Letter box: June 2011

Letter box: June 2011

The grass skirted “gals” speak (we think)

Ed’s note: We received several responses to March’s “Looking back” photo, which it seems was taken at a 1957 Phi Epsilon Kappa Talent Show. Some of the replies we received give differing identifications for the people pictured though, so we still can’t say with any certainty who was among that gaggle of “gals” in the hula skirts. Perhaps some of the alumni mentioned in the letters below can write in to let us know if they were a part of that group.

The picture…is a result of the annual Phi Epsilon Kappa Talent Show (1957). Pictured (left to right) were: Jerry Lake, Frank Gambelli ’59, Bernard Dheere ’59, Charles (Bud) Armstrong ’59, Robert McGivney ’59, Ron Earl ’58, Ron Nixon ’57, Joe Herzstein ’58, Harry Baldwin ’57.

Joe Herzstein ’58

Professor Emeritus of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation

I think I can name six of the nine guys in the photo. Starting at the right are: Harry Baldwin ’57, Joe Herzstein ’58, Ron Nixon ’57, not sure but might be Larry Parrish, Frank Kappes, unknown, unknown, Frank Gambelli ’59, unknown. Maybe someone will know the rest or correct me if I am wrong. By the way, there was no talent there, just some Phi Epsilon Kappa guys being a bit crazy.

Ron Nixon ’57

This was a talent show, and the participants in the hula skirts were members of Phi Epsilon Kappa, the physical education fraternity. I am the person pictured fourth in from the left. I don’t remember if the fraternity put on the show or we were just a part of it. The photo was taken in 1957.

George Ayers ’61

More music to our ears…

Ed’s note: We received an additional response to the November 2010 “Looking back” photo of Wayne Furman ’53, Paris Simms ’54, Dave Anderson ’58, and George Eicher ’54.

The picture…is a barbershop quartet popular at shows 1950–54…. Paris and George were music majors, as was I. Wayne started the group in 1950. I was in a girls quartet (with) Patricia (Lumbard) Root ’54, Janet Wilson, and Ginny Wyks ’52. We joined this boys’ group for an All College Review (variety show) in 1950 or 1951, and we sang “Coney Island Baby.” By that time, Fred Black ’53 joined the boy’s quartet—later to become my husband! We girls sang “Moonlight Bay.” I don’t know where the picture was taken, but my husband and I recognize Wayne, Paris, and George. Thanks for the memories!

Doris (Kahnberg) Black ’54

Remembering Professor Sheldon Moore

I was saddened to hear of the death of Dr. Sheldon Moore. He was my teacher and adviser for my undergraduate studies. I had kept in touch with him until his recent death in California.

Linda Stauffer ’78

Religion: panacea or myth?

Regarding the article on Professor Mirtcheva’s statistical analysis of the health advantages to children of religious affiliation (“Religious children are healthier children, study shows,” March 2011)…On the face of it, it is difficult to imagine that adherence to any particular pattern of mythology, while it may produce the psychological comfort to be found in any imaginary world, can result in measurable improvement to physical health. My own anecdotal experience directly contradicts Mirtcheva’s in every way. As a board member of New Alternatives for Homeless LGBT Youth, a New York City charity that works to provide GED and SAT classes, food, clothes, social work, and legal help and “safe space” for some of the thousands of gay street kids who struggle to survive in the city, I am familiar with countless cases in which the religiosity of families has destroyed the lives of children, severely impacted physical and mental health, and driven some to suicide. I’d like to know if Mirtcheva’s statistics sampled this population.

Further…the statistical samples on which this study is based, taken as they are from a society (our own) at a point in time when the historically violent tendencies of organized religion are being kept to some degree under control, can in no way be taken as a broad view of the intrinsic health thereof. The pernicious influence of American evangelicals in fostering the so-called “kill the gays” legislation in Uganda, the routine murder and persecution of gays in Muslim countries, the back and forth fighting between various sects of Islam, between Hindus and Muslims in India, Christians and Muslims in Indonesia and elsewhere, etc.—all indicate that from a world historical perspective, nothing has been so destructive to mental and physical health as organized religion.

Tobias Grace ’67

Ed’s note: We asked Professor Mirtcheva to respond to Mr. Grace’s letter. Her response is below:

I would like to thank the reader for his comments and interest in my research, and try to respond to the issues raised. The majority of the literature on religion and health has shown a positive relationship: those affiliated with a religion, those who attend church, and those who find religion important are generally in better health, both physically and psychologically, and live longer than their nonreligious counterparts. My work examines the connection between religion and health (overall and psychological) for an understudied population age group, children and adolescents, and finds evidence for a positive relationship as well.

The paper describes possible mechanisms suggested in the literature to explain the salient relationship between religion and health: social, regulative, and psychological. While possible directions of causation are outlined, this research empirically examines association only and not causation. Statistical analysis shows what happens to the “average” person, and not to specific individuals. Thus, the findings of this study do not contradict the fact that for some individuals the religion-health relationship may be neutral or even negative, as the reader suggested.

The data used for the study were drawn from a national sample, Child Development Supplement, collected by the Survey Research Center at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan in 2002/2003, which interviewed children and their primary caregiver, typically the child’s mother. Given the survey design, only children living with at least one parent were part of the dataset. The group of homeless adolescents the reader referred to is not reflected. It may be an interesting population group to examine in another study.

Donka Mirtcheva, PhD

Assistant Professor of Economics

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