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Letters to Reed
I just finished reading Robin Cody’s apologia for Ottomar Rudolf’s participation in the Hitler Youth and, subsequently, the German armed forces. It reminded me of when Rudolf ran for public office in Portland, identifying himself as a veteran of World War II without indicating that his participation was in defense of Nazi Germany.
Cody shrugs off Rudolf’s Nazi activism as a youthful indiscretion: “I get that,” Cody muses, “I was a teenage boy…Teenage boys are unformed human beings.”
Readers respond to our piece on professor Ottomar Rudolf’s memoir of his boyhood in Nazi Germany.
I entered Reed in 1967. I was aware then that Reed had among the highest rates of participation in Mississippi Freedom Summer—teenage boys and girls, as Cody would have it, who risked their lives to combat racism. I was a little young for Mississippi Freedom Summer. I was not, however, too young to be confronted with the ongoing struggle against racism, nor the effort to end the war against Vietnam. As a teenage boy I publicly refused to register for the draft, joining a number of other Reed students in going to prison to oppose an unjust war.
To argue, as Cody does, that many youth succumbed to the demands of the Nazi Party neither excuses nor condemns Ottomar Rudolf. There is, simply put, no imaginable justification for participation in the Nazi cause. That Rudolf could not recognize that until the defeat of Nazi Germany is tragic.
But the article includes other indications of the Reed alumni magazine’s incredible transformation from college journal to purveyor of false history. Cody’s implication that the Catholic Church challenged Nazism lacks historical foundation. Had the Catholic Church actively “countered some of the Nazi line” on anti-Semitism, attacks on the working class, homophobia or expansionism, it might have done some good. More incredible is Cody’s acceptance of Nazi racial terminology: “Dreschler, the son of an Aryan father and a Jewish mother…” Aryan father? Has Cody no sense of either history or irony?
I can only say that I’m glad that I wasn’t at Reed during Cody’s tenure as dean of admission.
—Paul Bigman ’71
Editor’s Note: Ottomar was in fact drafted and served in the U.S. Army as well as the German Army.
I just got to read this article, even though as a staff person in alumni & parent relations, I usually see an advanced draft of the magazine. I went off for vacation in Italy before the final draft of the magazine made its rounds amongst staff. I got back, plunged into preparation for Parent & Family Weekend, and waited to receive my magazine at home. My boss mentioned this article in a staff meeting, an alumnus mentioned the magazine to me, and I eagerly awaited its arrival.
Finally it came, and this afternoon, I read about my Hum 220 professor, while snacking on fine cheese and French bread. (Sorry Ottomar, no German wine as an accompaniment, just soda pop.) Robin Cody beautifully captures Ottomar: his essence, his spirit, and his soul. I had heard some of this story when he was my professor. I was young, in my 20s, idealistic, and raised by Jewish parents who were the first generation born in the U.S. Many of my grandparents’ generation didn’t make it out of Europe alive. My great aunt had gone into hiding only to be ratted out and die in a concentration camp. I was taught growing up that German was synonymous with Nazi. So when Ottomar told his story honestly to our conference, I remember not entirely believing it all. How could he not know about the camps, I thought? And my prejudice towards this entire country and culture continued.
Now 20-plus years later, I have a boss of German heritage who often cooks up a delicious German meal for our alumni board, I treasure Ottomar’s participation in the Reed Chorus, and, when Ottomar waltzes into our office to say hi, he emanates the same charm that Cody mentions during his time at Reed. In Yiddish, we call this kind of person a mensch.
I can now say that it isn’t as simple as I thought so many years ago. I don’t know what I would have done faced with a similar situation, not sure where my own moral compass would have led me. Cody’s article vividly shows the complexity of the situation. This is not black and white; there is much grey. So this month, this year, when we are faced with so many issues of racism and prejudice both internationally and at Reed, thanks to the Reed magazine for continuing my education and showing me the many sides of understanding the Holocaust.
