Letter box: November 2010

Letter box: November 2010

Kudos to team TCNJ Yellow!

Only just today I read your March 2010 issue (Vol.. 14, # 3.)  On page 16 you report on the Computer Science students who participated in—and won—a computer game-development contest. I am writing to say Bravo! to these young programmers and designers (Team TCNJ Yellow) for creating a game that does not use violent destruction and death as its operative theme, but instead uses creation and growth.  For decades my main complaint about entertainment video is its common use and standard theme of killing and destroying things.  “When one icon intercepts another,” I’ve always said, “why does it have to destroy it?! Why does it have to be violent? Why can’t it sprout into a flower or metamorphosize into a butterfly? Who’s designing these things?! It must be men!”

Your article reports that Team TCNJ Yellow created a game called Yellow that “greets players with a screen covered in bare tree roots and branches. Players…move along the trees and…cause leaves and flowers to sprout…The experience is reminiscent of both gardening and painting.”

As a TCNJ alumna art major (now art teacher) who also enjoys gardening, may I just say THANK YOU to these students for thinking creatively outside the destructive box. And only one girl in a group of five boys. Imagine that! High fives, guys!

Eileen Marin ’76

If the Headline is Big Enough . . .

The Signal of the early ’70s must be a great source for TCNJ Magazine articles. In the last year or so TCNJ Magazine has featured stories and quotations from Photo Editor Mike Butkus, Entertainment and Feature Editor Lou Gaul, and staffer Dave Rago. Or you have reminded us of 1970s news like the Meningitis outbreak or building fires to protest the Vietnam war.

From 1970 to 1975 the paper moved from a slightly irresponsible, borderline radical outlook to something approaching a legitimate newspaper. The year I started on the paper, The Signal sponsored a ketchup bottle for the Miss TSC contest—partly to make a feminist awareness statement and partly as a goof. By 1974, the paper was sponsoring POW/MIA activities, investigating the teacher’s strike, institutional racism, and other stories of substance. I credit most of this evolution to the arrival of F. Gilman Spencer, then editor of the Trentonian and a Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial writing. Gil taught us how to regain readership, find important background to seemingly minor stories and how to clean up the layout so it began to “look” like a newspaper. We advanced from having all our typesetting farmed out to a local printer to in-house typesetting, moving quickly from a mechanical A/M Varityper typesetter to a Compugraphic photo typesetter. One evening Gill urged us to change the front page layout and use bigger type for a headline. We argued that the story wasn’t worthy of a bigger type face. Gill responded, “If the headline is big enough, the story is big enough.”

By 1974 The Signal was published twice a week. Partially to promote weekend campus activities, but mostly as a shameless ploy to boost advertising revenue.

I spent four years on The Signal—a year and a half as layout and design editor, a semester as associate editor and one semester as editor-in-chief. Several staffers of that era went on to careers in journalism. In addition to Lou Gaul (quoted in the September issue); John Meyer wrote for a newspaper in San Diego; Maureen Gibbons went to The New York Times and Fred Heyer went to a paper in New England.

Now if I can just find my Springsteen negatives . . .

Mark Richie ’75

Where they were when the hailstorm came

Wow. I remember it well. I was “working security” in Bray Hall (which meant sitting in the hall at a little desk outside of the instrument storage room) when all of a sudden it started raining—inside the building! It was a wild afternoon!

Marj Peterson Mottola ’79

I don’t remember this storm—must’ve been in the pub with all my friends!

Regina Firestine Schnerr ’80

I was a senior at Trenton State in November 1977. I remember being in class when the skies darkened and the winds kicked up. It became so windy it seemed as if the wind was pushing the birds backwards. Once the hail began the professor sent us into the hallway just in case the windows in the classroom broke. Eventually we were sent home. Home for me was Centennial Hall. Students were in the halls, all talking about the storm and wondering if it was a tornado. That afternoon was one of the most memorable afternoons I had at TSC.

Jayne Krinick ’78

I remember the storm of ‘77 well. As a matter of fact, I just told the story to friends this past weekend (33 years later) while vacationing in the Myrtle Beach area. Seeing a flock of birds flying our way before an approaching thunderstorm made me think about the ’77 storm back at the former Trenton State College.

