How To Become A Florists
Former Rep. Donald Sherwood (R-PA)
110 D St. SE, Unit #215...
By Bill Toland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
TUNKHANNOCK, Pa. -- In this old lumber town, part of the state's conservative northeast, the Sherwoods are the local version of the Kennedys: wealthy, iconic and, now, because of U.S. Rep. Donald L. Sherwood, knee-deep in scandal.
Sherwood, 64, a Republican, is embroiled in a salacious, he-said, she-said affair with a Peruvian-born woman named Cynthia Ore, 29. Ore alleges that her five-year relationship with Sherwood, who is married with three grown daughters, turned violent.
News of the relationship began to dribble out of Washington, D.C., at the end of April, when a political foe sent a copy of a police report to the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre and other papers. The report, and the newspaper story that followed, said police visited Sherwood's Washington apartment in September after Ore called 911 to tell police that, during the course of a back rub, Sherwood had tried to choke her.
He denied that, saying he never choked her, and that she was the one who interrupted the back rub when she "jumped up" and went to the bathroom to call 911.
No criminal charges were filed, but a civil suit has been. In June, Ore sued Sherwood for $5.5 million, saying he bruised her, punched her and yanked her hair, and that police didn't take her charges seriously. She stayed with him through the abuse, the suit says, because Sherwood promised to marry her. Sherwood, while saying Ore's lawsuit, in general, and the accusations of abuse, in particular, are without merit, has admitted to the affair.
He'd kept quiet, offering only a quick apology for the "pain" he's caused, until 10 days ago, when he filed his response to Ore's lawsuit and issued a more in-depth statement:
"For about five years, I had an affair I deeply regret," the statement says. "Although it was intermittent and ended last year, nothing I say can diminish the pain and hurt I have caused my wife and family. While I can't change or erase what I did, I accept full responsibility for my behavior, and I apologize to my wife, my family and to the people I represent in Congress."
He added, "I want to be absolutely clear that I never physically hurt or abused Ms. Ore. I will defend myself to the fullest extent possible against these malicious and baseless allegations." In the court papers, filed in Washington, D.C., Sherwood says he can't remember how he met Ore, while Ore says they met at a Young Republicans meeting in 1999.
Ore's attorney, Patrick Regan, declined to comment on Sherwood's statement.
Around Sherwood's rural, 13-county congressional district, people are just as likely to be suspicious as they are to be sympathetic. Sherwood's reputation as an upstanding, family-values politician is now sullied by the scent of hypocrisy, some say.
"My problem is not with the fact that the guy decided to fool around. Guys do that," said John Braun, a retiree and registered Republican who lives 15 miles west of Tunkhannock. Braun's problem, he said, is that he feels his intelligence has been insulted by Sherwood's story that Ore abruptly "jumped up" and ran to the bathroom in mid-back rub, for no good reason.
"To me, that doesn't ring like an event that could have actually occurred that way," Braun said.
But in leafy Tunkhannock, where Sherwood's name still graces the wall of a main street car dealership, the man is more likely to be given doubt's benefit.
"He's human," said Paul Litwin III, a lawyer with an office on Tunkhannock's short business strip. He noted that police had investigated Ore's September phone call and declined to press charges. "If she's lying about that, there's a possibility that she's lying about the abuse," Litwin said. He added that "any type of abuse" would be unforgiveable if Ore's accounts were proven true.
But if they're not true, Sherwood's affair was private, Litwin said, and shouldn't have played out in the papers. "Most people I speak with are more sympathetic toward the family than disgusted toward him," he said.
Many defenders in this town were reluctant to talk about Sherwood's fortunes, protective of one of their own. The Sherwoods still keep a home and do business here, eating at in-town restaurants and buying arrangements from the local florist.
In his pre-Congress life, Sherwood lived by the all-American model of service and hard work. He went to Dartmouth College, joined the Army, opened a car dealership at age 26. When his father died, Sherwood inherited part of the family estate, worth $1.4 million at the time.
Sherwood's supporters think so much of him here that a local media chain, Times Shamrock Communications, initially declined to cover the Sherwood saga, which most newspapers or TV outlets would have considered newsworthy. After the police report became public, The Scranton Times, one of three papers in t
a Love Story
Roses for Rose
Red roses were her favorite,
Her name was also Rose,
And every year her husband sent them,
Tied with pretty bows.
The year he died,
The roses were delivered to her door;
The card said, "Be my Valentine,"
Like all the years before.
Each year he sent her roses,
And the note would always say,
"I love you even more this year,
Than last year on this day."
"My love for you will always grow,
With every passing year;"
She knew this was the last time
That the roses would appear.
She thought he ordered roses
In advance before this day;
Her loving husband did not know,
That he would soon pass away.
He always liked to do things early,
Way before the time;
Then, if he got too busy,
Everything would work out fine.
She trimmed the stems and
Placed them in a very special vase;
Then sat the vase beside the portrait
Of his smiling face.
She would sit for hours,
In her husband's favorite chair;
While staring at his picture,
And the roses sitting there.
A year went by and it was hard
To live without her mate;
With loneliness and solitude,
That had become her fate.
Then on the very same hour,
As the Valentines before,
The doorbell rang and there were roses,
Sitting by her door.
She brought the roses in,
And just looked at them in shock;
Then went to get the telephone,
To call the florist shop.
The owner answered, and
She asked him if he would explain;
Why would someone do this to her,
And cause her such pain?
"I know your husband passed away
More than a year ago,"
The owner said, "I knew you'd call,
And you would want to know."
"The flowers you received today,
Were paid for in advance."
"Your husband always planned ahead,
He left nothing to chance."
"There is a standing order,
That I have on file down here;
And he has paid ... well in advance,
You'll get them every year.
There also is another thing,
That I think you should know;
He wrote a special little card,
He did this years ago."
"Then, should ever I find out
That he's no longer here;
That's the card that should be sent to you
On the following year."
She thanked him and hung up the phone,
Her tears now flowing hard;
Her fingers were shaking,
As she slowly reached to get the card.
Inside the card, she saw that
He had written her a note;
Then, as she stared in total silence,
This is what he wrote ...
"Hello my love, I know it's been
A year since I've been gone;
I hope it hasn't been too hard
For you to overcome."
"I know it must be lonely,
And the pain is still very real;
For if it was the other way,
I know how I would feel."
"The love we shared made
Everything so beautiful in life;
I loved you more than words can say,
You were the perfect wife."
"You were my friend and lover,
You fulfilled my every need;
I know it's only been one year,
But please try not to grieve.
I want you to be happy,
Even when you shed your tears;
That is why the roses will be sent
To you for many more years."
"When you get these roses,
Think of all the happiness,
That we had together,
And how both of us were blessed.
I have always loved you
And I know I always will;
But, my love, you must go on,
You have to do some living still."
"Please try to find happiness,
While living out your days;
I know it is not easy,
But I hope you find some ways."
"The roses will come every year,
And they will only stop ...
When your door's not answered,
When the florist stops to knock."
"He will come five times that day,
In case you have gone out;
But after his last visit,
He will know without a doubt,
To take the roses to the place,
Where I've instructed him,
And place the roses where we are,
Together once again."
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