A Year to Remember

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I enjoyed your August 13-20 issue, especially the feature on the "Mighty Mac" bridge connecting the Upper and Lower peninsulas of Michigan ["Spanning a State"].

I traveled on the auto ferries several times as a boy before the bridge was built: quite an adventure. The longest traffic backups at the ferry docks occurred a day or two before the opening of Michigan's deer season. Some hunters stayed in line for up to 24 hours to take the ferry north. According to the July/August issue of Michigan History magazine, which celebrates the bridge's 50th anniversary, gas stations along the route equipped their pumps with 30-to-50-foot hoses so drivers could fill their tanks without losing their place in line.

Keith Honhart

Birmingham, Mich.  

"The Passions Behind the Pill" describes Margaret Sanger as the founder of Planned Parenthood (she actually founded the American Birth Control League, which later became Planned Parenthood). Sanger's thought process and her passion for birth control had a darker side than simply "to help poor women." She embraced eugenics and was a member of the eugenics societies of both England and America. Her writings included descriptions of immigrants and indigents as "human weeds" and "reckless breeders."

Fritz Baumgartner, M.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery University of California - Los Angeles  

"A Lasting Light Show," about Charles H. Townes, father of the maser/laser theory, was a very good article. Townes is a native of Greenville, S.C., where a committee unveiled a statue of him in April 2006. The statue depicts Townes at the moment he conceived the maser equation while sitting on a bench in Washington, D.C. In one hand is an envelope on which he had written the equation for the maser/laser, and a green laser emanates from his other hand.

Bob Townes

(Charles Townes ' s cousin)
Greenville, S.C.  

In June 1957, my wife, baby daughter, and I stood on the New York City dock. We had just gotten off the liner, our belongings in one large, black trunk. We had come from Ireland and were heading to Chicago, where I was to receive theological training for the Christian ministry. As I walked into the crowd, a man called me by name. He had been sent by his mother, who had a sister in Ireland, to meet us. He entertained us and put us on a bus to Chicago the following Monday. After my training, I ministered for 40 years. We are among the many immigrants who helped change America. May the kindness we received in 1957 be repeated in this great land.

Wallace A. Bell

Oceanside, Calif.  

You never mentioned which party Strom Thurmond, the 54-year-old junior senator from South Carolina, was a member of on Aug. 28, 1957, when he conducted the longest filibuster on record by a single senator in an unsuccessful attempt to derail the Civil Rights Act of 1957 ["And He Talked . . ."]. Thurmond was a Democrat at the time, but by omission, you seemingly misled readers into believing he was a Republican, the party he switched his affiliation to after Sept. 16, 1964. Republicans have been traditionally the party most credited for being least sympathetic to civil rights, but Democrats deserve their fair share of the credit, too.

Gregory F. Walton

Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich.  

As my fellow classmates and I prepare to attend our 50th high school reunion in Tenafly, N.J., I was delighted to receive "1957, a Year That Changed America." I e-mailed former classmates to pick up a copy. Besides recommending reading the cover story, I mentioned "Sex Ed for Seniors: You Still Need Those Condoms" in that same issue. You can't be too careful at reunions.

Bernie Campoli

Panama City Beach, Fla.