February 7, 2001: Letters

War stories

Modern war story

Clinton for Princeton

1930s football

Studiamo? Étudions?

Letting in legacies

Dei sub numine viget

Nollner knew notes

Sleeping with the coed

E-clapper napping

U-Store no more

En plein air

Ill-gotten flag comes home

China and freedom

Angela Davis defense

From the Archives


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 (paw@princeton.edu).


War stories

You did a great service to the university and its alumni in publishing selections from Charles Blackmar ’42’s collection of stories submitted by members of the Class of 1942 recounting their experiences during World War II
(cover story, December 6). One reads the stories with feelings of the greatest admiration and gratitude, not only toward members of that class but toward the members of all the other classes who gave of themselves unreservedly during the war years. Their accounts and reflections made for riveting and compelling reading. Would that the Blackmar collection could be serialized in your pages!

Gordon W. Daiger ’53
Bethesda, Md.

 

The inclusion of Charles Crandall ’42’s brief comments of personal experiences in the Navy during World War II serves to remind many of the additional activities in which he was engaged. Of course they do not comment on Charlie’s valor or the indebtedness of the people of a free nation to him. The action that Charlie performed was legendary to his comrades, and the lives he has saved are innumerable. To these are added those of his postwar practices of medicine, changed from engineering because of his association with suffering and death. And Charlie’s wife, Dr. Elizabeth Crandall, has in her own right been a wonderful contributor to the lives of many. Forget not son Steve, who pitched a no-hitter against Yale.

Few sons of Nassau have provided such honor as an alumnus. I have reminded the peoples of the nation many times and do so again. Hail.

Raoul Nehr ’36
Skillman, N.J.

 

I’m a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Seeing the war stories piece, I couldn’t help but wonder about the experiences of alumni who have been conscientious objectors to war. For example, did any alumni serve in a Civilian Public Service camp in World War II?

On a different note, it might be interesting to research other Quaker connections to Princeton. One that immediately comes to mind is Joseph Taylor, dean of the faculty, Nobel laureate in physics, and member of Princeton Friends Meeting. (Quakerbridge Mall doesn’t count!)

Christopher Mohr ’88
San Francisco, Calif.

 

Thank you for the cover story about our Class of 1942 Book! It is far and away beyond our fondest dreams! My pride and joy in being a part of the marvelous Class of 1942 is very considerable indeed. So is my feeling for being able to participate in a very minor way in the most important event in the history of mankind. Needless to say, reading your wonderful coverage was truly an emotional event. Please let your readers know they can order the book directly from me, 843-671-2161.

Tex Farrington ’42
Hilton Head Island, S.C

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Modern war story

Readers of “War Stories” may be interested in my modern-day story. A few weeks ago I was early for a movie and so walked down to a nearby bookstore to pass the time. I looked over the remainders table, glancing at a Time-Life book about World War II. I started to walk away, then stopped and went back. Staring up at me from the cover of the book was a picture of myself from my days as a Marine Corps pilot in the Solomon Islands.

I remember the photo being taken, although I have no idea how it ended up on the cover of that book out of the thousands they might have chosen.

I did buy the book, and my daughter is investigating the path of the photo.

Bill Sloane ’43
Ewing, N.J.

Editor’s note: In response to the war stories, Richard Davis ’47 wrote in to expand on the account of the war hero Alexander “Sandy” Bonnyman ’32. His fuller account can be found on our here.

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Clinton for Princeton


I was amazed to read the letter from Marc W. Murphy ’73, who “fervently believes that the next president of our university should be William Jefferson Clinton” (December 6).
Without even getting into the scandal-ridden administration of the Clinton presidency, the man’s personal lack of character, ethics, integrity, morals, and truthfulness should automatically exclude him from consideration! How can an institution like Princeton, with its honor system, have a liar as its leader?

Walter G. Smyth ’60
St. Petersburg, Fla.

 

Clinton for president? No. This will record my revulsion at the thought of Bill Clinton occupying Nassau Hall. I strongly hope that early on the search committee will declare itself opposed to such consideration.

Joseph C. Cornwall ’39
Basking Ridge, N.J.

 

I daresay that the suggestion made recently that Bill Clinton might make a successful next president of our beloved university is at best comical. Clinton surely would be anathema to any liberal arts college, let alone one which has struggled to make the appearance, at least, of admitting women as social and intellectual equals. Employing Bill Clinton in any capacity on campus would put a stamp of approval on his “free-willy, put-out and shut-up” approach to employee relations. Really! I had hoped that we laud people of integrity and honor, not any who so obviously feel entitled to prey on subordinates. As for the professor who was too intimidated to argue the issue, I suggest he quit his day job and study the campus architecture, for starters, if he doubts the validity of a good old-fashioned debate at Princeton.

Katherine L. Kerr ’91
Redwood City, Calif.

 

I am glad to read the letters of Kent Young, Max Maizels, and Dial Parrott defending the honor of Princeton by calling for Bill Clinton to be kept off campus. God forbid that Princeton should invite, much less honor, a man who has shamelessly lied to the American people on national TV!

Oops! What’s this, on the same page — James Baker ’52? Is this the James A. Baker III who was George W. Bush’s spokesman in Florida after the election? The one who every day on C-SPAN said (so many times) “there are no uncounted ballots”? Sure enough, there he is in the Alumni Directory. And an honorary Princeton LL.D. (1991) besides!

I’m flabbergasted! In the words of Mr. Parrott, “How can a university honor a notorious liar as a distinguished public servant without undoing the very reason for its existence?”

I’m sure that Messrs. Young, Maizels and Parrott will join me in calling for Baker to be banned from campus, and for his honorary degree to be rescinded. We must be consistent, gentlemen!

James R. Paulson ’72 *77
Oshkosh, Wis.

 

I am reading the December 20 issue, which has three letters criticizing the visit of President Clinton to the Princeton campus and the perhaps tongue-in-cheek writing of Jason Brownlee suggesting Clinton would make the ideal 19th president of Princeton.
I have not read the original article, nor did I follow the visit of the president. However, I am stunned at the one-sided criticism of the current president. University presidents are selected by different criteria than those used for political office, and by most of them, Bill Clinton would not be a likely candidate. However, as Kent Young, Max Maizels, and Dial Parrott allege, is the telling of “truth” the only criterion by which candidates are selected? While in office, President Reagan led the nation through a series of falsehoods culminating in the Iran-contra scandal. Yet no one will judge his presidency on that single score. Similarly, Clinton’s actions in office regarding Monica Lewinsky are condemnable, and he has several times offered his deep regrets about it. It is a shame that people with the finest tradition of a liberal Princeton education cannot see past their conservative ideology and give Clinton credit for leading the nation in its longest economic expansion. Many actions taken by Clinton and Treasury secretaries Rubin and Summers were in the face of serious opposition from the Republicans (the Mexican and Asian monetary crises, for example). He has shown exemplary leadership in bringing warring parties to the table in Northern Ireland and the Middle East. He has cemented great friendships between the people of the U.S. and the people of several African and Asian countries. One expects that Princetonians will be able to be objective and give credit where it is due, even if they are not in agreement 100 percent.

I am on a different campus right now — California Institute of Technology. President Clinton visited this campus earlier in 2000 to unveil his new science and technology policy. He was a welcome guest to this campus. I suspect, notwithstanding the true meaning of the word “is,” he will be welcome on most campuses throughout this country and abroad. I hope the vast majority of Princetonians can rise above partisan feelings and give him credit where he deserves it, evenhandedly with the opprobrium that he also deserves.

Siddharth Dasgupta *86
Pasadena, Calif.

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1930s football

Your From the Editor in the November 8 PAW about the Yale game in 1930 brought back memories. As football manager, I was sitting between Bill Roper and Keene Fitzpatrick for most of that game. I doubt if anyone now living remembers the tensions that built up in the last minutes of that game as Trix Bennett completed his over-the-line passes to the Yale four-yard line.

I remember the referee downed the ball with the ends of the ball pointing to the sidelines and then carefully turned it so the ends were pointing to the goal lines. The measurement showed us a few inches short. Tears were in the eyes of all three of us.
After lo these many years, I still feel the shock of that measurement and still remember Bill Roper as one amazing individual.

George H. Shields III ’31
Scottsdale, Ariz.

 

Any player in that game knows that Trix Bennett, who was carrying the ball in the last drive, went over the goal! On 4th down.

