Readers' Letters




See also "Write a Letter to the Editor."
 

High and Dry

Re: Mark E. Dixon’s March 2013 Retrospect column, “The Burgess’s List”: What a great story about West Chester, and what a great contrast to Philadelphia, which generally ignored Prohibition. Do you know if Charles Pennypacker was related to former Pennsylvania Gov. Samuel Pennypacker? 

Bob Sibka, President,
Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides
Philadelphia


Dixon responds: Charles described himself as a cousin of Gov. Pennypacker. Samuel wasn’t popular with the press, in part because he tried to get a law passed that would’ve allowed officials to sue papers and reporters who they felt criticized them unfairly. Contrast that with Charles, who was an ex-journalist himself and loved to talk to reporters. Merely by writing favorably about Charles, reporters could get their digs in at Sam.
 

Pride by Association

I was so proud to be a part of the Andrews-Scardigli wedding (“Warm Embrace,” January 2013). The families were so wonderful, and the bride and groom just warmed my heart. I was soaked in champagne when the groom popped the cork. These kinds of weddings are what make me love what I do. It was a blast! 

Wendy Hartigan,
Wendy’s Affairs of Heart
Philadelphia

Food for Thought

I am one of the subjects in J.F. Pirro’s article about competitive eating (“A Real Mouthful,” February 2013), and I just wanted to say thanks. It’s a great piece, and I loved the job that was done. I appreciate anytime someone takes a few minutes to talk to me about my foolish hobby—and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

Sean Gordon
Downingtown

 

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Stolen Youth

In reference to “Battling the Unthinkable,” December 2012: Yes, the “statute of limitations” for child sex crimes needs to be reformed, opening a window of opportunity so past victims can have their day in court. This is the one sure way to expose the truth, to hold accountable those who are responsible, and to get child sex abuse stopped today. Predators need to be kept far away from kids forever. But an even more powerful danger is when high-ranking officials enable, empower and cover up these crimes against kids. They need to be held accountable for allowing more innocent children to be sexually abused. Child sex abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems that allow it to continue to this day. 

Judy Block-Jones 
Midwest Associate Director, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
Marthasville, Mo.

Forgotten Town

Why don’t you ever do a story about Havertown and its growth? We have at least four new places to eat. Maybe you could stop over and take a look.

Nance Connolly
Havertown

A Serious Fan

Good for you—for all you do! This I say to Mark Dixon. I am a 50-year lover of history, and Dixon’s Retrospect is up there with the best. He consistently gets his target right and adds to my knowledge every time.

And so, to Dixon: Good for you—for all you do!

Thomas R. Smith
Bear, Del.

 

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Familiy Ties

I was fascinated by the article on Ardrossan (“Mansion Mythology,” January 2013). My grandparents met each other as employees of the Montgomerys, and my grandmother’s cousin, Moll, and her husband, Terrance, were longtime mem-bers of the household. Terrance was the dairyman there during Helen Hope’s time. My 85-year-old mom remembers visiting Ardrossan, so we have a deep connection with the estate and the Montgomery family.

Keep this kind of writing coming. It’s wonderful to read about the tidbits of history in our community.

Diane K. Bates

West Chester

Hitting Back

I really enjoyed reading “Driven to Distraction” in the November 2012 edition. We’ve all been there—behind drivers texting and those so absorbed in their cell phones that they drive 20 miles per hour slower than everyone else or sit there, not moving when the light changes. This kind of distraction certainly leads to crashes, as your article says.

But there is another side to this problem—and that’s the blatant hostility toward vehicles and their drivers that exists on the Main Line. Let’s start with the pedestrian crosswalks, where all vehicles must stop every time, combined with unnecessary three- and four-way stop signs. These blatant barriers slow traffic to a crawl. Speed bumps have been placed on Aberdeen Avenue in Wayne and Malin Road in Broomall—roads that aren’t even suitable for pedestrians. And for what purpose?

Some months ago, a grant procured by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission got the Route 30 traffic lights timed, so you could drive without an excessive number of stops. Since then, either neglect or a desire to serve locals at the expense of through traffic has restored the randomness of signal timing.

Has it occurred to no one on the Main Line that treating motorists with respect and helping us get to where we’re going could actually reduce aggressive driving and noncompliance with the rules? We are all human, after all.

John Baxter
Exton

All That Glitters

I’ve enjoyed your magazine over the years, but I do have a problem with Melissa Jacobs’ “The Family Stone” in your July 2012 issue. The story is filled with false and misleading information.

Synthetic or imitation stones are not more common here than they are in any other part of the United States, and they are not called “Wellington,” as that’s a store-branded name.

