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.

Class in Camelot

The early 1960s may have seen America’s “Camelot” of President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, but we had our own magical kingdom here in Pennsylvania as well with the administration of Governor William W. Scranton. I enjoyed the recent article on Governor Scranton [“The Gentle­man from Pennsylvania: An Interview with William W. Scranton” by Michael J. O’Malley III, Winter 2001] because I was so terribly impressed by his foresight, as well as by his and his wife’s style and charisma. I distinctly remember reading about Mrs. Scranton’s milking of the cow, which Governor Scranton recalled in this engaging interview. The photograph remains etched in my memory because I could not help but think this was, as the article states, “a Class Act.” I enjoyed reading about the Scrantons during those years because they brought such grace, dignity, wisdom, compassion, integrity, and style to a political realm that had been frequently sullied with disgrace and dishonor. As a young woman I remember watching the televised debates featuring Governor Scranton and I still hear the words of my father: “They don’t make ’em like that any more.” How true, how sad.

Emily Black Phelps
Miami, Fla.


Nothing Left

The article concerning Jock Yablonski and the United Mine Workers of America [“Living for Reform” by Kenneth C. Wolensky, Winter 2001] was quite interesting. There was a very important trial held in Erie in March 1973 that was not mentioned. The trial, which was one of the most important in the case, lasted several weeks. Both state and national media were well represented! I read the book by Arthur H. Lewis, Murder By Contract: The People v. “Tough Tony” Boyle, and it covered the episode very, very well. In fact, in my opinion the book is outstanding – there was nothing left to be desired. Thank you for the absorbing article.

Joseph N. Cherico
Erie, Pa.

Sgt. Joseph N. Cherico is retired from Hie Erie County Sheriff Department.


The Grain Reaper

The piece in “Currents” entitled “Grown and Sown” [Winter 2001] is an excellent account of farming in the nineteenth century. The picture shows wheat being harvested using a reaper-binder, but the caption describes the machine as a combine. A combine is a device that cuts the grain and threshes it in the same operation; hence, the term combine from “combination.” My family used for many years a McCormick version of the machine pictured. The grain was cut, moved by canvas belts, tied in bundles with binder twine, and dropped onto a foot-controlled carrying device that allowed the operator to leave the bundles in rows. The bundles were shocked by hand, allowed to dry for several days, and hauled to the threshing machine where the grain and straw were separated. Although this is a nineteenth-­century process, we used it until the 1950s. Small farmers in Potter County were not able to afford the technology used on large operations. The three-horse hitch pictured in the photograph was the kind we used until a tractor replaced the animals. As a child and teen – as soon as I could drive a horse or lift a bundle of grain, I was a worker – I spent many hours each year in the ways described in the piece about the exhibit at the Chester County Historical Society. The work may have been a major reason that I became a high school teacher of English and left the farm.

Floyd Lounesbury
Galeton, Pa.

The picture of harvesting wheat in Chester County shows a binder, not a combine. If you look carefully, you will note that the grain is being cut by a sycle in front, dropping on a canvas, and going into the machinery and being bound in bundles, then dropped into piles. It will then be shocked and remain in the field until the grain is threshed. If the equipment had been a combine, you would see a pipe into which the grain was fed, as well as a container for holding the grain until it could be dumped into a truck or wagon to take it to an elevator for storage. A combine cuts the grain and separates it from the stalk, thus eliminating shocking and threshing the grain. Its invention was a wonderful timesaver for farmers!

Rosemary Bowers Levreault
New Cumberland, Pa.

The photograph of harvesting wheat in Chester County appeared with a piece describing a recent exhibition at the Chester County Historical Society, “Grown in Chester County: The Story of Nineteenth­-Century Farming.” An inscription on this image identified the machine as “a horse­-drawn combine,” but we bow to the experts who have identified it correctly.