Centennial Celebration

Alumni, University staff, and friends of the magazine gathered to celebrate The Pennsylvania Gazette’s 100th year of publication at the Inn at Penn on February 13. Gazette editors and guest readers performed excerpts from the magazine—from turn-of-the-century praise for the “new” Franklin Field to a personal account of escape from the World Trade Center on 9/11—followed by a reception attended by about 100 people.

The Pennsylvania Gazette Centennial Celebration
February 13, 2001
Inn at Penn
Photos by Jacques-Jean Tiziou


Opening Remarks | Leonard A. Shapiro

Welcome & Introductions | John Prendergast

John Prendergast

Thank you all very much for coming to help celebrate the Gazette’s 100th year of publication.

I feel very lucky to be the editor at this time in the magazine’s history. Now is a great time for Penn, with lots of exciting things for us to write about and share with alumni. And the occasion of the Gazette’s Centennial has given us the opportunity to take a look back over some critical decades in Penn’s history, the time during which it really became the University we know today. In the six Centennial issues we’ll be publishing in 2002, we’ll be telling that story from several different perspectives.

Our ambitions for the readings we’ve put together tonight are more limited. They’re all short—I promise—and they are far from comprehensive. But we hope that they will give some flavor of the magazine over the past century—and then some of them are just plain strange, and we put them in for that reason.

We have about a dozen readers in all, including Gazette staff—who will be doing most of the early ones—as well as various friends of the magazine. I’ll be introducing the readers as we go along, but now I just want to thank them all for participating. I hope that they have fun, and that you all do, too.


“The New Franklin Field,” October 17, 1903

Stories about sports and campus construction have always been a mainstay of the Gazette and its predecessor, Old Penn

Our first excerpt—which will be read by Sam Hughes, a staff member of the Gazette for 10 years now and currently our senior editor—combines both. It’s from the October 17, 1903 issue of Old Penn and is headlined, “The New Franklin Field”:

“The press, with united voice, proclaims it the most beautiful and complete athletic field in America … The rutty, uneven quagmire of 1902 has been replaced by a thick mat of green sod … Franklin Field will give to the country, through its athletes, the generals in the army of the future, in war, commerce and letters, and the progenitors of a race of men who, uniting brain and brawn, shall save the republic from threatened degeneracy.”

“Why This Paper Becomes The Pennsylvania Gazette,” February 1, 1918

On February 1, 1918, a new name appeared on the cover of the magazine. The lead article, read by Gazette associate editor Susan Frith Lonkevich, explained why:

Susan Frith Lonkevich and Samuel Hughes

With last week’s issue, “Old Penn” ceased to be the name of this publication. We appear this week as THE PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE, reviving the weekly newspaper which, under the guidance of Benjamin Franklin, founder of the University of Pennsylvania, illumined the field of colonial journalism and laid the foundation for much that is best in the modern newspaper and magazine.

While we realize that we are extremely fortunate in having made to order such a splendid name as THE PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE, with the halo which surrounds it, we are confident that Franklin himself would have wished to see the paper perpetuated as the organ of the University which he founded. We are sensible, too, of the obligation which rests upon us in trying to follow in the footsteps of so illustrious an editor.

“Passing of S.A.T.C. and Naval Training Unit” November 11, 1918

After the United States entered World War I in April 1917, many Penn students left to join the armed forces, and the campus itself was more or less taken over by the military’s Students Army Training Corps, or SATC. On November 11, 1918, the Great War ended in Europe, and a month later, the Gazette ran an article titled “Passing of S.A.T.C. and Naval Unit.” 

Sam Hughes reads:

The Spirit of the Dawn of November 11th, to the accompaniment of sirens and bells and steam whistles, whisked away all that tense emotion of potential heroism. She took away the soldier and left the boy…

Yet it is remarkable to note how well discipline has been maintained now that they are only going through the motions. The guard still walks in solemn warning from the Memorial Tower to Hamilton Walk. Another still marches from the Big Quad into the Triangle. A third still crosses the Big Quad diagonally, guarding the dormitories against marauders, protecting the frog-pond, presenting bayonets to the breasts of presumptuous deans and professors who would profane the precincts sacred to Major Griffith. On the side streets, where there are no cars, peaceful residents are still occasionally startled by piercing shouts, “Hun, hoo, hee, huh, Haarch.” Who shall transliterate these explosive orders? 