The shank is the bottom part of a ring; a culet is the bottom facet of a diamond. And the modern brilliant-cut diamond is not cut with lasers. Lasers are used to saw a rough crystal into two pieces, or to drill holes in the diamond to remove impurities that may be found in the diamond crystal. You can’t facet a diamond with
a laser.

I think you should check your facts before you go to print. I’ve never turned down magazines, newspapers, or radio or television stations when they need to check their facts. There are a number of qualified gemologists, registered jewelers and certified appraisers who will help you.

What you printed was a steak with great sizzle, but the meat was bad.

John Anthony Jr.
President/owner, John Anthony Jewelers
Bala Cynwyd


Editor’s note: MLT contributor Melissa Jacobs stands by her facts and her sources.
 

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Barking up the Right Tree
More feedback from “The Dog Whisperer,” J.F. Pirro’s profile of Dave Cugno, which ran in our May 2012 Pets Guide:

Dave is absolutely the best trainer anywhere. He took my aggressive rescued German Shepherd and, within four lessons, completely transformed him into a socialized, obedient pet who’s a joy to be with. The amazing part is that he actually trained me—not my dog. And looking back on it, it was almost effortless.

Suzanne Smigo
Cape May, N.J.


Dave was a lifesaver for the Albert family. We’d been to three places, and all told us that we should put Rocky down after we’d just adopted him from the SPCA. He was on Prozac and Valium three times a day. Now, after being at Dave’s, he’s on no meds and is a very calm dog.

Robin Albert
Philadelphia


Our dog was very insecure and distrusting. Now, when we pull up to see Dave each week, his tail wags nonstop. And when we work with him at home on the things Dave has taught us, his tail wags nonstop. Dave is talented, compassionate, knowledgeable and, quite simply, the best dog trainer there is.

Kim Lageman
Gladwyne

 

A Small Point

While reading the August 2011 review of Isabella (“Where Small Plates Shine”), I noted this comment: “Small plates aren’t really meant to be scaled-down portions of the larger menu items, but rather something to savor before the main course.”
The “scaled down” comment is right on. It’s a major problem with most local tapas. In Spain, however, patrons eat a variety of tapas as their only meal.

The photos of Isabella’s tapas aren’t typical of those in Spain. If it’s complex and kept in the kitchen, it’s not usually Spanish tapas. I suggest that they be called only small plates and never tapas.

Davis Reese
Bryn Mawr

 

Fashion Don't

In reference to your March 2012 Local Fashionista, I’m at a loss. With all due respect to Lizanne Crotty, her jeans are at least two sizes too small. Her hair is stringy and lank, with at least two inches of black roots showing. She also appears to be wearing some type of army boot that’s causing her jeans to wrinkle around the ankle, and her otherwise lovely blouse is boxy. I see neither femininity nor street edge in her look.

To spotlight Crotty is not only utterly ridiculous to people of good taste, but it calls into question the sanity and good taste of your editors.

Maria Pileggi
Bala Cynwyd

 

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Style for the Ages

While looking through your November 2011 issue, I saw the story, “All Dressed Up.” It was interesting to see the different styles of the five women you label “fashionistas.” That said, I noticed that your fashionistas were all 45 years old or younger. By focusing your story on these young women, lovely as they are, you’ve overlooked the many fashionistas of the Main Line who are over 50.

My fiancée is a case in point. She’s known to all her friends as “the chief of the fashion police”—a beautiful woman in her early 50s who is as stylish and “turned out” as those you featured. She has a sense of style that’s been nurtured and developed over the years. In my opinion, and that of our many friends, she is as much a “fashionista”—if not more—than the five women in your story.

Michael Medway
Philadelphia

 

Lost Histories

Mark Dixon’s November 2011 Retrospect column was truly eye-opening. It’s so challenging to get to the stories of the people who made the Main Line estates possible. Higher-up servants in a large house may be known because of oral histories or family stories. But the countless laborers Dixon documents are invisible.

The story really is shocking. I had no idea that the Whitehall became a tenement, or anything about Fritz Court.

Jeff Groff, Director of Public Programs
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Winterthur, Del.

State Pride

It was with great amusement that I read Hobart Rowland’s End of the Line article in the November 2011 issue titled “(Not) Feeling Minnesota.” As a former travel agent, I’ve been to the Philadelphia area many times, reveling in its pleasing combination of comparatively “ancient” history and modern excitement. But I also know that, if you gave Minnesota a chance, you’d like it here, too.

Yes, we have a bit more winter than you folks do. But our way of life breeds character and a sort of “we can handle it” attitude. Of course, we do have three other seasons, each with their own appeal. And with summer a more limited commodity, we make the most of the warm months by using our many lakes and rivers. Fall is my personal favorite, with milder temps, the unforgettable smell of leaves and foliage preparing for winter, and the colors of our forests.

