want to stay in Maryland and I didn’t want to stay in Jersey,” Jennifer says. Their food, all made from scratch, is a hit with locals and has drawn some famous folks such as travel guru Rudy Maxa, whose brother lives in Corning, LPGA players, and then-Sen. Hillary Clinton. “She said, ‘Oh, it’s so cute in here,’” Jennifer remembers. In addition to its food, especially soups such as the Italian classic stracciatella and a tomato basil cream, the Old World is known for the gourmet food products available—things like crackers, teas, jellies, and oils—and for its colorful wall of postcards sent by fans and vacationing employees alike. You know, thinking about it, that wall of postcards is something of a recent addition to the cozy and vibrant café. But most everything else is tried and true. For more information visit oldworldcafe. com or call (607) 936-1953. ~Mike Cutillo
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couple Kansans out for a “lesson.” Occasionally, nature provides an anomaly—think a droptine deer or a doe with small antlers. Once in a great while, a gobbler might have too much of that male hormone and have multiple spurs. Burt took one with six spurs. And then there’s the extremely rare hen that might have spurs. Many seasons ago, Burt shot just such a hen, and he holds the world record for longest spurred hen ever measured. The NWTF also tracks turkey trophies by measurement, using certified weight, beard length, and spur length. Male turkeys sport beards growing out of their feathered breasts, and spurs, which are sharp protuberances arming their lower legs. The beards are to impress hens; the spurs are for fighting rivals in mating season. Burt has 186 beards on display on beard boards, devices he designed that are used by turkey hunters nationwide. His beard boards are mounted around the perimeter of his large trophy room. He started killing gobblers in the first Penn’s Woods spring season in 1968. He didn’t even think about retaining filled tags until 1980. His filled tags hang from a long string and weigh about a pound. His spurs, those not on mounts and preserved legs, comprise a forty-inch necklace. All gifted hunters do some guiding, both informally and formally. Burt first guided hunters in Colorado, then in Missouri. One time in the “Show Me State,” Burt was among six hunters who killed eleven gobblers in two days. Burt said the birds had a total weight of 269 pounds with 117½ inches of beards. Now that’s record keeping. He also loves working with youngsters, and he guided for gratis, and for the fun of it, for NWTF Jakes hunts for years. Jakes are young, small gobblers with short two-to three-inch beards. Hunts with the NWTF Jakes program—Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship—are specifically designed for youngsters ages twelve and younger. Ten years ago: So, I contacted Burt and he was excited to hear from me. I asked if he’d help out with guiding Pennsylvania’s “Mr. Turkey.” He said he’d be delighted. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I asked if Burt knew anybody who could guide my friend Steve Piatt, editor of New York Outdoor News. “Sure,” he said, “Call Gary Gee.” Gary agreed to guide. I wondered about my two “pistols” from the late 1960s. I couldn’t wait to talk to Burt after his morning hunt with “Mr. Turkey.” He said that they had a hot gobbler responding to his call but that they had to move closer. Bob Clark, then in his late seventies and nursing bad knees and hips, couldn’t cross a fence. Burt said it was six-wire fence strung so tight you could play banjo on it, and sadly opined, “If he could have crossed that fence, we’d have had that bird.” Later, I chatted with Bob and questioned him about the hunt. I mentioned the fence. He huffed, “If he was any good, he could have called that bird right up to the fence like he was yankin’ it on a string!” And thus read two great gobbler-getters stories. Thanks, Burt. Retired teacher, principal, coach, and life-long sportsman Don Knaus is an award-winning outdoor writer and author of Of Woods and Wild Things, a collection of short stories on hunting, fishing, and the outdoors.
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Our Columnist Throws A Lot of Love (and Cream Cheese) At Her Cupcakes By Maggie Barnes
ou’re cooking? Why?” Even over the phone the look of horror on my stepdaughter’s face was
evident. “I want to surprise Dad.” I tucked the phone under my ear and continued my hunt for our largest mixing bowl. “An attempt on his life will do it,” she muttered, and I pretended not to hear. Fall-heading-into-winter Sundays— what is it about them? This weird nesting instinct comes over me like a pumpkinspice-infused fog and I head for the kitchen.
