To the editors:
I am appalled by the number of readers who claim to be outraged by Marion Karczmar's affectionate and engaging portrait of her former neighbors, Tina and Rosie of Cleveland Avenue ["Tina and Rosie Don't Live Here Anymore," April 22]. I thought it was a wonderful piece and I find it disturbing that what Ms. Karczmar wrote was so widely misinterpreted by people who apparently prefer that the passing of the old guard in Lincoln Park neighborhoods be marked by outpourings of tired cliches ("We were losing good neighbors," "The end of an era," "The neighborhood kids loved her," etc . . .) and an avalanche of self-righteous claptrap about mean spiritedness and bigotry.
As for Ms. Karczmar's critics, I can only wonder whether the sorrow they profess to feel over Tina and Rosie's departure springs from a deeply genuine sense of loss or more temporal dilemmas--no more nosy neighbors to calm their jitters about security in the city, for instance. And what could be worse than leaving for the office insecure in the knowledge that no one is left on Cleveland Avenue to accept those mid-day deliveries of UPS packages?
Ms. Karczmar's sensitive characterizations, combined with her vivid evocation of life in the neighborhood before Tina and Rosie's capitulation to an offer they couldn't refuse, were a delight to read, start to finish. That she chose to direct her impressive gifts toward capturing on paper the essence of these tough old ladies is a tribute to their powerful hold on one writer's curiosity. To this unique, quirky voice, I say, Welcome to the Neighborhood!