October 11, 2000
and the Babe?
PAW welcomes letters.
We may edit them for length, accuracy, clarity, and civility. Our
address: Princeton Alumni Weekly, 194 Nassau St., Suite 38, Princeton,
NJ 08542 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
was dismayed to learn that the university plans to close the Natural
History Museum in Guyot Hall in order to convert the space into
offices. Over 25 years ago the museum provided me with daily inspiration
on my way to and from classes in Guyot. More recently I have taken
the opportunity whenever possible to bring my two young children
to the museum, for their learning experience. The museum and its
specimens and displays represent part of the history of the university,
and are symbolic of a past era of scientific discovery that has
helped to make the university the great institution it is. I believe
the museum should not only be maintained but fully restored to its
former condition and greatness.
Gregory T. Greene '75
I was surprised, and
saddened, to learn that the Natural History Museum will be eliminated
to make way for office space to accommodate a new multidisciplinary
environmental science program. As I understand it, the exhibits
will be relocated, though I have not heard details. I respect the
administration's desire to build a first-rate environmental sciences
program, and understand that space is a real constraint on campus.
However, to scuttle the museum is a mistake because it takes for
granted the value of the museum, a century-old landmark, whose style
and character cannot be replicated. Perhaps the exhibits can be
safely moved and updated, but once the current museum is gone, it
is gone for all posterity.
If it hasn't done so
already, I hope the administration will reconsider doing away with
the museum, and, instead, update it and make it even better.
If there is a will, I
have no doubt that Princeton has good people in place who will work
hard and succeed in finding acceptable accommodations for the environmental
sciences program that will not diminish its potential for excellence.
Patrick Swearingen '84
New Canaan, Conn.
I want to comment on
the article "In search of the real Cuba" in your May 17
issue. Like most academics who travel to the island, the students
in Princeton-in-Cuba visited the usual haunts the Communist government
Admittedly, the article
was brief and was not a comprehensive representation of the trip.
However, the group's itinerary, as listed in the article, is all
too predictable. The group went to the University of Havana to attend
seminars given by the faculty. Those faculty are the members of
the Cuban intelligentsia who choose to be Communists. What about
the members of the Cuban intelligentsia who refuse to be Communists?
Did any person in the group visit them? Government officials routinely
confiscate their antiquated typewriters and even their pens and
paper. These journalists endure physical abuse and incarceration.
Why? Because they write news articles not sanctioned by the government.
to the countryside by hired car. The Cuban government prefers that
foreigners not squeeze into overcrowded buses and trucks. The government
saves that experience for Cubans. Considering the gasoline shortage
on the island, it follows that foreigners use a precious commodity,
gasoline, for a tour.
The author explains that
the group stayed in a converted convent. Did any members of the
group inquire about the previous occupants of the convent? Perhaps
the previous occupants were the same clergy who had to leave their
native Cuba because of their "counterrevolutionary" activities.
PAW's editorial discretion
certainly slipped in its rose-colored approach to the Cuba story
- which, by the way, says nothing about "the real Cuba"
of its title. The Princeton group may have "traveled the countryside
by hired car" and "toured museums," but the story
neglects to mention that Cuba's poverty-stricken, fear-ridden populace
is rarely able to do either of these things. The trip these students
took is not all good: It underscores this country's continuing acceptance
- even endorsement - of a terrorizing totalitarian regime.
Monica T. Pelaez '97
I want to respond to
Neil D. Chrisman '58 (Letters, July 5), who wrote concerning PAW's
article about the Princeton-in-Cuba trip I led in the spring. While
he commended "the ingenuity and intellectual curiosity of the
students for organizing the effort," he found "the representation
of their endeavor idealistic if not naive - at least as it was reported."
In my view, the PAW article accurately conveyed a sense of the ambiguities
and contradictions these 18 students faced in their effort to discover
the "real Cuba."
