I think I’ve got it. How about you?
In a letter to the editor, responding to some comments in this space in the Summer issue, John Vazbys ’57 of Mahwah, New Jersey, challenged me to define UO spirit. I, in turn, asked for some help from readers. I got two responses. Not a high percentage of our readership, but the responses were intriguing in their extremely different approaches.
Robert Napier ’60 of Nogales, Arizona, was short and sweet in his response, which addresses the specific question of how UO spirit differs from “the spirit felt by an Oregon State University alum.” Napier writes: “I was reminded of the answer from Louis
Armstrong when a reporter asked him how you define jazz. He said, ‘Man, if you have to ask, you’ll never know.’”
There is some truth to that. Like jazz, like love and creativity and beauty, spirit is more easily experienced than described. And this sort of school spirit is an insiders’ affair. We know, we tell each other, with winks and nods and conspiratorial smiles. But that response still evades the point of Vazbys’ question, which was to pin us down to an actual definition.
Compared to Napier’s sixty-five words, Joy McAlpine McDowell ’68 of Springfield sent us more than a thousand. And her answer is as specific as Napier’s was brief. She refers to the actions of Arthur S. Flemming, who was president of the University from 1961 to 1968, when she was selecting a college and then, later, attending the UO. Flemming, a Republican who served in the administrations of presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, incurred the wrath of the Left for allowing someone from the John Birch Society (an ultraconservative organization that was at its peak in the 1960s) to speak on campus and the ire of the Right when he allowed a leader of the Communist Party USA to come to the UO. The president of Oregon State was among those who said he would refuse permission for a communist to speak on campus, according to McDowell.
“Right there was a distinction worth noting for a young mind in search of a place to obtain a higher education,” McDowell writes. “Oregon State University would decide for me what I could or could not hear. The University of Oregon had faith in me to listen and learn from even a controversial speaker.”
And it was Flemming who spoke at McDowell’s graduation in June 1968. Two months after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and just days after Senator Robert
Kennedy had been killed, the atmosphere on campus and around the country was tense. One might expect a university president—a Republican, no less—to urge caution among the graduating students who were very much in the middle of the maelstrom.
But, no. “Don’t play it safe,” Fleming told McDowell’s class.
“Having a faculty and an administration who defended my right to think for myself blew my mind,” she writes.
I think she’s on to something. The UO spirit is about not playing it safe, breaking type, learning how to think for ourselves, getting the hell out of whatever box somebody else thinks we should fit in. It’s Aloura DiGiallonardo finding her way to an international studies major—for now, at least—from the thirteen she was considering (page 16). It’s Watermelon Slim driving truck and writing a Ph.D. thesis on rightwing terrorism (page 22). It’s Marilyn Krysl forcing herself out of the academic bubble to give her writing more grit (page 36).
I don’t always take the road less traveled. But that “Don’t play it safe” voice (not Flemming’s, who was before my time here, but that of the UO legacy he inherited and furthered) is always there to push me places I wouldn’t otherwise go. Sometimes I thrive; sometimes I fall. But it’s always good for me to get my mind blown now and then.
• denotes letters not published in the magazineWell Preserved
Thank you for your article on land trusts [“Puzzle Pieces,” Autumn 2009]. It reminded me of many pleasant times I have had in the outdoors of Oregon. I was in the fifth grade in McKenzie Bridge and remember the Drurys. I fished the McKenzie River and climbed to the local lookouts. The Rimrock Ranch bit reminded me of the magnificence of the whole southeastern Oregon high desert country. I have a special interest in the Malheur Lake preserve as my uncle Harry Telford helped to get it established and was its first warden. (He was fired because he had the temerity to arrest a congressman who shot a brace of illegal birds.) It is wonderful that these things are being preserved.
Nathen P. Edwards ’44
Willow Street, Pennsylvania
• A fun addition to your good article about Oregon land trusts [“Puzzle Pieces”]: Early in 2000, I was alerted to a planned subdivision for sale surrounding Mosier Waterfall, one of the last unprotected waterfalls in the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. Columbia Land Trust acted quickly to acquire an option for the property, giving the Trust time to raise the money to conserve the property, and the falls. The Land Trust was successful in raising nearly all of the funds that were needed, but as the transaction came down to the wire, we were short the Land Trust’s required match, which could come in the form of cash or donated land. Without that match, the entire transaction would fall apart.
While reviewing property ownership records, I noticed that the landowner upstream of the falls had a familiar name: David (and LaVonne) Povey. Could this be the same David Povey who was my professor in Urban and Regional Planning at the U of O? Sure enough it was. After reacquainting ourselves and reviewing our waterfall project, David didn’t even hesitate. Within a few months he and LaVonne had gifted the land, allowing us to meet our matching requirements, securing all of the funding, and allowing the transaction to be completed.
Today, Mosier Waterfall is another protected gem in the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, thanks to a University of Oregon professor who practiced what he preached.
Glenn Lamb, M.U.P. ’88
Editor’s note: The writer is executive director of the Columbia Land Trust.
