From Michael Nelken ’60

A calendar is both a small thing and a large thing, small because it is a promotional giveaway and large because it is a promotional giveaway—it represents the college in many offices and homes, a free gift from the alma mater that gave so much. Unfortunately, the 1999 Reed calendar could have come from anywhere.

Fonts count. The month is announced in a pseudo-folksy computer-generated imitation of hand printing, while the college is registered with no serifs, no thick or thin, a plain vanilla gothic that carries into the photo notes. Most of the photos seem generic too. What has become of us? Who are we?

Lloyd Reynolds, of sainted memory, taught that each letter should be carefully crafted and distinctive. Beyond that, by example, he taught that if each letter was well made, the word, and by extension the life, would follow. He would have wondered if the serifed Roman alphabet of the 1998 calendar was too mechanical, with its fixed and sometimes awkward spacing between letters, but he would have endorsed its classical ambitions.

The bunnies were also easy on the eyes. I preferred Miss August, myself. Reed has always struggled to prove that smart girls do not all wear glasses and lack hips.

I worry that an excessive tilt towards professionalism in the promotional department has homogenized the image, if not the reality, of the Reed education. If Reed is to become a cutesy, inoffensive knockoff of better-dressed schools in the East, it will be without my hard-earned annual $15.

From Louise Steinman ’73

I may have the distinction of being the only Reedie to be bitten by a professor's dog. Sam McCracken's dog, an English sheepdog, spied me from a long distance on 41st Street one day and took off running after me. He took a chomp out of my arm. It was very ironic, as Sam McCracken was the biggest anti-dog-on-campus professor, and my partner at the time, Dan, and I were flagrant dog-on-campus people. Our dog, Elwha Pootel, was well known at Reed. He used to be smuggled into the library under Dan's long leather cape. I am wary of English sheepdogs to this day, Peter Pan's "Nana" notwithstanding.

From Stanley Olds ’46

In my opinion, the dogs, and the Dogs of Reed calendar, deserve a solid 9.8 score. Only in the setting of a relatively small liberal arts college would you have the scenes shown and described in the calendar. A great idea, carried out well.

Why only 9.8, you say?

The Jews of the world will disagree on many matters, but one of the items of general agreement is the date of the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Notwithstanding the opinion of the dogs of Reed or the editor, we have agreed that the first day of Rosh Hashanah in 1999 will be celebrated on Saturday, September 11, not September 17.

Your selection is close, but not close enough to earn a full-biscuit reward. But, please keep trying. I enjoyed.

[Ed. note: We may not even deserve a partial-biscuit, Mr. Olds. Another astute Reedie pointed out that we’d incorrectly identified the first day of class. Classes begin for the fall 1999 term on August 30.]

College rankings can be useful

From Janna (Magruder) Laudato ’69

Regarding "Reed (be)rates the rankings," [November 1998] I would like to voice my disagreement with Reed’s current policy. I have now gone through the college selection process with my two teenaged boys and found that the rankings provide a useful starting place for research. We will spend more than $275,000 for college for our sons, more than our out-of-pocket investment in our house! For such a major decision, the notion that parents and students will base their decisions on one source—rankings—is absurd. However, other sources—guidance counselors, other students, web pages, and college visits—don’t provide the same across-the-board comparison and detailed data. Using data from these articles, parents and students can quickly identify schools for further research, particularly lesser-known institutions such as Reed. The college’s policy is a disservice to potential students who remain unaware of the school as well as graduates who would benefit from wider appreciation of the quality and rigor of an education at Reed. Like the SAT tests, rankings have limitations and weaknesses, but are really useful to parents and students confronted with literally hundreds of schools. Reed would do better to suggest improvements in methodology and develop an effective communications strategy with potential students than to withdraw altogether from the rankings.

Finish the makeover?

From Frederick Ellis ’38

Victoria Ellison’s "Does the Masterpiece Need a Makeover?" in the November 1998 issue of your magazine is informative and gives an exciting twist to the art of conservation and restoring.

The avoidance of Munich-style purism is a real strength, and the example of the restoration of the Heracles from Lansdowne House is a step in the right direction. But why not go the whole way and replace his penis, which would finish the challenge? After all, his penis is a major expression of his male gender and, in effect, his entire personality and physique!

Calling all Waldorf teachers

From Craig Thom ’81

After graduating I immediately became involved with the founding of the Waldorf School in Portland. Now I am teaching in Boulder, Colorado, at the Shining Mountain Waldorf School, and several of my friends from Reed are teaching in other Waldorf schools around the country. I have often wondered how many other Reedies are now involved with Waldorf education or other Rudolf Steiner–inspired endeavors. I found out many years ago that M.C. Richards, who wrote Centering: In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person, a book that I encountered at Reed, graduated from Reed decades ago [1937]. She also has written a book on Waldorf education, Toward Wholeness: Rudolf Steiner Education in America.

I would very much like to hear from those of you who are also traveling this particular path as teachers or parents or simply as interested parties. Perhaps this wonderful magazine could put something together to let the wider Reed community know what we are doing. Why does someone with a Reed education find themselves concerned with the "change of teeth," modeling with beeswax, and playing the pentatonic flute? [Ed. note: readers can write to Craig at 741 Nelson Park Circle, Longmont, CO 80503 or send email to]

A great read

From Tom Casstevens ’59

Hum 110 students of my era will find Jacob Burckhardt’s The Greeks and Greek Civilization (New York, St. Martin’s, 1998) to be a great read.

On the August ’98 issue

From Richard Jones ’50

Dr. Sam Martin’s ’72 observations in the August ’98 issue of Reed are saddening and maddening. "The army must be prepared to fight all over the world. . . ." "Our planet is already overpopulated. . . ." "The overall picture is so vast I’m incapable of understanding it. . . ." These are, respectively, militaristic, malthusian, and mystical statements. Misleading is, "Few people realize that this disease [malaria] caused more U.S. casualties than the fighting [in Vietnam]." "The fighting," however, involved the U.S. use of herbicides and defoliants and the bombing of urban centers like Hanoi and Haiphong. These activities killed 3 million Vietnamese and caused 10 million casualties. U.S. losses from malaria were in the ten thousands.

Reed College did not teach Dr. Martin these reactionary views. Very likely they came from his 13 years in the Walter Reed Institute in Silver Springs, Maryland.

Reedies should heed Kurt Vonnegut’s law that whatever scientists are engaged in, they always end up making weapons. They should insist that all federally funded medical research be transferred from the Department of Defense to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Reed needs a history of ethics requirement as well as one in natural science. I hope it is not simply nostalgia or senility that convinces me that such a course might help preserve Reed’s reputation as a place for purposeful critical thinking.

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