Letters to the Editor

January/February 1998

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Big Game At 100

Oops! You forgot to highlight Big Game Gaieties in your otherwise thorough coverage of Big Game traditions ("The Hundred Years' War," November/December). This event, produced by Ram's Head Theatrical Society, spoofs the Stanford-Cal rivalry and has been a part of Big Game almost every year since 1911. The president of the University, the dean of admissions, the Band, the hundred-member cast, crew and thousands in the audience delight in the glory of Gaieties each year. You should, too!

Melissa Wilson, '94, MA '96
Palo Alto, California

I enjoyed your articles on the Big Game. I remember Norm Standlee, a fullback in the Frankie Albert era. Norm was the "counselor" at Encina Hall during my freshman year. When we got rowdy, he would simply come out into the hall and look at us. Things quieted down immediately!

About the card stunts: There was one that did not go over well with the powers that be. During a game against USC, the cards showed a picture of a pregnant woman with the slogan reading: TROJANS ARE NO DAMN GOOD!

Merle Meacham, '42
Chimacum, Washington

I enjoyed Rice Odell's article on the 50th Big Game, "The Year of Losing Gallantly." It brought back bittersweet memories, and I felt he had the pulse of the postwar crowd at Stanford until he ruined it all with this statement: "The defiant Stanford 11 lined up before 85,000 spectators at Berkeley." Berkeley? He obviously wasn't there, but I was -- at Stanford!

Bill Thayer, '48
Los Altos, California

Editor's Note: Odell did attend the game, but misremembered the venue. We regret the error.

Owsley B. Hammond, MBA '36
Oakland, California

Your article about mascots says the Indian first appeared in 1951. That's not true.

I started the Stanford Indian mascot in September 1948, as a first-year graduate student in the Business School. Bewigged, painted and costumed, I provided antics on the field as the "Injun' Joe," all fall of '48 and fall of '49.

Hank Grandin Jr., MBA '50
Sausalito, California

Your summary of "The Play" (at the 1982 Big Game) brought back vivid memories to a Stanford Band member who was there (on the 17-yard line, as it happened).

Why was the Band on the field? Simply to congratulate the team. Poised outside the margins of the field, we watched the final play. The clock struck zero, the Bear (seemingly) was tackled, and. . . .

But why didn't the Band wait until we were sure the play was over?

Because we saw the Stanford bench empty onto the field to celebrate the apparent victory. In fact, both teams, both staffs, and both bands took the field of play before the officials decided the game was over. The Stanford Band just happened to be in the unlucky corner.

The evidence is found in the photo from the faux Daily Cal. Stanford players are pursuing the Cal ball carrier from left to right. In the right foreground, I am seen running to the safety of the sidelines with trumpet in hand. In the left foreground, an apparent member of the Stanford coaching staff flees the field (with spare football under his left arm and field pass dangling from his jacket zipper).

Bennet K. Langlotz, '84
Portland, Oregon

An Axe to Grind

There was much more to the story of the 1967 Axe theft than you described.

I was a student-fireman living in the Old Firehouse across from Tresidder Union. When the alarm sounded, the student police dispatcher quickly alerted the campus police (who were 15 feet away drinking coffee in the Firehouse kitchen).

The police raced across the street to Tresidder. They found the entrance barred and saw the culprits leaving at the opposite side of the building, their thumbs pressed to noses and fingers waggling.

I gotta admit . . . we were got.

Philip E. Henderson, '69
Roseville, California

I was a freshman in 1946 and remember well that year's Big Game in which we beat Cal. Regarding the Axe, though, I need to set the record straight. It was not pinched by Cal students and then dropped off in the backseat of a Palo Alto police car.

The last any of us saw of the Axe was it being held high in front of the rooting section.

The next day, rumors were going around Stanford that the Axe was missing. Fred Weintz, a football team manager, thought the Axe might have been put in one of the team property trunks. So Fred and Dick Leland hopped in Dick's 1931 Model A and went to check them. They returned in a while and had the Axe. How about that!

Ed Whittemore, '50, MS '52
Solvang, California

Casper's Correspondence

I laughed out loud reading the correspondence between Gerhard Casper and Georgiana (Howe) Coughlan (Stanford Today, "Dear Mr. President," November/December). I am heartened that Stanford's president has such a sly wit, and as for Ms. Coughlan and her mother, I eagerly await the publication of their collected letters.

Chris Wasney, '80
San Francisco, California

This is one of the most enjoyable issues I have read. In particular, I appreciated the exchange of letters between President Casper and Georgiana (Howe) Coughlan and her mother. Of course, one of my generation is shocked to read that a Stanford woman would seek to lose her virginity at Stanford -- and at Lake Lag, no less.

Tom Wolf, MA, '61, PhD '67
New Albany, Indiana

Mindful that the debate between President Casper and the not overly coy alumna might be a straw construction, I still think the philanthropic responsibilities of middle-income alumni need further discussion here.

Philanthropy may appear difficult for the unwealthy, yet given our numbers, it is less daunting than it seems. If there are 50,000 of us and we are reasonably able to think of donations in increments of $100, surely the resulting $5 million matters considerably to the University.

