• CCHS Hall of Fame

    The first Hometown Hall of Fame debuted in 2014 and introduced Dave Labrozzi as the Master of Ceremonies. Following that …

  • Mentors in our past

    In every season, we honor our mentors.

  • Mayor Carnovale


    (Copied from May 17, 2017, edition of Cameron County Echo) Emporium Borough Mayor, Bruno Carnovale, and current Borough Council President …

  • Picture of Land of the Endless Mountains

    Welcome Back Home!

    No matter where you live at this moment in time, or how long you have lived away, your hometown is and …

Signature Programs of HMI

Established as a Public Charity 501(c)3 in December 2011, Hometown Mentors, Inc. (HMI) continues to establish programs that will honor mentors, build projects and encourage the future in our hometown.


Inductees in HoF


Life Achievement Awards


You Make a Difference Awards


PO Box, Emporium, PA

The HMI Mission

“The mission of HMI is to promote Cameron County through various initiatives that showcase our hometown as a quality place to live and work as well as a favorable option for those considering relocation. HMI will promote professional mentorship between residents (past, current, and future) and promote opportunities for economic growth while honoring the heritage of the area. HMI’s objective is to establish and maintain various programs that will help us realize enhanced, sustainable professional and economic vitality.”

Meet the Volunteers

Puddles…. My Name is Puddles

photos by Susie Singer, Written by Cathy Swarmer

Hi Hometown Folks,

My name is Puddles.  The picture to the left, is not me, but this is what I looked like before I hatched.  See how much bigger I was than a little chicken egg.

YIKES, I just noticed the carrots above the eggs and realize how LUCKY I am to be so ADORABLE!

My Mom, Susie Singer, said I “made a break” for it as I hatched on Feb 22, 2019.

She found me at Farm and Fleet, in Clearfield.  She said, (I love to hear her tell the story), that as soon as she saw me,  (face it, I am adorable) she knew she had to have me.  She sure took a fancy to me.


People ask my mom why a duck? Although I get highly offended by that, she simply states, “why not”!  I LOVE my Mom!

I grew very quickly from a teeny yellow ball of fluff to a beautiful white duck.  I can relate to the old fairy tale, “The Ugly Duckling”.   I think the title is all wrong.  That title should have been “The Prepubescent Swan”.

Maybe I’m not a swan, but I am a beautiful American Pekin Duck and I’m all white.  It doesn’t take long to loose all my yellow fluff (note my tale feathers) and become a white duck.  It’s only about two months.

Mom knows how much “pekin” I do, because she left a dish of macaroni salad one day, and I pecked it and Hmmmm, it was all gone by the time she came back into the room.  I think she knew what happened to it, but she was cool about it, and added macaroni salad to the list of foods I eat.

My ancestors were domesticated around 3000 years ago in China.  We do not fly away in the fall….we are here to stay.  Of course I would never fly away from my Mom, anyway.  I’ve heard that Ten Million of ducks like me, end up in the roaster just in the United States.  Nope…. Not gonna happen!!

Most American Pekins live ten to fifteen years.  My Mom says that her kids will have to fight over me when she is in the nursing home.  But, No, I’m going to go with her.

I do like her kids and grandkids.  They play with me and even put my picture on a birthday cake one time.  Then there are friends who take care of me when my Mom goes to the ocean.  She needs her time away and, although I love to ride in the car for short trips, do you know how far away that big ocean is?

I am a female, but when us ducks first peck into this world, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to tell my gender.   Mom said that she called her first baby duck, “Willie”, and then one day, low and behold she laid an egg.  That must have surprised my Mom a lot.

Well, enough about Mom, let me tell you about my day.


During the day, I spend most of the time outside foraging for bugs, and eating them.  The thing about bugs is that they don’t come in a dish.  I actually have to search for them.  It takes up my time and I can always count on Mom to have good things to eat, that DO come in a dish.

So, the bugs are just a game that I play outside. 

My daily meals, which I eat three times a day, include yummy things like 1/4 cup duck grain, 1/4 cup oyster shell, 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of lettuce or spinach, and last but not least is my favorite… 1/4 cup fresh blueberries.

