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Readers’ e-mails share fond memories of downtown Wichita

  • Published Sunday, August 11, 2013, at 12 a.m.

The problem with electronic communication is this: It makes it too easy to fire off an e-mail or a tweet or comment on a message board, and not have to face the person you’re addressing, or even let them hear your voice. I would bet people rarely Skype when they’re telling someone off.

When Cheerios aired a television commercial featuring a biracial family, the company got a flood of scathing e-mails. But when representatives from the Fine Bros., a research company, showed schoolchildren the ad and told them people were very upset about it, one after another of the kids simply asked: “Why?” They were truly mystified that anyone would be upset.

Here are some of their comments: “It’s just the color of their skin, what matters is if they’re nice or mean,” says one.

Another thought the problem was over a long time ago: “I thought Martin Luther King spoke against this and fixed this already.”

My favorite was Morgan, who spoke with a great deal of compassion and simplified the whole issue: “Some people just fall in love like that.”

Before you type a rant and rave, don’t count to 10; count to 100. Once you put it out there, you can’t take it back. And if the people who wrote the racist comments watched the video of these kids, I would hope many of them would take it back.

Delightful downtown

The column that ran a couple of weeks ago with my memories of shopping in wonderful downtown Wichita brought a flood of e-mails from readers who loved the busy streets and the big stores as much as I did.

One of my favorite messages came from Jo A. Hillen, who grew up on a farm 50 miles southwest of Wichita. She came to Wichita twice a year and remembers it as “extremely special and exciting.” One thing she remembers vividly were street photographers, who would snap pictures of people walking down the street.

Many readers said they remember riding the city bus to get downtown on Saturday, shopping or going to a movie, then spending another dime on the bus to get home. And they remember getting dressed up to go downtown.

Stores such as Henry’s, Innes, Macy’s, Lerner’s, Thurston’s, Lewin’s, Eldon’s Shoes, Bucks, Walker Bros., The Model and even Jenkins Music Store were mentioned time and time again.

But the store that many remembered fondly was the blue (sort or purple) mirrored building filled with chocolate: the Russell Stover store on the corner of Broadway and Douglas.

And, of course, memories of eating at the Kress and Woolworth lunch counters were mentioned. And oh my, the Forum cafeteria. “I loved the Jello, which was cut in small, perfect, one-inch squares. I had never seen Jello served that way before. I thought that was so elegant!” wrote Penny Seiwert.

So true! It’s a whole lot of fun to remember what delighted us as kids.

Reach Bonnie Bing at bingbylines@gmail.com.

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