Class Notes - December 15, 1999

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From the Archives

Where did these undergraduates find a bicycle built for five? According to a caption attached to this March 1956 photograph, the men (from left) John Dennis '58, Joe Nye '58, Hugh Fairman '58, John Sawhill '58, and Bill Carruthers '58, were training for a 150-mile ride to Vassar College in May. Perhaps one of our readers knows more.


The Avon lady...lesson on Washington

Alumni trustee Andrea Jung '79 has broken through the glass ceiling and become the ultimate Avon lady with her promotion to chief executive officer in November. Formerly Avon's president and chief operating officer, Jung is the fourth woman to be appointed chief executive of a Fortune 500 company. For the past two years, Jung was named one of Fortune's "50 Most Powerful Women in American Business." Her promotion came on the heals of the sudden retirement of CEO Charles R. Perrin. Since joining the company in 1994 as a marketing executive, Jung is credited with updating the company's image, merchandise, and packaging.

Robert B. Gibby, sr. '36's passion for George Washington has fueled an effort to educate fifth-graders around the country about our first president. Through a program organized by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, teachers in 30 states have received materials for a biography lesson on Washington, including a half-hour videotape, The Life of George Washington, which illustrates events in Washington's life using historical prints from Mount Vernon. Gibby hopes to place the biography lesson in every school in the U.S. The Class of 1936, whose honorary members include George Washington, has funded the program in the state of Washington.

Third time around Nassau Hall Pat Cronin '47 returns to Princeton at age 73

At age 73, Robert Fancis Partick Cronin '47 of Montreux, Switzerland, has enrolled in Princeton for the third time and hopes to get a degree at last. Pat Cronin matriculated the first time in 1943, at the age of 17.

After two semesters, he left for military service, first in Canada, then in Great Britain. (He was born in London, the son of A. J. Cronin, who wrote the bestsellers The Stars Look Down and The Citadel.) In January 1948, Cronin re-enrolled at Princeton and finished two more years before he left to go to medical school at McGill University in Montreal.

Afterward, he kept busy with a career that included teaching, research on coronary disease, practicing cardiology, and serving as dean of the McGill medical school for five years and as a consultant and adviser on health care in developing countries.

Cronin and his wife, both ardent skiers, moved to Montreux in 1980, but he continued his work as a health-care consultant. "I got bored when I retired last year and decided to see if I could come back to Princeton," he said. He was advised and encouraged by his classmate George Eggers, who returned in 1978 at the age of 52 and got his degree two years later.

The university administration agreed to let him earn his degree if he came for one semester, took three courses, and wrote his senior thesis. Eggers found him a one-bedroom apartment at 32 Chambers Street, a location that allows Cronin to walk everywhere. For exercise he walks to a local grocery and back.

One of Cronin's classes is a psychology course, The Brain: A User's Guide, taught by Barry Jacobs, director of the Program in Neuroscience and an expert on hallucinogenic drugs. "He's wonderful," said Cronin. One of the videos shown in precepts featured an expert in Parkinson's disease who was a good friend of Cronin's in Montreal. Reinier Leushuis, a Dutch graduate student instructor, teaches the small French class he's taking. "He gives us texts from Voltaire to Sartre," Pat said. The class is taught entirely in French, easy for Pat who took French at Princeton, spent years in bilingual Montreal, and lives in French-speaking Montreux. His third course, about the history of medicine in the West, is taught by Gerald Geison.

Things are different the third time around. Cronin says that, when he first attended Princeton, "precepts had only five or six people in them," he said. Today, he says, the precepts may have twice that number of students, and reading assignments are heavy, 200 pages a week for each course. He finds himself working until midnight most nights.

He stays in touch with his wife with daily e-mails and frequent phone calls. The Cronins have a small apartment in Naples, Florida, and they planned to fly there for fall break.

-Ann Waldron

To bead or not to bead

Zoe Metro (Heather Aponick '91) designs accessories for the Crystal Age

By now chances are you've seen powerbead bracelets because you can't miss them. The fashion hit of the season, they (and their imitators) seem to be sold everywhere, from high-end boutiques to mall kiosks, and people are buying them like crazy. The bracelets of semiprecious stones appeal to both genders and to multiple generations because of the promises they make: Health. Wealth. Love. Harmony. Strength. PMS relief. Who wouldn't want it all?

These and many other enticing spiritual and material attributes can be yours for about $25 per promise, courtesy of the healing energies inherent in the bracelets, which are designed and manufactured by Zoe Metro (the Princeton graduate formerly known as Heather Aponick '91). Metro's powerbead bracelets are made of stones such as turquoise (health) and tiger's-eye (creativity). To date, powerbeads have adorned the wrists and augmented the psyches of such trendsetters as Madonna, Natalie Portman, and Ricky Martin, according to substantial media coverage garnered in national publications.

Still a doubter? Metro wore a bracelet of aventurine (success) after her previous design business, the eponymous Zoe Metro, went bust last November, due to an unfortunate choice of business partners. [Metro plans to launch a new jewelry line in May 2010, having married and given birth to a son, Jed.] Within six weeks she was up and running again, with the Manhattan-based company Stella Pace (Italian for "star of peace"). Then there's the month she wore mother-of-pearl (money) and sales doubled. "I couldn't go a day without them," says Metro, who at the time of this interview was sporting the millennium powerbead for good luck teamed with the Feng Shui serenity beads.

