Page 4 Thursday, April 23, 1998 The Westfield Leader The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains – Fanwood A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION
Letters to the Editor
David B. Corbin
The Westfield Leader
Member of the New Jersey Press Association • Member of the National Newspaper Association • Periodicals – Postage Paid at Westfield, New Jersey
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— Established 1890 —
Official Newspaper of the Township of Scotch Plains and the Borough of Fanwood
— Established 1959 —
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THE WESTFIELD LEADER & THE TIMES
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE Joanna B. Marsh
Ruth Wegmann Indeed Stands Out As Fanwood Rescue Squad's 'First Lady'
BURGLAR- ROBBER Professionally Related
Originally, a burglar was not just an ordinary crook. Actually, the word started its life as a description for a city thief. Burglar comes from a word blending of the German word burg, meaning a fortified city, and the Latin word latro, meaning thief. Put them both together and you have a person who is definitely up to no good.
A robber was a kind of specialist, too. He got his start by stealing the robes (clothes) from people killed in battle, hence robber (or perhaps disrober), and that's the naked truth.
The Anglo Saxon root for the word describing this activity was reafian, to seize or plunder. Bereft is a cognate of reafian, and means to suffer the death of a loved one. That is why you feel robbed when someone close to you has died.
Since English is an expanding language, perhaps we could add a neologism (newly- coined word) or two. How about a sublar for a subway thief? Or perhaps we could refer to a sublar who has been attacked by his intended victim as having been goetzed.
Having left the community more than 25 years ago, I always looked forward to returning to Fanwood, and to my parents' home. When they relocated to Florida in 1993, I still felt a sense of community when I picked up their The Times weekly newspaper during my visits with them.
In 1996 my dad sent me a subscription to the The Times and I've been able to read about "home" ever since. I've lost both of my parents now, but The Times
still helps with my connection to Fanwood, which will always be "home."
I received the April 2 issue in the mail today and was thrilled to see a dear friend of my mother's on the front page, Ruth Wegmann. With the Fanwood Rescue Squad reaching a milestone 50 years, the town has much to celebrate. When you
look at the contribution of this wonderful woman, Mrs. Wegmann indeed stands out as the Fanwood Rescue Squad's "First Lady."
I was proud to know her 35 years ago, when our families belonged to Willow Grove pool and enjoyed hot, summer afternoons together bobbing in the cool water. I have always held this wonderful woman in very high esteem for her volunteerism and community spirit. Saving lives is a tremendous gift and an invaluable contribution to a great little town.
Mrs. Wegmann, I salute you and the Fanwood Rescue Squad. Thank you for your many years of service!
Wendy Haworth Goff Elk Grove, CA Westfield Restaurants Are Thanked
For Accomodating YMCA Leaders
The Westfield "Y" Leaders Club hosted an Overnight Rally for a dozen YMCA Leaders Clubs from New Jersey and Pennsylvania on March 28.
During the afternoon and evening the Westfield Leaders Clubs facilitated diverse leadership classes, held a variety of special activities and presented new opportunities and challenges to over 50 YMCA Leaders between the ages of 12 and 18.
As part of this unique event our Leaders Club decided on an alternative to the standard dinner fare offered at most YMCA Leaders events and one which would allow them to share part of their town with the visiting Leaders.
In the weeks before the Rally, they contacted several local restaurants and expressed their interest in bringing the attending Leaders to dine in their town as part of the evening's activities.
Several restaurants were wonderfully accommodating, provided exceptional service and notable discounts for our Leaders and their guests. Ferraro's, Vicki's and The WindMill all offered great dining experiences which very much impressed the visiting teens and their advisors.
The generous and cooperative nature of these restaurants made our Leaders proud to show off their familiar dining spots and proud to be from such a supportive town.
The Overnight theme was "Step into the Light," an appropriate analogy for the general success of the overnight which was made a little brighter by the fine people of Ferraro's, Vicki's and The WindMill.
