LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Thanks for your May,
2000 issue—such wealth to select from, inviting
commentary; what I found most fascinating was Ian Bent’s
“Textures as Metaphor,” which was an address delivered
to the Fall graduating class, “the first proud graduands of
application of the perceptual concepts of monophony, polyphony, and
homophony to the procedures of character analysis, although
stereotypical—something he himself drew to the readers’
(listeners’) attention—was very interesting, a major
While I grapple with social procedures, I shall attempt to use
these insights to interpret data of a social nature.
Byron Noone ’66
GARDEN CITY, N.Y.
P.S.: Also nice to hear Professor Shenton ’49 is still
going strong—even in retirement.
story on film at Columbia (May, 2000). Just saw what they did to
“Ferris Booth” when I was in N.Y. last weekend.
Dr. Jon S. Berlin ’74
new CCT continues to exceed all hopes and expectations.
Congratulations to you and your colleagues. It vividly shows why we
can be more proud than ever before of our affiliations with this
great “liberating arts” College—which is surely
on a roll, even though still on an uphill leg! The high percentage
of my classmates who give $ to CCT is evidence of the
benefits we feel we receive.
Donn Coffee ’55
do a good job—articles keep a high standard and I feel proud
to show them to friends here in Sweden.
Tryggve Hansen ’53
copy of the superb May 2000 issue of Columbia College Today
now, you are undoubtedly inured to the lavish praise that is
bestowed upon you and your associates, as each issue seems to be
better than the previous one. Beside all the tremendous editorial
content generated by your staff, just the voluminous Class Notes
section speaks reams about the new interest you have ignited among
the previously moribund alumni in sending in and disseminating
thanks and congratulations on a magnificent issue!
Stuart M. Berkman ’66
And A Suggestion
up the great work!!
think some more investigative/expository work would be wonderful.
CCT should inform, teach, intrigue and expose us to new
ideas and debates— just like our years at Columbia. It
shouldn’t merely be an organ for the College—dispensing
just blissful news and propaganda.
Elizabeth R. Pleshette ’89
To the Point
can I say? Columbia College made me.
Professor Reginald M. Call ’33
Our Mistake, Not His
Coakley Columbia’s basketball coach? Where did you get that
scoop? From those who ignored him when selecting Columbia’s
five greatest coaches? Certainly not from me. Please reread my Feb.
24 letter. Believe me, Andy coached baseball. I had the good
fortune to play for him in 1937. I would be most grateful for a
suitable correction in Columbia College Today’s next issue
lest my contemporaries think I’m senile.
John McCormack ’39
P.S.: I still think you publish a fine magazine, even if your
editing of my letter was weird to say the least. Good
Editor’s Note: Guilty as charged, but with an
explanation. The fault lies in the editor’s typing, not his
editing. After having spent more than two decades writing about
basketball, the word just dribbles off the fingers, sometimes where
it doesn’t belong.
Portrait of Professor Steeves
After enjoying my classmate John F. Steeves ’48’s
his late uncle Harrison Ross Steeves on page 2 of your February
2000 issue, I sent John a copy of a pencil portrait I drew of
Professor Steeves on May 13, 1948, during the last hour of the last
course he taught at Columbia, on my last day as a full-time
undergraduate. Wanting to capture the occasion, I took the jacket
off a book I had with me (Hans Reichenbach’s Experience
and Prediction) and, on its inside surface, drew a pencil
portrait of Professor Steeves and gave it a teasing title:
“Professor Harrison Steeves About to Refute a Student of
Contemporary Novels.” At the end of the hour, I asked him
please to sign it, and he did so, with a touching addendum:
“A hard visage, but a tender heart.”
next and last time I saw him was in 1959, when I visited him in
retirement, and even though I had taken only one course with him,
he remembered me, in keeping with his claim, reported in his nephew
John’s letter, that he remembered every one of his students
in his 45-year career teaching English at Columbia.