I Especially, like blueberries for treats.  Yum!  Who wouldn’t?



I love my swimming pool and when it is hot, I enjoy swimming.

No, I don’t “enjoy” it, I absolutely positively need to paddle my webbed feet in water.  I may look calm on the top, but I’m paddling like….  well really fast….  under the surface of the water.

The best is when Mom takes me to her Brother-in-law’s pond and he let’s me swim.



I also have a nest outside where I can take a break and lay my eggs….

Please do not disturb.  Do you like to have someone watch you, when you’re laying your eggs?

Oh, wait.  Of course you don’t lay eggs.  I forgot for a minute.  Because I have been raised close to Mom and her friends I don’t know I am a duck, sometimes…..



My Mom even takes me into schools, nursing homes, senior centers, and children play groups.  She tells them all about ducks and they really seem to like me.
















Well, she used to take me places, but we had to stop for a while because of that really bad 2020 virus.

Because of the virus, Mom wears a duck mask sometimes.

See, even if I’m adopted, we still look a lot alike.

I’m a lucky duck, cause I sleep in my mom’s house every night.

I have a collapsable bed that my Mom got just for me.

My bedtime is around 10pm and Mom gives me a snack.

Then I sleep the whole night through, dreaming my duck dreams.

I am very quiet.


I wake up around 7am and then, I am ready for my breakfast and ready for the rest of the day.

I keep busy searching for bugs, getting dirty if it’s muddy and sometime during each day, I lay an egg.

The eggs end up either in my bed or outside in my nest.  It depends on where I am when they come out. 

As you can see in the first picture, my eggs (well all duck eggs) are much larger than a chicken eggs.

And, I’m an essential worker, as many people come to our house, just to get my eggs.

Mom (Susie Singer) says: Puddles is actually quite a celebrity in Johnsonburg, PA.   


Everybody knows who she is as she goes to nursing homes, schools, daycares and they get a great education about ducks.”  Susie does a show and tell with her eggs , where she lives and answers any questions they have. 

“I’ve raised her since she was six weeks old”.

If Puddles looks familiar to you, it could be because she is famous as a “Calendar Girl” for Dairy Queen.

DISCLAIMER:: We hope you enjoyed the story of Puddles. It would be easy to want to get a duck of your own, but please remember that any pet is a part of your family and needs to be a good fit for your family. Do not get a pet, simply because they are cute. We do not recommend that you bring a duck into your home, unless you are positive that you can provide for your new family member for the next ten to fifteen years — a LIFETIME.

If you have questions for Susie, you may send them to: hometown.mentors@gmail.com. We will forward your questions on to Susie and Puddles.

GBS Dam since July 11, 1958

Hometown Mentors would like to acknowledge the anniversary of the dedication of the First Fork Dam, as it was renamed, George B. Stevenson Dam, on July 11, 1958.

In the last sixty-two years, there have been so many improvements made to the Sinnemahoning State Park.  Have you visited there lately?


Snap Shot of History of the George B Stevenson Dam

Maps of all Pennsylvania State Parks

Map of Sinnemahoning State Park

George B Stevenson Dam Facebook page


Hey — Why not schedule a trip back home to check it out?

If Cameron County wasn’t your home, why not check it out for retirement?

She’s not wearing a mask

Photo by Cathy Straub

Cameron County Pennsylvania has many things to see and I must admit that having lived there and visited there over the last many years, this blogger has never seen a bear in the wild.  But Cathy Straub sees many.  Someone said that they must want their picture taken by Cathy.

Another friend of Cathy’s on FaceBook, gave us some interesting news about black bear.  She said, “I knew the gender had something to do with the ears and this is what I found:                                                          BLACK BEAR:

‘Look at the face and head of the bear. If the ears seem to be large in proportion to the head, and the face seems narrow instead of round, it is likely a female. A male usually has a wider and rounder head, making its ears appear smaller in proportion to its head’.

She continued, “Although I’d like to say ‘he’s’ handsome I think ‘she’s’ a beauty”.

Thank you so much for your wildlife pictures, Cathy Straub and for that great information, Dee.

