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Letter box: March 2011

Letter box: March 2011

Music to our ears: readers respond to November’s  “Looking back”

Ed’s note: The first response listed below was forwarded by Rae Matro Plick ’53, who is pen pals with the letter-writer.

[Second from the left] is Paris Simms, a wonderful pianist and organist. He usually always played for Kendall Hall assemblies. That’s how I learnt America the Beautiful. I love singing!

Allan Cooper ’52 (exchange student)
Wimborne Saint Giles, Dorset, England

The singers are from left to right: Wayne Furman ’53, me (Paris Simms ’54), Dave Anderson ’58, and George Eicher ’54…. We were all music students and members of the Theta Nu Sigma fraternity. I think that performance was a part of an annual show called “All College Revue,” [which] featured acts from all the fraternities and sororities on campus.

Paris L. Simms ’54

The quartet was part of Theta Nu Sigma’s annual “Music and Mayhem” show presented at Kendall in spring of 1952. [Wayne Fuhrmann] was my roommate…. George [Eicher] was an accomplished double bass player, and purchased the one in the picture for $5 at a second-hand store in Trenton especially for this act, at the end of which he seemingly became incensed at the poor quality of sound the instrument produced and proceeded to destroy it—smashed it to splinters “live” on stage.

Robert de Castro ’55
Master of Ceremonies, Theta Nu Sigma

I can identify one of the four in the photo. Third from left is David Anderson, who was a vocal music major and later taught choral music at West Morris Regional in 1959–61 or ’62.

Jack Hyde ’67

The individuals in the photo, which I think was in the ’53 or ’54 Seal are Wayne Fuhrmann ’53, Paris Simms ’54, (I don’t remember), and George Eicher ’54. They were performing in the All-College Review or one of the shows that Theta Nu Sigma used to put on. They were all members of Theta Nu Sigma and sang as a barber shop quartet.

Tom Mac Ewen ’53

After speaking to one of the members in the quartet in “Looking back,” I can give you the following information: This quartet was probably photographed in 1951. I can’t identify the gentleman with the bass, but next to him is Paris Simms, then David Anderson, and finally George [Eicher].

Joan Anderson ’56

Right to left—George Eicher ’54 (deceased); David (?); Paris Simms ’54; 4th person not sure. All were Theta Nu Sigma and the three on the right were music majors. The setting is the All College Revue of 1953, I believe. I was in the pit conducting the orchestra.

Art Frank ’54

(see continuation of letter below)

More memories of  Professor Helbig

Dr. Helbig (“Otto Helbig dishes on his Milli Vanilli moment,” November 2010) was always one with a wonderful sly sense of quiet humor. He was the most marvelous teacher (everyone loved him for his talent and gentleness). He was the class adviser for the class of ’54 of which I was class president in my sophomore, junior, and senior years. In later years we played together in regional symphony orchestras. When I was appointed conductor/musical director of the famed Lambertville Music Circus in the late ’50s early ’60s, he was in the pit orchestra as one of my violinists. His wife Mary was a wonderful harpist who played many shows for me. When I was still in college, at then Trenton State Teachers College, I even baby-sat for his daughter, Jan.

Art Frank ’54

Opposing views of President Obama

With all respect due, I have some serious differences over the analysis set forth by Professor Woodward on President Obama (“Setting terms of engagement: thoughts on Obama and some predecessors,” November 2010). He alludes to a President “unusual in the range of experiences he can genuinely claim as his own.” Really? The President is unusual only [in that he does not have] a multitude of distinctive experiences to qualify him for that high office; rather, [he has] an incredibly limited experience base. There is no distinctive achievement whatsoever to identify him with subsequent to his leaving his academic years and getting into the real world.

Is he really a “trenchant thinker” with a high level of “message discipline” and a “figure of enormous fluency and rhetorical confidence?” … [The President’s] obsessive dependence on his teleprompter like a child with his security blanket has a certain sadness, which belies his confidence in himself. Notwithstanding the accolades heaped upon him by Prof. Woodward, the scary ineptitude, naivete, and inexperience of the savior from a manger in Chicago, his views on the specialness of America, the threats from its enemies, the unsustainability of soaring debt, and a host of other matters (of which he seems totally unaware) ensure that his will almost certainly will be a one-term presidency.

Bill Burke ’53

Ed’s note: We asked Professor Woodward to respond to Mr. Burke’s letter. His response is included below:

We clearly have read President Obama’s biography very differently. I grant the writer one point: Obama does like to use a teleprompter. I think the campaign has made him wary of his own ad-libs. But I would have thought that the young man who was both the editor of the Harvard Law Review and a community organizer helping struggling youth in Chicago’s South Side would merit admiration, if only because—unlike so many future presidents—he didn’t trade on his family’s money or connections to get ahead. The fact that he went on to become a professor of constitutional law at one of the nation’s top universities before entering public service in the Illinois State House and the United States Senate also speaks to his rounded experience. It is a marvel to me that this political leader who is still not 50 found the time to write two serious studies on American life and politics, run a multi-year presidential campaign that has redefined the process, and helped raise a wonderful family. Obama has lived and redefined the American Dream with usual grace and without animus. I don’t agree with all the decisions of his administration. Still, given the negative energy that dominates the oppositional politics of our time, I sometimes wonder if this patient and thoughtful man is better than we deserve.

Gary Woodward, PhD

More memories of Stokes State Forest

In your March 2010 issue you have a picture…of students coming back from Stokes State Forest’s School of Conservation (“Looking back”). There is a letter about the “Looking back” photo. In November of 1963 on Friday the 22nd, our junior class returned from Stokes to the campus. The thing that attracted our attention as soon as [we] got off the bus was how quiet it was on campus. There was this strange eerie feeling that something wasn’t quite right. We did not know why until we started to talk to some students who had been on campus, this was the day our President Kennedy was shot and this is how we found out. It was a sobering end to a week in nature. First disbelief and then shock. I will never forget that day and how the students reacted.

Ann Scelba ’66

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