Carrying the Mail

By The Editors / January / February 2000
October 24th, 2007

On my first full day at Brown, in the fall of 1981, I headed to the corner of Brook and Wickenden to purchase the tiny dorm refrigerator my roommate and I had decided we needed. Lugging it back up Brook Street to West Quad, somewhat lost on a hot day, I was pleased to encounter a beer sign in the window of a friendly looking place. I entered Loui's for the first of many, many times.

After enjoying a cold beer that day, I forgot about Loui's for a year or so. Then a friend took me there for a Loui's classic: the Fried Egg Sandwich. It didn't take long to figure out that three "squares" at Loui's cost considerably less than a meal ticket at the Ratty, and I became a regular. Louis and Nina Gianfrancesco, and their extended family, provided Mom's kitchen 3,000 miles away from Mom. Loui's came to mean so much to me that I made a point of having a grand breakfast there on my graduation day, much to my real family's dismay.

After graduation, I lived in Providence for about eight years. Once or twice a month, I'd drop by Loui's for lunch. I never had to order - Louis would either grunt "the regular?" or just bring it without bothering to grunt.

After leaving Providence in 1993, I returned two years later and headed straight for Loui's. Louis glanced at me and, without missing a beat, grunted "the regular?" I nodded. It was the best Cheeseburger Special (w/lettuce, tomato, mayo, and a Coke) I'll ever have.

Friends and I have tried (and failed) to find its equal - the "Loui's of Albany," the "Loui's of San Francisco," or even the "Mexican Loui's." Like the Holy Grail, it will never be found. Hats off, in memoriam, to Louis and Nina Gianfrancesco. Hats off to their family, too, and may they continue to serve great food and great friendship to Brown and all of Providence for many years to come.

John Hoar '85
San Francisco, Calif.

The tribute to the late Louis Gianfrancesco by Eric Wilson '92 ("The Prince of Brook Street," September/October) was a fitting recognition of the impact of Louis and his restaurant on Brown students over the years. Louis and his brother Dom were my landlords twenty-five years ago during my senior year. I suppose everyone has a favorite apartment, and this one, adjacent to the restaurant, remains mine. Mortgage payments now bring on a wave of nostalgia for the good old days when fifty-eight dollars was my share of the monthly rent. While I don't share Eric Wilson's recollections of champagne at graduation and free breakfasts on rent days, I do recall an occasional free pizza when an order wasn't picked up.

In Providence last February after an absence of several years, my first stop on campus was Loui's for a Saturday morning breakfast. I was pleased that neither the food nor the decor had changed. Louis stood behind the counter and busied himself training a new employee rather gruffly. Before leaving, I said hello, explaining that I was a former tenant. I did not remind him of our last conversation, which involved a difference of opinion about the condition in which we had left the apartment. I was amused when he simply said, "I don't remember ya."

Well, the same can't be said about Louis. I'm sure that he and his family's restaurant will long be fondly remembered by many Brown students like me.

John Irvin '75
Lexington, Ky.


My initial excitement at seeing Blanca Rojas on the cover of the July/August BAM soon gave way to my deep dismay at the portrayal of the Rojas family. For the past year, I have been working with Hector Gal·n, a nationally recognized documentary filmmaker who has been tracking Blanca for a PBS documentary, Children of Las Colonias, which tells the stories of many Mexican Americans living in third-world conditions along the U.S.-Mexico border. Perhaps because I have spent a year of my life with Blanca and her parents, I am deeply troubled by the lack of sensitivity and respect afforded to the Rojas family. What struck me about Blanca were three things: her exceptional intelligence, perseverance, and courage to leave the Rio Grande Valley and go to Brown.

I was particularly dismayed by the interview of Maria, Blanca's mother, about Blanca's graduation day. English is a second language for Maria. In the interviews we did with her in both English and Spanish during Commencement, Maria said it is difficult for her to express herself in English; but she told me with such emotion about how proud she was to see her daughter graduate from Brown. Why was Blanca's mother portrayed to have such an apathetic attitude about her daughter's accomplishment? In addition, Blanca's father, who speaks no English but who has such articulate thoughts on Blanca's accomplishment, was barely mentioned in the article.

Furthermore, to print that "Blanca suffered a setback this summer when a hoped-for teaching job at her old high school fell through," as the final word on Blanca's story was perhaps the most damaging. Blanca's job never fell through; she was waiting for a better offer. I realize that the magazine has deadlines, but the lack of information can truly create an inaccurate and negative representation of a woman who has achieved a great deal in her life. Moreover, when Children of Las Colonias airs on PBS, I hope that Brown alumni will see a more accurate portrayal of the Rojas family and give them the respect they so clearly deserve.

Deepa Donde '95
Austin, Tex.

The "better offer" Ms. Donde describes did not arrive until after the magazine had gone to press. - Editor


In view of Brown's winning football season ("The Stars of Autumn," Sports, November/December), BAM readers may be interested in the lack of proper publicity accorded to our players in some parts of the West. The newspaper in Tucson, Arizona, for example, reported that Yale tied for the Ivy League championship, but did not mention that the other team was Brown and that Brown had beaten Yale earlier in the season! In some published, detailed statistics, I see that Brown is ranked above Yale in this year's results.


Robert B. Watson '49


Thank you for such an amusing and enlightening article about my son, Gidon Felsen, as he walked with Ryan Firestone across the country ("The Walk," November/December). I know I enjoyed the article more than I enjoyed spending the year worrying about my son's safety.


Sheryl Felsen Millstein
Tenafly, N.J.


While reading the latest BAM, I noticed that your article "In With the New" (Elms, September/October) mentioned Brown alums William S. Simmons '60 and Leonard A Schlesinger '72 but did not note the Brunonian educational background of then-Interim Provost (and my non-interim wife), Kathryn Troyer Spoehr '69. In fact, at the end of this academic year, she will have been at Brown as student, faculty member, and administrator for thirty of the past thirty-five years.

Luther Spoehr
Campus ***

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January / February 2000