Now, please remember, while outside in Cameron County, Pennsylvania, maintain a social distance from all bear.

See the Wildflowers Grow

Photo by Nicki Huggler

Nicki Huggler wanted to share a “shot” that she took from her driveway one evening two weeks ago. It was after rain had passed through on North Creek Rd. She said, “We are truly Blessed” in Cameron County.

There is fear in our whole country right now, because of COVID 19. Being “in this together” we sometimes feel alone. At least I do. But, these beautiful pictures have helped me, today, to remember that God is the Creator and He has us ALL IN HIS HANDS. Day and night, night and day.

Yes, Nicki. Cameron County is truly blessed. Thank you for this gorgeous wildflower in the mountains picture.

After the rain, there is still life. We just have to “take a shot at it”.

“TAKE A SHOT” in life

Photo by Barbara Ryan

Cameron County is beautiful.  This picture is amazing.

Thank you Barbara Williams Ryan for this beautiful picture.

Barb took this shot on July 3, 2020, from BrownCo in Cameron County, looking West.  What a beautiful sunset.

Barb said that she just took the picture with her phone and couldn’t really see what she was getting.  Wow!  In my opinion, it’s prize worthy.

In some ways, it reminds me of going through life.

If we just “take a shot” at what we want, even if we can’t see the result, we will have a great opportunity to get the best life has to offer.

Thank you Barb…. for “taking a shot”.

15834: Jay Strimel

Jay Strimel is a graduate of Cameron County High School, class of 1969.  He currently lives in Houston, Texas with his wife Janet and calls Emporium, PA, his hometown.

Jay was chosen as HMI’s feature story this month because of the new Space Force and the recent launch of two astronauts into space by the SpaceX company.  Jay remembers his many years in the Air Force, working for NASA and being up close and personal on the day of the Challenger disaster in 1986.

We are so pleased that Jay has chosen to support Hometown Mentors, from the very beginning.  He was one of ninety alumni from all over the United States, to come home to Emporium, [he came from Texas], to sing with his mentor, Sue Ann Beveridge, one last time in the 2013 Reunion Tribute Concert, sponsored by HMI.  This is only part of Jay’s story as he has many chapters left to write.

The feature photo in this post is from MALONE, the magazine.  This is the magazine put out by his undergraduate school.  Jay was featured in that magazine, also in 2013, and he humbly says, “They couldn’t find anyone interesting to write about, so they pulled me in from the sidelines”.   Jay’s bio article starts on page 16.  We are unable to put it on our website, but you can read the article at this URL:  https://issuu.com/malone-university/docs/malonemagazinefall2013/16

We hope you enjoy reading Jay’s bio and memoirs below, as much as we did.

Facebook Post, 2016, by Jay Strimel

January 28, 1986…. On this date, I was standing outside in the cold, so cold I was wearing a down ski parka, a knit wool hat pulled down over my ears and heavy mittens. Did I mention that I was in Florida?

I was standing outside of my office building at Kennedy Space Center to watch the Challenger launch even though I thought it would never takeoff due to the cold. Because it was so cold I had been waiting inside until later than I usually would in the countdown before going outside.

Inside I had been watching the video monitor that did sort of a slideshow of the 54 video cameras that provided different views of the launch pad including multiple views of various areas on the launch structure.

Since a freeze had been expected the launch pad and been put into freeze protection mode the night before which essentially meant that every water line on the launch pad was opened so that it would at least trickle in order to keep the water moving within the lines to keep them from freezing and bursting. Because of the freeze protection mode activation, the entire structure was covered in ice, making it look like something found in a National Geographic special about the Arctic.

That had me even more convinced that there wouldn’t be a launch.

But, I was the LPS Planner/Coordinator for the Challenger Vehicle and just had to watch because, well, just because.

So, I still brought heavy clothes to work with me to go outside to watch the launch and was going to go outside until saner heads canceled the launch.

