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From hi-jinks to high tea, watering the ivy, politics: keep away from children.


Another fine issue in July/August! For the Rowbottom origin [“Yea-a-a … Who?’], I’m going with the version by J. H. Bell W’12 even though it differs a bit from what was passed on to the Class of 1944. 

Antithesis of the Rowbottom were the pleasurable teas given by Dr. Althea K. Hottel Ed’29 Gr’40 Hon’59, the dean of the College for Women, with their lovely floral centerpieces and the most superb hot chocolate imaginable. Word was that it was concocted from a French recipe and was “boiled up” several times to create its velvety texture.

I wonder if that recipe was ever published in any campus literature.

Jean Engelhardt Thomson CW’44 
Palm Coast, Fla.


As the designer of our class Ivy stone, I was fascinated by the bits of history about Ivy Day in the latest Gazette(fabulous issue!) and curious about other Ivy Stone designers. Who are they and where are they now? The June 1903 excerpt on page 35 talks about “the Spade man of the class” and the “ivy oration,” neither of which I remember in our humble ceremony of 1972. ( I do recall that just after the planting, a small terrier did his honors on the wall of the building below the newly installed plaque on Locust Walk.). Thanks for the memories.

Cate Gable CW’72
Berkeley, Calif.


The reference to Rowbottoms in “Yea-a-a …Who?” in the July/August issue has prompted this letter. Among many thousands of Penn-alumni surnames, mine is probably closest to that of the beleaguered Joe Rowbottom ’12.

While attending Wharton Grad in the late 1960s I resisted the temptation to become a Rowbottom cause celebre (although I certainly had my share of good times). However, had I matriculated as a Penn undergraduate, my surname might have dragged me, willingly, into high-profile Rowbottom participation. As it was, Henry Cowan C’49 was director of studies at Blair Academy, where I attended secondary school. He wisely saw my potential for surname-provoked mischief and warned me off applying to Penn.

Ultimately, my first year at Wharton Grad was also the last year a Rowbottom erupted on a springtime Friday evening. I did derive two benefits from my nominative notoriety: check-cashing privileges at Smokey Joe’s and a long, close association with the brothers of Sigma Chi, a fraternity that had participated in Rowbottoms with alacrity.

James K. Rowbotham WG’69
New York


I enjoyed the article about Penn traditions, including Spring Fling. I believe Spring Fling is the successor to Skimmer Weekend, which was celebrated at least as early as the mid 1960s. 

Bill Bowler W’68 
South Hamilton, Mass.


The Q and A with Dr. Michael Zuckerman [“Youthland and Everything After,” July/August] included gratuitous politicization in the remarks by Dr. Zuckerman.

First, he deplored fiscal deficits under President Ronald Reagan for resulting in “sacrificing our youth for present gratification” without recognizing the spending for the inherited recession and military threats from the then-Soviet Union. Family values were a primary focus of the Reagan Administration after the disastrous family disequilibriums of the 1960s and 1970s.

Second, the Clinton bipartisan welfare proposal focused on breaking the cycle of poverty in which children were primary victims. Several of our states, including Wisconsin, had successfully experimented with programs and processes of job training and work. The frenzied cries of politicians and individuals like Dr. Zuckerman that a million children or more would be put “at unbelievable peril” have not been realized.

My suggestion for Dr. Zuckerman is that he concentrate on presenting a balanced point of view on children’s development and steer clear of less-than-balanced political and social developments where his bias shows.

Kenneth Kolker W’43
New York


If James A. Kelly’s lecture delivered at Penn in April consisted of only the parts you reported in “Public Schools Must Learn About Change,” [“Gazetteer,” July/August], the audience was wasting its time. Nothing that Kelly said hadn’t been said by others often before. It was what book reviewers would call a cut-and-paste job.

That doesn’t mean that public schools from K-12 don’t need to improve. But it’s pure hyperbole when Kelly asserts that “the schooling industry suffers from a serious case of hardening of the arteries.” This kind of characterization contributes to what is essentially a manufactured crisis about public education in the country. It makes for good copy, but it does little to advance positive change.

Walt Gardner C’57
Los Angeles


Obviously very little research was done covering the thought processes of Eric Hobsbawn before the University disgraced itself by awarding an honorary degree [“Gazetteer,” July/August 2002] to this stooge of Stalin and fellow traveler down the road of praising show trials, defending the Nazi-Soviet treaty, the Russian attack on Finland, and the murder of Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956.

