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Sons and Daughters

Ernie Holsendolph '58
Robert M. Rosencrans   '49
James P. Rubin '82


An Epiphany

"Such wealth to select from"

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 2000...”

His 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 epiphany.

While I grapple with social procedures, I shall attempt to use these insights to interpret data of a social nature.

Byron Noone ’66

P.S.: Also nice to hear Professor Shenton ’49 is still going strong—even in retirement.

An Eye-Opener

Nice story on film at Columbia (May, 2000). Just saw what they did to “Ferris Booth” when I was in N.Y. last weekend. Wow!

Dr. Jon S. Berlin ’74

Thank You

The 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

You do a good job—articles keep a high standard and I feel proud to show them to friends here in Sweden.

Tryggve Hansen ’53

My copy of the superb May 2000 issue of Columbia College Today arrived today.

By 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 their news.

Many thanks and congratulations on a magnificent issue!

Stuart M. Berkman ’66

And A Suggestion

Keep up the great work!!

I 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

What can I say? Columbia College made me.

Professor Reginald M. Call ’33

Our Mistake, Not His

Andy 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 luck.

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.

A Portrait of Professor Steeves

After enjoying my classmate John F. Steeves ’48’s letter about 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.”

The 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

Greatest Athletes

Your 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.

The 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 teams.

As of a few years ago, Burger was the only active player of this group, and he had attained the illustrious ranking of International Grandmaster.

Ivan E. Leigh ’55

It 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

Your 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 year.

1938 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 WWII.

In 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 week.

Alan E. Baum ’42 M.D.


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