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Probe: May 28, 2002

May 28, 2002

QUESTION: It has come to my attention that in the last two weeks letters to PROBE have not been kept to their true form. Please remember that PROBE is for the voice of the people, not for the PROBE writer. — Heart of Compassion, Brawley

Dear Heart: The "Voice of the People" is a different forum, with different rules, from PROBE. One of the rules is that you must sign your "Voice" letter. "Voice" does not withhold names.

If you are willing to put your name on your opinion, you may get by with your high-flown rhetoric as long as you don't libel anybody.

In PROBE you can ask an outlandish question and even make an outlandish assertion (as long as you don't libel anybody). We don't ask for your name (which is why we get better questions). However, we don't allow much purple prose.


PROBE will cut your letter, and even change the "true form" a bit to make it fit our mandate, to expose a situation or solve a problem.

The advantage is that you can make your sneaky attack without being identified. To keep it fair, we make every effort to reach the object of the attack to get the other side of the story.

That saves us a lot of work. Often the object will say, "Yes, I did it and here is why." That's a lot easier than going through stacks of documents.

We're always weeding out questions in which the only object is to humiliate or punish. We want to solve problems, not punish.

By the way, not every PROBE question (not even every great question) sees print. There's not enough space or enough time to check them all out. Sorry about that.

QUESTION: You write often that PROBE readers can make a difference in "our little corner of the world." I am 13. How can I make a difference? — Teen, El Centro

Let us tell you about a woman who made a difference in our life so we could grow up and possibly make a difference in our corner of the world.

Beatrice laughed at her upcoming birthday, the "Big 7-0." She expected it would be tougher than the "big 6-0" or the "big 5-0."

On May 16, just four days after Mother's Day, one day before her 70th birthday, Beatrice suffered a massive stroke. She died Saturday morning at her home with all seven of her children nearby.

The mournful Memorial Day trumpets transported us back to sixth grade, when we were the new kid in a hostile class.

Beatrice and we did not become instant friends. It was enough that she was not mean to us. By seventh grade Beatrice was our friend who took us into her circle of friends that included Reyes and Patsy. They may have had a special compassion for us, the little "fruit tramp" girl who drew enmity from the "in group."

The same bigots who didn't like Mexicans didn't like "fruit tramps" much either. Their contempt made its way down to Holtville Grammar School.

In eighth grade we vowed if we ever became "popular," we would never, ever be mean to anybody. It became one of the pivotal moments in our life.

The memorial trumpets took us back to that May morning when Beatrice, Reyes and we plodded through the dust on the still-unpaved Ninth Street for the traditional "visit" to Holtville High School.

We were full of dreams. Beatrice, an only child, wanted to be a bookkeeper and to have seven children. We wanted to be a writer and to have six children. All of Beatrice's dreams came true! All of her children, five men and two women, stayed close as she fought the last battle in a life that had been full of struggles. Bon voyage, Beatrice.

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