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 Letters to the editor may be used for publication unless the author states the letter is not to be published.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.

Mather, McBride, and female proclivities

Loved the feature on "rural legends" (Fall 2009). It's fascinating to read the architects' speculation that the Mather/McBride design was intended to be humanizing, intimate, and [conducive to] neighborhood. But I don't believe that wholly captures the architects' original thinking. I have to encourage the editors to check out the original building plans in the Kenyon archives.

The architects' 1967-68 description of the plans stated that the buildings were designed to be "curvilinear" and "feminine." They were, of course, meant to house the first women accepted to the Coordinate College. The variety of different room sizes and furniture layouts was intended to satisfy "women's natural proclivity towards rearranging furniture." There are some other gems in the plans' narrative, which you can probably find in the archives. The plan renderings are also very interesting.

—Susan (Hopkins) Davis '01

Editor's note: The archives did yield some gems, which bear out Davis's point. In a newsletter, the architectural firm Perkins & Will contrasted the open, informal layout of the Coordinate College buildings with the "masculine, symmetrical site plan of the men's college." Similarly, the brick and textured concrete of the new structures, and their "warm" colors (beige, deep brown), were intended as a counterpoint to the male campus's "rigid formality, heavy stone, and Gothic style." And, yes, in discussing room plans, the newsletter referred to "the feminine penchant for rearranging furniture." A Kenyon news release from September 1968, meanwhile, said: "The architects have given the buildings a curved appearance to enhance the feminine and informal atmosphere they are creating in the Coordinate College."

Tender memories

The "Gates of Hell" legend developed after my time as a student. However, the post between the gate pillars held particular significance. The annual freshman pajama parade tradition was still going on, whereby sophomores would march the first-year students down Middle Path at night clad in pajamas and the mandatory beanie. We freshmen had to leapfrog over the center post, one at a time. During the jump, a rather tender part of our anatomy came perilously close to the top. Thus it became known as "The Scrotum Pole."

—Brent E. Scudder '60

Racial politics in the age of Obama

While I have great respect for Professor McNair and agreed with most of his assessment of "racial politics in the age of Obama," I am compelled to take issue with his stance on affirmative action (Fall 2009). Like President Obama, McNair advances a class-based approach. However, significant racial disparities across social indicators suggest that, while politically expedient, it is disingenuous to dissociate race from class in public policy.

According to Barbara Ehrenreich, "in 2004, for every dollar of wealth held by the typical white family, the African American family had only twelve cents. In 2007, it had exactly a dime." In September, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the percentage of blacks without health insurance is nearly 20 percent, or double that of whites.

Given the stark reality of racial disparities across social indicators, a comprehensive affirmative action policy must take into account race, as well as gender and class. The population of affluent black and non-white Hispanic children is minuscule relative to that of white affluent children. Nonetheless, opponents of affirmative action fixate on and would like to reframe the entire debate around this small segment of the minority population. This is telling since, as the U.S. Department of Labor reported in 1995, white women are the primary beneficiaries of affirmative action.

Minority students may well be tired of being prejudged by white peers. Rather than end affirmative action, we should instead educate white students about the system of white privilege—such as legacy admissions—that enables a white student to attend an elite institution without having anyone question whether she or he deserves to be there.

Finally, excellent sources on this topic include "Ten Myths About Affirmative Action," found at UnderstandingPrejudice.org, and Reginald T. Shuford's law review article "Why Affirmative Action Remains Essential in the Age of Obama," which can also be found online.

—Annah Sidigu '05

P.S. I was truly touched by George Williams's "Holding onto James" (Fall 2008). He makes me proud to be a Kenyon graduate.

A Kenyon fly boy

I returned to Kenyon after World War II in 1946, and I believe it was in 1947-48 that I took the flying course from a guy who had come to the faculty from flying Piper observation planes in the Army ("Fly Boys," Fall 2009). We had courses in navigation and weather as well as the physics of flying, lab work on a radial and in-line engine, and eighteen hours of in-the-air flying.

