Monday, August 31, 2015

HALF MAST: Sweiker, Congressman and Statesman


 I have an opportunity to bring you a post about former Senator and Secretary under Reagan, Richard Shultz Schweiker. That's correct. (Sorry, somehow when I was up late, I mispelled his last name on the title).

   Of course, 'Fayette/Westmoreland Forgotten History' is hardly a forum for politics and this will very likely remain the case.

   Under the American, U. S. flag of the United States, the PA State flag is properly to be kept at half mast position until August 29 of 2015 in honor of this man. In observing this principled decorum, there are sound reasons based on strong tradition for doing so.

  This is a prime, immediate example at work and therefore I decided to include this.

   From His Early Days Onward

   Richard Schweiker was born, June 1, 1926, and died on July 31, 2015. He is considered by some one of the last of a good line of American politicians. In fact, this may well be so. I am hardly an able judge for such decision making. Ring a bell for the fallen.

  Originally, he hailed from Norristown in Montgomery County, founded in 1784 by one Isaac Norris.

  Graduating from the local high school there in Worcester, he went on to become the Valedictorian in 1844, and soon entered World War Two on an naval aircraft carrier named Tarawa as an electronics technician.

   "Richard and Claire deeply believed that they were put on this earth to be of service to God and their fellow man," said his family. His family further stated that the belief as well as the death of his older brother, Malcolm, in World War II motivated him to run for Congress.

  Later, he attended Slippery Rock and then after two years moved on to Penn State University, one of the largest colleges in the United States. He then spent time in the family business, the American Olean Tile Company. He soon became active in politics with the Young Republicans, an organization with chapters going back to 1859. He was president from 1952 to 1954.

   He became a delegate to the Republican National Convention in those years, in 1952 and 1956.

  He married Claire Joan Coleman, a Romper Room host in Philadelphia. Together they had five children.

  By 1960 he was elected to the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania's thirteenth District. This might of been a lucky number for him. He was considered a moderate in outlook.

   He proceeded to serve on the Armed Services Committee and the Government Operations Committee, the last was better known as the Committee On Oversight and Government Reform. This was eventually cut in staff by 50% in 1885, a rare actuality in our modern times of big and bigger government.

  He was chosen the 14th U. S. Secretary of Housing and Human Services under President Ronald Reagan from 1981-1983. He supported Medicare, an increase in Social Security and was a factor behind civil rights legislation. He was further elected to the U. S. Senate in 1968, defeating the long time incumbent, Joe Clark.

  Unusually, he was against the Vietnam War, and as an original thinker, was opposed to gun control and supported school prayer. Who knows? Just maybe we could use this quality of person in these troubled days.

  He also coauthored the book, "How To End The Draft", to help implement a volunteer army.

  Richard Schwieker was on many important congressional committees in his time in the Capital and also helped fund significant diabetes research.

   According to a longtime member of the Republican National Committee Bob Asher, "Dick was a gentleman of the old school...a man of total integrity, and he served the public well. He was from that era when people from both sides of the aisle were willing to compromise and not get locked into any particular doctrinaire position. I had the highest admiration for him. He was a good man and a very honorable and flexible man."

   As stated in, Schweiker attended Central Schwenkfelder Church in Lansdale and later at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Washington. He received nine honorary doctoral degrees as well as dozens of awards and honors. He also was said to have a great love of golfing and skiing.

   In spite of the controversial Watergate scandal, he was re-elected in 1974, beating out a fairly popular Democrat, Pittsburgh mayor, Pete Flaherty with 53% of the state vote, the highest since 1946, and 49% in strongly Democratic Philadelphia. In later years he was considered to of become more of a conservative politician, for those who keep track of such matters.

  After retiring, he moved to McLean, Virginia.


  He served his country faithfully in war and in peace.

    I will be back soon with another meaningful post on "Fayette/Westmoreland Forgotten History" when I look forward to a good turnout while continuing in sharing more of our wonderful region with you...

   So, don't forget!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Coveted Covered Bridges

    A recent purpose in getting these photos together was to gather some of the relics of another age.