—Mela Kunitz ’87
I never took a course from Ottomar Rudolf, although he was a member of my thesis committee. But I was a member of the Reed soccer team that he coached. I came to Reed in 1966 and signed up for soccer as a physical education course. What that meant was that I was a member of the intercollegiate team. We were in a club league. I think it was called the Oregon College Soccer League or something similar, and it included Lewis & Clark, University of Portland, University of Oregon, Oregon State, Southern Oregon College, and probably some other teams.
We had some terrible seasons. I remember losing to Oregon by a score of 12–1 one year, but over time we actually were competitive and won our share of games. Ottomar remembers correctly that there were some games where we knocked on doors to find enough players to field a team, but we also had some gifted players: Sam Martin ’72 from Cameroon, Dan Barraza ’71, Stuart Fulks ’71, and Mark Kremen ’71, among others.
What I remember most was that Ottomar and Ed Packel, who coached the team, taught us to play well, but for the fun of it. We wanted to win and actually practiced regularly, but academics came first, followed by the joy of the game. Why else would one play on the Reed soccer team?
I have continued my involvement with soccer since my Reed days and I have tried to carry the spirit of Ottomar Rudolf with me as player, coach, and, for the past 30 years, as a referee. He really believed in the spirit of the game; it is for the players to enjoy.
—Jeff Kovac ’70
Just to get the terminology right, the Deutsches Jungvolk was the junior sub-section of the Hitlerjugend. Ottomar Rudolf’s Nazi zeal as a boy comes through clearly in the article, a considerable testament to his willingness to reveal an unpleasant truth. In his tragically mistaken devotion, he resembles the teenage fanatic Guenter Grass, who went even further and voluntarily enlisted in the SS. After years of renown as Germany’s leading writer and political scold, Grass only recently admitted his membership. In his memoir, Rudolf may have made less dramatic use of the spiritual torture of having believed something deeply and then being forced to recognize its wretched and downright evil emptiness, but seems on the whole more normal. He also appears to us (at least to me) as typically German because he exemplifies so well that seriousness and intensity that makes all Germans so formidable.
—Paul Overby ’66
Marsh And The Periodic Table
Steve Fowkes ’75 sent in this magnificent epi-cylindrical periodic table. Click to download a template for the periodic table.
Table constructed by our very own Frank Morton-Park.
It was a fitting memorial to Marsh Cronyn ’40 for you to condense his rather technical article on “The Proper Place for Hydrogen in the Periodic Table” into a pseudo-centerfold spread for Reed. Thank you for reminding me of his larger contributions than teaching me organic chemistry and being my thesis adviser. Although it was quite refreshing to read Dr. Cronyn taking the eccentric (how Reed, indeed) position of placing hydrogen above carbon, I would suggest that there is an even more bizarre opportunity. Chemists have long realized that the periodic table is connected—right side to left side—placing leftmost lithium (element 3) next to rightmost helium (element 2) and sodium (element 11) next to neon (element 10). But this is not discussed much in polite society because the connection involves shifting a row, which twists the periodic table from its Platonic table ideal (orthogonality) into a kind of epi-cylindrical monstrosity. This is far worse than the dilemma that the flat-Earth theorists faced in moving from a planar model to a spherical model. After all, the sphere is, in itself, just as perfect as a plane. However, when we three-dimensionalize the periodic table, we end up with spatial discontinuities and bizarre loops that correspond to the electronic-orbital shells. And getting back to the topic, the first or topmost pseudo-cylindrical loop is actually not a loop at all, leaving hydrogen stranded in space, kind of like the origin of the universe is stranded in time. So what could be more perfect for Reedies than to discuss the origins of the elements, like they might the origins of life, the universe, and everything?
But getting back to Marsh’s essay, and the point of this letter, if we turn the periodic monstrosity around, from its elegant side (where the noble gases all line up in a pretty row), to its discontinuous side, where loops stick out all over the place, we see an interesting phenomenon. Hydrogen, although stranded, sits above lithium, carbon, and fluorine—all at the same time. So just as politics is fundamentally dependent on perception, hydrogen’s connectedness to the second-period elements is dependent on whether you slightly rotate the periodic epi-cylindroid to the right, center or left; right being the traditional placement of hydrogen with the alkali metals, left being the progressive placement of hydrogen with the halides, and center being hydrogen with carbon. Okay, okay. So the political analogy has done a belly flop off the high dive at this point. But it does allow me to work in a personal homage to my Reed experience of swimming 125 miles in the Sports Palace while a student.
