Crime and Roe v. Wade

Professor Jessica Reyes’ theory that the Clean Air Act has been a major factor in crime reduction in our country over recent years is good and interesting, adding to the consequences of economic growth, increased police forces and lower unemployment (“Air rage,” College Row, Winter 2008). However, economists and the public seem to ignore the effect of Roe v. Wade in 1973. With some 5 million to 6 million unwanted children not appearing in our society since then, imagine the impact of those numbers on crime beginning in the 1990s. The key word is unwanted. Most such children are dealt a bad hand from day one, with unavoidable repercussions on social service and criminal statistics.

Alexander P. Reed ’46
Green Valley, Ariz.

Jessica Reyes, assistant professor of economics, replies:
My study explicitly accounts for the effect of Roe v. Wade, as well as numerous other factors, such as law enforcement and gun policy. Indeed, I find that, in addition to the Clean Air Act, Roe v. Wade was an important factor affecting violent crime trends in the 1990s. (My article can be found at

Digging up the pitching mound

Kevin Graber’s story about Bill Thurston (“Coach Thurston’s playbook,” Sports, Spring 2008) brought back many fond memories.

I played for Coach Thurston for three years in college, including on his first winning team at Amherst in 1970. Competitive? A bear to play for? Yes and yes, but I can’t imagine playing for a better coach anywhere. I remember we lost a game that we should have won. It was on the road, and Coach was very upset. Back home, we left the quiet locker room and headed off to study. We found out later that, to work off his anger and frustration, Coach took a shovel and wheelbarrow, dug up the pitching mound on the varsity field, transported the dirt off the field and then proceeded to bring back the dirt and rebuild the mound.

In practices, after our regular batting pitches, Coach would bear down. He’d try to get us out, working sliders and tight fastballs with his version of the change-up, the “slip pitch.” Yes, he tried to bust us, but I’m not sure I’ve ever felt better than when I would get a compliment from Coach.

I was also one of Coach’s players at Fordson High School in Dearborn, Mich. Later, as an adult, I coached high school football and baseball. One of my former players remarked, half-jokingly, that “we had more plays in baseball than we did in football.” That was, of course, an exaggeration, but it testifies to Coach Thurston’s complete knowledge of the game—knowledge that I tried to bring to my coaching, too. Is there anything about baseball he doesn’t know or can’t teach, any situations his teams are not prepared for? I don’t think so.

Thanks for a great testimonial.

Ron Marinucci ’71
Commerce Township, Mich.

More on Stringer

It was a pleasure to read Rand Richards Cooper’s piece on John Stringer ’72 (“Ghost Writer,” Winter 2008). I was at Amherst at the same time and vividly recall seeing the rain-soaked photo of John in the Olio, though I hardly ever saw John himself on campus. The author told the story in a gentle and moving way. I was mildly surprised that the magazine ran it—like the article says, it’s not the typical story of an Amherst graduate. Kudos to Amherst for getting beyond that.

Harvey Rosenfield ’74
Santa Monica, Calif.

Explain yourself

Would Emma Gorenberg ’07 settle a disagreement between a friend and me about the eighth line of her poem “Birthplace” (College Row, Winter 2008)? One of us, a former English major, argues that her use of the words calorie pear is an intended pun on the homophone of Callery Pear. One of us, a former science major, argues that it is an unintended use of the homophone of Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana). Which of us is correct?

We both loved the poem.

Richard Klein ’66
Tenafly, N.J.

Emma Gorenberg replies:
I wish I could claim to be clever about this, but I’m afraid my wording was unintentional. As someone intent on pursuing graduate degrees in both creative writing and veterinary science, I often have chemistry on the brain while writing my poems, and vice versa!

Thank you for illuminating this and for reminding me that a poem might continue to evolve long after I deem it finished.