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Feedback from the Issue of Thursday, April 7, 2011

YUMA DIVIDE

Cool great-grandma, Max: Wow! I just read, for the fifth time, your "A Sense of Yuma" (Amy Silverman and Claire Lawton, March 24) trashing [my] city. I tried to find some un-truths — or at least some exaggerations — but found none. I had hoped to write a rebuttal, but you left me no ammunition to fire back with.

I feel defensive and disappointed for many reasons, but most of all because I am old, have lived in Yuma for 11 years, and all four of my children were born here. I suppose all I can say is the cliché, "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder."

I didn't read any of those articles [in Sunset Magazine, AZ Highways, the Chicago Tribune, and the L.A. Times] portraying Yuma as the "it city," so I really don't know what you expected to find here. I do know that I would not recommend Lutes Casino or Main Street as must-see attractions.

The best thing Yuma has going for it is mild winter weather; therefore, all the old people from Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Canada. (All those RVs.) I could name two Mexican restaurants that are the best in the world. The Quechan and Cocopah tribes own/operate resorts/casinos that are equal to any in the Salt River or Gila River valleys.

If you enjoy authentic Mexican or Indian culture/history, Yuma is a gem. Undocumented Mexicans might even outnumber old people. (I love it.) There are more Cocopah and Quechan Indians today than any other time in history. (I love it.)

Yuma offers some of the world's best bass fishing, along with all popular water sports at Martinez Lake. The sand dunes across the river provide the best off-roading anywhere.

Now, about the "scent of old people" . . . That hurt for two reasons: One, I am 74. Two, I am a longtime fan of [Amy Silverman's] work and never dreamed [she could be] so mean-spirited. I've really thought a lot about the smell of old people; today, I took a second shower and slapped on a double dose of Old Spice. I remember when, as a little boy, I hated it when my great-grandmother would hug me, partly because of her smell, partly because it just wasn't cool. I didn't associate her odor with age; I thought it had to do more with her lack of running water and that she smoked a pipe and chewed tobacco.

Okay, I've had my say: "Different strokes for different folks!"
Max Henry, Yuma

Sunset writer defends Yuma: I wrote the Sunset Magazine Yuma piece. I also did the Sierra Vista piece that Claire and Amy suggest they have issues with.

Having many times passed through Yuma, I finally spent a week there. And I had a blast. Yuma is not polished or posh, but it is authentic, friendly, and full of both personality and surprises.

I'm sticking with everything I wrote about Yuma; there was no "turd polishing" going on. What Yuma has done with its riverfront is incredible and the resulting park and restored wetlands have served as a model for other projects across the country.

I'll give Amy and Claire one thing. Yes, the especial at Lutes is as greasy as food can get. But once a year, when it comes with the side of atmosphere and people-watching, it's totally worth it.
Dina Mishev, Jackson, Wyoming

Would rather sleep in the desert: I've been to Yuma many, many times. I spent a lot of time in the desert west of Yuma when I was doing studies at UCLA and, years later, when I was accompanied by my son, a budding biologist.

Never have I had the guts to spend a night there. We would often get fast food at one of the restaurants just off the freeway but camp out in the desert to avoid the atmosphere (if you can call it that) in Yuma.

Your article is 100 percent true, and while I haven't read the articles in the magazines/papers you mentioned, I can only believe New Times is telling the truth, from my experience.
Jerry Feldner, Tempe

Cotton is food?: God, I hate idiots. That is not a law firm in the old post office but a global leader in the crop-protection business. Also [it's Interstate 8] that runs through Yuma, not I-10.

Leave it to boneheads with a hard-on for someplace not to bother to check their facts.

My biggest disappointment is that [you don't acknowledge] the food we grow here — the Romaine lettuce for your perky little Caesar salads, the cotton for your oooh-so-cool shirts, and the hay for the cows to make your lattes.

Please stay in your smog-choked kidnap capital and we will keep feeding you. Unfortunately.
Steve West, Yuma

Spare the "armpit": Give me a break! I was born in Yuma, and I hate it! I can't even believe I'm defending it. Sheesh, give the "armpit" a break.
Kathi Townzen, Yuma

We are good people: Your elitist attitude comes across clear as day. As [general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn in Yuma], I applaud you for not hiding the fact that you are heartless snobs.

Yuma is much more than a retirement community "that smells like old people." We are a city that has a proud agricultural heritage; we grow most of the produce you and your fellow elitist snobs eat. We have a proud military tradition. Many of our residents work at the Yuma Army Proving Ground testing the equipment that allows our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines to come home safely to their families. We also have the Marine Corps Air Station here. The Air Station also employs many of our residents in support of the Marine Corps.

Our greatest asset is our people. We have a great cultural mix of Anglo, Hispanic, and Native Americans here. Yuma may have a population of close to 100,000, but we still maintain a small-town feel and attitude. You will find that we are good people who will go out of our way to help someone in need.

Even someone like you [two], who have bashed our beloved city.
Ken Hammac, Yuma

So pretentious: The only thing of interest you could find in Yuma was a junk store? Really! Such a pretentious review.
Bob Miller, Yuma

Overwhelming hospitality in Yuma: In the summer of 2009, I had the privilege of visiting Yuma with my wife, and we had a wonderful time.

I illustrated a book for a nonprofit organization there, and it was nice enough to fly me in. The dusty charm of Yuma was a pleasant change of scenery, especially for my wife, who's lived most of her life in the Carolinas.

The folks there treated me like a celebrity. The kind hospitality of the people we met was overwhelming. We went to many of the spots the article referenced and didn't have a bad thing to say about them.

I enjoyed every minute I spent there, from relaxing on the Colorado River to eating food I knew was bad for me at Lutes.
Austin Light, Charlotte, North Carolina

It's all about good manners: Ouch. This article was unnecessarily rough. These writers seem to have unrealistic expectations of a border town.

It all comes down to good manners. It's the same thing as if you were overly critical of someone else's family member. Pretty soon it's fightin' words. People can complain about their own family, but conventional wisdom and plain old common sense dictates that others walk carefully.

Is Yuma a vision of Utopia? Of course not. It's unfortunate that these two women didn't truly understand Yuma, the community. That's where the real beauty is.
Christy Harrington, Yuma


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