In May’s letters: New light on old relatives and blogger backlash
I so admired [Lois] Emerson’s unearthing information concerning the photographer Beatrice Tonnesen’s work [Camera Obscura, by Geoffrey Johnson, March]. I am the granddaughter of [the illustrator] Robert Atkinson Fox. I remember my mother telling us about the photographer who once shared a workspace with my grandfather.
[Fox] provided for his family of eight children by being a commercial artist, which took the form of calendar advertising. He also was a serious, prolific painter, considered the foremost cow painter. Recently a painting of his was valued on Antiques Roadshow for $15,000 to $20,000.
My thanks to Geoff Johnson for such an intriguing Chicago story: Keep these hometown mysteries coming!
While flipping through the March issue, I happened to see the article Camera Obscura and was stopped in my tracks [by] a photograph and painting named The Glory of Youth. I believe the girl in the photograph to be my grandmother Veronica [Vera] Heddeman.
I knew that Vera did some modeling before her marriage and wasn’t too thrilled to talk about it, or maybe couldn’t be bothered while she and my grandfather were raising their seven children. [The Tonnesen researcher Lois Emerson sent] me articles and pictures about Vera that appeared in the Chicago Tribune. It was like opening a door to the past, and suddenly Vera wasn’t just my elegant, fun-loving, beautiful grandmother, but a young, vivacious girl with her whole life in front of her. What an absolutely great find.
The article was a fascinating profile of Beatrice Tonnesen and a reminder of the richness and creativity of the people of Chicago.
March must be a slow month for newsworthy stories. Readers [of Belle of the Blog, by Lucinda Hahn, March] quickly recognize a woman desperately seeking the fame that has always eluded her. Snippets of notoriety are mixed into years of nothing much to report. It’s also a little unusual that the class valedictorian never continued her education. This article was peppered with opportunities for which she was considered but not [selected]. Candace Jordan is no more attractive, personable, and “connected” than many, many other people in this town. Sounds like she is truly a legend in her own mind.
As a longtime reader, collector, and scholar of Playboy magazine, I appreciated David Bernstein’s thorough profile of Playboy’s new editorial director, Jimmy Jellinek [“Hare Tonic,” Media, March]. Some things [Jellinek has done]—scaling down Playboy’s signature football previews and continuing [an] overreliance on actors and entertainers for “Playboy Interview” subjects—have left me cold, but overall, I’ve been impressed with his brief editorship. The front of the book has never looked or read better.
For me, the biggest challenge that Jellinek faces is in fashioning a new marketing image for Playboy that will re-establish the magazine’s relationship with media buyers and their clients. Years ago, nearly every major marketer to men used Playboy. In 1981, Playboy led the men’s lifestyle category in advertising pages, selling nearly 1,400 ad pages. Today, the magazine hobbles along on 311 ad pages in total [in 2009], and you would be hard-pressed to find a single ad page for an HDTV or a smart phone. Without adequate ad sales, no magazine, especially one with Playboy’s substantial editorial investment, can last for long.
Hugh M. Cook