“We’re not much more than boy scouts,” says the student on the platform of the trolley car. The tall professor, evidently from the biological school, jeers pleasantly at the insignia on the boy’s collar. “S.A.T.C.—Safe At The College,” and the conductor shouts his approval of the joke, if not of the sentiment. The car creeps down Woodland Avenue behind a bobbing, moving mass of khaki, a little faint in the dusk. The boys are marching four abreast to mess, whistling, singing softly.

K-K-K-K. P.
K-K-K-K. P.
That’s the only j-j-j-job that I adore. 
When you come marching
Into the mess-hall, 
I’ll be mopping up the k-k-k-kitchen floor. 

Only the Freshmen may bewail the fact that the protecting arm of the S.A.T.C. is being withdrawn. Military authority has sternly frowned on distinctions ancient as the sun. But the eyes of the Sophs are gleaming under the service hats. Pennsylvania will soon again be a College world, a world no longer Safe for Freshmen.

“Museum Excavators Uncover Temple in Ur”

In the 1920s Penn archaeologist C. Leonard Woolley wrote a series of articles for the Gazette about the Museum’s excavations at Ur, the capital of the ancient Mesopotamian civilization. In this excerpt—read by Penn archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert, whose work has been featured several times in the Gazette, most recently in the cover story for the November/December 2001 issue—Woolley describes a temple belonging to Nin-Gal, wife of the Moon god of Ur:

It is always rather disappointing to look down into a hole and be told that what you see at the bottom was once a palace or a temple, but today at Ur one can wander from room to room between walls eight feet high and come out into the wide spaces of the court whose trim pavement of kiln-baked bricks was laid down more than 3000 years ago and above one the fluted walls of the Hall of Justice, which, though shorn of most of their heights, still dominate the buildings around. On the foot of the pedestal on which it is raised are the remains of the brick platform where the priest stood and poured his libations when the great gates of the temple were flung open in the morning. Today the Arab workmen in their long robes going up the steps that lead to the temple doors might belong to any age. And it is easy to forget that so many centuries have passed leaving only the ruins and to imagine for the moment that all is as it was, that the bare walls are clothed again with plates of silver and brass and that in his inner shrine the Moon God is still enthroned.

“A Roman Holiday,” May 15, 1930

In the early part of the last century, Penn students had a more dramatic way to register their displeasure with the faculty than writing nasty comments on course evaluations: They would burn unpopular professors in effigy.

A 1930 Gazette article details a violent clash that erupted between students and police following one of these events, after students returning from the “cremation ceremony” began pulling trolley poles on Woodland Ave. near 37th St. The University’s provost at the time, Josiah Penniman, described the chaos that followed.

Susan Frith Lonkevich reads:

On Locust Street, bottles and eggs were thrown out of the windows at the police, motorcycle police rode into the crowds on the sidewalks at great speed. Locks on several fraternity houses were shot through by the police. At the Delta Upsilon fraternity, the police climbed in through the second-story windows, a shot being fired by a policeman through one of the windows and curtains on the second story. The bullet lodged in a bookcase across the room. Wanton destruction was done by the police in several fraternities by the breaking of pictures, upsetting of furniture, chopping down interior doors with axes. Students were beaten by policemen while being taken out by other policemen. One student in a fraternity house went to his room, put out the light, locked the door, and sat there. Police shot into the lock twice and being unable to break it, they broke the glass panel. The student was then struck through the door so hard that he was thrown over a chair into a lamp. Some students were dragged in their pajamas, barefooted, to the station house.

I have known and observed the police force of the City of Philadelphia for many years. I know the vast majority of them to be brave and considerate. Why some ran amuck on April 30th, I do not know.

But there is another side to this. If there had been no trolley pulling, there would have been no excuse for police action. We all love the University. We both should think only of her good name. The way I see it is to settle down and for us all to walk in a circumspect and orderly manner.

