Letters to the Editor
Remembering the Greenslades . . .
I just finished reading the heartfelt remembrance of Tom and Mary Greenslade in the Spring 2000 issue of the Bulletin. Many of my own personal memories came flooding back, triggered by your initial observation that Tom would surely have known the proper term for a one hundred seventy-fifth anniversary. To this day, nearly ten years after his death, I still catch myself reaching for the phone to ask a question that only he would be able to answer with the utmost authority and clarity.
My wife, Mary Lou, and I also experienced the charming Greenslade hospitality when we returned to Gambier in May 1988. Our participation in the Gambier Dinner Club helped to cement the friendship, and it has provided a wealth of stories that are still lovingly related at the now-sporadic gatherings of the remaining members. After Tom's passing, Mary remained a regular of the monthly dining group, but she was never asked to bring anything. She was, however, usually seated at the head of the table--presiding over the festivities like invited royalty.
My tangible link to the Greenslades, like Tom Stamp's blazer, is a double-billed Sherlock Holmes-style cap from Scotland that Tom wore on many winter mornings as he walked past my office on his way to the archives. Mary knew I liked it, and after Tom had seen his last winter, she came to my office unexpectedly one day and gave it to me. It continues to provide great comfort from the cold Gambier winds and usually prompts an inquiry leading to yet another story about the previous owner.
It saddens me that so many who live and work in the Kenyon community today never had the opportunity to meet the Greenslades personally. They missed something special. You have helped to make a proper and touching introduction for them and a means of keeping the memories alive for a great many others.
J. Thomas Lockard '67
I worked as one of Tom Greenslade's student assistants in the College archives when the collection was tucked in the tiny room in the basement of Chalmers Library. One of Mr. Greenslade's last student assistants, I helped to lug the collection from its old home in Chalmers to its new place in the Olin Library. We loaded each dusty volume onto wooden carts and shuttled them from the dark, cramped, old space into a light, airy, new location. After the shift, the archives experience was never quite the same.
The old archives was a very special place, where Mr. Greenslade welcomed visitors to come in, browse, and handle the artifacts and papers in the collection. Each week, Mr. Greenslade had me chopping up student newspapers and college publications. We'd tuck each article between two sheets of lime paper and file it in its appropriately labeled folder. Our system was low-tech; our primary tools were scissors, lime paper, a pen, and manila folders. Access to the collection was simplicity itself. Simply walk across the room, open a filing cabinet, and help yourself. The price of admission was a friendly jawbone with Mr. Greenslade, who would ask you all about yourself and your interests and then steer you through the collection.
I'm happy to see that the collection has landed in the capable and ambitious hands of Chris Barth '93. Electronic data collection and distribution is inevitable and desirable. But I cannot help but yearn for the good old days of hanging out in the archives, handling the actual relics, and chatting up Mr. Greenslade. It was like mucking around in Kenyon's attic, and there were plenty of treasures to find.
It's one of my fondest memories of Kenyon. Thanks for reminding me.
Meryem Ersoz '86
. . . and Ed Harvey . . .
What a lovely tribute to Professor Emeritus of French Ed Harvey in the Spring 2000 issue of the Bulletin. It's not often that someone is remembered in such terms. He and Dean Frank Bailey were the two main reasons I graduated at all from Kenyon.
As a freshman in 1959, I didn't fully share his enthusiasm for the seventeenth century--but I have learned a few things since. What I do remember was Ed Harvey's goodness toward me, a rather unmotivated French major. I had a credit problem, in part due to injuries my first year, in part because of the courses I hadn't taken. Mr. Harvey's response was to design a one-on-one course in nineteenth-century novel and to work patiently with me about three times a week.
What Mr. Harvey saw in me I don't know, but later I spent twenty-five years in the classroom teaching French, even the seventeenth century (!), to secondary-school students, so perhaps he knew something I didn't. It was that belief in people and their worth that made him special, his goodness, his patience. I remember once seeing him in the airport in Portland, Maine, some years later. It was as if I had never left Gambier!
So, in retrospect, I have to say I owe him a good deal. That's the kind of school Kenyon was in my day--and still is, from what I see. To Ed Harvey: "Merci, et bonne route!"
Richard C. Foster '63
. . . and Maxwell Power
In the article beginning on page twenty-five in the Spring 2000 issue of the Bulletin, under the topic "Some Tragedies of the 1950s," President Robert Oden seems to have forgotten the tragic and early death of Maxwell Power. He is certainly not a man to overlook. He was my mentor and friend.
