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In December’s letters: multidimensional Stevenson, boats missed, armchairs, memories, Starbucks, Homer Glen, and back to reality

MADLY FOR ADLAI

In the September issue, an article [The Adlai Issue] asks “Is Barack Obama another Adlai Stevenson?” Before its publication, I talked with its author, Richard Babcock. He identified Karl Rove as one of the people asking this question; admittedly, such was of initial concern to me. I suggested that Babcock look at the book of essays I recently had edited, Adlai Stevenson’s Lasting Legacy, which contains a dozen incisive chapters by statesmen, scientists, and compatriots who had worked with Stevenson, including, of relevance to the article, some who had campaigned with him.

In the final paragraphs of his article, Babcock reflects some of the admiring points made in the book—in particular, regarding Stevenson’s role during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations as U.S. ambassador to the UN for four and a half years (including at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, which he played a key role in resolving), as well as his initiatives for an effective international ban on further nuclear testing and the nonproliferation of such weaponry. Stevenson was a multilateral consensus builder for peace, not a diplomat of unilateral action. He had earlier served as a revered founder of the United Nations, as Illinois’s 31st governor, and as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956.

Unfortunately, only a small part of Stevenson’s history—mostly concerning the 1952 campaign—is presented in the article, and Babcock appears to have relied too heavily on the mistaken inferences of sources who did not know Stevenson personally or directly campaign with him. As a result, the portrait drawn does not accurately reflect the many dimensions of this remarkable public servant.

By contrast, the article’s conclusion is that Stevenson “had wisdom, integrity, and a keen vision” of value to Obama, though such did not contain supporting citation or other explanation. Therefore, I hope that Babcock at an early date will consider supplementing the article in a fuller, more explanatory fashion.

Judge Alvin Liebling
Chicago

 

Your September piece “Something in the Water Around Chicago?” [sidebar, The Adlai Issue] missed the boat in some significant areas:

Chicago clout: Mayor Daley’s level of leadership would be welcomed in many major cities in America. It needs no apology.

Soft on terrorism: Bush and McCain have successfully sold fear to the American public, including the unspoken mantra “There will be no terrorism at home as long as we keep this war going in Iraq.”

William Ayers/Alger Hiss: While Wil­liam Ayers is no favorite of mine, putting him in the same league as Alger Hiss is a stretch, to say the least.

Finally, I grew up in the Eisenhower era. Believe me, John McCain is no Dwight David Eisenhower.

Ray Cliff
Glen Ellyn

 

BIBLIO-FILES

As an avid reader, I found John Huebl’s article on how he came into possession of the library of Howard Berkowitz [“The Library,” Reflection, October] very interesting. I was grateful to learn that the books ended up with someone who treasured them almost as much as the original owner. Yet even though his family and friends apparently cooperated with the article, I was appalled by the posthumous armchair psychoanalysis and disregard for privacy of the life of a man who was apparently a very private individual.

Paul J. Jarosz
Downers Grove

 

Reflection by John Huebl was so touching. Having lost a brother to AIDS who also was an avid reader made it even more so. AIDS is a disease that leaves a person isolated and alone with their thoughts, including regrets about past choices in life. That happens even when there is no estrangement with the family, as in our case. It’s so wonderful of Howard’s family to agree to participate in the article. He will always be remembered. We met him through the article. We want our loved ones never to be forgotten, because they were remarkable individuals. I will be passing this article on to the rest of our family.

Name Withheld
Darien

 

MY KIND OF TOWN

In the October issue’s Where to Buy Now section [by Dennis Rodkin], you left out some pluses that might lure buyers to Bronzeville: The high-rise public housing  projects that lined State Street have been torn down (they were drug bazaars as well as eyesores) and replaced with attractive townhouses; the Harold Washington Cultural Center on King Drive is under new management and at last may become the community jewel it was meant to be; and—tah-dah!—there’s a new Starbucks on the corner of State and 35th streets. There’s no better sign that an area is up-and-coming.

Hosea L. Martin
Chicago

 

I was just curious as to why Chicago rarely lists anything happening in the southwestern suburbs, for example, in Orland Park, Tinley Park, etc.

Also, I was saddened to note that my suburb, Homer Glen, which is only about 30 miles southwest of Chicago, was not listed in Where to Buy Now. We are an “up-and-coming suburb.” It would be nice if we were at least mentioned.

Denise Swanson
Homer Glen

Editors’ note: For space reasons, we are able to print only a sample of towns from Kane, McHenry, and Will counties on our home-price chart. But here are the numbers for Homer Glen as gathered by Midwest Real Estate Data: The average sale price of a house in Homer Glen between July 1, 2007, and June 30, 2008, was $385,963. Average days on market: 167. Number of sales: 127. Since Homer Glen was incorporated in 2001, sale prices there have increased 34.32 percent. Sale prices have decreased 4.66 percent since last year.

 

REAL DIS

I’d like to address the recent “You Tube” article about reality TV [Service Desk, by Cara Jepsen, October]. You mentioned and interviewed Chicago-based contestants about their experiences. However, I think you forgot one . . . me. I appeared (very recently) on the ABC reality TV show The Mole, dubbed TV’s “smartest reality show” by American Mensa. I also made it to the final episode, a feat that should not go unnoticed, although your sister publication (the Chicago Tribune) never mentioned the fact that a Chicagoan was on TV all summer, either! I was even nominated for a Fox Reality’s “Really Award”! I merely wanted to point out this oversight and to let you know that it’s not an easy endeavor, although they make it appear so on TV. There are also a lot of behind-the-scenes happenings and colorful editing that skews the public’s perception of those participating. But I got what I signed up for.

Nicole E. Williams, M.D.
Chicago

 

UPDATE: The Deadly Difference

When managing editor Shane Tritsch wrote last year about Chicago’s racial divide in health (The Deadly Difference, October 2007), he cited 2003 data showing that the local death rate from breast cancer was 68 percent higher for black women than for whites—perhaps worse than in any other city in the country. Now a new analysis, released in October by the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, shows that the disparity has only gotten worse, soaring to 116 percent as of 2005. The findings were “absolutely shocking,” says Steve Whitman, director of the Sinai Urban Health Institute—and evidence, he says, that the public health system is “totally broken in Chicago.” Despite the bleak developments, Whitman says the breast cancer task force he helped organize last year has made great strides in zeroing in on the causes of the problem, raising awareness, and attracting grant money. That concerted action, he believes, will eventually help lower breast cancer mortality among African American women in Chicago. The alternative—doing nothing while the problem worsened—“was just not an acceptable option,” Whitman says.

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