Copyright © 1997 Henrietta W. Hay
January 3, 1996
It's time to re-read the year's mail. This is one of the best parts of writing -- finding out that someone is reading it. It's great when people agree with me, and interesting when they don't. Some wise soul commented that if you can't annoy someone there's little point in writing.
I sure annoyed a man from Carmel, California when I wrote on bilingualism. "Dear lady," he said, "you are so naive. Take yourself out of Grand Junction for a moment...." Maybe I am a little provincial, but he didn't have to insult me with his conclusion. "Study the course that Newt gave on TV, expand your intellect & your horizon."
On the other hand, a man in San Antonio reported that his paper had carried a series of articles on bilingualism and said, "I have enjoyed these diverse commentaries." He liked mine enough that he sent me a beautiful calendar with photographs of his city.
Bilingualism supplanted abortion as the trigger word this year. An anonymous reader from Colorado Springs (why does that not surprise me?) wrote "a lie" across the top. She enclosed a note saying, "I feel sorry for your two sons because they have a mother who cant "Read" english."
The people who write the most offensive letters assume that I am naive and/or ignorant, and that they alone know the True Word. I find it amusing that they are usually anonymous. The disapproving communications which I find stimulating, whether written or verbal, are those which say that "I disagree, but you have a right to your opinion and this is mine." Right on!
One of my regular correspondents objected the phrase, "the flag, long may she wave." She asked, "Wouldn't it be correct to refer to the flag as neutral?" Yes, it would certainly be politically correct but not so traditional. And this reader doesn't like Hillary, but we have agreed to disagree on that one.
On to the good news.
The Wal-Mart story has a happy ending. Dr. Ann Ruben in south Florida created a T-shirt emblazoned with a picture of Margaret, the Dennis the Menace character, and the words "Someday a woman will be President." The shirts were pulled because they did not represent the family values of Wal-Mart. The dust is still settling on that one. Dr. Rubin reports that in December she had the privilege of helping the manager of the Florida store pull on his very own Margaret shirt. They are now available nationwide. ((I talked to her on the phone. She is very interesting - and is 70))
The provable number of liberals in Happy Valley has risen to 53 and counting. Early this year a reader from Montrose said "Make it 29. My husband and I join your liberal count." I love it when people stop me on the street and say, "Count me in. I'm one, too."
After the column on heroes, a college professor wrote, "I am now into my 46th year of teaching history and have arrived at the same conclusion. Most heroic actions occur among people who are not famous."
My aging memory turns out to be a little faulty. A man in Montrose pointed out that all by myself I had moved the Montgomery Ward store on south Broadway in Denver. I said it was built on the old Merchant Park grounds. He says, correctly, that the store was built next to the Park where, sixty years ago, I watched Colorado University play football against Denver University each Thanksgiving day.
Another reader thought I was being unfair to typewriters. He may be right, but I still think the typewriter is about to follow the dodo bird.
There were lots of letters after the Perry Carmichael column. A teacher wrote that, "... it was very meaningful to read about a teacher who really touched lives the way anyone who teaches hopes to." And a classmate of Perry's at Western State College tells about a performance in 1949 of "Arms and the Man." His character was putting wood in the cardboard stove when he realized that -- "oops" -- smoke was coming out of it. The whole set was a fire bomb and he panicked until he heard a giggle and realized Perry had inserted a rubber hose through the flat and was sitting backstage blowing cigar smoke through it. ((I think I sent you a copy of this man's letter))
It is the readers who ultimately create the column. Keep in touch. Thanks. And let's all have a very Happy New Year.