And furthermore ... a word from our readers
Somehow ''When writers read'' (Aug. 8) reminded Dorothy E. Folk of Brookline, Mass., of ''something I have been trying to get a line on for a long time'': ''In Merriam Webster's Dictionary I ran into a picture (see above) of a little dog called a 'Dandie Dinmont.' It informed me his name was from a character in Sir Walter Scott's novel 'Guy Mannering.' The character had an exaggerated sense of importance regarding wearing apparel.''
It so happened that one of us in The Home Forum had ''Guy Mannering'' at home , never opened since it was received in a massive set of Waverley novels. At a quick look there is no evidence that Dandie Dinmont, a solid, hospitable farmer, takes a dandy's interest in clothes. But he does have an interest in dogs, giving generations of terriers the same names, Mustard and Pepper. The dictionary notes that the Dandie Dinmont is a terrier whose color is either mustard or pepper. If anybody cares, our ''Mannering'' man has always preferred mustard on his dogs.
And while we're on the subject:
''We have a lumbering part German shepherd and a tiny Pomeranian that the painting reminded us of,'' writes Leona B. Walker of Gravette, Ark. She refers to Landseer's ''Dignity and Impudence,'' which accompanied Christopher Andreae's ''It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a dog!'' (June 5), which ''was written so delightfully and with such clear word pictures that we could picture the whole thing and rollicked in laughter.''
Our readers sometimes protest (see below), but the subjects of Home Forum essays rarely do. Now MUCOW (Milkers United Cooperative of Wisconsin) writes from Milwaukee to challenge Deborah Rose's ''Then Sophy kicked Mona Lisa'' (Aug. 6) for perpetuating ''stereotyped'' views of cows: ''Take, for example, the very first line: 'It is a little-known fact that cows are crabby in the morning.' While this type of thing may provide fodder for laughter to some, the nobility of our race suffers. When will the world begin to recognize our true contribution to world culture? Our domesticating and regulating influence upon human nature? Next time you walk into your barn, Deborah, think about it. And the rest of your readers, when they reach for that yogurt or shake, how do they think it got there? Give us some credit. Milking is a two-way street.''
Leaving our yogurt unfinished, we take comfort in an appreciative response from the subject of ''The merkle and you'' (Aug. 7) and Eugene J. McCarthy's ''The merkle'' (July 5). It is an unsigned post card forwarded by Modesto Canales of Victoria, Texas: ''It ain't hard being a merkle; it's that most people don't know one when they see one. A merkle work that's working is soon seen and is the very reason that merkles are known in places where they don't even exist. To tell you the truth some of my best work has been done in places where I've never been. And knowing that you know it is really special.''
''Shirley Pollock (May 18) waited longer than I did to become annoyed by 'Have a good day,' '' writes Betty Bandel of South Burlington, Vt. ''It is not the adjective that needs correction. 'Good afternoon,' 'good morning,' 'good night' have stood up well for centuries. It is the form of the verb that cries out for reform. One's hackles rise at being commanded even to have a good day - and at discovering how many English-speaking people do not recognize a command even when they utter one.''
Jayne G. Green of Tucson, Ariz., takes another view: ''Maybe I'm not out in the world enough to feel that the comment 'Have a good day' is superficial, but when I fill up the gas tank in the morning and the attendant says, 'Have a good day,' I feel especially blessed, a little leap of joy, and return the blessing, saying, 'Thank you for your concern.' When I return home in late afternoon and buy a few groceries and the cashier says, 'Have a good evening' or 'Have a good weekend' I feel happy enough for her additional thoughtfulness to say, 'Thank you, the same to you.' Nobody has to say it. Let's be grateful for small favors.''
''They brought back to me memories of my own gentle father,'' writes Dorothea A. Schulze of Andover, Mass., referring to the essays and poetry on June 13.
''That picture and description on June 14 is so beautiful,'' writes Doris H. White of Englewood, N.J., referring to Theodore F. Wolff's essay accompanied by Kang Lok Chung's ''Drawing No. 8301.'' She adds: ''I've done some drawing, enough to appreciate greatness in this art.''
''The neat lady in a white pantsuit who couldn't help weeding as she went has a twin!'' exclaims Connie Merritt, Los Angeles, feeling at home with Olga Cossi's ''The weeder'' (July 12). ''In addition I can't bear to see a sad, struggling plant crying for water. Even the coyotes find drink outside our fence , and the birds bathe in our huge Samoan shell. It is such a good feeling to have watered and won.''