But regardless of your perspective, position and attachment to the origin of the elements, you can always turn the periodic table back around and commune with the noble gases in appreciation of Hum 110.
—Steve Fowkes ’75
Remembering Richard Jones
In the spirit of Truth, I would like to address the issue of Humanities 110 under the leadership of Richard H. Jones. I was a student at the time and not aware of all the facts of faculty hiring and firing. I only know what I experienced as a student in his particular class. I used to write the most outrageously creative papers for him. As long as they basically pertained to the assigned topic, he would never penalize me in any kind of way or lower my grade. In that respect, he was very flexible and not a “strict constructionist” at all. I took three courses from Mr. Jones. He always encouraged creativity, and for me was a kind mentor and a loyal friend. When he found out that I had sat in on Mr. Porter’s special session on Erickson’s Young Man Luther, he seemed surprised, but he did not admonish me, or demerit me in any kind of way. After I left Reed and returned to the Boston area, it was only through his effort I was able to earn credits here and write a thesis in absentia.
I would also like to comment on the phenomenon of Christianity at Reed College (Blue Like Jazz). When I was at Reed in the early ’70s, there was a strong Christian presence. Many of this group went on to graduate schools at top divinity schools and became pastors themselves. I went on to work in the nonprofit human service field and to become a regular member of the Catholic church, which also serves Harvard University. In this kind of Christianity, truth and charity (veritas et caritas) are married, and much good comes from it.
—Amy Burns ’74
Roger Porter’s memories of the divisive faculty politics of the 1960s (Letters, August 2009) are undoubtedly accurate, and I am sure his criticisms of Richard Jones are warranted. Dick was an opinionated, ferocious defender of his views on the curriculum and historical studies. But there was another side to him too, one for which I, and many other of his former students and colleagues, remain grateful.
As a student and later as a colleague I had several tumultuous arguments with Dick about the humanities curriculum, the way history should be taught and written, and which of us would teach English history in a given semester. We were polar opposites and never agreed on the pedagogical issues.
Nevertheless, I found that Dick tolerated my dissent and never attempted to harm my career for it. In fact, during my two years on the faculty, I became close friends with his wife Alice (whom I adored) and also with him, I think. As an admissions officer, Alice had made it possible for me to enter Reed as a student and after a stroke deprived her of her speech, she and Dick were happy to welcome me to their home on a half-dozen occasions so I could tell her my version of what was happening at Reed and in my life.
When my contract ended and I left Reed for the University of Wisconsin, many people were glad to see me go. (I was a jerk as a colleague, I am sure.) But Alice and Dick were genuinely pleased for me. I continue to respect Dick because he taught me to be a critical historian and to appreciate the qualities of people with whom I had strong political and intellectual differences, and that has served me well since.
I am sorry that Roger, who was also my (admired) teacher and colleague, still does not share my view that in retrospect the most significant thing about those long-ago ugly conflicts is that they were about things that matter: curriculum, pedagogy, methodology, ideas. In the more than 30 years since, at two universities, I have found that faculty conflicts, arbitrary denials of tenure, and back-biting are most often caused by far more trivial issues.
While you were fighting, some of us were trying to take in what both sides offered and never disliked either group of antagonists as much as you did each other. It was for me at least what they now like to call “a teaching moment.”
P.S. Roger, I forgive you for once telling me to my face that history was as a discipline “mere background” to literary studies.
—Michael MacDonald ’68
Editor’s Note: Sometimes it seems as if Reed College is mere background to the Letters section of Reed magazine. We accept this distinction with humility.
