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Hooray for Yeh, alumni
read with total fascination Phil Leggieres article on the urban artist
Lily Yeh [Lily Yehs Art of Transformation,
July/August]. I would like to visit some of her works. You mention the
Village of Arts and Humanities in the text. Are there more sites accessible
to the public?
Ken Flowers PT66
Yehs work is site-specific to the North Philadelphia
neighborhood where the Village of Arts and Humanities is located. For
more information on the gardens and other Village programs, call (215)
225-7830 or visit their Web site at (www.villagearts.org).Ed.
couple cavorting in the rain at the 2000 Alumni
Weekend as illustrated on pages 46 and 47 of the July/August Gazette
are Dr. Carole Polek GrNu86 and Tom Buck WEv55. The Mummers strut
performance was completely spontaneous, aided perhaps by the donations
of an umbrella and a placard by an enthusiastic audience.
Despite creaky knees, this 71-year-old boy born and raised in Southwest
Philadelphia felt no pain in doing what comes naturally. The pain came
when I tried to explain to a four-year-old what his mother and grandfather
were doing stomping around in the rain to the sounds of very strange music
played by a bunch of guys dressed in feathers.
Thomas A. Buck III WEv55
70th Reunion of the Class of 1930 promised to be quite an occasion. Dr.
Joseph Rafetto of Bayville, N.J., phoned me and said hed be there with
his wife Jean. (He and I were in the sixth grade together in Manasquan,
N.J.) The weather was already pretty iffy when I reached the Old Guard
tent. Joe and Jean arrived and said the weather was worse in Bayville.
We waited for the rest of the class
Hi, there! Our 70th! Never thought
wed make it, but here we are!
It turned out that Joe and I were it.
As we ate our lunch, which included caviar (anyway, it looked like
caviar), we could hear what sounded like heavy rain coming down on our
tent. It turned out to be more than heavy rain
it was a deluge.
A man Joe knew came over to say hello and said hed take our picture with
his digital camera. The picture turned out to be just as bad as the weather.
And it made Joe and me look at least 90 years old, which we were
A woman I didnt know, sitting at a nearby table, asked me, What class
were you in?
I answered proudly, 1930.
Oh, my, she said, You are certainly well-preserved!
Our 70th Reunion promised to be quite an occasion
Ruth Branning Molloy Ed30
FIJI HOUSE WAS HOME
you for putting in print that the University is willing to look at the
return of the Beta house to the chapter for which it was built almost
a century ago! [Gazetteer, July/August]
I was a Benjamin Franklin Scholar from a small-town high school near Latrobe,
Pa. I graduated from Wharton in 1976 and got my MBA in 1984. Beta house
is my home, and I hope to go there as a Fiji again to Homecoming!
I am now a part-owner of a surgical mask, drape and gown company, Precept/White
Knight. The road has not been easy, as my father was a carpenter, and
not a bank president. I do owe where I am to my education at Penn, and
But, I am also a Beta Fiji, and I agree with what Dr. Barchi said in your
article on Fiji and the Greeks. It was the Fijis that gave me my home
away from home. Prior to joining there, I was as a freshman lonely and
lost in the Quad. I was from the country, and my dorm neighbors were from
the big cities of Philly and New York, primarily.
The brothers at the Fiji house accepted me with open arms. I was neither
wealthy nor a lacrosse jock, which is what the house was 70 percent at
that time. I always viewed it as a liberal jock house open to many viewpoints,
with a little of this and that, the latter capturing me and a few others.
In sum, Fiji was a neat place to belong, and I loved it!
Please write more to make the powers-that-be at Penn give the Betas back
John M. Sopcisak W76
MORE MATTER MERITED
Penn has its first NCAA wrestling champion in more than
50 years and all Brett Matter merited were 13 words in that portion of
the July/August Gazette sports
section titled Also worthy of note! Shame on you.
Christopher D. Olmstead
NO DOCTOR IN THIS HOUSE
I wasnt sure I would write, but I just wanted to tell
you that it was more than a little disconcerting to find myself converted
from Janet Kobrin Watson to Dr. Janet Kobrin Watson [Alumni
Notes, May/June]. Looking through other notes I did realize that
it wasnt just me, and it is true that I have a Ph.D., but like many faculty
in the humanities and social sciences, it isnt a title I use professionally
(where I prefer professor, as I generally think of Dr. as applying
to medical doctors, psychologists, and perhaps Ph.D.s in the hard sciences),
and it certainly isnt a title I use sociallyand I count class notes
as a social thing. I pretty much only trot it out if a customer-service
rep is giving me a hard time with something, or something like that. So
I dont want you to reprint the note, but I would like you to think
about the policy, which seems a bit old-fashioned to me.
