november2005reed magazine logo

Reed welcomes letters from readers about the contents of the magazine or about the college. Letters must be signed and may be edited for clarity and space. Our email address is reed.magazine@reed.edu.

Building Memories

Thanks for the photos of Reed’s “Vanished buildings” (Aug. ’05). I remember the old student union very well. Indeed it was the “new” union for those of us who went to Reed from 1938 to 1942, and was quite glamorous. Dances that used to be held in the commons now were held in the union. Another change that had both a positive and negative effect was the addition of the coffee shop. It soon became the favorite hangout, but effectively ended the charming and civilized practice of 4 o’clock tea in Anna Mann Cottage, where you could sit on the floor by your favorite professor and discuss learned things! Lu Ann Williams Darling ’42 Los Angeles, California

I am a graduate of the WWII premeteorology unit that trained at Reed. I lived in the old converted Safeway store at the top of Wood-stock hill. We marched up and down singing lustily.

I was pleased to see the old gym. I ran many laps on the elevated track around the building and played many games of racquetball and did calisthenics there. The old pool, however, was special. We were ordered to “waterproof” all the troops and the icy cold pool was our place. I was one of the only card-holding Red Cross lifesavers out of nearly 200 men, and had the chore of sitting on the tower and directing the lessons. It was so much nicer than being in that cold water.

We ate in the old union building — I think the food was catered from downtown, and it was awful. And we ate a lot of chocolate bars.

I liked the article about the removal of the old pipe across the canyon (News of the College). We used to use that as a footbridge to avoid having to go all the way down and up the trail.

I also remember the wonderful Sunday tea at the president’s house. We were invited in small groups and had polite tea and conversation with real human beings. The staff was always wonderful and patient with a bunch of young cadets.

Russell R. Lunstrum Jr., AMP ’44
Biloxi, Mississippi

The Discourse Continues

In response to the article in May ’05, “Uncivil Discourse,” I came to Reed as a “brat,” having grown up on military bases around the world, but especially in the Southern United States. Son of an Air Force pilot and a “hellfire and brimstone” Baptist mother, I was only accepted at one other college — the U.S. Coast Guard Academy! They don’t come from any more “conservative” backgrounds than that.

Of course the times were ripe for a change — after tanks rolled through the streets in the Heart of Dixie on my way to high school in the ’60s, and after watching J.F.K. (the REAL one, not the movie), something was stirring inside of me. My first week on campus, I almost had an altercation with an upper-classman in the T.V. lounge over unflattering remarks he made about jet pilots while watching Roger Ramjet (don’t laugh!). An attractive coed bystander intervened and “reasoned” with me before we ever came to blows.

Whatever isolation I experienced at Reed was mostly self-imposed, as I worked through my beliefs, until I could articulate what I felt without feeling embarrassed. But I never felt “victimized” because I always seemed to blunder into friendships and associations that encouraged me to speak my mind. No one ever mocked or belittled me. Quite the contrary, everyone I met tried to engage me with humor, challenge me to think my beliefs through, or guide me with some sort of useful object lesson.

As a result, four years later I graduated a “flaming” liberal, as my Dad liked to say, although the Colonel never used the “L-word” in mixed company. And all I can say now is: “I thank whatever gods may be for my radicalization at Reed!”

Back in the ’80s, the so-called Reagan Revolution succeeded in freeing the press from the equal-time constraints that insisted on a balanced presentation of points of view. This, along with media conglomeration by defense contractors and other corporate interests, help give rise to Rush Limbaugh, talk radio and Fox. Now, however, the right seems to want the “fairness doctrine” back.

Well, I’m sorry: I will listen to people tell me the world is flat, the entrepreneurial spirit alone (not land fraud, slavery, and genocide) made America great, the Holocaust never happened, gay people can’t go to heaven, guns don’t kill people, creationism is a science, pre-emptive war is an option, there’s no such thing as global warming... I will listen — I have to, the right has the megaphone — but

I SHALL NOT be moved!

Dr. Edward P. Fisher ’69
Pine Bush, New York


During the last election, I began to wonder if differing political passions were going to alienate members of our remarkable and wonderful group of friends.

The most useful and important thing I learned at Reed was that there are (nearly?) always at least two sides to any issue. This was imbedded particularly by: 1) super-talented faculty and students who could devastate even convincing arguments with other facts and ideas, and 2) writing a thesis.

I believe the best mind set for such labels as liberal and conservative is “Danger! Use with care! Go to it guys!”

Mary Savage Leber ’50
Seattle, Washington


“Uncivil discourse” brings to mind vivid memories of the early ’60s. I was one of three Catholics at Reed and could not have felt more comfortable or respected. Commons’ Friday menu of steamed halibut was especially unpopular. My friends would file past shaking their trays in my face, a gesture I regarded as a peculiarly Reed-style term of endearment.

We had a Young Republican Club. There were, as I recall, six members out of a student body of 800. There were about 300 Young Democrats, who loved and courted the Young Republicans, because they were the ones who owned cars and could transport Democrats to off-campus beer parties.

My senior year brought a series of controversial speakers to campus. The civil rights movement was boiling, and Gov. Ross Barnett of Mississippi arrived. He was an outspoken proponent of segregation and was received courteously, though not warmly. There were a number of students in the audience who had worked in the South during the Voter Registration Project, including a Rhodes scholar who came back to campus one September proudly wearing the prison jumper he had earned for his efforts. I do not recall any untoward behavior, although I knitted so furiously during the speech that I set a personal record for production.

Another speaker in the series was the leader of the seven American Nazis known to exist at the time. As I understand it, the majority of students at Reed during my time were of Jewish descent. Reed had no quota. Apparently, six percent was the upper limit for Jewish admissions at comparable schools. In 1965, these students were likely to be the children, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren, if not siblings, of Holocaust victims. The speaker was again received with courtesy. He fielded penetrating questions, not very ably. Reed treated this fellow better than his own family did: An uncle ran him off his property with a shotgun when he showed up in uniform one day.

As to the general quality of discourse on campus, I do not recall hearing mockery of any person, idea, or thing. World-class snootiness was the predominant style of aggressive discussion, and I miss it terribly.

Chris Emerson Salo, ’66
Seattle, Washington

Reed Sox Redux

I am certainly grateful, as all Reed alumni should be, that the first part of alumni association president David Perry’s letter (Aug. ’05) is fantasy. Obviously, President Diver is caught up in irrational exuberance from last year. He isn’t old enough to remember the ’46 World Series when the St. Louis Cardinals almost literally ran the pants off the on-paper-superior Red Sox. Nor is he old enough to remember ’49 when the Red Sox led the league in batting, when at least six of the regulars were hitting over .295, when they had the RBI leader and the best right hander and left hander in the league, but they blew the last series of the season to the Yankees and lost the pennant; that’s when I gave up on them, although I did not defect to the Yankees.

My point is that the talent-laden Red Sox’s historical penchant for choking in the clutch is not a very good role model for those studying for the junior quals or slaving away on their theses. On the other hand, given the fun attitude Reed has always exhibited toward sports, the Red Sox may not be too bad. I remember when Reed crowds adopted the supposed Harvard yell (“We’re not rough, and we’re not tough, but mercy, we’re determined!”) at football games while the crowd from the Quaker school, Pacific College (now George Fox College, I believe) kept chanting, “Kill ’em, kill ’em!” Perhaps Reedies can show the Red Sox true determination.

Stuart Gaul ’48
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania