LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Henry S. Coleman ’46
I was fortunate enough to know Dean Coleman as assistant dean, my adviser and [my] English instructor.
Two distinct situations still are vivid. I remember his chuckling when reviewing my Florida high
school transcript. State law required the course “Americanism vs. Communism,” and he thought
that was a hoot, asking me which side I
was on! My transcripts also noted poor performance in languages, and my sophomore year I begged
him to waive the two-year foreign language requirement. He wouldn’t do it, but whispered, “Take
German, it’s the easiest.” Well, the entire German class spoke Yiddish and was conversing
with the teacher in German the first day. Back in his office, he denied my second plea but did get me
into the Friday night adult-ed Spanish program. I got through.
I couldn’t get mad at him, he was too good of a guy.
Jack Glavey ’76
Park Ridge, Ill.
Jacques Barzun ’27
Thank you for Tom Vinciguerra ’85’s fine tribute to Jacques Barzun ’27 [January],
his contributions to scholarship and his academic and intellectual achievements.
I would have added only a greater recognition of his greatness as a teacher in a university that
has across many decades been distinguished for its faculty. Of my years at Columbia, I can hold in esteem
and look back with nostalgia at professors such as Raymond Weaver (Class of 1910) and Irwin Edman ’16.
But what has lived most glowingly with me has been the impact of the honors course, Senior Colloquium,
presided over by Barzun and Lionel Trilling ’25.
For Barzun, teaching itself was a discipline, unbuttoning the denotations and connotations of the
literature, philosophy and history of the great works that we discussed. As a teacher and an individual,
Barzun carried with him an abiding wit (his books and articles are full of it), a love of the pun, an
interest in writers as diverse as the 18th century’s Restif de la Bretonne and the 20th’s
Raymond Chandler, a disdain for false scholarship and a zest for the precise life of the mind. Teacher
in my undergraduate days and since then friend, he was what generations of his students have acknowledged: In
lumine tuo videbimus lumen.
Ralph de Toledano ’38
In the profile of Jacques Barzun ’27, the author cites Edward
of cultural history as not just “tracing a philosophical idea through time, but seeing how that
idea is woven into a cultural fabric.” That is true enough, but it fails to highlight the revolution
involved. The cultural history Barzun championed and taught for so long owed its origin to historian
GM Trevelyan, who at the turn of the last century challenged the prevailing idea that history must
be confined to the record of nations and empires, parliaments and congresses, diplomacy and way.
He insisted, instead, that history should become the narrative of what people ate and drank, the
homes they lived in, the cities they built, the arts they created, the books they read, the entertainments
and recreations they engaged in, the beliefs they lived by, the scientific discoveries they made — in
short, the entire gamut of human experience, the substance of culture and civilization. Barzun was
a master of this approach; witness his course “The Nineteenth Century.”
John E. Smith ’42
Clark Professor Emeritus of
Columbians in the Arts
I enjoyed your article [March] in the recent CCT but was disappointed
not to see the name of I.A.L. Diamond ’41. His authorship of more than a few Varsity Shows contributed
to an enjoyable part of campus life. He later wrote the screenplay for Some Like It Hot, a
classic comedy that still moves audiences to gales of laughter.
Alvin Lukashok ’43
New York City
Raymond Weaver (Class of 1910)
“Melville, Our Contemporary” was one of the lectures at this year’s Dean’s
Day. The brochure’s description of the lecture by Professor Andrew Delbanco, author of Melville,
His World and Work, mentions, in part, “ … Billy Budd, which remained unknown
for 30 years after Melville’s death and was first published in a text edited by a Columbia English
professor in 1924.”
In addition to his efforts to bring Melville out of obscurity, this professor, among other things,
taught a course on Dante. According to legend, he was at a cocktail party in the late ’30s when
a guest asked him if he had read Gone With the Wind. When he said no, the guest said, “Well,
you should. It’s been out six months.” The professor then asked the guest if he had read The
Divine Comedy. When the guest said no, the professor said, “Well, you should. It’s
been out 600 years.”
According to another legend, he was made a full professor even though he never got a doctorate. The
College had to bend the rules on that one.
He passed away in the late 1940s. His name was Raymond Weaver (Class of 1910).
Desmond J. Nunan Sr. ’50
Ocean City, N.J.
[Editor’s note: Weaver taught English at Columbia from 1916–48.]
Hall of Fame
I couldn’t have been more surprised to find that the initial baseball players inducted into
the new Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame did not include an old friend and classmate, Rolando
Acosta ’79 (now Judge Acosta). Rolando, twice selected as Ivy League Pitcher of the Year
and honored as First Team All-Ivy League/EIBL three times, was the only Columbia pitcher selected as
an NCAA Scholar. With Rolando leading the team, Columbia achieved two Ivy League/EIBL titles, something
it hadn’t done since before World War II.
Rolando, of course, also had the things that can’t be captured in the record books: determination,
honor and dignity. I hope this omission will be corrected when the next group of outstanding Columbia
athletes is inducted.
Craig Gurian ’79
New York City
Surely the crew that won the IRA rowing championship in 1929 belongs. But wo voted in the ’67–’68
basketball team without mentioning the undefeated ’50–51 team? The ’50–’51
team was led by John Azary ’51 and Jack Molinas ’53, the best basketball player in Columbia
Another basketball great was undersized scoring machine Chet Forte ’57. The football team that
beat Army at Baker Field to end the Cadets’ long winning streak also belongs. And [though it’s
not a varsity sport,] Columbia won the collegiate chess championship four years in a row with a team
led by Jim Sherwin ’53 and Eliot Hearst ’53.
Carl Witkovich ’53
San Mateo, Calif.
Lament for Henry
It was with gratitude that, upon flipping through the pages of my husband’s (David Eisenman ’87)
[January] CCT, I came across a tribute to Henry Winters ’75. It does Henry’s life
a disservice, however, to have him remembered as a lawyer who worked himself into the grave, and I write
to try to correct that image.
I worked closely with Henry during the last years of his life and was fortunate enough to count him
as a mentor and a good friend. My memories of him are as a lawyer who had an honest perspective on life
and work, a love for the law and public policy (one of my last conversations with him involved a paper
that I had just written for a graduate school course, which he was kind enough to take the time to read
and comment on). Henry’s sense of ethics, his realistic perspective on the corporate world and
his sense of humor all helped orient me into a new job and continued as he remained a counselor and
mentor while my career moved on. Henry was a role model to me and his other colleagues, and I remember
him as a warm and humane person whose actions, counsel and outlook on life have a lasting positive impact
Mindy Herzfeld ’90 Barnard
Silver Spring, Md.
In Vino Veritas
Who knew John Brecher ’73 [January] was a Columbia College graduate? I never was a Wall
Street Journal reader until John and his wife, Dorothy Gaiter, began writing their wine column.
It was refreshing to see the austere WSJ bring wine to the level of the everyday drinker.
Other magazines and newspapers always went for the high-end reader and neglected the younger
and newer (and often less knowledgeable) wine drinker. They even forced the Gray Lady to alter
its policy and begin doing wine reviews.
I met John and Dorothy at my family’s wine shop, Acker, Merrall & Condit (America’s
oldest wine shop, 1820) and knew they were neighbors on the Upper West Side. Many Columbia professors
and administrators shopped at Acker and the store offered a discount to those affiliated with the University.
This led me to wonder who else in the wine world went to the College. I know Brooks Firestone [’61,
founder and chairman of the Firestone Vineyard in California] did, and President Lee C. Bollinger bears
the namesake of my favorite champagne.
Ron Kapon ’56
New York City