Letters From Readers
February 05, 2010
Music to Readers’ Ears
I’m an alumna and a former choir member at Lewis & Clark. My first year at the college was also Gil Seeley’s first year, so I remember the transition associated with Stanley Glarum’s retirement and Gil’s arrival—probably not unlike what is happening there now. It sounds like lots of good things are under way.
I really enjoyed reading the article in the Chronicle (summer 2009) about Professor FitzGibbon’s arrival, and I was delighted that she plans to revive the Alumni Choir. We’ve enjoyed performing as part of the annual winter gala each December.
It’s a great time to return to the college, see each other again, and sing some nice holiday music.
I now live in Corvallis and continue to enjoy choral singing. Best wishes to Professor FitzGibbon in her new position!
Julie Jones Manning B.A. ’79
My wife, Nancy, and I enjoyed so much Ellisa Valo’s article, “Making Beautiful Music,” and her mention of Katherine FitzGibbon as a “choir evangelist.” We are college neighbors who have been active in choirs, choruses, orchestras, and bands—but recently we’ve been a little discouraged by the apparent decline among younger generations of enthusiasm for music such as Mozart’s Requiem.
Professor FitzGibbon’s accomplishments at Lewis & Clark are so encouraging, especially the growth in student participation. We sense she has put tremendous effort into planning for the academic year, and we want to cheer her and her students on.
Remembering William Stafford
A letter from Barry Clock B.S. ’70 in the summer 2009 issue of the Chronicle brought back a good memory.
It’s 1954. I’d just gotten discharged from the Air Force after three years at a Royal Air Force station in England. I’d entered Lewis & Clark and was told I must take History of Western Civilization—a huge course. I had taken a couple of courses in England and learned I could take an English lit course instead. Sounded good to me.
I was very busy. Had a heavy load of science courses, pushed a broom after school every day at the Collins View Elementary School just down the hill, and I had barely studied in high school—just enough to pass.
The English lit class was in the old wooden building next to BoDine. The room had a low ceiling and a load of people in the class. William Stafford started reciting a poem in a basically monotone voice. It’s 1 p.m., just after lunch; hot crowded room; and a monotone poem. Talk about enhanced interrogation techniques! And I’m tired.
Struggled through the term. Stafford told us the final would be on Pilgrim’s Progress. I read it over and over fourplus times—got nothing out of it.
Thought, “Johnson, you need help.” I go to Stafford’s office and knock on the door. Fortunately, Stafford was in. Told him I just didn’t understand Pilgrim’s Progress. He invited me in and proceeded to spend 45 minutes or maybe an hour with me going over each line and how this line tied into another line. He and I both knew it was a pearls-before-swine situation, but he gave it his best shot.
Took the final. Got lucky—passed!
Many years later, I saw an article in the Oregonian about Dr. Stafford receiving an award—I thought, “Nice guy, I’ll drop him a line.” Thanked him for the time he gave me on Pilgrim’s Progress back in 1954.
A letter arrived a scant two days later from Dr. Stafford. He did appreciate my note and wrote that those were “heroic days.”
Dan “Mac” Johnson B.S. ’57