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Working on the railroad to turn it into a restaurant

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Time was when Jane Roth spent her summer days on the golf course and her winter afternoons around a bridge table -- day in, day out, one year after the other. At the time, she couldn't imagine any other life style. Now she says she couldn't imagine ever going back to it. Today Mrs. Roth is occupied in a markedly different way: as hostess at one of the country's more unusual and elegant restaurants. ``I love every minute of it,'' she says.

What brought about such a marked change? Tropical storm Agnes and what is still referred to here in somewhat awed terms as ``the flood of '72.''

When the swollen Susquehanna River roared through the valley, it took much of Mrs. Roth's home and much of the rest of Wilkes-Barre with it. After it was over, the Roths reestablished their home. Then, as the mud and debris were being cleared from the streets, they learned a decision had been made to level the old railroad station, a town landmark since 1868. Architectural gem

To Mrs. Roth this was a very logical step in the citywide renovation that was going on all around, but to her husband it was appalling. In fact, Marvin Roth was all but outraged. He'd grown up within sight of the station and was determined to save what he saw as an irreplaceable ``architectural gem.'' When his protests were of no avail, he did the only thing he could: he bought the place, handing the keys to his wife with the comment, ``I've a present for you.''

Mrs. Roth recalls thinking the flood had ``got to him'' at the time. The station had been an abandoned and vandalized relic long before it took a battering from the flood. Now it was her turn to be appalled. Innovative thinking

What followed, however, is a testimony to innovative thinking and the determination to see things through.

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