As I woke up this morning in my block apartment building just over a mile from Petrochemia, the largest oil refinery in Poland, I could not help believing that your correspondent must have experienced a particularly bad day here in Plock. While "Plock, Poland--For Better or for Worse" (World Report, Nov. 1) adequately describes the difficulties Plock has had adjusting to free-market reforms as well as the town's accomplishments, the article exaggerates certain negative aspects, which is unfair to this city by the Vistula that is trying very hard to deal with these changing times. It falsely reinforces the Western stereotype of Eastern Europe by portraying Plock as a heavily polluted and backwards industrial wasteland.
During my eight months in Plock, I have smelled very rarely the "rotten egg" odor with which Dean Murphy so graphically introduced his article. Indeed, the air quality in Plock has improved dramatically over the last few years, and it is much better than in many other Polish cities and certainly far superior to the air quality in Los Angeles. Also, Plock is not a city in which horse-drawn carts regularly "plod" down the main streets. I wonder how long the photographer must have waited for the right moment to take the picture of the horse-drawn cart.
Despite the economic hardships of recent years, the signs of progress in Plock and the pride of its people are hard to miss. The evidence is in the freshly painted buildings on the city's main shopping boulevard. It can be seen in the work crews who busily are repairing the city's streets and installing new brick sidewalks. It is in the decorative Western-style displays which are being placed in retail store windows. Some pictures of these things would have been more representative of what is really happening here in Plock.
WILLIAM J. CARR III
U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer