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The article on Peter Gruber (“Rattlesnake Pete”) in the November/December 2016 issue presented a fine overview of one of the region’s “characters” in his day.

If your readers would like to learn more about him, the Gates Historical Society in 2007 reprinted a biography of Pete that was orignally written in 1923 by Charles B. Stilson, a Rochester newspaper reporter who was one of Pete’s friends (and customers, no doubt).

The book includes a foreword to the 2007 edition by Ruth Rosenberg-Naparsteck, who served for many years as the Rochester city historian. Her father knew Pete’s parents in Oil City, Pennsylvania, where Pete grew up.

I was pleased to have written the introduction to the 2007 edition. During the research, we found that the historical record is inconsistent about the number of times that Pete was bitten by poisonous snakes. Then, again, for most people, one bite would have been more than enough!

For information on the book, visit the Gates Historical Society website at

– John Robortella


Weeping What?

While reading the November/December 2016 issue of Life in the Finger Lakes, I believe an error was made on page 36 in the Honorable Mention section of your 15th Annual Photography Contest

The black and white print titled “Weeping Willow in Winter at Sonnenberg Gardens,” taken by Phil Hilden of Victor, is not a willow but is a weeping beech. The weeping beech has long stout branches that grow down to the ground and form a screen as illustrated in the picture. The weeping willow has light hanging pendents that grow downward but do not form a heavy screen.
The print is still worthy of an honorable mention.

– Richard M. Joseph, Canandaigua

Just want to thank you for the great article on jewelry in the Finger Lakes (November/December 2016, page 12, written by Nancy E. McCarthy). Generated some orders and many comments.

– Bill Coppard, Caywood Stone Jewelry


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