Bill McMeekan Director of Teen Programs/
Leaders Club Advisor Westfield "Y"
New Jersey drivers enjoy the best automobile insurance in the nation, with coverage in more areas with more dollars than virtually any other state.
The problem, of course, is that our citizens pay dearly for that privilege with average premiums that rank New Jersey first in the nation in insurance costs. New Jersey's dense population and busy highways mean that our rates will never be as cheap as in other states, but there is no reason that we can't have one of the best insurance systems in the country without it being the most expensive.
On April 2, after months of tireless hearings, rigorous debate and bipartisan compromise, the Senate passed legislation that I sponsored with Senator John H. Adler (Democrat from Cherry Hill) that finally delivers real reform to New Jersey motorists by taking the politics and special interests out of car insurance.
By cutting back on unnecessary litigation, cracking down on fraud, and forcing insurance companies to reduce rates, we will deliver a 15 percent guaranteed cut in premiums. We accomplished this by asking all who profit from the system — lawyers, insurers, the medical profession — to contribute in some manner to lower rates.
Not surprisingly, trial attorneys and insurance companies say they are not happy with the bill. Maybe that's good. It means we did our job working in the public's best interest rather than for the special interests.
The changes the Senate proposed came after the Special Committee on Auto Insurance Reform spoke with experts from every field involved in the business, as well as from everyday motorists who could barely afford to own a car because of the high cost of insurance.
After hearing from this cross- section of New Jersey, we found out a little more about why our rates are so high.
Part of it is that we're too litigious a society, and too many people sue for minor or nonexistent injuries sustained in harmless fender benders. Fraud occurs on a regular basis with unscrupulous drivers, lawyers and doctors taking advantage of the system for their own personal gain.
It's a flawed system that encourages normally honest people to seek unnecessary medical services to collect judgments against insurance companies. We also took a hard look at the insurance companies to ensure that cost savings proposed under the bill go toward fattening the pocketbooks of motorists rather than fattening the insurance industry's bottom line.
The special committee looked at all of these issues to determine how to deliver long anticipated relief to New Jersey motorists who currently pay an average of $1,194 per vehicle.
Our proposal tightens the current limitation on lawsuits for pain and suffering, maintaining the right to sue only for death, dismemberment, significant dis
Auto Insurance Reform Bill To Cut Premiums 15 Percent By SENATOR DONALD T. DiFRANCESCO
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
figurement, displaced fractures, loss of a fetus or a permanent injury. This would cut down the number of frivolous lawsuits filed due to stiff necks and bad backs in minor accidents, resulting in a 22 percent reduction on the bodily injury portion of the policy.
Currently, 88 percent of New Jersey drivers choose to limit their right to sue for pain and suffering.
The bill establishes an insurance fraud prosecutor who would establish data bases on fraudulent activity and share it with the law enforcement community. This is the first time efforts would be coordinated — a higher degree of priority to the fight against insurance scams and cheats.
We've all read accounts of how individual and organized scam artists dupe the system and law- abiding rate payers out of millions of dollars a year through staged accidents and phony medical claims. It's time to stop the subsidizing of fraudulent claims by honest drivers by attacking fraud head- on and returning the savings to motorists in the form of lower premiums.
Of course, even a mandated 15 percent reduction in insurance rates isn't enough to enable many younger, less affluent drivers to afford insurance. It's one of the reasons New Jersey has about 400,000 motorists driving without insurance of any kind.
This proposal calls for a basic policy of $15,000 in personal injury protection and $5,000 in property damage coverage with a catastrophic rider in the event of a serious injury which would permit recovery up to $250,000.
This basic policy, as opposed to the standard policy, is designed to be affordable for those with few assets to protect and are currently unable to afford insurance. Drivers with full coverage who are involved in an accident with a driver who has elected basic coverage would be covered by his or her own policy.
The legislation also addresses the fairness of the current territorial rate caps — instituted 50 years ago. These caps restrict rates in New Jersey's higher cost insurance areas to 135 percent of the rest of the state.
There is a provision in the bill to establish a committee to collect data for the purpose of redrawing these territories for a more accurate and up- to- date picture of New Jersey.
