Aging men, mutinous women, some edgy content, more band notes.
Howard Freedlander’s essay “The Cane and the Glory” on his use of a cane at the 2022 55th Reunion parade of classes [“Alumni Voices,” Mar|Apr 2023] caught my attention, but not only for the similar spelling of our last names.
Like Howard, I too am getting older (actually five years older than he). Through good fortune, I have not yet been relegated to canedom, having to date avoided a serious fall. In fact, I feel damn healthy!
Yet I share Howard’s vanity and feelings of inner toughness and recognize that my masculinity and pride may well be excessive, perhaps even misguided! And while I agree with him that “manhood demands moderation,” I come from a bit of a different place and conclusion about going forward as a relatively early octogenarian. It was a requisite for me that my first three colonoscopies were done without anesthetic, as I wanted to go to work the same day! After a heart attack with cardiac arrest in November of 1988, I got well and have experienced no symptoms therefrom since. Prostate cancer at age 70 was handled by 45 workdays of radiation, but not missing a day of work (the aftereffects were a little dicey!). My glaucoma, discovered 20 years ago by an optometrist, is in “remission” due to the discipline of daily eyedrops. Lucky me for all of this recovery.
My point is that advice about aging and moderation has to be taken and absorbed personally. I exercise vigorously (cycling two to three days a week, yoga twice a week, and walking or biking with my wife Kay on weekends or in good weather).
We have an 18-day hike planned for September from the Dolomites in northern Italy, across the Alps ending in Innsbruck. Kay tells me that I can’t go with her unless I can keep up, she being the fastest walker I know (and only slightly younger than I). I’m trying!
I applaud Howard for the toughness shown in walking the alumni parade route in the rain with a cane. Should I need a third limb to do likewise at my 70th Reunion, perhaps Zeke Emanuel will be at my other side in the walk to ensure my stability. Whatever works!
Gerald A. Friedlander W’61, Tampa, FL
Mutinous Women Honored
“The French Connection” [“Arts,” Mar|Apr 2023] summarizes well how Penn Professor Joan DeJean’s wonderful book Mutinous Women helped my family uncover important information about our heritage. From Penn’s perspective, however, much more important is that DeJean’s book is based on incredible research and scholarship. She has brought the saga of the women deported from France to colonial Louisiana to life for everyday readers as well as historians.
The story of the women, most of them quite young, who were wrongly deported to French colonial Louisiana in 1719 and 1720 is an important, but little known, part of American history. The few who survived the journey across the Atlantic became key to the foundation of New Orleans and the surrounding area. The University community should know that Mutinous Women was recently awarded the Louis Gottschalk Prize from the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies as the outstanding book of the year on 18th-century history.
John S. Guttmann C’75, Washington, DC
Driving the Edge
My attention was caught by the brief item “Walking the Edge” [“Arts,” Mar|Apr 2023], which focused on JJ Tiziou’s 100-mile trek around the border of Philadelphia.
My edge story is a bit different. About a year ago, while driving in New Orleans where I live, I thought to myself how interesting it would be to drive around the edge of the United States, getting as close to the borders and water as possible.
I have started doing just that in segments. I have completed five edge trips covering Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and a sliver of Montana.
The stories are endless, including discovering that International Falls, Minnesota, has no falls, getting stuck in America’s worst traffic jam of endless trucks in Laredo, Texas, and encountering Prada Marfa—a permanent sculptural art installation by artists Elmgreen & Dragset, located along US Route 90 in Jeff Davis County, Texas, 1.4 miles northwest of Valentine and about 26 miles northwest of Marfa.
My sixth edge trip takes me to New Jersey. Penn is within the 60-mile limit from the edge I have allowed myself. You’re on my radar.
Randall Feldman C’68 GEd’69, New Orleans
Not AOC, Just Her Voice
The Mar|Apr 2023 “Alumni Profiles” section starts with a full-page brilliant, potentially iconic photo of a politician and AOC’s styling blending well with the red ALUMNI logo. The alumna Lauren Hitt C’13 is not pictured. A reader could easily think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an alum, because the subject is not identified but incorrectly labeled “The Voice of AOC.” The article itself is less than objective, calling AOC a “totally brilliant communicator” without mentioning the social media blunders or AOC losing support with both reelection campaigns.
Brad Lyman W’84, San Francisco
While Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s ability as a communicator may be in the eye of the beholder, the figure in the photograph is definitely Lauren Hitt, not her.—Ed.
One of a Kind
I certainly remember Dr. Benjamin F. Hammond Gr’62 [“Obituaries,” Mar|Apr 2023]! The first day of micro lab he greeted me by my name! It turned out this brilliant man had memorized the names of all 109 of us in the class of 1965 using the tiny photos on the class roster! He was one of a kind!
Peter J. Abell D’65, Brattleboro, VT
Let the Band Play!
