Letters to the Editor
The Pony Ballet
The Pony Ballet ruled in those days … nobody bigger than we were. And when we threw them a bump, the whole audience would cave in.
Thank you for the reminder, and for your great magazine!
C. Ogden Beresford ’43
Remembering Peter Darrow ’72
I recently had a flashback to Columbia, circa 1970, when a young alumna recently recalled how Peter Darrow ’72 had addressed the Alpha Delta Phi house while she was in charge.
Darrow, who died last spring after a distinguished law career, “came to us very much as the steadying hand,” recalled Caylei Vogelzang ’03. The former AD president told the undergraduates they owed a legacy to future generations at Columbia.
That’s the kind of Darrow pep talk that once drew jeers from those of us college buddies who were too cool to wash the windows or sweep the front stoop.
But Darrow defeated our cynicism with his relentless generosity. He kept up with the retired cook at our fraternity until the old man died. He campaigned for the admission of women to AD in the 1990s. He helped transform the faded brownstone into “the jewel of 114th Street.”
Seven years ago, Darrow reunited his college crew at rowing’s answer to the Boston Marathon. Younger rowing alumni have followed, including, by happenstance, Vogelzang. “My heart leapt” at the chance to race again at the Head of the Charles Regatta, she said.
Thanks in part to Darrow’s inspiration, the Columbia women’s varsity has a new boat to race in Boston this year — another fruit of Darrow’s knack for inducing others to give back to the sport and the school they love. As many as four alumni boats will be used by Columbia crews.
The moment will be joyful but bittersweet, laden with the memory of our friend.
John E. Mulligan III ’72
Help Out the Band
The Columbia University Band Alumni Association has launched a drive to help the CU Marching Band beef up its store of instruments for student musicians.
If you’re ready to admit that you won’t be playing the old horn any more, or if you have a spare, CUBAA would love to have it for the band. We’re also hoping to fund repairs for some of the band’s limping instrument inventory and buy some needed instruments as well as band supplies such as drumsticks, reeds, mouthpieces and music folders. CUBAA recently received its 501(c)(3) charitable organization status and can provide a tax letter for all donations.
For more information or to donate, go to columbiabandalumni.org.
Samantha Rowan ’96 Barnard
New York City
WWII & NYC
With interest, I read “Columbia Forum: WWII & NYC” [Summer 2013] by Professor Kenneth T. Jackson. It mentions “Todd Shipyards in Brooklyn’s Erie Basin had 19,617 employees in 1943 … ”
My grandfather, Charles Gilbride, worked at Todd’s through the Depression; most of his sons also worked at Todd’s. In the 1970s, the chairman of the board of Todd’s, John T. Gilbride ’39 Penn, handed me a history of Todd Shipyards. Like the Gilbride family, Todd Shipyards had its roots in Brooklyn. While Todd’s also had yards in Charleston, Mobile, New Orleans, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Tacoma and Portland, the main yards in Brooklyn traced its history to John Ericcson’s creation of the Monitor at the Delameter iron works.
The Brooklyn yards are now history. I still live in Brooklyn but will never forget how when I returned from Columbia, people in Brooklyn knew my name because they had been employed at Todd Shipyards during WWII. It’s good to recall the tremendous work ethic of that generation, with hope that leaders in Washington realize the contributions work and jobs have on society.
John T. Gilbride wrote in Todd Shipyards In Peace and War: “We subscribe to the American dream of a contented and prosperous family of nations.”
Michael Gilbride ’76
I read Kenneth T. Jackson’s book excerpt, “Columbia Forum: WWII & NYC” [Summer 2013], with interest.
Dr. John Dunning (pictured), associate dean of physics at Columbia, recruited my father, Khatchik O. Donelian ’36E, ’37E, to join the scientific staff in 1941 in what became known as the Manhattan Project.
My father worked on an early version of Dunning’s cyclotron and, later, as the chief project engineer on the development of the gaseous diffusion process that was used in refining uranium 235. At Columbia, my father worked alongside Enrico Fermi, Eugene F. Wigner, Edward Teller and Leo Sziliard, all major figures in the Manhattan Project.
Everyone at the time knew that the Germans were working on a similar project and that someone was going to build a bomb. Later in his life, my father said he was glad it was the United States, and not Germany or Russia, who did it first. It was for our protection, he said.
However, my father had mixed feelings about the bomb. He was glad the war would soon be over as a result of its use and that it saved many American and Japanese lives that would have been lost in the planned American land invasion of Japan. Yet he was petrified by the reports of the first use of the bomb delivered on Hiroshima. He didn’t know the United States was going to explode it. He thought we were two years away from completing the project.
After the war, my father worked on the design and construction of the Hanford, Wash., atomic plant. He was convinced atomic energy could be developed safely and for good and peaceful purposes.
My father contributed to classified sections of the National Nuclear Energy Series and to program reports for Nuclear Reactor and Process Plant Projects exceeding $250 million, and he was the author of 22 patents and applications, many of them classified.
My father’s early employment included the engineering, construction and supervision of the subways for the NYC Board of Transportation. And, with the American District Telegraph Co., he developed, designed, constructed and implemented the engineering of detection and signaling systems using electronic, thermoelectric, pyrometric, photoelectric and pneumatic sensing elements. He made a demonstration model of a nuclear (radium) powered thermoelectric battery generator. And my father invented the first ionization smoke and fire detector using a radioactive source resembling the ones in common use today.
Armen Donelian ’72
The Summer 2013 issue contained several errors. Bookshelf had an incorrect listing for You’re My Dawg, Dog: A Lexicon of Dog Terms for People; although written by Donald Friedman, the book was not written by Donald Friedman ’49. Also, in the listing for Ira Katznelson ’66’s book Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time, Walter Lippmann was misidentified; he was, in fact, an author, a founding editor of The New Republic and an influential columnist. Finally, in the feature “Scholars in the Storm,” profiling Brian O’Connell ’89, the Department of Education committed $200 million to repair schools throughout NYC, not only Scholars’ Academy.
CCT regrets the errors.