Before Mark Seliger talks to me about photography [Reporter, Texas Monthly Talks, December 2008], he needs to study the terrific cover of the December issue.
Dick Mitchell

You failed to mention the best hidden cafe and beer joint in Texas: the Back Door Cafe, in Roosevelt [“The 40 Best Small-Town Cafes in Texas,” December 2008]. It’s guaranteed to serve the best burger on either side of the Mississippi.
J. T. Maroney

TJ’s Circle Cafe, in Kilgore, got an honorable mention? Your writers must enjoy those chicken-fried-steak patties they serve in middle-school lunchrooms. Everyone in Kilgore knows Big T’s is the cafe in town.
Allen McGee

Am I missing something? I was just wondering how the Blue Bonnet Cafe, in Marble Falls, didn’t rate anything other than a Web video. The good news for me is that they don’t need more publicity, so the lines will be a mite shorter.
Don Alexander

My brother and I own a small-town cafe in Clifton (population: 3,609), and with all due respect to the cafes on the list, we would like to put our country-style mashed (by hand, daily) potatoes, our Texas-size hand-breaded country-fried steak, our famous fried catfish, our hand-pattied burgers, or any one of our daily breakfast, lunch, or dinner buffets (where everything is made from scratch) up against any one of those on your list. This is without even mentioning the homemade coconut and chocolate cream pie.
Johnny Miller, of Johnny’s Place

I have an example of the great customer service provided in a small town. The 19th Hole, in my hometown of Nazareth, provides good home-cooked meals for $8. This price includes salad, a main dish, vegetables, tea, and dessert. The ladies cook a different meal each day, and if it is not to your taste, you can order a burger. I have been a regular for years. A few months ago, my job didn’t allow me to get to the cafe for lunch. Being a bachelor, I remarked to the ladies that without their cooking, I would likely starve. Upon hearing this, they made a takeout plate, brought it to my house, and put it in my fridge, daily. I will always be grateful and humbled by this selfless act.
Clint Hoelting

I beg to differ with your classification of what a “small” town is. One should have fewer than five thousand people (and at least one but never more than five traffic lights). Giving these thriving Gotham cities a chance to compete with the likes of Spur and Matador is like sending the Sundown Roughnecks up against the Midland Lee Rebels in a football game.
Matt Spiegel

Begging Your Pardon

Presidential pardons should be used for people like Deborah Murphey, not the likes of Scooter Libby and Mark Rich [“The Fugitive,” December 2008].
Jan Tenery
via e-mail

We live in a society of many antiquated laws. If you had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and had no thought or involvement with the crime, serious consideration should be given to the circumstances before an indictment is handed down. The abuse Deborah Murphey endured while incarcerated and the years, while free, looking over her shoulder should be punishment enough. Where were you, Mr. Bush? This woman needed a pardon.
John L. Horton

Crossings to Bear

Before and After” was no more than pro—illegal alien propaganda and cheap, emotion-manipulating journalism [December 2008]. Where was the discussion of Francisco Garcia-Rodriguez’s personal responsibility? Where was the discussion of illegal immigration’s detrimental effects on society? It is easy to find innocent victims in the families of criminals. For instance, many men who serve jail time leave their families behind, suffering for their bad choices and actions. That, however, is not a reason to imply that the state or federal government is inhumane or unjust for enforcing the law.
Erik Brown

Evidenced by article assignments, your magazine is going hell-bent-for-leather in trying to eliminate our border with Mexico, in trying to convince us “legal” and “illegal” immigration are the same. Karen Olsson was right in criticizing the feds for going after the families when in reality Pilgrim’s Pride should be shut down. As Texans, we can now do two things: Boycott Pilgrim’s Pride products, and demand that the e-verify system be used by all businesses that hire. If no aliens were given jobs, there would be no temptation to wade the river and live here indefinitely and illegally.
Loretta Bedford
San Augustine

The story of the “poor illegal” workers did nothing more than solidify my view that illegal workers should be rounded up and deported and the corporations that hire them fined and penalized. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with people migrating here legally to make a better life for themselves. That’s what makes this country great. But to come here illegally, steal jobs through lower wages, and take advantage of our social programs at the taxpayers’ expense—well, it’s real hard for me to be sympathetic. Get the papers and come back, then pay taxes, etc. I won’t mind paying a little more for chicken strips.
Joe Bush

Grand Fathers

I finished Oscar Casares’s tribute to his father with a feeling of kinship and heartbreak [“Grass Roots,” December 2008]. My dad died in ’03, and like Mr. Casares, I have had to let go of many things that meant “Daddy.” Thank you for a poignant and beautiful piece that honors a man who took pride in his work. Mr. Casares’s portrayal of attempts to include him in his day-to-day life reminds me much of the last conversations I had with my father, and I hope that as others read this essay, they will understand and give value to the lives of their elderly family members.
Suzi Harkey
San Antonio