Letters: May 2007
Summer Search, the organization through which Elisa Santry found her way onto an Outward Bound trip [“Dangers That Can Cause or Lead to…,” April], is in the business of quite literally rescuing young people like Elisa. All of its students come from poor families. All demonstrate a willingness to lift themselves out of hardship. All want to “give back” to their communities. Summer Search was Elisa’s ticket out of poverty. She should not have had to pay for this opportunity with her life.
I know nothing about the Santry family, nor much about Outward Bound other than what was presented in your article. But I am certain of one thing: The story of how and why Elisa died is not as simple as you lead readers to believe—that she was the victim of a monolithic organization acting with ill intent. A court may decide that Outward Bound was wholly responsible for Elisa’s death. Yet until you read the documents the lawyers produce during discovery, and interview many, many other people, you will not know for sure. In the meantime, it is likely that more than one parent whose son or daughter has been accepted into Summer Search will, after reading your story, refuse to let him or her go, deciding instead that a summer spent at home in Roxbury, Dorchester, or Southie, taking care of the family or working at a Burger King, is less risky. Yet another route out of poverty for this young person will then be closed.
E. Marla Felcher
While some may find Jim Pallotta’s home to be frivolous and extravagant [The House That Ate Weston,” April], I see it as testament to the opportunities afforded to smart, diligent people. Mr. Pallotta embodies the old-fashioned New England values of hard work, determination, and generosity. He deserves to spend his money however he likes, on a house “that ate Weston” or even one “that ate Rhode Island.”
Finally, someone tells a bit about gambling in our state ["Grand Theft Lotto,” April]. As a legislator in 1971, I joined others in filing legislation to create the Massachusetts Lottery. No one was aware of Keno or scratch tickets! We thought we were instituting a weekly or daily lottery. Now we have mini casinos all over the commonwealth, and the lawmakers are spoiled by the revenues. It’s time to reform the lottery, and maybe consider a few real casinos.
George L. Sacco
I take exception to your publishing a book excerpt about Julia Child implying that she was homophobic ["Just a Pinch of Prejudice,” April]. Phobic persons demonstrate an irrational fear. Julia’s words and actions, as stated, show only a dislike toward homosexuals or prejudice for heterosexual men, not a fear.
I hope your piece on the OpenTable restaurant reservation system [“Secret Service,” April] doesn’t lead readers to assume that signing up will guarantee a personalized dining experience. We’ve been using the system since February 2004 and have yet to be greeted by a waiter using data from a previous visit to give us “exceptional” service.
Of course, this isn’t why we use Open-Table. We simply enjoy being able to browse a compendium of restaurant listings–, and we love the ability to see exactly when tables are available, rather than doing the phone dance of “How about 7:30? Well, what do you have at 8?”
But to focus on OpenTable’s customer-relationship management function—apparently not universally utilized—is to give the impression of a dining revolution that’s yet to happen. (And for future reference, restaurateurs, my favorite cocktail is a martini.)
While your page on specialized summer camps was interesting [“Pick Your Poison Ivy,” April], please do not underestimate the “one size fits all” camp. I wouldn’t trade for anything the time I spent as a camper and staffer at Camp Becket in western Massachusetts. There’s a reason liberal arts colleges are still important and viable—and that applies equally to camps like Becket!
SIZING US UP
As former Casual Male Big & Tall executives, we do not normally respond to articles on that company [“Thinking Big,” March], but some assertions made about CEO David Levin compel us to respond.
The article states that Levin’s “former bosses at J. Baker had run Casual Male into the ground.” Casual Male was not a failing business; it was part of a corporation. In fact, J. Baker was composed of three divisions, and it was the unsuccessful shoe business that caused the Chapter 11 filing.
Long before Levin arrived, our goals were to modernize the stores and to reach a younger, more fashionable consumer. We succeeded in getting top names (Polo, Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, and more) to enter the men’s big and tall business. Also, giving Levin credit for experimenting with sizing unfairly ignores the fact that we had implemented a similar system.
Levin did not discover all the answers in the big and tall business; he merely tweaked a preexisting formula.
Stuart Glasser, former president, Casual Male Big & Tall
Stephen Gatsik, former executive VP and president, Casual Male Big & Tall
My compliments on Francis Storrs’s “Lost and Found” [February]. It was a horrible story, but one that needed to be told to shed light on the shameful and widespread exploitation of children by those who profit from prostitution. Hopefully, as more people become aware of this scandal, they can play a part in combating such perversion.
FBI agent Charlie Sacco deserves his accolades for doggedly pursuing this case despite the opposition he encountered from even within his own bureaucracy. His dedication to bringing down this criminal ring was truly remarkable.
I am a faithful reader of Boston magazine and appreciate its wide range of
topics—including those that may be uncomfortable to read but should be publicized, like “Lost and Found.”
Robert K. Sheridan