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.

Three Mile Island

Brent D. Glass’s column [“Executive Director’s Message,” Spring 1999] on Three Mile Island (TMI) brought back many memories. I was a young, enthusiastic Westinghouse Nuclear Energy Systems employee based near Pittsburgh at the time of the accident. I had the opportunity of being sent by Westinghouse to TMI as part of the repair and recovery crew. I spent three weeks helping to install an emergency cooling system that was subsequently never used. I have always viewed TMI as an example of a nuclear plant whose many layers of fail-safe safety features did work. While the accident was expensive and messy, and caused great psychological hardship, the ultimate disaster never occurred. If anything, nuclear plants have become much safer because of what was learned from the accident at Three Mile Island. They should continue to be a part of our nation’s energy mix.

Joseph F. Markosek
Monroeville, Pa.

Joseph E Markosek, elected by the 25th District to Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives, is a member of its Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.


A Plaque for Priestley

My wife and I were holidaying in Pennsylvania with one of your subscribers when his copy of the Summer 1999 edition of Pennsylvania Heritage arrived. Being the lecturer responsible for history at Daventry Tertiary College in Northamptonshire, England, I was obviously interested in your article on Joseph Priestley [see “Joseph Priestley, Catalyst of the Enlightenment” by Sharon Hernes Silverman]. The Dissenting Academy that Priestley attended still stands on Sheaf Street in Daventry, and backs onto the non-conformist Independent Chapel, built in 1722, where Priestley would have worshipped. Internally the Academy and Chapel are much altered from Priestley’s days in Daventry, but externally he would no doubt still recognize the buildings. One addition he would notice on the exterior wall of the Academy is a plaque inscribed “DODDERIDGE ACADEMY / JOSEPH PRIESTLEY. LLD. FRS. / THEOLOGIAN AND MAN OF SCIENCE / was a STUDENT here / 1752-1755.” Priestley’s stay in Daven­try was for a relatively short time but it was an important period in his formative years.

Colin Davenport
Daventry, England


Honoring Mettle

In reference to your article “Pennsylvanians-­at-Arms: The Pennsylvania Military Museum” [by Rod Snyder, Spring 1999]: It ain’t the Congressional Medal of Honor – it’s the Medal of Honor. Period. Don’t care what the Medal of Honor Society does – the Army doesn’t have a Congressional Medal of Honor and never did.

Tom Hendrix
Carlisle, Pa.

The Medal of Honor awarded by the Department of the Navy was created one year before the Army’s. The Army’s Medal of Honor has always been distinct from that awarded by the Navy and the Marines. The Navy’s medal can be awarded for heroism in the face of natural perils at sea not involving combat. There is also a distinct Air Force Medal of Honor. Congressional Medal of Honor came into popular use because the official presentation statement includes the phrase “in the name of the Congress of the United States.” Although the magazine article used this term, exhibit labels at the Pennsylvania Military Museum do not.


Pix This!

At first I thought the cover of your Spring 1999 issue was brazen and out of character for a “classy” magazine like Pennsylvania Heritage. I quickly realized, though, that my reaction was unfounded. You have the editorial content to back it up! Your articles are strong and you need strong images. Since I’ve changed my mind, I’ve been showing friends this issue, and I now describe the cover photo as “eye-catching,” “attention-getting,” and “provocative.” What an idea! Keep up the good work. Keep surprising us too.

Chris Black
Philadelphia, Pa.

The cover of the Spring 1999 edition of Pennsylvania Heritage featured a vintage photograph of Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton, the first female bodybuilder in the United States. The image accompanied John D. Fair’s article entitled “America’s Mecca for Muscle Builders,” adopted from his new book, Muscletown USA: Bob Hoffman and the Manly Culture of York Barbell, published by the Penn State University Press (see “Bookshelf” in the fall 1999 issue).


Scooping the Editor

I was delighted to see a profile of Michael J. O’Malley III, a fellow Schuylkill Countian, in the Winter 1999 edition [“Scooping the Editor: Inside Pennsylvania Heritage – An Interview with Michael J. O’Malley III” by Suzanne McInerney]. A publication reflects the mindset of its editor. Even before meeting Mr. O’Malley, years of reading the magazine made me feel he must be a man of passionate convictions with a firm commitment to the preservation of Pennsylvania’s past. Suzanne McInerney’s interview confirmed that feeling.

Ione Geier
Pottsville, Pa.