“Thirty-One Days Adrift,” by Morton Deitz W’42, November 1943

During World War II, the Gazette published a number of articles and letters recounting the experiences of alumni in combat—none more harrowing than “Thirty-One Days Adrift,” an account by Cadet Midshipman Morton Deitz W’42, whose ship was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of South Africa.

Sam Hughes reads:

The sixth day, a British plane circled us and we again signaled: water-water-water … help-help-help. The pilot dropped us his emergency provisions and several flares and told us that he had just signaled by radio for a destroyer to pick us up. That night there was little sleep aboard our boat as the 24 occupants tossed nervously, awaiting the arrival of the destroyer—which never came.

Since we had anticipated rescue, we had not gone sparingly on our rations, and they were very rapidly diminishing. That day a storm came up and we caught rain water in a raincoat, which we all drank with gusto. Soon the storm became so violent that our little boat capsized and we were all thrown into the water, losing most of our provisions and equipment. For six hours we hung onto the sides of the boat for dear life and then when the storm passed over we again took to the boat, but only after we had baled ocean water for several hours. Our water baling equipment consisted of a cigar box and a bucket.

On the eighteenth day, the bos’n, who had been acting peculiarly, died, and we buried him at sea. All during this time we prayed constantly, each man in his own way and in any prayers that he could remember. 

After the bos’n’s death many of our shipmates followed him. Of the 24 men who started out in our lifeboat, only eight finally managed to reach safety. The last three days before our rescue, one mullet a day leaped over the side of the boat. These we cut and ate raw.

Finally one evening I thought that I heard a plane. I quickly brought out our surviving flare, but I could not light it. The automatic lighter on the flare was fouled. There was one match left aboard our boat and between the match and the automatic lighting element, I finally succeeded in lighting it. It was a British plane. He circled us and kept hovering over us until a Greek freighter which he had radioed arrived; we were then 35 miles off the coast of Dunbar, South Africa—the port from which we had started 31 days before.

“Ugh!”, March 1947

Over the years, readers have written many complaining letters to the Gazette—but this one, from 1947, is unique.

John Prendergast reads:

“Sir: The hairy legs of the basketball players shown on the cover of the February issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette were a bit nauseating, and I should like you to remove my name from the list of paid-up members.”—Phil Farcel W’41

“Undergraduates,” by Gilbert Sandler C’49, November 1948

Under various names, through much of its history the Gazette has included a regular student column. In November 1948, the Gazette published the following observation by a College senior named Gilbert Sandler about the start of a new school year.

Sam Hughes reads:

It is the time of the football rally and the sweatered co-ed, the clean new text and the freshly mimeographed assignment sheet and Chapter 1 for Monday. It is the time when you come into your room and find your roommate standing up on a chair hanging pennants and pin-ups on the wall. It is the time of the perpetual bull-session and the clashing opinion, of the football games in the Big Quad.

A man may be few or many years removed from his undergraduate days, but autumn for him every year is the time, along with the flaming maple and the restless stirrings of the raw, fall winds, the season when he finds himself thinking of a time when the world was young, and life was a series of argyle socks and football weekends.

“What Saarinen Told the Press Conference,” February 1961

Acclaimed architect Eero Saarinen designed the building now known as Hill College House. When it opened in 1961 as a women’s dormitory, Saarinen gave a press conference that was printed in the Gazette. This exchange from the press conference will be read by faculty members George Thomas and David Brownlee, coauthors of Building America’s First University, a fascinating architectural history of Penn, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

David Brownlee and George Thomas

Dan Moskowitz, Business Week: The whole building seems to me unfeminine, the interior, the stairways, the exposed metal work under the roof. Is this a new idea of a woman, or do I have the wrong feeling?

Saarinen: The easiest way for me to answer would be to say that you have the wrong feeling. But no, the concrete in the stairways would have been much nicer if we had had the money for better material… The court is very nice, although it isn’t feminine in the lacy kind of way.

Moskowitz: That is what I mean. There isn’t anything pink and puffy about this whole building. Did you mean this to be a statement about college women?

Saarinen: I think the pinkness that women tend to associate with themselves is not necessarily the definitive statement of what they mean … I think the woman of these years would not necessarily welcome pink as the image, as they say, of herself.

