Mailbag

updated 09/01/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/01/2003 01:00AM

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
Thank you for your lovely cover story on Bob Hope. He was one of a kind and kept me laughing for years. Today's comics need to take a lesson from the master.
Linda Ross, via e-mail

This man was truly a hero, having given so many troops a needed break from the horrible reality of war. I am saddened by the loss of this fine man but encouraged knowing that Bob Hope is now watching over our soldiers from above.
Amber Reynolds, Blue Springs, Mo.

We'll miss you, Mr. Hope, and my thoughts and deepest sympathy are with your family.
Janet Arwood, Hilliard, Ohio

Bob Hope deserved the whole cover page. Not one of the others featured were worthy to share it with him.
Cindy Cassady, Edmonton, Ky.

Bob Hope will be missed by all of us who laughed and forgot our problems when he mesmerized audiences with his famous one-liners. He was a true class act to the end.
Abelardo Baeza, Alpine, Texas

SHAPE OF THINGS COME
It was with sadness and disgust that I read your story about Richard Sandrak, the 11-year-old bodybuilder. Yes, children should be encouraged to keep fit and eat healthy, but the extreme to which this boy has been pushed by his parents is tantamount to child abuse. I just hope that this young man won't self-destruct after years of physical and psychological torture.
Marika Morris, Sparks, Nev.

In a world where children grow up too fast and struggle with body-image issues to the detriment of their physical and emotional health, it's disturbing to see a boy with the body of an adult. He looks like a miniature Conan the Barbarian action figure.
Nancy Kerswill, Toronto, Ont.

ALL THE RIGHT MOVES
The update on Elizabeth Smart was interesting but confusing. According to your article, "she's getting on with her life...surrounded by friends and relatives who zealously guard her privacy" and who are "shielding her from a curious public," and Elizabeth is coming through this with "an extended family who never gave up looking for her and who are nurturing her now." But, of course, her parents are finalizing the book and movie deals. Is this regurgitation of her ordeal to help Elizabeth cope or to assure her parents of their 15 minutes of fame?
E.A. Macdonald, Joliet, Ill.

I don't think that anyone can imagine what it was like to be Elizabeth Smart in the days she was missing from family and friends. She has a courageous soul and an undaunted spirit.
Sheila Barkes, Mishawaka, Ind.

WRITE YOUR OWN TICKET
What an inspiration Laura Hillenbrand is! I have suffered with chronic fatigue syndrome for the past eight years, since I was 13 years old. I attend university part-time and often feel overwhelmed and wonder why I am putting myself through all of this stress when I probably won't even be able to work when I finish. Ms. Hillenbrand has given me the courage to keep going. The fact that she has written a bestselling novel from her bed is remarkable. To all other sufferers out there, don't give up your dreams.
Lauren Patton, Markham, Ont.

BATTLE OF THE SEXES
Your article about Jennifer Finney Boylan's journey from male to female and her new book was wonderful. I admire her courage. In this age, it can be dangerous to be true to yourself. Too many acts of hatred and ignorance plague people now. I wish Jennifer, Grace and their sons the best of luck and much happiness in their new lives.
Ash Schneider, Lexington, Ohio

I was so dismayed after reading your story about gender-reassignment surgery that I was depressed for two days. I take my hat off to his wife, Grace, who has been the selfless one and a pillar to their two sons. If he was given a man's body and chose to marry and have children, he should have to live with those choices. I think Jennifer should have gone to another therapist who would have led her down a straighter path.
Maria Cordoba, Los Angeles, Calif.

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