'We didn't want this'

In your article "Clear Cut on Rundel" (July 31), both Environmental Commissioner Edward Doherty and the Landmark Society's Peter Siegrist claim to be "following the wishes of the neighbors" as the reason for the dismantling of the Rundel Park streetscape. As a 25-year resident of the street, I object to summarizing the result as the neighborhood's desire.

            The original intent was to solve problems of the sinking curbstone, ruts made by cars and trucks riding over the curb, and damage to parked cars. The compromise that the neighborhood agreed upon is not what we got. What we got was the most extreme plan that the neighbors, when given a choice, rejected.

            I was present and spoke at both Preservation Board meetings and was dismayed at the minimum debate over this official Landmark of the City of Rochester. Why claim something is a Landmark when it is so readily disregarded by those with whom we entrust a sensitivity to our collective past?

            Geoffrey Kendig, Rundel Park, Rochester

Clearly shocked

I'm a long-time resident of Upton Park, a block west of Rundel, and I, too, was shocked when I saw what happened to the mall ("Clear Cut on Rundel," July 31). It's especially troubling to learn that some residents of Rundel weren't even aware the trees were being cut down. I can imagine their anguish.

            Rundel Park used to be a street that took pride in its preservation. I can remember, years ago, hearing that it was one of the few city neighborhoods that had voted to keep its old-style lampposts. Are they planning on ripping these out now, too? Also, I'm curious to know what kinds of new trees are to be planted in the mall and who has made this decision?

            It doesn't seem to make sense to destroy the unique character of a street in an effort to keep homeowners there, when the character of the street is what brought people there in the first place.

            Joe Carino, Upton Park, Rochester

Building downtown

If we build it (Central Station, performing arts center, soccer stadium, fast ferry) will they come?

            I don't know, but I do know other cities have transformed their vacant "downtown" into vibrant places all because "they did build it"!

            James M. DeMarco, Willmont Street, Rochester

Weird's humor

Thanks for including "News of the Weird." I really enjoy the humor and ironic twist. The news these days is depressing, and it's nice to know how to find the humor in life.

            I love your paper. Thanks for your involvement in making our community a happier place!

            Rebecca Stapley, Rochester ("a 16-year-old upbeat resident of the community")

God and the Pledge

Regarding Mary Anna Towler's "A God-fearing People": I am shocked at the way we respond to anything that has to do with God. I am not a highly educated man. Actually, I am a recovering alcoholic and addict. I am not religious in any denomination, but I have come to believe in a power greater than myself --- who I choose to call God.

            If it were not for the 12 Step Program that I attended, I wouldn't be able --- or even want --- to write in regards to this issue. When I came into the program, I saw the word "God" many times. I did not feel I needed religion; I just simply wanted to stop hurting myself and loved ones. I followed through, and received the help I needed to recover.

            Since I found sobriety, I have found a new way of life. I consider myself a spiritual person today and I thank God and the program for that. I was 42 years old when I finally went and got a GED, because I wanted to learn more and more.

            I also have children, and whether I was an atheist or not, it doesn't give me the right to stop my children from saying the Pledge of Allegiance. This country has been saying it for over 200 years, and we have been through our share of problems and made it. Our forefathers made this country what it is today, and they walked with God in their hearts.

            I just wish for one thing: that we all get to know that power greater than ourselves. The world will surely be a better place to live.

            Name withheld by request

Confessions of a thriftaholic

I got a kick out of Frank De Blase's cover story, "Get My Thrift," and Karrie Laughton's paper dolls (July 24). I hope it results in a mass migration to the thrifts mentioned. They (and other emporia representing alternative shopping) deserve our support --- and our donations.

            I'm familiar with most of the stores Mr. De Blase frequents, and can testify that they offer excellent quality, incredible bargains, and sometimes astounding finds. Part of the thrill of thrifting is making the unexpected discovery. That takes a bit of time (one shouldn't be in a hurry) and a certain relaxed frame of mind. It's like browsing through the displays in a museum --- seeing what comes up.

            Going thrifting can indeed be an excursion in pop-cultural socio-paleoanthropology. I often find myself wondering how the former owners acquired these items, what emotional significance they possessed, and why they decided to jettison them from their lives --- or who might have made those decisions for them. Interspersed with the tacky, the garishly outmoded, the fizzled-out faddish, the shamelessly kitsch, are the stunning finds.

            Two stores not on Mr. De Blase's list deserve mention. Matthew's Closet (in the basement of Corpus Christi's preschool, 880 East Main Street, across from Auditorium Theater; open Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) carries a nicely organized assortment of women's, men's, and children's clothes, and some beguiling miscellaneous items, such as small stuffed toys for 50 cents each and books for 25 cents. There's even a freebie bookshelf and freebie box in the foyer (with a sign asking families to limit themselves to three freebies per visit).

            I have found attractive silk neckties in impeccable condition for 20 cents each and some lovely women's vests at 25 cents each. I saw "Lord & Taylor," "Gap," and "Victoria's Secret" labels. Lots of polyester stuff, yes, but some natural-fiber goodies like linen blouses and fresh-looking cotton T-shirts. Some of the merchandise has never been worn --- true of many thrifts.

            Matthew's Closet has whimsical (or practical) weekly specials --- anything red, white, or blue was on sale for $1 just after the Fourth of July. On the last weekend in July, there was a "Food for Clothing" drive --- donate one item of nonperishable food for one item of clothing. Donations of clothing, toys, housewares, and toiletries are always welcome.

            Another favorite is Second Season at 1555 Mount Hope Avenue (across from Wendy's; open Tuesday through Saturday), a consignment boutique. While not, strictly speaking, a thrift store, and with prices that are higher than thrift-level rock-bottom, it is nonetheless a fun place to browse, and a great place to find funky, unique, and designer duds at terrific prices.

            Since it's a consignment store, the owners are selective about what they accept, which means that a shopper doesn't have to poke through an acre of polyester-cheapo stuff to light on a high-quality find. The focus is on contemporary fashion and classics. Unsold clothing is donated to charity after it's been on the rack a couple of months.

            I have also had a wonderful time browsing the new Goodwill Fashions, Etc. store at 451 South Clinton and have found creditable stuff at incredible prices.

            As for Chris Busby's comments on scavengers ("Refuse Road Show"): I was under the impression that stuff put out on the curb is legally considered "abandoned property" and can be taken without breaking any law. My friends and I have deliberately put discards on the curb, confident that the scroungers would take them before the garbage trucks arrived. A bit of advice to would-be scavengers: Scout the locations of garage sales after the sales are over and the owners have cleaned up. People who run these sales often dump unsold goods right on the curb, and there is often some good stuff intermixed with the schlock.

            I wish Mr. De Blase the best of luck in finding the Hawaiian shirt of his dreams. And maybe I'll run into him on the quest.

   Linda Levitan, Meigs Street, Rochester