Standing there next to the Press Site, shivering in the cold wind blowing off the Atlantic Ocean along with my colleagues and friends, all of us waiting for the launch to be scrubbed due to the cold. When the main engines started to fire we still didn’t think they would launch because we had seen them stop the countdown at that point before. However, when the solid rocket boosters where lit up, we knew there was no turning back and stood there in wonderment that they actually fired it off.




We were all watching intently and heard the announcement over the PA system “Throttling up to 110%” which always struck me strange when I would hear that as I wondered how any type of engine can produce 10% more than the maximum of 100%.

Shortly after that is when the Challenger turned into a starburst….

After a moments hesitation my mind started to race. Convinced that the Shuttle was okay and would be in the middle of performing a Return To Launch Site (RTLS) maneuver, I started to sprint back to my office.

I was trying to recall where my RTLS Manual was stored and thinking about how the LPS software load plans for that particular firing room were going to have to change immediately.

While running, I kept looking at the sky, looking for some sign of the Shuttle and recalled discussions that it was questionable whether or not the wings on the Shuttle could even withstand the aerodynamic forces required for a successful RTLS.

As I was sprinting back to the office, a voice over the PA system stated “No downlink telemetry detected.” That statement froze me in my tracks.

That is the moment when I knew things were extremely dire.

When I got back to my office building there were a bunch of us who gathered around the one TV Monitor and when we saw that first close-up of the explosion the gasp was audible, instantaneous and in unison.

That is when tears started to flow among members of the group….

Hope y’all don’t mind me writing about this memory. For me, this was one of those true “life changing moments” you hear about.  It is also a memory that to me is as vivid as the moment it occurred.

Sometimes it is a painful memory even though it ultimately sent me on a pathway that I am happy to have taken.

A very, very dear friend of mine who was standing beside me that day sent me an e-mail yesterday.  She said that for some reason this year [2016] it was hitting her harder than usual and she was reaching out to me because she doesn’t know that many people any more who would understand what she was feeling….

It is a feeling that is hard to express, but I thought I would make this feeble attempt at passing this feeling and memory along.





Watching the Space X launch prep on C-SPAN. I find myself being flooded with memories of my 14+years working at KSC on the SpaceShuttle program.

At this point in the countdown I would have been filled with nervous energy, wondering around the LCC, going back-and-forth between the video control center, the communication control center and the ground-support test conductor’s office. All the while, experiencing a feeling of nervous yet hopeful and excited expectation.

I hadn’t realized how much I missed it until today, as I am watching today’s TV coverage of the space X pre-launch prep. 

I was fortunate enough to have gotten in on the ground-floor early days of the Space Shuttle program. The first test I was involved with was the initial fit-check of the launch Pad-A structure with the shuttle Mockup and I continued to work there for over 50 Shuttle launches.

I would love to be able to work there again as part of this new program, as it would feel like I had come full circle.

Psalms 100 “ …Oh be joyful in the Lord…”

Although my stroke has temporarily impeded many of my physical abilities, I am grateful that my hearing remains intact.  Because of that, I am still able to listen to and enjoy music the same as before the stroke occurred.

Music can still move me both emotionally and physically. Even to where the sheer beauty of the sound can bring me to the point of tears, sometimes leaving me sobbing like a 3-year-old with a skinned knee.

When the tears stop, the experience leaves me filled with joy for life and a deep appreciation for all that I have in my life and all that I have experienced in life.  Such is the power of music to me.

So very grateful that I can still so fully enjoy music. Life is good. I am truly blest. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I am still frustrated every day about everything that I still cannot yet do. But, I also recognize how far my recovery has come and I guess you could say that I am gratefully unsatisfied. 

God is good, all the time.

I’ve had the privilege to have done this piece several times, including one time at Carnegie Hall. I’ve also had the opportunity to have met the composer, who is a very friendly, approachable person.

Hometown Mentors, Inc. is the “umbrella corporation” for Hometown15834 and other hometowns. HMI is a Nonprofit charity with an IRS designation of 501(c)3.

