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Something Special

Thank you so very much to the writer Cara J. Hayden for what I thought was a superb article, “Pitt’s Burgh” (Summer ’08). In my view, you got it exactly right: Pittsburgh surely is something special, and Pitt’s relationship to the city is very much so, as well.

Douglas S. Bergmann
Arts and Sciences ’68
South Orange, N.J.

Progress, Please

Thank you to Pitt’s Katherine Wisner for pioneering in the field of postpartum depression and the other emotional difficulties pregnant women and new moms face. I dealt with postpartum after the birth of my first child, and it is a horrifying experience. It is sad to think of what women went through in the days before these medical issues were taken seriously.

If it wasn’t for the help of my doctors and my family, I might never have had another child. Still, some in our society treat women facing these issues as weak or inferior. With research from the likes of Wisner and others pursuing these topics, maybe someday that attitude will be a thing of the past.

Kathryn Sinicrope
Arts and Sciences ’94
Naperville, Ill.

Finding Charles Florence

I am writing to commend you on the piece about Charles Florence in the Summer ’08 issue. I found his story both inspiring and enlightening. Given the recent historical events in our country, it is important for all of us to understand the sacrifices made and barriers broken by ALL people, especially those in our alumni family. I was even prouder to learn that Charles Florence and I are brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. The fine lineage of our dear fraternity from brothers Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesse Owens, Thurgood Marshall, and Charles Florence, just to name a few, has a long history of extraordinary leaders. It makes me feel extremely proud to know that my chapter (Omicron Chapter) of my fraternity has made an indelible mark on the history of my University…our University. Special thanks to Pitt Magazine for your great work.

E. Lindsey Maxwell II, Esq.
General Studies ’92
Alexandria, Va.

Historic Times

To be writing a letter to the editor of Pitt Magazine at this historic time in the life of America is indeed propitious and appropriate. I have just reread “The Great Debater” (Summer ’08), an in-depth profile of scholar, pioneering educator, gentleman, and Pitt alumnus Charles Florence. I was simply delighted to read all about him and his wonderful, influential life. However, I must say the most intriguing part of the story for me was mention of his equally talented wife, Virginia Proctor Powell, the first Black graduate of the Carnegie Library School (now Pitt’s School of Library and Information Sciences). A full account of her life was written by Arthur C. Gunn, a Pitt alumnus from the school. The story, “A Black Woman Wants To Be a Professional,” appeared in American Libraries, February 1989. It detailed the struggle…and frustrations Ms. Proctor Powell endured. She paved the way for my entrance into the library school 20 years later, in 1943. It always saddened me to know that, because of the racial climate that prevailed at the time, she was not hired to work in any Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, even though she was fully qualified and equally trained. It fell to me to become the first African American librarian hired to work in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Times had changed. My colleagues were always gracious and helpful, treating me with respect. All of us were keenly aware that my performance and acceptance would determine whether or not other Blacks would/could follow me into the library school and subsequent employment in the city library system. I am proud to say that it happened in great measure.

Vivian Davidson Hewitt
Library and Information Sciences ’44
Retired Chief Librarian, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
New York, N.Y.

University Ties

I was recently forwarded the Charles Florence article (Summer 08) by a dear friend who lives in Pittsburgh. I found it to be an intriguing and interesting read. Prior to receiving this article, I knew nothing of Mr. Florence, but since receiving it, I have asked my archivist to find more information about him. I am also a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, from the Katz Graduate School of Business. I currently serve as president of Virginia State University. It is my intention to share Mr. Florence’s achievements with our students. Thank you.

Eddie N. Moore, Jr.
Business ’75G
Petersburg, Va.

Pittsburghese

Your Summer 2008 issue of Pitt Magazine brought back some reminiscence of Pittsburghese. In meeting new people during my extensive travels, I found that many had never visited the city before but were interested in hearing about the area from a native. Even my two children (now ages 37 and 40) were intrigued, especially when they heard my Christmas song:

Younz better watch out
Younz better not cry
Younz better not pout
I’m tellin’ younz hows come,
Sandy Claws is comin’ dahntahn

Hail to Pitt!

Harry Mehalic
Arts and Sciences ’51
Auburn, Calif.

Best Man

I have been receiving Pitt Magazine for quite a few years, and I always enjoy reading the articles about the University and what is new at Pitt. You can imagine my surprise while looking through the Spring ’08 issue: What should I find inside but a full-page picture of my college roommate, Tim Pecsenye. I read the article about his involvement with the University and the Pitt Alumni Association. Impressive. I was even more surprised when I saw the fact that his only absence at a Pitt Panther football game was due to a wedding that he attended (as best man) on the evening of August 31, 1985—the wedding of me and Beth Nypaver (SHRS ’85). In fact, Tim was the person who introduced me to Beth. Yes, I am the one responsible for Tim’s only missed Pitt Panther football game in all these years. But, after 23 years of marriage, two homes, three children (the oldest, Ryan, is considering a college career at Pitt) and all the memories of a lifetime that literally started at the Pitt campus, Beth and I would say it certainly was worth it. I hope it was for Tim, as well. I was happy to read about him. Hail to Pitt!

Scott B. Parks
Library and Information Sciences ’84
Johnson, N.Y.

Update

Editor’s Note: Last issue, Pitt Magazine included a story, “An All-Time Winner,” about the personal and career feats of alumnus and trustee Herb Douglas (EDUC ’48, ’50G), who won the bronze medal in the long jump at the 1948 Olympics in London. This summer, Douglas traveled to the 2008 Beijing Olympics to mark the 60th anniversary of his long-jump win. He has attended 10 Olympics since 1948, and he recently wrote: “These 2008 games were the greatest Olympics I have ever witnessed since standing on the podium, receiving my medal.” Congratulations, Mr. Douglas, on your winning ways.

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