After their return, the
students collaborated with me in a series of articles for the Trenton
Times that described their experiences in greater depth. As those
articles reveal, the students found ample evidence of a Cuba racked
by severe poverty and stressed economically by the 40-year U.S.
embargo. They also found a Cuba that remains committed to a free
public educational and health system that - despite the loss of
Soviet subsidies - remains one of the better and more accessible
in Latin America.
I do not believe any
student was misled by a "Potemkin Village/Disney World"
portrayal of Cuba. They explored Havana freely and energetically.
They spent mornings in conferences at the University of Havana's
Center for Demographic Studies, asking penetrating questions of
professors, who answered with apparent candor. They spent afternoons
engaged in projects that were as varied as they were often impromptu.
Each day we met as a group to review activities and issues.
In the next school year,
I anticipate that Princeton-in-Cuba will evolve into an official
activity of the Program in Latin American Studies headed by professors
Jeremy Adelman and David Myhre, with considerable involvement from
the students who made the first Princeton-in-Cuba trip.
I thank Mr. Chrisman
for expressing his concerns and ask that he stay in touch with the
program as it moves forward.
Bill Potter '65
The article by Constance
Hale '80 in the July 5 issue, "The Professor and Little Lei
Puahi," illustrates a question that has been raised many times
during my 42 years of missionary work in West Africa: At what point
does a variant of a language become recognized as a language on
My own experience in
Liberia is similar to Hale's. Liberia was settled in the early 1800s
by freed slaves from the U.S. The motivating notion on the part
of generally well-meaning white people was that these "foreigners,"
many of whom had been born in the U.S., would be happier in West
The settlers took with
them the English language they had learned in our southern states,
and in Liberia this language developed on its own.
What many detractors
now call Liberian English is, like the Pidgin English cited by Ms.
Hale, a variant of what we in America like to call English, but
one that has grown on its own for so long that it is incomprehensible
to the untrained ear. Still, it has rules and structure. There are
many, myself included, who feel that the term Liberian English is
a derogatory name for what should be called simply Liberian.
It would appear to me
that the question is one of politics and status, not language. I
wonder whether there is a time in the evolution of a language when
it can be considered as its own entity, with its own name, and without
any connotation of inferiority.
E. Christopher Cone '58
As the Class of 1942
memorialist for the past 18 years I must register extreme disappointment
at the recent PAW decision to reduce alumni memorials from 200 to
150 words. It is difficult enough to do justice, with sensitivity,
to alumni careers in 200 words. But now we are reduced to virtually
name, rank, and serial number. It has been my impression, as an
alumnus for 58 years, that the Alumni Weekly was for and about alumni.
Will class notes be next?
Edward H. Coale '42
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Editor's Note: Beginning
with this issue, the length of alumni memorials in PAW will be 150
words, reduced from the previous limit of
200. This change was made so that PAW can accommodate more memorials
in each issue and in turn, we hope, reduce publishing delays.
It seems like one of
the more notable moments in the history of our proud university
since the days when Jonathan Edwards and Aaron Burr walked the land
that the spellcheck for PAW is set to turn "Elis" into
"Ellis," as occurred in the recent Class Notes column
regarding the Class of 1965's 35th reunion Memorial Day weekend.
The attempt to set the
record straight and the responses from classmates - recalling both
Cosmo Iacavazzi's undefeated football team and Bill Bradley's magical
journey to the Final Four, the last stepping-stone of which was
to defeat Providence, with three future NBA stars and then the number-4
ranked team in the country, by 40 points in College Park, 109-69
- speak for themselves and demonstrate that we still know how to
have fun, and we still know what an Eli is. I hope you enjoy the
responses as much as we enjoyed the
Michael Parish '65
New York, N.Y.
and the Babe?
The only two tales that
I have heard of Charlie Caldwell '25's professional baseball career
both involve errant throws. In addition to launching Lou Gehrig's
career with his wild throw, I have heard that after Babe Ruth hit
him with a wild pitch, the Babe retired from the mound to the outfield.
Legend or fact? Anybody
Jack Moore '62 k'25