I am glad to see Harold Wade Jr. ’68 get his due in “His Black History” (cover story, Winter–Spring 2018). In 1973, I was one of those black students who came to Amherst because of hallowed, storied African-American alumni such as William Hastie, Charles Drew, Charles Hamilton Houston, Mercer Cook and others. None of the other elite colleges and universities had that kind of lodestar.
My fellow Amherst black students and I talked about the esteemed alumni and the later-deceased Harold Wade in hushed, reverential tones. To us, these were supermen who had overcome legal or de facto Jim Crow America to come and excel at an old-line Yankee, WASP college, and they did so superbly and without complaint. They set a high standard that we endeavored to meet, so as not to disappoint our forebears.
Their stories in the brochure The Black Student at Amherst and in the book Black Men of Amherst gave me the confidence to know that I belonged at Amherst and could achieve there. I have copies of Black Men of Amherst and the later-published Black Women of Amherst College, and have used both as recruiting tools. It is easy to see yourself at a college when there are books written about successful alumni who look like you.
G.A. Finch ’77
Your article on black students at Amherst triggered memories. Five of us formed the core of our pledge class at Deke House: Bruce Northrup, Blair Plowman, Jim White, Roscoe Conklin Lewis III and myself, all class of ’60. Jim and Roscoe had been roommates at Groton prep school. Roscoe, who became my best friend, was also black, and the first black student at Groton.
As a group, we quickly became very tight. At the time we were rushed, the Deke House included some threatening to blackball Roscoe. We countered successfully, threatening to bail out of the pledge class altogether if they didn’t guarantee his acceptance.
Roscoe, forever incredibly attractive, soon ended up the fraternity’s popular social secretary, and when the Deke National Association threatened to kick out our chapter for initiating the first African-American in Deke history, the Amherst chapter called their bluff. So Ros again broke ground, though he never liked doing this, telling me once that he was “just tired of always being expected to do things to advance our cause. I just wish I could live my own life quietly.”
How little we understood his situation became apparent in our freshman year, when we decided to go to Cuba together for spring break. “Are you kidding?” he said. “There’s no way I’m going to drive through the South with a bunch of white boys. We’d all be dead meat before we got out of Virginia!” So he didn’t join us.
The rest of us had no understanding of race relations in those days, although on my initial long trip down US1, I did begin my own subsequent lifelong learning. It continues today, in my role as board chair of a successful South Bronx charter school system.
C. Stephen Baldwin ’60
New York City
I enjoyed Katharine Whittemore’s history of veterans at Amherst (“Veterans’ Days,” cover story, Fall 2017) and was pleased to learn about the success of students with military backgrounds at the College. As an Army ROTC cadet during the late 1980s, I fell into what Whittemore calls the “soup sandwich” period. While I was a student, the Amherst faculty voted to reject ROTC scholarship money, and I had to launder tuition money from the government through a private bank account. Not Amherst’s finest hour, but I am glad that attitudes have changed for the better.
Sean Prigge ’91
Congratulations to Adam McCauley, a frequent contributor to Amherst magazine, whose illustration for our Fall 2017 “Veterans’ Days” feature was selected for inclusion in the American Illustration annual, and to our design director, Ronn Campisi, who commissioned the illustration. The artwork will appear in the hardcover, juried annual—which is considered the premier showcase in the field. We are proud that American Illustration has recognized
McCauley’s striking “Veterans’ Days” artwork.
*photos courtesy of College Archives
I don’t recognize the faces in the photo on page 55 of the Winter-Spring 2018 edition, but the piano, its placement in the room, the windows, the drapes—everything else—sure look like the piano I and Joe Waugh and others used to play on in Phi Alpha Psi.
When I joined Phi Psi it was known as a house with a fair contingent of musicians and actors. Phil Gossett ’62, who became a world-famous musicologist and expert on Rossini, and wrote program notes for the Chicago Symphony while teaching at the University of Chicago, was a brother and a mentor my sophomore year; and Joe Stiglitz ’64, the great economist, was also a brother when I joined.
I played a short program on the Phi Psi piano in the (formerly) Phi Psi living room at my class’s 50th, which was held right there, in the same building, in May 2016.
I pursued, for a few decades at least, a career as a concert pianist (I am now an attorney), and played numerous recitals in Buckley at reunion time. But 2016 was the first time I had played for my classmates on that particular piano in many, many years.
Sam Bartos ’66
New York City
The young man in the middle of the photograph (Winter-Spring 2018) with thick, bushy hair and a T-shirt is Thomas Q. Fulton ’49. He is my uncle and the brother of Dave ’51 and John ’56, and the uncle or grand-uncle of six Amherst graduates.
I cannot determine if the photograph is from before Tom went to war or after. If it is before, then the photograph was taken in the summer or fall of 1943. Tom had just entered Amherst from Cleveland Heights (Ohio) High School. His parents sent him to Amherst because they so admired Ferdinand Q. Blanchard, class of 1912, the minister of their church in Cleveland.
Tom went into the Navy, where he served for three years as a physician’s mate. He was assigned to a hospital ship and participated in several major engagements in the Pacific Theater.
He returned to Amherst in 1946. After college Tom had a successful business career and raised six children with his wife, Martha. He was a kind and charming man who loved to fish at the family camp in Magnetawan, Ontario.
I believe the room in the photograph is a corner of Deke House, though it might be AD.
Dave Fulton ’78
The photo was taken by Ned Van Valey ’47 in the AD House in 1943. I believe the subjects were’47, ’48 and ’49 alumni Bill Tooker, Hunter Martin, Brud Martindale, Frank Titus, Dave Congdon, Rick Spaulding, Les Webster, John MacLeod and Tom Fulton. If I am right I will expect an all-expenses-paid round-trip to Belchertown!
Charlie Weiner ’47
The photo on page 71 of the Winter-Spring 2018 magazine is of six of my favorite classmates from the class of 1976. They are sitting in Professor of Art Robert Sweeney’s antique Jeepster convertible, which was always parked on the quad, often with the top down. Clockwise from the driver’s seat: Drake McFeeley, Peter Tiffany, Steven Ehrlich, David Doyle, Geoff Miller and Bryant Christ.
Craig Reilly ’76