Reed magazine welcomes letters from readers concerning the contents of the magazine or issues relating to the college. Letters must be signed and may be edited for clarity and space. Our email address is email@example.com.
Memories of Lambert st.
From Ehrick Wheeler `52
Your article, "The House on Lambert Street," [February '99] jogged my brain and set off my rusty mechanism of memories at that address. Sometime in the fall of 1949 Huddie Ledbetter, "Leadbelly," died, and we decided that it would be appropriate to commemorate his passing with a wake to be held at "1414." This affair was hosted, as I recall, by a small group including both Gary Snyder '51 and Philip Whalen '51, along with other members of this quasi-bohemian Reed subculture. Guitars provided accompaniment to the singing of Leadbelly songs, including "Goodnight Irene," which became a favorite at Reed soirees. The serious nature of this affair was lightened somewhat by the consumption of Famiglia Cribari Vino Da Tavola, a cheap jug wine that we found would turn sour if left open for a few days. We naturally did our best to prevent that from happening.
It was very stimulating to be surrounded by the intellects attracted to this sort of social event. Naturally, when an apartment at 1414 became available, I forsook O'Shaunessy's attic and moved into a second-floor suite consisting of a kitchen and living room/bedroom with a shared bath across the hall. I installed my sound system: an amplifier, a twelve-inch speaker, and a cheap turntable. This system, though crude by today's standards, was especially useful for entertaining young women who might be impressed by the sophistication of Vivaldi helped along by glasses of the aforementioned wine. This, together with my reputation as a fairly good cook, helped me find a roommate. We survived on a diet of horsemeat (we had inherited a frozen food locker with the apartment) with rice and cabbage. For lunch we vittled on sandwiches made with Maine sardines or potted meat food product, both at $.15/can.
Eager to be one of this intellectual elite, I agreed to provide the family car for an outing to the beach. On a fine spring day, Don Berry, Gary Snyder, his lady friend, and I set out in my family's 1948 Austin A-40; the 40 referred to the horsepower of this unfortunate vehicle. After only one breakdown, we arrived at the coast late in the evening and bedded down in a roadside park. The next morning we decided breakfast on the beach would be a good idea; why not drive out to the end of the Manzanita Spit, a six-mile peninsula of silty sand between the bay and the ocean? Gary mentioned that the tide was going out. It was no trouble driving all the way to the end, where we parked near the water on the hard sand. We headed to a sheltered location up the beach. Later I went back to check the car just as the first waves were running under the wheels. Berry ran the entire six miles back to Manzanita, where the tow truck owner, who had kindly provided the beach access for our car, said that he would have to wait for the next low tide to retrieve it: "How did you ever drive that thing all the way out there anyway?" We hitchhiked back to Portland. The car was nearly a total loss.
Another incident at 1414 occurred while I was in the shared bathroom shaving. A young woman whom I knew slightly came in and started to draw a bath. Somewhat nonplussed, I kept shaving, glancing aside from time to time. Much to my consternation and then delight, the shapely young woman disrobed, stepped into the tub and splashed about as if completely oblivious to my presence. I, lacking savior faire at such a tender age, was struck dumb at this display of feminine flesh and beauty; luckily her male companion arrived to share her bath and I retired, shaved but exhilarated.
Not just any man
From Richard Gordon Jones '50
I was shocked to learn in the November '98 issue of Reed that Professor Richard Hutton Jones is dead. Those who confuse me with him should know that-although following John Donne's rules, "Any man's death diminishes me"-I am less, but alive.
Jones was competent and compassionate. I have his notes on my Reed thesis to prove it. Michael Munk's "Oregon Tests Academic Freedom in (Cold) Wartime: the Reed College Trustees versus Stanley Moore," appeared in the fall 1996 Oregon Historical Quarterly. This article quotes Jones six times. From these citations one can form an opinion of the man that is not inaccurate.
