Letters to the Editor Autumn 2011

Forman and Williams

I just want to echo the recent readers who are complimenting you on this exceptional magazine. I read most of it each time it comes out and enjoy it—but Kimber Williams’ article on Gayle Forman [“Books to Write,” Summer 2011], and, in turn, Gayle’s essay from 2001 [“The Way We Mourn,” Summer 2001] especially hit home with me. I miss Kimber’s contribution to Eugene since she left the Register-Guard, so thanks for getting her to contribute to OQ now and then. Thanks for the good work you do!

Peg Rees ’77, MS.’91

Ants Marching

The article, “The Best Ant for the Job,” [Summer 2011] reminded me of the many times (hours?) that I’d sit and watch these fascinating creatures while I was living in Panama. One could be walking outside and all of a sudden happen upon a trail of bare soil in the grass, perhaps an inch to an inch-and-a-half wide, teeming with activity. One set of ants would be going in one direction, free from any burdens, while going in the opposite direction would be thousands more carrying huge (for their size) pieces of leaves. One was often alerted to the fact that they were there because the eye would be drawn to the swaying of the large leaf pieces as they were carried “home.” I’d kneel and watch for long minutes as the parade continued unabated, my presence never seeming to bother them or divert them from their task. I never followed any of the trails (“heck, they’re just ants”) out of curiosity, but I found watching them mesmerizing. Now, after reading the article, I know what they were about and a little more about those powerful jaws. Thanks.

Rich Boerckel, MA ’72
Newtown, Pennsylvania

Defeating Idolatry

I really enjoyed Scott Parker’s article about Luke Ridnour’s basketball and Christian faith [“Dribble, Shoot, Pray,” Old Oregon, Summer 2011]. Parker quoted Luke as saying, “I’d put so much into the game of basketball, it was my idol.” Idolatry can happen in sports, work, or invade our life anywhere. It was refreshing to see how a UO alumnus was transformed by the cross of Christ and is living a God-first, balanced life today. Thanks Oregon Quarterly.

Raymond F. O’Grady ’80
Pendleton, Oregon

More Cross Burning

The article “Cross Burning at Gamma Phi Beta” [Spring 2011] and letters relating to it in the Summer 2011 edition brought back memories of my sorority experiences at the UO. In 1961, before joining Alpha Gamma Delta, I checked to be sure the sorority did not discriminate based on race. The proper document was on file in the Panhellenic office, but later at the sorority, when I let it be known that I intended to suggest a Japanese American friend for membership, I was quietly shown a letter from the national organization. The letter said something like, “Alpha Gamma Delta respects people of all religions and races, but our members go home with their sisters and they get to know their sisters’ brothers. We want to limit our members to those who would be suitable to marry their sisters’ brothers—and that is women who are white Christians.” I was strongly advised not to suggest my Japanese American friend for membership. I didn’t, and I withdrew my membership from Alpha Gamma Delta.

Looking back, quitting my sorority—with the race issue being the deciding factor—was an excellent move. During college, I made friends with students from all over the world and enjoyed rooming one year with a graduate student from Nigeria, the only African woman student at the UO. After graduation and one and a half years abroad as a Fulbright tutor in India and visitor on several continents, I married the charming Palestinian Muslim from Jordan who I began dating at the UO. With our four wonderful children and four grandchildren, we’ll celebrate our forty-fifth wedding anniversary next year. Thank goodness I didn’t stay in my sorority and marry one of my sisters’ brothers!

Thora Williams Qaddumi ’65
Houston, Texas

Smallpox Correction

In your Summer 2011 issue, the letter from Philip Niren Toelkes [“Rajneeshpuram”] is incorrect on one point. The first and only documented issue of smallpox-infected blankets was not done by “the U.S. government” but on the order of General Jeffrey Amherst, commander of His Majesty’s forces in North America, in 1763. In those days, the unfortunate recipients were still called Indians. These clarifications make the action of General Amherst no less appalling.

James W. Eyres ’66
San Francisco, California