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Thank you, Sears, for letting me test my literary wings


Sears and Kmart could soon join the graveyard of deceased American retailers if they can't reach a last-minute deal to save themselves in bankruptcy. | Getty

My heart breaks each time there is a report of the decline of Sears. The once-mighty retailer straddled the country like a colossus that touched millions of lives; now it is a shrunken giant that barely avoided bankruptcy.

Years ago, Sears was robust enough to hire me, a young black man fresh out of college and the Army, and make me a copywriter on the company’s iconic catalog. The job was a godsend and provided me with the confidence to meet the daunting challenges of the tumultuous 1960s. For me and many other African Americans, those were the best of times and the worst of times.

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I joined about a dozen other young people (all white except for one black female) who wrote the descriptive paragraphs beneath pictures of merchandise. It was a diverse group, but virtually all intended Sears to be a stepping stone to glamorous writing jobs with advertising agencies and magazines. (Not an unrealistic dream, for Playboy’s Hugh Hefner started as a copywriter with a company not as elite as Sears.)  There also was the possibility of someday becoming of one of the lordly “buyers” who made the big bucks at Sears.

I had other plans, however — I was going to be the author of acclaimed and best-selling novels.

I don’t know if the dreams of my catalog colleagues came true, but I’m almost certain that all kept Sears on their resumes when applying for jobs. Surely any company or organization worth working for recognized the value of someone who was able to write precise and persuasive prose.

I never got around to writing the “Great American Novel,” and I predict that this century’s “Naked and the Dead’ will come from a former grunt who served two tours in Afghanistan.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t write that novel, but I was able to accept my failure.  After all, success doesn’t always follow desire, no matter how much it’s wanted. Ask any Bears fan.

Still, I’m grateful to Sears for providing me with the opportunity to test my literary wings. I hope there are companies that give today’s aspiring writers the chance — and training — I received.

Hosea L. Martin, Auburn Gresham

Why oppose the wall? 

I did not vote for Donald Trump. I find him to be a despicable human being. And he has given some bogus reasons and half-truths as to why we should build a wall on our southern border. But there isn’t a politician in Washington who hasn’t told half-truths or outright lies to the public.

So, forget everything that Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and every other politician has said about a wall on the border. Here, instead, are questions the press should be asking those who oppose a wall.

You say that a wall is “immoral.” If you believe that, why aren’t you proposing that we tear down the entire fence along our border with Mexico? If you think we should protect our border, then wouldn’t a 30-foot-high steel barrier be much harder to breach than the fencing that’s now in place? Do you want to make it hard for people to cross illegally — but not too hard?

You say that nothing will completely stop people that are truly intent on crossing our border. So should we just give up and do nothing? You say the cost (less than $6 billion) is excessive for something that may have limited success. But isn’t $6 billion a pittance compared to the overall federal budget — and compared to how much we waste year after year supporting government failures like the post office and Amtrak?

An opponent of the wall recently was quoted as saying, “Show me verifiable evidence that President Trump’s wall will effectively prevent significant crimes by illegal immigrants.”  To that question I would ask in response, how can you possibly show that something will work if you don’t try it?

We don’t have a wall or fence along our northern border because our neighbors from Canada aren’t pouring in here illegally. We can’t take in every family or individual that is fleeing their home country for a better opportunity. It’s just not possible.

At times I feel uncomfortable about the idea of any kind of barrier along our border. It makes me think of the Berlin Wall. But then I remember that the Berlin Wall wasn’t built to keep people out. It was built to keep people in.

John C. Fawcett, Burr Ridge