A mystery has haunted me since shortly after starting to research Lone Star Dietz’s life. Today, with the help of Freddie Wardecker, proprietor of Wardecker’s Mens Wear and Jim Thorpe Museum, and Bob Wheeler, Jim Thorpe’s biographer who, along with his wife Florence Ridlon, succeeded in getting Thorpe’s Olympic medals restored, I solved that mystery.
Lone Star Dietz died in 1964 and his wife, Doris, died three years later. Mary Lou Zientek had befriended the Dietzes and served as executrix of Doris’s estate. The estate consisted mostly of Lone Star’s memorabilia that included promotional photos for his movies and a pair of Jim Thorpe’s gloves. Mrs. Zientek donated many of the items from the Dietz estate to a museum in Pittsburgh. I was unsuccessful in locating any of these items in any museum in Pittsburgh. Today that changed.
Freddie Wardecker told me of a museum in Boca Raton, Florida owned by a man named Joel Platt. It seems that Mr. Platt wanted to build his museum just outside Carlisle some years ago but was turned down, so looked elsewhere. Last week Bob Wheeler mentioned Joel Platt in another context stating that he was from Pittsburgh. Today the light came on for me after Freddie chided me for not being able to locate Platt’s museum on the internet. Following his directions, the web site for Platt’s museum immediately popped up. After a little navigation, Jim Thorpe’s page appeared: http://www.sportsimmortals.com/thumb.cfm?ID=133&category=11&startrow=9
One item jumped out at me. I could never understand why Lone Star had a pair of Jim Thorpe’s gloves or why he would have kept them so long because I thought they were just ordinary men’s gloves. Well, these are not ordinary gloves. Seeing them will explain everything.
The photo shows other items related to Jim Thorpe’s time in Carlisle. Now that the Cumberland County Historical Society has funds for acquiring artifacts, perhaps they can bring Jim Thorpe’s jersey, letter sweater, gloves and other items back to where they belong.