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Host: Scott LaMar

"PA Stories: Well Told" author

Written by Claire Porter, Smart Talk associate producer | Jun 27, 2017 4:50 PM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, June 28, 2017:

Most Pennsylvanians know that the Keystone State has a history of unusual, quirky and fascinating stories that make it unique. Superb storyteller, William Ecenbarger is the best-selling author of Kids for Cash and former journalist for the Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine. In his latest book Pennsylvania Stories-Well Told, Ecenbarger compiles and brings to life a collection of his articles highlighting true Pennsylvania stories. These stories aren't just good stories. They are provocative, shocking, and gripping tales that explore the nuances of Pennsylvania eccentricity, culture, and history. Tune in for stories ranging from pencils, to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, to the Ku Klux Klan.

In his book, Ecenbarger tells the story of former governor Bob Casey's rare genetic disorder that led to an unlikely donor. The inspiring details of Casey's battle for life involving a double organ transplant are featured in the first chapter of the book "Intimate Strangers."

In his article "Drawing the Line," Ecenbarger gives the intriguing backstory of the most famous line in history, the Mason-Dixon. He explores the symbolism and literal and metaphorical boundaries of this commonly misunderstood border between Pennsylvania and Maryland.

The gritty history of capital punishment in Pennsylvania is explored in Ecenbarger's article "The Chair of Death." He provides a history of Pennsylvania's long retired electric chair "Old Smokey," as well as various accounts of electrocution, including experiences of both the executioner, and the convicted.

Author William Ecenbarger's masterful storytelling is sure to compel Pennsylvania populace and enquiring public alike. We welcome him to Wednesday's Smart Talk.

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Author William Ecenbarger


- Hi, I'll definately be reading your new book but, as an amateur astronomer,I was facinated to read  a wonderful book by Barbara Lefever called The Stargazers: the story of Charles Mason and Jerimiah Dixon...what a facinating background and history to two very different individuals teaming up in an extraordinary undertaking.  Amazing to find that this all initiated in England and the Royal Society of Astronomy.

I followed up with a book from a Lancaster library called  Walking the Line.                                                               - Susan, Lancaster

- Its's been awhile since I've been past it but I'm quite sure there is a marker for the Mason Dixon line in Blue Ridge Summit. It stands about 4 ft tall. Do you know if this is correct?                                                         - Gwen, Fairfield

- The Story of the Crosses Across America:                                    - Joe

- This is what Wikipedia has to say about why it's a lead pencil, it was a misconception

The meaning of "graphite writing implement" apparently evolved late in the 16th century.[4]

Prior to 1565 (some sources say as early as 1500), a large deposit of graphite was discovered on the approach to Grey Knotts from the hamlet of Seathwaite in Borrowdale parish, Cumbria, England.[5][6][7][8] This particular deposit of graphite was extremely pure and solid, and it could easily be sawn into sticks. This remains the only large-scale deposit of graphite ever found in this solid form.[9] Chemistry was in its infancy and the substance was thought to be a form of lead. Consequently, it was called plumbago (Latin for "lead ore").[10][11] Many people have the misconception that the graphite in the pencil is lead,[12] and the black core of pencils is still referred to as lead, even though it never contained the element lead.[13][14][15][16][17][18] The words for pencil in German (Bleistift), Irish (Peann Luaidhe), Arabic (قلم رصاص qalam raṣāṣ), and other languages literally mean lead pen.               - anon

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