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May 20, 2024

An Open Letter to Rand McNally

By Marlin Bressi

Dear Ms. McNally,

After much contemplation and careful deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that you are the person responsible for making a very serious error. This error, of course, is your designation of Lake Ontario as one of the so-called Great Lakes. This fraudulent title can have very dire consequences, as thousands of tourists from all over the world, and even Canada, flock to the Great Lakes each year. Thus, while Lake Ontario undeservedly rakes in truckloads of tourist dollars every day, other truly great lakes are left to wallow in relative obscurity. Some may even have to file for bankruptcy.

It is my belief, a belief that is no doubt shared by millions of other Americans, that there are several other lakes that are far superior to Lake Ontario. Take Lake Superior, for instance. Now there's a lake worthy of its status.

When I was a child my parents took me to Lake Ontario one summer and, let me tell you, it was not an enjoyable experience. I happened to swallow some water while swimming in the lake and later came down with a nasty case of LaGuardia. I also suffered from severe sunburn during that vacation. Worst of all, our beloved family pooch, Mr. Jingles, died while we were away. I can't help but wonder if all of these things could have been avoided if only my parents had decided to visit a legitimate great lake, rather than an imposter like Lake Ontario. Had my father -- a decent, hard-working, God-fearing salesman of vinyl and aluminum siding -- opened up one of your atlases and saw that Lake Ontario was just an ordinary lake, we probably would have picked out a different destination entirely for our summer vacation. I certainly wouldn't have spent two straight weeks suffering from stomach cramps and the trots. And the sunburn wasn't exactly a picnic either.

Ms. McNally (I presume that 'Rand' is short for Miranda), I strongly urge you to omit Lake Ontario from future editions of your maps and atlases, for the sake of the tourism industry, as well as for the sake of young boys everywhere with pet dogs, pale complexions and sensitive digestive systems.

While I'm on the subject, I have a few other helpful suggestions as to how you can improve your otherwise fine publication. For starters, is it really necessary to have all of your alleged "great" lakes huddled so close together? I think that if you were to move Lake Superior a few inches to the left, closer to the staple, it would create a better balance and be more pleasing to the eye.

Also, I believe that the color you have chosen to represent Lake Ontario is rather misleading. If you were to see the lake with your own eyes, you would have to agree that it's not at all the cheerful shade of pale blue you have chosen for your atlas. It's actually sort of a depressing, dreary gray. If the color of the lakes in your atlas more closely matched the color of the lakes as they appear in reality, it would make vacation planning so much easier. I mean, who wants to drive three hundred miles to see a lake that looks like a giant puddle of dishwater? If I wanted to look at dishwater, I'd go to the kitchen.

Of course, all of these problems could be avoided if you would simply remove it from the map altogether. Or, at the very least, strip Lake Ontario of its Great Lake status and replace it with a different body of water more worthy of the honor. Now, I'm not saying that Lake Ontario is a "bad" lake, not by any means. I'm sure that it's not without its charm. It's just grossly over-rated.

May I be so bold as to suggest a few fine lakes that could potentially take the place of Lake Ontario?

Lake Champlain would be an excellent choice, as would Lake Winnebago or Lake Tahoe. Or, if you prefer a lake with greater historical significance, how about Walden Pond? In case you've forgotten your American history, Walden Pond was the home of the great 19th century physicist and bare-knuckles boxing champion Ralph Waldo Emerson. Aside from being a great man who lived a simple life in a rustic cabin in the middle of the pond, Emerson was also the inventor of the electric blender. I've owned my Emerson blender for several years and it still works wonderfully. What further proof do you need that Walden Pond would make a pretty good Great Lake?

Ms. McNally, I bet that if you were to open one up of your atlases, you would discover that our wonderful country is chock full of great lakes: Lake Mead, Lake of the Ozarks, Lake Okeechobee, Yellowstone Lake, Lake Wobegon, Seneca Lake, Lando Lakes, Lake Poncho Train, Lake Pend O'Reilly. These are but a few.

Personally, I recommend Cayuga Lake. Now that is one truly great lake! I went fishing there once with my Uncle Ernie and Aunt Mildred and we caught our limit of smallmouth bass well before lunchtime. Do you want to take a guess at how many bass I caught at Lake Ontario? Zilch, that's how many. And, do you want to know something else? Aunt Mildred's complexion is even paler than my own, on account of her anemia, and she didn't get the least bit sunburned. As a matter of fact, you would be hard pressed to find a single person who has anything bad to say about Cayuga Lake.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Lake Ontario. It doesn't even have any five star reviews on Yelp, for crying out loud. Not a single one! Go ahead and look for yourself.

I trust that, after reading this letter, you will decide to do the right thing. Thanks for your time, and I look forward to opening the next edition of your atlas and discovering that your grievous error has finally been corrected.


Marlin Bressi

Article © Marlin Bressi. All rights reserved.
Published on 2020-06-15
Image(s) are public domain.
1 Reader Comments
06:59:10 PM
Well, Mr Bressi, somebody had to say it, and while I'm sure you didn't want the responsibility, you handled it with aplomb.
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