First-ever letter to the editor

I worked for The Oregonian as an editor and reporter for 34 years, ending with a buyout in 2008. So I always had a platform for ideas I thought were important.

That all ended with a buyout in 2008. I haven’t been back in the building since. So when I saw a story in Wednesday’s paper that touched me, I wrote a letter that was published on Friday, Sept 20.

A bit of quick background: I was the primary caretaker for my mother in her last years, and they were not always happy. I have some bad memories and unavoidable guilt and grief about how things had to happen. Being able to write this letter helped me heal, just a bit.

Here it is:

Another side to Thomas

Casey Parks’ touching story about Dakota Garza, the University of Portland student mentored by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, reminds me of my own mother’s struggles (“A justice on her side,” Sept. 19).

Like Garza, my mom, Pearl Pollak, was homeless as a child. In 1925, her mother took her to an orphanage in Denver. She was 11 and weighed 40 pounds. Like Garza, she had the grit, determination and heart to rise above humble beginnings. She didn’t have an illustrious mentor like Thomas, but the head of the orphanage loaned her money to attend nursing school. He was astounded when she paid him back. She served as a nurse in World War II, then worked as a nurse anesthetist to support four children, all of whom turned out pretty OK. She died in 2011 at 97.

Most people have stories deeper than what appears on the surface. It is really not surprising to learn Thomas has a gentler side.

FRAN GARDNER
Southeast Portland

Should you wish to comment to The Oregonian community at large, you may do so here. Of course, you may also comment on this blog. Thank you.

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