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A Teacher's Secret Life

Hillel Aron's look at the life and death of Harry Major, a Hollywood High teacher with a penchant for taking in ex-cons, had readers riveted last week (“The Pen Pal Murder,” Oct. 17). Anon can't wait for the movie version, saying, “Great story and writing. Write the screenplay … quickly.”

Jackson applauds Major's life: “Many may find this story tragic. Not me. He worked, he wandered the world, he was having sex well into his old age. And you definitely missed the key ingredient in his life: literature. He was living out a fantasy — maybe not mine but his. We will all leave this place; he just left it more dramatically than most, which is also how he lived. Give 'em hell, Harry, wherever you are.”

Alan Cook writes, “When I saw 'The Pen Pal Murder' on the L.A. Weekly cover, I immediately knew who it was about, even before seeing Harry Major's name in the lower left corner. I was one of the recipients of Harry's annual December letters, I often sat across from him in our college dining hall when we were both students circa 1949-52, and later, in 1965, even sat in on two of his classes at Hollywood High. I was impressed by his teaching and thought he was probably one of the school's best teachers at the time. But even then, he was wasted on some of his students.

“I did not get the news about Harry's death until March, and have wondered these many months about what happened. Hillel Aron certainly filled in a lot of gaps, as well as telling me a lot that I did not know about Harry's more recent life. That is quite an accomplishment.

“In his college days, Harry was a big fan of Senator Helen Gahagan Douglas. In 1950, Congressman Richard Nixon ran against her and won in a messy campaign full of smears from the Nixon camp. But during the campaign, Harry rounded up a group of fellow students (mostly Republican) to hear Douglas speak at Alhambra High School. I was in that group.

“Harry took American politics seriously. Ditto for education. He was worth knowing, and I was pleased that enough former students recognized that he was a great teacher and put together a memorial event. This year will be the first time I won't get his annual letter. I will miss it.”

All About the Eggs

Reader Scott Udolph doesn't like one of our writers, and — surprise! — it's not Henry Rollins. No, Udolph objects to Besha Rodell's recent rave about Petit Trois (“Bar None,” Oct. 20). He writes, “I used to look forward to your food section every Thursday. And while I still do, I cannot tolerate Ms. Rodell. Her over-the-top exhilaration for an omelet is the last straw. Christ, it's only an omelet!

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