Free at last? Hmm, I don't think so. Just because an AOL representative says your account has been closed does not mean your battle with AOL is over ("Mission Impossible," by Lawrence Grobel, Essay, Jan. 8). Wait until the bills stop arriving in your mailbox, and then you can say it. Next step? Try to convince AOL's collection agency that you certainly do not owe the provider any "back fees."


Colm Colum
Via the Internet

Simple Toys Can Bring the Most Joy

When I was a little girl, I made dolls and furniture out of paper ("Toy Story," by Don Bartletti, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Jan. 15). My mom was a struggling single mother of five. We lived with my aunt, uncle and cousins. For me, playing with little pieces of paper was a way to dream about having a house and things of our own.

Now I have a 1½-year-old son, and my husband and I can buy him whatever toys we want. But I have noticed that he is the happiest when playing with my Tupperware, large empty detergent containers and empty boxes.

Lilly Reidhammer
Highland

Thank you for the photo essay showing how creative kids can be, even when they have little to work with. I grew up in a farm town, and even though my family was well-off and I had more toys than I could use, my friends and I got a kick out of doing much the same thing as the boys and girls in the photos. In fact, the town dump was one of our favorite places.

But one image was disturbing: the basketball hoop in Oceanside, Calif., right here in America. In every case but this one, the children who were inventing their own toys lived amid the poverty of disadvantaged countries. In the wealthiest society in the history of mankind, a child should have the choice to make his own toys but should not have the choice made for him and his family to live in Third World squalor. They deserve better than that. So do all of us.

Richard Mallery
North Hollywood

Bartletti's piece reinforces my belief that the unfettered mind is the most resourceful tool in the universe. Those who depend on computers for creativity are hindered by its limitations. Free yourself. Get out and play!

Neil Proffitt
Redondo Beach

Grateful for a Safe Haven

Thank you for the moving article on Jerry Moses and his return to Shanghai ("Return of a Shanghai Jew," by Adam Minter, Jan. 15). As a child of Holocaust survivors, I believe his healing comes from his ability to reframe his experience in China during World War II with gratitude and love for that country. I'm filled with admiration for a man whose primary feeling was love in the midst of such poverty and hunger. I similarly feel grateful to Norway, a country that accepted our family and gave us hope in the midst of tremendous loss. Jerry, I raise my glass to you.

Elisabeth Ward
Rancho Palos Verdes

A Matter of Taste

I have just read Corie Brown's interesting article about winemaker Paul Hobbs' work in South America ("Putting Place in a Glass," Jan. 8). I was described as someone "who makes a sport of opposing some of [Robert] Parker's most strongly held opinions." This suggests that I routinely and deliberately disagree with him, but nothing could be further from the truth.

It is inevitable that opinions on something as subjective as wine tasting will vary, but I can assure you that there is absolutely nothing intentional about the differing opinions I may happen to hold on some wines.

We have enjoyed each other's company, the cooking of each other's spouses and each other's sense of humor. Such is the delightful variability of wine appreciation that it's inevitable that no two people will enjoy exactly the same wines.

Jancis Robinson
London