Then again, some might attribute Metro's success not to the mystical powers of rocks but to a winning combination of talent and savvy business sense, honed by a rich and varied career. She started out in advertising, with stints in Paris and Prague. A segue into marketing began when she returned to the United States in 1994 and worked for Spin magazine and then at Hearst Magazines. But thoughts of establishing her own business mingled with thoughts of fashion, and she spent a year taking night classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she failed sewing three times.

Although she has yet to sew an acceptable Peter Pan collar, she knows how to package her ideas. Nevertheless, Metro is quick to give credit where it's due, and attributes the powerbead craze to the power of the stones rather than citing market studies or fashion know-how. She admits that "this whole phenomenon is beyond my wildest dreams."

But that doesn't mean she's done dreaming. She has plans for Stella Pace, established January 1999. The company's products, which also include chokers, handbags, and lariat necklaces, are carried in 300 stores. Metro intends to create clothing that will outfit "the girl who works," and envisions quality pieces with only one form for each function: "good pieces that all go together and build a collection." For the immediate future, she is developing a pair of leather pants and a dress shirt, each of which have small crystals sewn in patterns that mimic the way in which crystals are aligned on the body during healing ceremonies.

All of her designs are simple, streamlined and have an associated spiritual meaning. For example, all of the bags in the Stella Pace line have a silver lining. Think about it: If you were buying an evening bag, would you rather have a cute little bag or a cute little bag with a silver lining and a handle beaded with stones reputed to have healing powers?

Metro credits her academic background at Princeton as an art history major as very important to her present career. She cites Professor Robert Bagley, with whom she studied ancient Chinese art, as a significant influence. At Zoe Metro, which she launched in August 1997, Metro borrowed from ancient Chinese traditions with handbags that incorporated red silk linings (symbolic of good luck) and reproductions of 15th-century Chinese coins (said to attract money and peace of mind). She wrote her thesis on the tapestries of the ancient Peruvian community of Paracas.

Yet, although her academic background, business training, and fashion expertise all play into her current endeavors, her philosophy of design is stunningly simple. She designs mostly at night, when it's quiet and she has the time. As for where she gets her ideas, her vision is unencumbered by today's fickle world of fashion trends, despite her ability to create them: "I only design things that I would want," she explains.

-Andrea Gollin '88

Clueless? Not him

Martin Schneider '90 finds constructing crossword puzzles all-consuming

While riding the subway one day, Martin Schneider '90 saw a woman filling in the blanks of The New York Times crossword puzzle. Recognizing it as one of his creations, he approached her. "I said, 'That's my puzzle!' " Schneider recalls. "She said, 'No, it's mine!' She thought I was trying to pick her up."

Schneider has had 10 puzzles published in the Times-including four in the coveted Sunday magazine-and has had seven rejected (including one he thought was particularly good, which included the quip "an ambidextrous rower is very comfortable using either oar").

To build a puzzle, first Schneider chooses a theme-the quip or pattern or "trick" found in most larger puzzles-and its related clues. Once he fits those in the confines of his grid, he fills in the remaining spaces with words not essential to the puzzle's theme; they become the glue that holds the whole thing together. Clues to those words are written after the puzzle is constructed.

Constructing is all-consuming, Schneider says. "The last one took 100 hours." At $75 per weekday puzzle and $350 per Sunday puzzle, that comes to significantly below the minimum wage-and means Schneider isn't likely to become a full-time crossword constructor any time soon.

But that's ok, because Schneider loves his day job. A copywriter for the New York advertising firm of Warwick Baker O'Neill, he figures he's pretty much found his calling. "I spend all day trying to come up with ways to entertain, amuse, or move people," Schneider says. "I sit there with a pen on the couch and stare at the ceiling."

He discovered copywriting while attending Columbia business school, where he soon realized he had no desire to be an investment banker or a management consultant. Instead, he took an eclectic mix of classes at Columbia, from literary criticism to linguistics. And when he decided to give copywriting a try, he added a class at the School of Visual Arts. The system of critiquing work-students create mock ads, and listen to everyone else's comments-means "you quickly find out if you have talent," Schneider says. "I knew immediately that I loved it."

Schneider spent six months putting together a portfolio of ads after graduating from Columbia. One, an ad for the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier, permanently anchored on the Hudson River, said "Yes, you can touch the guns. No, you can't shell New Jersey."

"The goal is to create a 'stopper,' " Schneider says. "You see people reading a magazine: they flip, flip, flip, and then suddenly they stop. Something about that ad makes them pay attention." After finishing his portfolio, he started interviewing, and landed his current job.

Schneider can see a connection between copywriting, crossword puzzle construction, and his work as a philosophy major at Princeton, where he wrote his thesis on the philosophical ramifications of Einstein's relativity theory.

In all of them, he says, "you spend a lot of time thinking about relatively few words. There's no massive analysis of data."

Philosophy major to B-school student to part-time crossword puzzle maven and full-time copywriter? It's not a linear career path. But like the words in one of Schneider's puzzle creations, it all somehow fits together.

-Katherine Hobson '94

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