If you know of anyone who calls Emporium, PA their hometown, and has an interesting life story to share, please contact us by email:  hometown.mentors@gmail.com


The Book


From the pen of Pastor Dan McDowell

In “Advice to the Young,” included in his History of the United States, 1832, Noah Webster wrote: “The brief exposition of the Constitution of the United States, will unfold to young persons the principles of republican government …that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament or the Christian religion …

Republican government loses half of its value, where the moral and social duties are imperfectly understood, or negligently practiced …”

Webster added: “To exterminate our popular vices is a work of far more importance to the character and happiness of our citizens than any other improvements in our system of education.”

“Moral evils constitute or produce most of the miseries of mankind and these may be prevented or avoided. Be it remembered then that disobedience to God’s law, or sin is the procuring cause of almost all the sufferings of mankind. God has so formed the moral system of this world, that a conformity to His will by men produces peace, prosperity and happiness; and disobedience to His will or laws inevitably produces misery.

If men are wretched, it is because they reject the government of God, and seek temporary good in that which certainly produces evil.”

In the preface of his American Dictionary of the English Language, republished 1841, Noah Webster wrote: “If the language can be improved in regularity, so as to be more easily acquired by our own citizens and by foreigners, and thus be rendered a more useful instrument for the propagation of science, arts, civilization and Christianity.”

Russell Jay Horning, Dan McDowell and Jim Bitner

Noah Webster published his translation of the Holy Bible, The Webster Bible, in 1833, stating: “The Bible is the chief moral cause of all that is ‘good’, and the best corrector of all that is ‘evil’, in human society; the ‘best’ book for regulating the temporal concerns of men, and the ‘only book’ that can serve as an infallible guide to future felicity.”

In “Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education” (New Haven, 1823), Webster wrote: “It is alleged by men of loose principles … that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations.

But the Scriptures teach a different doctrine.

They direct that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness …

And it is to the neglect of this rule of conduct in our citizens, that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breeches of trust, peculations and embezzlements of public property which astonish even ourselves; which tarnish the character of our country; which disgrace a republican government; and which will tend to reconcile men to monarchs in other countries and even our own.”

“Men may devise and adopt new forms of government; they may amend old forms, repair breaches, and punish violators of the constitution; but there is, there can be, no effectual remedy, but obedience to the divine law.”

In his 1834 work titled, Value of the Bible and Excellence of the Christian Religion, Webster wrote: “The Bible must be considered as the great source of all the truths by which men are to be guided in government, as well as in all social transactions … The Bible (is) the instrument of all reformation in morals and religion.”

Noah Webster wrote in The History of the United States, 1832: “All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”


These three ministers of the Gospel, call Emporium their Hometown and they all got their start at First Baptist Church  

The Bible has been a massive influence on literature and history, especially in the Western world, where the Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed using movable type.[5][6] According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible “has done more to shape literature, history, entertainment, and culture than any book ever written. Its influence on world history is unparalleled, and shows no signs of abating.”[5] With estimated total sales of over 5 billion copies, it is widely considered to be the best-selling book of all time.[5][7][8] As of the 2000s, it sells approximately 100 million copies annually.[9][10]

15834: Family Ostrum – Korea

Sixty Year Old Photograph provides a trip back to South Korea

Once upon a time in South Korea, there was a very young U.S. Army Soldier who hailed from Emporium, PA.  His name was/is Kenneth Ostrum.  This soldier worked, during wartime and a short time after, to train South Korean troops and help build an orphanage.  He worked with the Korean Military Advisory Group (KMAG) division and while he was there, a picture was taken with his slide camera.  Sixty years later, that picture was submitted into a competition and it won first place in the National South Korean Health Association contest.  First place was a trip back to South Korea.  What an opportunity of a lifetime.  The videos embedded below were filmed during that trip in 2013.

Ken Ostrum and Miss Chung with orphans in 1953 – 1954

Award winning picture taken with a 35mm camera in 1952-53

Reprinted from:  Reminisce Xtra – July 2006


“As You Were

Was That Fair”?


I was going through Basic Training at Fort Belvoir, VA in 1952 during the Korean War. I had been taught during my short life of 20 years that if you did something, do it well.

You know, “It’s easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.” I tried doing that throughout training and all went quite well.

Then came Bivouac Training.