Defending The Citadel (Again)
The Black Studies crisis tore Reed apart. We woke up one morning to find the administrative floor of Eliot Hall occupied by the Black Student Union, which had issued a series of “non-negotiable demands.” I no longer have the document, but as I remember, chief among the demands was a Black Studies department and curriculum. More controversial was the demand that students have control of the curriculum and the hiring of faculty.
There was an interminable series of meetings, general meetings of the community and long meetings of the faculty who tried to find a response. The faculty resolution quoted in response to the letter from Karen Smith ’70 (Letters, November 2009) was the result. Reading that resolution after 40 years, I am struck by several things. First, is the unqualified acceptance of what has come to be called “value free” scholarship, which was certainly the prevailing faculty perspective at the time. Part of what the “young Turks” were challenging was that perspective. More important at the time was the defense of academic freedom, still an important issue in the university. The student demand for control of faculty and curriculum was a serious challenge to a faculty that remembered the McCarthy era and the Nazi purges of the German universities.
Eventually, a compromise was reached and Reed developed some courses in Black Studies. Since that time, there have been demands for similar courses and curricula, Women’s Studies for example, and those fields have matured beyond advocacy to solid, valuable scholarship. In retrospect, I see protests such as the one at Reed as part of the painful birth process of new and important scholarly pursuits. I also see the conservatism of the Reed faculty, obstinate as it may have seemed at the time, as being rather wise. Other colleges responded differently to similar pressure, some to their eventual downfall.
Karen Smith is correct that several popular and talented faculty left Reed, either by choice or because they were denied tenure. The Faculty Advisory Committee that made tenure decisions at the time was widely considered to be very conservative, even reactionary. However, I think Karen is incorrect in some of her memories. Both Kirk Thompson and Mason Druckman were granted tenure. Thompson left to join the founding faculty at Evergreen State College. I think that Druckman and some of the younger non-tenured faculty left to form a new institution called the Learning Community.
In the 1960s Reed was filled with controversy. It was a mirror of the times. But those of us who were there received a remarkable education, both in and out of the classroom. I see the faculty who made those controversial decisions as less defending a “citadel” than defending an ideal, the ideal of a liberal arts eduction, an ideal that is increasingly under attack.
—Jeffrey Kovac ’70
I read Karen Smith’s letter (Letters, November 2009), and was saddened that she’s had no contact with the college since she left in 1970. She wrote “Reed made me and many of my classmates feel like outsiders”; I thought that we ALL felt like outsiders, but there wasn’t any “inside” to fit into at Reed, so it was (for me and a lot of my friends) a good match (if not particularly a “fit”).
I left in 1974, vowing I’d never be back, but have found that, over the years, wading through the rivers of life has smoothed my own and my classmates’ rough edges, and, coming back to reunions, find that I have many more good feelings than bad toward Reed and the people there. In particular, I’ve met people of all ages (not just from my own years), who have been lots of fun, some of whom have become good friends. Let me suggest to Karen, and to anyone else with similar feelings, that a visit back to the college will prove to be a visit that you won’t forget—and that you won’t regret.
—David Perry ‘73
Don’t Forget Ernest
Karen Smith’s cavalier way with facts does a terrible disservice to Senator Ernest Gruening, Alaska, who also voted against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.
—Frances Burack ’60
Regarding “Defending the Citadel,” and letters from Binda, Friedrich, Green, et al, I ran into two ex-presidents of Reed during my time at Berkeley. They made me appreciate how hard it is to defend the citadel against misdirection, and makes me now appreciate more and more the role of doughty faculty members like McKinley and Stewart.
Peter Odegard [president 1945-48] moved to Berkeley when I did, in 1948. He professed poli sci, but you could see by the faraway look in his eyes (and other evidence) that his ambition was to practice it. He had some Reedies to his place for a brief coffee, which was sweet, but he spoke highly of California latifundistos. “These are totally different from the image you got from Grapes of Wrath, and Carey McWilliams’ book Factories in the Field,” quoth he, turning his photogenic profile to gaze dreamily out the window. “These are modern scientific farmers.”
