Letters to the Editor

The Bulletin welcomes letters of three hundred or fewer words. Letters to the editor may be used for publication unless the author states the letter is not to be published. Letters may be edited for style, length, clarity, grammar, and relevance to Kenyon issues. Please address submissions to: Editor, Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin, Office of Public Affairs, Gambier, Ohio 43022. Letters may also be submitted to alumni@kenyon.edu or through our online feedback form.

A generous, good man

It seems like yesterday when I knew a fella and attended classes, played sports, partied with girls, and now and then hung out with him at Kenyon College in central Ohio. He was a handsome, man's man type of guy, and his name was Paul Newman.

Everyone ate meals together as a college in the Peirce Hall commons building, and I remember sitting across the long banquet table from him and seeing a guy who had the bluest eyes I had ever seen on a man. Admittedly, I always felt a little odd relating this bit of intelligence when talking about college days. This guy liked athletics and I used to kid him about the time he and some football teammates got in a bar fight after a game. He and George Whitaker and a couple others got thrown off the team. This guy never backed away from a fight in his life.

By this time Paul had started to get interested in student musicals and plays. It was natural that he would star, and with that voice quality and appearance, it worked very nicely. I think the only thing he ever ran away from was the idea of having to work in his dad's sporting goods store. He had an inner fire in his manner that was unmistakable, without being a bully. He liked to party and had all the girlfriends he wanted, but he seemed to keep that in context also.

I'm trying to remember seeing a bona fide movie star start a totally disparate business like salad oil, salad dressing, and popcorn--with a partner--and see it through to the enormous success it has enjoyed.

We have corresponded for a number of years, just reminiscing about a couple of college years. The last letter I received was sent September 3, and he died September 26. He gave the college $10 million for scholarships and he has given $250 million to a number of charities over the years. A very generous, good man. We'll miss him.

-Chuck Barr Jr. '48

Something of you remains in this place

Congratulations on the splendid article on Paul Newman. It is superbly written by Ms. Blumenthal, and the photos by Mr. Peter Schroeder are exceptional.

Glad someone finally recognized that Hud "is, quite simply, one of the best movies ever made." (Something that has been missed by Hollywood!) The article and the Academy Awards on February 22 conspired to inspire the following poem, "I'll Be Seeing You."

"I'll Be Seeing You"
The words of the song
"I'll be seeing you"
Reverberate in my mind
As images
From some of his many films
Parade before my eyes...
Even in my dreams
The music and images
Play on through the night-
A lasting testament
To an actor
Who graced life's stage
From Gambier to Hollywood
For so many years.
What a privilege
To share "this place"
With such an iconic figure!

In Tribute
To Paul Newman '49 H'61

-Daniel O. Holland '61

"Go to class and get a flu shot"

Recently I had a brief visit to Ohio to attend a funeral in Van Wert. I was able to visit Gambier for three hours on Sunday, January 25, in the midst of a blizzard. The highlight was the Peirce-Dempsey complex. Then again, something special was needed to replace Dorothy's.

Along Middle Path did not mention the obit in the Economist for Paul Newman. His philanthropy "turned him into the most generous individual, relative to his income, in the twentieth century history of the United States."

My favorite movie was The Verdict. At the other end of the spectrum was Pocket Money. Part of it was filmed in front of my office in Phoenix, and I had the opportunity to chat with him and meet Lee Marvin.

As they say: "Go to class and get a flu shot."

-Robert K. Belt, Jr. '51

Outstanding issue

The latest issue of the Bulletin has to be the best ever. All of the stories were beautifully written, they were graphically outstanding, and the subject matter was terrific. From Paul Newman to Kenyon's soldiers to Peirce Hall to the tragedy of the 1949 fire. Wow! My congratulations to the editor and staff for producing this remarkable magazine.

-Neal M. Mayer '63

Peirce Hall--the students today have it made

Wow--a Mongolian grill, wellness bar, pizza galore, and Lucky Charms! Seeing the resplendent renaissance of Peirce Hall conveys without doubt the glowing future of fine dining for our deserving bright-eyed scholars of the new millennium. Nevertheless, we of the Holden Caulfield generation do somewhat cherish the Great Hall of old, which somehow managed to feed the entire College every day.

Breakfast is hard to remember--a casual early morning serve-yourself nosh; but lunch and dinner were each accomplished in two formal seatings, cruise ship style.We gathered in the foyer outside the tall wooden castle-like portals, the throng growing louder and pushier; impatience would boil over into an ominous bellowing "MOO-O-O-O-O-O!" and kicking of the doors, which would finally be unlocked and flung open with a tremendous sickening crack and bam--I always expected one to break off.

Then came the Brueghel-esque feast.

Everybody raced to his favorite table and the last into the hall scrambled for a place before the doors were slammed irrevocably shut. The frats were cordial to strays if there was room at their tables. There were scads of heavy silverware, crockery, and white linen napery. We were served, course by course, by student waiters in white aprons, employed by the College, and food was passed down the tables, family style, from south to north. The two guys at the north end of each table always got the skinniest piece of chicken, smallest Jell-O salad, toughest-looking steak, and tiniest dab of mashed potatoes. The fare back then was strictly Ma and Pa Kettle; escape to the Village Inn or Mazza's in Mount Vernon was like going to the Four Seasons.

At lunch, High Table was reserved for favored faculty du jour, President Lund, and visiting nabobs, all served very elegantly indeed by the student waiters. Late in the evening, after the hall was spic and span and empty, we members of the Social Committee or Student Council could meet around the revered High Table.

Noontime Sunday dinner, held at one sitting after compulsory chapel attendance in the Church of the Holy Spirit, was special-coat and tie required, exalted menu, Kenyon songfest. The students today seem to have it made-not so stuffy and food that is yummy!

