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to the Editor.
from the Editor
When computing and rocketry were in their infancy, science fiction writers
collectively imagined a future of routine travel between planetsin
ships navigated by pilots with slide rules. They simply imagined the wrong
In those days, who would have imagined that smaller and better would become
an intuitive connection? And who would have believed that the most profound
change computers would bring to our lives would be in the area of written
communicationthe ease of setting down, illustrating and disseminating
the written word?
one doubts were in the midst of a revolution. The Internet is changing
many aspects of our lives. But which ones? And to what degree? Again were
in danger of imagining the wrong future. Revolutions, after all, are bumpy
rides. Once, people who bet on their outcome risked their heads. Today
they just risk their shirts.
As always, the attention-grabbers are the most vivid prospectsa
whole new Web-based economy, the demise of paper, cyberclasses taught
by super-heavyweight cyberprofessorsbut I cant help suspecting
that this is again a kind of sleight of hand. While were gazing
up at all these predicted marvels, the real revolution will take place
quietly beneath our noses, finding its way in that familiar zigzagging
course between the new and the proven.
Meanwhile, like every other college and university, Pomona has been dragged
into high-tech investment like a white-knuckle flier into a space shuttle.
Obvious benefits, combined with a fear of falling behind the curve, have
started a technology race. But which technologies are worth it? What will
be obsolete within a year? What will be the wave of the future? What will
offer a return on investment? What will be bad money after good? Its
a set of questions to make any financial manager sweat bullets. An institution
cant afford to guess wrong, but it also cant afford to be
left in the dust.
And yet, for a college like Pomona, theres more at stake here than
mere money. At the risk of sounding like an admissions brochure, the things
Pomona stands forclose student-faculty interaction, a diverse and
stimulating learning environment, peers who add intellectual spice to
lifehave mostly to do with relationships and conversations between
people. These are delicate matters of trust and attention. In some cases,
technology can help, but in others, it can actually seem as much a threat
as an opportunity.
Dont get me wrong. Im no Luddite. Computers transformed my
job as editor and designer long ago. Im typing these words on a
laptop, and Ill e-mail them to my office for placement in a pagination
program for eventual transfer via imagesetter directly to pressplate.
Its a streamlined process that makes life easier. Im a believer
in the power of technology to transform the way we do things.
But sometimes, it seems, we need to be reminded that the outcome of revolutions
is not written in the stars. New technologies do change our lives, but
hardly ever in the ways we expect. Maybe teaching will be transformedmaybe
it wont. Todays students, after all, are children of the revolution.
It is they, not the rest of us, who will determine, in the end, whether
teaching becomes a high-tech enterprise or remains a student and a professor
sitting together on a logor, as I suspect, some combination of the
:: :: ::
Thank you for the Pomona Music Sampler. It is a wonderful gift and evocative
of a few of the best years of my life. You didnt include the Raging
Sagehen song which was written for Pomona by Fred Waring. We sang it in
1942. It went (I think):
Hes a rough little tough little son of a chick
A phantom bantam bird.
Hell feather his nest with a tigers crest
And tie a knot in his tail.
Oh youd better bolt the bleachers down
Before theyre blown away.
When the raging Sagehen comes to town
Theres hell to pay.
There are probably more words, but in the days when freshmen were more
docile, I remember learning this much anyway.
Marilynn McCollum Brown 46
Santa Cruz, CA
:: :: ::
I love the content of PCM, but am angered by its apparent
desire to be pretty for prettys sake as opposed to existing to serve
the reader. Why else would so much text be so darned difficult to read?
Specifically I refer to the Winter 2002 issue, pages 21 and 25 (white
on black), pages 23, 24 and 27 with the ridiculous wallpaper. More white
on black following. On to black on brown, some even dark brown on pages
3233. The blue on 3738 isnt all that bad, but serves
no constructive purpose.
OKIve bitched about the difficulty reading the text, but have
I mentioned the ridiculous format? If you want to keep it, it fits nowhere.
If you want to read it in a book stand, its too wide. Does this
format have any redeeming virtues? Or is it just trying to be pretty for
All in all, a lot too much academia and much too little real life.
Patricia R. Schilling 66
Las Vegas, NV
:: :: ::
In your winter edition I was pleased to see that Little
Bridges is receiving a new Fisk organ. That news connects a favorite
place and a favorite person from my early life: Charles Brenton Fisk,
the company founder, was my first cousin. We were both named after his
Charlie grew up in Massachusetts and I in Colorado, so as youngsters we
met infrequently. In 1935, our first contact at a family reunion in Iowa
was by way of a very rotten apple, heaved accurately to discourage me
from following Chas and the older boys. We did manage a common experience
there when we saw and heard an old reed pump organ located in a farm washhouse.
The following year our family drove to Rockport, Massachusetts. A matter
for conversation when the families met was an old pump organ Charlie had
just bought and was learning to play, and to repair. He was 12 years old.
WWII brought us together in Chicago in 1942. My father was personnel director
for the Metallurgical Laboratory in what became the Manhattan Project,
and he arranged for Charlie to serve as a technician using the electronics
he had learned. Charlie slept on a day bed in the living room of the flat
we had rented, so we couldnt help but become close; I was 14 and
felt I had acquired a brother. Much of what I absorbed from Charlie was
about music. He played the trumpet, he sang, and he could work out harmonies
and transitions on the piano. He also broadened my listening tastes by
bringing in records ranging from Duke Ellington to Bachs Brandenburg
Concertos. And, we talked about girls.
Somehow his deferment papers went astray, and Charlie was drafted. He
ended up as a technician in the Air Corps at Chanute Field in Illinois,
working on Link trainers; he managed to see us on several weekends. Then
I lost track of him until late summer of 1945, when he showed up with
other friends to see us in Colorado; he had been transferred to Los Alamos,
doing much of what he had done in Chicago.
In 1953 our paths crossed again in Denver at a reunion with his parents;
we drove back to St. Louis, and he went on to Cleveland to interview with
the innovative organ builder Walter Holtcamp Sr. The interview was a success,
and afterward, I had interesting discussions with him on the physics and
music of the organ. He connected the two disciplines seamlessly and with
deep insight. He realized that an important characteristic of organ sound
was how a pipe started speakinghe used the word chiff
to describe the initial soundand that the performer has no control
of this with electrically operated pipe valves.
In 1957 my wife and I moved to the Boston area, as had Charlie, and we
saw him and his family with some frequency. We could also see his work
and how it grew; I managed to catch him fine-tuning the great organ in
the Memorial Church at Harvard. Charlie was sensitive to the interaction
of the organ and its space. He also chose materials with extreme care.
At about the time of the founding of C.B. Fisk Inc., Charlie suffered
the first attack of a rare liver disorder. In 1984 the disease won. His
memorial service was at Harvards Memorial Church, in front of the
organ, fitting as his memorial.
Pomonas Bridges Hall of Music will be a fitting place for the work
Brenton Fisk Stearns 49
:: :: ::
I believe that all history is embellished by the point of
view of the author. To illustrate this point, this letter is written as
a true story about reflections inspired by the Winter 2001 and spring
2002 issues of PCM.
My story begins with the current issue of PCM and President Stanleys
statement that Pomona has always been need-blind in its admission
policies, with one out of every five students being the first in the family
to attend college. I question how the latter statistic could ever be verified
and wonder if the statement would be more accurate and true if it stated
that one out of every five Pomona graduates are the first in their
family to graduate from college.
I can admit to no small sense of pride in my own graduation, particularly
since my father and mother wanted it so much more than I did. In fact,
it wasnt until years later that I began to embellish my résumés
by noting that I attended Pomona on a full, academic scholarship as a
California State Scholar from 1960 to 1964. Although my scholarship was
a full ride, the actual financial stipend was need-based
and determined by a formula that took into account my parents combined
My mother, Barbara Ruth, (now 80) grew up in a generation that still believed
that a womans place was in the home. Though she never wanted to
work, she joined the labor force in order to help finance my brothers
education at Occidental College, my education at Pomona and eventually
my younger sisters at UCLA. Now, more than 30 years after my graduation,
there is significant irony in President Stanleys statements about
need-blind admissions policies. Should I mention to my 80-year-old
mother that she didnt have to work at all, and the family would
have been better off with fathers income alone calculated into the
I think not.