Constance G. Brooks's ''nurturer'' essay, ''Yeasty'' (May 30), found a kindred spirit in Patricia Bleecker of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. ''There are not too many who understand the bulging pockets you speak of. Just recently while cleaning out the freezer I found packets of rabbit pellets, baby food (for baby birds), and various mixtures which I always keep on hand. One of my pet discoveries is how to keep honey bees from drowning in the bird bath. Place in a shallow saucer (the very large type used under flower pots) a scattering of smooth beach stones - large enough that a surface of at least one of them will be above the water line but with a slope so gradual that they are easily climbed by the struggling bees.''
''Dear folks,'' says Richard J. Snare of Old Town, Maine, who signs himself ''Very respectfully and appreciatively yours'' and adds the sketch below. However, he does have a suggestion: I see little poetry in much of your stuff; It doesn't have rhyming or rhythm enough. True - sometimes the idea may nice thought disclose, But all that appears is in poorly lined prose. It could be the writer is lazy that day, Or isn't convinced that what he has to say Is worth the reflection finesse would demand; But why it's in print, I cannot understand.
Sorry, but, as Edmund Wilson said in 1938, noting that poetry does not have to mean verse: ''Recently the techniques of prose and verse have been getting mixed up at a bewildering rate - with the prose technique steadily gaining.''
Thyrza Funk of Columbus, Ohio, writes about her own essay, ''What do you do with eight Rosenthal cup plates'' (Feb.27) with a thought that has been in her mind for a long time: not because the pictured plates and saucers with cups were Royal Copenhagen (as explained in a previous ''And furthermore ...) but because they were not even cup plates. She watched her grandfather drink from a saucer while ''the cup plate caught the drip from the cup.'' The picture ''shows me that to you cup plate means saucer,'' whereas the cup plate was ''a small flat dish about two-and-a-half inches in diameter'' that is now called a butter plate. Here, at last, we hope, are cup plates, if not Rosenthal ones. See them in the midst of cups and saucers - and behind the so-called slop bowl - in Sears Roebuck's Waverly semi-porcelain dinner set when 100 pieces cost $5.98. But even then they were listed as butter plates.
Margaret T. Holden-Jones of London notes that a ''Reader writes'' letter some time ago cited a book suggesting a birth date for Hannah More different from the 1745 she gave in ''Her law of kindness'' (Feb. 28). She names British reference books that confirm her date, and we have not found any that disagree.
How closely our readers read! And we're the better for it. For example, Mrs. Leslie Edwards of Abington, Pa., spotted the word ''chance'' in an announcement for one of our competitions. ''How about the word 'opportunity'!'' How about it , indeed! We're glad she felt we were offering an opportunity, because an opportunity - for fun, thought, imagination - is what each competition tries to offer. Not a mere chance for riches as in some lottery.
Once we caught a mistake ourselves. Last spring (May 14) - it must have been nice out - we let a line from Congreve go through as ''Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast'' when ''a'' should have been ''the.'' At least we didn't turn it into the familiar savage beast.
As for the recent competition inviting applications for financial aid by bygone writers (results, Aug. 27):
Alys Monod of Oyama, British Columbia, sent an excerpt from ''The Life and Letters of Emily C. Judson'' on how young Emily applied for employment at a New York newspaper in 1844. Her cousin urged her to claim hardship, but she frankly said she'd like to have a bit of the feminine finery to be found in Broadway shops. ''Well, you know, (this you must know), that shopkeepers have the impertinence to demand a trifling exchange for these things even of a lady; and also that some people have a remarkably small purse. ... And now, to bring the matter home, I am one of that class.'' The editors were so charmed they promised her a bonnet and dress and invited her to write for them.
David A. Richardson, managing editor of The Spenser Encyclopedia at Cleveland State University, departed from the competition by soliciting funds from the public to complete an actual encyclopedia. But we enjoyed his variation on Edmund Spenser's 1596 dedication of ''The Faerie Queene'' to Queen Elizabeth - ''To the Most High, Mightie and Magnificent Distributions Committee, Renowned for Charity, Wisdom, and All Magnanimous Friendship of the Arts, By the Grace of Shrewd Investments, etc.''
Finally - for now - Roberta D. Matthews of Long Beach, N.Y., wrote twice recently. About Red Barber's ''Who changed baseball most?'' (May 23): ''We are ardent baseball fans and always considered his broadcast of the games the best.'' And about Ralph Shaffer's ''Note in a brown bag lunch'' (June 13) with its fatherly words on French: The last line, ''Save ray, so study hard,'' brought back a schooldays episode about a classmate whose written French was perfect but who got by with two stock responses in conversation - ''Vraiment!'' with a wide-eyed look, and ''C'est vrai!'' Then reader Matthews says what we hope is true of all, whether you agree or disagree with one item or another: ''I feel all the writers are good and dear friends.'' Save ray.