Copyright © 1997 Henrietta W. Hay
1997: The Year in Review
January 2, 1998
It's time to re-read last year's mail. This is a great reward of
writing -- finding out that someone reads what you have worked so hard
to produce and is moved to react. As Rita Mae Brown wrote in her book
"Starting from Scratch," "...language is the common thread by which we
explore our differences, and if we are both lucky and mature, the thread
that will bring us to a form of agreement or at least understanding."
This year for the first time, most of the mail came electronically, by
Most of the "you ought to have your head examined" mail came from men
protesting my defense of controversial women: Lt. Kelly Flinn, Anita
Hill and Hillary Rodham Clinton. I make no apologies.
I wrote that the alligators in the little pool in front of the swimming
pool in Ouray were washed away by the flood of 1929. A reader from
Paonia says they were still there seven years later when her 1936
graduating class from Paonia High School visited Ouray . Just goes to
show that local history can be a little less than specific.
A writer from Montrose likes me even though she admits to being a
Republican. She definitely agrees with me on the subject of raisins.
She said, "I too loathe raisins and feel it should be a criminal offense
to take a lovely, plump, juicy grape and turn it into a wrinkled, chewy
gob of nasty tasting goo." Right on.
Censorship really makes my blood boil. I'm agin' it! So after my
column on banned books, I stood up and cheered when I got this one.
"way to go henrietta!!!!!!!!!probably your best ever!!!!!!!!!!do you
think they will ever get the message? we can only hope!!!!!!!!" No,
not in my lifetime, but yes, we keep hoping.
One woman wrote, "Enjoyed your Ms. Magazine column. I was introduced to
NOW by, of all people, my mother..... she took me to a NOW meeting, where she was having one heck of a
lot of fun with the other members who were all my age or younger." I
am glad that her mother knew how is important it is for us to keep
telling our daughters that the fight for equality is far from over. It
is their turn now.
One man who is probably my age or older, since it would take a lot of
years to develop a mind so tightly closed, says, "One of the worst thing
an older person can do is try to be 'Hip or Cool'. To try to use the
vernacular of the so called 'in' group or the 'younger set' is almost
pitiful." I feel sorry for him in his restricted life. I live in
the world and have friends and acquaintances of all ages. We exchange
ideas and experiences and laughter and, yes, sometimes language. He
should try it some time.
Mail keeps me on my toes. I agree that "pretty ugly" is an oxymoron
rather than a redundancy. But I do not agree that I should have
specified that Calvin and Hobbes are "cartoon characters and not
philosophers of the same name." Give me a break!
One great e-mail message came from Prague. The writer works for Radio
Free Europe in Prague, and saw my column on aging on the New York Times
wire service. He said he is 67 and most of his co-workers are 30
something's. "They seem to admire me almost as much as I do them....As
a youth I feared to die. Now, in the old age of my middle age, that
fear is gone. Its replacement is a lust to live until I die -- really
live." Oh yes!
Once a year I get to say thanks to Terry, my friend the philosopher.
She tosses out ideas like popcorn. She is the one whose knowledge and
wisdom are invaluable, and who can figure out what I am trying to say
before I say it. Every writer needs a philosopher.
Thanks to all the people I see and talk to and listen to, in person or
by mail. You can't write a column in a vacuum. Keep in touch.