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.

Sowing a Wealth

I read with much interest “Sowing a Wealth Uncommon” by Myra K. Jacobsohn in the Spring 2003 edition. The garden tradition established early by the Quakers and Germans appears two centuries later in the vegetable and flower gardens of Eastern and Southern European immigrants to the coalfields of southwestern Pennsylvania. In 2001, James Abrams had as his University of Pennsylvania dissertation the gardens of the H.C. Frick Coke Company towns in Fayette and Westmoreland Counties. Black and white 8″ by 10″ contact prints of those gardens were made in 1910-1915 by Harry B. Springer, copies of which are in the Pennsylvania State Archives as the William Cramer Collec­tion (MG-218). As with the earlier gardens, these too were regularly and artistically arranged, providing food for body and soul.

John A. Enman
Danville, Pa.


Radio Days

I recently received a free copy of Pennsylvania Heritage, which I had sent for online, and was pleasantly surprised to see the article about the state historical marker for Pittsburgh radio station KDKA. My paternal grandfather, Charles Robert Bickerton, was a radio technician and engineer for KDKA, between 1920 and 1949, the year he retired. He had thirty-two years service with Westinghouse, twenty-nine of which were with KDKA as a “pickup” man and radio technician. He was a technician at the world’s first commercial radio broadcast at KDKA on November 2, 1920, of the Harding-Cox presidential election returns. Our family has several copies of the picture your magazine used of the three men at this first commercial broadcast. I also have an article about my grandfather’s retirement from KDKA, stating that he was called by the local press the “grand old man of KDKA’s technical department.” I have several photos of him when he was working with KDKA; one is of him and Lowell Thomas and others and another of him and two men with a KDKA car in front of Pittsburgh’s Syria Mosque in the 1920s or 1930s. Unfortunately, I did not know my grandfather well, since he was rather ill the last few years of his life and died when I was only seven.

Betiy Bickerton Coldren
Reedsville, Pa.


An Attribution

As I was looking at your Fall 2003 edition, I noticed the “Sharing the Common Wealth” photograph on the back cover of a decorated blanket chest of which you were uncertain of the Pennsylvania county of origin. We have sold several of this type of chest at our auction firm and have attributed them to either Berks County or Lebanon County. I thought this bit of information might be useful to you and your readers.

Ronald O. Pook
Downingtown, Pa.

Ronald O. Pook is vice president for auction management and appraisal service for Pook and Pook, Inc., of Downingtown.


Mixing It Up

Thank you for the wonderful piece about Tom Mix [“Profiles,” Fall 2003]. It brought back two memories of my youth. The Mix circus was in Warren at some point in the thirties. My dad took me to the show and I had the great thrill of sitting on Tom’s lap! You did not dwell sufficiently on the radio program that came on five days a week at 5:45 p.m. I saved Ralston box tops for years so that I could obtain chaps, six guns, holster, and an authentic “just like Tom’s” hat. I wore them proudly for a year or so. My parents drew the line, however, when I announced that I was saving cereal box tops for a pony. The radio program had the Old Wrangler who introduced each show with “It’s Ralston time so let’s get goin’,” and then we went out to the ranch with Tom, Jane, and Jimmie. What memories.

William M. Hill Jr.
Warren, Pa.