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What Color is Fire?

To the Editor:

I have served the citizens of Memphis for 14 years as a Memphis firefighter and as a member of Local 1784 -- not the "white" local 1784 or the "black" local 1784. Lt. Sandra Richards chooses not to join the union (City Reporter, July 8th issue), a union composed of black and white members. Richards also chooses to enjoy the benefits and representation afforded all Fire Department members, not just members of the local.

If Progressive Black Firefighters is granted joint bargaining power, will all Fire Department employees be afforded any benefits that may be gained? I hope so. Then I'll ride Richards' organization's wagon for free as she has mine. PBF is upset with the union's promotional testing practices? In my 14 years I have never been notified about union-administered promotional tests.

The PBF labeled Local 1784 "racist." As a dues-paying member, I am appalled and offended by that false accusation. I thought we all rode the same equipment together, ate and slept together, and shared happy and unhappy occasions. Do the words "United we stand, divided we fall" mean anything to Richards or the PBF? Obviously not.

Steve Kozbiel


50 Years of Rock

To the Editor:

In light of your "50 Years of Rock and Roll" edition (July 1st issue), I thought I'd set the record straight:

It goes beyond question that Sam Phillips was a music pioneer and genius and a true ambassador for the city of Memphis. Sam Phillips, along with the fine folks at Stax and other places around town, made Memphis one of the true music cities in this country. But Sam Phillips did not discover Elvis Presley. Sam Phillips wasn't even at Sun Studios the first time Elvis walked in to, as the story goes, record a song for his mother's birthday. But "the lady behind the desk," Marion Keisker, was. It was Marion, not Sam Phillips, who heard something special and turned on the recorder so her boss could hear it. And it was Marion who, through persistence, persuaded Sam Phillips to give Elvis a listen, not once but several times before he relented and gave "the kid with sideburns" a chance to record.

Many people in this town knew Sam Phillips. I did not. But I was fortunate to know Keisker and talked with her on a couple of occasions. If Keisker had not turned on the recorder that day, Elvis would probably have still become a music legend, but Sam Phillips wouldn't have had anything to do with it.

Jeff Reeb


Nader and the GOP

To the Editor:

Republicans are contributing to Ralph Nader's campaign for president in hopes that Nader will take more votes from the Democrats than from Republicans. But consider this: Never have we had a president who has been more reckless and profligate with our national budget than George W. Bush. He's taken the country from surpluses to record-breaking deficits in less than three years! It's enough to make a fiscal conservative want to throw up.

Nader would be far more fiscally responsible. Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower are three Republicans in American history whom I respect. Lincoln abolished slavery and emancipated African Americans. Teddy Roosevelt conserved and protected our national forests and parks. And Eisenhower warned us about the dangers of the heavy influence of the military-industrial complex. These ideals are part of what Nader's campaign is about. The Bush administration is the exact antithesis of these ideals.

Don Johnson

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Hypocrisy II

To the Editor:

I'm glad to see B. Keith English (Letters, July 8th issue) has learned a new word (hypocrisy) to replace his old word (vitriol). Want hypocrisy, B. Keith? How about people who claim to be defenders of freedom and human rights complaining when one of the most evil dictators in history is taken down? How about people whose leaders (Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and others) all agreed that Iraq had WMD but quickly turned their backs when the intelligence was shown to be faulty? How about people who claim we should not have attacked a country that didn't attack us, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt attacked Germany, Harry Truman went to Korea, John F. Kennedy went to Vietnam, and Bill Clinton went to Bosnia without UN consent?

Reading a liberal letter about hypocrisy is like listening to a Nazi talk about anti-Semitism.

Gary Shelly


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