Cardinal Mistake's

Courtesy Martha Brockenbrough

When the oldest surviving structure on Stanford land was renovated this winter, no detail went unnoticed. Well, perhaps two small details. A bronze plaque placed outside the Gordon Carriage House and pictured in the San Jose Mercury News read, “The Stanford’s purchased ‘the farm’ from the Gordon’s in 1876.” Careful readers sounded the alarms when they noted the errant apostrophes (the plaque has since been corrected).

Martha Brockenbrough, ’92, wrote Stanford’s office of communications about the plaque. Brockenbrough, educational humor columnist for MSN Encarta and a high school teacher, runs the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG). Kate Chesley, associate director of University communications, acknowledged that Stanfordians were “mortified” by the error.

Started two years ago, SPOGG was a fun way to teach her Seattle students about grammar while also giving Brockenbrough “reasons not to clean the back of the toilet.”

Her pet peeve: “The idea that you can’t end a sentence with a preposition is ridiculous.” That’s one we can agree with.