Gordon M. Greenblatt '54
Editor's note: President Oden hastens to point out that his list of the tragedies endured by the College in the 1950s was not intended to be an all-inclusive one. As Gordon Greenblatt notes, the loss of Maxwell Power on March 5, 1954, was indeed tragic. The Kenyon biology professor was killed in a car accident in Iraq while teaching as a Fulbright Fellow at Queen Aliyah College in Baghdad. Power's name is memorialized in a prize awarded annually at Honors Day by the biology department.
Flowing brew--from a flask?
Although I greatly enjoyed Dan Laskin's poem in the Spring 2000 issue of the Bulletin about the one hundred seventy-fifth anniversary of the College, I was troubled by an internal inconsistency: You can't get very "sodden" using the amount of "flowing brew" that will fit in a "flask." You'd want distilled spirits for a flask, and I'll grant that doesn't scan. How about "vats"? Or, of course, you could go with the trendy movement to reduce student alcoholism and have "sober" scholars. The students in substance-free housing would appreciate that. The last line could then offer "vats of Mountain Dew."
Mary C. Postellon P'01
Grand Rapids, Michigan
The most recent issue of the Bulletin, Volume 22, Number 1, was packed with articles that fascinated me, not the least the lovely obituary for my old French professor, Ed Harvey. Thanks so much for putting it all together for us.
President Robert Oden's lively exploration into "Forgotten Moments in Kenyon History" also had a strong effect on me, especially the short essay on "Some Tragedies of the 1950s." As he noted earlier in his article, the passing of Kenyon's mono-gender period is now generally unlamented, even by those of us who experienced it during what were the definitely much-colder winters of that era. For me, Oden's catalogue of deaths in our tiny community from January 1956 through May 1958 . . . stirred deep and anguished memories. As a member of the Chapel Choir at that time, I seem to recall gathering with other mourners practically every second week in the Church of the Holy Spirit to "celebrate" still another life untimely terminated.
All four of the students noted by Oden (unfortunately not by name) lived in Hanna Hall, I believe, and so, having lived there myself during the 1954-55 academic year, I knew them well. Of course, we all knew each other: there were only about four hundred thirty undergraduates in those days. The loss of such towering figures amongst us as Gordon Chalmers, Charles Coffin, Philip Rice, and Philip Timberlake was staggering, as Oden does his best to convey, but having four of our classmates, one in every hundred of us, die in two such senseless accidents (and the automobile crash was breathtakingly so) within a year threw the whole campus into a deep funk, unrelieved by any permanent female undergraduate presence at that time. I hope that if others of my contemporaries write to describe the horror of that period as they experienced it, you will consider publishing a modest compendium of their thoughts.
However profound my reaction to Oden's piece, it was Tom Stamp's "This will do" that truly captured my attention. From February 1963 until mid-1968, I was Gambier's resident architect. The depth of the research, especially for a periodical essay, is impressive, and in spite of my own past efforts to learn about Kenyon's building stock, there was much that was new in the survey. For instance, having lived from September 1956 until February 1957 in Bexley Hall, I appreciated the description of Charles Schweinfurth's interiors, which, of course, I remember with affection. I was sorry to learn that all of that richness is now gone.
But it was a paragraph on page 21, "At Kenyon, as on many American campuses, the 1960s were an especially cruel time architecturally . . ." that nearly made me explode emotionally. It is important to state that, having lost Chalmers as its fundraising genius, and remembering that our nation was far less wealthy in those days, most of the building decisions you mention were made by the trustees in a context of perceived poverty: they were the best that Kenyon could afford under straitened circumstances. After noting that and trying to be generous in retrospect, of course I absolutely support his critique.
Richard L. Francis '52 shared with me, from about 1957 (I can't remember exactly when Ed Heintz, Kenyon's librarian in those days, introduced us) until well into the 1980s, an intense frustration with the College's building program. With Dick's guidance and collaboration, I began trying to intervene constructively while I was still a graduate student at MIT: one early attempt was during a trip to New York City, when I had a short interview with Walter Kilham in his office, urging him to please take the architectural character of Marriott Park more into account than did his earlier sketches for Chalmers Library. He asked me to be more specific, so I proposed large-scale bay windows overlooking Middle Path, something similar to the 1941 sketch published in the Bulletin, although I don't recall ever having seen that before. Instead we got that repellant facade with its stupidly redundant "buttresses" filled in with unconvincing stonework and its cheesy metal curtainwall units. (Thank goodness that's all hidden now, even though I'm no fan of the Olin Library that stands in front of it.)