I soon learned from others (and my own travels) that there were lots of labor camps in the Great Valley, with armed guards and warnings to stay away, with braceros replacing the Okies. I figured out that Odegard was courting big money to finance his prospective campaigns for high office. With McCarthy and Jack Tenney and Sheridan Downey coming on strong, who needed labor-lovers from red Reed? (“Red,” then, meant quite the opposite of what it does now.)
Dexter Keezer [president 1934-42] showed up later to recruit economics ABDs to work under him as the chief economist of Business Week. When I mentioned Reed, he snorted with disdain that it reared smart-alec students who knew e verything. Then he kept me dancing on a string for several months, while my wife and friends wisely advised me to tell him to take his job and shove it. Suddenly, thanks to Reedie John Krutilla ’49, I learned about an opening at Eugene, which I grabbed. Before signing I invested a substantial part of our limited discretionary budget in a long distance call to NYC to tell Keezer I needed his offer right away. (Yes, young ‘uns, long distance in those days was big money for struggling students!) He just scolded and lectured me on how I must make up my mind between business and teaching—but still no offer, so his was the path not taken. It would have been unholy heck to work under such a guy. Thank you, [William] Blair Stewart ’21 [economics 1925–49] and Charles McKinley [political science, 1918–60], for helping persuade him to leave Reed.
There’ve been more good guys and bad guys since then, and new issues, but those old traditions keep shining through. Oh, yes, I lived in a temp shelter, long since leveled, named for Foster and Scholz, apparently the two good guys from ‘way back. Permanent structures might be named for those the bankers would like better. So don’t judge a college by the names on the lintels.
—Mason Gaffney ’48
The Paper It’s Printed On
I just finished reading the Summer 2009 issue, and saw in Chris Lydgate’s “From the Editor” article that Reed magazine has begun using more sustainable paper sources and printing processes. Having led several sustainability initiatives in the workplace, I know that it can be a difficult and sometimes thankless job to invest the time and resources necessary to begin translating rhetorical support for “sustainability” as an abstract concept into the actual execution of more sustainable practices. So I wanted to thank you for your recent efforts, and encourage you to keep looking for ways to reduce the environmental impact of Reed’s publications (and operations generally).
—Jeremy Nelson ’98
Stop And Smell The Pages
As usual, I sat down to devour Reed as soon as I brought it in from my mailbox. I began with the “Letters,” and when I turned to page six, began to notice this very intense, somewhat offensive, odor. I began sniffing the page, including the Western Union telegram reproduced there, and then flipping the pages to other pictures, figuring it must be the ink. But every time I got close to the page, the odor seemed fainter. Finally, after several more sniffs, I came to the end of the letters section and found, to my surprise, the letter from Linda Young ’92 titled “Stop and Smell the Pages.” Even more astonishing, she asserted that the magazine now smelled better than it used to. Finally, I looked around and discovered on the table the lovely chunk of now-room-temperature “Legendary Fromage de Chevre” that I bought earlier in the day at my local food co-op. Sure enough. I picked it up, gave it a sniff, and found the source. Say “Goat Cheese”!
—Rachael Dorr ’76
Grains Of Truth
“Grains of Truth” (Summer 2009) did a good job of covering the bioengineering research of Pamela Ronald ’82. However, author Bobbie Hasselbring can be faulted for an inadequate overview of the biotech nexus of mutually affirming publicists, scientists, and financiers, who may soon surpass the oil industry in terms of influence.
Hasselbring breezes past the question of sustainability with a token half-sentence. Nowhere in the article do we see any mention of “terminator seeds” produced by bioengineering sterility via so-called “suicide genes.” These seeds have existed for 15 years, but public outcry led their manufacturers to agree to a moratorium on their use for food crops.
Pamela Ronald ’82 inspects rice seedlings.
Dr. Ronald’s lab is not involved in bioengineering sterile crops and her work is in the public domain. I salute her for that. Is it merely a “romantic notion” that farmers can use part of each harvest to seed the next planting? Should multinational corporations have the right to sue them for breach of copyright if they do? The sale of seeds is already a $20+ billion per year business, which could double if “terminator seeds” and other forms of Genetic Use Restriction Technology were applied at will. It’s not hard to imagine how lucrative it would be for an oligopoly to control the world’s food supply.