Despite a complete lack of training and a spotty track record of culinary success, each year I end up wearing an apron bedecked with leaves and humming “’Tis the Gift to be Simple” while the November winds lash at the windows. I must have been feeling especially Hallmark Channel-ish this year, because I was trying to bake a couple of things. I’ve often heard that people are either cooks or bakers, rarely both in one individual. I am neither, so I figure I’ve got an even shot at this. But, I must confess that Angie comes
by her reticence honestly, as I fed her spoiled grape jelly when she was ten. Kid has the memory of an elephant. (And I would like to point out that she had nary a case of strep throat that year.) Pumpkin spice cupcakes. The recipe sat propped against the kitchen radio, surrounded by bowls, measuring cups, and dry ingredients. I had reviewed the directions, like a new driver looking at the map before leaving the driveway, and, though I had some questions, I felt confident this was a task even I was up to.
The act of baking is actually therapeutic and has been proven to lower your blood pressure. Or is it brain function? No matter. As I measured and stirred and folded and hummed, my relaxed mental state brought about several deep, profound moments, some of which I share with you now: •• Have you ever noticed how alike baking soda and baking powder look? Who thought that was a good idea? •• I separated the eggs, as instructed, but it was a pain to have to go to different rooms to retrieve them. Baking is certainly labor intensive. •• “Fold in with a spatula until there are no flour pockets”— What in the name of Julia Child is a flour pocket? It sounds like a bad thing. I base that solely on having never heard a cupcake described as being delightfully riddled with tasty flour pockets. •• A half-cup of brown sugar? I’d be happy to comply if this stuff wasn’t one solid brick. What did I read about bread keeping brown sugar soft? I wrapped a bag of bread slices around the brown brick and set it aside. •• How am I supposed to whisk something that clumps like boys at a junior high dance? •• “Add flour in two additions”—We only added onto the house once, but okay. I sure am trucking this bowl around a lot. •• This recipe is so narrow-minded. Something can be dense and fluffy at the same time—am I right? Of course I am. •• Here’s an interesting tidbit—cream cheese is surprisingly aerodynamic for something that can cling to the ceiling. •• If you have bowls left over in your cupboard, you didn’t do it right. I did it right. •• When tidying up after baking, it is best to start with the ceiling and work your way down with help from Mr. Gravity. Just a little tip from my kitchen to yours! As I was waiting for the oven timer to ding, my niece Michelle called. “I’m baking!” I offered cheerfully. Michelle’s voice dropped to a nervous whisper. “What happened? Have you been kidnapped?” “What?” I said. “What put that idea in your head?” She breathed a sigh of relief. “I thought this was your secret panic phrase to tell me someone was holding you hostage.” Brat. The cupcakes were supposed to be frosted with one of those decorating bags with the different tips on it. Stuff like that is not exactly standard equipment in our kitchen like say, a high-powered corkscrew or an industrial grade weather station that tells me when it’s raining in Newfoundland. So, I just slathered about half a pound of frosting on each cupcake and called it good. My coworkers fell on those cupcakes like a hobo on a hot dog. And I’ll have you know there were no reports of sudden onset stomach pain, fever, or visual hallucinations. If you factor in my hourly rate of pay at work and the cost of ingredients, those two dozen cupcakes cost $374.12. But can you really put a price on homemade love? Pepto-Bismol, yes, but love, no.
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Maggie Barnes has won three IRMAs and two Keystone Press Awards for her columns in Mountain Home. She lives in Waverly, New York. 31
M A I L - I N JULY 22 – AUGUST 5
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B A C K O F T H E M O U N TA I N
Crisp and Cozy By Linda Stager
ovember brings crisp mornings and a hint of the winter months to come. One morning I saw this scene outside of Wellsboro, and the frost and fall colors spoke to the season. Add the house with the wood stove burning in the background, and it was complete.
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"Seanna's Creatures Great and Small" by Brendan O'Meara. Rural vet Dr. Seanna Brown heals the animals of the countryside that helped heal he...
Published on Oct 17, 2018
"Seanna's Creatures Great and Small" by Brendan O'Meara. Rural vet Dr. Seanna Brown heals the animals of the countryside that helped heal he...