   Of course, here we are a bit off the normal region of FWFH, yet, still firmly nestled in southwestern Pennsylvania.

   Another bridge I'm not positive of the name, but would liked to of shown you and this is in Greene County, between Garard's Fort and Kirby on Whitely Creek. A quality covered bridge which could be included in an update 'further up the road' a piece.

    I went a little 'light' on this post, but you will surely understand why. There aren't a whole lot of these wonderful structures around our communities anymore. You have to love the sight of them, they really give us pause to stop and take a gander and step backward for a walk into the past. I hope you enjoy the photos and historical material.


     The above covered bridge photo is a favorite from my childhood fishing days with my Dad and older brothers. This is King's Bridge on Rt. 653 near Scullton.

   On the photo above you can see the picnic area for recreational usage. It also has been upgraded in recent years.

   Early construction of the fabled popular bridge goes all the way back to the year 1806, proudly striding across Laurel Hill Creek in Middlecreek Township near the mid-western side of Somerset County. Over 120 feet long, it is technically said to be a Burr truss bridge, which was only invented two years before its creation. What a beauty, eh folks?


      This is a covered bridge over the Raystown branch of the Juniata River in Bedford County. This is near Mann's Choice.

       Above and below, getting back to Somerset County, you see the Barronvale Bridge which is roughly a mile and a half from King's Bridge upstream.


Here is a side view of the Barronvale Bridge looking upstream

      Below is the Lower Humbert covered bridge and another with fond memories attached. Also crossing Laurel Hill Creek, this time further toward the southwest of King's Bridge in Lower Turkey Foot Township of Somerset County and almost as long. A substantial difference in age, as this wonderful bridge was built in 1891. It received extensive rebuilding in 1991, the one hundred year anniversary.

          Humbert, on the T312 Covered Bridge Road, at 39.840124 -79.323059 and is still in use on the lower section of a fly fisherman's premium on Laurel Hill Creek. Apparently, there was once an Upper Humbert bridge as well, but sadly, it is no longer in existence. Likely the location was at the swinging bridge, near the delayed harvest. How many years ago that was, I don't know. (Hint, hint!)
A pleasant side view of the Lower Humbert bridge
       This bridge is not far from where I caught one of my first decent sized trout, the 'Hunchback of Humbert'. This was the joke about a somewhat deformed fish I caught around 1970 a few holes up from here. I dragged it up over the bank in all my excitement. Well, you just had to be there!

            Do yourself a favor, if you haven't done so already. Take a drive the next weekend you and your family are out and about, heading on over to spend an hour or two checking out these fine old bridges. You'll be glad you did!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Close Friend's Passing


   Hello again folks ! At first, I debated a while with myself about publishing this post. This blog does have a heart, and in the long run, I think this is the right decision. I hope this post gives a real impression, however briefly, on the life of this fine woman.

   For many years this half cousin of mine was a close friend, especially with my mother over many years. The two of them went places together, had long talks amid cups of tea on the porch in the summer months; my Mom even sometimes ran errands for her, such as picking up her medications. 'Dot', as she was affectionately known, would continually bring up how much, while my Mom was in decline with Alzheimer's, she was gladdened by seeing and talking to her grand kids, as that meant so much to Dot. Well, with the death of my Mom following my father's demise two years ago this April and July, such a special relationship passed to myself. Of course not of the same brand, yet I am proud of getting to know her better and at this time submit an honorable mention out of an abiding respect of her and who she was.

  Let me briefly explain.

 Dot Boyd was one person that would call us every now and then asking how we were doing, naming all of us, just a very caring person. She might of become even more concerned about us, if that is possible, after my parents passed away.

