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.

Here’s Hess’s!

When my sisters and I were growing up on the outskirts of Philadelphia, it was a treat for us to be taken into the city on shopping trips. We had Gimbel’s, Strawbridge & Gothier, Lit Brothers, and John Wanamaker’s, but it was Hess’s in Allentown that really thrilled us. Once a year, on a Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we’d make the trip with our parents to visit our cousins and aunt and uncle living in Allentown. Our excitement grew as we drove through downtown Allentown and we shrieked with delight when my father pulled up in front of the store and announced, “Ladies, Here’s Hess’s!” I was nine or ten years old when my mother took me to my first lunch at Hess’s Patio Restaurant. I especially remember how glamorous and grown up I felt. I wore white gloves and a hat. Wanamaker’s Crystal Tea Room may have been elegant, but the Patio was exciting!

Mary Louise Hope
Narberth, Pa.


If you lived in the Lehigh Valley in the late fifties and wanted to impress visiting relatives or friends, you’d inevitably take them to Hess Brothers. My father-in-law traveled extensively but he always enjoyed his stops at Hess Brothers, from which he’d usually emerge with at least a dozen ties, several shirts, a hat or two, and a few braces. I can still recall seeing the small mountain of boxes with the store name in distinctive red, blue, and green script. He and my mother-in-law would often lunch at the Patio, where they’d both be on the watch for celebrities. When they returned home to Chicago, they’d regale their friends with news of their “star sightings.”

Harold B. F. Keiper II
Palm Beach, Fla.

Hawk Mountain

In an otherwise excellent article about Hawk Mountain [“Soaring Above ‘this school in the clouds’” by Nancy J. Keeler], Roger Tory Peterson’s date of death is given as 1966. Peterson, in fact, died in 1996, just before completing a new edition of his seminal Field Guide to the Birds. He was born and raised in Jamestown, New York, twenty miles north of my home in Warren. Jamestown is the site of the famous Roger Tory Peterson Institute, dedicated to the memory of the world’s most famous birder.

William M. Hill Jr.
Warren, Pa.


Dishing It Up

The interview in the most recent issue was outstanding (“Dishing It Up With William Woys Weaver” by Kyle R. Weaver, Fall 2004]. As I read through this feature, the voices of my Pennsylvania Dutch mother, aunts, and grandmother came to mind. I particularly remember baking day at our house. The kitchen was steamy with the aroma of all the wonderful homemade breads, puddings, pies, and cakes. My favorites were cinnamon kuchen and potato biscuits, which I haven’t had for many a year. Your magazine whets my appetite for the “good old days.”

Richard K. Klaus
Philadelphia, Pa.


William Woys Weaver has done it again! I collect cookbooks and own, I think, nearly every one he has written. This issue of Pennsylvania Heritage will earn a space on the bookshelf in my country kitchen, where my friends and I share recipes and many happy hours. If milk is our official state beverage, I think apple schnitz pie should be our official state dessert. Thanks for including the recipe for it too!

Alice Ensminger
Reading, Pa.


Poor George

I think it was brilliant to run the article about George Washington in Philadelphia [“Slaves at the President’s House” by William C. Kashatus, Fall 2004] during an election year. Too few Americans realize the importance of history, and I hope this story will capture their attention. Reading this article gave me an even greater appreciation for the issues that affect our chief executives. No president has, it seems, been immune from pressures of the day, be they social, political, or cultural. Poor George Washington, that is!

Joseph W. Paul
Pittsburgh, Pa.