On Thursday, I wrote a column that touched on a couple of items from (Appleton, Wis.) Post-Crescent history, one of them being a letter to the editor that a then-8-year-old Greta Van Susteren wrote in 1962.
The letter, handwritten on Raggedy Ann stationary, took the Wisconsin newspaper to task for a headline that suggested parents should be happy that a new school year was drawing near. “I (am) in 3rd grade and I don’t like school at all,” she wrote. The editor at the time, John Torinus, responded with a published Dear Greta letter that encouraged her to embrace the good things in the world and a love of learning would follow.
On Friday, the now 63-year-old Van Susteren, the longtime cable news anchor and commentator on all things politics and law, responded. A reply to Torinus’ letter was 55 years overdue, she said.
So she wrote this letter:
Dear Editor of The Post-Crescent,
I wrote a letter to the editor of The Post-Crescent back in August of 1962 and the editor-in-chief responded in a published letter dated August 15, 1962. At the time of his published reply, I did not respond. You have today — in the year 2017 and 55 plus years later — republished that communication between us. It is now my turn to reply to his reply … and yes, 55 years later.
While I still don’t like that 1962 headline that provoked my very stern letter to him on my Raggedy Ann stationary (I am still a stubborn kid), Editor John Torinus was right and his sweet and thoughtful published reply to me gave me wisdom that I used growing up and still use. I have read my letter to the editor and his reply many times over the last 55 years. It was also very kind of Mr. Torinus to reply to a kid. It made a difference.
Mr. Torinus wrote, among other things, “if you keep on loving life you will see all the good things as well as the bad. And pretty soon you will come to love school too.”
I have learned to look for the good as he suggested and, well … yes, I learned to love school (of course minus those few detention — D-note — issues at Xavier that I had to deal with.)
A regret? I regret I never thanked Editor Torinus.
PS: I miss Appleton, I miss reading The Post-Crescent, I miss editors who respond to kids, and I also wish I still had Raggedy Ann doll stationary.