Theodore Melnechuk ’48
February 2000 issue
was, as always, engrossing. Dani McClain ’00’s
reflections about her stay in Ghana were thoughtful and
informative. The article about Spectator’s choices for
Columbia’s “greatest athletes of the 20th
century” was entertaining. However, it was disappointing to
see that the selection panel limited itself to physical athletes.
Overlooked were some of the greatest teams, and the individuals
making up those teams, that Columbia has ever had. I am referring
to the chess teams of the early 1950s.
classes of 1952, 1953, and 1954 included some of the strongest
chess players in the nation. The captain, Eliot Hearst ’53,
was New York state champion at the time. Second board was Jim
Sherwin ’53, who at one time was ranked third of all U.S.
chess players. Hearst and Sherwin were already ranked as Masters
while at Columbia. Third and fourth boards were manned by Francis
Mechner ’52 and Karl Burger ’54, both of Expert
strength. As I recall, Columbia’s chess teams won the
Intercollegiate Chess Championships at least twice in the stretch
1950-54. At that time several New York City schools (NYU, CCNY) had
very strong teams, but none—nor any of the other Ivy League
teams—could compare with Columbia’s chess teams. For
all of these reasons I would rank the chess teams of this period as
among the greatest, if not the greatest, of Columbia’s
of a few years ago, Burger was the only active player of this
group, and he had attained the illustrious ranking of International
Ivan E. Leigh ’55
WEST CHESTER, PA.
was not surprising that a 17-member panel of alumni, journalists,
athletic directors, historians and trustees selected only one
fencing person, Bruce Soriano ’72, in its list of top 18.
Fencing is not a widely reported sport and I have no doubt that Mr.
Soriano deserved his honor. I was happy that my own team captain of
1951, Bob Nielsen (misspelled Nielson), also got votes. I
don’t know if anybody else achieved his record of winning the
NCAAs twice as well as the Easterns. Nor do I know the sort of
things on the minds of the panel that dropped José Velarde,
fencing coach 1949-1952, from the list of honored coaches. Joe took
over a team that had been in the doldrums and created champions of
them. Blessed with Bob Nielsen as an inherited star, Joe deserves
the credit for the championship team of 1951 in which Bob won at
foil, Dan Chafetz ’52 won the epee title and John Krajcir
’52 took second in sabre at the NCAAs (and was teased for not
winning the gold). In my own year (1952) we did almost as well, and
it was Joe’s recruiting that resulted in the outstanding
teams of 1954 and the immediately following years.
Alfred P. Rubin ’52
article on “Columbia’s Greatest Athletes,” which
placed Sid Luckman in second place, produced so many memories of my
freshman year at college. People may have forgotten that most of
the handball champions of that era came from New York City and
those of us that attended school in the city were proficient in
that sport. If there had ever been a “stickball
championship,” that team would also have come from New York.
Sid was a graduate of a city school, loved to play handball and we
played many a game throughout the ’38-’39
was the year of the rat invasion. In Queens there was a section of
land known as the Corona Dumps. Obviously it was the city garbage
disposal area. The politicians decided that they needed something
to stimulate the economy of the city and came up with the idea of a
World’s Fair. Where to put it? Let’s use the garbage
dump—and they did. They changed the name and the Flushing
Meadow was born. Unfortunately, when you dig in a dump, things
happen. Since they didn’t have a ship to desert, the rats
took off in all directions and Flushing was hit the hardest. We
lived on the outskirts of Flushing in the Auburndale area about
three miles from the Fair area and they reached our neighborhood.
It took almost a year to correct the problem. The Fair opened in
the spring of 1939, about five months before the start of
the fall of 1938, the hurricane struck. While the city was spared
much of the damage, the eastern end of Long Island was destroyed.
Westhampton lost most of its summer homes when a storm surge went
from the ocean into Peconic Bay. A peninsula in Rhode Island filled
with homes ended up a sandbar. Hundreds died, but the news
essentially ignored it because it occurred on the same day that
Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia. I started my freshman year the next
Alan E. Baum ’42 M.D.
PALM CITY, FLA.