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."
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.
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.
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!
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
Oak Park, Illinois
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.
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.
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
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,
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
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.
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,
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,
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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: