Letters To The Editors
Bostonia welcomes readers’ reactions and encourages expressions of opinion,
pro and con. Submit your letter below.
Thanks from the Class of 1970
Thank you, Boston University, for bringing us together 40 years later (“At Long Last, Commencement,” CommonWealth,” Summer 2010). It was a weekend I will treasure. We felt like family because we had experienced the late ’60s. It was good to simply be on this great campus. If only Howard Zinn had been able to join us. As I said at graduation, “Howard Zinn is in our hearts.” Singing “Give Peace a Chance” was spontaneous and meaningful. I heard someone utter, “No U.S. drones in Pakistan.” History, history, history...
Timothy Chaucer (DGE’68, CAS’70, SED’72) Milford, Conn.
BU’s Bland Architecture
Having lived on Bay State Road as an undergraduate, I read with interest about the new Student Center planned for Bay State Road (“Student Center Coming to East Campus,” “CommonWealth,” Summer 2010). Unfortunately, it appears as though this building will also fit the BU trend for bland, “corporate brick” architecture. None of the buildings built on campus in the last 12 years (School of Management, Fitness & Recreation Center, StuVi residences) have much originality, and would all fit nicely in generic suburban office parks. A premier university is where one can push boundaries and explore innovative architecture. Sadly, BU seems obsessed with sticking with “safe” architecture—no one may hate it, but no one will be inspired by it, either.
Tim Dawson-Townsend (MET’01)Hingham, Mass.
Thank you for telling us about Grace Bumbry’s career and about her BU connection (“Amazing Grace,” Summer 2010). I wish that I had known of it while I was pursuing graduate studies; perhaps I might have had the joy of hearing her sing during that time.
About 1971, living in Milwaukee, I completed my two-week Reserve training period in Philadelphia and drove furiously to hear Orfeo ed Euridice at the Met in New York that evening.
The opera was wonderful and the scenery worked very well, but for me the greatest part was Ms. Bumbry, doing the “trouser” (male) role of Orfeo. Absolutely magnificent singing and completely believable in the role of a man! Ms. Bumbry was new to me then, but thereafter not so.
Tim Edlund (GSM’84,’86)Baltimore, Md.
Having read the book Three Wishes (“Three Wishes and a Donor,” Summer 2010), the story these three women tell is far more complex, interesting, and human than a brief article can convey. It’s a great read whether you agree with their decisions or not. I found the book to be bravely honest.
Claudia Dunne (SSW’90)Boston, Mass.
Although I admire alum Tejas Kapadia’s dedication to his pet charities (“Bringing Doughnuts to India,” “Alumni Notes,” Summer 2010), I am disappointed that his means of execution is through fat-and-sugar-laden hunks of fried dough. We are in the midst of an obesity crisis, where we have the first generation of children who will not outlive the ages of their parents; we have changed the name of adult-onset diabetes to type 2 purely because there are so many children who are coming down with the disease; we have high school kids going through bypass surgery. What America does, so does the rest of the world (think McDonald’s), and this trend is no different. Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but the last thing the world needs is another doughnut.
Tara Basile (SED’97)Maple Valley, Wash.
The business concept and Tejas Kapadia’s intentions seem good. But I think he could have chosen a different business than the doughnut business. As we know, India is the “diabetic capital of the world,” where more than 80 million people are currently suffering from this disease. These doughnuts and other American “sweeteners” aggravate the problem.
He is planning to donate his profits to charity, but when he franchises, the franchisee won’t sit idle, but rather will push very hard to sell doughnuts to everybody, ranging from kids to elderly.
Chandra Paladugu (GSM’08)Danvers, Mass.
Commencement Speaker Choice
Seeing that Eric Holder, the U.S. attorney general, was given an honorary degree by the University (“Perfect Day for Commencement,” “CommonWealth,” Summer 2010) has made me reconsider any contributions to the University I will make in the future.
By selecting Holder (Hon.’10), the University reflects its agreeing to Holder’s extremely “left leaning philosophy,” which completely contradicts mine.