My next stab at intervention was more ambitious. Dick and I were desperate to try to head off the proposed Philip Mather Hall, a rendering of which had been published in the Bulletin, before it was too late. So, while still a student, I believe, I prepared a generic model of a steel-framed biology classroom-and-lab tower to be built behind Samuel Mather Hall, on the hillside with perhaps half of its bulk below the roadway and connected into the old building by walkway bridges--and definitely out of sight from Middle Path. My model had three or four floors that could be lifted out to illustrate a variety of possible configurations: teaching labs, faculty offices with private labs, classrooms, etc. I was given an opportunity to show this to Jim Pappenhagen, at the time chair of the chemistry department. He was polite as well, but so hungry to get whatever sort of new space he could that he was uninterested in rocking the boat, no matter how sensible my scheme (it was not a "design," mind you) might have seemed to him.
In February 1963, a newly registered architect in Ohio, I opened an office in the basement of Douglass House, a guest, more or less, of English professor Robert Daniel and his wife, Mary, who lived upstairs. For the first six months, my little family and I were allowed to live in Weaver Cottage, for $100 per month as I recall. Dean Frank Bailey, whom I had admired as a student, was among my first clients although things naturally took a while to get going.
On November 22, 1963, the Collegian came out with a lead article that I had written: an indictment of the trustee policy of giving architectural commissions (and building contracts) to their buddies rather than seeking the best available design talent for Kenyon's new projects. . . . My practice in Gambier continued to limp along for another five years, but, yes, I committed professional suicide with that article.
I never got a sniff of work from the College again. Had Bruce Haywood, as provost, not insisted in 1964 that Kenyon agree to rent four of the units in what were then known as the Morgan Apartments (Are they still called that? Are they still there?), I would never have gotten a construction loan from Knox County Savings Bank. Once, President Lund asked me to comment on the plans for Farr Hall as we drove past the site in his car (even then he was taking a risk), but otherwise nothing. I did a couple of faculty houses, of course, the most successful of which, in my opinion, is the one on Allen Drive that Mary Finkbeiner now owns, although I originally designed it for religion professor Dick Hettlinger, his wife, Mary, and their four kids.
In a way, though, none of that matters much; I eventually found my way to New York City, where I've lived a productive and enjoyable life since, mostly writing about other people's buildings. Furthermore, by November 1963, I had already completed what may have been the most important work I accomplished while practicing in Gambier. During my first spring in Douglass House, when I didn't have a whole lot else to do, I received frequent visits from a dispirited member of the senior class, a psychology major, who, it was feared, might not pass his comprehensive exams; Sam Cummings, then chair of the psychology department, was particularly despondent about this possibility. This young man wanted very much to go to architecture school, but his father had essentially forbidden it. We talked away many afternoons, and finally I offered to help him get into a summer program at Rhode Island School of Design, where he could explore his design interests. The president there had been one of my MIT professors, so I wrote to him directly, asking that my friend be given a chance. As a result, off went Graham Gund to Providence, and the rest, in more ways than one, is history.
James D. Morgan '57
New York City
Editor's note: The four students whose deaths were noted by President Oden and Jim Morgan were A. Perry Gilpatrick of the Class of 1958 and Charles F. Walch of the Class of 1957, killed in a May 1956 airplane crash near Mount Vernon, and Philip O. Payton and Carl W. Wirts, both of the Class of 1957, who died of injuries sustained in an April 1957 automobile accident in Gambier.
And yes, the Morgan Apartments do still exist, and that's still the name by which they're known.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Spring 2000 issue of the Bulletin. Peter Dickson's article on "The Long-Lost Kenyon House" was especially illuminating, showing the close connection between Kenyon and Mount Vernon in the early years. During my years at Kenyon, such a relationship bordered on "us vs. them," the townies vs. the college boys. There always seemed to be a bit of tension. I recall a near rumble at one of Mount Vernon's taverns over who had control of the pool table. As the townies assembled around us, reality set in and we quietly slipped out the door. But I also recall how easy it was to get a car ride from Gambier to Mount Vernon and back in those days; it was never a problem, even late at night.
Your remembrance of the Greenslades touched home for me, too. A classmate and I spent a Thanksgiving weekend in 1967 helping the Greenslades rake leaves and clean up their property, as their new home was just built. Mr. Greenslade was a very kind and generous man, and he treated us like family.
Keep up the good work.
Edward A. Cuda '70
Succasunna, New Jersey
What's in a name? Plenty.
