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Society's ills don't limit themselves to city...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Society's ills don't limit themselves to city life

I do find quite moving Lalita Noronha-Blob's expression (July 23) of her sense of loss and insecurity resulting from the theft of her family's vehicle.

But I cannot agree with the sentiment implied when she writes: "Maybe it's time to leave Baltimore, move to the suburbs. Find a place where we are entitled to own a new car, walk through the neighborhood . . ." etc.

Of course, she is entitled to live where she pleases. But she is mistaken if she thinks that the suburbs will provide a haven of escape.

I, too, am a city dweller who suffered the theft of a new vehicle two years ago. My refusal to leave is due not only to my fondness for this quaint old town of Poe and Mencken, but also my realization that there is no American community to which I can escape the ills of American society. I know suburbanites who have suffered cars stolen or homes pillaged. I know that drugs, violence and, increasingly, poverty and homelessness also afflict the cozy havens of suburbia. And these ills do not usually migrate to suburbia from the city, but are as native to the suburb as to the city.

Wherever we flee, our troubles will follow -- or simply await our arrival.

We are faced with a profound crisis of our entire American civilization. If we are to meet our democratic duty to master the crisis and transform our society, we must abandon the pleasant illusion of a suburban oasis free of society's ills. No private escape is possible. Our only hope lies in a rebirth of America's social conscience.

Robert Birt

Baltimore

Lalita Noronha-Blob told us in her July 23 commentary "Why I must leave Baltimore." Why is it that nearly half the population that once inhabited Baltimore has, in the past 20 or so years, left?

Increasing crime, pollution and property taxes. But most importantly, they left because they no longer cared enough to stay.

When Baltimore City residents leave, they take two things. They take their tax potential with them (property and income), and they take the difference they make as powerful individuals.

The tax gap will in essence have to be filled by the remaining populace. City Hall's response is "we need you 600,000 die-hards to compensate us for the revenue your 400,000 brothers and sisters took with them." I have no idea how the "difference gap" can be filled except by a return of the city populace.

And what of the crime gap? A city that in earlier years breathed heartily with the lungs of 1 million cannot breathe as deeply with the lungs of a mere 600,000 -- meaning that those who stay will most likely endure the pilgrims' share of being victims of crime, as well as their own unfortunate share.

Baltimore City is limping, but not defeated. It suffers division, racially and politically, and as long as it remains so divided it will inevitably collapse on itself, either in bankruptcy or in utter hopelessness.

It can be argued that the populace is already lost, replete with chronic absentees from public schools, subsequent illiteracy and teen pregnancy, public indifference (the most dangerous of conditions) and political recklessness.

What is it that city residents really want? To leave? No, I think Ms. Noronha-Blob wants what the remaining residents want. Revival and unity. And that is why she struggles.

In piloting Baltimore City toward revival and unity, perhaps the first step is to care, simply and eternally.

People are leaving, or want to leave, because it is the nature of human beings to disregard what does not bring them joy, specifically those things that are difficult to love.

But Baltimore is a worthy cause. And because there are moments, indeed, when Baltimore is difficult to love, it is for that reason we should love it still more, give still more, and not abandon it to an orphaned city fate.

Jamie David Kane

Towson

Olympic switch in '36 due to anti-Semitism

Michael Ollove's July 28 article, "Olympian evil," describing the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's exhibit about the 1936 Berlin Olympics, includes a comment that indicates either a lack of information or perhaps a personal agenda.

He writes: "[Marty] Glickman and Sam Stoller, the only Jews on the American track and field team, did not compete in Berlin. On the day of the 400-meter relay, their coaches replaced them with Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, winners of the gold and silver medals in the 100-yard dash. Glickman has always maintained that he and Stoller were replaced because of anti-Semitism."

Ollove leaves the impression that the replacement was an athletic decision, and Glickman's complaint merely the bitterness of a disappointed old man.

I remember the first time I heard about this incident, a television documentary about Jesse Owens and the Berlin Olympics. In that film, a fellow Olympic athlete was interviewed and noted that Stoller and Glickman were pulled not because the relay team might have lost (as Ollove implies), but because they very likely would have won.

Apparently, U.S. officials thought that two Jews participating in a victory of any kind in Germany would embarrass Hitler; therefore the change was ordered.

The athlete describing this incident recalled how disgusted he was by the behavior of the U.S. officials and coaches. The man speaking was Ralph Metcalfe.