My mother treasures my education at Pomona even more than I do. Several
years ago, I began the practice of loaning her my current PCM, which she
enjoys reading. Thats why I became very excited about the outstanding,
previous PCM issue with its focus on music, CD included. You see, for
years I have treasured the image of my mother performing on piano as a
child soloist with the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra. Last October, we
met for lunch, and I remembered to bring the Music issue of
PCM along with the accompanying CD. I told her, I have a special
present for you today. Ive often wondered about how far you would
have gone with your music career if you hadnt dropped out of college
to marry Dad. Do you remember performing with the Kansas City Symphony?
My mother, who is still as sharp as a tack, looked at me quizzically and
said, Pat, whatever gave you that idea? I never performed with the
symphony. She went on to explain that when she was about 9 or 10
years old, she traveled with her piano teacher to St. Louis where she
played piano in a three-day competition. I can still hear her proudly
exclaiming, My only claim to musical fame is that I won the statewide
competition for my age group. Neither one of us will ever know how
I was prompted to embellish in my own mind that little piece of musical
history, but I know that in my heart she will always be my favorite concert
Patrick A. Edwards 64
San Diego, CA
:: :: ::
Note: Normally, PCM does not publish anonymous letters
to the editor, but weve made an exception for the missive at
left, which arrived with a San Francisco postmark and no other identification.
We assume it is a reply to the article in the Spring 2002 PCM about
Mufti. As to what it means, your interpretation is as good as ours.
:: :: ::
I am writing to report another incident of the omnipresence
of Pomonas number 47.
On December 27, 2001 at 6 p.m. EST, Fox channel broadcast an episode of
The Simpsons titled Grandparents Day. The purpose of the Grandparents
Day is to give every grandparent in Springfield an opportunity to tell
his or his life story to the students of Springfield Elementary School.
One grandparent, a sitting judge in Springfield, told students in class,
I just sentenced the 46th person to death. No, 47!
Everyone in America knows that no one can escape tax and death, but the
episode of The Simpsons further demonstrates that even death cannot escape
47. Therefore, by deduction, no one can escape tax and 47, i.e., tax and
James Zhang 95
:: :: ::
I would like to thank my old friend and classmate, Alan
Sokolow 72, for his Report from Ground Zero in the Winter
2001 Pomona College Magazine. The account was intimate and honest, yet
unimpassioned. It was perhaps the most informative and moving account
of that awful event that I have heard.
Thank you, Alan.
Steve Hammond 72
:: :: ::
Im spending this Memorial Day afternoon reading one
article after the other in the Spring edition of PCM. Weve been
back a couple of weeks from a wonderful 40th class reunion at the College,
where we met lots of classmates who are lawyers and judges. So, as I read,
I think of them. Excellent articles once again.
At the reunion, we talked a lot about our favorite professors. To read
that there is a monthly meeting of the friends of Learnihan
will interest my classmates. The unforgettable Mr. Learnihan was a favorite
of many. We also talked a bit about The Connection which is
widespread, and I was interested to see Mr. Sontags name mentioned
in the article on the all-student Judiciary Council.
Ted Piatt was a senior when we were freshmen, and we knew his wife, Lynn
Simms Piatt 60. By now Im sure Im not the first to challenge
the caption to the photo of Ted and Jim. Ted is indeed the brother on
the left, but he is Class of 1959. Jim is Class of 1955. (The years are
Every issue of the magazine is a jewel. I enjoy each and every one.
Bonnie Home 62,
San Jose, CA
:: :: ::
I recently saw an article from the Claremont Courier describing
a protest students held early in the morning at the home of the Claremont
University Consortiums CEO. As the parent of a Pomona student, I
was profoundly disturbed by Ms. Brenda Barham Hills response to
One of the jobs of young adults seems to be to challenge the society in
which they were raised, suggesting new values and behaviors. We see evidence
of this in events both condemned (high rates of crime committed by 1825
year olds) and, eventually, accepted and valued (jazz, opposition to the
war in Vietnam and the womens movement). Although older adults rarely
seem to appreciate the changes suggested or tactics used to introduce
new ways of thinking and doing things, as a society, we clearly value
outspokenness, so much so that it is a guaranteed freedom in our Constitution.
Thus, it seems to me that anyone who chooses to work with or around young
adults needs to have a real appreciation for this type of activity.
Ms. Barham Hill showed no awareness or understanding of the strong moral
values the students were trying to get CUC to incorporate into future
uses of the Bernard Field Station. The article indicated that the students
had been trying to be heard through more conventional means without any
indication of success, yet Ms. Barham Hill said that she was surprised
and outraged that the students engaged in protest to get her attention.
I am absolutely livid... How dare they? It seems
to me that Ms. Barham Hill should not have been surprised, and that she
should have had the self-control to hold her tongue before the press,
if she was so surprised and outraged. She gives the impression that the
students did something criminal rather than hold a peaceful, if noisy,
protest and that she has no idea how to interact with and collaborate
with students. If the latter is true, she should not be working with young
adults and certainly should not be representing them to the Claremont
I would argue that we owe young adults a great deal of appreciation for
their willingness to be loud, noisy, different and a challenge to our
usual way of doing things. They should not be condemned or ignored because
they upset us. We all benefit from the new ideas and ways of doing things
they come up with and try out, even if we dont like it.
:: :: ::
to a Prankster
The article on pranks in the Spring 2002 PCM got us thinking
about the late Professor R. Nelson Smith 38. This letter is in tribute
Preparing to return to Pomona to celebrate the class of 1982s 20-year
reunion, we take a moment to reflect on the passage of two decades and
the lessons learned as undergraduates at Pomona.
In many ways, Professor Smith was the embodiment of the values learned
by many of us at Pomona. Chemistry 1, while intellectually rigorous and
challenging and perceived by many as a litmus test for those aspiring
to pre-med, was never dull or pretentious. His sense of humor not only
provided welcome comic relief in the midst of struggles with hexagonal
closest packing or other critical concepts, it provided us with the sense
of balance and humanity necessary to avoid the pitfall of taking oneself
As freshmen in his class, we heard of grand tales of past pranks conceived
of and executed by upperclassmen in honor of and in fun of Smith. One
story had students moving his VW Bug into the foyer of Seaver North Auditorium
as he lectured. We have never heard the story of how he got it out again
and would welcome any information anyone can offer.
Not being gifted in either a physical or engineering sense, we sought
to emulate those visionary pranksters in other ways. One morning, prior
to Professor Hanschs 8 a.m. organic chemistry lecture, we set up
a ping pong net in the middle of the long black counter in the front of
Seaver North. As Professor Smith was later to recount the story, when
he came in for his lecture he asked Professor Hansch what the net was
about, with Hansch replying that he had no idea.
As students were approaching Seaver North for the 9 a.m. chemistry lecture
we were out front busily handing out plastic golf balls to any who would
take them. The only instruction we gave was that they would know what
to do when the time came. We passed out 144 of the balls.
At 10 minutes past nine we entered the auditorium in three-piece suits,
one on each set of steps. We descended the steps in an ominous manner
and approached each end of the counter. As Smith, implacable as ever,
continued his lecture, we reached into our suits for our paddles and commenced
a game of ping pong. Always the good sport, he proceeded to play with
us, grabbing the ball in the middle, then sending it back to us. After
a couple of points the ball landed on the floor and I stepped on it, crushing
it. Professor Smith was clearly heartbroken and could barely contain his
glee. We stared at the ball, looked at each other, then toward the class
and asked, Does anyone have a ping pong ball?
The resulting shower of plastic balls was truly awesome. There was a loud
whooshing sound as balls flew through the air, directed mostly at Smith
though we were not spared. Student after student launched their projectiles
towards the front of the auditorium, and when Smith turned his back to
the deluge some particularly devious students aimed at the blackboard
to ricochet the balls at him.
When all was done the only sounds were those of laughter. The class and
the perpetrators had clearly enjoyed the spectacle, but sharing in the
laughter, with just as much good will, was R. Nelson Smith.
What we learned from R. Nelson, and what we will teach our children, is
that the pursuit of knowledge and excellence need not, indeed must not,
be burdened with pretense and self importance. Instead, achievement is
best attained with a spirit of humor, humility and humanity.
God bless you, Professor Smith.
Sun 82, Seattle, WA
and Emil Kakkis 82, Long Beach, CA
:: :: ::
The article on student justice in the Spring 2002 edition
made 21st-century Pomona sound like a 19th-century English boarding school.
As a non-conforming undergraduate in the 1960s, I was infinitely more
likely to be up before a j-board than sitting on it. So from
this side of the dock, mlud, I would much prefer to receive a short
sharp one from the likes of Shelton Beatty or Stan Hales than to be fatally
patronized by a bunch of Pomona College tree-huggers.
Rev. Dr. John U. Cameron
Broughty Ferry, Dundee, Scotland
:: :: ::
Anyone who reads Pomonas magazine today knows how
it has improved in quality under Mark Woods editorship. The Spring
02 issue article on J is for Justice is an excellent
example. It is reflective (perhaps even philosophical!) and raises many
issues without taking sides.
I happen to have served as adviser to two students in a recent celebrated
case and have had numerous other experiences with our judicial system
(although never as defendant!). It does function well and is carefully
administered by the faculty, deans and students who serve.
However, this case was extraordinary and, I firmly believe, raised some
points which need our communitys attention. Since any system is
capable of errors, if these indicate the need for revision, we should
1. One very simple matter is never to allow anyone to come to trial without
an adviser. The College may need to work on setting up such a system,
since we are in an era in which many faculty do not want such involvement.
2. I have always worried about the fact that advisers cannot address the
council directly, whereas others, with plenty of positions to advocate,
can say all they wish to. I often speak privately to students on trial
and suggest things they might say, but most do not have enough experience
to know how to speak to the technical issues.
3. The atmosphere on campus in the recent situation became enflamed. This
is the negative side of Pomonas famous virtue: we are a close community
and support each other as a family. This is fine, unless the closeness
creates a situation in which fairness is threatened due to public statements
spread around the campus.
4. Most important, we need an established review system. The president
has this authority and President Peter Stanley did agree to hear an appeal
(only the second in his tenure) but said that he did not know enough about
the situation to alter a judgment. In the same spring issue of PCM is
a story about two well-known Pomona grads who have spent a lifetime on
the judicial bench. We have many such experts and could easily, I believe,
establish a panel of outside experts to review difficult cases.
5. I believe penalties are sometimes far more extreme than most judicial
system decisions in similar cases.
6. At the very least, lets have some outside experts (like the Judges
Piatt) come in and review our system and tell us whether they would recommend
any changes to insure impartial justice in each case, particularly potentially
explosive situations in need of some emotional distance.
Pomona Colleges reputation is what it is nationally because we have
been innovative in our education program and in the handling of our community
problems. I think the time has come to show we can deal with major judicial
system difficulties, and not simply by claiming we are always right
and so should never be subject to outside professional review.
Professor of Philsosophy
:: :: ::
During this past year, as we have lived through the attacks
on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the loss of the airliner
in Pennsylvania, some of us have paused to reflect on what it must have
been like to hear that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. We have reflected
on the courage and sacrifices of those before us, who placed themselves
in harms way so that later generations could grow up in freedom.
Although I did not attend Pomona, I am writing to you about five former
students. All Pomona alumni, and not just members of their class, might
be interested in hearing about them.
Hill 43, Scott Young 43, Johnny Metcalfe 43, H.R. Shawhan
43 and Al Whittle 43 knew each other at Pomona. A couple of
them were on the track team. Some were involved in music groups. When
they graduated, all five went into the U.S. Navys reserve officer
training program and were sent to Chicago for 90 days of training before
going into combat. Dolph Hill, a track star at Pomona, was assigned to
the USS Guam, a cruiser. He survived the war, but died a couple of years
Scott Young became the skipper of a PT boat and saw combat in the Pacific.
