Staff Columnist

Wholesome letters for a nasty year

A look at the softer side of The Gazette's opinion page

Tthe front page of Jan. 10, 1883, the first edition of the Evening Gazette. (Gazette archives)
Tthe front page of Jan. 10, 1883, the first edition of the Evening Gazette. (Gazette archives)

In a year we were physically separated, we found community on the opinion page.

In my work for The Gazette’s Insight section, I take note of what I call wholesome letters — positive notes, messages of gratitude or opinions about anything other than contentious political issues. They provide a soothing contrast to the bombastic and hyper-partisanship takes that usually fill the page.

Here are a few of my favorites from 2020.

April Neuendorf of Hiawatha (“What’s that racket out there?” May 20) wrote that her weekend housework was disrupted by a “racket.” When it turned out to be children playing outside, she took time to stop, watch and listen.

“I want to thank the kids for the loud and fun Saturday they shared with any of us that heard and really listened,” Neuendorf wrote.

Wayne Schilling of Cedar Rapids (“Many thanks for generosity to veterans,” Nov. 21) wrote to say thanks after a young man bought breakfast for Schilling and a group of fellow veterans at a local restaurant on Veterans Day.

“I didn’t catch your name but heard you say your grandpa was a veteran. The gesture was unexpected but very much appreciated,” Schilling wrote in a letter totaling just 49 words.

Joan Thorson of Cedar Rapids (“Simple thank-yous have a big effect,” Sept. 5) wrote about her interactions with telecom companies after the derecho windstorm. When her service was restored, she called to say thanks, and encouraged others to do the same.

“Apparently I was one of the few calls he’d gotten from a satisfied customer. He said my call gave him the boost he needed to handle calls for the rest of the night,” Thorson wrote.

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Darla Godfrey of Cedar Rapids (“Thanks to all of those who sew,” April 13) wrote to highlight her church group’s work making masks to donate to coronavirus response efforts.

“We dug into our stash of fabric, elastic, bias tape and started to make what they needed. We did not question, we just went to work,” Godfrey wrote.

Terry and Joan Murrin of Cedar Rapids (“A familiar face arrives after the storm,” Aug. 30) wrote about how the newspaper delivery kept them informed while phone and TV service were out after the derecho.

“All of the sudden, a familiar face came through the tangle of trees and rubble. It was Tom Hufford, our Gazette carrier with both the Tuesday and Wednesday newspapers,” the Murrins wrote.

Brain Stubblefield Jr of Cedar Rapids (“Comics fan has an idea for The Gazette,” June 26) wrote to satisfy the communications merit badge requirements to be an Eagle Scout. He had a suggestion for the newspaper.

“Could you possibly make the Sunday comics a separate section, possibly C for comics, so it is in the same place and not lost within all of the ads,” Stubblefield wrote.

Jo Pearson of Marion (“Historical newspaper archives are online,” May 5) wrote to make sure readers know about The Gazette’s online archives through the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

“There is no charge to browse or search these delightful old editions, and in fact, you don’t even need a library card,” Pearson wrote.

adam.sullivan@thegazette.com; (319) 339-3156

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