Goldwater's trading post and other reader responses
It's good to welcome Sen. Barry Goldwater into our forum. He writes: ``In your Jan. 29 issue there was a most interesting and accurate story by Gale Warner [``A good buy''] on a Navajo rug. The rug depicted in the photograph, I am sure, is not the one she referred to, because it is a very extremely rare one and of tremendous value. ``The gist of her story, though, took me back many, many years when I owned a trading post and occasionally helped run it, and in would come a woman, once in a while, with a rug that she might have spent as much as three months on -- not two or three weeks -- a rug of varying quality and beauty, and it was my pleasure to buy it.
``I think back on those days many years ago of buying rugs for twenty, forty, or even as high as fifty dollars that, today, bring way over a thousand dollars apiece. Thank God, we finally got around to paying these Navajo weavers what their rugs are worth and now we find, not just the old women, but the younger women, adapting again to weaving, which was a part of their cultural life that I felt was going to disappear because of the lack of proper pay for a tremendous amount of work.
``The same thing has applied to Indian jewelry, and we now find that it is coming back on the reservations as real, authentic jewelry; it is being sought and being paid for. You see, during the periods when rugs and jewelry greatly appreciated in price, we found rugs being made in New Jersey and Mexico and jewelry being made in most of the states of the Union and in Mexico, all being called Navajo or Hopi jewelry.
``I'm glad you printed that article.''
We reached Gale Warner after her stay on the Navajo reservation. She shared our appreciation of hearing from Senator Goldwater and added: ``I wish the Navajo women themselves received more when a rug brings a high price, much of which usually seems to go to non-Navajo distributors.''
With the senator's long support for America's armed forces, he might like to know of the several readers who said Stanley Boxer spoke for them in his essay in praise of the GI Bill, ``A surprised eye on `this elegant nation' '' (Jan. 9). Some were, like him, artists giving credit to the educational choice allowed them by the bill.
``Thank you, Stanley Boxer!'' writes Joyce Dana of Racine, Wis., in the latest letter received. ``His gratitude and humility, his refreshing look back at the merits of the GI Bill, all made me reread in wonderment, realizing we are too often surrounded by a mire of cynicism.''
Speaking of military men, the Boston statue of Adm. Samuel Eliot Morison caught the eye of Evelyn C. Woolston of Levittown, Pa. when it appeared (Feb. 11) in a photograph by R. Norman Matheny: ``The composition, the contrast of light and dark, make the photo a `work of art' of a work of art.''
We wish we had room for the whole two-page single-spaced letter from Helen Grossmann of Hanau, West Germany, responding to Christopher Andreae's essay about his ineffectual cat-chasing dog in the international edition (Nov. 24-30), which appeared in other editions as ``Why is everyone on the dog's side?'' (Nov. 16).
She appreciates the intent to amuse but ``just cringed'' when she read it. She documents cases of dogs wounding and killing cats. Then she tells of a neighbor who has trained a hunting dog to defend cats.
``In other words, dogs do not have to chase cats. I just had to put in my say in defense of cats, those dear creatures, who especially over here need a good public relations man.''
Mary H. Reed of San Bernardino, Calif., recalls our bygone ``Entrepreneurial ideas'' file and suggests one that `comes to me each time I make the trek to the garage for dog food'' -- that is, attractive plastic or wood containers (perhaps looking like desks, stools, or tables) that would fit kitchen d'ecor and hold the largest dog food bags. Wonder if she saw Ruth Walker's piece for potential entrepreneurs in the Personal Finance section (Feb. 15). It tells of the National Entrepreneurship Foundation in Indianapolis and a ``Starter Kit'' for entrepreneurs offered for $5 at any office of Coopers & Lybrand.
From Virginia Golden of Portola Valley, Calif.: ``I enjoyed very much yesterday's poetry page [Jan. 30], which featured the two contrasting poems of the poet laureates. The difference in styles between Ted Hughes and John Betjeman is most stimulating. All this recalled an article in the Monitor about the salary (97) of the poet laureate of England. I send you a limerick:
``The poet laureate gets ninety pounds a year,/ Oh, come, fellow poets, give out a rousing cheer,/ For the name of the game/ Is not money but fame,/ Starving, the Queen can still make you a peer.''
Betty Bandel of South Burlington, Vt., writes: ``Mr. Louis Phillips's delicious suggestion that we feature poets on our paper money [`Read any good bills lately?' Nov. 6] calls to mind the fact that one poet is indeed featured on our dollar bills. What about `Annuit Coeptis' on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States on the back of the bill? It came from Virgil's `Aeneid' in the section when Aeneas is telling Queen Dido of his adventures. The translation seems to be, `He has nodded assent to our undertakings.' ''
Our forum grows through phone calls as well as letters. Sorry we didn't catch the name of a caller from the Midwest who said she was sending dancing schools copies of ``Five steps to the art of tap,'' by Leon Collins, and ``Bach meets bippidy bap,'' by his accompanist, Joan Hill (Jan. 7). The caller might like to know that last month Mr. Collins was given a tribute by present and former students and colleagues before a sellout audience at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Mass. Brenda Bufalino and Jane Goldberg were among the newer tap names to come up from New York; Charles (Cookie) Cook of the celebrated Copasetics was one of the veterans. A kind of Home Forum circle was joined when Mr. Cook affectionately recalled Hanya Holm telling him to keep moving when she was choreographer of ``Kiss Me Kate,'' in which he was featured on Broadway. She was the author of ``An honored choreographer says yes you can!'' (April 16, 1984). Mr. Cook brought down the house with his version of a dance by Miss Holm ``if she had been a tap-dancer.''
Elizabeth Walling of Keyport, N.J., spoke for a number of inquiring readers when she ``finished reading the delightful article `Whoever she was, she could write,' by Joan Baum [Feb. 5.].'' She wanted to know the publisher of the book being discussed, Beryl Markham's ``West with the Night.'' We find there is a fairly recent paperback edition published by the North Point Press in Berkeley, Calif.
Lila Chalpin, professor of literature at the Massachusetts College of Art, noted our first literary competition -- to write a weather report in the style of a familiar author (1983) -- and last year she tried the idea on her class in Russian literature. A few excerpts:
``What is the pleasure that so many derive from the sun? Why do they fail to see the pleasure that can be derived from suffering as well? It will rain.'' (Dostoevsky, Deborah Penny.)
``We should get a glimpse of the glorious sun around noon, so there's no reason why you glorious peasants shouldn't put down those plows and whip on your shorts. Maybe take a swim. Tomorrow night will remain clear and cool. If you are not doing anything take everything you own and drop it in a Goodwill box.'' (Tolstoy, Jim O'Neill.)
``The light shone evenly through the trees casting shadows of deep amber over the land as the day broke through, and as I walked over the crumbling moist soil the sun came beating on my cap. The mountains sat in solitude as the clouds pushed the day by and the sun finally set in a beautiful deep alizarin crimson.'' (Turgenev, John O'Shaughnessy.)
``Carp for Christmas is apparently uniquely Czech!'' writes Karen Fanta Zumbrunn of Princeton, N.J., referring to Jaroslav Jerry Barton's essay (Feb. 4) about children freeing the carp purchased in the market. ``My father (who was born in the US) spent several Christmases in Czechoslovakia and told me of this tradition.''
Robin J. Dowhie of Beechhurst, N.Y., enjoyed the new calligraphic alphabet by Jean Evans (Feb. 6) and sent along ``an original alphabet I designed after taking a graphics design course in typography'' (see right). Later we'll identify the ``horse-related equipment and tack'' -- and announce replies from readers that get more than half the items right and are received by April 1.