Philly's favorite Founding Father
The sad news of Ben Franklin impersonator Ralph Archbold's death ("Ralph Archbold, known for portraying Franklin," Wednesday) brought back a very happy memory of traveling with him in 1987, when I served as director of marketing for We the People 200, the bicentential celebration of the U.S. Constitution.
Ad man Brian Tierney, Ralph, and I flew to Dr. Pepper's corporate headquarters outside Dallas to solicit their sponsorship of a float in the Sept. 17 Constitution Day parade. Ralph, of course, traveled in full Dr. Franklin garb, with shiny, black boots, bifocals, and cane. We felt like superstars. We were upgraded to first class on all our flights, were greeted and followed by scores of children and their parents, and were warmly embraced by the folks at Dr. Pepper (though we left without a sale). We all had a great time.
Ralph Archbold was a wonderful ambassador for Philadelphia - he will be missed.
— Mary G. Gregg, Bala Cynwyd, email@example.com
I was saddened by the death of Ralph Archibold. He will be missed.
In 2002, I hosted a meeting about historic properties for the National Fire Protection Association and arranged for Ralph to address the group. One of the questions he was asked was: "About how long have you been doing this?" He replied, "Let me see. I died about 300 years ago, but 29 years ago I came back to life and began greeting people."
He never left character.
— John E. Kampmeyer, Springfield
Jewelers Row is worth preserving
I read with dismay a letter contending that the Inquirer's decision to showcase Jewelers Row and similar "unguarded gems" draws attention only to their heterogeneity and dilapidation ("Jewelers Row's time is up," Wednesday). It also said, "I see no unique features that are worth preserving so as to prevent the demolition and [the] construction of something new and vibrant."
What relevant expertise makes such a view worthy of public attention?
The 700 block of Sansom Street has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1984. The nomination that placed it there speaks eloquently of these buildings historical and aesthetic value. The same may be said of pending nominations for the particular properties Toll Bros. wishes to demolish for a luxury condo tower.
There's a field called historic preservation, in which people are trained to make such judgments. A tiny percentage of Philadelphia's building stock has even been surveyed for historical significance by the City Historical Commission, whose budget is less than those of similar agencies in big cities such as Baltimore and New Orleans and small ones such as Cambridge, Mass.
These things need to change, and presumably they will. In the meantime, summary evaluations based on gut feelings are about as useful in this context as medical advice from your taxi driver.
— Aaron Wunsch, assistant professor of historic preservation, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Help trump Trump's order
The month of March ended with President Trump using his executive powers to dismantle President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, the most significant step our country has ever taken toward addressing climate change. With this action, Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change. Without the Clean Power Plan, it will be improbable for our country to adhere to a decreased carbon agenda.
In response, Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) has introduced a bill, the Clean Air, Healthy Kids Act, to counter Trump's executive order. If passed, this bill will maintain our prior protections, continuing our move toward energy independence while protecting our flourishing green economy.
If not adequately supported, this bill will surely be remembered as the environment's swan song. Call your senators and demand that they cosponsor this bill.
— Allison Sevillano, PennEnvironment volunteer, Walllingford, firstname.lastname@example.org
Taking fun out of the crosswords
My husband and I, and many friends and neighbors, are very disappointed and disgusted with the daily crossword puzzles. I find no purpose in beginning on Monday with a puzzle that is so extremely easy that it's insulting. By Thursday, the puzzle is beginning to get our goat, and by Friday and Saturday, we don't even attempt to try to solve the clues. That is also insulting.
I realize there are more-pressing issues in the world, but the puzzle is usually the only bright spot in the dreary, depressing news that we have to deal with today.
— Christine M. Wilson, Ocean City