Letters to the Editor Autumn 2012

Power to the Snowflakes

I entered what Yong Zhao calls the “Conceptual Age” [“Lady Gaga, Sweet Potatoes, and Water Buffalo”] one sleepy spring afternoon in a graduate course on elementary school curriculum. A citation was made to the work of Jerome Bruner, psychologist turned curriculum developer, who posited that the fundamental ideas of any science, expressed in their simplest form, are intelligible to children of school age. I started thinking about the concept of “power,” dominant in the structure of political science, and soon realized that it is real to the two year old who gets a swat on the behind, though he may never have heard the term, let alone be able to define or spell it. His experience is repeated at increasingly higher levels of understanding throughout his life, still learning even if he becomes president of the United States. It can become a tool for investigating and responding to every life circumstance. It can be understood, gained, used, abused, lost, and regained. What a challenge for the educator!

Preparing to become a teacher educator, I embraced the structure and methods of the sciences and spent my career sharing these with undergraduate and graduate students as the basic content of curriculum. Why “basic?” Because they are basic to life itself, which young learners are busy living apart from the intervention we call “school.”

Zhao’s contrasting of Lady Gaga with his Chinese farmer father makes the point I have tried to make all these years—we are snowflakes, no two of us alike—and makes it very well. We’ve known this for a long time. So why, I ask, do we continue to support the misplaced notion of  “equal opportunity,” which dumbs down schooling, tests students as though they were machine parts, and effectively defers, sometimes forever, the rise of inspiration and passion we say we seek?

Walter A. Nelson ’67
Palm Springs, California

I found Yong Zhao’s article to be extraordinary. His being based in two cultures and having proven skill in the education philosophy area make for a most insightful article. Congratulations. I’m looking forward to future editions.

Allen Douglas ’56
Fayetteville, Pennsylvania 

Straight Up

My uncle, Dick Hodgson, produced quite a bit of the furniture and interiors designed by John Yeon and Pietro Belluschi [“Spirit of Place”]. His house, on that hill west of NW 23rd, was chock full of furniture by them, most blonde or bleached wood and distinctly modern. I did not care for the stuff but both Yeon and Belluschi seemed to admire my uncle’s talent for manufacturing their designs straight, without any added flair or doodads.  

When I was young, in the early ’50s, I was taken to the just-completed Presbyterian Church in Cottage Grove designed by Belluschi for which my uncle had manufactured the interior finishes and furniture. It is still there.

Later, I mentioned to my uncle that I admired the work of Yeon and Belluschi, to which he replied, “Yeah, but boy those guys drank a lot.”  

Chuck Desler ’68
Placerville, California

Forward Thinking at the Emerald

As a former editor, I am most pleased to learn of the recent decisions made to ensure a solid future of the Oregon Daily Emerald and its vital role on campus [“The Oregon Daily Emerald”]. The Emerald leadership rightly chose to emphasize the use of digital media in direct, instant communications as well as preserve print’s strength: easy access and reference.

Alice Tallmadge’s article noted that Paul Brainerd’s vision of an independent university newspaper became a reality more than forty years ago and sparked a movement among student journalists. The recent changes demonstrate the Emerald is still led by people who look to the future.

Bill Bucy ’93 (ODE editor 1972–73)
Palo Alto, California

Credit Where Due

As dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at the time, I can give you a more accurate account of what actually happened regarding the gift of the Aubrey R. Watzek House to the UO, as I remember it well [“Spirit of Place”]. I was attending a dinner party with a number of people who were supporters of the UO, and Sally Hazeltine suggested to me that I meet with Richard Brown [the owner of the house] and talk with him, which I did. Richard did not initially approach the UO; we approached him, although it is possible he was talking with others at the same time.

I accepted the position of dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Washington in Seattle and left the UO. Robert Melnick was appointed interim dean and worked closely and diligently with Brown over time to set up the gift of the house and other properties and endowments; a major achievement for him.  

Probably more than anyone else Sally should be given the credit for helping us to secure the wonderful gift of the Watzek House from Richard Brown.

Jerry Finrow
Seattle, Washington

Summer Reading

Read your Editor’s Note [“Summer Reading”]—good books, but where were the women authors? Let me start with Molly Gloss. Her spare, evocative Jump-off Creek conjures a single woman’s experience of homesteading in Eastern Oregon with grit and grace. But I really loved her novel Wild Life, set along the lower Columbia River and in the mountains of the Mount Adams country in southwest Washington. It sounds stupid—a woman early in the twentieth century ends up hooking up with a bunch of Sasquatches. But it isn’t. It’s a profound exploration of civilization and wild nature, of women’s dependence and independence, set in a powerful landscape. One of my all-time favorite books.

Bonnie Henderson

Editor: Point taken—We’ll add Molly Gloss’s books to our reading list, along with a newish book by another Oregon woman that several folks recommended, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. Other readers suggested we read Brian Doyle’s Mink River, Kidnapped . . . on Oregon’s Coast Highway (1926) by Joe Blakely, and Robert Leo Heilman’s Overstory Zero. And diverging from the Oregon theme, Allen Douglas ’56 recommended Patrick O’Brian’s series on the British Navy, and The Federalist Papers—an especially apt election-year choice.

For the Record

In the Geoff Hollister obit [“In Memoriam”] there is an error. Geoff was indeed [Nike’s] third employee, but neither Phil Knight ’59 nor Steve Prefontaine ’73 preceded him. Jeff Johnson was employee number one in 1965, followed by John Bork in 1967 and then Geoff later that year.

Phil Knight cofounded Blue Ribbon Sports, the forerunner of Nike, with Bill Bowerman in 1964, but Knight didn’t become a salaried employee until 1969, making him the fifth or sixth employee. By the time Prefontaine joined the company in 1973, we had at least three dozen employees. As Nike’s historian, I like to keep the record straight!

Scott Reames ’89

Oh Snap

As a devoted UCLA basketball fan in the early 1970s, I must point out that it was not Dick Harter’s Ducks that snapped the Bruins’ magnificent eighty-eight-game college basketball winning streak as your obituary of Harter states [“In Memoriam”]. As much as I hate to acknowledge it, the truth is that Notre Dame snapped the Bruins’ long winning streak by the score of 71–70 on January 28, 1974, in the great state of Indiana behind Dwight Clay’s clutch jumper with just 29 seconds remaining on the clock.

Nevertheless, Dick Harter was a superb college basketball coach who will always be remembered for teaching the most relentless pressure defense ever witnessed in the Pacific Twelve Conference.

David P. Saltzman ’82
Santa Rosa, California

Editors: We stand corrected—several times over. While Dick Harter’s Oregon squad did not break the Bruins’ eighty-eight-game winning streak, they did put an end to UCLA’s string of ninety-eight consecutive home victories in 1976 at Pauley Pavilion, where the Bruins hadn’t lost since 1970. The Bruins posted back-to-back losses to both the Ducks and the Beavers in 1974, but only after the Fighting Irish had ended the streak.  

Great Generations

The new magazine has many great articles, but the one that got most of my attention involved twin brothers Leslie and Lamar Tooze and Mary Wood, Lamar’s granddaughter [“Remembering Yesterday’s War”].

My grandfather, Earl Blackaby, ran track for coach Bill Hayward (as did my great uncle Bill Blackaby, his brother). He was also managing editor of the 1915 Oregana. On that staff were both Lamar and Leslie Tooze. My grandfather Earl, great uncle Bill, and two more of their brothers all served in World War I, and were all born in the little Eastern Oregon town of Jordan Valley. My grandfather also helped the start of the UO law school, organizing about 20 to sign up the first time.

Earl S. Blackaby ’67
Walla Walla

Evolving Terminology

I love receiving Oregon Quarterly, but was dismayed at your usage of the misnomer “Darwinism” [“Decades”]. There is no such field, though “Darwinism” might be a good coinage to describe the pseudoscience invented by creationists to discount what evolutionary biologists correctly refer to as Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection. Darwinism describes an ideological stand, a sort of bogeyman, which creationists assert is part of a secular agenda in our schools and elsewhere to undermine biblical creation myths. Use of the term has no place in a publication by the UO or any institution of higher learning when referring to real science.

Joseph W. Hlebica ’77
Red Bluff, California

Editors: The American Heritage Dictionary, our go-to source, defines Darwinism as a theory of biological evolution, without hinting at ideological agendas. That said, your letter underscores our interest in mentioning a lecture on “Darwinism and creationism” that took place thirty years ago—the debate remains far from settled.

The Eye of the Beholder

“The Best . . . Place to Kiss” by Elisabeth Kramer [Winter 2011] reminded me of my own experience of Prince Lucien Campbell Hall and also the discovery of a special place on campus.

She was correct to observe that PLC is an ugly building. It was an epiphany for me to discover that my impression had been shaped by a view of it as a stand-alone structure. As you can see, perception is strongly influenced by perspective. Buildings do not stand alone, but are seen in a context formed by values and surroundings as well as principles of design. We may hope that this will remind us of the many ways of seeing and especially so in the journalistic enterprise, charged as it is with helping to direct our vision.

Access to Gerlinger Lounge is now restricted by iron gates and security cameras. It was once an open area where a couple could privately seal their affection in the grandest of rooms, a remove with the shadow of no ugly buildings in sight.

Jerry Smith ’67
Springfield, Oregon