I enjoyed the article on Joe Gordon [“Duck in the Hall,” Autumn 2009]. My father, Walter J. Gray Jr. was in the Sigma Chi house with Joe while both attended the UO. Joe was an “all around” athlete, and the New York Yankees selected him as a “future” draft pick. According to my father, the Yankees paid Joe $100 a month not to play football in college. This was a substantial sum in the Depression era, and this made Joe even more popular with the brothers, I'm sure. I met him while I was in my brief Little League period, and played ball with a signed Joe Gordon glove.
Michael Gray '63
• I read the note in recent Oregon Quarterly about Joe Gordon with much interest. He and I attended the UO about the same time. We were lab partners in, I think, chemistry so knew each other but not as close friends.
After finishing school, I moved to the New York area, arriving at about the time Joe joined the Newark team of the old International League, which was a Yankee farm team. Shortly, he moved to the Yankees. I followed his career with interest but never tried to contact him. He was involved in many feats, but the one I especially remember was what going to be a routine double play, short to second to first. Joe caught the ball all right, but his throw to first instead hit the second base umpire in the face, who acknowledged he was out of position and suffered a broken bone or two. The runner made it to first, of course, but I believe he did not score
Bill Connell ’36
• What a wonderful write-up on Joe Gordon—a great ballplayer and person of good heart. I may be the only living Duck who saw Joe Gordon playing second base for the Yankees against the Detroit Tigers in a doubleheader in 1945. I was visiting Staten Island, New York, from my home in Emporia, Kansas, when a cousin and I took the ferry over to New York City for the game. He kept score for the games, and I still have the score card plus two small wooden bats signed by Joe and outfielder Charlie Keller. In 1947, I arrived in Eugene at the railroad station and my aunt drove down Willamette—what a surprise to see the Joe Gordon Hardware Store.
Frances M. Dunn Steere Sessions ’52
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Joy and Laughter
• It was a pleasure to read “A Duck in the Hall” to lead of the Autumn issue of Oregon Quarterly. Soon, my joy was heightened as I read “Thank You, Sir, May I Have Another” [UpFront]. I was a frosh in the fall of 1977 and was one of countless students that waited for the release of this landmark cinema effort, Animal House. It was a wait well rewarded, and only enhanced by my personal connection with a fellow student that had a bit part. I had no idea where or for how long I would catch sight of a classmate of mine from a German language class. This student had arrived at class one day, sporting a new hairdo that would have made any Marine recruit proud. We, as a class, were kept informed of his involvement and given insight as to his participation. So it was with great laughter, as I witnessed one Martin Klammer (later a roommate) on his knees in a rigid pose. I knew of his embarrassment, to be captured only in his undies (or not his, as pointed out). It was a bigger laugh, as later Playboy used this scene as the only still in a feature story about Animal House. Thanks for the reflection Marty and for allowing me to have a connection to the greatest movie made at the U of O in the fall of 1977.
Robbie J Osborn ’81
Reading the first line of [“Life in Fast Lane,” UpFront, Autumn 2009] was motivation enough to generate a comment from any reasonable citizen who ever took a drink of bottled water or typed a rebuttal on their computer; that first line reads “The freedom, the power, the speed—cars are so cool. At the same time, these modern wonders accounted for the deaths of some thirty million people in the twentieth century . . .”
Dr. Brian Ladd’s book, titled How Cars Conquered Our Cities [excerpted in the article], caters to Luddite concerns that the world is going to hell in a hand basket owing to dreaded advances in technology. These Luddites cling to the old ways like babies to bottles and gladly let the world speed on by. Of course, technology has risks to the old order, yet nearly all of Western civilization embraces technological advances while technophobes shun them. A dramatic statistic like that in that first paragraph depicting mass death because of a technology widely adopted by the world is misleading. The stat itself may be accurate, but the suggestion that the technology is suspect is pure nonsense.
If Dr. Ladd were to be fair about this discussion, he would also include in the 30,000,000 death statistic just how many miles were driven by how many people during that stretch, and calculate a “death per mile driven” statistic. Given that statistic, he would subsequently weigh in how much wealth was created, how many additional human births were made possible, and how significantly improved the general quality of life for humanity was owing to the adoption of the automobile over that span. Finally, I would enjoy seeing Dr. Ladd’s estimates of the world’s lower wealth, diminished population, and shoddier quality of life had the automobile never seen the light of day, rather than lament how many deaths occurred because of it.
Pointing out the negatives of technology makes for fascinating reading, but does nothing to educate anyone as to the reality of the world; advances in technology are what humans strive for, our ability to advance technology is what takes us to the top of the food chain. Using Dr. Ladd’s logic, it could have happened millennia ago that wise cavemen historians bemoaned the invention of lumber that took their little cave boys and cave girls away from the cave, thus diminishing the morally superior Neanderthal way of life. Their beloved progeny, spurning the old ways were off to parts unknown to build fancy-schmancy wood huts, and these wise Luddite caveman cited the number of times during construction of these evil structures, that a piece of timber fell on someone’s foot causing infection and subsequent death, or of some paleo-carpenters hitting their thumbs with a hammer, causing untold suffering and misery for mankind. And don’t get them started on the pure evil of ‘hammers’ . . . .
