“I read your article [about undergoing minor surgery] and am glad to hear you are recovering,” wrote Summit County Probate Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer.

“I, of course, noticed your reference to having not done your ‘homework’ prior to your procedure.”

In the column, I rued my failure to have taken important steps before going under the knife: designating a health care power of attorney, signing a living will and (jokingly) clearing my browser history.

“While I cannot help you with your browser history — and, well, I really don’t want to know,” she wrote, “I would like to point out to you and your readers that the documents you mentioned and many others are available free of charge through the Summit County Probate Court website.”

That would be www.summitohioprobate.com/end-of-life-planning-page. The forms, which come with instructions, can be filled out online and then printed.

“I encourage you and your readers to look at them, discuss them with loved ones, fill them out and give copies to healthcare providers and family members.

“Why? Because if something bad happens, that is the wrong time to figure out what you would have wanted. And if the family can’t decide — well, I have to decide for you.”

Stormer says emergency-room personnel have told her that “their worst nightmare is a young man in a tragic motorcycle accident who has never discussed his wishes with his family.”

Although I sometimes enjoy arguing with a judge, in this case the person in the black robe is clearly correct.

Beacon Journal copy editor Mark J. Price was near the police scanner in the newsroom the other night and overheard a report of “a smell of gas near Taco Bell.”

For you young’uns who have known only cellphones, party lines were even worse than landlines: You had to share them with a neighbor. If the other person was in a conversation, you had to wait.

“When we were first married and moved to Wooster in 1969, we could only have a party line. Almost every time we would lift the receiver to make a call, we would hear Indian music playing in the background. After many months of this, we deduced that people were taking sitar lessons by phone.”

Craig Miller of Copley also perked up over the mention of party lines, and he challenged my assertion that they existed only through the 1970s.

“My dad could be very frugal (to put it politely), so probably he was looking to save the $2 a month or whatever it was.

“My sister was at that time a teenager. She and her best friend would be on the phone yakking for long periods of time, probably annoying that lady to no end.

“The lady would often pick up the phone and listen to their conversations. This prompted my sister and her friend to start making up wild stories when they knew she was listening.

Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or bdyer@thebeaconjournal.com. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31.

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