Letters presents readers' comments and reactions to specific articles in Pennsylvania Heritage, the initiatives of PHMC, and other developments in the historical, cultural and museum communities of Pennsylvania.

Nellie Bly

Thank you for the most interesting “Pro­files” in the Winter 2003 edition featur­ing Nellie Bly. The article failed to men­tion, however, that Nellie Bly was recent­ly honored with a commemorative thir­ty-seven-cents-postage stamp by the United States Postal Service (USPS). According to Francia G. Smith, vice president and consumer advocate for the USPS, “the Postal Service has a proud tradition of honoring those special people who have had a significant influence on American history, art, and culture.” Bly was one of the four journalists composing the “Women in Journalism” stamp panel issued in September 2002. Other than Pearl S. Buck, a Bucks Coun­ty resident but not a Keystone State native, I believe Nellie Bly is one of the few female Pennsylvanians to be honored with a postage stamp.

Barbara D. Hall
Kennett Square, Pa.

Barbara D. Hall is archival specialist, pictor­ial collections, at the Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, Delaware, which hous­es an important collection of books, pam­phlets, trade catalogues and cards, manu­scripts, photographs, ephemera, and audiovi­sual materials documenting the history of American business and technology. She has provided a number of rare images to illus­trate articles and regular departments appearing in Pennsylvania Heritage.

 

Profile Perfect

I enjoyed “Profiles” in the Summer 2003 edition that featured Roberto Clemente. The profile describes Branch Rickey as a “Pirate scout and Hall of Fame pitcher.” A Baseball Hall of Fame member, yes, but not primarily for his playing ability. He invented the farm system as we know it, integrated the major leagues, and made a habit of turning last-place teams into first-place champions. Rickey the scout was actually the general manager of the Pirates at that time. In 1954-1955, he was just coming off trading Ralph Kiner, a future Hall of Famer and the major league’s number one home-run hitter, and was starting to assemble the Pirates team that would defeat the New York Yankees in 1960. Branch Rickey knew talent when he saw it, as he did with Clemente. Just before the draft in 1955, he had been “railroaded” out of Brook­lyn, and was more than happy to beat the Bums at getting Clemente into his Lineup. Just the same, it may have been harder for Clemente as a Dodger, what with two of Brook­lyn’s three outfield posi­tions handled by perenni­al all-stars Duke Snider and Carl Furillo (“the Reading Rifle”). Also, Rickey was a catcher, not a pitcher, and not a great one, either. As a St. Louis Brown, he was behind the plate when the Yankees set the record for stolen bases in one game!

Daniel J. Dinardo
Penn Valley, Pa.

Daniel J. DiNardo is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

I hesitate to be supercritical, but your tribute to Roberto Clemente states that Branch Rickey was a Hall of Fame pitch­er. In truth, Rickey played a total of one hundred and nineteen games in the major leagues (1905-1907 and 1914), all as a catcher or in the outfield, with a .239 batting average – hardly Hall of Fame credentials! Rickey was inducted into the Hall of Fame mainly for his impact as a general manager, for which he is best known for bringing Jackie Robinson to the majors in 1947 with his Brooklyn Dodgers. Also, in the Summer 2003 issue, the biography of Ethel Waters [“The Soulful and Sultry Miss Ethel Waters” by Edward McCann] needs a minor correction. Waters was not the first African American nominated for an Academy Award for the best supporting actress. Hattie McDaniel was nominated and won for her portrayal of Mammy in Gone With The Wind (1939). I’m sorry to bring these mistakes to your attention, but film and baseball history are my areas of interest.

Andrea Faling
Lincoln, Neb.

The editor thanks Andrea Faling, associate director of the library/archives at the Nebras­ka State Historical Society, headquartered in Lincoln, for her corrections.

 

Hopewell

Joe Zentner’s story on Hopewell [“Strolling Through History at Hopewell Village,” Summer 2003] is, if you’ll par­don the pun, “a blast.” Seriously, though, I enjoyed seeing this important historic site through his eyes. I have visited Hopewell Village several times and now I want to visit the Cornwall Iron Furnace, which you included in your notes as a “must see.” Every issue of your fine mag­azine leads me to yet another historic place that I somehow missed in my sev­enty-four years as a Pennsylvanian.

Lewis S. Fine
Stroudsburg, Pa.