What do the following have in common:
1. Someone politely pointing out there was a spot for a disabled veteran to watch the Glen Ellyn Fourth of July parade.
Contact information ( * required )
2. Someone suggesting "driverless cars" could be a vast improvement over what we have on the road today.
3. Someone publicly calling out the "coward" who put mothballs, some wrapped in meat, for a family dog to eat.
The correct answer, of course, is: All are letters to the editor we published in the past week or so. A more thorough answer, though, is: All were placed in a file called "Favorite letters" by Jim Slusher, assistant managing editor/opinion, Colleen Thomas, assistant opinion page editor, and yours truly.
Sometimes the three of us lament how polarized, and nasty in tone, many of our letters seem to be, When you get the diamond in the rough -- one that makes an eloquent point; one that's genuinely funny or particularly well-crafted -- that puts a smile on our faces. It also creates another candidate for our second annual Favorite Letters feature that we plan to run at the end of the year.
We're also partial to letters on local issues, being the local paper and all. I was struck, though, by the number of enjoyable letters -- strictly our subjective opinion, mind you -- we've received just past the halfway mark for the year: more than 200 column inches of your best missives.
It seemed like a good time to provide a little assessment of what makes letters our faves -- and to encourage more of you to write. There's always room for a well-crafted, pithy or funny letter.
• The Memorial Day parade letter was in response to another letter writer lamenting that some homeowners had "saved" seats along Glen Ellyn streets, making it impossible for her and her disabled war veteran father to find a place to sit. The more recent letter pointed out that many watched the parade from a church lawn. The nice thing about this letter is that it attempted to correct a possible misimpression in a polite and constructive manner. We don't always get that when people disagree.
• Sheesh, what a grouch, I thought, when I read the "driverless car" letter, from an Elgin man who riffed on our story about new car technology, pointing out that we've had driverless cars for several years -- as evidenced by all the distractions and poor driving: electronic devices of every ilk, speeding in construction zones, failing to use turn signals. But with a heavy dose of snark and sarcasm, he effectively made his point.
• Colleen entered the open letter to "a coward" The writer, a Hawthorn Woods woman, let the world know what she thought of the person who scattered mothballs about a family's yard with the likely intent of harming their dog. Her rage was eloquent: "At your next family dinner or gathering, when you are pretending to be an upstanding, kind person, please share with your children or grandchildren the story about the day you gathered up all your courage and laced your enemy, a pet dog, with poison, and then ran away under the cover of dark. You coward."
I hope these examples will inspire some submissions from new writers. And, who knows: Maybe we'll come with prizes for our favorites at the end of the year.