The Art of Required Courses
I was struck by Anne Moore's comments about required courses--in particular, her remark about having to take an astronomy course and being glad later ["Familiar Intimacies: Making Art a Part of Life," Summer 1996 OAM]. I had exactly the same experience, except I'm an astronomer who was forced to take an art course as an Oberlin undergraduate. Of all the required courses I had to take, that's the one I appreciate the most.
A curious side effect of being an astronomer is the necessity for international travel. I have thus had the opportunity to visit the Prado in Madrid, Hradcany Castle in Prague, and various museums in London, Moscow, and elsewhere. I especially enjoyed the Lehnbach Haus in Munich, which made an otherwise difficult time in Bavaria more bearable.
As I have made hordes of undergraduates, like Moore, suffer through those logarithms, I'm encouraged to hear that at least one such student came to be grateful for the experience afterward.
--Andrew T. Young '55
San Diego, California
The Fate of Delta Lodge
I was pleased to read about W. Shelby Oliver's generous gift to the Department of Athletics and Physical Education in memory of Delta Lodge ["Delta Lodge Inspires a Legacy," Summer 1996 OAM].
Mr. Oliver and other Delta Lodge alumni might be interested, but sad, to hear about the demise of Delta Lodge in 1943. I was lucky to be invited to join Delta in fall 1942. I was assigned to share a large room on the first floor with Leslie H. Fishel Jr. '43 and Peter Mennin '44. Little did I realize what famous men they would become. Mennin, the great composer, became president of Juilliard, and Fishel was president of Heidelberg College in Ohio for 11 years and director of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center for 10. Their accomplishments shouldn't surprise me, as all Delta residents were good students and involved in extra-curricular efforts of all kinds.
The war totally interrupted life at Delta. Our group of about 30 at the beginning of the 1943 fall semester dwindled to only six by spring. We had to give up the big house and move to rented rooms near Grey Gables. All of us went into the service that summer, and that was the end of Delta Lodge, as far as I know.
My thanks to all Delta members who preceded us. They set a remarkable example, which Shelby Oliver has now honored.
--Charles W. Armstrong '45
Bring Back Sports Wrap Ups
I enjoyed the article about the Olivers and the recollections about Delta Lodge in the summer issue. I was an inhabitant of The Morgue from 1937 to 1939 and we engaged Delta in some fierce intramural battles. It is interesting to note, and a matter of personal pride, that 11 of the Morgue's 13 residents won their varsity letter in intercollegiate competition.
That recollection urges me to lodge a serious complaint about the alumni magazine's failure to include information about the intercollegiate teams. I understand your reluctance to advertise the football team's abysmal record, but Sports Illustrated has already done that for you. Still, I am interested in the records of the men and women's soccer teams, which usually do fairly well. And, as a baseball letterman, I am frustrated not to have any results of their games. If your audience were mostly from Ohio, the local newspapers would probably give scores. But many, if not most OAM readers, are from all over the country. They can not find these results in their newspapers, as is the case here in California.
Why have sports results have been dropped from the magazine? I plead for their future inclusion.
--Bruce L.Bennett '39
San Luis Obispo, California
Editor's note: The OAM stopped publishing Yeomen and Yeowomen's season records in 1994. We noted the change in the Winter/Spring 1994 issue: "A quarterly magazine often can't get the news out while it's still current, a problem that is especially apparent in the OAM's sports coverage. Many readers have told us they're frustrated by having to wait months to read about season results."
If others would like the OAM to resume its sports coverage, please let us know; the various ways to reach us are printed in the masthead on page 2. In the meantime, the Heisman Club newsletter, Heisman Highlights, still provides timely, and thorough, sports coverage. If you would like to receive Heisman Highlights, call or write: Liesl Strickler, Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, Bosworth 208, 50 W. Lorain St., Oberlin, OH 44074-1089. Phone (216) 775-8545. And the "Yeo Sports" section of Around the Square, the College's bimonthly newsletter distributed to all alumni, contains news and features about student athletes, the department, and its staff.
