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Happily ever after

W hat a delight to read the article on Campbell McGrath, AB'84 ("World Enough, and Time," June/98). My primary source of delight is rather idiosyncratic: When I read: "McGrath is also a father..." my first thought was, "I wonder what happened to Elizabeth Lichtenstein. They seemed like they belonged together."

Imagine my joy when I turned the page to discover they are married, and with two kids! Learning that Campbell and Elizabeth are still together gave me a glimpse of life as it should be. It felt like the entropy in my world was reduced a bit.

I continue to keep records of my U of C friends' and acquaintances' social milestones (your magazine is very helpful). In college, I wrote notes under the faces in my portrait directories ("pic books"). I still update them. By McGrath's portrait in the class of '84 directory, my entry reads, "...with Lichtenstein forever." How nice. No further update is necessary.

Eleanor R. Smith, AB'85

Garland, Texas

Thanking our lucky stars

I was transfixed by the June/98 issue. It seems as if some heavenly (or collective intellectual?) power transformed a dull publication into a sparkling beauty. For years, I'd momentarily glance at the magazine before throwing it out. A few days ago, however, when I picked up the June issue, I couldn't put it down! The features and departments are interesting and well-balanced, the layout is attractive and approachable, and the U of C shtick/local color just right. In short, this issue combines the best features, to good advantage, of several other good alumni magazines I have seen over the years. Congratulations!

Baruch Boxer, AM'57, PhD'61

Washington, D.C.


In the first sentence of his essay on Tolstoy and history, "The Hedgehog and The Fox," Isaiah Berlin writes, "There is a line among the fragments of the Greek poet Archilocus which says: 'The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.'" I believe this is the source of Sander L. Gilman's image of himself as "fox" ("Investigations," June/98). Perhaps Professor Gilman ran on a bit too quickly this once.

Tesse Hartigan Donnelly, AM'56

Oak Park, Illinois

Snow of love

If you want a meeting-cute at the U of C story ("Editor's Notes," April/98), I'll give you one: It started during the first week of classes in 1966, when through a series of class changes I ended up in Professor Nelson's afternoon first-year humanities class. I remember looking across the seminar table, seeing only Mary, and thinking that this vision of Beatrice was someone the shy boy from rural Minnesota had been dreaming of. But in what appears to be U of C male fashion, I took my time researching the next move.

Through that first quarter and into the second we attended the same class and the weekly evening meetings at the prof's house where we critiqued the papers we'd written the previous week. I'd walk Mary back to Woodward and then bid adieu, not yet having fathomed the proper opening line. We once chanced to meet aboard the IC downtown and shared a seat back to the 59th Street station. I asked for a book from her when we got back to the dorm...but no date.

I finally asked her to a Mead House social hour a week after the Great Blizzard of '67 (obviously the omen this Minnesotan was awaiting). In truth, the mounds of snow outside the first-floor lounge proved fortuitous in my romantic quest, for during the party she challenged me to a dual leap out the window. When I jumped, she didn't. Unable to climb back in, I walked alone around to the front of the building and back inside feeling quite foolish, not knowing until years later that this act of vulnerability had won her heart.

For what was also weighing on my mind was our discussion earlier that evening. As we walked across the Midway, she had expressed her love for dancing. I didn't dance....Obviously I wasn't prepared....I was failing the test!

Seven years were to pass from that first date until we married-I even spent two of those years incommunicado in Hawaii developing my character. Another seven would pass before I settled into my present career. It would be yet seven more years-a total of 21 after Romeo gazed up to his fair Juliet of Wallace House-before our daughter was born. I guess true love not only endures-it takes a lot of time!

By the way, I'm now taking dance lessons. Mary is Mary Derringer Lawson, AB'70, and Sarah, if she chooses, will be '11.

David L. Lawson, X'70

Santa Barbara, California

Photo finish

I was browsing the alumni magazine on line in yet another attempt to avoid editing a collection of essays, when I read the invitation to describe how we met our future spouses at the U of C. So why not? I asked myself....

