1. Archive

Our casual culture too often sinks into sloppiness

Re: Let's put an end to this crass casualness, March 8.

I have lived in Florida for nine years and find that in the way people dress there is a very fine line between casual and sloppy. Saturday night around 8 while dining in a very nice restaurant a couple sat next to us. She was dressed lovely, but he was a large man with a tank top and shorts that didn't match. If there is anything less appetizing than to see hair sticking out of his armpit, I would like to know. I did have a chance to count the freckles on his back while I waited for my meal. Should restaurants have a dress code? This guy could not get on a golf course dressed like that. If you don't have a shirt with a collar, stay home.

Then we have the women who grocery shop in their bathing suits or go out to lunch in a terry-cloth halter and shorts. Boy! There is nothing more unappealing than the sight of dark, untanned, wrinkled skin oozing out of the top and bottom of the outfit. Maybe 50 years and 50 pounds ago you could get by with this get-up, but it would take a lot of guts to wear that to the pool at the trailer park at midnight. But not in public. Buy a full-length mirror and use it before you go out.

My mother told me to always remove my hat when I entered a building, but I see a lot of men who either never met my mother or forget what their mothers said about manners and etiquette. How often do we see a man eating in a restaurant with his hat on? And sitting at the same table are his two sons, each eating with their hats on, but theirs are on backward. Now there is a family with class.

If you live here year round or you are just here for the winter, please remember: It's far better to stay home and have everyone think that you are a slob than to go out and prove it.

Gordon Richardson, Spring Hill

Remember your Sunday best

I say a loud "Amen" to the article by Paul Akers, Let's put an end to crass casualness.

Just the other day in my own Methodist Church, I was somewhat shocked to see a young woman wearing short-shorts and giving the impression that she was heading toward one of the gulf beaches.

During previous years I attended a church whose pastor expounded interesting sermons. However, as I glanced around at folks entering the sanctuary, I always observed some characters who were sloppily attired. One might expect to see them at a baseball game or the auto races. Some wore torn clothing as though they had been in a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Having grown up in a Christian home, my siblings and I were taught to show respect to God. We looked forward to attending church services on Sundays. It was then that we could wear our very best clothes, shoes that we had cleaned and polished on Saturday and neatly combed hair.

You are exactly right, Mr. Akers. Yes, the black congregations are dressed to the hilt and are seen leaving their churches adorned in their Easter clothes. They are sincere when they chime the well-known hymn, Give of Your Best to the Master.

Mary Juna McLeod, St. Petersburg

Confiscate their cars

Let me add my voice regarding the accident on the Howard Frankland Bridge. I am a professional driver driving a taxi 10 hours a day.

Your correspondents are totally right about the A-type drivers: Driving 20 miles above any posted speed limits is normal; changing lanes at the drop of a baseball cap is normal; horn-blowing, finger salutes, all normal.

The recent police action looking for drinking drivers was commendable, but revoking licenses is not enough because they go on their merry way without that license.

What to do? Take away their car! If caught speeding, impound the car one day per mile over the speed limit. Sending them to driving class is a joke. It does nothing to change bad habits.

If driving under the influence, impound their car one week per percentage point above the infraction level. I think that's the way to get their attention, and it will get dangerous drivers off the road for a while. Then send them to a school that would implant proper driving procedures into their brains.

If any local politician is looking for a platform, think about my suggestions. I know Mothers Against Drunk Driving would support you!

Henry Kamerling, South Pasadena

Creating a desire to learn

Re: A student must want to learn, by David Walsh, March 10.

Professor Walsh's effort to put the responsibility for wanting to be educated on the student, per se, is misguided. Nobody is born with an instinct for formal education. It is the responsibility of the parents, the family group and society to demonstrate why that child should want to be educated. The child needs to have his or her natural curiosity stirred.

People under the ages of 18 or 21 are considered children/adolescents because they do not yet have the maturity and life experience to be accepted as adults. In other words, they are still learning. The guidance they get from parents, family and society should be based on that fact. The music they listen to, books (comics) they read, movies and TV they watch should leave them with the positive attitude that the more one learns, the more one wants to learn and the more there is to learn.

Walsh is correct to say that a student must want to learn, but it is up to us to instill that desire to learn. At present, we are not doing a very good job of it.

Frank W. Russell, Tarpon Springs

What we learn early persists

Re: Basketball star gets 28 years, March 1.