Sure, Dr. Ladd has a Ph.D. from Yale and has provided gobs of quotations from the likes of Musil and Proust to dress up his article, while I am just a dunce alum from the University of Oregon who wrote this piece in about an hour, the obvious must be pointed out: his premise that technology cuts both ways and that we should seriously consider tempering our lust for its advance lest we suffer its insidious consequences is simply ludicrous on its face.
In keeping in the spirit of Dr. Brian Ladd’s article, I too can pull a quote from an important historical figure to fortify my point of view: “If you come to a fork in the road, take it” – Yogi Berra.
Steve Angvick ’89
Rita Radostitz’s remembrance of Jim Klonoski [“Deep Questions and Gored Oxes,” Autumn 2009] was right on the mark. For this political science graduate, the groundwork was laid in Professor Klonoski’s American Government class in the fall of 1965. With wit, wisdom, and critical analysis, Klonoski challenged students to think before they spoke or wrote. Along with professors James Davies, Daniel Goodrich, and Thomas Hovet, Klonoski’s lessons and example are with me today.
Gunnar Lundberg ’69
San Francisco, California
What a difference fifty years makes. Back before red state–blue state and the extreme partisanship that occupies our political landscape, it was a totally different time. I don't remember any of my polysci professors being political partisans. The views they expressed seemed to be more from a scholarly rather than a partisan perspective.
Rita Radostitz’s article disabused me of the notion that that still might be the case at the UO. Radostitz believes that, even though Klonoski was chair of the Oregon Democratic Party, he was able to teach “all sides of the issues.” Of course, Radostitz shared his political leanings. Not an unbiased view.
The bigger question is how the UO could have employed Klonoski as a professor of political science given his obvious political bias. Under the best of circumstances, I believe Klonoski would have had a difficult time presenting a truly objective and balanced approach to his course teachings.
Will the extreme political partisanship in the nation ever subside? Not likely if schools like the UO continue to hire political partisans like Klonoski to teach our college students.
George D. Brandt '59
• Rita Radostitz responds: One of my fondest memories of Professor Klonoski was the year he taught a class called “Mock Republican Convention.” (It was 1979—he thought the Democratic primary was less interesting than the Republican one that year.) He persuaded me to ‘run’ for the (mock) chair of the Republican Party—which I did, and won. Many students in the class were Republicans in “real” life, and we argued the issues with gusto. It was a fine learning experience and one that helped hone my skills at political discourse. An amusing side note is that after the mock convention, I started getting mailings from the local Republican Party. A few months later, when President H.W. Bush came to campus, I received an invitation to a private meeting with him, which, with Professor Klonoski’s encouragement, I attended. It was a great opportunity, and that meeting helped me appreciate President Bush as a person. I disagreed with his policies, but I was truly impressed with his personal kindness. Obviously, I think George Brandt is wrong about Professor Klonoski’s ability to teach many sides of political issues. I find the vitriolic partisanship of some recent elections distasteful, and I think Professor Klonoski probably did too.
• I read with sadness of Professor James Klonoski’s passing [“Deep Questions, Gored Oxes”]. I was a student in his The Presidency and The Supreme Court classes as an upperclassman. My only regret is that I didn't take the American Government class from him. Unlike Rita Radostitz, I could never summon the courage in his class to respond to his withering questions, but, nevertheless. I admired, indeed I was enthralled by, his “take no prisoners” lecture style. Outside of class, I patterned my own political oratory after his in-class intensity. Thank you, Jim, even though you never knew me (although he did give me a B in both classes) for being a political role model.
Lloyd Meyer ’77
• The 2009 Summer edition has a very nice article about the career of Dave Frohnmayer [“Uncommon Good”]. It covers most of his dedication to public service, but for those of us who have known him most of our lives, that’s just the tip of his life’s experiences.
After graduation from the UO in ’49 and several employment experiences, I settled into my life’s career in the distribution and manufacturing of heavy construction, logging, and mining equipment. My first assignment was in southern Oregon, living in Medford from 1955 to 1960. Having played music all of our lives, we were acquainted with educators in that field. John Drysdale, retired music director for Medford High, shared many stories of Dave and John as musical students. The Frohnmayer family has therefore had a long, long exposure to musical performance, Forty years after the Medford days, we enjoyed the days when Dave and John would sing and play duets of the “Tent Show” at the early Dorchester Conferences in Lincoln City and Seaside. It is very understandable to me how they have contributed so much to the Oregon music school.
As past members of the Order of the Emerald, Alumni Association, and the Oregon Alumni Band, we have followed closely Dave’s years a president of the University. We believe he has been a big time contributor to society as a whole.
We are most appreciative of the dedication he and Lynn have given to the University, state of Oregon, and the nation.
But, without a doubt, the triumph of their careers must be attached to the formation and guidance they contributed to the Fanconi Anemia research operation.
We are pleased to be supporters, although minor, and have them as friends.
W. Rex Stevens ’49
Shirley Miller Stevens ’47