We marched out 25 miles to A. P. Hill and spent a long day in special training that was intended to turn us into elite Combat Engineers.  Toward late evening the company was divided into platoons and sent to various parts of the woods.

There we buddied up, two guys to a team, each carrying one half of a Pup Tent.  We were told to set up our tents for the night, and got no advice from the cadre on how to do it.

Turns out my buddy and I had both been long-time Boy Scouts and had done a lot of tenting. We knew what to do, searched around till we found the right spot and pitched our little tent.

A lot of the other soldiers in the platoon pitched their tents wherever they could and crawled in.  My buddy and I took the time to find some pine tree limbs for bedding and dug a trench around the tent to keep out water in the event it rained, even though it didn’t look like rain was imminent.

We crawled into bed, dead-tired, fell asleep, and, sure enough, around midnight, it started to rain.

We both woke up, knew we were glad we had taken the time to put down bedding and dig that trench, and went back to sleep.

We were snug as a bug in a rug.

A couple hours later one of the Sergeants woke us up to ask how we were doing.  “Fine, Sarge, we’re high and dry,” We said.   He looked in and around our tent and said, “You guys sure did a good job in setting up.  Congratulations!”

A half hour later he came back and told us to put on our ponchos and report for guard duty.

Now, first of all, guard duty had been assigned the night before, and it wasn’t us.

Secondly, our poncho, for each of us, was one half of our tent.  That meant we had to tear down our tent to put on our ponchos.

Sarge explained that because of the rain, all the rest of the platoon, including those who had originally been chosen for guard duty on this shift, had water in their tents and had to spend some time to find another spot to see what they could do to have a dry place to at least get some sleep.

If we wouldn’t have been in the Army, I’m sure our next comment would have been, “Are you kidding me?” Needless to say, we didn’t say it.

The whole thing sure didn’t make sense to us but it was one of the first in a long line of events over the next two years that showed the Army is not always fair. We finished our basic training at Ft. Belvoir.  I went on to Electrical training with my final destination, Korea, where I was a member of the Korean Military Advisory Group (KMAG) Engineering Section, involved in training Republic of Korea Army troops.

When I saw the ROKA conditions for training, and the conditions our own troops had to put up with on the line, the little episode on AP Hill at Fort Belvoir seemed very trivial.

Kenny Ostrum was that Boy Scout, turned Soldier

Leaving for San Fran

That Boy Scout, turned US Army Soldier, in the article above, was my Dad, Ken Ostrum.  Our ancestors settled in Emporium, Cameron County, Pennsylvania, and that is how I started to call Emporium, my hometown.

Full disclosure:  This post is very biased.  I’ve written other biographies but I definately have THE best Dad and mentor in the whole world.

He and my Mom are a big reason that I had passion for Emporium, enough to start the Hometown Mentors Non-profit Charity.  So, that said, this is story of the highlights of Dad’s Korean War time and what happened sixty years later.

At this writing, it is Seventy Years since the beginning of the Korean War in 1950.

Kenneth Lee Ostrum is the “Boy from West Crick”, as says the title of his autobiography, written around 2011.  He was the youngest son of J. Fred and Violet Barr Ostrum and had six brother’s and sisters.

He was born on a very cold January day in 1932, at home on the hill up West Creek.  His Grandmother swaddled him and laid him close to the wood stove in the parlor to keep him warm.

Being the youngest child, you would think that he might be spoiled, but he says, “No”.  However, if his older siblings were still alive to tell the tale, they may have a different account.

Kenny was taught to milk the cow, weed the garden, not point a gun at any living thing and to love Family, Country and God.

He had to go to the lilac tree in the front yard, to cut a switch or two in his growing up years.  But only when Grandma needed to apply some discipline to the seat of his understanding.

He played up and down West Creek with Robert Rossetti, and rolled in poison ivy once too many times.  He had a dog named Bumpy and went to church at the First Baptist Church where he met my Mother, Mary Jane Kinley, at a youth group event.

As the story goes, she was not real “keen” on him, but I guess, just like moss on the north side of a tree, he just grew on her.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to date a boy who cruised in a 1933 Ford Truck around Emporium?

