I was born in the former capital of the Confederacy: Richmond, Va. When I was 22 years old, about to head off to Harvard Law School, the city was still effectively segregated. So, when I went into a five-and-dime store on the white side of town, I was detained and accused of shoplifting.
As an elementary school child, I had ventured over to the white side of town where the public library was. Everyone in that library was white. But the staffers always made me feel at home, which set the tone for how everyone else treated me, too.
I mention all that as a way of saying thank you for your article "Check This Out" [February 19]. It brought me to tears as I read about all the things Vermont library staff does. They are often lifesavers, just as the memory of the librarians on the white side of town, back in Richmond, helped me survive my experience at the five-and-dime store 12 years later.
In Vermont, the library tradition of assistance has carried on for me. Loona Brogan of the Cutler Memorial Library in Plainfield has always been helpful setting up discussion sessions for my wife and me. And the librarian in Irasburg assisted me immeasurably when I was writing Howard Frank Mosher and the Classics.
James Robert Saunders
Lose the Laundry
I very much enjoyed the article about Vermont libraries ["Check This Out," February 19], until I encountered the description of a librarian taking home a patron's laundry to wash and fold. Really? In an article about a profession made up mostly of women — many of whom work in small libraries where there are few benefits, the hours are part time and the pay is not a livable wage — I think you could have offered a more appropriate anecdote.
Tale of Two Librarians
I know where to begin: Thank you, Seven Days team, for such a comprehensive snapshot of Vermont's libraries ["Check This Out," February 19].
I don't, however, know where to end; there are so many stories I would love to tell about the many Vermont libraries I have visited. Instead, I'll stick to two tales about librarians I knew during my early days in elementary school in Granby, Conn.
The first librarian I met looked like a Norman Rockwell subject: wiry, wizened and wearing half-moon glasses perched on her nose. Certainly, I checked out books, but I learned more from her than I did from any of those books. Ms. Brennecke was the child of missionaries to China. During and after World War II, she and her family endured captivity, first by the Japanese and later by the Chinese Communists.
My school librarian had been one of the first American women to see the newly liberated Nazi death camps. As a U.S. Army photographer, she chronicled the horror that met her eyes. She kept several of the photos she took and hid them in her attic. Once she had children, she destroyed the photos so that her kids would not accidentally find them and be shocked by something they — and, actually, we — could not understand.
Yes, Vermont's libraries are treasure chests of learning, and among those valuable resources are the fascinating people who help make all that magic happen. Thanks to them, as well.
Bernie Is Too Extreme
[Re Off Message: "Sanders Condemns Reported Russian Support for His Campaign," February 21]: To the Bernie faithful — cool your jets and come down to Earth! Russia is backing both Sen. Bernie Sanders and President Donald Trump, and it doesn't take a political science degree to know why: A Bernie nomination would give both Russia and Trump plenty of fuel.
The Russians are masters at political manipulation. Their "support" for Bernie is merely to set him up with one hand while demolishing him — and the Democrats — with the other. Divide and conquer is the name of the game.
There are other reasons the Democratic National Committee needs to nominate someone else. Why?
First, because Bernie will not deliver on his sweeping promises. A lot of hard work will be needed, and those goals may be achievable sometime in the distant future, not even in Bernie's lifetime.
Second, the general American voting public rejects extremism on both ends. Bernie is very compelling with his determined scowl, expansive gestures and claim to be a socialist (whatever that means), but many reasonable adults are questioning his motives, his methods and, ultimately, his effectiveness. Trumpism will not be defeated simply by presenting the exact opposite ideas. First we have to keep the nation out of the hands of despots and crooks.
Let's get serious here. Our nation is still a work in progress. Trump is moving fast to dismantle as much as he can in the time he has. Let's not assume Bernie — or even Bernie-ism — will win this war.
Better Balance, Please
I have a couple of concerns about the article "Out of Commission" [February 19], by Kevin McCallum. One, the article refers to "the bill" but does not cite the number of the bill. There were four bills regarding Act 250 sponsored last February in the House. What bill is it that the House Natural Resources Committee passed? Does it represent an amalgam of all of last year's proposals? Reviewing last year's bills, their sponsors and the bill that made it through committee would have been helpful.
Two, while the article is informative and pretty well balanced, the last paragraph does a disservice to the fair reporting. Ending with a representation that public participation is of little concern in Act 250 history counters your informants who said that public participation is the heart of Act 250. A more neutral ending to the article would have been better.