One of the other PT skippers he met out there went into politics after
the war. When last heard from, Scott Young was living in Connecticut.
Johnny Metcalfe became the skipper of a Landing Craft Tank, an LCT. On
June 6, 1944, D-Day, he landed on one of the beaches in Normandy. A decade
later, in 1954, he covered the French loss at Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam
as a news reporter. He died in October 2001.
H.R. Shawhan, a musician and runner at Pomona, became the gunnery officer
of a Landing Ship Tank, the LST 280. During the winter of 194344,
he served on convoys in the Atlantic. On June 6, 1944, D-Day, he landed
British troops on Gold Beach. Soon after, on June 15, 1944, the LST 280
was torpedoed in the English Channel, limping back to port with dead and
wounded before settling on the bottom, a total loss. Later, he was assigned
to a new ship, the LST 1041, served in the Pacific and was preparing for
the invasion of Japan when the war ended. He now lives north of New York
Al Whittle trained to command an LCVP, a Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel.
Navy crews called it a Higgins boat. On June 6, 1944, he was
assigned to land infantry on a stretch of beach identified by the code
name Omaha. His LCVP was hit and sank, but he reached the beach alive
and took shelter with some soldiers behind a sea wall. They found a machine
gun whose crew had been killed, asked him if he knew how to operate it
and told him to give them covering fire while they stormed positions farther
up the beach. He kept going all day until relieved. He was later awarded
the Silver Star. After the war, he went into the insurance business. Dealing
with risk, it seems, was something he knew about.
Today, as I write, is June 6, the 58th anniversary of D-Day. As I always
do on this date, I telephoned my father, H.R. Shawhan. We spoke about
his college friends and how the world had treated them after graduation.
We also discussed how events are shaping the lives of a new generation
of students such as my older son, who was attending a college in New York
City this past September 11. When I picked my son up from school last
month, we drove past the Trade Center site on the way home. Where buildings
used to reach a quarter of a mile into the sky, now there is just a hole
four city blocks long, three city blocks wide and seven stories deep.
No matter what our backgrounds or viewpoints may be, we all believe in
freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, our common
heritage as Americans. Over the past year, we have come to have a greater
appreciation for how valuable these things are. I do not know whether
this message will reach the families of Dolph Hill, Scott Young, Johnny
Metcalfe or Al Whittle.
I would like people to know, however, that I am grateful to them and to
others of their classmates who risked their lives in the defense of freedom.
All Pomona alumni should be proud of them.
:: :: ::
Each day, as I confront the beady eyes of a class of hostile
students, I draw inspiration from the memory of a great Pomona professor
of history, Herb Smith. Your Spring 2002 issue celebrated (and mourned)
three brilliant professors of history that influenced so many of us for
so many years. Please add the name of Herb Smith to the list of those
greats. We do not have to wait for him to become history to honor him.
He was breathtaking as a lecturer, compassionate as a human, and he had
a helluva sense of humor, too.
Salt Lake City, UT
:: :: ::
I couldnt help but notice that there were two different
spellings given for Dean Beattys name in the Spring 2002 edition
of the magazine; Sheldon in Antoinette Morales Mufti
Quest and Shelton in Sarah Dolinars The
Pranksters Rules. This would be quite irrelevant to me if
it werent for the fact that a) I work as an editorial assistant
at a small Las Vegas-based publishing house and am therefore paid to catch
these sorts of things, and b) Dean Beatty was my maternal grandfather.
The correct spelling is Shelton. I apologize for the obvious pettiness
of this correspondence, but I figure that everyone is obligated to write
at least one of these types of letters in their lives.
Doug Meyer 01
Las Vegas, NV
:: :: ::
We welcome letters about the College
or magazine. Letters may be edited for length, style and clarity. When
a letter raises significant questions, an appropriate respondent may be
invited to reply. The editor reserves the right to cut off debate on an
issue after a reasonable period of time.