October 2006 Letters to the Editor

Tree of Knowledge

Folks here loved the challenge of estimating the correct height of white pine at the Lost Forty (“Seven Wonders of Minnesota,” September). It is clear that “nearly 200 feet tall” is an over-estimation. A more correct estimation by users of the Lost Forty is 100 to 110 feet. We always like to see people explore their national forest.

Public Affairs Team Leader
Chippewa National Forest

Stunning Statistics

I am hoping there is some mistake in the statistic in your article on Fraser Child & Family Center (“Seven Wonders of Minnesota,” September): “1 in 175 children under age 10 now are identified as autistic.” I was stunned. Why? It wasn’t this way 10 years ago. What happened?

So I need to know, and maybe other readers would like to know, is Minnesota doing as much to discover the cause of this autism explosion as to deal with the fallout? If one autistic child costs $3.2 million to deal with, how much money should we be putting into researching causes? With a 15-fold increase, it has to be environmental, something we are all exposed to. (Do other countries have rates like this?) I am proud enough of my home state to think we might also be at the forefront of research into causes. Is that the case?

Thanks for publishing a magazine I always read with great interest. This is a good place to live.

St. Paul

Lawn Job

I enjoyed the latest edition of Minnesota Monthly describing the Seven Wonders of Minnesota. I was amused and surprised by one statement in Mr. Paul Scott’s article about my employer, Mayo Clinic: “Drs. William and Charles Mayo were said to have written physicians letters chastising them for mowing their own lawns.”

I have never seen this assertion before, and would love to know more and to know Mr. Scott’s source. I am not sure whether such an event tells us something about the founders’ character, or whether they were just looking out for the people in town, trying to make sure there was enough good work to go around during a hard time (i.e., the Depression). If letter-writing of this nature did happen, it must have originated with Will Mayo. Charlie Mayo was much more laid-back, and did a lot of his own work on the grounds out at his Mayowood country estate.

I asked two friends and colleagues here—Paul Scanlon, a Rochester native and pulmonologist who was, for a long time, the chair of the institution’s historical committee, and Bruce Fye, a cardiologist who is the current chair of that committee and who has the distinction of being perhaps the only person to read through the entire historical collection of minutes of the meetings of the board of governors. Neither had ever heard of such letters or such a policy, though we had all heard about sheep and cattle being used as lawn mowers on the grounds of St. Marys Hospital. Can Mr. Scott clarify?

Mayo Clinic

Paul Scott Replies:

My source was an elderly physician at the clinic. He says he heard it during the 1970s from a now-deceased administrator with an interest in Mayo history, who had said he heard it from doctors who knew William J. Mayo. I interpreted the tale to mean that the Mayo patriarchs—though it may indeed have been only William—were unconvinced of the edifying nature of manual labor on the part of doctors when conducted within sight of patients. Sort of like the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David suffers a fatal loss of respect for his therapist after seeing him on the beach in a Speedo. As the writer well knows, today there is a robust lawn-services industry in Rochester, but its use by Mayo physicians does not appear to be mandatory.

Between Friends

I think the woman (“The Mail,” September) who accused you of being wrong when you used between instead of among in “5,044: number of boardings last year on the Target Art Hop, the free bus service that transports patrons between the three big Minneapolis fests” is the one who is wrong.

According to the 15th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style: “Between indicates one-to-one relationships (between you and me). Among indicates undefined or collective relationships (honor among thieves). Between has long been recognized as being perfectly appropriate for more than two objects if multiple one-to-one relationships are understood from the context (trade between members of the European Union).”

Since patrons were transported from one fest to another, I believe between was the best choice.

Peggy Lauritsen Design Group

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