I well remember flying on lazy Gambier afternoons, chasing buzzards till they felt we were too close and banked and dove under us. We also did a few cornfield landings and take-offs. I don't remember the instructor's name or for how long he was there. I guess I'm getting old.

—Charles W. Parton '48

Aviation legacy lives on

"Fly Boys" was a great article with wonderful archival photos. I vividly remember seeing a yellow J3 Piper Cub in the hangar while exploring the campus during my first days at Kenyon. Ironically, the airport closed that year. Nevertheless, I met Andy Bourland '73, aka "Airplane Andy," and learned to fly during my sophomore year.

After graduating, I pursued a career in aviation and have been flying for United Airlines for almost twenty-five years. So, despite the sad closure of Port Kenyon, maybe the Kenyon aviation legacy lives on with several "fly boys" still flying the friendly skies.

—Dean Chantiles '75

Flying Club: the revival of the 1980s

I read with great nostalgia about the days of the Kenyon Flying Club but was disappointed to see no mention of the revival of the KFC during my four years at Kenyon, 1979-83.

When I entered Kenyon, I was a licensed private pilot and had learned of the glorious past of the Kenyon Flying Club. Of course, those days had long passed. However, Kenyon was very close to two airfields, and the generous administration was more than willing to fund a flying club that I and another student, Richard Wathen Jr. '81, refounded. In fact, I had the honor of being featured in the Winter 1980 Bulletin, in a photo taken during one of my numerous low passes over the campus.
Dozens of my fellow Kenyonites remind me of their first flights in the Cessna aircraft that Felton Hammond '50—the head of the FBO (fixed base operator) at Knox County Airport—rented to Kenyon students at a discount.

While at Kenyon, I earned my commercial pilot's license, my multi-engine endorsement, and my flight instructor's license. I even gave instruction to one or two students during my junior and senior years. After college, I earned my airline transport pilot license and worked for two years as a pilot before giving it up to attend law school.

While the early years of the KFC were perhaps the most glorious, the four years the club was funded by the College in the early eighties left indelible impressions on dozens, if not hundreds, of students—whether it was the joy of viewing the incredible beauty of Kenyon from the air, or annoyance at the buzzing over the campus every time I flew. The rebirth of the KFC in the early eighties was another chapter in what I hope is the unfinished story of aviation at Kenyon.

By the way, my sincere compliments on a truly excellent publication. I enjoy reading my Alumni Bulletin from cover to cover. Kudos on an excellent job!

—Ian Lane '83

Fly boy, identified

I noted with interest the request for more information about the photos in "Fly Boys." I think I can solve one mystery surrounding the identity of the unnamed Kenyon Flying Club member in the first photo on page 26. I believe it is John W. Timmermeister, the grandfather of my wife (Karin Timmermeister Brown).

John matriculated at Kenyon with the Class of 1942. However, he left Kenyon early (we're not exactly sure when, but probably after Pearl Harbor) to become a "civilian" flight instructor at the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Oklahoma. Here he taught both primary and advanced training courses to future Royal Air Force pilots. It was also in Oklahoma that he met his wife, Virginia.

Following his stint as a flight instructor, John served in the United States Army Air Force. He flew the "Hump" [a treacherous route over the Himalayas] with a co-pilot who would later start a small hotel chain called Holiday Inn. John was also selected to fly battle-fatigued planes back from the front for refurbishment. After World War II, John remained an enthusiastic "fly boy" and flew regularly, right up to his death, between his homes in Florida and Ohio (where his wife still lives). He also remained a keen supporter and patron of his beloved Kenyon.

—Chris Brown, head men's soccer coach, Kenyon College

One of the best

The recent Bulletin was one of the best I've ever read. Each page presented a dilemma—so little time, just one more article. I read late into the evening.

—Candy Wallace '73

Laughing out loud

Congratulations to the Bulletin editors on winning the CASE award for magazine of the year. I eagerly await my copy to read about all the great things happening with Kenyon and the people who make it the magical place it is. My wife, a passionate Ohio University graduate, loves reading it too ... pretty cool! The item about Market Dogs ("Hot Sheet," Fall 2009), offering the rare chance to use the words wiener, package, and stimulus in the same sentence, made my wife and me laugh out loud. Great stuff!