I had joined a busload of U of C Democrats at the last minute, as they were on their way to see Walter Mondale and Harold Washington address a rally at the convention center. I joined the press at the front of the rally, ducking under the rope and pushing obnoxiously to the front. But I got some great close-ups of our esteemed mayor and erstwhile presidential candidate. I figured that had to be worth something, so I took the rolls of film to the Maroon office. Maybe I could even get some money for the pictures (chuckles and guffaws from the crowd, I'm sure). But although I didn't get any money, the editor in chief, Frank Luby, AB'85, suggested that his news editor could teach me to develop and print the film, something I was interested in learning.

He didn't mention the 3-foot-by-4-foot darkroom. It was a converted walk-in closet with a sink. That was it. I learned a lot about developing film in pitch blackness, printing pictures, and that Michael Elliott, AB'85, the news editor, who was wearing my favorite Springsteen T-shirt at the time, was friendly, intelligent, a good writer (as well as a math major-only at the U of C), and different from anyone I'd ever dated, anywhere.

So I married him in 1987. We lived eight years in rural Maine, where we had our first daughter, Alice (1993); now we live in University of Michigan family housing while Mike completes his Ph.D. in biostatistics. We have another daughter, Caroline (1996), and I am teaching high-school English. When I walked into that darkroom, I had no idea what would develop.

Amy Caroline Lesemann, AB'85

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Synchronized thinking

Your recent article mentioning Martha McClintock's observation of the simultaneous menstrual cycles in a women's dormitory ("Investigations," June/98) brings to mind two similar, though unrelated, scientific examples. The first is modern; the second centuries old.

For the modern example, in the world of lasers it is a common practice to take two or more lasers of similar configuration (although not precisely the same frequency by chance of construction) and force them to oscillate at the same frequency via "mode locking."

For the historical example, and one often referred to in discussions on mode of locking lasers, it was noticed since the introduction of the pendulum clock that two clocks placed on the same wall or adjacent walls would fall into synchronization, usually 180 degrees out of phase, in spite of the fact that, as with lasers, their construction was different.

I am sure there are other examples around as well.

Gordon Waite Lukesh, AB'71

Corrales, New Mexico

The hard stuff

Well, knock me down and call me Aristotle Schwartz. In an attempt to rationalize the diminution of the general-education curriculum, Bert Cohler, AB'61, ("Interview," College Report, June/98) assures us that the College of 40 years ago featured readings designed for mid-teenagers. As he says (in none too lucid prose): "...the readings had been selected in a way consonant with students many of whom were equivalent to students in the third or fourth year of high school." Funny, but I was an undergraduate at the same time he was, and I'm quite sure early entrants were no longer there. More to the point, in my first two years I read many great books in entirety: Plato's Phaedrus and Gorgias, Aristotle's Poetics, Milton's Paradise Lost, Mill's On Liberty, Nietzsche's Thoughts Out of Season, Freud's Civilization and its Discontents. It is true that the list of books to be read only in part was much longer, but these were rather long books as, for example, Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, Galileo's Dialogues on the Two Chief Systems of the World, Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

To tell the truth, I'd have been glad to have had a graded reader for some of the assigned chunks from Boethius, Kant, Croce, and Max Weber, but none were supplied.

Robert E. Lerner, AB'60

Evanston, Illinois

The wrong stuff

In the June/98 University of Chicago Magazine there is a serious error in the interview with Bert Cohler, AB'61, which went uncriticized by the interviewer. Cohler credits Edward Levi as being president of the University between 1965 and 1967. Well, as they say, "I was there," and Nobel laureate George Beadle was president at the time.

My first recollection was Dr. Beadle showing up at New Dorms during the Smyrd (Smerd, Smird, or Smurd) Ball to find out what the "fuss" was about (it was raining too hard for us to march on the Admin building, so he came to us). He said he would consider our proposition to rename New Dorms as Smurd (etc.) Hall (obviously he did not prevail over the Woodward lobby!).