Janet Kobrin Watson C89
IMPRECISE LANGUAGE MARRED REVIEWS
Having read Wendy Steiners review of Mary Ellen Marks
book American Odyssey [Off the
Shelf, March/April], the three letters to the editor about that review
and Steiners response [Letters, May/June], I am impelled to continue
As a fellow critic, I do not dispute a critics right, even responsibility,
to point out perceived flaws in a body of work, even if the critics general
evaluation of that work is one of approbation. However, Steiners tepid
explanations of the tone of her review only serve to reveal the flaccid
nature of her own writing.
She tries to explain away her remark that Marks being voted the most
influential woman photographer of all time was a somewhat wince-inducing
accolade by claming that she meant it was demeaning to ghettoize her
with just women rather than to include both sexes equally. Well, why not
say that in the first place? Its not too difficult to arrange words into
And as Joan Liftin points out, Steiners phrase for earning the admiration
of the likes of Maya Angelou and Louis Malle implies that they provide
disreputable company. If she didnt mean that, why not write, people
like Maya Angelou and Louis Malle.
I think a close reading of Steiners review does reveal a degree of admiration
for some of Marks pictures. But her use of so many issues without explication,
such as the uneasy politics of exploration and colonialism (apparent
in much of the work of British photographers in India or China or American
photographers of the American West in the 19th century), or voyeurism
and exploitation (which one could arguably usewithout necessarily acceptingin
discussing the work of, say, Nan Goldin), clearly muddle her intended
meaning. And her shorthand of placing Mark between Walker Evans and Diane
Arbus without explaining what she really means is about as useful as an
attention-span-impaired Hollywood producer defining a movie as a cross
between two other movies rather than defining what the new movie actually
I think it valid to point out, for instance, that a books dust jacket,
meant to lure buyers with the manipulative language of advertising, distorts
the reality of what lies within. But Steiner must accept that, whatever
her intentions, by her imprecise use of language and by the loose and
incomplete nature of her arguments, her review does indeed come off as
snide and mean-spirited.
Stephen Perloff C70
WAR AGAINST RACISM CONTINUES
offensive to read the racially charged, grossly ill-informed letter to
The Pennsylvania Gazette [March/April]
attacking Greg Robinsons article about one of the darker episodes in
Penns long historyits rejection of Naomi Nakano by the Graduate School
in 1944 because she was an American of Japanese ancestry. [Admission
Denied, Jan/Feb]. Naomi is my sister-in-law, my wifes sister. Both her
family and ours have a three-generation list of Penn graduates.
The letter writer parrots precisely wartime anti-Japanese-American
hysteria, which Mr. Robinsons article covers. He attempts to justify
hysteria, which, by definition, is irrational. Among other race-based
questions, the writer asks, How would the authorities know for certain
whether or not Miss Nakano was an agent for Japan? The same sweeping
question could have been asked about anyone in those days. But the specific
response is they knew Naomi was not an agent. Her father, Y.W. Nakano,
a Penn alumnus of the Class of 1916, was a master engineer with top security
clearances, though technically he was an enemy alien. He and his construction
company performed vital war work. It was not authorities who barred
Naomi from admission. She was denied by an ignorant and/or confused Penn
administration. Race was the reason.
The letter writer asks, How would you be certain
that war ships sailing from Philadelphia were not being observed by an
Axis agent? He should read history. The answer is they were being
observed by the AxisGermans. U-boats haunted the East Coast, devastating
shipping, coming right into Delaware Bay on occasion. A team of German
agents landed on Long Island. Others were in place. Virtually all were
captured and executed. No German-American was refused admittance to Penn
because of his or her heritage, nor should they have been.
racism in Naomis case is not 20-20 hindsight from year 2000 people
in the embrace of leftist politics and social engineering, as the letter
writer claims. No one is rearranging history so that it is congruent
with [their] ethos. During the war Penn alumnus Owen Roberts, Supreme
Court justice and later dean of the Law School, wrote in a court opinion
that anti-Japanese-American bias was largely an accumulation of much
of the misinformation, half-truths and insinuations that for years have
been directed against Japanese-Americans by people with racial and economic
(Korematsu v. United States, 1944). Roberts was a great
jurist, appointed by a Republican president and generally regarded as
letter writer suggests that the Pacific war justified betrayal of the
Constitution at home. He defends World War II injustices that in this
day and age may seem unpalatable, [but] they were taken and its done
Wrong! It is not done with.
If World War II was about anything, it was about
defending our liberties and rights under the U.S. Constitution. That war
Richard L. Graves C52
Port Washington, N.Y.
A garbled press release resulted
in two errors in an Alumni Notes entry for Bernard Frank L38 [July/August].
Mr. Frank had served as chair of the ombudsman committees of the American
Bar Association and Federal Bar Association, not the associations themselves.
And he was president of the International Ombudsman Institute, not the
International Bar Association Institute.
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