Back in the late 1940s my father and his brother started a small business, which has since given birth to two other rather modest enterprises. This series of small businesses has been headquartered in Silver Spring since 1950, and I have, in one way or another, been involved with them, and Silver Spring, for all those years.

My father moved the family to Takoma Park (D.C.) in 1952 and to Silver Spring in 1959. I remained a resident of Silver Spring and/or Takoma Park until 1972 when, for reasons best known to my therapist, I placed myself at some symbolic distance away, living in the Kensington-Wheaton area for most of the next 14 years, pursuing a perversely glamorous ideal of my own design. I'm back now, just in time to see the magical "revitalization" of downtown Silver Spring. Did I wait too long?

While in my teens I attended Montgomery Blair High School, where I found myself in awe of upper-classman Benjamin Stein {"Our Town," Close to Home, June 14}. Ben was older, smarter, more sophisticated, erudite, urbane, articulate -- you name it. Whatever it was, I didn't seem to have it. Or did I? I enrolled in journalism at Blair, then went on to Montgomery (then Junior) College. But the family business beckoned, and so I went a different way. A lot of different ways, actually.

But now I'm back in good ol' Silver Spring. I've had the good fortune to become acquainted with Gregory McBride {Round 2: "Cut the Nostalgia for Old Sil-ju ver Spring," Close to Home, June 21}, whom Clarence Steinberg accuses of "abusing" Ben Stein andju who would "hand us over to the developers" {"Round 3: Silver Spring's Renewal," Close to Home, July 5}.ju I don't think that's a fair assessment of Greg's position.

On the other hand, I'm not sure we agree on every point of the issue. How could we? Greg McBride never hung out on Colesville Road on a Saturday in the early '60s, never caroused at the old Hot Shoppes, never dug through the bargain bin of 45 rpm records at H. L. Green's (now McCrory's) looking for a rarity. He didn't watch Drug Fair burn down, didn't watch Blair's athletic teams terrorize those of lesser schools and, above all, never enjoyed a grandi-ju ose banana split at Giffords. None of this is hisju fault.

I have been moved and touched by Ben Stein's missives from the far coast concerning his recollections of home. I hope he isn't offended by Greg McBride's opinions on what ought to be the fate of the land of our dreams. You see, there is one factor McBride can always cite in justifying his rather unromantic approach to the topic: he is here. Stein, on the other hand, is out there in L.A., a place he compares unfavorably to the Silver Spring of our youth. Don't make us have to say, in the end, "Where were you when we needed you?" (And where the hell was I?)

Clarence Steinberg is right: in order to revitalize something, it must have had something vital aboutju it to begin with. Local boy Ben Stein knows thatju is true. He was there . . . here. We need that vi-ju sion and that involvement to help temper the enthusiasm of newcomers, and we also need those newer faces/voices/ideas to tug us along against the pull of the romantic past.

It would be great if Benjamin Stein and Gregory McBride could sit face-to-face across a table somewhere and discuss the matter. I'd love to buy them both a beer (or an ice cream). If I could only think of a place we could go . . . -- John E. Kenyon