[CT Birds] George & Millie Letis

Schlesinger, Lee Lee.Schlesinger at purchase.edu
Wed Jun 4 11:05:43 EDT 2008

When I was a graduate student at Yale in the early 70s and living in the
East Rock neighborhood, wishing to have an activity that didn't take
place in the library or involve American poets, I began to stroll into
the Park and notice and then look at birds.  And I discovered that there
were other people doing the same thing, but they knew more, were more
focused of intention--that is, they were birdwatchers, and gradually I
became one too.  One of the things that encouraged me, drew me on and in
to the birding, was the generosity, openness, friendliness, patience of
so many in the New Haven birding community.  Though serious and in some
cases professional, many of them were helpful to beginners, never
hoarding a sighting or glumly protective of a patch of territory, or the
like.  As we all know, there are plenty of birding communities of which
these things cannot be said.  One of the things I like so much out the
CTBird discussions is that they extend this ethos, in ways that make
people want to bird, to take risks of observation and identification
without feeling foolish, to take delight in each others' discoveries,
and so forth.

NO ONE was more instrumental in creating this ethos than George and
Millie Letis.  They befriended the casual beginner, who saw in them an
example of what pleasure and delight there could be in birding.  They
birded side by side with the ornithologists, who respected them as well
as (of course) liking them.  There were many times when I was caught off
guard by their field skill, and now, aging myself, I especially
appreciate how they kept their eyes and ears open throughout their own
advancing age.

There have been some graceful and lovely tributes to them on this list
already.  I also wanted to remember and thank them. They helped change
my life, helped deepen and enrich it measurelessly.

Lee Schlesinger
Port Chester, NY

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