Tell Us What You Think

We welcome letter submissions that respond to our magazine articles. Letters should be 300 words or fewer. Please send them to or Box 5000, Amherst, MA, 01002.

Like a Classic Bagel

Katharine Whittemore’s piece on Russ & Daughters (cover story, Spring 2023) has a flavor I can taste all across the ocean, in Athens, Greece. It’s like a classic bagel with just the right mix of cream cheese and lox.

As I grew up in Brooklyn, I had never heard of Russ & Daughters. My mother taught school at P.S. 16 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and would shop after school in that neighborhood—then quite ethnic, now quite gentrified. She would bring home meat, fish, poultry and delicacies from the local specialty stores. This was before the era of supermarkets. It was the Old World shtetl transported to the New World.

If there was a shop in Williamsburg that was a counterpart of Russ & Daughters in Manhattan, it was Flaum’s on Lee Avenue, which I saw only once but tasted often: lox, whitefish, sturgeon, carp, 
bagels, pickles (from the briny barrel), potato latkes, kreplach (potato dumplings) that swam backstroke and sidestroke in chicken soup and never sank, cottage cheese, sour cream, seeded sour rye bread—all of which were handed from salesperson to customer as though from family member to family member, with a smile and a wink and mutual assurances of well-being and good health, and the unspoken but underlying shared affection of being in the safe and blessed land of Lady Liberty.

Thank you to Kathy for the mitzvah—the good deed—of recalling and recreating a world, one that is not static but dynamic, a world of opportunity, change and fulfillment. A world that was, is and hopefully always will be America. And to Niki Russ Federman ’99 and all Russ progeny, a deep thank-you from the bottom of my heart.

Seth Frank ’55
Athens, Greece

A magazine spread showing a woman standing in front of a New York City deli

Didn’t Flunk Out

Not seeing in Amherst magazine any notice of Professor Leo Marx’s death last year or an appreciation for his years on the College faculty, I was pleased to see a write-up in the 1969 class notes (Spring 2023) about Jay Silverman ’69’s attendance at his memorial service. Professor Marx had a distinguished career in the American studies department before leaving for MIT. He died in 2022 at age 102.

Without Professor Marx, I would most likely have flunked out of 
Amherst. I never did “get” what English 1–2 was about, and I was one of those who withered under the fearsome scowl of Arnie Arons in freshman physics. In the spring of freshman year, I was summoned to Dean Porter’s office with the warning that if my grades did not improve, my days at Amherst were numbered. It was in Leo Marx’s American studies course my sophomore year that I received an A-plus on my final. He helped me see that I did have the ability to think critically, to reason thoughtfully and to write coherently. Later he would be my senior thesis adviser, allowing me to graduate with honors.

I lost track of Professor Marx. Thanks to my friend Joe Cady ’60, who told me of Marx’s work at MIT and gave me his address, Marx and I wrote back and forth a few times in the last couple years of his life. I had the opportunity to tell him how much he had meant to me. And he, in his humble way, told me how much I and so many of his students challenged him and made him a better teacher.

He deserves a place of honor among the other much-appreciated faculty members of Amherst.

David A. Purdy ’60
Harwich Port, Mass.

The Professor in the Photo

A black and white photo of a professor at a chaulkboard filled with equations
The professor on page 53 of the spring issue is Oscar Emil Schotte (1896–1990), the Rufus Lincoln Tyler Professor of Biology. He is describing cardiovascular circulation to his embryology class. Bio majors will remember the squeaky chairs and double blackboard across the hall from Bill Hexter’s genetics lab in Webster. Embryology was a junior-year course for us, but the photo shows a younger man than we knew: Oscar had gray hair in 1956.

Schotte was a protégé of influential German embryologist Hans Spemann (1869–1941), who saw development as progressive interactions between embryonic tissues rather than as independent expressions of predetermined fates. In Spemann’s famous “organizer” experiment, he showed, with his student Hilde Mangold in 1924, that the dorsal lip of the blastopore in salamander embryos could induce prospective belly tissue to form a secondary embryo when it was transplanted into the belly region of another embryo. The work won a Nobel Prize in 1935.

Schotte contributed to this progress. With Spemann, he showed that tissue which normally became belly epidermis would become mouth parts when transplanted into the oral region of another embryo. This work brought Oscar to the United States and to Amherst as assistant professor of biology in 1934, where he established an international reputation in amphibian limb regeneration.

Oscar was one of my favorite professors. Several of us took his “Experimental Morphology” course senior year and became minor experts in Schotte-isms and regeneration literature. He and Professor Tom Yost sent me to Johns Hopkins to learn developmental biology from the experts. My fiancée (now wife), Suzie, and I visited Oscar in 1959. He especially approved of Suzie. As we left his office he whispered, “Lindsay, you have chosen well.” Indeed.

Thank you, Oscar. Thank you, Amherst.

Dave Lindsay ’57
Athens, Ga.

Thank you to the many alumni across generations who identified Schotte in the photo and shared their memories of him.


The Spring 2023 cover story incorrectly stated the neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Niki Russ Federman ’99 grew up. It was Park Slope. It also misstated her exact connection to the Independent Restaurant Coalition. Rather than being a founder, Federman joined the newly formed organization that became the IRC. (The IRC helped spur the creation of the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund). In addition, Federman’s ancestors have no known link to the Jewish memoir writer Luis de Carvajal the Younger. Finally, the article should have said that there are a handful of other U.S. businesses with “& Daughters” in the name (although, as far as Federman can tell, Russ & Daughters was the first).