Jerry Davich. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 8, 2013 6:25AM
Reader feedback is something I enjoy and consistently encourage, but I’ve never received so much of it within such a short time span as I did this past week.
First, in response to my column on prayers during government meetings, followed by my “memory lane” column of returning to my childhood home, and then my column on the recent lawsuit filed against TGI Fridays.
Readers’ responses were angry, excited or thought-provoking, and all in one week’s time. In other words, a wonderful week for any columnist. Here is a small sampling.
Let me begin by sharing an updated statement by TGI Fridays after that column hit the stands.
“More than two years ago and at the request of the local police department, we implemented a policy in our Merrillville restaurant that requires any underage guest entering the restaurant after 9 p.m. to be accompanied by a parent or guardian,” a spokesman said.
“This is strictly an age-based policy that is applied consistently and fairly with all of our guests. In fact, we regularly have underage guests in our restaurant after 9 p.m. with a parent or guardian. We cannot get into the specific allegations made in this lawsuit but we are looking forward to having the facts in this case reviewed in court.”
Generally speaking, readers voiced contempt against the Gary parents who filed a racial discrimination lawsuit one year after allegedly being refused seating at that restaurant. It should be noted that such feedback was split along — you guessed it — racial lines.
“My daughter and her boyfriend went to TGI Fridays two years ago after 9 p.m.,” wrote Janet P. “She was 22, he was not as old. They were refused to be seated. They are white. Rules are rules. I wish you would have investigated a little more before posting accused racial discrimination on the FRONT page.”
Janet, a reminder: I do not have any say where or when my columns run. I just write them.
“I think it is ridiculous,” another reader said. “I am not a racist person, however, it irritates me that anytime an African-American does not get their way or something happens and the other person is white they always holler racism and discrimination. When the same thing happens to a white person and the other person is not, nobody says anything about discrimination.”
Lynn said, “It’s ironic that an article intended to be about a group being discriminated against were revealed as the discriminators. They carefully identified each person by their color of skin. Was it necessary to identify the officer as the off-duty white Hobart police officer? Why was the manager identified as white? I have to believe there was some behavior taking place that prevented them from being served and there is more to this story.”
Gerald Jawor said, “The protest demonstration at the restaurant appears to be without merit. Reference to monetary relief also casts a shadow on this so-called second-class citizen inference in their complaint.”
Juanita G. said, “I believe the parents and the children. Until you’ve been racially discriminated against, you have no idea how it feels. A lawsuit is the only way to prompt change so it doesn’t happen again to others.”
Pray for government
“Hi, Jerry. Just let us Christians know when the meetings are being held and we’ll pray for the government from our homes,” wrote B. McDowell. “I grew up in the ’50s and we were able to have prayer in our school and we also started the day with the Pledge of Allegiance. I wonder what kind of America my grandchildren’s children will grow up in. I pray the Lord will not ever forsake our great nation.”
Rob Hale countered by noting, “I think all religions wanting to take part in prayers before such meetings should be included. Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Baha’i, Muslim, Wicca, Rastafarian, Pastafarian (Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monsters), Judaism, Shinto, Sun Worshipers, Luciferian, and, of course, the atheists need a fair share. Knowing this will not happen, all prayers should be removed from such events. It is wrongheaded and exclusionary.”
Memory lane drive-thru
Rudy Zaper of Portage, a former Gary (Glen Park) resident of 32 years, regularly drives back to his old neighborhood, like so many readers who contacted me.
“Yes, it really brings back memories,” he said.
Suzanna Y. said, “Thanks for reminding me that I’m not the only person to do that once in a while.”
Alfonso Salazar suggested I write a weekly column about Gary, its people and their experiences.
“The important question going forward is, ‘What will the present kids from Gary have memories of?’ ” he said.
Alfonso, they, too, will have fond memories of their childhood if it’s warranted. Just like the rest of us.
Suzy Kull wrote, “Going back to where we were raised at 2413 W. 63rd St. (in Merrillville) was a JOLT of reality for us, as the neighborhood has totally transformed. My parents were the owners/proprietors of the Dainty Maid Bakery. So traveling through the old neighborhood, everything looked smaller and miniature.”
“But what a better time for you to have that experience, on Memorial Day weekend, what we are supposed to do on that holiday — remember.”
Carol C., who was raised on the far south side of Chicago, returned there a couple of years ago.
“That will be my last time to see where my formative years were spent. It is far too dangerous to go there anymore and it dearly saddens me. It is as if that time never existed. I feel robbed of my youth and only memories remain for me. I can’t go home anymore.”
Her experience perfectly, and poignantly, illustrates my column’s theme of memories versus reality.
To hear voice mails from readers about these columns, listen to my Casual Fridays radio show Friday between noon and 1 p.m. on WLPR, 89.1-FM, streaming at www.lakeshorepublicmedia.org. Call in with your on-air feedback at 769-9577.
Connect with Jerry via email, at email@example.com, voice mail, at 713-7237, or Facebook, Twitter, and his blog, at jerrydavich.wordpress.com.