Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

October 5, 2013

This will be his last gasp

After over 50 years of marriage to a wonderful woman, I’m no stranger to criticism.

Since my last letter to the editor (“An urgent appeal to undesirables: Repent!” Sept. 26 Times-News), I seemed to have opened a Pandora’s box of angry responses.

Some of the letters have been well written with excellent arguments opposing my views. As a retired English professor, I sincerely enjoyed reading a well-written essay.

Please tone down the animosity — no personal attacks, which do not advance your position on the subject.

Yes, the subject (regrettably) deals with the downtown — cutting down trees and smoking. This is my last gasp on the subject, thank you.

What spurs me to write today is Tammy Sheally’s letter (“Someone needs to take charge of what’s going on downtown,” Oct. 2).

I agree with her views on littering and trucks on the mall. But delivery trucks generally cannot “go to the back doors” of businesses. The alleyways are usually too narrow or circuitous, except for the kid on the bike.

How will the business receive its goods? Perhaps an airlift would be feasible if trucks aren’t permitted to “drive through the middle of people dining on the mall.”

“Who is in charge of the mall?” Ms. Sheally proceeds to criticize Mr. Mullaney. What? Mr. Mullaney has worked, heart and soul, for 15 years to beautify downtown and help downtown businesses.

Even I, a terminal cynic, applaud him for his tireless, magnificent accomplishments. For shame, Ms. Sheally.

Then she, and others, demand “handing out fines” to smokers. Please welcome to another police state — as if our fine police force has nothing more urgent to do than ticket an old man in a wheelchair for smoking a cigar or pipe.

My “ideology,” as Ms. Sheally puts it, makes her sick to her stomach. Wow! My rhetoric must be powerful stuff. Perhaps Maalox will help.

She writes that downtown’s beauty is sullied by “clouds of cigarette smoke.” Talk about hyperbole!

I do not defend smoking. I defend the right of adults to smoke as to the time and place of their choosing without offending others.

The bottom line is smoking is not illegal; it is not a criminal act, so why portray smokers as denizens of Hades?

I watched two lovely ladies the other day, step out of their offices downtown to smoke their cigarettes — time for a cigarette break. They deposited their butts in the garbage receptacle. Who am I, or anyone, to ticket them for smoking on the mall?

Smoking is not permitted in the Cumberland Arms apartment building.

Several elderly ladies cross over to the parklet with their ashtrays. One lady uses a walker. Sometimes, I join them for a little camaraderie. I enjoy the little smoking (not knitting) circle. We smoke, chat, and laugh.

There is nothing ominous or sinister in our behavior. I invite the clean living, moral purists to join us to tell us why we are undesirables. Cutting down trees and banning smoking will not add one penny to downtown businesses’ treasury.

Perhaps my friends and I may have to retire to the countryside to enjoy the crisp, fresh air of horse manure and cow dung.

James Zamagias

Cumberland

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