Reading the latest issue of the Bulletin (Volume 22, Number 1) convinced me that a significant part of my efforts while at Kenyon were meaningless.
In the fall of 1992, I arrived on campus as the College's first student from independent Ukraine. In the academic year I spent in Gambier on an exchange program, I did my best to let as many people as possible know that Ukraine is a country in its own right, not a part of Russia. As a note, I should say here that Ukraine was recognized as independent by other nations in December 1991, immediately after the breakup of the USSR. Over eight years later, I had hoped that confusing Russia and Ukraine would not be an issue at such a respected institution of higher education.
Not so. The article "From Russia with love: Natalia Olshanskaya joins the Kenyon faculty" brings back the ghosts of the past. This article mentions Russia or USSR at least five times, including once in the title, in places where Ukraine should have been named. Ukraine is not mentioned once. This is even more upsetting for me, because I went to the same university where Ms. Olshanskaya once taught, in the beautiful Ukrainian city of Odessa.
I am very happy for Ms. Olshanskaya that she enjoys herself as the Kenyon professor of Russian. Having said that, I cannot help but correct the article in a few factual details. For example, in 1992 Ms. Olshanskaya could not have had her "exit visa" issued by the USSR, both because that country ceased to exist several months before and because Ukraine already did not issue any "exit visas." Back in 1992, Ukraine had begun putting a stamp "valid for all countries" in passports issued for its citizens, and no exit visa became necessary. True, Ukrainians could not get an American visa in Ukraine yet; we had to go to Russia because the United States simply had not had enough time to set up its full-service consular operation in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. But this does not change the fact that in 1992, Ms. Olshanskaya was not leaving USSR or Russia, she was leaving Ukraine. And while quoting Ms. Olshanskaya's views on the difference between the American and Soviet cultures, the article would be better off using just that word--"Soviet Union"--instead of "Russia." For even if Russia and Ukraine in the past could be united under the umbrella entity "Soviet Union," they definitely couldn't be united under the entity "Russia."
Of course, I admit the fact that the majority of Ukrainian citizens still speak Russian. Odessa is one of the most Russian-language-dominated regions of Ukraine, and back in 1992, many people there were very surprised to find themselves in a country without cities such as Moscow or St. Petersburg. But since then, most Ukrainians have recognized themselves as citizens of Ukraine, while in some cases still not speaking a word of the Ukrainian language. And this is perfectly natural.
It is also natural for some people still to reject the fact of existence of an independent Ukraine that includes the city of Odessa. But I think
Kenyon students going to Ms. Olshanskaya's classes, as well as readers of the Bulletin, are entitled to be told some basic facts about the political map of the world. Otherwise, countries like Ukraine will never be for Kenyon graduates anything more than team names in the Model United Nations. It is sad to learn that, apart from some bright examples [in the faculty] the Kenyon community still remains largely isolated from international realities. I think the growing number of international students at the College can contribute to resolution of the problem.
Sergey Schukin '96
Memories from a former professor
My neighbor and good friend Bob Hesse '52, who was my student in 1950, recently showed me the Spring 2000, "This Will Do," issue of the Bulletin. As an associate professor at Kenyon from 1949 to 1953, I was an admirer and staunch supporter of Gordon Chalmers. President Robert Oden's account of the Chalmers administration was remarkably accurate. Chalmers was a great president.
One of the first things I did when I joined the faculty at Duke University was to arrange for him to address the Southern Political Science Association on his views of a liberal education. The address was subsequently published.
With the death of [Professor Emeritus of French] Ed Harvey, I think no one is left of the faculty of 1949-53. Possibly Franklin Miller is still there. Several of us who left during that period--John Chalmers of economics, Charles Thornton of biology, Kermit Lansner of philosophy, and Bill Copithorne of English--may still be living. We all left with heavy hearts, for we loved Kenyon. But the prospects appeared dim. I am pleased that Kenyon made a wonderful recovery and that it is now thriving.
Durham, North Carolina
Editor's note: Professor Emeritus of Physics Franklin Miller is, indeed, still in Gambier. Of the other faculty members mentioned by Ralph Braibanti, himself a former associate professor of political science at Kenyon, here's what we know: John Chalmers, who went on to faculty and administrative positions at Harpur College, the University of Wyoming, and Kansas State University (where he served as vice president for academic affairs), retired in Manhattan, Kansas, in 1985; Charles Thornton, who joined the Michigan State University faculty in 1962 as chair of the zoology department, died at the age of sixty-three on January 15, 1974; and Kermit Lansner, who went on to a distinguished career as an editor with Newsweek, died on May 20, 2000, at seventy-eight (see "Deaths" in the next issue of the Bulletin). Unfortunately, we have no record of Bill Copithorne's post-Kenyon career or life.