  Sadly, Dorothy L. Boyd died on the first day of summer, June 21, 2015 in the Harman House Convalescent Center at Mt. Pleasant, Pa. I suppose I knew her all my life. She was born on  Dec. 17, 1925, a daughter of Roy and Irene (Eicher) Miner. Graduating from Scottdale High School, Class of 1943, the El Paso, Texas Business School as well as the General Motors Secretarial school in Pittsburgh. Yes, she was one smart lady. She was married to Harry (Bucky) Boyd, who passed on many years ago. Dot retired from her last job as secretary at Frick Hospital. A member of many organizations, including the Everson Evangelical church, she would sit in her kitchen and tell me lots of stories about local events, the old schools and some of the churches with many little anecdotes thrown in. I, on the other hand was often telling her about the rest of my family and stuff about my parents, work and brothers. One other item: My Blog! She was fascinated to hear about the posts and the regional history, particularly the 'Relatives and Ancestors' entries. No wonder!

   Last winter she had anxiously suggested in the spring, we drive out to Bullskin and check up on our distant relatives and just spend some time asking around. The idea sounded like a good plan that I looked forward to! I may of had a bit if a premonition whether we would really be able to do this together.

   Here's a humorous example of how sharp she still was. After her explaining  to me more stories of  our mutual relationship to the regional Hatfield's, I told her I would look up more historical details and get back with her soon. The next time I visited, she asked about this and I told her about how Amsi Miner was the son of George Hatfield and I am descended from Amsi's first wife, Rebecca Green and Dot from his second wife Minerva Keefer. (The fuller story can be found on the January  'Relatives and Ancestors: Chapter Two' post). So, she looked up at me and said, "Oh I know, I told you we were directly related to the Hatfield's!" She had, and without the shadow of a doubt.

   When I got properly dressed and went over to Ferguson's Funeral Home to convey my respects to her and sympathy to her and for her sons 'Jim Bob', or James Dugger and Freddy Dugger and the extended family; in spite of her advanced age, I felt so sad. We have some idea what Jim and Fred, the grandchildren and great grandchildren, must have gone through. Such a personal and intimate experience grief really is, certainly so when losing a close precious relative. This becomes the most difficult part of living. You need to convey your feelings, but don't necessarily get closer than you should. There is something to be said for showing you really care, yet initially keeping a small respectable distance for people going through so much private inner turmoil, if you know what I mean. Birth, death and marriage are truly sacred moments.

  There are few people I could possibly miss more in my life. Two of those exceptions would be my parents, shown below.

   PHOTO: Dorothy Boyd is seen here at an Army Reunion for the 34th Division, 'Red Bull' 135th Infantry, with close companion, Chuck Etling and my Dad and Mom to the left:

My Dad and Mom, with Dot Boyd and Chuck Etling

   She was a very dear acquaintance and became an even better friend, to the extent I, a distant relative, not only miss her dearly, and so sympathize with her warm family. Well, this special lady who once was a secretary at the local hosptial, as was my Mom for a local financier, was also a witty, caring and really charming and wonderful person. If this wasn't the case, I would not state the fact in this manner. Yes, one can feel nostalgia this quickly, if you can call it that.

   Brief Eulogy:

    Passing the doorway, an eternal smile, "oh, won't you come in?"

   Passing the days into layered silver years, moving quickly over the higher hills,
   Slowing in darker valleys, a unique bright glow beyond, though unseen;

   Always a word, concern in those lucid eyes, such a zest, 

   Interaction, a unique camaraderie

   Always a deep love of family and  grand kids

   Always unparallelled common sense

   Always more than what she seemed;

   Sharing tales and remembrances of older, fascinating times

   As a bright crystal glass of aged wine

   Sharing energy and wisdom, mixed in with her constant politeness and concern,

   For You

   Sharing snippets, a knowing look and grin amid talks of mutual ancestry

   Tears are easy and free, with a loss uncounted,

   For those without a glimmer of replacement in this world

   Sorely missed, deeply cherished

   One of a Kind

   So " oh, won't you come in?" 

   One with the Lord 

    As her obituary in the Greensburg Tribune truly states, "Love Lasts Forever"

     I owed this much. * Goodbye Dot! *

  I encourage any who were close to Dot, or friends and acquaintances with a story or good anecdote, to feel free and leave some message in the comment section below.

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