My last recollection of Dr. Beadle was at the 1968 commencement, when my wife, Patricia Schafer Masarachia, SB'68, was graduated.

Sam C. Masarachia, SB'67

Glenside, Pennsylvania

Professor Cohler, who also "was there," did not make the mistake, which was introduced by the editors in a misguided attempt at clarification. To clarify, Edward H. Levi, PhB'32, JD'35, was provost of the University from 1962 to 1968, and president from 1968 to 1975.-Ed.

A matter of record

In the "Letters" section of the Magazine (April/98), E. Donald Kaye, AB'49, commented on the limited scope of information on graduate degrees of alumni or their children in two recent sources, both related solely to members of the Class of 1948. In both cases, the focus was on degrees received from the U of C.

The first source, a 50th reunion questionnaire sent to members of the Class of 1948, asked if any of our children attended the U of C at all, graduated from college, and/or received any higher U of C degree. I drafted this questionnaire. With but a few modifications it was approved by the 50th reunion committee. Neither the University nor its alumni office was at all responsible for its content. The intent was to get "a feel" of the number of our kids that followed in our footsteps. Of the 276 children reported, 15 attended, 11 graduated from the College, and four attained higher U of C degrees.

The second source, the Class of 1948 directory, does include only the U of C degrees of its members. While it might be well to consider the inclusion of non-U of C degrees, none of the 42 members of our 50th reunion committee made known any feelings they may have had on that subject, and I personally did not view the omission as parochial or arrogant.

Bill Gray, PhB'48, MBA'50

Oak Brook, Illinois

Underlying rebellion

In "Chicago Journal" (June/98), an excerpt from Gertrude Himmelfarb's [AM'44, PhD'50] Olin Center lecture lists the ills of our age: "loss of respect for authorities and institutions, a breakdown of the family, the decline of civility and honesty, the vulgarization of high culture," etc.-manifested in "illiteracy, pornography, welfare dependency." She deplores these frequently in her writings, yet offers little understanding-or at least acknowledgement-of underlying causes. "Neo conservatives," whose ranks Himmelfarb has joined (with her husband Irving Kristol and son Bill), often trace these ills back to the rebels and turmoil of the '60s, yet there is seldom real analysis of why youth (and others, like me) were "rebelling," and what caused the turmoil.

In fact it was the violence most of us rebelled against-perpetrated by so-called authorities who were directing the brutal bombings and burnings of Vietnam villages. And we rebelled against these authorities' dishonesty about the purposes and progress of that undeclared war, which Himmelfarb et al. did not (at least openly) oppose. We rebelled against the ensuing Reagan years of accelerated military spending that enriched his supporters and expanded the national debt while accelerating poverty and family disintegration among many inner-city people. Youths were especially affected, increasingly and cynically turning to the drugs, crime, and violence that Himmelfarb and I deplore-but with different understandings of their causes.

In a recent TV special about the wealthy elite, John Stossel postulated that it is greed that has made this country great. It's this greed (in the name of "efficiency" and "keeping competitive") that causes corporations to merge, lay off workers, move to cheap-labor countries. That causes the Pentagon budget to remain almost inviolate while public education, health, etc., go begging. That causes prisons and privatization to expand, and entertainment industries to pander to the emotionally impoverished-in small towns as well as inner cities-with increasingly cataclysmic images of violence. It's too bad that "Bea" (whom I knew briefly in her more idealistic days at the U of C) doesn't focus her intellect more on the power elite and authorities who help perpetuate these very real problems.

Ann Morrissett Davidon, X'47


The meaning of death

The cover of your April/98 issue is misleading. The caption states, "U of C researchers gaze upon the death of the universe." The article inside, however, makes clear that the researchers do not yet know what they are looking at: Big Crunch, Big Chill, Equilibrium, or some unknown fourth possibility.

Sinclair Kossoff, AM'55, JD'59


The Magazine invites letters on its contents or on topics related to the University. Letters must be signed and may be edited. Write: Editor, University of Chicago Magazine, 1313 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637. E-mail:

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