Letters for December 10, 2009

False promises

Re “Obama: quick to promise, slow to deliver” (Reviled and Revered, Dec. 3):

Finding a way to delay all home foreclosures for a while might be a good thing for the country’s overall well-being, but maybe not if most of those homes end up being foreclosed upon anyway at a slightly later date. In any case, I find it outrageous to think that some of the financial institutions doing the foreclosing may have themselves been saved from oblivion by gratuitous public assistance. They should’ve all been required to be as generous and forgiving with their borrowers as the government was with them. Unkept promises seem to be something that almost all successful American politicians have in common. All the presidents seem to make some promises when they are campaigning that they are unable to keep once elected; they probably would not have been elected otherwise.

Here in the United States, we favor boldness and certainty over investigation and deliberation, so we elect presidents who are as willing to jump to false conclusions as we are. How damaging a broken promise is to a president’s re-election chances may have something to do with how brashly it was made. The first George Bush made a promise of “no new taxes” during his 1988 campaign, but then found after being elected that he had to raise some taxes to keep the government running. If Bush had not been so adamant in his “no new taxes” promise, and had not so arrogantly prefaced it with his “read my lips” remark, perhaps Bill Clinton would not have been able to so effectively use that broken promise against him in 1992. When Jimmy Carter promised “a government as good as its people” in 1976, he seemed unaware that the government could be too good for its people. So when he asked for patience and shared sacrifice to deal with difficult problems, such as the need to become more energy independent, the people threw him out of office after only one term. They replaced him with a man who almost immediately removed the solar energy panels Carter had installed on the roof of the White House, choosing empty rhetoric over practical solutions. Even after he had already been elected, Ronald Reagan made promises he wouldn’t keep; one that I remember very clearly was, “We’re going forward, and we’re not leaving anyone behind.”

Kent Reedy

Know your candidates

Re “Weapons of mass distraction” (Reviled and Revered, Nov. 12):

Thank you for a thoughtful review on the insanity of the media. The articles we see are prompted by expensive PR firms behind these two candidates. In the meantime while these two go at each others throats, real candidates like Sharron Angle and several others keep plodding along getting one vote at a time. I suggest that voters study for their test on Primary day—June 2010—by reading the candidates record (if they have one). Voting is a great responsibility as well as a right. This is why Lowden has been questioned. When Lowden does not even allow her own party to vote, what kind of leader will she make? Hasn’t she proved herself to be just another politician or worse?

Juanita Cox

Well, la di dah, The Aristocrat

Re “Dog day afternoon” (Foodfinds, Dec. 3):

Only because I am an uber historic nerd do I feel the need to point out that Pat’s/Landrum’s Valentine Diner model is actually “The Aristocrat” model, not “The Little Chef” model. The main difference is the orientation of the marquee over the door. The Little Chef model has the marquee perpendicular to the front facade while the Aristocrat’s is parallel with the front facade. Also, the protruding corners of the building are a little different between The Little Chef and The Aristocrat. The Little Chef has shorter, rounder edges than Pat’s/Landrum’s. Not a big deal, but The Aristocrat is even more obscure than The Little Chef as far as I know. I have attached images of both.

Barrie Schuster
via email

And that’s not all

Re “Dog day afternoon” (Foodfinds, Dec. 3):

I enjoyed your article on Pat’s New York Hot Dogs. However, you stated, “Once assembled onsite, it became the Reno landmark known as Landrum’s Hamburger System No. 1. Valentine’s creations were designed to replicate the look of railroad dining cars, so architecturally-speaking it’s not a real head-turner. However, its beauty is its simplicity.”

There are several errors. First, most of Valentine’s diners, including the Little Chef, needed no assembly on site. They were shipped complete, whole and ready to be hooked up on delivery.

Second: that “Diners” are meant to resemble railroad dining cars is a popular misconception. Indeed, several diner manufacturers did aspire to the streamlined, stainless steel rail car look, but Valentine was not one of them. Most Valentines were best described as “boxy” and “unassuming.”

But the misconception stems from the idea that diners evolved from the rail dining cars. That, as well, is not true. Diners, as portable lunch wagons, actually evolved from actual horse drawn portable lunch wagons, the reported first being operated by Walter Scott in 1872 in Providence, Rhode Island.

The idea of diners is largely American in birth and development, and it caught on quickly in the Eastern Seaboard states. Arthur Valentine, however, was the only diner manufacturer west of the Mississippi River.

But if you can look at a Valentine and see a railroad car, I’d be interested in knowing what rail lines you’ve been frequenting.

I own a Valentine on Route 66 in Edgewood, N. M., and despite their simplicity, I just do love the heck out of them. Thanks for article.

Jerry Ueckert
The Red Top Diner
Edgewood, New Mexico


Re “Dog day afternoon” (Foodfinds, Dec. 3):

This story was incorrectly bylined as having been written by Brad Bynum. Grant Nejedlo actually wrote the review. We apologize for any confusion our error caused.