Bethany holds the distinction of being the first establishment in Wayne County to publish a newspaper, called “The Wayne County Mirror” in 1811.
Bethany holds the distinction of being the first establishment in Wayne County to publish a newspaper, called “The Wayne County Mirror” in 1811. It was to have been in Damascus, but the number of subscribers did not warrant its publications. The paper changed hands and names down through the years. Possibly, “The Wayne Independent” can claim Beatrice Day as their first Bethany correspondent. Her column was called “Bethany and Vicinity”.
That covered a lot of territory and she did her best to include as many people and as many interesting stories as she could. She put her whole heart and soul into covering the news. It was originally started in the early 1940’s to give the area the news of the men and women who were away from home serving in the armed forces during World War II. Bethany folks still recall that anytime after 6:15 a.m. she would be calling for news. She was an “early bird” on the phone. Too early for some of those she called, but there was a deadline for the news at the paper and she wanted to meet it. I remember getting some of those early calls! She was dedicated! She made her column interesting and homey with facts. She was quick to report the news about folk’s vacations. Where people were going and when they were expected home was news. Today we couldn’t do that!
A few weeks ago, I visited her husband, Howard, who still lives in the home they built on Bethany Turnpike, and we talked about Bea. Both Bea and Howard were colorful interesting folks with stories to tell, and Howard can still relate the facts and weave a good story. Little did I know that the day I chose to visit Howard was the exact anniversary of Bea’s death 18 years ago, on January 26, 1990. He showed me a book of inspirational devotions he was reading for that day.The daily thought stated, “Encouraging words have power to lift up those who are weighted down”. That should be a motto for anyone and good advice for any writer! Howard is an encouraging individual in his own right. He always has a smile to give away.
Bea and her sister, Wilma, were both teachers. Bea first taught at the Bethany School located in the center of the Village Square of Bethany. The brick patio is the direct spot in the center of the park where weddings are performed now. She also taught at the Beers School, and then at Pleasant Valley, a two room schoolhouse, where she and Olive Walters taught the first eight grades. Shirley Thompson Reed remembers riding to school with her, both at Beers and at Pleasant Valley Schools. Bea was the “bus driver” for Shirley and her brothers. The last school she taught in was the J.J. Koehler building in Honesdale with Bernice Spoor.
After retirement, Bea assisted Howard in the gardens behind their home. Howard was in charge of the vegetable garden, and Bea grew the flowers. They both were hard workers in preparing, freezing , canning, and preserving the produce for the winter. Howard was the beekeeper for the 10 or 12 hives they watched over. They collected honey from the hives at night. The delicious honey came mostly from goldenrod, and they cooked and canned 5 pounds, 3 pounds, and 1 pound cans that amounted to almost a ton of honey a year.
Bea was valuable to the Bethany Methodist Church, having been a member of the Blake family who supported the Church with their time and gifts for several lifetimes. C.O. Blake was her grandfather and Howard’s first boss when he worked for him on the farm. Harry Blake was father of Bea, Wilma, and Oscar. They all lived on the farm. Bea taught the young children in Sunday School, and was treasurer of the Sunday School, was a loyal member of the choir, and treasurer of the Homebuilders Sunday School class. She was devoted and loyal. She was a 70 year member of the Beech Grove grange.
Never having any children, Bea and Howard did many things for children without claiming any fame or recognition. Many families received gifts and encouragement from them and remember them lovingly. As it has been said, “they were from the old school”. They spread kindness wherever they went. I don’t remember hearing an unkind word from either of them.
At 3:30 in the morning, Bea awakened to write her Bethany News column for the paper. She had a deadline to meet. She finished that and then did her crossword puzzle. Then a pain in her elbow became intolerable and the ambulance transported her to the hospital and she died. An end to an era!
Howard still tends to his vegetable garden, the rows of corn, and the sunflowers. He is only 93 old and can work circles around men half his age. He attends church regularly. And he provides potatoes for the pancake suppers of the church that he has grown, and is valuable to everyone with his knowledge. If you stop to visit during the summer months you will see a garden that is a prize winning garden, and you’ll probably go home with a bag full of vegetables.
Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay awhile and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same. That’s what Beatrice Blake Day and Howard Day have been and will be forever in the hearts of Bethany.
-Margaret Freeman, mayor of Bethany, Pa.