—Kenzie Young '92

Peirce's high-performance "pit crew"

I'd like to add some information to Bill Brown's Spring/Summer 2009 letter about washing dishes at Peirce Hall. Back when he and I did it, and no doubt for years before and after, a team of students ran each meal's dishes through an industrial dishwashing machine.

As a student and teacher of management, I've since come to recognize and appreciate that the "pit crew," as we called ourselves, was very much a jelled self-managing team. The work was well-organized, with five or six specific task roles. But the pit crew's ability to perform consistently at peak entailed more than just an efficient division of labor. High productivity persisted, even though the full set of individuals staffing a shift varied day-to-day and people often switched roles.

Bill's letter brought back vague recollections that Marty McKerrow '64 had some administrative role. Marty was a friend and good guy, and he may deserve the credit; but Bill's high praise of Marty's management skills notwithstanding, I don't recall anything Marty did that would have made the pit crew what it was. I suspect all three of us inherited it from someone to whom we owe gratitude.

—Robin F. Goldsmith '65

Fly boys buzz Denison

I loved reading "Fly Boys" and "Rural Legends" (Fall 2009). I had the great fortune to work in the archives with Thomas Greenslade and to get to know the fabulous Mary Greenslade, his wife. After his passing, she'd occasionally have me pick up take-out meals from Bob Evans—"but not the senior citizen portions, they're too small!"

Working in the Kenyon archives was definitely the best work-study job ever, much better than making Itza Pizzas in the Shoppes or trudging around campus stapling up posters for Ladysmith Black Mambazo (though those jobs had their merits, too). Undoubtedly Mr. and Mrs. Greenslade would have applauded both articles, and would have had much to contribute to each.

An alumnus once told me this story, and I guess it would apply to both themes. Granted, I think I heard this at the beer tent during a reunion weekend, so its veracity might be as foggy as a midnight walk on Middle Path. According to the source, the men of Denison were displeased that the Denison women were frequent guests at Kenyon dances. The Denison men organized some sort of boycott, ignoring or banning the women.

As the story goes, Paul Newman and several others heard of the mistreatment and rallied a caravan of cars to drive to Granville. They also enlisted some of the fly boys to fly over Granville. In a coordinated effort, Newman and his boys sailed into town with arms open wide as the fly boys dropped brochures that proclaimed, "Women of Denison, we are here to save you!"

Perhaps an alumnus or two can confirm or deny this story. Then again, like a lot of Kenyon's rural legends, I don't really want to know if it's true or not.

—Scott Jarrett '92

Editor's Note: Some accounts of the 1949 Old Kenyon fire note that many Kenyon "dates" that weekend were Denison women, drawn to Gambier in part by the leaflet air-drop. But we don't know for a fact that the airborne promotional campaign took place. It could indeed be a legend. In any case, none of the leaflets has survived.

Editor's note: how we made Peirce into Hogwarts

Many readers, marveling at our Fall 2009 cover, have asked how we transformed the Great Hall in Peirce into a scene from the Harry Potter novels. A bit of technical magic was involved. The magician: photographer Ron Crofoot of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The photo, showing a hall packed with young wizards, was actually created with just eight Kenyon students. This small group and their props (goblets, candelabra, etc.) moved from table to table in Peirce, until Crofoot had shots of them at every table in the Great Hall. The magic took place later, at a computer workstation, where Crofoot's colleague Mike Newman combined the multiple images, seamlessly, into a single photo.

Crofoot's team achieved the effect of moonlight streaming through the windows by lighting smoke cookies, which accented the sunlight traversing Peirce's stained glass windows. The floating candles and flaming chandeliers were created in Photoshop.

Crofoot also crafted the other photos in our "Rural Legends" feature—the aristocratic scene outside Weaver Cottage and the eerie Gates of Hell.

Kenyon's own Andrew Reinert, associate professor of drama, produced the costumes for the Harry Potter and Weaver Cottage photos, and provided the props.

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