“Letters to the Editor,” 1967 and 1969

Later in the 1960s, the war in Vietnam brought unrest to Penn’s campus, and the Gazette’s coverage of the turmoil generated many letters. Here is a sampling.

Susan Frith Lonkevich reads:

“To the Editor: I would certainly appreciate having my name removed from all mailing lists … I’m still not over the pains in my stomach from the picture of the president of the University and the unwashed creeps that the faculty and staff apparently find necessary to hold a “dialogue” with despite the obvious fact that they are neither dry or clean behind the ears yet, and from what I have been able to determine have contributed absolutely nothing to society from whom they want everything.As far as I’m concerned a creep is a creep regardless of the accident of enrollment in a great University.”—John G. Kiefer W’47

“If the 50 members of the faculty at the University carry out their announced intention of wearing gas masks at the Commencement exercises in protest against War Department supported research projects, there is one thing for which the rest of us can be thankful—we won’t have to look at their faces.”—Robert H. Ivy D’02

“The reactions of indignant alumni, seeking easy solutions to very difficult problems are as predictable as were those of Pavlov’s dogs. I don’t profess to understand today’s college generation either, but at least the actions they take are for causes which are important to them—not the mindless vandalism of the Rowbottoms of my undergraduate days.” —Daniel Foster W’33.

“The Dirty Drug,” May 1971

The University and its surrounding neighborhood have undergone dramatic physical changes over the past 100 years—and alumni have been lamenting lost landmarks for just as long. This student column from 1971, written and now read by Phyllis Kaniss CW’72, who is a project director with the Annenberg Public Policy Center, describes the demolition of the campus hangout known as The Dirty Drug:

In any other neighborhood, the Drug would be one of those sad old penny-candy stores that only has customers at three-thirty in the afternoon when the nearby elementary school lets out. It’s painted aquamarine, and mud-brown, with yellow and turquoise corrugated crepe paper strung erratically about. Plastic flowers are pinned up next to the most incongruous of travel posters, obtained no doubt in the early 1950s. Other relics of a time gone by lie on the counters, never bought, but never taken away: the plastic sunglasses, the picture postcards of Philadelphia, the straw pipes, and gaudy key rings.

But the daily Drug frequenters overlook all these curiosities on their way to the Tastykakes, the cigarettes, and the yogurt cartons. What they remember of the Drug is the constant motion, the vibrating soul music, the bells ringing from the pinball machines, and, of course, the sound of the cash register. 

Ordering food at the counter is an exercise in survival of the fittest, since being polite with the noon-day crowd means you’ll get waited on at about four. But if you can never be sure of quick service, you can count on the never-wavering grumpiness of the girls behind the counter, who will either bark at you to speak up, or yell back that they heard you the first time, for Chrissake, when you repeat the request.

It remains the only place that could get away with serving awful food at outrageously high prices in the grimiest of atmospheres and still win the affection of every student who drops in.

“Tony Price’s Championship Season,” April 1979

In 1979, the Penn men’s basketball team advanced to the Final Four in the NCAA tournament, and March madness swept the campus. One of the standouts on this championship squad was Tony Price W’79, who was profiled in the Gazette by Marshall Ledger, a Gazette staffer for 10 years in the 70s and 80s and interim editor in 1996 and now publications manager for the Pew Charitable Trust:

Marshall Ledger

The ball strikes the back of the rim. It bounces upward. The rebound is soft, and the ball seems to hang like a full moon over the net. But the rebound is not soft enough. Anyone in the Palestra can see that the shot by Penn’s James “Booney” Salters will drop in front of the rim.

Already, Walter Montford, Temple’s center, has left his crouch and is leaping, reaching for the ball. He stands at 6’6’’ and weighs 225 pounds. No one is likely to shoulder him out of the way. He can expect to get the rebound and start an offensive play to tie the score, at this early stage of the game, at 4-4.

All eyes follow the ball. No one is paying any attention to Tony Price of Penn, who has been on the periphery of the action, slowing down to allow for a pass from Salters. Now Price dashes for the basket. He leaps, challenging Montford for the ball.