Kenny learned to sing in school and church choirs.  He continues to sing solos and to sing in groups whenever he can.

Let’s see, other people who started singing in church were Elvis, Pat Boone and…. oh, so many others.  I could have been like Debbie Boone if Dad would have gone professional.  But, oh no, he just sang for weddings, for local Emporium events and to God’s Glory.  I guess that’s ok with me.

Kenny went to Plank Road Hollow one room school house and graduated from Emporium High School in 1950 (The same year and same day that the Korean War started). He went to work at Sylvania and he and Mary Jane were married on February 23, 1952.

Having been drafted into the Army shortly after marriage, he left for a tour of duty in Korea at the end of February 1953, where he trained South Korean Soldiers.  The South Koreans are still grateful to the U.S. Army for the work and rebuilding they did during the war.  They treat Veterans like royalty in their country.

Following are some videos that will tell some memories of Kenny’s time in the Korean War.

The whole story of his 2013 visit back to Korea, his search to find the orphanage he helped build and his search to find his old friend, Miss Chung, can be seen in this 48 minute documentary that is available only on YouTube.com  (CLICK HERE)

There is also a gallery of family pictures following the videos.

Still not the end.

The 15834: Family Ostrum story is to be continued.  In the meantime, enjoy these professionally produced videos of Ken’s trip to Korea in 2013, made by Arirang TV.

15834 Family; Nickler

Another Memorial Day has past and this is written to recognize other family veterans, who served in WWI, WWII, and the French Foreign Legion. (Below is Tom Nickler’s military story)

This is posted especially for our nieces, nephews and their children to make sure they know family history.

My grandfather Benjamin Nickler served in WWI.

My great uncle Grover Nickler also served in WWI and was a machine gunner.

Example of WWI Machine Gun hole

The gun was mounted on two wheels and had a barrel like cover on the front for some protection. Many days of WWI were spent in filthy trenches. Often weeks at a time. The trenches were overrun with rats, mud, death and stench. Every few weeks the men would be relieved and a fresh group would come to replace them.

Grover told us that on occasion the Germans would make changes in personnel at the same time and they would wave to one another as they left the trenches.

Both Benjamin and Grover both also volunteered in the CC Camps during the great depression.

Another family member who served in WWII was my Uncle Gene Williams. Gene was my mother’s youngest brother. He was an MP. By chance my dad ran into Gene in Stuttgart Germany, when he was assigned to take a Mercedes Benz to the Mercedes factory in Stuttgart for repairs.

The French Foreign Legion services were from my great grandfather Adam Nickler. He came from the Alsace Lorraine area of the Rhine Valley. Throughout history this territory changed hands from French to German. Adam served in the French Foreign Legion but when the Germans occupied the area he was found sitting in prison.

After years of this type of activity he and two sisters decided to escape to the US. Some of the pictures attached show those family members and we thank them as well for their service and our freedoms.

  EMPORIUM, PA, MAY 26, 2020 –

Thomas A. Nickler, a nearly 100 year old native of my hometown, still lives in his Emporium, PA  15834. 

His son, Thomas Nickler, also an Emporium native, now lives in Saint Augustine, FL and submitted the following post on his Facebook timeline.  (Posted and edited with permission).

Thomas A. and Marie (Williams) Nickler, lived on Arch Drive in Emporium, PA with their family for many years after WWII. 

He served during WWII in the US Army, in the 8th Armored Division

with the Rank T3 Staff Sargent in the Armored Ordinance Battalion, 130th Company C.

In September 1944 the 8th Armored Division was placed in top priority for overseas movement ended almost six months of duty in the field as they moved to barracks at South Camp Polk and continued training for combat. 

It departed for Camp Kilmer, New Jersey in late October 1944. Departure from New York began on 7 November with arrival in England on 18 November 1944.

After a six week stay at Tidworth, England the 8th Armored landed in France on 5 Jan 1945 and assembled in the vicinity of Pont-a-Mousson, France to organize a counterattack against an expected enemy strike in the Metz area.