Louis Cohen

Columbia

Games brought out worst and best

The explosion of hate July 26 at the Olympics was followed by an expression of love July 27. Bobby Kersee, coach and husband of Jackie Joyner-Kersee, reversed his roles and told his wife, "No more."

The championships, the medals, the adoration were already earned. Bobby looked at Jackie and realized the pain of withdrawing was no match for the physical pain.

While watching his moving interview explaining the reasons for, "No more," I felt the tears.

A 57-year-old black male, I was taught that a man ain't supposed to cry. No more.

McNair Taylor

Baltimore

If you're poor you shouldn't gamble

After Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke completely disenchanted many Baltimoreans by rubbing elbows with Louis Farrakhan, who seems to try to drive a wedge between races and religions, he pulls yet another no-brainer by supporting legalized gambling in Baltimore.

Hey, I'm no hypocrite, and I readily admit to frequenting Atlantic City and sometimes contributing toward Donald Trump's mortgage. But when I gamble out of state or play the lottery in Maryland, it is with money I can afford to lose, because chances are I will.

If Mayor Schmoke wants to help the Baltimore population, he should educate them as to how remote a chance anyone has to come out a winner in a casino or with the lotteries. I believe that most of the people who buy lottery tickets in Baltimore probably shouldn't.

The same problem will occur if casinos are in close proximity to indigent populations. If Mr. Schmoke is adamant about having casinos in Maryland, he should keep them out of populated areas. That would partially limit the clientele to those who at least have the resources to afford the commute.

K. Flynn

Baltimore

Population growth imperils Chesapeake

Time after time, in article after article, the story is told of changes affecting Chesapeake Bay unfavorably, but mention is rarely made of the basic driving force behind such changes.

Writer Ellen Gamerman gave readers of The Sun (July 22-23) a full story of the grandfathered lots that permit developers to build houses within the critical areas.

The basic force behind all the pressures upon Chesapeake Bay is the steady increase in the population of the state. Maryland and the rest of the United States are suffering from a galloping population growth rate that is unsustainable.

Our country is so big that the threat of overpopulation seems remote, but projecting the present rate of growth into a future of just a few decades will find us overwhelming our natural resources, fouling our water supplies, crowding everywhere and making restoration of our bays, streams and lakes impossible.

The United States is in desperate need of a population policy. Why is such an obvious need so difficult to achieve?

It should not be difficult to devise a way to measure sustainable growth in tune with our needs, and to find methods to control that growth. Obviously, the first step should be to slow down the immigration flow, legal and illegal.

Until we do have a workable population policy, more people will move into Maryland and many of them will choose to live near the rivers and Chesapeake Bay. Protection and restoration will lose out unless a national policy is enacted soon.

Carleton W. Brown

Elkton

Clinton doesn't share Harding shadow

Peter A. Jay's "Doleful state of the presidential race" column (July 25) doesn't have it quite right. Mr. Jay says Bill Clinton is an "amiable windbag" (most good politicians are), but Mr. Clinton is not Warren Gamaliel Harding.

H.L. Mencken succinctly summed up Harding: "A cipher only." Clinton is no cipher -- he is a very intelligent man and, to date, a somewhat unfocused president.

Mr. Jay, interestingly enough, cites Francis Russell's biography of Harding, "The Shadow of Blooming Grove." The shadow over Blooming Grove was the rumor that Harding had Negro blood.

Francis Russell compared Harding to Dwight Eisenhower, saying Eisenhower should never have risen above the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army and that he was a terrible president, on a par with Ulysses S. Grant. Most historians rank Eisenhower high as a military commander and above average as a president.

Tom Gill

North Beach

Not the LeBoutillier that friends knew

Since the Charles LeBoutillier whose obituary appeared in The Sun on July 15 is not the person my husband and I knew for many years, I am mentioning several facets of his life through which numerous friends became acquainted with him.

We met him in 1986 when he had an extensive one-man show in the art gallery at Western Maryland College. My husband, R.P. Harriss, who at that time was art, music and drama editor of the News-American, wrote a glowing account of the exhibition that included oil, watercolor, and pastel paintings, lithographs, photography, ceramics, and sculpture.

Every summer, Charles LeBoutillier enrolled in sketch classes at the Maryland Institute College of Art. When I was coordinator of special events at Loyola College, Charles exhibited annually in the Invitational Art Show and usually won a prize for his work.

He was greatly interested in architecture and took courses in it at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the L'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.

My husband and I also knew of his avid love of music. He frequented performances of the opera and symphonies, and attended concerts at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

Charles LeBoutillier, like my husband, was a gardener, and they often compared notes about their roses and day lilies. For some time, Charles was president of the Day Lily Club of Maryland.

