Letters to the Editor - Lakeville Journal - 11-9-17

Going to church is still not a risky business 

Golly, the Muslims fill their mosques. And Europe’s churches seem to be full. In my small town in South Florida there wasn’t one predominant religious group in the population. But you knew what people were going to do Sunday morning: Go to church! There were Baptists and Methodists and Episcopalians and Presbyterians and Catholics and Jews going to temple Saturday. Most of the five Catholic masses on Sunday were full. But nowadays it seems more churches are closing every day, or merging congregations/parishes. Why? Are Sundays different now?

How about you and yours? Do you encourage your kids to go to church? And why don’t you? Are you so good that you don’t need to communicate with your higher power? (We call him God). With a world full of hateful little wars and threats to start a massive mega-killer war, and nature whacking everyone with hurricanes and floods and fires and maniacs murdering and wounding innocent people enjoying a concert, riding bikes, or, for God’s sake, even at church (I’m so sad) — don’t you think a little praying might help? By the way, children need to be taught (or even better, shown by example) that prayer is really an OK, neat thing to do. It isn’t enough that besides ignoring drugs and cigarettes and booze, that they floss, and bathe every day, and hopefully do their parts around the house, they should also look at the big picture, i.e., North Korea, the foolishness of Spain’s Catalans, the ugliness of Hollywood’s dirty laundry, the killers of Isis, and how we’re all interconnected in this getting-smaller-every-day world. 

Maybe prayer won’t affect such mindless, hideous thinking, but then again, it just might. Here’s an idea: Try starting an evening prayer routine with your kids. Kneel down with them, and say something like, “Let’s have a goodnight chat with God. I’m sure he’d like to know what’s on your mind.”

But, forgive me, I digress. I’ll get back to the point, which is: Why don’t people go to church? There are some lovely churches here in our neighborhoods. In Millbrook, Millerton, Amenia, Lakeville and Salisbury. I’m prejudiced — no, not about skin color or accent or costuming — but about the church I’ve chosen as mine. It’s Presbyterian. Forgive me, Father Kent, even though I was raised Catholic, I figure God doesn’t care where we sing and pray as long as we sing and pray. 

So, if I can’t force all you nice people to go to your very own neighborhood church — and I mean it, I really want you to go — know that you’re welcome to come to our lovely old sanctuary, The Smithfield Presbyterian Church in Amenia, and share the warmth, wit and wisdom of the Rev. Douglas Grandgeorge — our “Rev.” Have I said enough? Too much? 

Tough apples. I mean every word of it. I look forward to hearing you join us as we sing our hymns, and pray for a better world. Service starts at 10 a.m. sharp. Bless you.      

Jim Flaherty




Correcting some numbers

In the spirit of keeping the public well informed about our state’s financial problems, I must correct two significant errors in Patrick Sullivan’s article in last week’s edition.

First, the state teachers’ retirement system deficit that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy initially proposed that certain towns and municipalities assume in the 2017 fiscal year was $400 million, not $400,000, as stated in Mr. Sullivan’s article.

Second, the state teachers’ pension fund liability is around $12 billion, not $1.2 billion, as stated in Mr. Sullivan’s article. The latter number represents the state’s “actuarially required contribution” in 2017 in order to pay off the total liability, as required by “covenants” in the 2008 pension fund bond issue.

I recognize that pension issues can be mind-numbing and confusing, and apologize for boring readers with these geeky explanations. 

However, I think it is essential for the public to be correctly informed about issues of such magnitude to the financial health of our state.

Thaddeus I. Gray



New Britain born and bred

George Springer the Third, named MVP of the World Series.  Fabulous for that city bereaved, and standing tall.

Paul Manafort, also a son. Disgraced.

Polski forever!  The previous Pope, minus one, visited there, one of only three cities he went to in the United States. The best golumpki outside of Krakow or Warsaw.

Lonnie Carter

Falls Village


After the fall

I am alone

The last rocket left

All were sent to the new “earth”

I hid

We destroyed our home

In the name of commerce, free enterprise

We didn’t listen to the science only to corporations

Now I am here, calm and at peace

For I will go with the earth into….

