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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - February 7, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 32 - THE LETHBRIDGE HERAID - Wednesday, February 7, 1973 REMEMBERING A FLOOD oineeoming A. A. (after Agnes By MURRAY OLDERMAN WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (NEA) - It was two nights before Christmas, and Walt Michaels decided to drop over from Shickshinny to Swoyersville to visit his mother, Mary, because he hadn't seen her since early June. This is in the hilly gully region of northern Pennsylvania where the earth normally is skewered by burrows of coal mines which dirty the otherwise verdant countryside. Last summer a natural disaster hit the area. The rains of Hurricane Agnes brought the level of the Susquehanna River to monstrous heights and in one clay devastated the land, leaving huge gouges of raw earth. Home So now as Walt drove into Swoyersville, which had been home since he was a little kid, he didn't recognize it. Just up the street from the Catholic church, where the Michaels' home had stood for 55 years, there were just ruts of dirt and a mobile home. Not even trees. Walt stepped gingerly around the mud of winter - "You got to walk like a drunk to get in," he muttered - to reach the back door of the mobile home. "Why didn't you come around the other door, Junior?" asked his mother. "We got boards over there." At the a.^e of 43, a successful coach in professional football with the New York Jets, he is still Junior, one of the seven boys and one girl Mary Majka and her late husband had raised in Swoyersville. When the first born went to school the teacher couldn't understand Majka (my-kuh) so the family name for him and the others that followed became Michaels. It was a nice holiday visit from her son. Mary Majka, who is 78, sipped a little wine but Walt took a slug of whisky and chased it down with beer, not because he particularly wanted to, but because this is how the men of this hardy region drink. Then Walt remembered a couple of Christmas carols in Polish from his youth and he sang them. His mother smiled proudly. Later, Walter went over to the mobile home of his brother Tommy, who is 55 and has anthrasilicosis from his many years in the coal mines, and had another boilerm a k e r. Tommy, too, had been wiped out in the floods of the summer of '72 and lived in the mobile home provided by the government. Checked hi scarred hills of northern Pennsylvania, one family counts cost of disaster. This Saturday In Weekend Magazine ere Ss eorge Pattison Who Suffered A Heart Attack And Who Will Compete In The Boston Marathon Against His Cardiologist This Saturday in Weekend Magazine Andy O'Brien writes about the unusual Post-Cardiac Club in Burlington, Ont., to which they belong. Canada's 100-year-old Candy Family Ganong Bros, of St. Stephen, N.B., has been making candy and chocolates for Canadians for 100 years. Myron Wilson reports on Ganong's past anc" present. The Problems Of Protocol Robert McKeown describes the problems of Ottawa's protocol division, including the time Haile Selassie's chihuahua made life difficult for Judy LaMarsh. Nature's Fury And Beauty Percy Saltzman, Canada's best-known weatherman, writes about winter storms. Complete with striking color photos by Jacques Deshaies and Pierre Belisle. Stew's The Thing! Don't miss Margo Oliver's favorite stew recipes: Caribbean Cucumber Stew, Southern Stew, Belgian Beer Stew, Austrian Veal Stew Greek Lamb And Celery. The Uthbridge Herald Finally, he checked in with his oldest brother, Stanley, who is 58 and also suffers from anthrasilicosis, the black affliction  of the lungs which comes eventually to all men who go down too many years into the mines. Stanley's house had been gutted by the rampaging waters but not washed away, and they saved most of the furniture, Now his family was back in it, and Stanley and his son were pounding the downstairs into habitable shape themselves. Construction workers were getting $10 an hour and were hard to find. There is a mini-boom in the area. The youngest of the Michaels brothers, Lou, an All-American and pro football star who came back home to live, had to rebuild the entire inside of his house, ait a cost of $28,000, because water seeped into the wall insulation. Lou also had a bar in Kingston, 17 miles upstream from Shickshinny and the floods washed away $22,-000 in equipment. He simply boarded it up and opened another bar in Pittston, still further up the river, poorer by a total of $50,000 because he carried no flood insurance. Worse The Michaels family, figures Walt, is out $100,000. But it could be worse. "Kid I went to school with," he mused, "came back to look over his house, which was gone, and he just keeled over and died. "The countryside still looks like a war went through it. It's not just the money. The things you can't put a value on are also gone." When Walt visited his mom for Christmas, he asked her, "What was the house worth?" The remnants of it had long ago been bulldozed away. "I think $13,000," she said. "What year you living in, Mom?" he asked. When the flood hit on a Thursday in early June, Walt was alone at his own place three miles out from Shickshinny, where he has 55 acres and raises some cows and chickens. Th^ others, Betty and the four kids, were still back in New Jersey, which is home during the football season, because school wasn't out yet. Walt had built the brand new three-bedroom home himself. He was finishing off the basement as a playroom and feels lucky he hadn't gotten around to the new fireplace. Poured in "When the water came pouring in," said Walt, "I took off. I said, 'Let it go.' " But it stood because he had built the walls of 12-inch cement block to save on fire insurance in the country. When the water subsided the basement and the first floor were in ruins. Walt fixed the furnace himself. The government appraised the damage to the property at $11,000. Walt pegs it a $7500 because he can do the work himself. It's that kind of area, where you're taught early to help yourself. Religion and h a r d work dominate. Money "I wanted to play football," recalled Walt, "but I used to work the hole of the coal mine picking up chunks just as long as I could see daylight. My (]rri worked 35 years from the time he got off the boat from Poland till three days before he died. It's hard, dirty work in the mines but it was clean money. "The old laches came out of it best. They've been through so many hard times in tins country, it didn't mean a tiling. They don't want to leave, none of them. My brothers either. It's home. "My mother, she's got the Polish church there just down the street," Serve up the/ pancakes m m m m m # V % Pour on Athe 11 Rogers'! I ROGERS' PANCAKE # SYRUP with the golden .1' flavor of cane-sugar syrup! 5 / And also take home / ROGERS'GOLDEN SYRUP in the tin 6 or handy plastic container. For a free ROGERS' RECIPE BOOK, write: B.C. Sugar Refining Co. Ltd., i*^?&mms#�&ssi'' Rogers Street, Vancouver, B.C. MACLEODS TAG Coronado by brother tweight Zs Zag Sewing Machine ic S*TK!l"!E"T'nC",H What a Sewing Machine! it a Value! Mever before at such a low, low price! m H Everything you ever wanted  Lightweight - die cast head  Rugged and durable - built to last  True stretch stitch  Fingertip touch tension  Pushbutton reverse  Twin needle sewing  Sews on all fabrics Plus . . .  Built-in light  Hinged pressure foot  Self-stop bobbin  Drop feed winder  ABC instruction  Calibrated needle manual plate  Gold needle  Calibrated button  Speed control holer foot  Accessory kit Don'r Miss This Super Low Price Now at. . . MACLEODS w Phone 327-4240 CENTRE VILLAGE MALL ;