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California's Russian past lives on at Ft. Ross

A Mexican past -- Russian too

Just a quick note to say how much I appreciated your fine article on California's Mexican past ["On a Mission to Our Past," June 29].

When talking about that era, it is easy to fall into an unhelpful romantic nostalgia. Christopher Reynolds wrote a concise, clear and helpful essay. The section on Sutter was especially fine. Nicely done!

--David Harrington Watt, Philadelphia

As a native of Sacramento but a longtime resident of Southern California, I was reminded by your Sunday article of the relationship between Sutter's Fort (Sacramento) and the Russian outpost of Ft. Ross. Many Californians do not realize that Russia had a settlement about 60 to 70 miles north of San Francisco from 1812 to 1841.

This is probably old news to you, but when the Ft. Ross settlement was abandoned, John Sutter (Sutter's Fort) purchased the equipment from the settlement. Of course, when Sutter purchased the equipment, California was still part of Mexico and Sutter was a Mexican citizen.

Again, thanks for Reynolds' many excellent articles in The Times.

--Norman Chapman, Calabasas

Charge fee, but be responsible

Jane Engle's article "Beating Back the Luggage Fee" [More for Your Money, June 29] was great. The sad thing is the airlines are so bold to state that they will not "refund" the fee in any way even if they lose, damage, delay or pilfer your luggage.

I can understand having to charge the fee, but then the airlines should be held accountable for their declining baggage-handling performance by having to earn the new fee.

Knowing that every bag that is mishandled would mean a refund of the fee would force senior management to drive improvements within their own company.

--Scott T. Mueller, Casselberry, Fla.

Or we could just stay home. . . .

--William M. Rose, Warren, Mass.

Vegas habitat is the cat's meow

I enjoyed the article by Terry Gardner ["MGM's Rock Stars Roar," June 29].

Being extremely close to the king of the beasts with only glass separating you and 400 pounds of lean cat muscle is awe-inspiring.

I have made numerous visits to the Lion Habitat at the MGM Grand in Vegas and find it's like seeing the lions for the first time, every time.

Mere words cannot describe these magnificent animals. They must be seen in person to fully appreciate them.

I'm not sure if the lions are there to attract potential gamblers or if the gambling is there to attract the lion fans.

In either scenario, you gotta make it a point to get to Vegas at least once to see these cool cats.

--Bill Spitalnick, Newport Beach

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