On 22 Jan, after failure of the German attack to materialize, the Division joined the fighting in support of the drive by the 94th Infantry Division against the Saar-Moselle salient.

Six days later, it was relieved and moved north to the Maastricht, Holland area to prepare for participation in the 9th Army’s attack toward the Rhine.



The Division crossed the Roer, 27 February and assisted the 35th and 84th Infantry Divisions in their push eastward, taking Tetelrath, Oberkruchten, Rheinberg, and Ossenberg against stubborn resistance.  Crossing the Rhine at Wesel, 26 March, 1945, the Division attacked east to help form the northern arm of the Ruhr encirclement.

Taking Dorsten and Marl on 29 March, 1945, it crossed north of the Lippe Canal on 1 April and raced east to reach Neuhaus on the 3rd.

At that point, it veered south, then attacked west into the Ruhr Valley, in an effort to help eliminate the Ruhr Pocket.

In mid-April, when the XIX Corps drive to the Elbe was threatened from the south, the Division was pulled out and rushed east to provide right flank protection against fanatical remnants of the German 11th Panzer Army grouping in the Harz Mountains.

Assembling in the vicinity of Halberstadt, it attacked south against the German force, taking Blankenberg on the 20th of April, and seizing Ottenstedt on the 21st in the division’s last coordinated action of the war.

The 8th continued mop-up operations and performed occupation duty in the Harz Mountain area up to and immediately following VE day.

[Editor’s Note: 8 May 1945 is Victory in Europe Day, generally known as VE Day ( Great Britain ) or V-E Day (North America), is a day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces on the 8 May 1945.]

Then, in late May, 1945, it was ordered south to Czechoslovakia to assist in processing prisoners of war, operating displaced persons camps and guarding vital installations including the Skoda Munitions Works.

The Division closed in the Pilsen area 6 June, 1945, and remained there until departure on 19 September, for return to the United States and inactivation at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, on 13 November, 1945.

Who are Hometown Mentors?

Do you remember Emporium?  How long did you live in Emporium?

Do you remember Cameron County?    How long did you live in Cameron County?

Do you rememberSylvania? This is amazing to me — Click “Sylvania” if you want to buy 2 Sylvania radio tubes for $250.

WHO do you remember from those places?  (Let your cursor hover over the picture to see the captions)

This website is a quiet place to virtually come back home and reminisce on your own or with others who, like you, grew up in our sheltered little neck of the woods.

Who was your “best hometown mentor”?

Hometown Mentors was created because we wanted the memory of our mentors to live on for future generations.

Our mentors helped create our character and encouraged us to push our limits in whatever endeavors we had.

They gave us motivation, at the start of our career path to do the best we could do, in whatever we chose as our profession.

They helped us learn that we could take a valuable place in this world, no matter how small our hometown was.

We want to remember those wonderful teachers and parents and scientists and clergy and retail entrepreneurs to live on in the stories of our youth.

We wanted to remember Ms. Sue Ann Beveridge.  And we were so happy when Ninety people came home, in 2013, to sing one more time with Ms. Sue Ann Beveridge.  What a fun-filled weekend that was.  She has since passed on but our memories of the smiles during that weekend will not fade soon.

Prospect Park Playground was revitalized by your hands and your donations.  Today’s kids have safe equipment to play on and so that they might be able to make memories at the playground, just like we did.

The Hometown Hall of Fame has many well known local names with, each one, jogging a memory from the past.

In this day and age of being together separately, we will continue to post stories of local mentors so that you can come back home through our website and reminisce any time you want.

That’s what Hometown Mentors is all about.

We need your help to maintain our website, if you have an extra $20 to spare, actually any amount is helpful.

For the last 9 years we have volunteered our time and money for operating Hometown Mentors and to create this site.  If you like what you see and would enjoy more stories, please click the donate button on the right or the bottom of the page, do donate what you can.  We certainly appreciate your encouragement.

We hope you enjoy your visit to our website and please like our Facebook Page

If you hail from Cameron County, you may want to LIKE our Hometown15834 page

Rich LaBrozzi – Hometown Hall of Fame 2017

Hometown Hall of Fame – Who do you remember?