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Artistic Whodunit

October 30, 1994

The charming ink-and-watercolor paintings on envelopes ("Special Delivery," Style, by Dr. James Brust, Sept. 25) reminded me of my own penchant for sketching on homeward-bound envelopes during World War II. Those ink-and-colored-pencil cartoons reflected the trials and tribulations of life as a P-47 fighter pilot. I was told by one of the recipients that she couldn't pick up her letters until they had circulated to the staff of the local post office.

Guess where this idea of decorating the U.S. mail came from. It was in a class with Fred (Pop) Lueders in the late 1930s that I saw his unique way of personalizing correspondence, and I learned the joys of sketching. In Lueders' long career, he reached many students.

I married the young lady I tried to impress with my sketches, and both of us have had enjoyable careers in teaching.

Al Porter



It was startling to discover that these charming watercolors had been directed at the remarkable young woman who occupied the iron lung alongside my own when the 1953 polio epidemic struck. Luckily, I escaped all ventilators after eight months at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital, but Myra Johnston had to be maintained in one 24 hours a day until her death 12 years later.

Lueders clearly had heard about Johnston, how she used a mouth stick to paint watercolors of her own, how her quiet light beamed on everyone in her limited world. This mystery search by Dr. James Brust has rekindled memories of a beautiful person.

Barbara Carter

Granada Hills


The artistry and charm of Lueders' work is remarkable, but even more impressive is Brust's relentless search for an unknown artist he chanced upon at a swap meet. I imagine that at the onset of his detective work, Brust had no idea that his story would include Pete Rozelle, Bill Hanna and even the California Assembly.

The article was timely, since I received a special delivery of my own that week. Out of the blue, a childhood pen pal sent me a stack of envelopes and letters I had illustrated with renderings of my pets. She'd kept them for almost 20 years.

Catherine Marks

San Diego

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