I contend that people are great all over the globe if given a chance to prove it. That in mind, I invite you to visit us any time of year, and let us prove to you why Minnesota is more than worth a visit. Whether we can convince you to move here is another story, but I suspect that you’ll like us a lot more than you thought you would. With 28 years in the travel and hospitality business, I’ve heard enough feedback to feel secure in my boast.

And when you come, can you pick up Donovan McNabb and take him back to Philly? He’s not working out here.

Terry Sveine, C.V.B. Manager
New Ulm, Minn.

 

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School’s Out

I was happy that you highlighted fantastic local teachers in your October issue, but I was dismayed that not one teacher from Conestoga High School was discussed.

Conestoga has consistently been ranked one of the finest high schools in the country by the College Board, Advanced Placement, the Washington Post and Newsweek. Conestoga’s PSSA and SAT scores are also some of the best in the region, as revealed by the “Vital Stats for 23 Public High Schools” chart in your September 2010 issue.

How did this omission occur?

Laura Whittaker
President, Tredyffrin-Easttown
Education Association

***

From the Editor:

Your inquiry is one of several that we received regarding Conestoga High School’s conspicuous absence from “Top Teachers.” While we were disappointed that the school wasn’t represented in our survey, we made every effort to secure a spot for its educators. We contacted the principals and assistant principals of all the high schools in our coverage area, asking for nominations. We received responses from most, but Conestoga wasn’t among them.

Well aware of Conestoga’s academic standing, we made a last-ditch appeal to the principal, the assistant principal and the school board. We received no reply. Our hope is that the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District will be more responsive when we begin our research for future installments of this ongoing series.
 

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No Objections

Just a note to express my gratitude and admiration for the article on conscientious objectors (“Waging Peace,” July 2011), though my 91-year-old mind can’t remember if I said the quotes you attributed to me.

The section on Bayard Rustin was  excellent. Only one mistake, which may have been mine: Arthur Morgan was the president of Antioch College from the early 1920s, when we revived and transformed it. I did admire him, but the professor I was referring to was Manmanath Chatterjee, who encouraged our pursuit of the study and practice of Gandhi’s nonviolent direct action. Chatterjee invited Rustin to one of our sociology seminars.

I’m introducing MLT to friends and relatives, of course.

Allen Bacon
Kennett Square

 

When Oil Was King

Great article by Mark E. Dixon (Retrospect, August 2011). I recall the construction of the Big Inch, particularly as it crossed the trolley line at Willistown. The pipeline goes alongside our farm and crosses onto another farm just to the north. I can follow the pipeline route from Middletown Road across West Chester Pike to the site of homes built since. Parts of their front lawns are in the pipeline’s right of way. Now, we have a plane that flies along the route daily to look for leaks. You brought my early memory into focus.

Lynmar Brock Jr.
Newtown Square

 

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Party Pooper

Naming Chanticleer Garden Best Alfresco Happy Hour in July’s “Best of the Main Line & Western Suburbs” issue has done this remarkable place a great disservice. I’ve visited Chanticleer over a thousand times since it was opened to the public almost 20 years ago. The behavior of many “happy hour” visitors on Friday evening, July 1, was completely inappropriate and irresponsible.

There was vandalism and theft that had never happened previous to your ill-advised mention. Visitors relocated benches and tables to suit themselves, and they failed to return these handcrafted pieces of furniture to their proper locations. There were many large groups of adults failing miserably to supervise their children, who were plucking flowers, trampling flowerbeds and behaving as if they were at a playground and not at a world-class garden.

Chanticleer’s gracious policy of allowing alcoholic beverages and picnicking on Friday evenings is a privilege. There is no “happy hour” at Chanticleer. Self-absorbed adults with coolers large enough to require wheels is definitely not what Chanticleer is all about.

Your abject failure to respect this precious horticultural jewel diminishes the experience for those visitors who understand and appreciate Chanticleer.

Jim Sell
Upper Darby

 

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Spreading the Word on Lyme

Re: “Lyme Lives Here,” June 2011:

Thank you for your article on Lyme disease and for shedding light on this complicated illness and those who are personally devastated by its horrific effects. As a Lyme sufferer for more than 12 years, I unfortunately know firsthand the obstacles in finding a caring, competent, Lyme-literate physician.

While Dr. Ann Corson may pride herself on being one of the top Lyme-literate physicians on the Main Line, she fails to mention the price of becoming her patient. She doesn’t accept any health insurance, and payment arrangements don’t exist.

Over the years, I was able to find a Lyme physician in Wayne who treats Lyme and my symptoms using Western medicine, while combining a holistic and lifestyle approach.

