August 30, 1999 12:00 PM

The Kennedys and Bessettes

My heart hasn’t ached like this since the tragic death of Princess Diana. John Kennedy was such a gorgeous, wonderful man who had everything in the world, including the desire to be treated like a regular guy. He found his soulmate in Carolyn, but all of that was swept away. My heartfelt sympathies go out to both the Kennedy and Bessette families. We (the general public) may not be hurting as badly as they are, but we are really hurting from this tragic, unbelievable loss.

Debby Ficke, Manahawkin, N.J.

Why is it considered “strong” for the Kennedys and the Bessettes not to cry at the funerals? It takes more strength to be real and authentic and display your feelings openly. Crying is healthy and healing; it is not weakness.

Louise C. Leonard, via e-mail

I was appalled that at one of the most horrible times of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg’s life, you plastered her grief-stricken face on your cover just to sell more copies. One would think that she could be at least afforded a little more respect and privacy, something she works hard for—and something you apparently have no respect for.

Joy Zaczyk, Cornwall, Ont.

The death of JFK Jr., Carolyn and Lauren was indeed a tragedy. I do not believe that putting Caroline Schlossberg on the cover of PEOPLE was the right thing to do. She has guarded her children and their right to privacy as strongly as she possibly could. I take PEOPLE to task for violating what she has guarded so fiercely.

L.K. Mauldin, Coats, N.C.

Enough already about JFK Jr., his family and the lives shattered. I think what’s more shattering in this whole ordeal is the money wasted on searching for these people. Had it been someone else, we wouldn’t have wasted all of the resources and money that we did looking for them.

P. Baumgart, Phoenix

Our country’s mourning for JFK Jr., his wife, Carolyn Bessette, and her sister Lauren Bessette cannot be compared with what the families are going through.

James Durham, Philadelphia

Jay Thiessens

Jay Thiessens’s story is not uncommon in the U.S. You meet people every day who don’t know how to read a single word yet manage to make it day-to-day. I hope the story helps others who don’t know how to read to step forward and try. Great job, Jay. You are an inspiration to all.

Rebecca H. Leonard, Cincinnati

What a wonderful, courageous man Mr. Thiessens is! I’d like to thank him for sharing his story and for showing Americans that we shouldn’t take for granted the precious gift of literacy.

Nicole Banks Mondy, Williamsport, Pa.

I have been able to read like a dream since I was a little girl, but I could barely get through your inspiring article about Jay Thiessens. It’s difficult to read through tears. As the mother of five sons, two autistic and one needing special reading help, I know the guts it takes to face your problem and go TO work to lick it. Thiessens’s mother and son must be watching him with pride, as he mentioned them as one of the reasons he decided to learn to read after so many years. What a guy! With a terrific wife as well!

Jean B. Yates, Pound Ridge, N.Y.

Queen Elizabeth’s Dogs

A person whose sole responsibilities included caring for the Queen’s dogs is discovered to have given them alcohol and then laughed at their drunken behavior. This same person is then demoted with a $3,000 cut in pay? This man committed outright abuse against these defenseless creatures. As an animal lover, I would never allow such a person to continue to work for me. If the Queen loves her corgis so much, why is this footman still around? Is there no one else in all of England qualified to fill this disgraceful man’s shoes?

Alice Knisley Matthias, New York City

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

In your article about the 15-year-old gothic writer Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, she says, “All those stereotypical teenage things, I don’t engage in them.” Maybe she’s not shopping and giggling at the Gap, but someone needs to tell her that vampires and goth are the stereotypical teenage things of her (our) generation.

Kristen Shaw, Greenville, S.C.

Rod Stewart

Let me see if I have this straight: Rod Stewart’s 29-year-old wife, Rachel Hunter, dumped the aging rock star, but once again this 54-year-old fossil chooses to stumble after a succession of blondes 20 to 25 years younger than himself? Wow, talk about dumb-blonde jokes.

Loretta Nardi-Slocum, Porterville, Calif.

Few things are more pathetic than an aging rock star trying to regain his youth.

Connie Bos, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Lance Armstrong

I found your article on Lance Armstrong more of a celebration of life than a victory, in bike racing. He has learned how short life really is and has the gusto to pursue any interests he has or will ever have. How fortunate he is to be living at this point in time when medical science has so dramatically increased survival rates for cancer patients. In 1964 I had the same cancer as Lance and was given two weeks to live. Fortunately, I became the second person to be cured using chemotherapy. I am so very glad to see that miracles still happen.

Larry R. Mittendorf, D.D.S., Murphysboro, Ill.

Gary Burghoff

It’s nice to know that Gary Burghoff is such an animal lover. I’m an animal lover myself. The difference between Gary and me? I don’t have a dead animal’s head mounted on my wall. What’s wrong with this picture?

Emily Franklin, Newtonville, Mass.

Burghoff maintains that while he is an animal lover, he is not opposed to hunting or fishing to maintain the natural order of life. He says he bought the deer head that was photographed in his cabin at a garage sale 20 years ago so that he could study it for his art. “It’s for the anatomy of it, “he says. “I needed it to draw an accurate deer head.”—ED.

Mailbag

Correspondent Christy Telker states that she is tired of all the “old, retired couples winning big.” How could she possibly say something like that? Who is more deserving of winning big than people who have worked very hard all of their lives and probably have had to scrimp and save most of their adult lives to even have a retirement?

Cindy Wingender, Orlando

I, like Christy Telker, was very happy for Farrah Slad and her good fortune. I would, however, say to Christy and others who may be tired of “old, retired couples winning big” that those couples regularly contribute their lottery winnings and a portion of their retirement income to family members, the needy or charities. People, especially young people, should never lose sight of how important those old, retired couples are for financial support—and also for their wisdom.

Ernie Smith, St. Augustine, Fla.

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