Readers Respond to the July/August 2021 Issue

Your feedback on the Everglades, doo-wop, bird naming and more

Tales From the Swamp

Thank you for “On the Edge of the Everglades” (July/August 2021). Mentioned on Page 59 is Sara Lee Creech, my great-aunt and namesake. She was a force of nature in our family, and perhaps ahead of her time. Upon seeing some black children playing with white baby dolls, she took the initiative to push the idea of brown dolls for brown kids. We have photos and documentation concerning the development of the dolls, as well as Sara’s visit with Eleanor Roosevelt to gain her support.

—Sara Whiteside | Golden, Colorado

Westward Expansion

While reading John Sedgwick’s article (“Whistle Down the Line,” July/August 2021), I was waiting for a mention that the construction of the railroad across the American West was the death knell for the Indigenous people who had lived there for millennia. He describes Colorado in 1873 as “empty.” Talking about the history of the westward expansion of the railroad without mentioning its effects on the Native people is like talking about the history of the Second World War without mentioning the Holocaust.

—David Singer | Fairfax, Virginia

Street Corner Opera

Thank you for the very interesting piece on Val Shively (“Don’t Call It Doo-Wop!,” July/August 2021). Doo-wop, or group harmony, has been my music, my hobby and my passion for the past 65 years. It’s gratifying to hear of others who appreciate that particular genre of music. Clearly, Mr. Shively is an unrivaled master of all.

—Frank Fleming | St. Augustine, Florida

What’s in a Name?

Is it a monumental act for the ornithology community (“Collect, Wait, Study,” July/August 2021) to eventually decide, after much wrestling, to remove John Townsend’s name from the species of bird, the Townsend’s warbler? He discovered the species on a harrowing expedition to the Pacific Northwest in 1834 at the age of 25—brave young man! Renaming the Townsend’s warbler actually seems more in the nature of a retroactive modern-day tar and feathering. Perhaps the ornithology community and other proponents of renaming should put a modicum of effort into wrestling with the eradication of slavery that still exists here and throughout the world.

— D.T. Sidwell | Bear, Delaware

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This article is a selection from the September issue of Smithsonian magazine