The treatment is affordable, and it’s working. I ran my first 5K since getting sick with Lyme. Not bad for a 38-year-old, 12-year Lyme veteran.

Julie Fisher Holtsberg
Broomall

***

I commend J.F. Pirro for a job very well done. I’m most appreciative for his attention to the details and his thought-provoking approach. I’m certain that the story will help to spread awareness of the complexities of Lyme disease.

Jayne Shea
Coatesville

 

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Match Point

I literally laughed out loud when I read the article by Scot Sax about online dating (End of the Line, March 2011). Funny article—though he must be new to online dating. You get used to the rejection after a while.

J.A. Robertson
Warminster

 

Quaker Quibble

I was pleased to see that your April issue included an article on Quakers on the Main Line (“The Sound of Silence”). I am a member of Willistown Meeting in Newtown Square and work for a Quaker-based organization, so I read the article with eagerness.

I was disappointed, though, that J.F. Pirro focused primarily on one Meeting—Merion—rather than on Quaker worship and practice. A little more research might have shed light on the fact that each Meeting has its own practices, and it often includes readings and even music. Also, decision making can vary widely at Meetings, so the old stereotype of Quakers having difficulty moving issues or projects forward is just that—a stereotype.

Thank you for the information in the article. It’s helpful for those around us to be reminded that there are many Friends in our community. I only wish that what it’s really like to be a Quaker on the Main Line had been explored more fully.

Pam Costanzi
West Chester

 

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He’s History

Mark E. Dixon did a great job on “The History Issue” (January 2011). The feature on nature’s angry past sent chills down my spine at the thought of what she might still have in store for us.

And Dixon’s take on the 97th Pennsylvania Volunteers makes sense (Retrospect, December 2010), especially given the circumstances. I’m going to toss it out to my Civil War-era students next year as a possible subject to explore further.

Randall Miller, Professor of History
Saint Joseph’s University

 

On a Roll

Thank you for featuring the Philly Roller Girls in Main Line Today (“Good, Clean Fun,” February 2011). J.F. Pirro’s article was well written, well researched and a great representation of what roller derby has become. I’m looking forward to bringing it home to show my family and friends.

Kristen Herrmann (aka Ginger Vitis)
93.3 WMMR, Bala Cynwyd

 

In the Details

I just finished reading Mark E. Dixon’s piece about N.C. Wyeth and Bill Engle (Retrospect, September 2010). In the hands of another writer, I migsht not have read past the headline, but the lengths to which Dixon went to make the story interesting held my attention. It’s so often true that stories of this nature are not accorded the attention to detail they require.

Joan G. Johnson
Forty Fort

 

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Work of Art

I enjoyed J.F. Pirro’s “Outside the Lines” in the November 2010 issue of Main Line Today. He captured the spirit of the Sketch Club and the individuality of its members, past and present. He also got the essence of my thoughts on the importance of the arts in a civilized society.

Bill Campbell
Philadelphia

 

Mission Accomplished

What a great two-part series on the Peace Mission (September and October 2010). J.F. Pirro’s articles were well written and hard to put down.

I’ve had many chances to meet and be with Mother when I was a state representative. She was so active in Gladwyne affairs. It’s sad to see her aging.

I took a walk with the Bridlewild Trails group recently. We ended up at Woodmont and had a lovely tour of the gardens. Mother did come out to greet us from the balcony. When I called up to her and told her my name, she did definitely seem to recognize me. I shall always remember the evening my husband and I were invited to a banquet. It was awesome!

Lita Cohen
Merion

 

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No Plain Jane

I just read “The Woman I Carried” (October 2010). I met Janice Irwin at the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry pier. She’s a very special lady and a classy human being. Richard Gaw’s take from the perspective of her Harley was perfect.

I took some pictures of her and her bike, and we chatted. No one believed she’d just celebrated her 60th birthday.

Scott Lawyer
Bellingham, Wash.

 

Woeful Woodrow

I used to live on the corner of Black Rock and Williamson roads in Gladwyne and loved the historical aspects of living on the Main Line. But I think it’s awful the way the despicable Woodrow Wilson treated women at Bryn Mawr College (Retrospect, June 2010). Driving by there every day, I had no idea that he’d taught there. You and Glenn Beck have really taught us a lot of history—albeit a sad yet enlightening history.

Anne Charlotte Knopf
Palm Beach, Fla.

 

Vegan, Yes!

I was appalled to read that a caterer would even think of dissuading a couple from a vegetarian wedding (“Wedding Woes,” July 2010). My son had a vegan wedding in June at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. The chefs were supportive and incredibly wonderful. The food—from soup to nuts—was all vegan and gourmet to boot.

We had over 200 guests, and they were astounded at how delicious the food was, along with the spectacular presentations from the chefs. Most people were thrilled to be able to eat a healthy meal sans butter, cream, meat and other saturated fats. It was win-win for everyone involved.