Hobsbawn stated in public it would be well to drop a nuclear bomb on Israel now, and kill a few million Jews now than many more later when a nuclear war is sure to explode.

On a television program in 1994, Hobsbawn stated that the slaughter of 15 or 20 million people would have been justified if the ideal Communist state could have been created.

The examples of this putrid academic’s vicious thinking were documented in an article in the October 15, 2001, issue of The National Review. Now the University has joined the fools who have ignored his record.

Venlo J. Wolfsohn W’48
Bethesda, Md.


What a well-written, lucid, interesting review by [former Provost] James O’Donnell of Lawrence Lessig’s book, The Future of Ideas [“Off the Shelf,” July/August]. This is the best review I’ve read of this, or any “wired” meditations. Keep those reviews coming. I’ll read anything O’Donnell suggests.

Anthony Schneider C’87
New York 


The book-jacket illustration accompanying the review of Alice Elliott Dark’s novel Think of England is a reproduction of Maxfield Parrish’s “Mary, Mary, quite contrary,” a poster made for Ferry Seeds in 1921, now the property of the Department of Special Collections, University of California Library, Davis [“Off the Shelf,”July/August].

The review would have been enhanced had you given credit to Mr. Parrish for the illustration.

Rose Franck Thompson CW’48
Glenshaw, Pa.


I was deeply saddened to read of the death of A. Z. Rubinstein, a beloved teacher at Penn for decades [“Obituaries,” July/August]. In the early 1960s I was a floundering Wharton undergraduate. In the summer between my sophomore and junior year I went on an exchange program to Finland that included a one-week sojourn to what was then Leningrad. When I returned I signed up to take Dr. Rubinstein’s course on Soviet politics.

He was a master teacher. I still remember his extraordinary final exam that put each student in the place of a Russian leader and asked us to devise an economic and political plan taking into account the various Russian bureaucracies that we had studied. He was years ahead of his time in both pedagogy and in constructing meaningful assessments. 

His teaching literally inspired me to become an educator. In my now 30 years as a teacher and school principal he is still my model of excellent teaching: rigorous, passionate, caring, and inventive. He changed my life and those of countless others in his remarkable career in our university.

Richard Schaye W’64
Lexington, Mass.


Congratulations on a fine article regarding athletics at Pennsylvania [“A Century of Sports,” May/June]. However, two relevant points were omitted.

Rowing was the first intercollegiate sport at the University of Pennsylvania, it began in the 1850s. Penn students founded the University Barge Club along Boathouse Row. The Childs Cup is the oldest continually raced collegiate Cup for any sport in the United States. The Childs Cup has been raced annually since 1879 without missing a year by the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Columbia University.

Pennsylvania sports history would be unknown without the record-keepers. The best ever is C. Robert Paul Jr. W’39, a former sports-information director at Penn in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. “Bobby” Paul is the most knowledgeable guy on Ivy League sports in the universe. After leaving Penn he became the first sports-information director for the U.S. Olympic Committee, which was then housed in a small brownstone in New York. It was Bobby Paul who enlightened us in your magazine last year that at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics freestyle wrestling was an all-Ivy Final between Sam Gerson, the red-and-blue captain, and the Cornell captain [“Letters,” January/February 2001]. Go Fighting Quakers.

Sean Colgan C’77
Penn Valley, Pa.


You ask if I think you have missed something in the past century of Penn sports. Well, yes I do. Try soccer. I don’t think I saw the word in your article in the May/June issue. You did write about the football team and their losing streak in the 1950s. I knew Jim Castle C’55, who was football captain, during those years, and it was rough. But at the same time, the soccer team shared the Ivy League championship with Harvard in 1955. Seems to me that ought to count for something.

Penn soccer, during Charlie Scott’s reign, often had All-American players. I knew at least three while I played. If no one else has brought this omission to your attention I presume it is because we soccer players have become somewhat inured to such treatment. Oh well, I have my memories.

Homer Wood W’57 GEd’66
Orrtanna, Pa.


As a Santa Monica resident, I frequently drive by, or walk by Jane Golden’s beautiful Ocean Park mural [“The Big Picture,” March/April]. It gives me great pleasure. Penn students are fortunate they can learn from such a gifted artist. 

Carolyn Behrman Green CW’54 
Santa Monica, Calif.


The excerpt from the July 1970 issue that appeared on page 32 in our July/August issue under the headline, “Commencements Are Changing, Too,” did not include mention of the fact that the student speaker at Commencement who called for a walkout of the graduating students was Andrew Wolk C’70.

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