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Letters to the editor of the Globe Magazine

Readers share their delight with a pair of Connections columns and some criticism of Top Spots to Live and advice on tipping.

Growth Lesson

I’ve taught my children how to spot wild asparagus, looking for the tall plant that’s gone to seed (“Asparagus With Zale,” April 16). My grandmother did the same with me growing up in rural Indiana. Thanks [to writer Erin M. Fischell] for bringing back memories [in this Connections].


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My wife was reading Fischell’s piece when she mentioned the Navesink River. I spent some time growing up in Fair Haven, New Jersey, so that was very cool to hear. I also have two granddaughters that we take care of two days a week so this piece warmed my heart.


David Hammond


Here’s to the Zales of the world, who take the time to listen and offer encouragement to a child.

Common Good

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Skipping Town(s)

I think the Globe missed the boat in the Top Spots to Live 2023 write-up about Groton (“West of Boston,” April 23). It’s great that the writer mentioned the town’s boarding schools and eateries. But culture also boosts the quality of life in any “top spot.” Not mentioned was the new (and extraordinary) Groton Hill Music Center. It’s an exceptional music school, world-class performance center, and stunning piece of architecture in its own right (executed by the same firm that gave us Rockport’s Shalin Liu Performance Center). Check it out — it may well be the Tanglewood of Eastern Massachusetts!

David Powell


I want to thank the Globe Magazine for NOT including my city on its Top Spots to Live list this year — again. Thanks to responsible multifamily development, home price appreciation here has been lower than in neighboring towns. Lucky for me, I would trade “sprawling, homogeneous, and overpriced” for “dense, diverse, and affordable” any day.

Sascha Hernandez


Your Best Life

Jon Gorey makes some great points [in Perspective] about the housing situation and life expectancy in Massachusetts vs. other states (“No One Should Have to Choose Between an Affordable Home and Longer Life,” April 23). Life expectancy, on average, is lower than it should be in the United States because of unprecedented rates of cancer and diseases. Toxicity is a huge contributor: Over 1,600 chemicals used in the United States in personal care products are banned in the EU and other countries. Many food ingredients that are banned in the EU are consumed regularly in the US. Until we ban harmful toxins, the death rates will continue to climb. Of course, bans on these chemicals will likely never happen as long as industries are allowed to fund political parties and candidates.


Jodi Burwick Franklin


Would I live in Tennessee or another state that’s overwhelmed with guns and encourages people to use them (“stand your ground” laws)? Heck, I am unlikely to even visit them. Officials and politicians in those places don’t care for a liberal Massachusetts resident like me, but they sure would like to have my tourist dollars. They won’t get them.

Janet Steins


“We urgently need to permit and build more and denser housing throughout Greater Boston, until everyone who wants or needs to live here can do so affordably.” How does the author suggest we do this while managing the health of environment, our transportation capacity, the quality of our public services, etc.? The unfortunate truth is, Massachusetts is too small to house everyone who wants to live here. Density at the scale proposed here would degrade everyone’s quality of life.



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Angels Among Us

I very much enjoyed Cathy Ching’s Connections (“Grandpa, Is That You?” April 23). She touched on much that I had thought about as I wrote an essay a few years ago [about the power of believing in the unseen — specifically, the magic of Santa]. Mine was written primarily to address the questions of my grandchildren, and hers...the child in each of us. And as a believer in such things, I can assure her that the pigeon was, indeed, Grandpa.

Barbara Harting


The author’s revelation reminded me of many incidents in my life when I was in trouble and I wondered who was looking out for me. I think it was my grandmother. She died when I was 11 years old, and although we didn’t speak much growing up — she spoke Yiddish — I understood what she was saying, but I couldn’t reply. So thanks, Grandma, for looking out for me.

Shel Segal


You have a rich career ahead in journalism, Cathy Ching! This piece is so insightful, inspiring, and universal. This reader, with at least 50 years more in corporeal form than Ching, could not help but rapidly identify with her wisdom and experience the poignance of her story.

Patricia Fuller


My mom passed away in winter 2012. My son and daughter-in-law were married that September. The ceremony was outdoors at the Cathedral of the Pines. When we arrived, there was a pigeon milling about. As the bride started down the aisle, the pigeon moved to a position in front of her and proceeded down the aisle. When the pigeon reached the front, “she” gracefully moved to the side and hung out there. My mom always loved family celebrations; my siblings and I are sure that that was Mom wanting to be part of one more. The caretakers there had never before seen a pigeon hanging out at the cathedral.


Jane Rabbitt


At a Tipping Point

I respectfully disagree with Miss Conduct, though I agree on the inequity of pay to service workers (“Gratuity Advice,” April 23). Businesses need to charge prices that allow them to pay competitive wages and not pass wage costs on to customers. If a cup of coffee should be $4.50 to pay the barista a living wage, [business owners need to] price it accordingly instead of hoping they can embarrass enough customers to “chip in” on labor costs. Tipping in the way Miss Conduct suggests is actually contributing to unfair labor practices.

Tama Zorn


People are tired of getting nickeled and dimed for tips every place we go and then getting shamed for not tipping 25 percent to the person who put a pre-made sandwich into a bag.


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We should still tip for outstanding service without the burden of knowing that our tip is being relied on.



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Owners of establishments where tipping is expected (many of which are corporations) are exploiting their workers and their customers, guilting us, the customers, into compensating for underpaying their workers. This is also, effectively (as Miss Conduct recognizes), pitting workers and customers against one another: What’s better for you is more costly for me. Starbucks and other direct service workers have seen that the solution is unionization and collective bargaining power. Many chefs and restaurant owners have upped prices and/or tacked on a general surcharge to pay their teams more fairly. So, tip what you feel like, but do not cross picket lines or grumble about high prices or surcharges — those folks are looking to better solutions than tip jars!

Irene Maksymjuk


CONTACT US: Write to or The Boston Globe Magazine/Comments, 1 Exchange Place, Suite 201, Boston, MA 02109-2132. Comments are subject to editing.