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Lettters Feb. 24

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Black history I am proud of Dr. Romona Davis, featured in your article “In the middle” with her husband Lamar. But I must point out that the article said incorrectly that Dr. Davis was the first black ophthalmologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Dr. Joe Elliott Smith was the first black ophthalmologist on the UAMS faculty. Since 1998, the Arkansas Eye Bank and Laboratory has purchased books for all incoming residents in memory of Dr. Smith, who in “his quiet demeanor, commitment and unwavering stance for truth had an unmistakable influence on all who knew him.” Linda Higdon North Little Rock Dr. Joe Smith, who died in 1997, was the first black ophthalmologist to practice at UAMS. He was a personal friend and mentor to me and was an extremely humble, quiet and gentle man and would not have cared to be recognized as such (first black). There is so much I could say about this man, but suffice it to say that he was a well-loved, dedicated and most capable ophthalmologist. Martha J. Jones Little Rock As a black, I enjoyed your Feb. 3 article, “The face of black Arkansas.” I am unacquainted with several areas of Arkansas and reading about them through “black eyes” was informative. My concern is how your paper asked about attending church services. You asked as though attending an all-black service was a vestige of segregation. Many blacks believe this “segregation” is quite acceptable. I prefer my worship, my music, even a “black” message. Tracey Tell Jacksonville Tears over teardowns In response to “Teardowns move to Hillcrest” Feb. 10: After reading this article I had to wipe my tears and compose myself enough to write a letter in hopes that Hillcrest homeowners will read it and take action immediately. I grew up in Hillcrest and now live in a historic area downtown where I plan to stay for the rest of my life. I would not live in a newly constructed home if it was given to me, but understand how some people prefer a new home. These people who want new homes should build or buy them in new neighborhoods. Just take a drive through the Heights north of Cantrell and you can see what development as the type described in the article will do to what was once an absolutely beautiful neighborhood. To the residents in Hillcrest I ask, what is worse, being told you can’t paint your home orange or having an ugly house built next door to you? Please, please, please do something now to save your neighborhood. The two couples in the article should be ashamed of themselves for what they have done or plan to do. If I owned a home on either side of 476 Ridgeway, I would have lain in front of that bulldozer to stop that tragic demolition. I have not seen a house yet that could not be repaired. Have these people never heard of elbow grease? If someone can afford to pay a premium price for a home and then tear it down and build a new one, they should be able to restore a piece of history. I am so upset over this that I could just spit!! Leslie Schoultz Little Rock Whipping kids I do not agree with Max Brantley on very many topics, but I could not agree more with his Feb. 17 column on corporal punishment. I am a transplanted Yankee. My parents bought a small business in North Central Arkansas in 1971. As a freshman in high school, I unknowingly had the misfortune to run afoul of the school dress code (I wore a tank top). I was summoned from my class and brought before the principal who admonished me, and asked if I wanted to be suspended or receive “licks.” I asked “What are licks?” When the principal explained what licks were, I was out the door and on my way home for three days. My parents were livid. Threatened to sue the school, and keep me home. The principal threatened to have my parents arrested for contributing to my truancy. In 1971 rural Arkansas this was a routine practice. On my subsequent return to the school the principal insisted on applying the three licks as a condition for my re-entry to the school. Stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place, I had to submit to the licks. The impact of this treatment stuck with me for a long time. No, I was not a troublesome child. I was a good student, and went on to graduate from the University of Central Arkansas. I now work for the Department of Human Services/DDS, and on occasion see the impact of violence and punishment meted out to kids. I’m not in favor of corporal punishment in any way, shape or form, and I am incredulous that it still exists in Arkansas schools. I’m certain there are others who feel as I do too. I will be contacting my elected representatives to ask them to address this issue. And yes, I am a registered Republican. Chris Bliss Conway Plugged in to Bob I’ve been a fan of Bob Lancaster’s for a long time. This week, I felt compelled to write a thank you. His column Feb. 10 on the legislature’s attacks on gay families was pure brilliance. I especially enjoyed the discussion on “plug bars.” Thank you for the great writing. I think, even though I am a near-destitute college student trying to make it in this world (unless of course the legislature bans gay people from attending the same schools with, drinking from the same fountains as, or being anywhere near, the straights in public), I may subscribe now, just to give you guys some well-deserved financial support. Daniel Ward Little Rock Beyond the sea Read David Koon’s review of “Beyond the Sea” and obviously he’s not old enough to remember the star that Bobby Darin was. Had he been around at the time, he would know that he was a brilliant artist whose talent was unmatched during his time. Thus the reason for the Kevin Spacey movie and Kevin’s quest to bring Bobby Darin’s work to young people who aren’t acquainted with his work such as yourself. I was never enough of a Darin “fan” to have bought much more than his early rock ’n’ roll records, but I do know that his music was played on every radio format in the country for three decades. To say that his complete life’s work can be heard on a greatest-hits collection is pretty ignorant. He crossed music genres to include folk, rock, R&B and big band and you won’t find much more than 12 to 18 tracks on any compilation, which could never encompass all that he did and the hundreds of songs he recorded. Try listening to his album with the great singer/songwriter Johnny Mercer and you’ll get some idea of the amount of talent he had. Jim Branson Greensboro, N.C.

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