What is it about the former Hay and Peabody Funeral Home? It has languished on the market for more than two years, even though it seems appropriately priced.

It’s a fine and serious example of Portland’s best turn-of-the-century architecture, although it has an architecturally inappropriate and unattractive addition to one side.

Its location is excellent, it has plenty of parking, and it even has a carriage house out back. Its street clock is a landmark in town. Add in its 11,000 square feet of interior space, and it seems fit for many possible uses. Why then doesn’t it sell?

I’m sure real estate professionals would have some answers, and they would probably be correct. But as an average person, I wonder if there isn’t something else involved. (Start “The Twilight Zone” theme music, please.)

Maybe it’s because it was Portland’s most prominent funeral home for years, and so many have done their grieving there, shed their tears there and buried their dead from there, that all that emotion has seeped its way deep into its old bones. Maybe because it’s now become a sort of shrine in people’s minds that no one wants to disturb.

I’ve not thought of myself as superstitious, but I wouldn’t want to live in a condo there or work in an office there, as it has too many hard memories for me as well.

It probably hasn’t sold because the economy is so bad that it’s hard to find someone who’s willing and able to take that risk. Still, I wonder

Samuel Henderson


Sea Bags owners deplore use of product photo


We congratulate you on bringing “pink-washing” (using cancer awareness to sell products) to the attention of your readers, but are disappointed you chose to include a picture of our Sea Bags, since our work to help fund cancer research is not an example of this practice.

Pink-washing is real and as commercial as Valentine’s Day. There are a few of us, however, that pursue initiatives such as this one with the right intentions. Those people that know Sea Bags (or look on our website) know that giving back is a cornerstone for our company.

We chose breast cancer awareness because both of our mothers bravely fought this disease. We interviewed many charities and chose Maine Cancer Foundation to keep our dollars local. We believe a cure can be found and so do our customers around the world.

We give back 50 percent of the proceeds from the sale of our pink ribbon bags. We can do it because our campaign is well thought out, is measured with a precise number of units, and has a finite start and finite end. When the bags are gone, we are done and carry a waiting list from year to year.

Your inclusion of our product without researching the facts is insulting to our customers, our employees and our mothers whose illnesses inspired this initiative. Worse, it could serve as a deterrent to other companies looking to give back to the community. I would hope, instead, you would use your influence to challenge other companies to find a model that allows responsible charitable giving.

To our customers who have helped us raise over $48,000 in a few short years for cancer research, our mothers thank you.

Beth Shissler and Hannah Kubiak
owners, Sea Bags Inc.

New strategic arms pact should be backed in Senate


The Portland Press Herald in August published an editorial in support of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation.

At that time, the paper said, “Maine’s Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe should use their well-honed bipartisan instincts and find common ground on this issue for the good of the nation.”

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee by 14-4 approved the full Senate voting on treaty ratification. Ratification requires approval by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.

So far, Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe have not announced how they intend to vote on ratification.

The Maine Medical Association at its annual meeting in September passed a resolution urging Sens. Snowe and Collins to support the both New START and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

In underscoring the reasons for its action, the MMA pointed out that health effects from even small nuclear explosions are on a scale far beyond the ability of the medical community and the public health infrastructure to respond adequately.

Any physician who has attempted to care for a severely burned or injured patient knows prevention is far better than any treatment.

Clearly the Public Health Committee of the MMA and the members present at the annual meeting believe that in the case of the health effects of nuclear weapons New START and CTBT promote prevention.

The MMA and its Public Health Committee took a bold step forward to inform our policymakers of the gravity and timeliness of this issue.

Now is the time for Sens. Collins and Snowe to take the leadership role asked for by this newspaper’s editorial and the Maine Medical Association resolution.

Douglas Dransfield, M.D.
board of directors, Maine Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility
Cape Elizabeth


Freedom of speech won’t cover inciting distrust


Kathleen Parker’s column about NPR’s firing of commentator Juan Williams (“Supressing thought won’t make us more tolerant,” Oct. 26) failed to consider two key points.

1) Williams is certainly entitled to his private opinion, but as a commentator on a major TV channel, such comments are not appropriate, even granting him First Amendment freedoms.

He has a responsibility to his audience, which is not to incite further distrust of Muslims just because of how they dress upon boarding a plane.

2) If his comments had been about Hasidic Jews who dress differently, or other minorities in some cultural attire, or Amish in their special clothing, there would have been a great hue and cry. He apparently gave no thought to the wider implications of his comments.

Parker apparently overlooked both of these points in her rather limited view and narrow comments about the media.

NPR was correct in firing him. Faux News apparently does not have such sensitivity to his opinion and gave him a raise.

I’ll take NPR any time!

William J. Leffler II