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Real Penny Pinchers Don't Own Camrys and Valet Park

November 21, 2001

In Sandy Banks' thought-provoking Nov. 13 column ("A Change in Vehicle and Self-Image"), she laments: "I wound up pinching pennies, as a single mother of three. A Camry was the car I chose. ... "

If you can spring for a late-model Camry, what do you know about pinching pennies? Millions of Californians will never own anything but a rotten used car that soaks up their paychecks with the constant cost of repairs.

"I'm not trying to land a man or impress the folks at valet parking." People who are steadily employed at the Los Angeles Times don't know much about scrimping and saving.

Scrimping doesn't include valet parking, either. You park six blocks away, if you ever go anyplace that has valet parking. "A family marked by frugality." Does Banks know where to buy a used tire for $8? Has she ever had to lose a molar, over her dentist's agonized protests, because she didn't have the $200 to save it? I have, because I was supporting a family of five on $450 a month (before deductions). A Rabbit, a Corvette, a Volvo, a Camry, an SUV and now a minivan. Geez, what a tough life! But Banks forgot to tell us about walking to school 3 miles in the snow.




Who's Going to

Fight for the Truth?

I can't believe that Walter Cronkite's comments on the blackout of the press in Afghanistan (City of Angles, Nov. 14) were buried in the Southern California Living section. This should have appeared on the front page with an editorial follow-up. If you don't fight for the truth, who will?


Mission Viejo


Walter Cronkite says he prefers the "World War II-style censorship of war dispatches to the news blackout now shrouding the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan." He complains that, without journalists accompanying the troops, Americans aren't getting enough information.

I agree, and just as soon as we can get "journalists" to become war correspondents (as they were in World War II), put on the uniform, submit to the authority of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (as they did in World War II) and get themselves into top physical and mental condition to accompany the SEALS or Delta Force on an insertion, then we can get back to the golden days of reporting Mr. Cronkite prefers.

Somehow, though, I just don't think many in our current cadre of journalists are up to the challenge.


Redondo Beach


Three Cheers for

Talented Photographers

Whether or not nominee-writers Susan Straight and/or Wanda Coleman will win the National Book Award, they owe Times photographer Clarence Williams for his great shot of them ("Success on the Edge of the Literary Landscape," Nov. 12) against the landscape mural of the early Southern California corn-gathering woman.


Santa Monica


As an artist and admirer of the late Norman Rockwell, I would like to commend Times photographer Carolyn Cole who took the picture of Joe's Haircutting & Styling in La Mirada ("A Tonic Called Friendship," Nov. 5). The photograph is not only beautifully reminiscent of a Rockwell painting that might have appeared on a Saturday Evening Post cover, but it brought back memories of a simpler--dare I say, better?--time in our lives, a time before cell phones, SUVs and terrorists, which made me feel good. Thank you, Carolyn, for making my day.


Los Angeles


A Great Pair

of Gambs?

I am mystified as to why guest of honor Peter Mullin was wearing a Scottish kilt to the Emerald Ball (Social Circuits, Nov. 11), one of the MacDonald Clan's tartans, no less. I presume he was unable to find an Irish kilt.

Nevertheless he did look good, and the particular tartan chosen is one of my favorites.




Reader's Literary Preference Is No Mystery

I enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes essay and book reviews (Mysteries, "Holmes' Appeal Is Elementary to Modern Mystery Writers," Nov. 11).

Additionally, Michael Dibdin's "The Last Sherlock Holmes Story," and also my favorite writer, Laurie King, has a most intelligently written "Mary Russell" series in which Mary meets up with Holmes after his retirement in Sussex and joins him in a number of adventures. Holmes remains in good literary hands.


West Hills


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