Pendennis W. Reed ’31
Vero Beach, Fla.

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Studiamo? Étudions?

The chart in the December 20 Notebook purports to show that increasing numbers of Princeton students are studying Spanish, and it does make this point well. Yet the chart offers a broader point as well — the study of most modern languages at Princeton is on the decline. In some cases, the decline is quite dramatic.

According to the chart, the number of Princetonians taking French has dropped 36 percent over the past nine years. Taking the other modern languages in order of their 1990—1991 enrollment, German (—43 percent), Italian (—12 percent), Japanese (—49 percent), Chinese (—32 percent), Russian (—29 percent), and Arabic (—58 percent) are all down as well.

The ancient languages — Latin and Classical Greek — are holding their own, and Spanish is up, but virtually all of the other modern languages have dropped significantly. The “total enrollment” line in the chart shows an overall decline of 16 percent. If Spanish, Latin, and Classical Greek were excluded from these figures, the decline would be 32 percent overall.

PAW has described in recent issues how the percentage of international students has increased over the last decade. It is probably not too much of a stretch to assume that these students are more likely to be enrolled in modern language classes than are American-born Princetonians. For American-born Princeton students, the decline in the study of modern languages is probably even more precipitous.

Princeton may seek to offer “service to all nations,” but that service cannot just be one way. It is fine to bring international students to Princeton, but Princetonians must also be prepared to go out into the world. Without a little more emphasis on modern languages, it is difficult to see how that will happen.

Josh Libresco ’76
San Rafael, Calif.

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Letting in legacies

Regarding Bailey Brower’s letter (November 22), he makes some good points, especially about the number of legacy admits. I hope his letter is read by members of the search committee!

As a matter of interest the Freshman Herald for the Class of 1946 indicates that 19.88 percent of the class were sons of alums.

David Nimick ’46
Sewickley, Pa.

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Dei sub numine viget

While it is hoped that one flourishes under the watch of God’s name and that in the name of God there is His power, the translation of the university motto used by PAW’s editor is not supported by the words quoted (From the Editor, December 20). Is there no Latin professor to assist a publication affiliated with the university?

Kenneth Alonso ’64
Holmes Beach, Fla.

Editor's note: The translation used came from the Princeton Companion, by Alexander Leitch '24.

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Nollner knew notes

The late Walter Nollner, professor, emeritus, of music, was gifted with perfect pitch, an extremely rare asset for a musician. He could, at any time, sing or hum any given note with mathematical accuracy. This allowed him to stand in front of his group and vocalize the start notes for every musical section in every movement to be performed in a concert, whether it were to be in four-part, six-part, or eight-part harmony. The singers had only to listen carefully to his indications. It also meant that the ever-present piano accompanist, who was at the keyboard only to give those very same start notes, was out of a job and thus could join the group and sing, thereby giving the chorus another talented voice.

Ray F. Fitzsimmons ’55
Orange, Calif.

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Sleeping with the coed

In the December 20 issue, you write about an incident at Forbes College wherein there was a sexual and criminal assault on a female student. I quote as follows: “the victim, who was asleep at the time, did not wake up. Her boyfriend, however, did awaken and confronted . . .”

This seems like rather cavalier treatment of a situation apparently involving boyfriend sleeping with girlfriend. Is this sort of thing going on all over the place all the time at Princeton? I’m a very old grad whose standards are long past being realistic. I wonder, however, if we’re now at a point where it’s just accepted that unmarried male and female students sleep together at Princeton as a general thing, or was it just too much booze in this one unusual incident. Can you enlighten me?

Edgar A. Spencer ’36
Falmouth, Maine

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E-clapper napping

Only Princeton alumni wouldn’t need an explanation why removing the clapper from a bell would be a safety issue! Using a virtual bell in Nassau Hall — an E-clapper if you will — won’t preclude stealing it. I expect some enterprising electrical engineering or computer science freshman will replace the simulated bell with a simulated “clunk” symbolic of stealing the simulated clapper.

