Edward Murphy’s take on the New England Square and Round Dance Convention, as reported in the April 25 edition of the Maine Sunday Telegram, made me question whether he and I had attended the same event. One thousand square dancers from across New England convened in Biddeford for a weekend of joyful, if not exhausting, dancing, and the overall atmosphere was enthusiastic and upbeat.

Nine years ago my wife dragged me to square dance workshops held by the SAGE Swingers in Brunswick. I was soon hooked by the physical and mental challenge together with the warm friendship and encouragement of the members. They were diverse in careers, age, economic and educational level, and personality, united by a spirit of good will and love of the dance.

Square dancing was for us a perfect vehicle for making friends in a new place and for experiencing the kind of physical exertion and mental stimulus that is the sine qua non of a healthy lifestyle. The friendships we have made through square dancing are many and deep.

I wish Murphy had met a broader cross-section of dancers. He would have found that the nature of square dancing is changing.

Western clothing styles are giving way to everyday attire. Many callers now bring rock music and other genres into their repertoires. Newer dancers are made welcome into the square dance community as they dance at the same levels as the more experienced dancers. Callers are experimenting with new forms of the dance and offer a selection of fast-paced dances, all of which are especially challenging, both mentally and physically.

Square dancing leaves the TV and the video games behind and re-establishes the art of personal interaction with friends. We have danced around the state and outside Maine, and have broadened our circle of friends. Some have danced in Europe and Asia, where all calls are the same worldwide and are called in English. This is a true American folk dance, which has been adopted around the globe as have so many aspects of American culture.

If Mr. Murphy would like to discover the soul of square dancing, he might join a local club and experience the physical workout and intellectual stimulation of this activity and the friendship of its participants. I invite him to attend the workshops of the SAGE Swingers in Brunswick. The time and locations are posted on the club’s website.

Daniel E. Harris


Why does energy answer have to be lesser of evils?

There is fresh talk of revisiting nuclear power. Been there, done that. And as far as I know, there have been no viable technological advances in the field — neither in the production of electricity (from an efficiency and effective point of view) nor in the handling of spent nuclear fuel and other dangerous byproducts (from a safety point of view).

Of course, many technological breakthroughs result from trial and error; however, concerning nuclear accidents, the price is just too high to apply that mentality.

Even the petroleum industry, which has been stumbling along for I don’t know how many years, is still learning at our expense.

Society is reeling under the high cost of petroleum-based products and the environment is being adversely affected by the harvesting and the usage of those products.

Some readers may see this as an argument for nuclear versus petroleum, but the point I’m trying to make is that there must be an alternative whereby we don’t have to choose the lesser of two evils.

Surely the innovative minds throughout this great nation can offer beneficial insight regarding energy whether it’s solar, wind, tidal or some heretofore unexplored avenue.

Kevin Douglas


Gun rally out of place, but the principle is right

I did not go to the Second Amendment rally for two reasons.

First, I believe that we do not openly brandish firearms for the same reason that we do not drop our trousers in public. We do not wish to frighten the women and children.

Second, I was put off by the display of a Confederate battle flag, since I detest all that that banner represents.

Nonetheless, the right to own and bear weapons is a right guaranteed by the Constitution and inherent in our humanity. Those who oppose such a right are the same ones who berate us for exercising our right to free speech, our right not to testify against ourselves, our right to practice an unpopular religion and our right to refuse unlawful searches.

Our nation began 235 years ago when some embattled farmers refused to allow the troops of a tyrannical government to seize their weapons at Lexington and Concord. We will be free men only as long as we remember that.

Michael Rowell


Headline on tragic deaths was far too insensitive

I found the title of your front page article in the April 28 Press Herald (“Autistic Gray man, 22, killed by his father”) to be insensitive.

What happened in Gray was a tragedy as two people lost their lives. While the reporter provided a thoughtful comment from an individual well versed in challenges of families with autism, the headline for the story lacked this same sensitivity.

