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Fall 2009 | Number 22

Letters to the Editor

  • Forties

    March 25, 2009

    TO editor—arts&sciences, Boston University

    As the 60th anniversary of my graduation from Boston University approaches, I am reminded of the wonderful difference this graduation made in my life.

    In order to attend college, I worked long hours at St. Clair’s restaurant in Harvard Square and lived in the North End Union, a settlement house, as a group worker, earning my tuition and housing; I attended classes full time, sang in the Chapel Choir, took part in many college activities, and considered myself twice-blessed.

    I married Bob Perry, in June 1949; he had graduated from CLA and was attending the BU School of Theology. We served churches in the New England Conference for ten years and had four children, ages eleven to just one year, when Bob decided that California was his spiritual home. SO we packed up a trailer with sleeping bags, food, diapers, and all our belongings and set off in our Rambler station wagon for a month-long trip to Granada Hills where our assignment was to build a new church. What a culture shock! But we did it.

    Our second assignment was at University Methodist Church in Redlands where I earned my teaching credential. Then for thirty years I taught and later became a principal as well as continuing to be a mother to our brood and a rather outspoken pastor’s wife.

    We moved to Sacramento in 1996 to be closer to our daughters, and our six grandsons. Now we have two great-grandsons as well. Bob passed away in 1998. He was a warm, caring pastor, a brilliant musician and composer, and a talented artist.

    I bask in the circle of family and friends. Poetry is my passion. Through it I have helped others open their hearts. I have shown children how to delight in their unique rhythms. I have learned to view life as part of an eternal mystery. Poetry is my way of making real, extraordinary experiences of love, creativity, and family, which prove that there is a spirit that blesses my life.

    This poem expresses my eternal gratitude for Boston University and how it has shaped my life. Use it if you like.

    (Florence E.) Flo Perry (CLA’49)

    Sacramento, California


    How many in more than eighty years . . . .

    How does one graduate from walking
    Three younger brothers to school,
    Protecting them from bullies—
    While shouting, “Run quickly!”

    Another graduation comes
    When high school begins,
    After anguished parents send me
    To relatives in another town.

    I learn to hold the head high,
    Pretending always to be in charge
    Even though I only relax
    While singing in the choir.

    Now comes a fear of war,
    A need to make money
    When do I find a boyfriend,
    What do faith and belief really mean?

    Then Boston University . . .
    I breathe deeply, surrounded by
    Books, brains and questions answered
    As friends and scholars nurture me.

    Home at last, along the Charles,
    Able to talk, and share with those
    Who embrace an unsure student
    With respect and warmth.

    Here I meet my heart’s love.
    What a graduation . . . what a life ahead!
    But hardly butterflies
    And humming birds.

    Only new relationships,
    New challenges, new graduations
    For life is not a resting place, but
    Only a challenge to live love.

  • Fifties

    March 17, 2009

    Dear Ms. Keith,

    My Spring issue of arts&sciences arrived a week or so ago, and I casually thumbed through the magazine. When I reached page 12, the article about Dean Melville, I let out a very loud scream of delight and amazement! You must have heard that scream in Westwood all the way into Boston.

    The picture evoked a flood of wonderful memories for me.  There I was in my 1956 “body”—feeling so very proud. I was able to go to my college scrapbook and pull out the newspaper clipping that appeared in The Boston Sunday Globe, January 20, 1957. Dean Melville is pinning Lester S. Dewis (then of Natick). I am directly behind the Dean, and beside me is Sadie J. Garner (then of Roxbury). Two others were cropped out of the picture: Shayna A. Chasman (then of Malden, stood behind Lester), and behind Sadie on the far right stood Nancy E. Fowler (then of Milford, CT). I have had no contact with any of these people since we all graduated from BU.

    Within hours of receiving my magazine, I received an e-mail titled “FAME” from a close BU friend in Pittsfield, MA. Her name is Ruth (Toombs) Degenhardt. Ruth was initiated into Phi Beta Kappa in the spring of 1957. It did not take Ruth long to spot my picture!

    Several days ago, my roommate from the Harriet E. Richards Co-op House called me from Oceanside, CA. Janet (Moore) Hughes had just received her magazine (west coast delivery takes longer) and wanted to make sure I had seen the article.

    I have a story that I would like to share with you. In 1955-1956, I served as president of the Harriet Richards Co-op House. In that capacity, I had to report to Dean Melville regularly. In those years, the Dean’s secretary was Marion Parsons, who lived in Medford. Marion drove a young man who lived near her in Medford (and went to her church) back and forth to BU. Russell Downes was attending the BU School of Education on the GI Bill. Well—Dean Melville and Marion Parsons conspired to fix me up with Russell. A “blind date” was arranged in the Dean’s office, and that is where I met Russ. August 29 of 2008 marked our 50th wedding anniversary!

