Except for one deliciously pithy communication from Richard Spada, we had a dearth of letters to the editor this week. I don’t understand this, because last week’s issue of the Independent was absolutely full of comment-worthy material.
There was Paul Benson’s coverage of our improved flood defenses, the striking photography by Elias Duncan and Trevor Pontbriand, Chris Legere’s report on a potential new history museum with great photos by Nancy Bloom, Bob Kuttner’s op-ed on our endangered local democracy, and many other stories in addition to Sophie Mann-Shafir’s on the closing of Truro’s Chapel on the Pond — the subject of Spada’s letter.
People do send us notes that aren’t really intended for publication. A nice one from Mary-Jo Avellar this week said, “Thanks for covering the news!” The not-so-nice ones nearly always start, “This is not for publication, but….”
Letters to the editor don’t have to be treatises on weighty issues. We loved Matt Hogan’s recent letter about Katherine Alford’s coffee cake. Which reminds me, I was sorry that no one who came to the Jan. 13 readings at the Vorse house wrote to us about the fabulous cookies that Thea Samaha and Teresa Parker made for that event.
But then there’s this from Country Editor, the 1940 memoir by Henry Beetle Hough, the old editor of the Vineyard Gazette:
“Years ago the Gazette used to give details concerning refreshments. Our reports would tell what was served at almost every gathering of ladies, gentlemen, Boy or Girl Scouts, members of this or that fraternity, and so on. But there was altogether too much jealousy concerning the various collations, and we kept getting complaints that the whipped cream had been omitted from the fruit salad cup in the Ladies’ Social Circle report, or that the Gazette had seemed to favor the patty shells of the Degree of Pocahontas over the lettuce sandwiches of the Occidental Chapter, Daughters of Plutarch. After a while we became sick of this and made an office rule that all refreshments should be treated alike. They would all be ‘delicious’ in our columns, and never anything else, more or less. This worked pretty well, but ultimately the profusion of delicious refreshments was somewhat wearying, and we legislated further. Now refreshments are served, so far as the paper is concerned, and we do not characterize them. They must stand on their own feet.”
We’re not just looking for laudatory letters, by the way. We’re well aware that you have complaints about the Indie — and not about whipped cream. One correspondent this week canceled her subscription, writing “your coverage is too left-leaning to be considered truly independent.”
I suppose that subscriber thought we wouldn’t want to publish a letter of complaint. But the opposite is true. We have asked her for more details. Our office rule at the Independent is that all readers’ letters — as long as they are tasteful, truthful, and to the point — are delicious.