The claim “yield three to five times more grain” may sound like an easily verifiable fact. However, Dr. Vandana Shiva exposed calculation tricks in her book Monocultures of the Mind. For example, faster time-to-harvest was achieved in the Green Revolution by introducing rice plants that have shorter stalks. Thus, the denominator dropped significantly when calculating the grain-to-biomass ratio, resulting in a higher “yield” on paper. As Dr. Shiva explained, one manifestation of a narrow mindset is the belief that non-grain biomass is useless. In many traditional farming communities, straw is used as fodder, thereby cutting the cost of feeding the farmer’s cow or water buffalo.
In regard to the use of toxic pesticides, “Grains of Truth” slides back and forth between the goals of “no” and “reduced.” The 1980s saw increasing awareness of the danger to farmers, as depicted in the Thai documentary Profits from Poison. Managers in air-conditioned offices began to receive feedback that the impervious plastic ponchos they had recommended for “safe” pesticide application created an unintentional sauna for farmers in a hot, humid climate. Most farmers quickly abandoned the ponchos.
In response, Monsanto genetically engineered soy “humanely” so that the plant would resist the company’s pesticide Roundup. Instead of spraying large areas between plants, farmers could focus the pesticide entirely on the plants themselves, thereby reducing both exposure and expense. This certainly seems more efficient at first glance, but press releases and articles (both pro and con) rarely address the question: Does direct spraying mean that more Roundup finds its way to the supermarket, onto the dinner table, and into the digestive system?
“Nothing we eat is found in the natural world” is a surprisingly absolutist quip from the mouth of a scientist. True, much of what we eat has been modified, but at least it is traceable to the natural world. Excepting cases of hybridization, domestication only utilizes an organism’s own genome, which has a holistic integrity. The term “organic” may refer simply to no pesticides when marketing food, but such a legalistic view ignores the qualities of continuity and harmony associated with organic growth. In this light, a “marriage of genetic technology and organic farming” sounds like a monoculture of the mind intended to co-opt the term “organic,” which may become as insipid as the word “natural” that now appears on so many consumer products.
—Martin Schell MAT ’77
Editor’s Note: In the tradition of spirited debate, we ran Martin’s letter in its entirety, even though we’re pretty sure that none of his gripes apply to Pamela Ronald ’82.
Absconding With The Owl
As a past possessor of that hallowed object of mythical desire, I particularly enjoyed the Doyle Owl material in your last issue. I was chosen as a holder of this sacred object when the nefarious prankster Oliver Davis ’87 approached me with intel on its proposed appearance in front of Eliot Hall at a precise time in order for it to appear in a photograph set up by one Kilian Kerwin ’85. At the appointed time, Mr. Davis and a couple of beefy compatriots piled into my 1973 Oldsmobile Torornado. I was the wheelman. We tore across the lawn in front of the large, assembled group posing for the aforementioned photo. Before my majestic banana-colored ship had even come to a halt, the muscle leapt from the vehicle as I punched the electronic trunk release. The sightly bird was tossed into that trunk and, in the blink of an eye, we absconded with our quarry.
One aspect which no caretaker ever discusses, however, is the stress involved and diligence required as the holder of this famous fowl. I once had to sing the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” to a packed dining hall at Gonzaga University in order for it to be safely returned to the trunk of that banana-colored Olds (its standard resting place for its time with me) after its significance was discovered (due to the application of much alcohol) by a philosophy professor there who had been my high school debate coach several years before.
On another occasion, when the winged beast was not entombed in its trunk, it was nicked by some young criminals. A trusted colleague, however, obtained valuable intel on where the pilfered prize was located and, on a dark and stormy night, we made our way out to the off-campus abode of the thieves in question and gained entry into their living room. A swift recovery was executed although, at my current age, I would no longer dream of negotiating that massive hunk of concrete out the window of a Southeast bungalow at three in the morning.