The moon reaches its apex, Price’s right hand comes down on it—as gently, at first, as if he were caressing an injured bird—and thrusts the ball vehemently through the net. The ball bounces high off the floor. Montford is back on the floor, empty-handed. Price’s teammates mob him, slapping his hands: Give me some of that power, that magic.

“Penn’s Polar Bare Club II,” February 1993

This student column by College senior Mathew Selman, appeared in the February 1993 issue under the headline, “Penn’s Polar Bare Club II” It will be read by Dilys Winegrad Gr’70, the curator of the Arthur Ross Gallery:

Dilys Winegrad

According to several participants, the notion of a women’s streak originated in the minds of members of FLASH (Facilitating Learning About Sexual Health) who had been sitting around chatting about the annual run, in which female participation had been limited to a lone, courageous woman in the spring of 1992. 

One racy Racer, a Wharton senior, says she ran “just for kicks,” a sentiment echoed by other runners: “There was no deep oneupmanship. It had nothing to do with gender issues. It was more like ‘Wow, I could run naked in the Quad. That’d be a kick, why not?’ The guys do it every year; there’s gotta be something to it…; they can do stupid things, so can we.” Another streaker, a College senior, agrees that “the streak was not a militant feminist movement … It was extremely social and friendly … It was not sexual or promiscuous—it was hilarious.”

One streaker describes the unexpected ideological forces she felt coursing through her veins as soon as the run was complete: “It felt great to be able to take off my clothes and do anything I want. Society has such restrictions about women baring their bodies, and we should be proud of every single bulge. I was saying, ‘I love my body, and I will bare it to the world.’”

“Not the Alumni Notes,” April 1998

Alumni Notes has always been one of the most popular sections of the magazine, a place where graduates turn to find out news about their friends and—let’s be honest—to compare their own success to that of their classmates. Tired of the typical gloating she found in these pages, in a 1998 Gazette piece Caren Lissner C’93—a freelance writer for the Gazette and other publications and the editor of the Hudson Reporter newspaper group—conceived of a different set of alumni notes:

Caren Lissner

Philip Ashbach, C’93, reports that ever since his landlord finally agreed to exterminate his tiny fourth-floor walkup in Manhattan’s Much-Much-Lower East Side, the roaches have all but disappeared. Ashbach writes, “Raid roach motels are better than Boric acid because you won’t have to worry that your drunken roommate will come home and think they’re powdered sugar, lick them off the floor and keel over, as happened to mine (Grant Russo, W’93) last year.”

Rita Ramirez, Nu’93 reports that she and boyfriend Dave Broderick W’92, have broken up “for good this time,” and that she can’t believe she wasted practically all of her adult life tearing her hair out over that jerk and missed so many other opportunities. 

Evan Simpson, W’92, writes that he has been living at home ever since dropping out of law school because of the workload, but now his mother Sally Seaford Simpson, CW’63, is driving him crazy with her rules and she ought to realize he’s an adult and can’t be bossed around like some five-year-old. 

Sally Seaford Simpson, CW’63, writes that if Evan Simpson, W’92, wants to live in her house, he should abide by her rules. 

Janet Hixon, C’83, writes that Maureen Williker, C’83, and Paul Bencham, SW’83, still haven’t sent her a thank you card for the expensive wedding present she got for them last year, which is especially rude considering the bundle she had to spend on the dress and matching shoes and flying to Austin for the ceremony, and it’s not like she’s rich and her grandmother paid her entire college tuition like some people’s grandmother (Phyllis Williker, CW’39, L’43). 

Dexter Peterson, C’71, still wishes he’d gotten into Princeton. 

Peter Peterson, W’50, has a redundant name.

William Carlos Williams, M’06, Hon’52, is still dead.

“Coming Home,” May 2001

In her 2000 essay “Coming Home,” memoirist Beth Kephart C’82, who has contributed a number of articles and book reviews to the Gazette, describes how she found an academic anchor—and much more—studying the history and sociology of science:

Beth Kephart

By the spring of 1982 it was time for me to find a piece of history for myself, a topic for my senior thesis. Here again my memory fails me as I try to recall how I hunted down my research purpose. For what I remember best is the smell of the stacks up in Van Pelt, the way the sun squeezed through the miserly windows, how otherworldly the music was that crept in from the street. I remember how the shelf of books felt against my back as I leaned into it, how I filled so many spiral-bound notebooks with my notes, then tore them free. How I got up early and stayed up late, and thought myself magnificently engaged in a project that had merit.