As a freshman at TSC, I was heading back to Travers Dorm after getting a magazine from the Student Center. As I was walking down the hill towards Wolfe dorm, I looked back towards the Student Center commuter parking lot and notice an enormous flock of birds flying in my direction. The thing that stood out was that it wasn’t just one type of bird that you would normally see but all the different types (crows, gulls, blue jays, robins, black birds, etc.).
Once the birds passed over my head, I was painfully aware of what they were trying to escape. Large golf ball sized hail started to pelt me on the head. As I started running down the cement walkway, I put the magazine over my head to try to fend off some of the hail. Even though I was trying to get back to Travers’ 3rd, I was really getting scared because I heard the whirling or groaning sounds of winds getting closer behind me. There was no looking back at that point to see what was happening. I decided to run into the Wolfe Dorms rather than trying to make it all the way to Travers.

Everyone was standing by the open doors of Wolfe as I ran up to get inside. As soon as I got in the front doors, an incredible wind came rushing by the building and all the front doors slammed shut leaving all of us to look at each other wondering what just happened.

After the storm and the next day, we all walked across the campus seeing the devastation of the storm. Roof shingles were everywhere, trees and branches were down and I seem to remember that a piece of wood like a 2′ x 4′ was even sticking out of one of the temporary buildings near the gym.

Almost 33 years later and still a lasting memory!

Ken Kristopovich ’81

On Thursday November 7, 1977, I was in Professor Diane’s Business Statistics Class (in Green Hall) when the storm hit. During the early part of the class, a student was ejected from the class after a verbal argument. I was shocked and dismayed as this particular student was not the type that would be confrontational and he was out of character! As fate would have it, when the storm hit this student was at the cross walks at Green Hall and he actually ended up saving a young woman from physical harm by shielding the woman with his body and holding on to her and a bench. To this day, I truly believe that those winds were in excess of 80 miles an hour!

Douglas Opirhory ’79

I was refereeing a flag football game when off in the distance, it suddenly got pretty dark. We knew there was a chance of storms but the game went on and it was OK until it started to get windy and we heard the birds flying away, squawking loudly. My former floormate, a player in the game, said “Those birds are [angry]!” Then the storm really arrived, I saw a roof of an adjacent building just come together up and away—it just flew off. When the rain and hail joined in, we all made a run for it.

Dave Silverstein ’79

Ah, the tornado of senior year. We were in Concert Band or Wind Ensemble. I cannot remember which—in those days all the rehearsals kind of melded together. A rehearsal in Bray Hall with Dr. Anthony Isch. Playing away at some piece, when all of a sudden, it was black. Really black, pitch black! Ha ha ha! No one spoke, there was dead silence! No panicking, no screaming, just silence (unheard of in the music building, no less the Band Room). That room had no windows (probably due to sound issues with the rest of the campus) and since we were all playing, we didn’t hear a thing.

I can remember my first thought was did we all just die? Did the world come to an end? Well, I always wanted to die playing my French horn, so guess this is it!  What a way to go! Then, one of the tympani players opened the back door and we saw the incredible destruction. Trees downed, branches all over the place, leaves in humongous piles, still slowly swirling around.

Some of the brave (or stupid) souls such as myself went out of the band room and into the “new wing” to examine the damage and see if we could help. The roof was ripped off and the guy who was in charge of the building or the manager of the music department came running down the hallway and turned off the power. Since there was no longer a roof, the rain was pouring in and he was worried about people getting electrocuted, which led to the brave souls returning rapidly to our lockers and out of the building!

It made for an incredible memory of my senior year at TSC and I think we as musicians formed an even tighter bond than we had before! Living currently in Montana, I hope that is the closest I EVER come to a tornado!

Maureen Dress Exley ’78, MEd ’86

I was a freshman on the JV field hockey team and we had just finished up practice when the hailstorm hit. I remember seeking shelter in the Student Center, which was fairly new. Between the noise of the storm from the wind, the hail coming down, and the windows breaking in the Student Center it was more than memorable. Perhaps most so for the men’s soccer team that was still out practicing when the hail started! A constant reminder of the storm stayed with me, the dents in my car. I have since married, my husband works as a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, and have lived now in the Midwest’s tornado alley for 26 years (Kansas and Minnesota) and still have not personally witnessed that bad of a storm!