Well, what do you think?
In his illuminating architectural history of Kenyon, "This will do," Tom Stamp '73 rightly notes that the tone of Philander Chase's most famous phrase is both unknowable and essential.1 (My own preferred reading is that
Chase was expressing delight at finding Henry Curtis's promises fulfilled: "This will do!")
But since first hearing this story, as a freshman, from an administrator of amphibian qualities,2 I have lived under the impression that Chase's actual phrase was "Well, this will do." Admittedly, at least one alumnus I know finds the interjected "well" to be a bit modernistic, not to mention vulgar, for the first bishop of Ohio,3 but I suspect4 the idiom long predates Chase. Apocryphal or not, however, the story seems to have reached others besides me.
This is, doubtless, a matter of little weight, notwithstanding a certain irony in Chase's possible first word on Gambier Hill.5 On the other hand, the sentence is Kenyon's own (small and possibly bathetic) "Fiat lux,"6 and we ought to make sure we've got the phraseology nailed down.
I look forward to the investigation of this matter7 in some future issue of the Bulletin.
Christopher B. Hammett '88
Brooklyn, New York
1Possibly his second most famous phrase; "vice and dissipation" is heady competition.
2By, which, of course, I mean merely that he had once been the swimming coach.
3Perhaps he was hoping to fit in among what must have been a fairly rough crowd.
4I remain blissfully unencumbered by facts on this point.
5Which irony I shall leave unplumbed.
6Or, as the case may be, "Well, fiat lux."
7Along with an exposé of the once-proposed new Bexley Hall library--plans appropriated from a suburban, Morroccan-themed supper club, perhaps?
Two recent issues of the Bulletin require a word of thanks and appreciation from me. They stimulated many memories and stirred much pleasure on my part.
As a veteran of World War II and participant in the five battles of northern Europe--the Normandy invasion, the race across France, the Battle of the Bulge, the crossing of the Rhine, and the capitulation of Germany--I was much interested in the generous amount of coverage you gave to the subject. I was in the siege of Metz and the freeing of Bastogne. I participated in the two liberations of Luxembourg, in September and December of 1944. Five of the Kenyon men who died in the war were killed in the areas where I fought. I handled prisoners and carried dead bodies to the cemeteries.
The Spring 2000 issue is a handsome and generous publication. Above my desk hangs an earlier etching of Old Kenyon than the cover picture. Tom Greenslade '31 was my fraternity brother in Beta Theta Pi. Lord Kenyon's address is a good one. Tom Stamp's coverage of Kenyon's history and President Oden's "Forgotten Moments" are real contributions to the alumni. Charles Coffin and Philip Timberlake were among my professors.
This is a rather extended letter, but I have enjoyed writing it. The year 2000 is the sixty-seventh anniversary of my graduation and membership in Phi Beta Kappa.
James W. Newcomer '33
Fort Worth, Texas
I found the historical article by Tom Stamp '73 in the Spring 2000 issue of the Bulletin just wonderful. And I found the contributions of President Robert A. Oden Jr. and Peter W. Dickson '69 of similar value. They moved me to respond to the "$12-million Challenge" that was described on the inside back cover of the same issue.
I'd also like to note that I framed the cover reproduction of the Old Kenyon print. It's great!
Thank you so much.
John L.McKenney '48
Eden, North Carolina
In "Remembering Tom and Mary Greenslade" in the Spring 2000 issue of the Bulletin, the reference to Juanita and Yauncey Newman, the most recent winners of the Greenslade Award, left Juanita Newman's connection to Kenyon unclear. She served as secretary to the dean of students from 1982 to 1989, after which she was secretary to the executive assistant to the president for multicultural affairs until 1992.
The student pictured as cross-country runner Cary Snyder '02 on page 9 in the Spring 2000 issue of the Bulletin is in fact Andrew Dove '02. We apologize for the error.
In the "From the Hill" feature in the Spring 2000 issue of the Bulletin, Lord Kenyon's Founders' Day presentation entitled "A British View," the reference in the biographical note on page 15 to Lord Kenyon's alma mater should read "Magdalene College, Cambridge" instead of "Magdalen College, Cambridge." As careful reader James W. Newcomer '33 pointed out, Magdalen College--without the final "e"--is at Oxford University.
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