Collectively, these reforms will result in rates that are at least 15 percent lower than they are today for most drivers. It's time we moved forward with these reforms to get them passed into law for the benefit of New Jersey motorists who have sought real reform for so long.
* * * * *
Senator Donald T. DiFrancesco, of Scotch Plains, is serving his fourth term as Senate President. He represents the 22nd Legislative District which includes Westfield, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Fanwood.
Union County Continuing Effort To Stamp Out Crimes of Hate
In an effort to continue Union County's campaign to stamp out crimes of hate, the county's Committee Against Hate will be sponsoring its fourth annual program, focusing on anti- bias messages, in Westfield next week.
The community forum, scheduled for this Wednesday, April 29, will be held beginning at 7 p. m. at St. Helen's Roman Catholic Church.
All school superintendents, religious leaders, police chiefs, elected officials and legislators have been invited to attend this program. The goal of the forum is to gain community support in fighting such crimes while educating youth about the issues that relate to hate crimes.
The program is being sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the New Jersey Bias Officers Association, Union County Prosecutor's Office, Board of Chosen Freeholders, Kean University Board of Trustees and the university's Jewish Faculty and Staff Association, and the Holocaust Commission and Anti- Defamation League.
New Union County Prosecutor Thomas V. Manahan, a Westfield resident himself, has promised to prosecute every crime of hate, bias or intolerance that comes before his office.
Just last week a swastika was found on a bulletin board at Kean University in Union, a campus with
some 12,000 students. Acts such as this one, as the Prosecutor has stated, degrade the quality of life here in Union County. Incidents of anti- Semitic graffiti, swastikas, etc., have no place in this county — or anywhere else, for that matter.
The FBI has said there have been some 25,000 hate crimes reported nationwide between 1992 and 1995. These crimes, though, tend to impact an entire community, not just one victim.
The annual program sponsored by the Committee Against Hate is dedicated to the memory of late Union County Prosecutor Andrew K. Ruotolo, Jr., of Westfield, an activist against bias crimes in the Garden State.
We believe this program is an excellent opportunity for all members of the community to gather and become more informed on hate crime incidents which occur in Union County, and on how officials and community groups are addressing each new incident.
Hopefully, these forums will educate the community enough that a day will come when Union County can proudly demonstrate a society free of hate and bias crimes.
2 & 1/ 2 popcorns
"Hah! Look. He's just like Uncle Sol." Thus spake a fellow viewer during a recent showing of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple II, obviously delighted at the illusion of friends and family. There's something to be said for familiarity. But it shouldn't be confused with art.
In a recent TV talk show interview, Jack Lemmon opined that The Odd Couple II was better than the original. Sheer heresy. What's worse, if said assertion isn't just a scrap of disingenuous hype meant to fill the box office coffers, then we can't rightfully applaud Mr. Lemmon. Because it would mean he has attained senility, and his septuagenarian reprise of fuss pot Felix Unger, one of the film's few saving graces, would then have to be discounted as mere typecasting.
Not quite so commercially sly, but equally endearing, is Walter Matthau as slovenly Oscar Madison, the other half of this Yin and Yang of American motion picture comedy.
Pity is, while the winning characters survive, the saga does not. Neil Simon's script matches neither the comic grandeur of his original work nor the talent of the esteemed cast. Contrived and blatantly formulaic, the prefab occasion for this reunion is the forthcoming nuptials of their children who, quite coincidentally, are marrying each other.
Felix (flying in from New York) and Oscar (arriving from Sarasota, Florida) are to meet in Los Angeles, rent a car and accompany each other to the shindig in the elusive town of San Molinas (a running gag derides the ubiquitous number of California burgs beginning with San). Naturally, in what then becomes a road movie, all manner of bad luck and sticky circumstance must befall the odd couple. And befall them. And befall them.
But put these fine actors together for ninety minutes and there are bound to be moments of brilliance, sitcom sensibilities notwithstanding. As Felix and Oscar wander the California desert, classical sad sacks in search of a wedding reception, they are charged ad nauseam with all manner of crime by a wearied local gendarmerie. When Matthau does his inimitable deadpan, explaining the chronology of absurd events that have landed the duo back at the police station for the third time in twenty- four hours, it is sheer charm.
But most of the jokes, while goodnatured, are stereotypical jabs at the adversities of old age... a sort of Golden Girls treatment with a gender change. Witness the pick- up scene in a honky tonk when the boys run into a pair of middle- aged biker babes (Christine Baranski and Jean Smart). The uncomfortable, condescending improbability of this billing and cooing goes way beyond wish fulfillment for the senior set. And then there's the sheer craziness of Felix's lost suitcase, which he had generously packed with a $6,000 wedding gift and $16,000 in cash. The ingrate kids. Isn't a check good enough these days? In any case, older folks losing money because of their diminished faculties is hardly
cause for mirth. Problem is, the film was conceived to serve a fond memory, with no anima of its own. Trying to build on something so big, so popular, and so cherished, Mr. Simon seems unsure where to put the emphasis. While portions of the screenplay see the trials and tribulations of the golden years as suitable agar for farcical comment, there's also the necessity to pick up on Felix and Oscar's oil- andwater relationship. But what of it? They haven't hung out in seventeen years, and it would take more than one feature film for these two to catch up on the personality quirks that drive each other crazy.
So they banter in an unending mockout contest, thrusting and parrying in no particular direction. And like two vaudevillians who have honed the same routine for an eternity, they virtually become their characters. Feverishly plying their shtick, Messrs. Lemmon and Matthau even spill over from Felix and Oscar to John and Max of Grumpy Old Men fame. While as many one- liners fizzle as score, with few exceptions the delivery is peerless. But too many bad lines, no matter how well delivered, only serve to highlight the threadbare plot.
Your safest bet is to view The Odd Couple II not so much as a movie, but more like the fantasy reunion it is. And the secret to surviving reunions? Just don't set your expectations too high.
* * * * *
Neil Simon's Odd Couple II, rated PG13, is a Paramount Pictures release directed by Howard Deutch and stars Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Christine Baranski, and Jean Smart. Running time: 90 minutes.
OUTSTANDING!... Angela LaCarrubba, of Westfield, the 1998 recipient of the Westfield Rotary Club's Charles Philhower Fellowship, stands with her second grade class at the Wilson Elementary School. The award recognizes outstanding teaching at the elementary school level.
Angela LaCarrubba, a second- grade teacher at Wilson Elementary School, has been named as the 1998 recipient of the Westfield Rotary Club's Charles Philhower Fellowship, in recognition of outstanding teaching at the elementary school level.
Dr. James Fleming, President of the Westfield Rotary Club, presented Mrs. LaCarrubba with the sixth annual award at the Rotary Club luncheon on April 21, where she was the guest of honor.
An 11- year veteran of the Westfield public school teaching staff, Mrs. LaCarrubba has taught Basic Skills Mathematics, as well as first and second grades. She began her teaching career in Cliffside Park, where she taught fourth grade.
Included in the many nominations received on her behalf were comments from parents who commended Mrs. LaCarrubba for "stressing self- esteem, mutual respect, and making learning fun through creative activities."
Nominating letters also acknowledged her ability to detect and correct individual student learning problems and her excellent communications with parents.
As a member of the Wilson School staff, Mrs. LaCarrubba has taken on many volunteer activities, including the Family Math program, the Wilson School lunch time Math Enrichment Program, chairing the school- wide reading program and the school- wide multicultural program.
As a member of Wilson School's Technology Committee, she was instrumental in helping establish Wilson's technology program, according to school spokeswoman Lorre Korecky.
"The Philhower Fellowship was established in 1993 by the Rotary Club to honor former Westfield educator and Rotarian Charles Philhower, and to recognize the importance of teaching in the elementary grades," explained Dr. Fleming.
Mr. Philhower, who died in 1962, was Supervising Principal (superintendent) of the Westfield schools from 1917 to 1947, and was co- founder and Past President of the Rotary Club of Westfield.
