Mailbag - March 2023
Power of language
I am disappointed and upset by staff writer Cindy Gabriel’s use of “colored” in her recent article Here Comes Aunt Jessie (Feb. 2023). In the first usage, it’s in quotation marks, presumably because that’s how Aunt Jessie referred to Black people or because it was common use at the time. It’s harder to rationalize its use in the next paragraph. Rather than try to make my own fumbling case for why it’s offensive, please read this column by Dahleen Glanton in the Chicago Tribune.
I recognize that Ms. Gabriel's larger point was how Aunt Jessie treated people fairly regardless of the color of their skin. In 2023, it's tone-deaf to use such an outdated, loaded term. When I was growing up, it was acceptable to call people with developmental delays and disorders “retarded.” That doesn't make it OK to use the term now, even if I’m talking about my childhood when it was. Our language must evolve along with our culture.
Editor’s note: Elissa, we appreciate the feedback. We did not mean to offend; as you mentioned, that term was intended in the context of the era featured in this story.
Fan of Cindy and Aunt Jessie
Every time I get my hands on The Buzz, I always look for Russell Hall’s columns [advertorials on the topics of estate planning and probate]. The first thing I do is see if he has an article.
This month, I was drawn in by the writing style of Cindy Gabriel as she described her Aunt Jessie. I’m writing in because I want to hear more about her. I’d like a whole book of Aunt Jessie. She’s got the makings of a first-class character. Looks like she knew where she was going, she was determined to get there, and she wasn’t going to let anyone stop her. I liked the story of the dimple and how she called herself an old maid – things that women of that time wouldn’t typically do.
I was brought up by four distinctly strong-willed women: my grandmother, my mother, my twin sister, and later my wife. So I’ve been around strong women all my life, and I identified immediately with Aunt Jessie. No nonsense, and yet compassionate, with heart, and clear-eyed. Here she is out in the newspaper business, and she has the common sense to take a child with her.
I’m not a writer. But if you’ve got a story, tell it in your voice. We can’t really judge history without accounts like this. You are doing us all a big favor. Don’t stop what you’re doing.
There are no words to adequately express the joy The Pull of Tractors [by Cheryl Ursin, Dec. 2022] brought to my family. So many people reached out to Van and Bridget [Burkhart] to express what a pleasure it was to read such a well-written article regarding their lives and the history of the tractors. It was amazing, and they were honored to have been chosen for the cover [Tanglewood/River Oaks Buzz].
On a personal note, I can’t recall the last time I worked with a friendlier, lovelier group of people, who each helped make this entire thing come together. And those were Van and Bridget’s sentiments as well. Thanks so much to all of you.
Commentary on comment column
Your column about the NYT Cooking Notes Section [The Notes Section: A Little Spicy by Andria Frankfort, Jan. 2023] was the most entertaining article I’ve read lately, in any publication. Thanks!
Editor’s note: Thanks, Lou! This story made us chuckle, too. If you missed it, see Back Porch.
A travel gem
I am a friend of the Jayantys, who traveled with them to Piedmont [Touring Turin by Tracy L. Barnett, Jan. 2023]. I enjoyed the article immensely and appreciated the cultural aspect of the region you captured so well in addition to the important food and wine aspects. The Piedmont area has so much to offer, and the historical aspect is lost to many who travel to Italy and spend time in the popular tourist areas.
Dr. Pasquale “Pat” Pingitore
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