I was disappointed in "The Split-Level Years" [Style, Sept. 27]. Henry Allen drained all signs of life from a decade he depicted as permeated with materialism, hypocrisy and racism. His "neighborhoods" seemed to be peopled with empty shells of unfulfilled individuals and disconnected families. Those may be Allen's memories, but they are not mine.

I would have mentioned the smells of dinner cooking in a cast-iron skillet, a pool and school within walking distance, the feel of steel skates on a bumpy sidewalk and a skate key hanging by boondoggle around one's neck. I would have mentioned how our family stood, with others, outside a closed appliance store in the evening to watch the flickering images of a black-and-white television that we could not yet afford. I would mention neighborhood games of tag--and children watching the streetlights so they could obey their mom's order to "be home before dark." I would mention the jingling bells on the bicycle-driven cooler of the "ice cream boy" who sold Popsicles and Fudgcicles for a nickel. I would remember my Upstate New York neighborhood, where nearly every family's last name ended in "ski."

The '50s were not faultless golden years, but they were, for me, a time of vitality, security and promise--all of which Allen seems to have missed.

--Collette Caprara