    Russ accepted a teaching position in Westwood in 1957, and spent all of his teaching career in this wonderful town. He coached the varsity baseball team for over 30 years. They have just named the new baseball field at the Westwood High School—the Russell E. Downes Field…quite an honor!

    I taught junior high mathematics for three years, and then concentrated on raising a family. We had one son and two daughters. Our son, Kenneth, received a doctorate for the Andover Newton Theological School, the first doctorate in our family. The girls, Susan and Nancy, both graduated from UMass Lowell with Music Ed. degrees. They reside in Rangeley, Maine, and Los Angeles, CA respectively. We have three grandchildren.

    My major at BU was music (from CAS, not the School of Music). Since college, I have always held a church music position. Beginning in 1960, I have served as Director of Music at the First Baptist Church right here in Westwood. I direct the Chancel Choir, play the organ, and direct the Westwood Ringers. The ringers have been on European concert tours three times!   

    I have enjoyed carrying the CAS magazine around. I shared the photo with my church choir, and we all had a good laugh over it. Actually, the way I look in the photo is essentially the way I looked when I started at the church in 1960. There are several people in the choir who have been there longer than I have, and who remember very well how I used to look! Oh dear, time marches on!   

    I hope you will share my comments with Natalie Jacobson McCracken for such a nice article on Dean Melville, who was such a special person to so many of us who knew her.

    Marilyn Augusta (Estabrook) Downes (CAS’57)
    Westwood, Massachusetts

  • Seventies

    May 2, 2009


    Thank you for the wonderful feature on Dean Melville (Spring 2009). The pictures were classic—just like she was!

    I too was on the Student Parietals Committee (representing West Campus) in 1968–70, chaired by Dean Melville. It was one of the most challenging experiences of my wonderful years at BU. She would have been an excellent professor of debate, philosophy, forensics, or just about anything. Sharp, clear thinker—she was a true leader.

    Ed Meadows (DGE’70, CAS’72)
    Holt, Michigan

  • Eighties

    March 12, 2009

    Dear Jkeith,

    Forgive the salutation but I’m not sure what your first name is otherwise I would have used it.

    I graduated from CAS in December ’89 and LAW in ’97.

    I consider myself a person of more than average intelligence and education although having graduated from BU twice perhaps one might question that.  In addition to serving as a staff attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association ("HSLDA"), I also serve as an adjunct professor of constitutional law for Patrick Henry College.

    As someone who is a follower of Jesus Christ and believes that the Bible is God’s word and that it is true—I have found the editorial perspective of your publication almost entirely humanistic in perspective and authorship—but maybe I've missed something—if I have, I welcome your rebuttal. In particular I read in the most recent edition of the magazine the article about Geomorphologist David Marchant's trek to the South Pole where he discovered boulders (among other things) that were in the same place as they were “14 million years ago.”  Dr. Marchant is entitled to his beliefs, as you are to yours and I mine. But we ought to at least mutually recognize that our views regarding the origin of the world are beliefs and that evidence (like Dr. Marchant’s) can be explained in other ways besides the idea that the earth is billions of years old.

    I believe that God created the earth in literally 7 days as the biblical account in Genesis sates. I also believe that there is ample scientific evidence that provides as much if not more explanation for the things we see to demonstrate that truth. Dr. Marchant’s beliefs appear to be rooted in the notion that evolution is more than just theory. When one examines evidence of the past and attempts to apply operational sciences there is an important element missing—how do you know something is that old since you weren’t there? If you agree that evolution is true then it is easy to argue that it must be that old. But evolution is being revealed more and more by real science to be what it should be treated as and always has been—a theory. Scientists like Dr. Marchant who report their findings as fact must accept that they are basing their findings on theory—and anything based on a theory must itself be theoretical.

    I wouldn’t expect Dr. Marchant to agree with me, but that isn’t the point. The point is are you willing to engage in honest debate about this issue in the contents of your magazine? You are certainly free to publish these articles but I wonder if you (meaning the editors) have the intellectual honesty to publish an opposing point of view about the age of the earth written by an equally credentialed creation or intelligent design geologist? For some education on this topic I encourage you to watch the movie Expelled by Ben Stein.

    If you believe you would like to accept my challenge I promise that I will find a credentialed geologist to write an article that meets your editorial guidelines. I know that the idea is to showcase BU graduates or professors and if I can find one who will do it I will—or I will co-author the piece myself.



    Michael Donnelly (CAS‘89, LAW‘97)
    Purcelville, Virginia