The Philhower Selection Committee was composed of three Rotarians, including Superintendent of Schools, Dr. William J. Foley; Board of Education Vice President Darielle M. Walsh, and Kenneth Ciarrocca.
The committee also included Westfield Public Schools Human Resources Director David M. Tuller, Jefferson School Principal Jorden Schiff, and last year's Philhower Fellowship recipient, Claudia Andreski.
In addition to receiving her award at the Rotary meeting, Mrs. LaCarrubba will be recognized on Tuesday, May 5, when the Westfield Board of Education will hold its meeting at Wilson School in her honor. The public is invited to attend. A reception beginning at 7: 30 p. m. will precede the 8 p. m. meeting.
Other previous Philhower Fellows were Bette Tuthill, a fourth- grade teacher at McKinley Elementary School; Carol Joyce, a first- grade teacher at Washington Elementary School; Susan Feldman Glick, a special education teacher at Tamaques Elementary School, and Carol Mastroianni, a first- grade teacher at Franklin Elementary School.
Mrs. LaCarrubba Receives Sixth Philhower Fellowship
Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA), Union County Affiliate, will hold two Literacy Library Days next month. The first will take place at the Roselle Library on Saturday, May 2, from 9 a. m. to 1 p. m., and the second will be held at the Westfield Memorial Library on Saturday, May 16.
This program is for all potential or current students and tutors. Tutors will be able to find out what materials are available to use, or how to solve problems that they are having. Potential tutors can find out about the program.
Interested students can be assessed by calling the LVA office at (908) 925- 7755 to make an appointment for that day.
Literacy Volunteers To Hold Library Days
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The deadline for letters is Friday by 4 p. m., if they are to appear in the following issue.
Sample Gadget Lands Innocent '008' in Middle
Of Espionage Caper
By Louis H. Clark
POPCORN POPCORN ™
By Michael S. Goldberger
Neil Simon's Odd Couple II:
Two For The Road
One Popcorn, Poor • Two Popcorns, Fair • Three Popcorns, Good • Four Popcorns, Excellent
I know there is no Statute of Limitations in espionage cases, but I think it's okay now to tell you about my experience with counter intelligence. Not that I was with them. No sir. I was the object of their suspicions.
I had been with my present company about six months when they came out with a gadget which allowed telephone companies to enhance their operations. I don't know whether I can tell you what it was. For all I know, it may still be on the classified list.
Naturally, when it first came out, no one wanted to take the responsibility. If it failed they wanted someone to be the scapegoat. They looked around and their eyes fell upon me. I could always be canned if things went bad. If not, they'd get the kudos for the product and picking the right man — if everything went okay.
It was an all- around success. Of the 3,000 independent telephone companies existing in the early 1980s, I must have visited a thousand of them and written and sent samples to the other 2,000.
One day there arrived on my desk the usual bunch of orders — which I immediately gave to my personal assistant, who knew how to handle them — plus a sheaf of papers from the Department of the Army.
After reading through them for half an hour, I finally discovered it was from a warrant officer wanting to know what it would cost for one of them.
The gadget only cost $1.50 apiece, so I bundled the sheaf of papers into an envelope and enclosed one of the gadgets. I also wrote a personal note saying "Have a sample on us" and mailed it off.
Three days later I was told to report to the big boss's office at 9 sharp the next day and to cancel all appointments.
I reported at the right time and saw the boss, who was flanked by two serious- looking men. The boss immediately handed me over a note and said "Is that your handwriting?" I nodded.
The serious- looking man on the left spoke up. "Have you ever contacted this warrant officer before or since you wrote to him?"
"No, sir," I said. Then he said, "Why did you give him that sample for nothing?"
"Well, it's marked 'sample' and I thought it would save you money writing a check for a buck fifty. I guess I thought it was patriotic, too."
"Okay," the one on the right said. "We have your credit report here and I don't think you're an espionage agent, but never, never give anything to the government for nothing. It's a favorite method of infiltration."
For some time, I was known as "008" around the office.