The Great Days of 'Pickin' Eggs'
Editor: I have tried to restrain myself from entering the "Pickin' Eggs" stories, but obviously things were different in various parts of Baltimore City.
I was born in Waverly, lived in the house of my birth for 75 years and well remember the days of "Egg Pickin' " after Easter.
In our area the cry was "Who gotta guinea egg? Who wanna picka me? Who gotta eggggg?"
This was the favorite way of inviting some other fellow to come and try his luck. Only raw eggs were used.
First you practically hid the egg in your closed hand with the point barely showing and the other guy would attempt to crack your egg. You then reversed the egg so that the butt end was exposed and again the fellow would try to crack that end with his egg butt.
If one end cracked, you reversed the egg so that point met butt or butt met point. When an egg was cracked on both ends, you lost it to the challenger. Great care was taken in selecting eggs, as some seemed to have harder shells than others. I liked brown eggs best.
Sometimes "cheaters" would attempt to bore a small hole in the egg and insert plaster of Paris. Those were great days.
Beverly Ernest Earp.
Set Him Straight
Editor: "We've got to protect public property," said George G. Balog of the Baltimore City Public Works Department when asked about the expeditiously removed hand-painted "Hon" in the "Welcome to Baltimore" sign. I find this quote rather ironic in view of the department's incompetent means of handling a $7.7-million, eight-story garage that was authorized wutgiyt a state waterways construction permit.
It will only cost the taxpayers an additional $216,450 to tear down and redesign parts of this magnificent structure built in a flood plain. What a bargain! Maybe it's time for someone to help Mr. Balog get his priorities in order.
Editor: The state has severely cut its funding for a program crucial to oyster production. The program transplants seed oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, which is essential for the growth and harvesting of oysters. This budget cut will not only effect oyster production, but also the aggregate health of the bay.
Oysters are essential for the food chain. Many organisms feed on oyster bars and then become food for fish. Also, oysters filter 50-60 gallons of water a day each, acting as a water filtering system that significantly reduces sediment. The oystermen of the bay need to address this issue immediately to keep oyster production and water quality at a satisfactory level.
One answer to the problem would be for the oyster farmers to form a cooperative. A cooperative of oyster farmers could bring a group of entrepreneurs together in a venture that would transplant the seed oysters and eliminate the disastrous effects to oyster production and water quality. Also, a cooperative can help farmers reduce costs and get a higher return in the marketplace. They could jointly process and market their product, purchase production supplies and significantly enhance the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
Many farmers now are using computers, genetics and satellites for everything from alfalfa yields to zucchini production. In many instances the capital needed for these ventures is the result of forming cooperatives. By working together these oystermen could improve their own incomes, the state's economy and the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Without an immediate and cooperative approach to this problem, the threat to survival of oysters and the bay will only get worse.
Brian A. Pomykala.
Editor: A recent article detailed the Planned Parenthood's efforts to help kids deal with "a web of woes -- including drugs, AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy." This article was very distressing.
The impulse to help young people in this adverse world is a beautiful thing and should be nurtured. But are kids really being served by programs such as these? The writer of the article stated that the Planned Parenthood "Teen Empowerment" groups get results. The only result cited, however, was a more favorable attitude toward condom use.
Our kids are so needy.
They need love and fortitude and courage to face so many ills. Some say that promoting condoms to kids empowers them.
I cannot agree.
It is not reassuring to me that 14- and 15-year-old girls (the ages of group participants cited in the article) "could help a man put on a condom."
A parent quoted in the article blames her daughter for being spoiled. The writer of the article refers to gold jewelry as a "kid-type thing." Many parents participating in the program said their teens were fixated on money, sex and cars. If we truly wish to serve our kids, we need to stop promoting these fixations.
We must stop reinforcing the lie of a child's right to excessive material goods and unbounded sexual expression.
We need to stop dragging our kids down into the evil pressures of the world, pretending that we have no control over them.
Kids need to be armed with the encouragement, convictions and self-confidence to withstand the tide of conformity to questionable values. Only thus, and with a great level of commitment to them, can they be empowered.
Editor: The only trip that would credibly qualify as official business for White House Chief of Staff John Sununu is a flight to attend a hubris festival.
Editor: I have been hearing that an insurance company had its customers call and write the governor about the sure-to-happen increase in their insurance rates if the speed limit was raised to 65 mph. I would like for someone with access to the records to tell me how much insurance rates fell in 1974 when the speed limit was dropped to 55 mph. I have a vague memory that my own rates did not fall one dollar, but went up at the next renewal.
I would also like for someone to tell me whether my rates are lower than in Virginia, which has the 65 mph limit.
About four years ago, I moved from York, Pa. -- where the speed limit is also 55 mph -- to Baltimore and had my rate increased by almost four times. I currently pay nearly $3,000 a year for the two cars that two adults in my family drive, even though neither driver has had a ticket or accident.
My friends in Virginia thought that amount was so outrageous that I made it up.
Freedom for Hateful Speech on Campus
Editor: "If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought -- not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate." So wrote Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1929.
An Opinion * Commentary piece by Jack Fructman Jr. gave three examples of situations in which university officials had acted against students who claimed First Amendment protection for their behavior. "Campuses are not places where we are obliged to protect all thought that we hate," the author concluded.
University campuses are precisely where the right of free speech most needs its broadest protection.
First Amendment lawyers are accustomed to attacks on expressing ideas. But to say that certain thoughts and ideas are themselves not entitled to protection breaks new ground.
He would place racial hatred, woman hating and homophobia in the category of forbidden ideas, without even awaiting a legislative attempt to so restrict our freedom.
Example One: Brown University expelled a student for "shouting racial epithets and homophobic remarks on campus."
Presumably, the student was not urging anyone to riot or to commit other violent acts. Such actions are not protected.
Within reason, the university can regulate the time, place and manner of expression so as to keep the offending student from directly harassing minority and gay students. The university also could assure its minority or gay students that they are loved and respected by the administration and faculty. More importantly, the university should create an atmosphere which demonstrates the truth of such assurances.
To help dispel any doubts created by the university's tolerance of the offending student's intolerance, a university official could get out on the campus and engage the offender in a public debate.
This would demonstrate the university's commitment and show the falsity of the offending student's thesis. Bad ideas should be fought with good ideas, not with prohibitions.
Example Two: SUNY Binghamton disciplined a student for refusing "to remove a Penthouse centerfold from his dormitory door," because it was "degrading and abusive to women."
The implication is that there was no rule against posting pictures on the door. It seems the university's only objection was to the content of the matter posted.
Here again, the university should easily be able to demonstrate its disagreement with the offending student's idea of a woman's role or its support for students who disagree with the offender.
Rather than attempting to regulate the content of wall hangings, the university could forbid all postings in the hall or designate that anything hung in the hall must meet the approval of a majority of the students who live on the hall (or in the building). Any attempt to regulate what hangs on the wall inside student's room is foolish.
Example Three: Towson State University is investigating death threats, perhaps racially motivated, made against candidates in student elections.
Death threats are not expressions of ideas protected by the First Amendment. They are violent actions which violate valid criminal laws and are subject to prosecution.
Since this example occurred at Towson, where the article's author teaches, it may have affected his judgment. But it is dangerous to our culture to allow our legitimate concern with death threats to tempt us to stop the hate-mongering on other campuses by eroding our valuable constitutional protection for free thought and expression as embodied in the First Amendment.
The writer is a former U.S. deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights.