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Museum Builds a Bridge

Lisa Singh's Back Page ("Memento Mori," Aug. 21) about the Virginia Holocaust Museum and its founder is certain to invite much response. The Holocaust is perhaps history's most atrocious crime, but to each survivor it is deeply personal.

I, for one, feel that I must jump to the defense of the museum and its efforts to raise needed funds. The world has changed since the early 1940s. It is difficult for today's generation to grasp the enormity of millions of men, women and children being exterminated like vermin. Toddlers, grasping grandmothers' hands, being led into the gas chambers, day after day, month after month. Egon, a bright 4-year-old boy I used to baby-sit in Vienna, Austria, had his life cut short before he was even old enough for school.

As Ms. Singh states, the smoke emanating from the museum's vents is theatrical. The raffle tickets offered to raise funds for the museum's operation are typical of 2002 America. But they form the needed bridge to let the new generations cross back into the past.

I am just an ordinary grandmother who knows nothing about the intricacies of presenting a museum to the world. But having survived the Holocaust perhaps lends a person words she'd otherwise never have found and bestows upon one the courage to speak.

Frances Nunnally

Wine Contest Seems Doubtful

I have read "Governor's Cup Lite," by Layne Witherell [Food & Drink, June 26] and the reply by Al Kellert [Letters, July 17]. I would like to make some comments on both. (Incidentally, I know and like both of them.)

I have never heard of another competition in which medals were so prolific. The percentage of golds awarded was 55 percent above the norm, and the percentage of silvers was 49 percent above the norm. It may be believed that such inflation makes good promotional sense. Witherell's point is that if medal-inflation diminishes the credibility of the competition, then it is counterproductive.

Not coming clean as to the criteria employed in the competition and about the identity of the judges only compounds the problem. Most other competitions list their judges on the entry form and inform would-be entrants as to what judging system is to be employed. With GC2002, information about neither was made available. For example, was the Davis 20-point scale, the Goldwyn Hedonic Scale, or any recognized scale at all employed?

I do think Witherell may be on shaky ground when he writes, "Virginia hasn't quite earned respect in the wine community yet." After all, the sainted Robert Mondavi has been quoted as saying, "Virginia is already making world-class wines."

Still, I agree entirely with Witherell that giving out what appears to be an inflated number of medals by inscrutable methods does more harm than good. It is called blowing smoke.

Archie W. Smith III

House's Portrayal Was Unfair

Your article and picture of 107 S. Colonial Ave. contains deceiving information [Street Talk, July 31]. Plywood is the most expensive sheathing material, in comparison to the less expensive such as waffle board, fiber boards and composition boards, and it is the base of any frame or veneer construction where openings are cut or worked in while framing.

Openings for windows, doors, etc., are left uncut for safety reasons. Next, Tyvek, tar paper, foil, plastic or any other weatherproofing fiber of film is applied on the plywood before stone, brick, wood composition board, vinyl, metal or any other siding is installed to complete the outside walls.

The building at 107 S. Colonial Ave. consists of four residential units occupied uninterruptedly with lots of renovations and restorations through the years since 1911 when it was built. An unfortunate fire destroyed a good part of the building a few years ago. After the fire, the building was boarded up and secured by Signet Insurance Co. according to the safety and security codes. In addition, we installed a 6-foot solid-wood fence all around the lot for additional safety.

Since the inception of this project, we have spent a total of $19,500. An additional $150,000 will be needed to complete this project. Completion will take four to five months after the zoning is reconfirmed.

Paul Spears

President, Richmond Enterprizes Inc.

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