To the editor: Because of all the nastiness I have seen online about people coming from Philadelphia, I would like to write something good, especially about race.

I’ve lived here most of my life. I was born in Philadelphia in 1952, and lived there for seven weeks until I was adopted by a Bethlehem couple. I lived there until I was 12 and lived most of the rest of my life here, other than some years in Harrisburg.

While in Harrisburg, I grew to love what was called Philly soul music. In 1950, a black boy was born in Philadelphia. Of course, things were segregated all over.

Later in life I read his book. Amazing! We liked the same music, wore the same skates, watched Sally Starr and Popeye, and loved “American Bandstand.” We were both only kids. I had piano lessons; he taught himself drums. He had talent; me, not so much. I became a nurse; he became “the black Elvis.”

When I heard the lead singer of “If You Don’t Know Me by Now” — Teddy Pendergrass — I never knew that I would be reading his book. This Philadelphia guy who died in 2010 was a superstar singer who became paralyzed at 31. He sang with that same soulful voice in those 27 years in a wheelchair and did more for others than most could do standing. And he stayed in Philadelphia.

I was lucky enough to find his family, write to his now 100-year-old mom and helped with his family fan club with his cousin Alberta, who I consider my “sis.”

Color does not matter in music — or in anything else.

My daughter went to school to become a pharmacist and spent six years in Philadelphia. One night I was staying at a hotel there and an alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. We all left and were standing in Philadelphia streets. Nothing mattered but that you were safe in a Philly street. My daughter married a guy whose dad was from Philadelphia. She met him in Bethlehem while wearing a Philadelphia Eagles shirt and she lives close to there with their two girls. It’s the same place, but not the same time.

Maryanne Kuczynski


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