Martha J. Dorner-Wavrin ’81

In response to your “Looking back” article in the September issue, here are some of my memories. I was engaged in wrestling practice inside Packer Hall. The team was running in the hallways at the time. I distinctly remember the events you describe. All at once I sensed a severe drop in barometric pressure. The air changed and had an eerie feeling about it. Immediately following we heard the wind and rain and the hail pelting the building, and subsequently breaking windows. We quickly got away from them and sat with our backs to the heavy solid walls in the hallways. We were on the second floor of the building. After the storm passed we went outside to see the storms impact. The tennis courts were heavily damaged by the wind. We saw the roof damage as well. Several of the benches used by the football team were moved quite a distance. We were told that one person was hit by one of those flying benches and broke their arm. We talked to another person who got caught in the middle of the storm and described getting hit with large hail while he ran for cover. Since, I have been in many storms, and only a few times have I sensed the same pressure drop. When that has happened it has always been a very severe outcome. I hope this helps in putting together the events surrounding your inquiry.

Dr. Kevin Walzak ’81

On Thursday November 17, 1977, Trenton State’s Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia was scheduled for an opening night production of its annual theatrical production—Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. I was the director of this production, which was to take place in the new student center Pub; the idea was to create a cabaret/dinner theatre environment. Just hours before the curtain was to go up, all hell broke loose—literally. Huge glass windows caved in; metal beams hung precariously over the stage. Needless to say we had to cancel that evening’s performance. Late that night my fraternity brothers and I snuck in to the condemned space and moved all of the sets out to Travers Hall, where we successfully performed the musical the next few nights. I will never forget the seemingly insurmountable circumstances surrounding this event and the eventual triumph of a standing ovation at the close of our final performance. It’s a lesson to us all that when life gives us lemons, we should make lemonade—or in this case when lifes give you hail, make a French martini!

Thomas Zucosky ’78

Some memories never leave… I was quite near that fallen tree pictured in the September TCNJ Magazine. The wind was picking up and huge hail began coming down like rockets. Of course I tried to stay outside as long as I could to experience the awesomeness of nature until I heard that sound—an almost deafening hissing. As that sound approached, myself and others took shelter in the lower lobby of Allen House. The hissing noise turned to a roar as it passed over the building like a jet plane, and we heard and felt that tree fall. It was almost unbelievable that such a large tree fell without damaging anything. If the wind went the other way it 
would have fallen on Phelps Dining Hall. I recall standing on the sidewalk outside Bray Hall and looking up at the sky through the section of roof which was broken away and collapsed.

Steve Butfilowski ’81

I was a music major at the time, in the Student Center with friends. When the windows blew out, we ran back to Bray Hall. Outside, there were piles of hailstones everywhere. Back in Bray, we found a wet piano being wheeled down the hall, to save it from the water pouring in where the roof had been breached in the end room of the far wing. The other thing I remember was that people started calling their parents immediately to let them know they were OK, and the parents had no idea that anything had happened. The next summer I took a meteorology course, and the professor showed us the pressure strips from the storm, that showed a really quick pressure drop, and just as quick of a return to normal limits. That’s exactly how quick the whole thing was. Thanks for the memories.

Jackie Brittain ’79

In response to “Looking Back” 11/17/77, I was there as a freshman. I have included the front page from the Trentonian as well as additional pictures [see below]. I was featured in a picture next to the caption “cleaning up.” In the picture to the right of the “cleaning up” with the fallen tree, students from Brewster Hall are visible. Maureen Furlong is at the center with me, Monica Cielescik, at the right (with the blond hair.) 
That night, students from Brewster decided to go out and survey the damage.
 Lakeside, we checked out the destruction left behind at the Allen circle.
It was a wild night for this freshman with no power in the dorm & using an oil lamp for light. So, of course the best idea was to put on the rain gear and look at the aftermath of the storm!

Monica Cielescik Thompson ’81

hail clip 1hail clip 2

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