Remembering David Anderson
When I read the sad news of David Anderson's passing in the Summer 1996 OAM, I got out my electronics book from the fall of 1976. Mr. Anderson taught the electronics laboratory that year, and I spent my Christmas vacation finishing up the labs. He would check in on me, and we would talk about things like the Manhattan Project, barge trips in Europe, the first nanosecond of the Big Bang, Brahms, and, sometimes, about why my experiment was or was not working. Several days after I had gone home, I found a Christmas card tucked inside my electronics book. In the card, Mr. Anderson thanked me for taking time away from my labs to "engage him in stimulating conversation."
Mr. Anderson was a physicist, a humanist, a teacher, a gentleman, and a pal. I'm not sure where my Oberlin diploma is, but I keep that Christmas card in my electronics book.
--John Berman '79
Mountain View, California
The Real School of Theology
As a graduate of Oberlin's Graduate School of Theology, I probably should have paid more attention to the stone faces thanI did. I was really unaware of what was there until I read the article "Carved in Stone" in the spring issue. The responses to the story ["Letters," Summer 1996 OAM] reminded me of an incident that says more about the reality of the school than do the stone faces.
I am a white male, now a retired navy chaplain. Several years ago a group of Oberlin seminary graduates who were in Minneapolis during an American Baptist Convention invited my wife and me to a dinner. I am not American Baptist. We were invited because I was an Oberlin graduate.
A black couple we knew from Oberlin was there. Much to their surprise, and ours, my wife and I were the only white people. I think there were about 50 people, all of them black, except us. We knew a few. Many were better educated than myself. As the dinner progressed and the shock wore off, the emcee commented that they had their token integration. We discussed how this came about. We decided that Oberlin was one of the very few, and maybe the only good seminary, that accepted American Baptist blacks at that time.
Yes, Oberlin's Graduate School of Theology was a remarkable institution, and an excellent seminary for everyone.
--Delbert J. Cory '64
Cottage Grove, Minnesota
An Author's Response
I was pleased that my article, "Carved in Stone" [Spring 1996 OAM] raised questions for some readers about whether future limestone faces could be grafted to the columns of Oberlin's colonnade. But I take issue with three of the letters to the editor that suggest I should have taken the colonnade and its creators to task for their multicultural failures [Summer 1996 OAM].
These astute readers looked closely at the photographs of the stone faces, and lo, they were all, in the words of Peggy Dole '81, "dead white men." Clyde Holbrook, instead of being the founder of the contemporary religion department of the College, was cavalierly dismissed by Heidi Hilf Vardeman '76 as "another white guy."
It is true--I could have written an article using the tools of gender analysis to interrogate Oberlin's colonnade. I might have arrived at a conclusion not unlike those mentioned above, thereby relegating the colonnade to the dustbin of history.
Such a prospect struck me as rather predictable and uninteresting. While it is entirely valid to consider a work of art's limitations due to its historical circumstances, if a work does not meet our strict contemporary mores, does this mean it is to be condemned? Ms. Vardeman wrote "that what we appreciate today is not limited to that which was valued in the past." I agree; but isn't there also a danger in limiting our appreciation of the past to what we value in the present? By scrutinizing art only in order to determine if it is politically palatable, much of what is strange, interesting, or even beautiful is missed.
In my article, I aimed to point out an odd architectural detail on Oberlin's campus that many alumni have never seen before. Mid-20th century coiffures and spectacles mix with medieval monks, perched upon Corinthian capitals: it's quirky, and in this sense is distinctly Oberlinian.
I am not opposed to the addition of a woman or man whose achievements while teaching at the Graduate School of Theology have so far been neglected. On the other hand, there's something to be said for letting a work stand, with all its funkiness and limitations.
--John Kearney '93
New York, New York
Service Vindicated, Again
Thank you for the article on John Service ["Working Close to a Cataclysm: The Vindication of John Service," Spring 1996 OAM]. My parents were missionaries in China from 1947 to 1951. We were always sad that he was not heard when it could have made a difference, and that he and others had to suffer at McCarthy's hands. Reading how Service persisted until he found a way to give his unique gifts was inspiring. Oberlin is right to be proud to count him as an alumnus.