I am sure just as many readers would have followed the story if the headline had been, “Tragic deaths in Gray.” This would have spared the sensationalism of the diagnosis as a primary driver and allowed the reader to benefit from the context set later in the article.

Rachel Mack


At least bare your breasts for a cause needing support

In response to the Press Herald article (“Reaction to topless largely over the top,” May 1) I would like to make a recommendation to these topless touters of being able to do so simply because it’s legal.

You undoubtedly know that you are receiving the attention and disapproval of many conservative Maine people and most likely find that appealing in order to promote “your” rights. However, if the focus were not simply on you and there was a point to baring your feelings about women’s rights, perhaps you would not be met with such disapproval.

I would imagine that the Maine Chapter of the American Cancer Society would more than welcome any donations to breast cancer research made by the bystanders who (despite their disgust) happen to be on the scene to sneak a peek.

Think about it, ladies. You can address your rights and be a great help to a very worthy cause.

Diane Libby


When they are small children, girls and boys are pretty much equal in chest development.

In their middle teens, most girls are clearly well ahead of boys.

Nearly all adult women are considerably superior to men in chest adornment.

I do not understand why some women would want to try to lower themselves to the level of men and boys in pursuit of “equality.”

I wonder if they feel some personal need to be exhibitionists?

David W. Knudsen


To be in the party of ‘no’ is to be a bit too ‘Marxist’

Hey! It just dawned on me that the Republican Party is predominantly Marxist.

Not Karl Marx, the father of communism. But Groucho Marx, who sang, in one of the Marx brothers’ films, “Whatever it is, I’m against it!”

John L. Meyer II


Residents can’t leave home without a proper crosswalk

Regarding the issue of crosswalks.

We live on Brighton Avenue and are mostly happy about it. Agreed, the snowplows that run 24/7 when there is a storm are a little upsetting, and the piles of snow on our driveway make for a problem in the morning, but still, it’s a good place to live.

Problem, though, is crosswalks. If we are to obey the law and refuse to “jaywalk,” we will never leave our block, because there are no designated crosswalks on Brighton, Beacon or Orland streets.

Over the last few days, I’ve walked with my dog around the neighborhood. And there are no crosswalks anywhere.

What this means, of course, is that the only way to legally leave our block is by car or bus.

I’ve talked to the city of Portland since we bought our house 24 years ago, but heavens, they have so many other things to do.

Maybe someday, I won’t feel like a criminal when I cross the street, without marked crosswalks.

But I doubt it.

Joseph Kolko


Paper dropped the ball on local immigration rally

Five hundred people rally on Saturday for immigration reform and you can’t cover it at all? The one sentence, attached to the article on national immigration reform protests, about the march in Portland doesn’t cut it.

The Bangor Daily News covered it. This is embarassing for your paper. Do you even know who spoke at the event? Do you realize religious leaders were there?

You have managed to cover the tiny tea party rally, the bare-breasted marches and the gun-carrying event. All three had fewer numbers combined than the hundreds of people who showed up on Saturday afternoon. Do you watch the local news on TV? All three local stations covered it.

I’m a daily subscriber to your paper and I now will be wondering about all the news in Portland that is simply not in your paper. Shameful.

Megan Boothby

South Portland

Addison man identified as Angelou’s link to Maine

I was very pleased to read the interview with the great Maya Angelou in the Maine Sunday Telegram on Sunday, April 25, and especially pleased that she mentioned her friend who inspired her to value Maine.

That friend was Andrew (Lea) Reiber of Addison. He may well be known to some of your readers, as he had a particular talent for friendship and for connecting with people of many backgrounds. For years he had a close correspondence with the English writer V. Sackville West.

He told me that he generally kept up with Ms Angelou by phone, as in his last years his arthritic hands made handwriting difficult. Like Maya Angelou herself, he was an exceptional friend, and a great champion of Maine.

Nancy MacKnight



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