Lena Romanoff
Penn Valley

 

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Body Count

I enjoyed Mark E. Dixon’s article on Maj. Isaac Barnard (Retrospect, May 2010). I’m curious about the burial grounds he was exhumed from. I’m guessing it’s the old grounds next to the West Chester Meetinghouse, which is now where one of the school buildings stands.

Linda Fisher
West Chester

Dixon responds:
You are correct about the original burial spot of Isaac Barnard. It was at the Friends burial ground on North High Street. This doesn’t, of course, mean that the bodies went anywhere. Friends are modestly famous for their casual attitudes about the dead. The Arch Street meetinghouse in Center City was also built on a burial ground, and I was told the bones recovered in that process were simply added to the trench around the foundation.

 

Shedding Light

I encountered your April issue featuring Newport, R.I. (“Escape with Ease,” April 2010). The spread was interesting, but you misidentified the lighthouse pictured as Goat Island Lighthouse. It’s actually Castle Hill Lighthouse, which is easily one of the most photographed lighthouses in the United States.

Al Nannini
Newport, R.I.

 

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Sins of the Father

Mark E. Dixon pretty much hit the nail on the head with “Tiptoe Around the Powerful” (March 2010). I was 10 years old when my father (Louis Bergdoll) passed. I didn’t have a chance to have any deep conversations with him. I sure would’ve liked the opportunity, though.

I believe that my uncle, Grover (Bergdoll), didn’t know how to control himself. As young men, my father and uncle both managed to piss off many people. They also seem to have enjoyed taunting the police. Too bad they acted so poorly. I really would’ve liked them to have more respect.

My father served his five years in Leavenworth while my uncle continued to taunt the FBI. The brothers managed to cause a rift with their other brothers. I don’t think my father ever got over that whole thing. I feel he spent the rest of his life punishing himself. What a damned shame and a waste.

But while my folks did a lot of truly wacky things, I never considered them stupid by any measure. To lose a stash of gold just doesn’t sound possible to me.

Louis E. Bergdoll
Indian Mills, N.J.

 

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Hot Sell

I truly enjoyed your article “What’s Selling Now” (March 2010), including the comments from my fellow Main Line realtors regarding the most recent positive real estate sales news. Since realtors are students of the local real estate market and all real estate is local, I give more weight to an article written about a given area whenever realtors are quoted.

John Badalamenti
Prudential Fox & Roach
Wayne

 

Island Apart

In the April 2010 issue, we noticed an erroneous statement in the article about Smith Island, Md. (“Escape with Ease”). Smith Island is not the only inhabited offshore island in the Chesapeake Bay. Tangier Island—just south of Smith and over the Virginia state line—is also inhabited.

My husband and I took the mail boat from Crisfield, Md., to the town of Tangier. There are a few B&Bs on the island. We were met by the owner of one at the dock and driven in a golf cart to our accommodations. Carts and bicycles—plus walking—are the only means of getting around.

There is a private airstrip on the island, as well as a general store and a few places at which to eat. We enjoyed observing the wildlife and being in an environment untarnished by the “rat race.”

It’s definitely worth a visit.

Mrs. Stanley W. Evanson
Wynnewood

 

Tops in Her Book

You couldn’t have picked a finer or more deserving doctor for your December cover than Dr. Peter Sharkey (Top Doctors 2009). In June 2005, we took my mother to him for a knee-replacement consult. She’d endured months of painful injections for knee pain so severe she was in a wheelchair, unable to walk. After a five-minute physical exam, Sharkey diagnosed severe hip arthritis, causing radiating pain to the knee.

Unfortunately, my mother passed away before a hip replacement that, according to Sharkey, would’ve had her walking again. Our family is forever grateful to this kind, compassionate and brilliant surgeon.

Susan Gill
Perkiomenville

 

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Glaring Omission

I was shocked that you omitted child and adolescent psychiatry—not to mention pediatrics—in your profile of Top Doctors (December 2009). As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I can tell you that there is a critical need for patients and families to know the best clinicians in the field of child and adolescent mental health.

Dr. John Williams
Main Line Center for the Family
Rosemont

 

Feeling Left Out

I enjoyed reading about the different private schools in our area (“Private … But Far From Provincial,” September 2009). But I was disappointed to see that one of the area’s gems was overlooked. Kimberton Waldorf School in Kimberton is one of the most interesting and culturally rich schools I’ve had the pleasure of being acquainted with. Its approach is unique and refreshing, deeply imbued with a reverence for nature, artistic and musical pursuits, and an extraordinarily rich curriculum. Students develop into well-rounded, inquisitive young people with a thirst for knowledge, an eye for beauty and confidence in their ability to have a positive impact on the world.