Whoever was responsible for selecting this individual should have used better judgment and should have thought of the consequence.
I am sure I am not alone in voicing my displeasure with the selection, but that has no bearing on my decision.
Thomas Prebola (SMG’63)Montgomery, Tex.
Bostonia, Early Walkers, and Howard Zinn
Recently, while reading your lively Summer 2010 issue, I was struck by three things. First, what a fine journal Bostonia has become. Second, the letters about Howard Zinn (“Letters”), and third, the article about human feet in prehistoric times, featuring young anthropologist Jeremy DeSilva and his research (“One Small Step for Man,” “Explorations”). I would like to comment briefly on the second and third things.
Two letters about Howie Zinn did not actually surprise me. The one praised him highly and the other in effect cursed him mightily. Howie could do that to people. He was my neighbor for 23 years at 232 Bay State Road and my colleague in the ill-fated faculty union we started in reaction to President John Silber. Howie was good-natured, friendly, and very political, but I never perceived him as a Marxist ideologue. Left wing, definitely, but more native than inspired by German theorists.
As a veteran of heavy air battles in Europe and his own repeated participation in bombing raids, Howie had come to hate war and the slaughter of what some call the “collaterals,” i.e., civilians. How can that be twisted into a hatred for America? His criticisms of the European destruction of Native Americans were well founded. Anthropologists definitely agreed with him. Ask yourself why there are so few Amerinds in the Northeast. My ancestors killed them or drove them off the land. When I was young—a long time ago—you could still hear people say, “The only good Indians are dead Indians.” Howie said little that was false, and did not worship Communist dictators!
On the search for the origins of human walking, I must salute Professor DeSilva for his interest and persistent research on this fantastic topic. It was probably an editorial error or his own mistake, but no one mentioned the recent articles in Science on Ardipithecus ramidus of 4.3 million years ago. Where? Ethiopia, naturally. I even published a small summary of that research in Mother Tongue, Issue 14, which should now be in the periodicals room at Mugar Memorial Library. Or Tozzer Library at Harvard. Or better still, the recent issue of National Geographic magazine has a splendid summary of recent discoveries in Ethiopia of our ancestors from 4.4 million years ago until 100,000 years ago. Beautiful pictures and drawings! It would seem that the answer to the walking program is not in the chimpanzees but in the fossils.
Harold C. FlemingProfessor Emeritus of Anthropology, College of Arts & Sciences
Research Associate, African Studies Center
We’re quite certain that Australopithecus (or a close cousin) walked upright, because we’ve seen their footprints. Paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey discovered these fossilized tracks in Laetoli, Tanzania, in 1978. The footprints indicate a striding bipedal gait similar to modern humans. So it’s not “if Australopithecus walked on two legs,” as Ms. Buccini states, but whether they also climbed trees or both. It is surprising that Jeremy DeSilva did not acknowledge the Laetoli evidence in the article.
Gilbert J. L’Italien (SPH’97)Deep River, Conn.
Praise for a Professor
Your obituary of Paul K. Deats (“A True Pacifist,” Summer 2010) sums up his personality and contributions very well, but needs one small correction. He served at the Wesley Foundation at the University of Texas at Austin. There was only one University of Texas then; UT Arlington came later.
During the Korean War, his counseling of conscientious objectors had aroused the enmity of Lynn Landrum, a columnist for the Dallas Morning News, whose public harassment led to his dismissal from the Wesley Foundation (I do not know whether the responsible authorities were ecclesiastical or political).
Paul was a major mentor in my education at UT from 1944 to 1949, and later at STH and GRS from 1955 to 1964. For his guidance and contributions to my lifetime trajectory in missions, ministry, and teaching, I am extremely grateful. I am also grateful to Bostonia for drawing my attention to some of his later works, with which I was unacquainted.
B. Carter Pate (STH’58, GRS’64)Chattanooga, Tenn.