-Byron S. Dunham '62

Excellent photos

Congratulations on a truly outstanding edition! I shall be proud to display it on my "coffee table."

Particular congrats to David Lamb and/or Greg Sailor for their excellent photos of Peirce Hall and Old Kenyon, especially the two-page spread.

Is the Bulletin, or just the photos, available online/electronically? Please advise.

-Richard E. Wintermantel '61

Editor's note: Please visit the Bulletin online and enjoy some special Web-extra features, at http://bulletin.kenyon.edu.

Let us not forget Newman's generosity and charity work

I enjoyed the memoriam to Paul Newman. I had been waiting for it ever since you announced in the last issue of the Bulletin that you would be publishing it in this issue. I must confess that I expected more comments from Paul's classmates than were included in your story. Everyone at the College when he was there knew Paul Newman and I don't know of anyone who thought ill of him. He was a free spirit and it was obvious that he would do well.

I also feel that Paul's generosity, outside of what he gave to Kenyon, should have been mentioned. His creation of and carrying on the support of the Hole in the Wall Gang and his establishment of the Newman's Own label, with all profits going to charity, among others, made him one of the most generous givers to charity in the country, and it will continue into the future. That is something that should have been a part of the Bulletin's memoriam. Incidentally, the U.S. House of Representatives, on February 24, approved a resolution recognizing Paul's achievements on and off the screen.

-Name withheld '48

A Good life

Editor's note: The following writer was responding to a Bulletin readership survey, and sent in a copy of the 1942 yearbook with this letter.

Scanning your questionnaire, I decided you needed the 1942 Reveille more than I do.

Before you plunge in, remember that WW2 was under way. Concerns were masked by frivolities, as this Reveille shows. Eight months later, Professor Timberlake handed me a blue book final exam. It said, "You have done absolutely nothing to
deserve a graduating grade. Discuss".

I looked at it, wrote "You're right," handed it back to him, and headed to the U.S. Navy Recruiting Office in Cleveland. I returned to a three-student seminar with Robert Frost.

Now I look at the class listing and see that two of the Class of '42 remain. My memory is not good enough to remember my remaining classmate's name. I hope he's had as good a life as I. Kenyon provided a fine start for all 240 of us. I had a full scholarship, Jack Clements had a horse and plane. We got along fine. The Great Depression was ceasing.

-Bill Van Vlissingen '42


I commend you on bravely choosing such an intense topic for the cover story of the last Bulletin. Perhaps my interest in the article was primed by my final paper for IPHS my freshman year. It was an examination of the ideas put forth in Achilles in Vietnam-Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character, by Jonathan Shay. I'm grateful to Professor Michael Evans for introducing me to the topic and to Shay's book.

-Adam Booth '03

PTSD a deeply transformative experience

In regards to Dennis Fiely's recent article, I commend the author for his work in bringing issues such as war, PTSD, and stories of individual trauma to the Kenyon forum. I spent last year conducting individual psychotherapy with active-duty soldiers suffering from PTSD at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. But, as a student attending Kenyon five years ago, I recall classmates seeking to banish military recruiters from Peirce Hall as well as condescending to the idea of serving one's country in a military capacity. I shamefully admit that I sometimes found myself a member of these circles, too. The sheer fact that this article was a priority to the Bulletin's editors tells me that thoughts are evolving at Kenyon, and I am glad to read that Kenyon is still churning ideas.

One thing disturbs me about this article, however. And that is that Fiely characterizes Doerries' work with the Philoctetes Project as "treat[ing] combat stress." I wholeheartedly believe that Bryan Doerries' work has increased many of our nation's citizens' as well as military personnel's awareness of the incomprehensible after-effects of war. What this does for the effort of de-stigmatizing PTSD is probably tremendous, too. But, by overexpanding on a few audience members' appreciative feedback to the play, I feel the author has not only mischaracterized Doerries' work, but, of greater consequence, has diminished clinical PTSD in the eyes of citizens. One does not overcome the hard-wired, adaptive habits that result from living with daily traumatic experiences in a two-hour period of time. It is a deeply transformative experience that takes many returning vets a lifetime to accomplish. In fact, someone suffering from combat-related PTSD would probably find the play re-traumatizing.

Actual war as it is fought and returned from nowadays is no longer a primitive rite of passage--something boys go off to and come home from men. The world has changed since the time of Ajax and Achilles, and war affects human beings in ways that most of us quite frankly cannot understand. For this reason, I deeply appreciate Doerries' work--it seeks to let outsiders in on how some experience war and its after-effects. In other words, his work begins to involve our citizens as community members in receiving wounded warriors. Creating a community that holds its warriors is what ancient Greek works sought to do as well. A two-hour play, however, should not be considered treatment, and I question Fiely's disagreement with quoted psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Shay, who as Fiely writes, "questioned the therapeutic value of ‘passive observation.'"

-George Herrity '04

Washing dishes at Peirce

I admired the editorial balance in the Peirce Hall article (Winter '09). Mark Ellis counters what might be read as a preciously correct menu in the bristling "servery," a British word that seems out of place in central Ohio, with the confession that Lucky Charms still ground the place with authentic humility.

A related question occurred to me. Do students still wash the dishes? I worked every day I was at Kenyon in Peirce Hall. I washed dishes under the remarkable Marty Maccero (? I cannot recall his name). He was one of the most charismatic leaders I have ever worked for. I learned as much in those shifts as I did in most of my classes. If students are not still working as part of the Peirce Hall enterprise, the change in the culture will be more significant than the changes in style.

-Bill Brown '67

Editor's note: Students no longer wash dishes in Peirce. For better or for worse, the job is done by automated dishwashers now.

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