Elisabeth Tarsio
Pottstown

 

Thanks for the Memories

I just read the WWII piece on Marcus Hook (Retrospect, November 2009). My father worked at American Viscose from age 15 to 65, took retirement, was rehired as a consultant and worked another eight years there. As a civil defense “airplane spotter,” I was allowed to go to the roof of “the five-story building” where there was a spotter hut set up—along with anti-aircraft guns.

Don Collins
Tucson, Ariz.

 

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Global Reach

I noted with interest your recognition of the fact that our regional independent schools are neither inherently provincial nor entirely local (“Great Private Schools,” September 2009). While the Perkiomen School sits in Upper Montgomery County, we’ve been a world community for decades, having welcomed students to the region from around the world and across the country. This year alone, we’re proud to welcome students from Italy, Costa Rica, Spain, Germany, Turkey, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Lebanon, Switzerland and a dozen states.

I commend you for recognizing what our schools bring to the fabric of Greater Philadelphia, and I commend my colleagues at those schools presented for their hard work and success building their own global communities.

Christopher R. Tompkins, Headmaster
The Perkiomen School

 

Delicious Read

I’ve been savoring August 2009’s “Thrill of the Grill” cover story. It’s gorgeous and very practical. Behaving in money-saving mode is boring—but now that we’re all in this mess, we have to find upbeat ways to keep our chins up and enjoy what we do have. Thanks for offering fair-weather foods that make us want to stay within the lines.

Susan Baronowksi Smith
West Chester

 

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From the Heart

While your article on Main Line private schools (September 2009) was probably meant to feature the rich resources of the area, unfortunately, for at least our school, Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, the article did a great disservice.

One of the biggest points of misinformation is what was mentioned as our “humanitarian” program. In fact, the program is an integrated humanities program that features art, English, history and music, complemented by strong off-campus trips to such places as the Barnes, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., various houses of worship, and more.

While the school is proud of its crew team, it didn’t need to be singled out. Indeed, our basketball team won the district championship two years in a row.

Community service has always been a part of a Sacred Heart education. And if the article had emphasized the national opportunities through the Network of Sacred Heart School, it would have been a better reflection of the forms service can take. Yes, our little people do sing at retirement homes, but our adolescents engage in myriad projects with students from other Sacred Heart schools.

I appreciate that you wanted to highlight a resource, but facts should be checked to ensure the accuracy of the reporting. In this case, Sacred Heart suffered from sloppy journalism.

Sister Matthew Anita MacDonald
Head of School
Country Day School of the Sacred Heart

 

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Knowing Jack

 

I read with interest Mark E. Dixon’s rather unflattering article on Jack Dempsey in Main Line Today (Retrospect, May 2009). My father, Arthur F. Driscoll, was Jack’s attorney, advisor and friend. He was a frequent dinner guest at my family’s home in Scarsdale, N.Y. I remember one of his wives (I think he had three) accompanying him. She was an actress, Estelle Taylor, and I was fascinated by her glamour. I was about 9.

While vacationing in Naples, Fla., with my dad, Jack joined us for dinner. Everyone in the dining room was rubbernecking. He had two daughters; I don’t know who was the mother. He enrolled them in a Catholic boarding school on my father’s advice. I have no idea where they are now.

In his later years, Dempsey owned a restaurant in New York City and was usually there, meeting and greeting. He attended my dad’s wake and funeral in 1967. That was the last contact I ever had with him.

Ethel Mallory
West Chester

 

Keeping It Real

Dawn E. Warden’s Coatesville: A Diamond in the Rough? (June 2009) was tastefully written and painted a true picture of Coatesville. Many Chester County communities know of some of our trials, but few truly know and understand Coatesville’s present condition. Thank you for taking the time to cover all the bases.

Kristin Geiger
Public Relations Specialist
City of Coatesville

 

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Some Bargain

Your May cover story was an article about great getaways that won’t bust your budget. Good idea in this economy. I read the section on the all-inclusive Winvian resort in Litchfield Hills, Conn. It sounds fabulous, but $1,450-$1,950 per night is hardly a trip that won’t bust your budget.

The issue also featured sandals, one pair of which costs over $700. Get real! Not everyone living on the Main Line has unlimited means—and even those who once did may not anymore. Even when you attempt to gear something to those of us on a real budget, you fail.

Bonnie Davis
Devon

 

Just Right

Thank you for the lovely article you wrote about us in the March issue of Main Line Today (“If It Ain’t Broke …,” Epicure). We’re thrilled when somebody takes the time to notice the small details. You really captured the feel of Vickers.