According to the Golden Rule, he who has the gold makes the rules. The middle-income majority of alumni should never forget that it has at least as much to bestow or withhold as the truly wealthy minority.

David T. Mason, '68
Culver City, California

One Hell of a Computer

Congratulations on "Computer Hell" (September/October), which eloquently described many of the issues those of us in software design face every day.

As one of the original designers of the Apple Macintosh, I would like to correct as well as add a few details regarding the origins of the desktop interface.

The Macintosh was preceded in the marketplace by the Lisa, which had a similar interface to the Mac, though not identical. Several people worked in both the Mac and Lisa groups, acting as technology transfer agents between the groups. In particular, Bill Atkinson (of MacPaint and Hypercard fame) implemented his QuickDraw graphics package on both platforms, and Owen Densmore single-handedly created the Mac printing architecture based on his work for the Lisa.

I would also like to note that Bruce Tognazzini, a very early Apple employee, was not involved in the design of the Macintosh Finder or any other parts of the original Mac user interface, contrary to the article. Interested readers may want to look up to read about the various myths that surround the origin of the Macintosh.

Bruce Horn, '81
Ingenuity Software Inc.
Mammoth Lakes, California

Gold Shares

I wish to call your attention to an omission in the "Sports Briefs" section of the November/December issue of Stanford Today. Contrary to your assertion that Sharon Stouder Clark, '70, won "the most ever [Olympic medals] by a female swimmer" in the 1964 Olympic Games, that distinction is shared by my wife, Chris von Saltza Olmstead, '66, who won three gold medals and one silver in swimming at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.

Robert T. Olmstead Jr., MA '66, PhD '70
Sacramento, California

New Jerseys

I was extremely displeased to see Nike logos on football team jerseys. If Phil Knight wants to contribute to Stanford, that's great. But to see his advertising cheapens the contribution of every other alum. Stanford will be very sorry it did this.

Michael R. Pallesen, '67
Ukiah, California

More on the Mommy Maze

Where in this rancorous debate is the call for balance? ("The Mommy Maze," July/August) Instead of falling all over each other trying to prove how we've each chosen to raise our children in the best and only right way, we should be marveling at all the Stanford alumni who are raising terrific kids in a wide variety of ways in loving, activist homes.

Let us redirect the energy used telling everyone else how we're doing it right and they're doing it wrong. Let's use that energy to support all kinds of families, particularly families in crisis, to lobby for support in the workplace for all working parents, for societal respect and support of all parents and children and to celebrate children and families everywhere!

Heather McAvoy, '83
La Honda, California

I believe your article did a balanced job of presenting the choices women are making about whether to work or stay home with their children.

The vast majority of the 300 at-home mothers I surveyed when writing Staying Home planned to return to the workforce once their children were older. These women had all built careers before having children, and had no intention of staying home for good. In fact, they saw staying home as just one stage of their lives, not an end to their working lives.

Let's stop judging other mothers on the work and family decisions they make. Instead, let's start showing some tolerance, and recognize both employed and at-home parents for the essential contributions they make to our society.

Martha M. Bullen
Co-author, Staying Home
Glen Ellyn, Illinois

By choosing to remain home with my children, I am providing them with a caregiver who will imbue each seemingly insignificant task with a mother's love for her children. Then, when I finish with my current career of motherhood, I'll resume my former career of engineering, or perhaps I will start a totally new career. Isn't life long enough to do both?

Jane Padwick Reckart, '83
Tucson, Arizona

Professor Perloff Responds

In making certain cuts in my previous letter (Letters, September/October), you have given your readers an entirely false impression of what I actually said with regard to "The Mommy Maze."

Some of my irate respondents seem to think I am talking about my own nanny and that I have young children whom I evidently neglect by leaving them with her! But my letter was signed "Mother of Nancy, '70, and Carey, '80; grandmother of Alexandra, Nicholas and Benjamin." I am, in fact, a grandmother who no longer has to make decisions about child care and work schedules. But my daughters, who both have demanding careers, do juggle work and children, and they have done so remarkably well and with the support of their husbands! And, contrary to the allegations of your letter writers, my daughters and I have always been and continue to be extraordinarily close! (Talk of being judgmental!)

I mentioned my housekeeper's abilities, not because she takes care of my children or grandchildren (indeed, she works for me only one day a week!), but because I am shocked by the notion of a Stanford BA, MBA, JD or MD spending her day chauffeuring her children to and from school and soccer practice and doing a little shopping for fruit in between. I specifically said (in the sentence the editors cut!) that while one's children are very young, one obviously cuts back and tries to have a flexible schedule or one does community service for a number of years rather than working outside the house. But by the time one's children are in school all day, the "choice" of staying home strikes me as no sort of choice at all. For it's a "choice" dependent on the counterchoice made by the fathers in question. And this division of labor strikes me as a total anachronism.

Marjorie Perloff
Sadie Dernham Patek
Professor of Humanities

Editor's Note: It's our standard practice to edit letters for space considerations. In that process, we make sure to preserve the substance of the writer's views, as we believe we did in Professor Perloff's case. Her original letter ran 600 words; the published version was 322 words -- still more than twice the length of the average letter in this space. To read her original letter and the edited version, click here.

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