William Teal was a great basketball star who could have been a multimillionaire playing a game. He gets 28 years in prison instead. Why?

I can tell you why!

The preteen years are the most important years of your life. It is these years that put you on the path of where your life is headed. This is where you learn "right from wrong" and it sticks in your mind the rest of your life. You can "act" in a different manner, but you can't shake the embedded concepts of your youth. (Anyone with any insight can see it's too late to learn as a teen.) William Teal is the perfect example of this.

William Teal was already in a "prison" and couldn't escape. We must change the environment of our young. We must!

Donald F. Kelly, St. Petersburg

An inappropriate punishment

Re: 3 teens get life terms in prison, Feb. 20.

Am I missing something? Five teens set off on "an all-night car theft and burglary spree," steal a car, are pursued by police and bashed by a van as they run a stop sign. One 14-year-old perpetrator is killed; a 15-year-old suffers "brain damage and a broken jaw." Of the other three survivors, the judge says, "They're children, but they committed adult crimes." She sentences them to life in prison. The prosecutor says, "It was only a matter of time before they killed someone."

Were these really "adult crimes," or were they mindless juvenile crimes? As for "killing someone," since the someone killed was one of the perpetrators (which was surely not the intent of the transgressors), one might reasonably anticipate that this would factor into the punishment quotient _ not as an additional charge against the group but as the ultimate penalty, already invoked.

What seems clear from the account given is that the participants were victims of their own immaturity and a system which seems to have done nothing to modify the lifestyles and thought processes of the two group members who were under house arrest after having been apprehended in a previous "high-speed chase with police."

Very likely, the contrition expressed by the three young men who survived physically intact is sincere and heartfelt. Obviously, they have undergone an intense emotional experience, providing an instant jolt toward maturation. Unfortunately, it has come too late as, with their condemnation to a life of incarceration, the system would seem to have failed them for the second time.

Life sentences should be reserved for persons who are evil beyond redemption. These young men are neither evil nor irredeemable. Short-sighted? Yes. Reckless? Yes. Evil? No.

The punishment does not fit the crime.

Ben Tutoli, St. Petersburg

Protect the Baltic states

Since time immemorial large nations expanded their borders by plundering and decimating their smaller and peace-loving neighbors.

In Europe the Russians pushed westward and the Germans eastward into the Baltic States for centuries. But in 1939 Hitler and Stalin conveniently agreed to "who gets what and where." After World War II, at the Yalta Conference, the Baltic States were sold out and made an unwilling appendage of Russia. The United States never recognized this annexation to Russia.

Once again, Russian pressure is being applied to isolate the Baltic States and bring them into the Russian sphere of influence. For example, Moscow would not agree on borders and violently opposed their possible membership in NATO.

This threatens their independence and the general progress toward Western democracy. Like Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, their hope is also to be accepted into NATO.

On March 20-21 President Clinton and the Russian president will meet in Helsinki, Finland. Let's hope that a unified, peaceful Europe will come from that meeting and not another sellout of the Baltic states to the Russians _ no, not another Yalta!

Heino Luts, New Port Richey

Commuter train's benefits

A most wonderful thing has come to our area and a big "thank you" should go to those officials responsible for bringing it to Hillsborough County and letting us try it for a month.

Of course I'm referring to the commuter train. This has to be the best thing to come here and I think the surrounding counties also could benefit from this rail system. Let me tell you how this could really work for Pinellas County and how good this sounds.

To start off, that rail line downtown goes right to the front door of Tropicana Field. There's also a line that dead-ends right at the famous Garrison Channel and the aquarium. There's the old eastbound Seaboard line that runs out toward Temple Terrace, which will put you at the front door of MOSI, USF Sun Dome and Busch Gardens.

I think that this is a big need for this area and long overdue. And maybe the county and cities could lobby Amtrak to return service to this area. The west coast of Florida is in need of a rail service. This idea is more workable than a bullet train. I think it's about time for rail service from Tampa to Tallahassee instead of just those other cities. This could work if the press and the big-money people sit down and look at this really hard.

Tim Smith, St. Petersburg

Celestial dud

Re: Immense comet a sight before dawn, to northeast, March 10.

I went out and looked northeast _ nothing but streetlights.

I found a spot shadowed from streetlights _ is that the immense comet?

It looked more like a faulty streetlight.

Melville Evans, Largo

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