“Cooperative Engineering Education: A Study in Institutional Change” was the title I finally settled on for my senior paper, proof that I had, at long last, learned to set my purple prose aside.

What is the point of a university education? What remains of the experience after we’ve let go of the data points, the hard-won facts, the strands of disparate particulars from which we wove our fragile fabrics? What does it mean, after all the neatly recopied notes are gone, and after we, shaking the dust off of our thesis just now, cannot be persuaded by our own ancient self-importance? Why did I work so hard, over the course of those 80 pages, to win over a reader of one, a fleet-footed, not-to-be-easily-persuaded Dr. Kohler, who thought best while stroking his wispy beard and refused to patronize? I did it, and on this matter my mind is very clear, because I was given a chance to belong. Because even now, as I read Dr. Kohler’s critique of my senior thesis, I feel the warm, wet rush of appreciation. I feel taken care of, listened to, on equal footing in a small community of people I respected. “This is a very fine piece of work,” Dr. Kohler’s typewritten response begins. “It is well thought-out, well organized, and gracefully written.” [But] the most important words come later … [M]ost tellingly of all, most life changing, most catapulting: “You tend to stop with description and could have let yourself go a bit more with interpretation. Don’t be shy about shaping the past.”

Don’t be shy about shaping the past. Don’t be shy … These words written to the student with the poems beneath her bed, to the almost-graduate who still didn’t know what she would make of the life that stretched before her.

What does one do with a history and sociology of science degree? What does one get from all the semesters spent sitting around a battered conference table? One gets one’s footing, as I understand it now. One begins to take some faith in one’s self. One learns to settle in with the books she loves—the biographies of scientists, the histories of machines, the marvelous stuff that keeps getting written about dirt, about wind, about ocean swells and snails. One looks about and dares to shape what she can see. One retrieves the poetry from beneath her bed. 

“Monty in Full,” May/June 2000

Sam Hughes: One of the great pleasures of being a writer at the Gazette is the chance to interview some of the remarkable people who are connected with the University. This is from a Q & A with former Glee Club director Bruce Montgomery, better known as Monty. Here he recounts part of a tour the Glee Club did in Europe and the former Soviet Union in 1971:

Bruce Montgomery reads:

Bruce Montgomery

As soon as we arrived in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, we were introduced to Zoya, the gal who was going to be with us every waking moment of our lives there. We got along beautifully, but she was very unmoving about one subject. I told her how everywhere—in Ecuador, in Peru, in London—if we’d see a crowd, we’d stop and sing on a street corner, in a schoolyard for kids, workers in a park, whatever. [He assumes a Russian accent] “Not in Soviet Union.”

She was very adamant about that. We sing exactly where we are told to sing, and no other places.

On about our third or fourth day in Leningrad, we had a free morning, and we went out to the Piskariovskoye Cemetery. It’s a war cemetery; it has mounds that stretch almost as far as the eye can see, and they claim that under every mound are 40,000 bodies. These are people who did not survive, civilians and military. And just as you enter this cemetery, there’s a plaza with a sunken pit, and in it is the eternal flame, and she said, “When we come here, we observe a minute of silence at the eternal flame before going down the steps to the cemetery proper. Would you care to join us?”

We did. Incidentally, Zoya had lost her entire family during World War II. She survived by eating sawdust and rats, but the rest of her family was wiped out completely. So she was very anxious that we see this cemetery; it meant a great deal to her. So we ringed the eternal flame, and I was standing next to Zoya, and after a minute or so, I said to her very quietly, “In 1963, NBC hired me to make a [choral] setting of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, to be filmed on the battlefield at Gettysburg, which is, of course, a war battlefield also. May we show our respects by going to those steps that lead down into the cemetery, and sing that?” And she thought for a minute, and she said, “I think that would be appropriate.”

