Paul C. Nagel

Submitted by (inactive)

As for HSC---who I have fallen into the habit of remembering as "Felix," I could add nothing to your memory of him as a colleague---except to repeat the tale I know I passed along to you many eons ago.:::: He and I found ourselves by coincidence in a plane headed from CT to WI where the famed Professor Commager was making some sort of scholarly appearance, while I was going on to MN to a meeting. We sat side by side during the flight, which allowed Felix to hand two books to me, pulled from his green bag. He retained two others. His explanation was that he had fallen behind in his duties as a book reviewer, and that the four volumes between us were already late in having his attention. So, he asked me to examine the two books in my lap and that by the time we reached WI I would please inform him of the nature of the review they deserved from him. At first I thought he was kidding, but no, indeed. So I did as I was commanded and, leaving his thanks behind, he left the plane in Milwaukee.

The other semi-relevant memory which I believe is one you share has Professor and Mrs. C seated on the uppermost bench seat observing the football field on a Saturday when Amherst was playing some other institution. Both of the Commagers gave undivided attention to the books in their hands and, so far as I could see, paid no heed to the game. Which brings to mind Professor C's famed observation to one of Amherst's most successful student athletes---a swimmer, I recall. When the young man met for conference with Professor C, the latter expressed concern over the lad's pallor and languid state and advised him to get some exercise. So much for Felix's acquaintanceship with the student body.


(Provided with permission from an email exchange with Hugh Hawkins.)