--Isabel Lovejoy Best '61
Earnest B. Hook's condemnation of John S. Service ["Letters," Summer 1996 OAM] cannot go unchallenged. Jack and I have been friends since our boyhoods in China, and we were classmates at Oberlin, so I am not impartial. But as one tangentially related to the Amerasia case, I can make a few important points.
As an American Foreign Service Officer attached to General Stilwell's staff in China, one of Service's responsibilities was to brief American journalists. Occasionally he did so by showing them, as background, some of his reports. After returning from Yenan, where he had long talks with Mao Tse-tung and other Chinese Communist leaders, he was called back to the State Department inWashington, D.C., where he lent to Phillip Jaffe, editor of Amerasia, his personal carbon copies of some of his reports. That was "Service's campaign of leaking documents," as encouraged by Lauchlin Currie and others, wrote Hook. Nonsense! Hook also wrote that Service hoped to get them published in Amerasia. That is pure speculation.
Service was arrested because copies of his papers were found among the masses of classified documents Jaffe had collected. Service immediately waived immunity. He appeared as a voluntary witness before a grand jury, which questioned him, considered the evidence, and unanimously dismissed his case. Hence, Service was not tried along with those who had been feeding classified documents to Jaffe, and he returned to his position in the State Department. So much for the theory of a cover up by Attorney General Thomas Clark.
Some years later, during the McCarthy-McCarran period in American politics, the Amerasia case was revived. Although the State Department's Loyalty Security Board cleared Service again, the government-wide Loyalty Review Board arbitrarily took over the case. After a brief hearing the Review Board reversed the State Department's finding and ordered Service fired.
Service and his lawyers fought the dismissal through the courts. After almost six years, the case reached the United States Supreme Court, which found unanimously that he had been unjustly and illegally dismissed, and ordered his reinstatement; it also ordered that "all records of his dismissal be expunged from the record."
Service stayed in the State Department for five years, but when it seemed that his career as a Foreign Service Officer was at a dead end, he retired. Since then he has had a distinguished career in the field of China Studies. One more point: in 1994 his peers in the Association of Retired Diplomatic and Consular Officers ceremonially awarded John S. Service their highest distinction, the Foreign Service Cup.
--C. Martin Wilbur '31
George Sansom Professor of Chinese History, Emeritus, Columbia University
It is a pity that Bernard D. Sherman did not, in his response to Ernest Hook's letter to the editor, touch on the real issue concerning John Service and the Amerasia case. The issue is if Service was guilty of "giving secret classified information" to the Communists, and thus committing espionage, when he passed over personal files to Amerasia, a Communist-supported journal. Hook cites The Amerasia Spy Case: Prelude to McCarthyism by Harvey Klehr and Ronald Radosh (Chapel Hill, 1996) as revealing that Service was guilty. Dead wrong!
The very point of the book is that Service was guilty of nothing more than naiveté. While acknowledging that, in trying to expose Chinese Nationalist corruption, Service "crossed the line between executing and recommending policy and trying to influence it" (something that goes on all the time in Washington), the authors state: "Any lingering doubts about Service's true position are erased by the evidence of the FBI surveillance. If he had been a secret Communist, much less a spy, some better evidence would likely have surfaced . . . ."
--Robert S. Thompson '59
Columbia, South Carolina
Help Make a Movie
I am producing a documentary on the American women's suffrage movement, and am interested in interviewing or corresponding with Oberlin alumni who can help our independent film company tell the stories of women active in the militant suffrage movement. We are particularly interested in Oberlin alumnae Mary Church Terrell, Class of 1884, and Doris Stevens '11. If you can help, please call or write:
c/o Steve and Linda Horn, Inc.
435 E. 83rd St.
New York, New York 10028
Phone: (212) 794-1300
Return to the OAM Fall-Winter 1996 Table of Contents