Tracing the history of the holiday
The first Thanksgiving was not held at Plymouth Rock in late 1621 but at Berkeley Plantation in Virginia on the north bank of the James River in 1619, where 38 English settlers landed. Led by Capt. John Woodlief, their charter stipulated that upon landing they devote the first day to giving thanks to God, a day of thanksgiving.
In the 1960s, Malcolm "Mac" Jamieson and his wife, owners of the plantation, played host to President John Kennedy and his wife, and the two men had a long discussion about where the first celebration was held. Kennedy said he would form a committee to study and decide the issue once and for all. Several months later, he phoned Jamieson and told him Berkeley won. But Kennedy, not wanting to go down in history as the man who stole Thanksgiving from the Pilgrims, began calling that celebration the first Pilgrim Thanksgiving.
Berkeley is also where the tune for taps was written and the site of the first bourbon distillery. Jamieson, who passed away several years ago, was a close friend of mine, and I would not be surprised if he and Kennedy didn't have a wee sample of spirits during their discussion.
John Ennis, Hudson
A selfish selloff | Nov. 17, letter
Prudence in investing
The writer appears to be divorced from economic reality. The tax increases for next year — including higher capital gains rates and a variety of surcharges — make it prudent for investors to take income into 2012.
I'm neither a "Wall Street honcho" nor a "1 percenter," but I'm going to sit on the investing sidelines for a while — as we appear to be headed off the fiscal cliff toward another recession. If the writer feels that staying in a declining market validates his vote for Barack Obama, that's his choice.
Peter Ford, St. Petersburg
Proposed hiring law on hold | Nov. 20
Isn't it kind of ironic that the city of St. Petersburg is thinking of paying a California firm $150,000 to evaluate a bill that would require hiring local workers to build expensive public projects? Aren't there any local companies that could do this?
Ken Leiser, Seminole
Mail-in voting helps, hinders | Nov. 18
Public needs to know
Your reporter, Stephen Nohlgren, deserves credit for this excellent article detailing the ongoing problems with mail-in voting. But the question arises: What is Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark hiding?
While the Hillsborough elections office could report that 755 mail-in ballots were rejected, Clark refused to provide a preliminary number of rejected ballots. As a "public servant," one would think that she would provide this information. I hope your reporter will follow up on this matter.
Robert Schultz, St. Petersburg
Rubio gains as GOP loses Hispanic vote Nov. 18
Rubio has clear hurdles
The sudden emergence of Sen. Marco Rubio as the savior of the Republican cause reminds me of the five stages of grief.
The first stage, denial and isolation, took place just after the election, when Republicans couldn't believe that Barack Obama had actually been re-elected.
The second stage, anger, took place about a week later with Mitt Romney's "gift" speech.
Now we're at the third stage, bargaining, where Republicans have come to a path to regain control. Unfortunately, they'll need to get through two more stages of grief — depression and acceptance — before they're ready to make clear decisions.
Rubio is undoubtedly a charismatic figure, but as a presidential candidate, he has some clear hurdles. Even after four more years, he would still be a pretty green candidate, especially against a possible seasoned veteran like Hillary Clinton. And he is Hispanic, but also Cuban. He would clearly win the Cuban-American vote in Florida, but the much larger Mexican-American vote would be more problematic.
My feeling is a candidate like Jeb Bush would be a far better choice.
George Chase, St. Pete Beach
Too soon for 2016 talk
The people who are bent on political office seem to be the most arrogant and self-absorbed people on the planet. Instead of working together for the benefit of the people and the country regardless of their affiliation, they are interested in only what they themselves and their friends can take from the country.
Already people are talking about running for office in 2016, instead of coming together to help the economy. Those who are talking about 2016 should be rejected as unfit for any office. They are interested only in themselves and what they can gain for themselves and special interests.
Paul Preuss, Largo
Socialite not a fit for Tampa society | Nov. 18
Gossip and attacks
As a resident of South Tampa, I was appalled by this article on the front page of the Times. It is shocking to me that an article that has no content other than malicious gossip, personal attacks and shallow generalizations is featured on the front page as news. I do not know Jill Kelley, but consider the concerted effort to portray her in such an unflattering light as a shameful display — worthy only of the kind of small-town insularity that the article seems, with extreme bias, to describe.
While the social hierarchy and history the article describes is, on the face of it, accurate for a very limited faction of the social ecosystem here, it is a superficial and insulting portrayal of the city and its residents. If I were reading this article as a newcomer to Tampa, or as someone living elsewhere, I would be left with the impression that Tampa is a mean, petty and provincial region full of backbiting and shallow, caricatured characters. That falls far short of the substantive, kind and welcoming community I have come to know in my own scant 18 years living here and joyfully participating in our civic life.
I expect more of one of the best newspapers in the country. If, in fact, this article is newsworthy (and I think that is dubious), it certainly is not front-page material. It belongs in the social or gossip page, or in a tabloid. One thing is clear: The notion of "wanna-be," "social climber," or "real thing" are all entirely interpretive, and have no bearing in any objective reality.
That the scandal initiated here is unfortunate but unchangeable. But the exploitation of Jill Kelley, our community, MacDill Air Force Base and others peripherally demeaned by their association with this story is optional.
Amie Devero, Tampa