Michael C. Kahler



Enamored of beets

As someone whose culinary skills extend only so far as microwaving pouches of veggies and eating the result over the sink, I was surprised to learn that your food columnist (Cynthia Hochswender) and her old college classmate (Tina) are so enamored of fresh beets that they actually fill suitcases with this invasive weed and fly the contraband cross-country to each other.

Cynthia did acknowledge that she and Tina are both a bit wacky to begin with. When you put two people like that together, you naturally expect odd things to happen. One can easily imagine the scene at airport security:

“What’s in the suitcase, lady?”


“What did you say?”


A security dog sniffs the suitcase, barking madly and licking it.

“Alright, open it up.”

Tina opens the large case, which is really more like a steamer trunk.

The security guard gives a long whistle. “You weren’t kidding, lady. That’s a lot of beets.” Then to central command: “We’ve got an active 527 here – lady with a suitcase full of beets.”

A supervisor hustles over. “Where you taking those beets, lady?”

“To my friend in Connecticut.”


“My old college classmate. Her name is Cynthia. She writes the food column for The Lakeville Journal. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.”

“Nope. Don’t they have beets in Connecticut?”

“Not like these.”

“What’s so special about ‘em.”

“Fruity color, enticing aroma, supple texture.”

“You or the beets?”

“Watch your mouth, mister.”

“Sorry. Can I try one? Hmmm, not bad. You sure know your fruit, lady.”



The first guard tries one too. “Say, these are the best suitcase beets I’ve ever tasted in all my years in airport security.”

Hours later, after Tina and her beets are safely aloft, she texts Cynthia over Kansas: “It happened again. Detained at the airport.”

Cynthia texts back: “Are the beets safe.”

Assured they are, except for six bunches the security dog chewed to shreds, Cynthia begins blocking out her column for her readers … beet cupcakes … beet borscht … beet butter … beets ‘n bacon … beet wine … even beet chewing gum.

Apparently beets are all they’re cracked up to be. So bon appetite if you’re bats about beets. 

Mark Godburn

North Canaan


Let Berkshire Museum find a new vision to better serve its changing community

We are artists, small business owners, parents and Berkshire community members, and we support the Berkshire Museum’s bold plan and vibrant vision to bring the museum into the 21st century so it can continue to creatively serve all of us.

Thoughtful, proactive change is the only thing that will save our Berkshires from a rapidly declining population and rising income inequality. We have watched the Clark Art Institute, Mass MoCA and Barrington Stage Company take bold steps to expand their footprints and their missions to better serve our community in recent years, and we are excited that Berkshire Museum will be next.

We are impressed with the museum’s extensive two-year master planning process and welcome the significant infusion of funding into our creative economy to go toward the renovation of the museum and the expansion of their endowment, allowing them to focus on serving our community. We trust the Berkshire Museum.

We understand and sympathize with the sadness among some that 40 works of art will no longer live in the Berkshires. But they will not be forgotten, and their departure will bring about something so much more priceless than what they’re worth — enriched experiences for a changing community.

We are excited to imagine the possibilities that will come to life with this bold step forward, and will let the museum lead the way with our full support.

Among those more than 200 who signed were the following people.

Michael Vincent Bushey

Jonah Sykes

Sara Paul

Howie Marshall

Rachel Melendez Mabee 




Evidence of reckless disregard in high places

Here is President Trump’s response to the tragic massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas: “Mental health is your problem here. ... This isn’t a guns situation. This is a mental health problem at the highest level.” 

The absence of comprehensive federal gun ownership regulations points to a failure of moral courage of epidemic proportions in Congress. There is a perilous psychological imbalance at the highest levels of national leadership as well.  

Also from the president: “Based upon preliminary reports, the shooter was a very deranged individual.”  It is a real stretch of imagination to think that President Trump is qualified to make this kind of professional psychological assessment from halfway around the world, or possibly from anywhere.

His remarks are red meat thrown to the NRA and members of Trump’s own political militia. They are well-fed by daily reckless tweets.

Let’s suppose that all of the latest shooters and mass murderers are mentally “deranged”, including the driver of the truck who mowed down innocents in New York last week.

Since emotional health really is a national problem, why would our leaders make it so easy for so many anguished and disturbed people to acquire so many guns of all kinds, including even instruments of war? 

We have lost our bearings. 

It is truly crazy to continue this way.  

John Carter