A letter from a reader: Life in the Butler housing tract

July 16, 2008:

You have had several articles and letters related to the Butler Tract (Notebook, April 2; letters, June 11); however, I have not seen one from any of the original occupants, so you might be interested in our experience.

My husband, Harley Funk '50 *52, and I moved into the Butler housing tract, aka "The Project" and more commonly referred to as "The Rabbit Patch" for obvious reasons, in February 1947 during a snowstorm. We had been living in one room in an off-campus University residence where, along with other couples, we had to wait our turn for a space in the communal refrigerator. We were elated with the move to "The Project" and managed the first couple years with no car, riding back and forth to the campus on bicycles. While Harley pursued his degree in architecture, I worked for five years as departmental secretary of the philosophy department before giving birth to our first child.

In the beginning, "The Project" was open not only to graduate students and young faculty, but to undergraduates as well. Harley and Donald Riddle '49 *56 (who went on to become chancellor of the University of Illinois in Chicago) were the only married freshmen. Our concern that the predicted five-year life span of the project would find us homeless if Harley pursued graduate work turned out to be a needless worry!

We felt we were living in luxury, despite the fact that our heat came from a space heater fed by kerosene carried in from the back yard. And we solved the problem of an overflowing pan under the icebox by drilling a hole in the floor. Many of our bachelor friends on campus loved to visit us for a home-cooked meal, a little female company, and perhaps a game of bridge.

Our neighbors were changing all the time, but at one time they included the philosophers John Rawls '43 *50 and Walter Kaufmann, among others who went on to become famous. And I was at my office (Woodrow Wilson's old office in '79 Hall) the day Bertrand Russell received the Nobel Prize, when the phone rang off the hook with reporters trying to contact him before his lecture that evening. Harley and I also attended a cocktail party given by department chairman Robert Scoon for T.S. Eliot when he had just received the Pulitzer Prize, another memorable occasion.

Those six years in Princeton provided us with a lifetime of wonderful memories, as well as continuing friendships with former neighbors, students, and faculty.

"PETEY" FUNK s'50 *52
Oxford, Pa.

Respond to this letter
Send a letter to PAW

Go back to our online Letter Box Table of Contents


Current Issue    Online Archives    Printed Issue Archives
Advertising Info    Reader Services    Search    Contact PAW    Your Class Secretary