As a longtime basketball season ticket holder I have to ask: If the Penn Band [“And the Band Played On,” Jan|Feb 2023] is so wonderful—and it is—why is it barely allowed to play at the Palestra? Instead, fans are “treated” to generic recorded music that at best is annoying and at worst kills any vibe in the building. Drop the recordings and let the band play!
Paul Chrystie C’84, Philadelphia
Great Memory, Disputed Date
The letter in the Mar|Apr 2023 issue from my classmate and fellow bandsman Joel Brotman W’64, whom I remember fondly, brought back some great memories of the Penn Band, especially our first scramble and the wonderful ovation from the students and fans.
I believe the scramble actually occurred in 1963, not 1964. The 1964 game was played at Harvard. The signal for the Harvard band to scramble sounded more like a starter’s pistol than a whistle. The football team had a memorable day, as well, with a stunning 7–2 upset of a Crimson team that had just ended Dartmouth’s winning streak.
David B. Zwirn C’64 L’67, New Paltz, NY
Fond Memories of the Band (But Not on Franklin Field)
While I very much enjoyed the article “And the Band Played On,” my memories of band during my time at Penn were quite different. What stood out at the time was the unique “no women on the field” rule, which forbade female halftime marching band members or female cheerleaders (consequently there were none) from participating during football games.
I had come from the resort town of Naples, Florida. (At that time no one at Penn seemed to have heard of it.) When I entered the College for Women in 1965, I had been in marching and concert bands for many years. I had led parades and on-field band performances for years as the drum majorette. I had even won the Florida state (baton) twirling championship.
When I went to Penn, however, I was only allowed to participate in parades; at Franklin Field, I could stay in the stands, but never was allowed onto the field. Consequently, I watched the marching band “scramble” during home games from the stands, as any onlooker. Interestingly, when I arrived at Penn, I was issued the same Quakerette uniform for parades that had belonged to Candice Bergen CW’67 Hon’82, and still bore her name tag sewn inside. It would seem that she, too, experienced that prohibition.
I also played the flute and did enjoy participating in the concert band.
My Penn memories were mostly wonderful; and thankfully, I experienced no other examples of sexism while at Penn. This was a positive accomplishment, in that we women were outnumbered about 4–1 by male classmates at that time. Consequently, the antiquated “no women on the field” prohibition stands out as the exception to my very fond recollections of Penn.
I don’t know when Penn began allowing women on the field, but I don’t remember that rule’s reversal prior to my 1969 graduation.
Judith Smollan Nelson CW’69, Austin, TX
Penn band women marched on Franklin Field for the first time in September 1970. “Let Them March” [“Gazetteer,” Nov|Dec 2020] reports on the 50th anniversary of the occasion. —Ed.
Band Vote Hit Sour Note
It was nice to see your article on the Penn band. I was a member of the band during my first three years at Penn, starting in the fall of 1955. We were lucky to have the inspired student leadership of James DePreist W’58 ASC’61 Hon’76, who became an internationally known conductor.
I thought I would relate two incidents that I believe both occurred my junior year.
The band rarely performed at away football games, but I remember us traveling to Princeton and to New Haven for the Yale game. For the Yale game we were told to go Friday evening to 30th Street Station to meet a train, which then took us to New Haven for the Saturday football game. The train then ended its journey on a siding somewhere near the Yale Bowl.
I remember no instruction. We were all surprised to find we were just expected to spend the night sleeping sitting in our coach seats. Some band members even slept in the luggage racks, which were made out of some sort of hemp and would sag so it was sort of like being in a small hammock. After the game we went back to the train, which had a dining car and kitchen. No train employees asked us for money. We just ordered whatever they had off the expensive train menu. No one could believe how we had been treated.
That same year band membership was falling, and morale was somewhat low. It was suggested that the band open up membership to Penn coeds, which would be a first, as there were no female members and apparently never had been.
It was decided to put the question to a vote at a band meeting. As we were getting ready to vote, the band administrator, who was with us only part time and I remember as being the music director at Lower Merion High School, gave a speech.
I don’t remember much, but in effect he said what a horrible mistake it would be to admit women, lowering our standards and breaking long term proud Penn tradition. He actually had tears in his eyes.
The proposal was voted down. I did not rejoin the band my senior year.
Robert Bandman W’59, New York
Sentiments of the Heart and Mind
What sublime writing in “Bearing Gifts” on friendship and love penned by a thinking man wanting to get things right in both giving and receiving gifts [“Alumni Voices,” Jan|Feb 2023]. The letters placed in volumes from Nick Lyons’ granddaughter, Elsa, for his 90th birthday likely sent many readers swooning at such a staggeringly thoughtful and meaningful gift. Perhaps she too will pen words one day expressing sentiments of the heart and the mind.
Lisa McNary LPS’19, Raleigh, NC