Letters to ...

Letters for August 2008

... letters from our readers

to SilverStringers

The following letter from a Toronto reader, refers to an article by Ann Talbot about the "Tilley Hat". (click here) This was published in the July 2008 issue and Editor Russ Priestley responded.

Hello to the staff,

I enjoy every issue. The Melrose Mirror keeps me in touch with my hometown AND teaches me more about Melrose in the past.

I enjoyed the Tilley Hat article in this month's (July 08)issue. I live in Toronto, home of the Tilley stores, and I forwarded the article to Mr. Alex Tilley c/o his head office here.

I'm sure Mr. Tilley will get a kick out of reading it.

best wishes,
Linda Granfield

formerly of Melrose, now in Toronto, Canada, and the proud owner of many Tilley products.

Thank you for writing again and making clear where Tilley's home is. We editors were baffled re: their origin, but it was such a well-written article we had to run it, hoping some reader could enlighten us ... and you did. Maybe Mr. Tilley doesn't need the publicity, but he is going to get it from that article ... unbeknownst to him.

We appreciate your continued interest in The Mirror.

Russ Priestley, one of the diminishing editorial staff.

Guest writer Laurie Elinoff really enjoyed Joan Alcara's article on Emma's Market (click here)

Hi Russ,

Please pass my compliments on to the Stringers and the contributors on the piece on Emma's Market. Joan Alcala gave a wonderful description of the workings of the market and all those who benefit. And Shirley Rabb and Donna Campbell took beautiful pictures that were so inviting. The pictures made me want to run right over to the market and sample the goods and move into town. BRAVO STRINGERS !!!  Congratulations on 12 years of fine work. The Melrose Mirror is a magnificent example of neighborhod reporting.

Until next time....Laurie

The following letter from a reader refers to an article by Len Dalton (click here) ,"Cloaca children no longer die." This was published before 1999, when our Previous Issues listings begin.


I read the article about Hardy Hendron and the Cloaca Children no longer dying, after having google’d him while talking to a friend about the doctor. My father has been a friend of Hardy for some time now, having built both his and worked with his son’s house in Duxbury. Hardy is still doing well to this day, and still manages to crack a few jokes to get someone riled up, yet never seems to have a boring life with calls from the Surgeon General and visits from Royalty! Just wanted to say it is a wonderful thing having him around, and I hope more follow to fill in the void someday that we all do not want to see.


to John Averell from Wallace & Shirley Moyle, referring to an article by Jo Dondis (click here).

Hello, John and Shirley:

Thanks for the new Melrose Mirror for July. I've read "Kicked Out" and enjoyed it. My tie to Rockland is very loose. My parents were living in Camden. Father was Principal of the Camden High School. There was no hospital at the time, apparently, (1922) but there was a maternity home in Rockland, run by two nurses. My Dad was off on National Guard duty when Mother began labor, so her Doctor took her to the maternity home in Rockland. I've seen the theatre on Main Street, but by the time I could go to the movies, we were living in Darien.

Also enjoyed the draftee story. You have good writers. Read the Letter to you also. Interesting.
Hope you're both OK. Enjoyed your visit muchly.
Shirley and Wallace

Comments to John Averell from an old friend, now living in California.


I really enjoyed reading the July issue and your May article (click here) on the eugenics movement and its link to your ancestry. You have done quite a lot of research on your family history! What ironies and interconnections indeed. It was good to read your more compassionate approach to such world views and the reader’s response. Also, it was quite a surprise and disappointing to learn that Louis Brandeis was interested in the principles of eugenics. You may or may not be aware that I did my doctoral work at Brandeis.

In graduate school I became interested in the 19th century Oneida community, which also practiced its own form of eugenics. As a sociologist and one who has been interested in utopian communities, I noticed that the question of eugenics is never too far beneath the surface of such communities, not only during the 19th century, but now as well. Eugenics seems to be a natural offshoot at attempts at perfection. I gave up perfection a long time ago in favor of concepts like grace and synchronicity.

You are probably aware that in 2002 the Harriman estate in Middleburg VA was sold to Robert and Sheila Johnson, the first African-American billionaires who co-founded Black Entertainment Television. That is pretty ironic. Now divorced, Sheila owns the estate. We are just now connecting with her because her daughter and my granddaughter are both the same age and passionate about riding. Just yesterday we were looking at photos of Salamander Farm, formerly the Harriman estate!

So, good to see that the Melrose Mirror is still doing wonderful work in the world. Thanks for keeping me on your mailing list.

Helen Stewart

P.S. I really enjoyed Ed Boyd’s article, too (click here). Having turned 65 last month, I am full of memories of friendships continuing and broken and in reprise.

Your comments on eugenics made me think some more. First, about Brandeis, if you look at his biography, you'll find that he seemed ambivalent about human equality. ... In the famous words of Joe E. Brown in "Some Like It Hot", "Nobody's perfect."

I like your view that eugenics is a search for perfection. I'm all for a search for personal perfection (in the same sense as pursuit of happiness), but when perfection is a state issue, imposed on others, that seems to have been the cause of incredible evil throughout history. The utopian societies were searching for perfection, as you say. You may remember that I have a large collection of Shaker books. The Shakers' solution was chastity, ensuring no eugenic problem! Not very useful.

So I think I'll write an essay called "The Search for Perfection" as a followup to my article. Thank you for inspiring it.

Great! I look forward to reading it. My focus these days is on embracing and blossoming from the so-called imperfections. I really do believe that ultimately it is a safe universe. Someone recently asked me to contribute a piece to a book on what it would take to create heaven on earth; I’m attaching my response to that. Let me know what you think.

That being said, I recently wrote to the Brandeis sociology department, which is having a reunion next month. My experience with one of its most famous faculty members was exactly along the lines of the Louis Brandeis eugenics ideology. Once I left I never set foot on the campus again for a variety of reasons, but know it is time now to make my peace with the experience. I also taught there as a lecturer for five years.

My own world view is closer to that of your executed ancestor Sara, believe it or not. When I left the university I became a professional intuitive, specializing in business intuition of all things! I believe intuition is a liberal art, not a “dark mystery.” Not esoteric, just part of the capacities we all have as conscious beings.

Good to be in touch. Look forward to your next article.

Sure John...fine with me to post in the comments section. Enjoying the articles immensely. While I feel myself to be a Californian now, Melrose Mirror reminds me fondly of my New England roots and memories. You may recall that my father was a native Bostonian (his parents immigrated there from Washington D.C. at the turn of the 20th century), and I lived in the Metropolitan area for many years.


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