Taxonomically speaking, cave canem
From Nara Vaughan '96 ("Miss August")
Michael Nelken's '60 critique [Reed, May 1999] of the Reed calendar included the statement that "the bunnies were also easy on the eyes." I am afraid Mr. Nelken may be having some taxonomic difficulty and hope that the following may be of assistance. The term "bunny" generally refers to Oryctolagus cuniculus, the European common rabbit of the family Leporidae, or less commonly to the hare or jackrabbit (Lepus). Both are easily identifiable by their large front teeth, short tails, long ears, and hind legs and feet adapted for running and jumping. No such animal appeared in the 1999 Reed calendar, which featured mainly Canis familiaris, or the domesticated dog of the family Canidae, and adjunct Homo sapiens as necessary. Whatever Mr. Nelken thinks of the calendar's design, he should endeavor to be more accurate when referring to its contents.
Remembering the College's greatest fan
From Robert Querry '88
Florence Lehman was the most memorable person I met at Reed. We became friends and often ate at each other's house, meeting each other's friends in turn.
She was particularly drawn to Terry O'Donnell of the Oregon Historical Society (whom I met while an intern at the Portland planning department), as they had common roots in eastern Oregon. We occasionally made late afternoon visits to ex-college staff and other luminaries who lived in the area. I don't know if other friends were so honored, but I often helped her with small house repairs.
I met her as a work-study student, when I got a job in the archives, which I held for two years. Our working relationship was excellent, as I got to dig through all the stuff in the archives (which consisted at that time of a small room off the chapel and its associated attic-which I discovered and explored like a kid), and share with her things that she had no idea existed, having come to the job from the alumni relations office. The stories I heard in response were captivating. She was a true "time machine." I also tried to get her onto a computer, as it seemed important to get all that material cataloged. That never worked, as far as I knew. When the archives moved to the basement of the new library, she was there, and so were the computers, but she still communicated via her old typewriter. I was sad to see her consigned to the basement, as there were no windows and she was out of Eliot Hall, away from the center of her network's web. She defined for me the concept of "institutional memory," as she re-membered almost every student and staff person she came in contact with and could easily recall their current locations and occupations.
I hope the college feels compelled to honor her memory in some way commensurate with the importance Reed held for her. It was the center of her life-as she had been a student, an administrator, and perhaps its greatest fan.
From Stephen Shields '62
I was so sorry to read about the death of Florence Lehman. She was a good friend for decades. An example of her remarkable talent came at my 30th reunion in 1992. We were supposed to have a fairly fancy dinner in the commons but the weather was unusually hot, and people were told to come in shorts and t-shirts. Florence was supposed to give a speech, but she was in a rush to go to the airport and pick up a grandchild. Instead she discarded her speech and went from table to table introducing everyone, telling the group about majors, families, and occupations. There were at least 100 people in the room. It was no parlor trick. Florence really knew everybody and cared about everybody. I know she will really be missed.
A letter home
This letter is from students Kraig Kraft '01 and Heather Zornetzer '01 to President Steven Koblik. He had provided them with $3,000-part from a donation from an alumnus, part from a discretionary fund-for disaster relief work Kraft and Zornetzer were organizing in Nicaragua last spring.
We wanted to get word to you that all is well. We received the $3,000 deposit on the 9th or so and it's already been put into use. We have ordered 100 concrete latrine floors (planchas) and concrete "bowls" (tasas). In all three communities we've got holes dug and ready to go. In addition, adobe blocks are currently being made to construct the latrine buildings themselves, and the order has been placed for the roof tiles (tejas). All in all, the wheels are turning, and we're hoping to have planchas and tasas delivered to individual families by the following Friday.
Kraig is in the process of digging a hole himself for an elderly woman in the community of Los Arados. He's got the blisters to prove his hours of hard work, and the approval of community members for doing so! I've been ironing out the coordinating of hole digging, plancha moving (each one weighs over 400 lbs. and will take no less than 4 strong bodies to move), and tool sharing. We've got 100 holes planned and a total of 19 digging bars, about 18 shovels, 6 ladders, and several buckets. . . the "community spirit" has been called upon heavily to make this all happen.
Bueno, we hope all is well in Portland, and that the wet isn't too bad this year. We're planning on having these 100 completed by the second or third week in March as we head back to the States on the 29th of the month. My mom, a pediatrician, is coming here that last week (to Mozonte) to help out in any way she can, and we'll undoubtedly have tons of pictures and stories to tell when we return.
Best wishes and thanks again,
Heather & Kraig