He was greatly admired by a wide circle of friends for his knowledge of many subjects and for his versatility.

Margery W. Harriss

Baltimore

Similar symptoms confuse diagnosis

It was refreshing to see the July 23 article about the treatment of attention deficit disorder. The public should be aware that many physical conditions have symptoms that are similar to ADD.

As a behavioral optometrist, I treat many patients with dynamic vision deficit disorders. Having such a condition can make it difficult to process and maintain attention with regard to written material, including directions on a chalkboard. Many of the children I treat have been previously diagnosed with ADD, mostly as a result of their problems with following written directions in school.

In addition to educating physicians and other professionals on how to identify ADD, the National Attention Deficit Disorder Association will hopefully make them aware of this and many other conditions that can cause a misdiagnosis.

Mayer Teles, M.D.

Glen Burnie

Ravens are the 'pick-me-up' that Baltimore has missed

I never really thought it would happen. As I rounded the bend on Bonita Avenue that cold March night in 1984, all of the lights in my former place of employment were blazing and smoky exhaust was rising from a convoy of bulky vehicles lined up in the parking lot.

It was really happening. The Colts were actually moving after three months of rumors and a tenuous off-season environment.

The Colts moving. The Brooklyn Dodgers moving. That was all I could think about because despite the recent Orioles World Series title, Baltimore was at its base a football town. Those romantic Colts of the late '50s had put the former International League city on the map just as surely as the Jackie Robinson Dodgers had romanticized the borough of Brooklyn.

Now they were gone into the night to a wannabe town in the flat Midwest. Would Baltimore lose its urban identity? Would it become a charming appendage to Washington, D.C., just as Brooklyn had become to Manhattan?

Those were the scary civic questions of that night based in the knowledge of how difficult it is to regain one of the "big two" (baseball and football) major league franchises. (Out of 20 franchise shifts since the 1890s, only five cities have brought in new teams, and three of those moves occurred within the last year.)

What has happened in the intervening years has been a demonstration of civic will, political savvy and strategy as well as learning from mistakes. To be sure, there was a lot of gadfly capitalizing during the 12-season wait. People who had no possibility of helping the effort received lots of ink and TV time right along with those few who really had potential to make it happen.

In the end it was the realization by stadium authority chairman John Moag that Baltimore was really in a good position that brought the team here. Conventional wisdom in these parts saw little or no chance of the NFL's return as the clock ticked down on the stadium funding. Mr. Moag proved to be the ultimate big-picture guy.

Those who decry the subsidy of a private enterprise need look only at the Seagirt Marine Terminal skyline at dusk. Those monster cranes retailed at more than the stadium will cost and they aid in part people who don't even live here.

The economic development argument is beside the point. That old Baltimore civic psyche of the 1950s was based on the fact that John Unitas representing the crab-laden burg by the Bay had bested New York's Broadway stars, Charlie Connerly and Frank Gifford, not once, but twice, for the world pro football title. Those feelings of civic "we" when local folk talk about the home team partially left with the moving vans in March of 1984.

Now when you go to the newsstand and look in the pro football annual, Baltimore will be back in print again. We're in the pre-game news each week. This stuff is fun for a lot of people, and it gets their minds off things like job and domestic troubles and the everyday humdrum of urban life.

They're already wearing their purple and black and they have sold out the stadium. And because there are a limited number of football games, they really mean something and are replayed all week long on talk shows and as the grist of casual human interaction.

In short, the return of the NFL gives us something not so serious to talk about. We need to lighten up and have a new community pride. The Ravens are our collective "pick-me-up." Sports are a society's least common denominator.

Commentator George Will likes baseball. President Richard Nixon once called plays for Washington Redskins coach George Allen. With the Ravens, Baltimore is a sports entity again with bragging rights over Washington. We have "the big two" -- baseball and football -- they don't. Much of this is subliminal, but it is still part of the base buttressing of a city's identity.

I never thought it would happen. One-way patterns on 33rd Street once more. The Ravens have returned the NFL football to a patch of ground that helped make the league famous during its development period.

The real meaning of "the return" is a great collective of little things, like a family dressed in purple, gold and black and an 80-year-old man in a green-and-white 1947 Colts shirt -- all off to the game.

Bob Leffler

Baltimore

The writer was the last marketing director of the Baltimore Colts. His advertising agency represents the Ravens.

Pub Date: 8/03/96

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