October 13, 2012

Letters to the editor: Panhandlers put us to the test

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A woman panhandling on a Portland median strip expresses her hopes for a better life. A reader who gives to panhandlers asks for compassion for them.

2012 File Photo/Shawn Patrick Ouellette

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Don't blame the patients for rising health care costs

In response to "Personal responsibility another way to cut entitlement costs" (Another View, Oct. 6):

My husband passed away at the age of 56 due to a bone marrow cancer that had no connection to lifestyle, exercise, weight or smoking. He was a runner and a nonsmoker and had a healthy diet and annual checkups.

He was sick for five years, all of which he worked full time, never collecting long- or short-term disability, and he actually worked until the 10 days just before his death.

I am well aware that the cost of health care needs to be addressed, but feel that we should not penalize all for the unhealthy habits of some.

Why not focus more on the administrators who are paid so well, the inefficiency and waste that go on in our hospitals and the lack of communication among caregivers despite the new mandate for electronic medical records?

There is no easy solution to this matter, but I feel that we should proceed with caution and not deny those full coverage with heart disease, renal disease and cancer that in no way are the result of their "lifestyle."

Margaret Bearor

South Portland

Recollections of 1947 fires err on blazes' casualty rate

In the Insight section of the Oct. 7 Maine Sunday Telegram, the article titled "The week that Maine burned," by Elaine Frederick Killelea, contained several inaccuracies -- one a whopper.

Ms. Killelea, giving her recollections of the week of Oct. 13, 1947, says, "Remarkably, there were no fatalities."


In 1978, Joyce Butler published a well-written and well-documented book titled "Wildfire Loose: The Week Maine Burned."

The narrative begins as of Oct. 3, 1947, and tells how by Oct. 13, woods fires were spreading out of control in drought conditions. However, it was the week of Oct. 20 when the most devastation occurred, and the evacuation of Bar Harbor by sea took place the night of Oct. 23, 1947.

According to Butler's book, there were 15 fatalities, including fire-related accidents and at least one heart attack, which killed a firefighter. I found nine deaths listed by name and circumstance in the book.

Butler's book on the fires of 1947 is a wonderful read, full of heart and facts. It is readily available, and I recommend it.

Janet Joyce



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