Amanda Burigatto
Vickers Restaurant
Exton

 

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More Comet Sightings

In reference to “What Kids Want,” Retrospect, January 2009:

I enjoyed your article about Bill Haley and his role in the birth of rock ’n’ roll. The remnants of the original Comets performed at Hurley’s Tavern in Twin Oaks—Delaware County’s last true country bar—until it closed in the 1990s. One of the members then formed a band called the Double Clutchin’ Weasels, which continues to play at local venues, including the Brickette Lounge outside West Chester. So Bill’s influence is still felt locally.

John E. Pickett
Media


Your piece brought back memories of hearing Haley and his Comets at a fair near Booth’s Corner. Must’ve been about 1954. He’d just made it big with “Rock Around the Clock,” and this was sort of a farewell and thanks to his hometown. Guess that dates me.

Mary Dugan
Unionville

 

Keeping It Real

Kudos to Tara Behan for a refreshingly balanced piece on the local real estate market (“Crisis? What Crisis?” March 2009). The author is clearly well informed, and the article well written.

Jeri Thompson
Ardmore

 

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Rock ’n’ Roll Memories

In reference to “What Kids Want,” Retrospect, January 2009:

I was a Comet from 1960 until 1972. I just want to say that you nailed it with your article about Bill Haley. With the many articles claiming that Elvis started rock ’n’ roll—or, worse yet, the Beatles—it was refreshing to see the correct history in your story.

John Kay
Wilmington, Del.

***

Mark Dixon wrote that John Lennon said, “[‘Rock Around the Clock’] grabbed me, like, mentally.” No doubt true, but he was quoted as remembering this in 1981. That would’ve required a Medium as he was shot dead in December of 1980.

John Havelin
Berwyn


Editor’s note: Lennon’s quote was taken from the Haley biography Sound and Glory. Presumably, the author—Haley’s eldest son, John—meant that the interview was published (not conducted) in 1981. The error has been corrected in the online edition of Dixon’s story.
 

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Poor Portrayal

The article by J.F. Pirro concerning David Iams in your October 2008 issue (“Insider for Life”) was found to be greatly disturbing by many. Iams’ apparently excessive drinking is, of course, not a matter of amusement. Innumerable organizations have worked for years to curb this social ill and the resultant tragedy it has brought to so many. Levity has no place in an article appearing in a responsible magazine.

Further, Iams’ gratuitous comments about Ruth Seltzer can only be seen as scurrilous. Ruth was a friend to many, and never in her long-running, distinguished column were negative comments made. She wrote about friends and treated all with respect. Ruth may have been overweight, but she was not obese, as indicated in the Iams article. She was a tireless worker and often brought valuable attention to the charitable community. Sadly, Ruth died of a particularly virulent cancer. Her unique place in Philadelphia has never been filled.

Maree Rambo
Chestnut Hill

 

Establishing Trust

I’m writing to comment on the article “Home, Sweet Home” (Living Well, October 2008) by Stacia Friedman. For the most part, it was helpful, informative and accurate. But I was troubled and confused by the quote at the bottom of the first page. A parent can [surrender] control of her estate by artificially impoverishing herself—giving away the money. But how can that be something a child can do to the parent?

Anyone who is competent should be able to name—or revoke and rename—a durable power-of-attorney agent at any time. If necessary, it can be someone other than a child. Finding a trusted advocate now, and revisiting one’s choice later, should be part of everyone’s planning.

There are many scary stories about exploitation—and they are real. But trusting no one also can lead to neglect and self-destructive consequences. There are many examples of loving, caring, competent and selfless children, nephews, pastors, business associates and distant cousins who, when asked, have performed admirably. Having a legal advisor spell out the arrangement in writing is preferred.

Elaine Swyer
Care Manager and Projects Director
ElderNet of Lower Merion and Narberth

 

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More Praise for Retrospect

I just read with pleasure your recent story about Dan Ellsberg being inspired to resist when he attended the 1969 War Resisters International meeting at Haverford College (“Giving Good Meeting,” August 2008). What a fine piece. I wasn’t aware of the significance of that event in his decision to distribute the Pentagon Papers.

I was a reporter at the Evening Bulletin at the time. I am now living in New York and writing a book that includes information about that era in Philadelphia.

Betty Medsger
New York City

***

I read your article “Good and Faithful Servant” (September 2008) with much interest when it came out. I had the good fortune of being able to refer it to a group of teachers engaged in thinking about threats to First Amendment rights.

Good work.

Randall Miller
Professor of History
Saint Joseph’s University
Philadelphia

 

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No Joke

The illustration you picked to accompany a serious article on in-home care (for seniors) is repellent and unrepresentative of the contents of such a valuable feature story (Living Well, October 2008). Shame on you. I am an over-65 reader.

