‘Blown away’ by elephant article

I bought a copy of the Local this afternoon and was completely blown away by the article that Carole Verona wrote about me (“Wyndmoor’s ‘elephant lady’ trying to prevent extinction,” May 15). I was not expecting it to be such a big feature, and I’m really appreciative that Len Lear gave so much valuable space to the article. If it gets people to think about the plight of the elephants, I will be tremendously happy. I thank you both for your support and generosity in highlighting this critical issue. The whole spread is just fabulous! It made me feel great.

Judith Hain



Missy Lee was ‘a great friend’

Thank you for the beautiful piece on Missy Lee (“Reflections on a freelance writer with a heart of gold,” May 15). She was a great friend; it’s hard to believe she’s gone. Wonderful photo, too. I met Missy 35 years ago when I performed French songs at Houston School’s Back-to-School night. (She had read the publicity in the Local.) She approached me “backstage” and asked if she could interview me for The Intelligencer. “Miss” (she loved that sobriquet) gathered quite a bit of information and got everything exactly right!

By the way, the night I met her, she was driving a big old station wagon with a large sticker affixed to the bumper: “Fight Prime Time. Read a Book!”

Claudia Beechman Cohen



Remembering Frank Salemno

Editor’s note: Few pieces have attracted comments online the way our recent obituary of Chestnut Hill Barber Frank “Frankie Smacks” Salemno. The piece has lead reader comments since it was published on May 7. Here we reprint a few comments by people who recalled Salemno.

As anyone who spent long Saturdays waiting for their turn in the chair will attest, Frank was a true Chestnut Hill institution. His passion for cutting hair was surpassed only by his love for his customers and the joy he brought so many. His smiles, laughs, smacks, hugs (wrestles) and, most of all, his stories will be remembered by all. Hope you’re getting the straight razor in the sky, Frank. Rest in peace. – Ted Swain

I liked Frank a lot. He always cut my hair and, yes, I got the traditional smack on my neck when he was finished. He helped me out once. The local VFW was just down the street but every time I tried to get in there it was closed. He gave me the number of the quartermaster there and I got to finally join. I later became the quartermaster myself for quite some time. Frank will be missed. – Gene Willard

I had the honor of being smacked by Frank for my 13 years in Chestnut Hill. He truly was an institution. I believe he was also the president of the Venetian Club for a number of years. Frank told me that he participated in four landings in the South Pacific during the war; wounded twice. No doubt he is eating rivets and spitting out bullets up in heaven. RIP, Frank. I am honored to have sat in your chair. – Jim Black

Classic Frank story: After college, I came back to Philadelphia to work on a couple of political campaigns. One day, Frank’s cutting my hair and he asks who I’m working for, and I tell him. He said he liked that candidate, and he wanted me to get a sign to put in his window. This was rare in Chestnut Hill, as many local merchants don’t like to take sides in campaigns for fear of offending their customers and losing their business. So on the day I brought the sign in, Frank asked me to go and tape it up in the window. One customer, who was waiting in one of the wooden chairs against the wall, asked with a smirk “Frank, if the sign stays up, do you mind if the tips go down?” Frank, who was shaving a customer in the chair, responded in in the quintessential Frank way. He stopped shaving the customer, and slowly turned around, pointing the razor at the customers, and he said “If the tips start going down, people are going to start losing ears!” – Brian