—Dan Cross ’89
The Quintessential Food
A recent “In Memoriam” note ran on Sasha McCarthy Clapper ’96. It incorrectly stated that Sasha considered Old Crow bourbon the “quintessential food.” While Sasha was indeed partial to Old Crow, it was of course the potato that earned this title from Sasha. Among other memories of this unique man, I’ll never forget his exuberance upon once purchasing a 10-pound bag of Idaho russets for 99 cents.
Thanks for honoring a Reedie whose infectious spirit enriched the lives of so many around him.
—Zach Vestal ’95
Stop Carvin’ Marvin
Your headline to Professor Levich’s lapidary and enlightening letter (“Marv Responds,” November 2009) is simply unacceptable. Marvin Levich is not “Marv”!! He is Marvin Levich, Professor Levich, or some other respectful title. Marv is for Throneberry (Mets fans of ’62 arise) or for news presenters or for used car salesman or… under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, any Marvin who wants to call himself Marv in writing.
—Tom Forstenzer ’65
Editor’s note: Point taken!
Shelley By Streetlight
Patsy Garlan’s story about Tom Kelly ’48, Shelley by Streetlight, and her subsequent encounter with the police (Autumn 2009) sparked a memory.
I was only 17 when I started Reed in 1966. One night, I decided to explore Portland. I walked across the Ross Island Bridge into Southwest as far as the freeway. On my way back to campus, I was stopped by a patrol car. After the officers checked my ID, they told me that since I was under 18, and it was after midnight, I was breaking curfew. I sputtered something about being newly arrived from California, and unfamiliar with curfews.
The cops laughed and drove me back to Reed, leaving me with a stern warning to avoid any more expeditions until after my birthday. I thought at the time they were just giving me a break. But perhaps they did it for Tom Kelly! (Ah, I was carrying poetry, but not where the police could see it. “The Ross Island Bridge at Midnight”—if only I could remember that poem!)
—R. Neil Vance ’70
The photo of the boar’s head in the Autumn ’09 issue speaks worlds about Reedies (and most Americans). While we have generally come to understand that exploiting other races (for example) is harmful—and therefore morally objectionable—most of us remain in the dark ages when it comes to animal exploitation. Driven by habit and supported by the weight of the mindless majority, we continue to treat other living beings as if their lives were of no moral importance, as if individuals of another species were merely means to our ends. One day I hope that our circle of justice can expand to include not just other races, and other sexualities, but other species—those who can neither speak for themselves nor defend themselves against our selfish aggressions. Your photo reminds me of just how far we have to go.
—Lisa Kemmerer ’88
A Lesson Up a Ladder
Page 13 of the Spring 2009 issue includes a photo that is evocative for me. If I’m not mistaken, it’s Father Catich inscribing “Eliot Hall” in Trajan Capitals. [Yes! See page 20—Ed.]
In those years, the physics department was HQ’d in the basement of Eliot Hall. I don’t remember the month or year exactly, only that it wasn’t raining. I was bumbling along in my usual way, headed for the east entrance, when to my surprise, I encountered a little guy up on a scaffold pecking away at the lintel over the doorway. So there’s Catich, and there’s me, down on the ground, mouth hanging open. Finally he stopped, peered down at me, and said, “Do you want to come up here?” “Oh yes!” said I. “Okay.” said Catich, “But you’ve got to be humble!”
Up the ladder I went, and for a few incredible minutes, Father Catich tried to teach several millennia of stone inscription to a kid. He was working on the left side of the “O” in “Eliot.” That little guy had more strength in his left wrist than I had in my whole body! You hold that chisel steady, and at the right angle (or Trajan or some wacko emperor sends you to the galleys!). You use your own hand-forged chisel, and you whack it with a mallet you make out of a recycled bowling pin. Give it a try some day. You bet your unworthy backside you’d better be humble.
Did it happen at Reed? Well, I’m famously non-imaginative, and I didn’t end up anywhere else, so I think it happened at Reed. Probably had something to do with Lloyd Reynolds. It wasn’t raining. That should help fix the date.
—Fred Rogers ’66
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