So we went to the steps, and within a few measures, there were some people stopping to listen. And in a few more measures there were 100 people. And then there were 500 people. And then there were 1,000 people—probably not one of whom understood what we were singing, but they sure knew the intent. And our guys would have tears in their eyes—I’m getting misty just thinking about it, I’m sorry—our guys would have tears streaming down our cheeks. There were a couple of guys who sat down on the steps—they couldn’t even sing anymore, they were so moved by the emotion of this moment.

And after we finished that, we got back on the bus. Zoya had been with this robust, rowdy bunch of guys for three days, and it was a trip back to Leningrad in utter silence. She was very much moved by this, and when we got off the bus at our hotel, I was the last person to get off, and she waited until the last student went by and said: “From now on, you sing wherever you wish.”

“The Survivor,” November/December 2001

In the Nov|Dec 2001 issue of the magazine, the Gazette published a special section on September 11th. Part of it was an “Alumni Voices” essay by Lolita Jackson EAS’89, a vice president with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., who is a survivor of both the September 11 and the 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center:

Lolita Jackson

I arrived at work at 8:20 on September 11 in order to attend an 8:30 staff meeting on the 70th floor of the South Tower. During the meeting, each person was stating what they were currently working on, and I was waiting for my turn and absentmindedly staring out of the window when I heard the first crash and saw papers, debris, and flames shooting out of the other building. I and the people who were also in the meeting—many of whom were also veterans of the 1993 bombing—immediately got up, grabbed our purses and other belongings, and made our way to the middle of the floor. People were not panicking because most of us felt that a plane hit the first tower by accident. 

As we were going down the stairs we were told to take the elevators from 59 to 44. The 44th floor is a skylobby, and there were several hundred people there when we arrived. I was on that floor when the second plane hit my building. The building swayed about two feet, then righted itself. 

Once everyone stopped screaming and had picked up their shoes—many people were knocked out of them by the impact—we calmly began descending the stairs. Yes, people were crying, but my group was apparently in no imminent danger, so we just moved down as quickly as possible. I told the group to begin counting down floors as though it were New Year’s Eve—which we actually did.

I was able to catch one of the last subways before they shut down the system, so I was at home by 10:45. It was when I was on the crosstown bus after exiting the subway that I heard that the towers had fallen. That is when it hit me: everyone who was helping us to get out was dead. In my firm, out of 3,500 employees only 10 didn’t make it out. Unfortunately, I knew two of them. One refused to leave when we were told to evacuate, stating that the Trade Center complex was composed of the strongest buildings in the world. The other was one of my closest colleagues at work. We were both on 59 together when he decided to find an empty office to call his wife. I kept going and went down the elevator. He got in an elevator about five minutes later, at exactly the time of the second plane’s impact. It is believed that the elevator cables snapped. 

I cannot believe I have escaped this horror twice without a scratch. I am forever changed.

“To Our Readers,” October 3, 1908

Everyone knows where they were on September 11. I was in my office, looking at an old Gazette, from sometime in the 1920s, I think. Reading through a century of the magazine, as we have over the last several months, is to be reminded again and again that the University is both a world unto itself and also intimately bound up with the wider events of the time. The first and second world wars, the Great Depression, protests over Vietnam, civil rights, the women’s movement, right up to September 11 and the present. That interplay between campus concerns—the “College World” that writer about the passing of the SATC talked about in 1918—and the larger society is a constant theme in the magazine.

On a much less weighty plane, another constant is the twin goal of keeping readers happy—and paying the bills. We came across this message to readers from a 1908 editorial, and it seemed an appropriate way to close:

The idea of sparing expense has at no time controlled our project. Our sole and constant aim has been to prepare a bright, newsy sheet containing reliable information upon all the activities here at home. The gracious words received from many alumni and others indicate that the effort has not been in vain …

The expense for printing, illustration and proper advertisement has been a constantly increasing item, so that we are obliged to help ourselves to a slight degree, while at the same time adding to your pleasure, by changing our subscription price from $1 to $2 per annum. This slight increase we are confident will be gladly accepted by every loyal alumnus, realizing as he does that thereby he adds his mite to the general advancement of the interests of Alma Mater. 

May all good things come to the readers of Old Penn [—and the Pennsylvania Gazette]! That is our wish and our message.”

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