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SOUND OFF: Tributes pour in for Gerald Haslam

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Oildale native son and author Gerald Haslam next to a heritage oak tree in the backyard of his home in Penngrove, in 2013. His wife designed their house to be built around the tree.

Reader: Thank you, Robert Price, for your wonderful piece on Gerald Haslam ("Gerry Haslam's valley was a place of renewal and comfort," April 18). Whenever anyone asks where I am from, I usually answer “the Other California.” Most people reply, “Where?” giving me an opportunity to share something interesting and positive about the place I call home.

His book, "The Other California," is the book I most often give as a gift to visitors and people I meet on my travels. By any measure Gerald Haslam will always be the bona fide voice of the Other California.

— Gail Fox Cheever, Bakersfield

Reader: Just a note to thank you, Robert Price, for your piece on Gerry Haslam. I knew him and Jan first as family friends who often stopped at my parents’ home in Mill Valley, on their way from SF back to Penngrove.

They met my father through SF State and stayed in frequent touch with my parents for decades. Gerry’s amazingly thorough research for “Hayakawa in Thought and Action” (a play on “Language in Thought and Action”) put together my father’s story in a way that no one in the family had managed to do.

Gerry and Jan stayed in touch with our family for decades after my parents’ passing, and every visit enriched our lives. I’m sure there’s a wide circle of friends with similar tales of friendship with Gerry and Jan.

— Alan Hayakawa, San Rafael

Peterson: It's abundantly clear that Gerald Haslam touched many lives with his writing and friendships. Haslam fans, be sure to pick up a copy of Sunday's newspaper or go to, where reporter Steven Mayer will present a tribute to Haslam and others who have made significant contributions to their fields.


Reader: I have read and re-read what Associated Press VP for Standards John Daniszewski wrote to colleagues regarding use of the word “crisis” used in your reply ("SOUND OFF: Who gets to decide if there is a 'crisis' at the border?", April 17) to describe the U.S. Southern boarder situation. I also looked up the definition of “crisis.”

I, and I’m sure many of our citizens, do agree with letter writer Gary Williams that this situation is a crisis. The Biden administration seems to be doing everything possible to control the exact nature of just how serious it is. Recent reports in the media stated that members of Congress and Texas welfare officials are denied entry or only limited access viewing of the conditions that BCP/ICE are forced to hold the many children in custody while determining their status.

The Department of Homeland Security has now been assigned the task of providing for the children who have suffered an “illegal” action by crossing our border without permission or authorization and are now held in crowded “pods,” or in reality, cages. Even President Biden, in recently discussing his situation, must have slipped and called this a crisis. Now I understand the DHS has sent FEMA to handle the situation along the Mexican boarder. I may be wrong, but I believe that FEMA responds to crises, i.e. hurricanes, earthquakes or other disasters. So with FEMA responding, then by definition this is a crisis. I don’t believe we need to quibble on this.

I might add that whether or not the powers in Washington consider the border situation a crisis may really be in the eyes of those closest to the problem. The ranchers who own property and many towns along the border will see this differently than the federal bureaucrats. Also, I understand that the Mexican drug cartels, in some cases, are sifting from drug smuggling to human trafficking that may include potential terrorists that pose less risk and more reward for them.

The real shame in this is that President Trump was having good success with border control even without Democratic support from Congress. In a matter of a few weeks, President Biden has brought this crisis to our very steps, perhaps even in Kern County.

— Jake Anzulis, Tehachapi

Peterson: Thanks for writing, Jake. Much of what you wrote is your opinion, shared by many, on the situation. I'm not going to quibble with that.

Since you brought up definitions of words — which carry so much meaning, and often nuanced meaning — I decided to check out the FEMA website. It says its mission is "helping people before, during and after disasters." I don't see anything showing they're calling the situation at the border a "crisis," but the agency clearly says it deals with "disasters."

And you're right, Jake: The very morning my Sound Off response on this topic appeared in print, President Biden used the word "crisis" in regard to the border.

Here's what an Associated Press story on April 17 stated: "Asked Saturday by reporters about the cap, Biden didn't offer new details. 'We’re going to increase the number,' he said after golfing in Wilmington, Del. 'The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people. We couldn’t do two things at once. But now we are going to increase the number."

The AP story went on to say: "Biden’s use of the word 'crisis' raised some eyebrows — and caused an uproar among some on the right — because the White House had bent over backwards in recent weeks to avoid the politically charged term to describe the situation at the border, opting instead for words like 'challenge.' But the White House also insisted that it was taking the matter seriously no matter the nomenclature, but any link between the border and the administration’s decision on refugees was not immediately clear."

In that story, AP quoted Biden, but did not itself say it was a crisis.

Executive Editor Christine Peterson answers your questions and takes your complaints about The Californian’s news coverage in this weekly feedback forum. Questions may be edited for space and clarity. To offer your input by phone, call 661-395-7649 and leave your comments in a voicemail message or email us at Please include your name and phone number.