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The '50s were this country's best decadeStephen...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The '50s were this country's best decade

Stephen Hunter's article "Sentimental Journey" (April 24), about sentimentalizing the 1950s, prompts him into savaging that decade. He states that he could find no one who had any fun during the 1950s; his findings were all "blahs."

The respondents sound like the apostles of Jack Kerouac and the "On the Road" saga that was popular with the Beatniks, who frequented the bars around Park Avenue and Mulberry Street -- where you often could hear the lament: having the heart of a cop was the worst thing you could have.

Hell, the facts of life tell me that the decade of the 1950s was probably the peak of success for the nation as a whole and this city, which was alive and breathing well at that time.

Having lived in the city for 71 years, I cannot understand the gratuitous odium leveled on that time in our national history when the country was fully operational, when fiscal responsibility was intact and the dollar reigned at the top in international finance.

My present neighborhood was more livable, family ties were stronger, vandalism was rare, personal responsibility, which has declined, gave more direction to children; in short, life was gentler.

But we must not forget the believers who know the whole truth, such as your reviewer, who find large messages in the Hitchcock productions and other such type of foreboding -- which translates: that our present miseries were seeded in the 1950s through inaction and lack of treatment for problems that lay below the surface.

In reality, things were not broken in the 1950s. The breaks occurred in the 1960s. The resulting fixes have not worked from then to the present, and if money is the only medicine we use to cure ills, we could be broke a long time.

Kenneth Wick

Baltimore

Bad sign

I am appalled by the University of Maryland administration for allowing a small group of students to degrade the young men attending this institution.

A group of nine women decided that in the name of the victims of rape it was conscionable to take their anger out on fellow students.

They researched the campus phone book and displayed all the men's names on a large bulletin under the heading of potential rapists. Men and women are both capable of committing many ruthless crimes, but surely the students don't need to see their names on a sign.

It sends out exactly the message these men would not have to receive. It says all men can, will, are potentially dangerous. It defeats its goals and conflicts with its own message of everyone's right to be free from harassment.

I expect more leadership from our state college's decision makers.

Dina Brooks

Glen Burnie

Home again

Why does this New Yorker, visiting Baltimore, feel he never left home?

During a short walk along Charles Street any weekday morning one can inhale enough vehicle exhaust fumes to satisfy any carbon monoxide junkie.

Worse, one sees signs on all-too-welcome street benches and municipal vehicles that say: "Baltimore, the City that Reads." Then one passes the Enoch Pratt Free Library and sees multi-colored citizen-reply letters urging more funds for librarians.

Even the sometimes misguided New York City government has restored library cuts -- and we read about it.

Sidney Feldman

New York

Staples of life

A couple months ago, an Independence Card machine was installed in the convenience store where I work. Previously, our store did not accept food stamps. A sign was posted as to what can and cannot be purchased with an Independence Card.

I had always thought that food stamps are only used to purchase necessary food items such as milk, bread, vegetables, etc. But now I know this is not the case. With an Independence Card, one can purchase any food item except those prepared in the store.

This means one can spend other people's hard-earned tax dollars to buy soda, candy, potato chips and other junk food. Is this right?

Every day a well-dressed young woman comes in and pays for a soda, candy bar and a bag of chips with her Independence Card. Sometimes people use their Independence Card to pay for their food and then have money to waste on cigarettes or lottery tickets.

This really makes me mad. For one thing, the prices at convenience stores are hiked up, so Independence Cards shouldn't be used there, if someone wants to get the most food for their money.

I do not think that food stamps should be used to buy junk food. Soda, candy and other junk are not the staples of life. Food stamps should only be used to purchase nutritious, necessary food.

Some mothers may waste their food stamp money on junk, and then not have any to buy wholesome food for their children.

I am not against the Independence Card program (but I think the name of it is kind of ironic -- an Independence Card for someone dependent on government assistance). The program needs to be reformed as to what can and cannot be purchased with food stamps.

Kelly Haden

Reisterstown

Hopkins students' mess shows lack of school pride

On the first Saturday in May, while walking past the beautiful front lawn of the Johns Hopkins University, I was so shocked and disgusted by what I saw there that it prompted me to write this letter to the editor

Obviously, students had taken advantage of the previous night's warm weather to party outdoors. However, the mess left overnight from the fun was appalling. Trash was scattered across the lawn, and dozens of empty cups and cans littered the brick wall and sidewalk, even though there were a number of garbage cans placed around the grounds.

As a recent graduate from another nearby college that knows how to have a good time, this type behavior is no surprise. However, I have never seen such distasteful evidence of a Friday night in my life.

Johns Hopkins University is such a reputable institution, both in Maryland and nationally, it seems unthinkable that those who attend it would show so little respect for their school.

Blame the administration for letting this type of behavior occur? No way. It's a given at almost any college. Blame the groundskeepers for not having the mess cleaned up by 8 a.m. Saturday? No. They're not responsible for sloppy behavior on the part of some students.

The people who made the mess should accept the responsibility for cleaning it up and examine their actions at the same time.

Those at fault are no doubt intelligent, but their lack of school pride undermines the very reason they are there.

There comes a time to take responsibility for one's actions and one's intelligence.

The time should come the first day of entrance into any such academic institution, if not long before.

Karen A. McKeaney

Baltimore

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