Bob Flavin ’77
Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

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U-Store no more

I have watched the transformation of what once was a handsome and serious university store into a catchall convenience store with a minor interest in books and none in music. The words The Music Shop are engraved on both sides of the U-Store’s University Place entrance; however, inside there is hardly any serious music. The attractive assortment of classical CDs and tapes that had its own area in the back of the second floor is gone. Similarly, an alcove on the first floor that housed all kinds of musical scores and classical sheet music is now devoted to other purposes. The first floor once looked like a bookstore. On entering the store now, one no longer sees an abundance of interesting books. In their place there is a pharmacy and tables with all manner of dry goods and sundries, as well as some computers and attendant computer books along the north wall.

Fortunately things can be put right relatively easily. The general books can be returned to the first floor where they made such a fine display for browsers, customers, alumni, and students. The classical music sections could be reestablished, emphasizing the university’s interest in fine music. The third floor, now enlarged, serves an excellent function as a center for textbooks and course-related books and, perhaps, could be put to further academic uses.

The availability of serious books and music is part of the educational process. The necessary changes to reconstitute and improve the University Store are not complex and would be well worth doing.

Henry C. Maguire Jr. ’48
Merion Station, Pa.

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En plein air

As an artist and instructor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston you have no idea how heartened I was to see the photo of the three young artists drawing in Prospect Garden (Snapshot, November 22). So many in art schools think it no longer necessary for artists to learn to draw! I’m gladdened to know that my university still offers a class in an eternally fascinating activity of mind, hand, and eye.

Joel Babb ’69
Buckfield, Maine

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Ill-gotten flag comes home

Earlier this fall the university received a package from an anonymous alumnus from the Class of 1972. That package contained an obviously old but well-preserved university flag. To quote from the accompanying letter from that alumnus: “Now that I have become a man, I have given up childish things. These include ill-gotten items such as the University flag that, in a fit of youthful folly and exuberance, I ‘liberated’ from Pyne Hall Tower back in the early 1970s.”

We would like to thank our anonymous alumnus for his “gift” to the university and for his late but still greatly appreciated confession. We assure Anonymous ’72 that the statute of limitations on this offense has passed and the Discipline Committee will take no action if and when he decides to ’fess up in person. In the meantime, his flag will be sent to the University Archives, where it will assume a position of honor.

Richard R. Spies *72
Vice President for Finance and Administration
Princeton University

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China and freedom

I was disappointed to see ill-informed attacks by fellow alumni on Professor Chou’s hard work to keep Princeton’s Chinese language study program going in Beijing, amid trying circumstances (Letters, September 13).

Professor Chou and those like him who sustain foreign academic programs in China deserve our support, not armchair quarterbacking. As for who really cares about academic freedom in China — those who stay away, just stay away; those who come and engage and communicate, make a difference.

Kurt W. Tong ’87
Beijing, China

Editor’s note: A conversation with Professor Chou about academic freedom and the Princeton in Beijing program is on our Web site, www.princeton.edu/~paw.

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Angela Davis defense

William A. Rusher ’44 rightly cites the inadequacy of the description your October 25th Talks On Campus gives to Angela Davis’s curriculum vitae (Letters, December 6).
You might also have mentioned the fact that Ms. Davis was peremptorily dismissed, in 1970, from her teaching position in the University of California system, because of her membership in the Communist Party.

She was later tried on capital charges in a transparently politically motivated frame-up trial of star-chamber proportions.

These events transpired in a country that ceaselessly lectures the whole of humanity in the name of its vaunted defense of freedom and loudly proclaims that no American citizen is subject to persecution for his or her political beliefs or affiliations.

Rusher’s invocation of the theme of human rights echoes ever so hollow when one considers the myriad cases of political prisoners, such as Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu Jamal, who are still languishing in this “free society’s” gulag.

Wayne Watkins ’76
White Plains, N.Y.

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From the Archives

The November 8 issue of PAW succeeded in making me feel like an old man. Although I always enjoy the From the Archives photographs, I never expected at age 31 to be able to offer any useful information. The Wall of Fame in question is, without a doubt, located in 43 Blair Hall, which was home to Spencer J. Reynolds, Jr. ’92, Peter J. Offringa ’91, Jason A. Ritter ’91, and me during the 1987-88 semester. Spencer’s artistically carved name can be seen in the middle of the mantel, while my amateur work is hidden by the American flag. I can’t offer any information about subsequent residents, but I apologize to them for the damage left behind.

David Pertsemlidis ’91
New York, N.Y.

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