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.

Left Hanging

It’s always interesting to see articles in a statewide publication regarding the Wilkes-Barre area. As the new executive director of the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society, now known as the Luzerne County Historical Society, it was a treat to read “Joe Palooka: Wilkes-Barre Boxing Legend with a National Punch” by William C. Kashatus in the Spring 2000 issue. Knowing that Ham Fisher, creator of the comic strip, was a Wilkes­-Barre native, I had never come across a basic history of his life – or that of the comic strip itself – except in brief articles in local newspapers. This article covered all aspects of Fisher’s life and included many illustrations, which added much impact. One item, however, should be mentioned. On page 29, the last page of the article, the author mentioned the fact that the cartoonist had left notes before committing suicide. Unfortunately, the end of the paragraph appeared to be deleted, and I felt as if I was left hanging at one of the most critical moments of the Joe Palooka story. Perhaps an erratum should be published in a forthcoming edition with the missing pieces. Nonetheless, the article was interesting and informative – congratulations to the magazine staff for once again producing an outstanding issue!

Jesse C. Teitelbaum
Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Indeed, several lines of this article disappeared without a trace during the final production phases. The following concludes the section in question: “Two days after Christmas, Ham Fisher committed suicide with an overdose of medication. Two notes were found near his body. ‘God will forgive me,’ one read, ‘for I have provided for my family.’ After Fisher’s death, the McNaught Syndicate continued ‘Joe Palooka,’ first with New York cartoonist Moe Leff, and later with Tony Dipreta of Connecticut.” The editor regrets the error.


Final Answer?

I enjoyed Eric DeLony’s article, “Bridg­ing the Past for the Future,” in the Winter 2000 issue, but I have a question about the cover photograph of a bridge at “New Geneva, Fayette County.” Having worked at New Geneva when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers replaced our old Lock and Dam 7 with the Grays Landing Lock and Dam, I could not picture this bridge in my memory of the area. I also checked our historic bridge photograph collection, and this bridge resembles none of the local bridges. The Monongahela Railroad bridge upriver of New Geneva is the closest structure, but it would not have been paved and the town would not be visible in the background. Have you had any others question this caption? If you have any information to share about this photograph, I would be most appreciative.

Conrad Weiser
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Conrad Weiser is a member of the Pittsburgh District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The bridge shown on the front cover of the Winter 2000 issue of Pennsylvania Heritage is described as being in New Geneva, Fayette County. No such bridge was ever dreamed of in New Geneva. This bridge may have been the one crossing Cheat River into Point Marion. I trust you will be able to locate this bridge in its proper locale.

James D. South
Greensboro, Pa.

The photo on the front cover of the Winter 2000 issue is in error. The picture of the railroad bridge in New Geneva is not in New Geneva. I was born in New Geneva.

Steve Krysak
Elverson, Pa.

A pencil inscription on the reverse of this image identified the location as New Geneva. Both the author and editor are extremely interested in learning the true identity and location of this bridge. Readers able to help solve this mystery are asked to write this magazine.


Manipulating History

Lorett Treese’s article about the Farmers’ Club of Pennsylvania [see “The Moon Men of Agriculture,” Spring 2000] was excellent! These gentlemen were so aware on page 12 showing the members gathered in 1946 is so interesting, in part because visual history was even being manipulated back then, years before PhotoShop. I quote the Farmers’ Club minutes of that year. “In the absence of the Secretary [George W. Pepper], Mr. Walter M. Jeffords consented to be photographed with the Farmers. By a trick of photography, a likeness of the Secretary was subsequently substituted for his.”

John M. Groff
Philadelphia, Pa.

John M. Groff is executive director of the Wyck Association, which administers Wyck, a colonial period house located in Philadel­phia’s Germantown section.