Delaney
Philadelphia

 

School Pride

Needless to say, we were very pleased to read your extensive article about one-room schoolhouses—particularly ours here at Dunwoody Village (“Class Action,” September 2008). I won’t be surprised if we have an increase in telephone calls from nearby schools wanting to come for a visit. They will be very, very welcome—rain or shine.

Some misquotes: The Pentagon is a fine example of a pentagon (five-sided), and General Howe was routed at the Battle of Whitemarsh (not Brandywine). You might be interested to read a copy of Patriots, Pirates, Heroes & Spies: Stories from Historic Philadelphia, where the story of Lydia Darragh is told.

Thanks again, and more power to you.

Robert Freeman
Newtown Square

 

Restroom Request

I enjoy your magazine and was particularly interested in your article that outlined what the R5 line will be doing in the next two years to improve tracks, buildings and railroad cars [“Where the Tracks Lie,” January 2008]. Most disappointing to me was to learn that the new railroad cars will not have any restroom facilities because of additional cost.

Normal running time from Paoli to downtown Philadelphia is only 30 or 40 minutes, but this doesn’t take into account emergencies that result in trains being held up for as long as one or two hours. I’ve lived in Chicago and three other big cities prior to moving to the Philadelphia area several years ago, and all the cars in those cities have onboard restroom facilities.

If SEPTA is interested in winning customer confidence, it should move its thinking into the 21st century and put restrooms in all its new railroad cars.

James D. Shute
Malvern

 

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Growing Trend

Loved your extensive article on the “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” way of life that has Main Line consumers not just intrigued but participating [August 2008]. Thank you for compiling such an educational piece that has me, one who cares not a stitch for cooking or baking, highly intrigued and motivated to learn even more about the topics you covered.

Susan Hohnsbeen
Gladwyne

 

Matter of Course

I enjoyed “Joining ‘Arnie’s Army’” [Retrospect, June 2008] so much I had to write. I’m not so much a golf enthusiast, but when it comes to the resort history of Devon, my antennas reach high. Marcellus Cox and Montgomery Wilcox indeed had their hands in the development of the original golf course in the Philadelphia area. It wasn’t only near Devon, as you stated in your article; it was in Devon—I live on the former course.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has a collection of golfer’s records—specifically, one that dates back to 1903, which includes some interesting reading on the first golf course for this Main Line area. Or peruse a copy of Devon, a book I co-authored, for more information regarding its former location. The book includes an interesting piece on George Crump, who designed the Pine Valley Golf Course in New Jersey. Crump was the original innkeeper of the once-famous Devon Inn, which was the heart of the Devon resort community.

Margaret DePiano
Devon

 

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Queen’s Approval

A very thoughtful friend brought me the July 2008 issue with J.F. Pirro’s superbly accurate and especially readable article (“Queen of the Chase”) about foxhunting at the Cheshire Hunt, whose kennels are located in Unionville. Every one of the written pages of your article was enchanting and spellbinding, describing the way of life of those who lived under these conditions. Their lives were dedicated to efficiently running the offices of Wall Street brokers, or winning cases in the Supreme Court or county courts in the area—conscientious lawyers and medical doctors of the highest standards. They controlled the health of broodmares and their foals as their parents controlled the standards of racing. This countryside will always be a Valhalla of people of the finest backgrounds who appreciated what God provided here.

Mrs. John B. Hannum
Unionville

 

Earth First

Nice work on "Green Guide '08" [April 2008]. One of our principals was actually reading the issue when he made a commitment to go green. Gardner/Fox is now in the process of developing a green remodeling strategy. And one of the other principals, firmly committed to the green movement, has biked to work almost every day this year.

Holly Douglas Charles, Marketing Specialist
Gardner/Fox Associates, Bryn Mawr

 

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Tops in Her Book

There he was on the second page of your "Top Dentists" feature [June 2008]—Dr. Jack Fitzgerald. I've always known Dr. Fitzgerald to be an excellent dentist, but recently I decided to change my smile and take the plunge on a set of matching veneers. He's a genius at making a smile look natural.

Mary E. Sigel
Berwyn

 

Memories of Mary

Thank you for your insightful article about Mary Knowles [Retrospect, May 2008]. I remember her well. She was a very dignified and refined lady. Growing up in Plymouth Meeting in the 1950s, I spent many, many happy hours in the William Jeanes Memorial Library. As a preteen, I knew that there was some "controversy" surrounding her, but I didn't fully understand the issues of McCarthyism. I'm proud to have known a woman of her values. Your article brought back a lot of fond memories.

Rena Huntsman
Malvern

 

Last (But Not Least)

Sometimes the best is last-page 156 of your April (2008) issue [End of the Line]. Reid Champagne's article was tops.

Mary McNally
Havertown

 

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