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Winter 2010: From Our Readers

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Another Wabash Connection
The magazine does a wonderful job of inspiring the Wabash community with its accounts of Wabash’s global reach and the lifelong involvement of many of our alumni. Your article on Tian Tian ’11 [“Snapshot of an American Dream,” WM Fall 2009] captures both themes brilliantly.
You may be interested in knowing about another Wabash connection in that article. Some of the photographs featured Jonathan Wright wearing a BP Basketball Camp t-shirt. That camp was founded by Wabash sophomore Billy Powers ’12 and his brother Bobby while they were both still in high school. I’m told that in 2009 the camp had grown to nearly 150 campers.
Billy’s mother is a colleague of mine and she was very proud to see Jonathan wearing the camp shirt in the article’s photographs.
—Roscoe Hooten ’92Bloomington, IN

A Man of Character
Having an avid historical interest in World War II, I enjoyed the article by archivist Beth Swift on General Herron [“A Man of Character, Fearless and Dependable,” WM Fall 2009] very much.
However, it occurs to me that the 15-years hiatus in the years of his service record from 1915 to 1930 should not have been omitted. With all the records she did find, it would seem that those records would also have been available. Since that period included WWI (a rather significant event in the life of a soldier), I, for one, would be interested in knowing what he did during the war.
—Bob Stewart ’57Danville, IN
From the Archivist: I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed the article on General Herron. From a summary that he gave to the College around 1965 I send along this entry:
“In World War I and after transfer to the field artillery, I commanded the Field Artillery section of the Fort Myer training camp for Field Artillery officers, subsequently, training and taking to France the 313th Regiment of Field Artillery of the 80th Division. In France, I was assigned to duty on the staff of General Pershing at Chaumont. Later and in the St. Mihiel drive, I was Deputy Chief of Staff of the 1st Division. In the Argonne fighting, Chief of Staff of the 78th Division. Awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for ‘Exceptionally meritorious and distinguished service as Chief of Staff of the 78th Division,’ and listed at the end of the war in the select Initial General Staff List from which practically all important assignments were made for several years afterwards.”
—Beth Swift

The Great Wabash-DePauw Water Fight
I look forward each quarter to receiving WM, and the fall issue was no exception. And to my delight, here was a story of “The Great Wabash-DePauw Water Fight of 1958.”
I was a participant from the very start. It began, however, not in the evening, but in the late afternoon. I was a Kappa Sig, and we were in the front yard throwing a football around while across the street a Phi Delt was washing his car. For some reason he sprayed us—whether by accident or on purpose, I don’t know. We raced into the frat house and came out with buckets and wastebaskets, and the fight was on.
It moved from there to the Phi Gam house, and finally to the Beta and Delts. By this time it was late afternoon.
I don’t recall whose idea it was to transfer the activity to DePauw, but in a very short time a caravan was organized and, as night fell and after changing our clothes, we were on our way.
I won’t quibble with the time of the beginning at DePauw—it was certainly night by the time we arrived at the campus outskirts. There were five in the car that I arrived in and the first target we hit was a sorority.
As for eggs being thrown, I can’t vouch for this—our little group didn’t throw eggs, but very soon as we worked our way deeper into the campus precincts, it got very crowded, the numbers being swelled by the DePauw students. For me it ended in the courtyard of the girls’ dormitory with a great mass of students yelling, “Pants, pants, pants!” (Remember, in the 50s girls throwing their panties to college students was an “in” thing?) while the girls stood in the windows taking pictures.
At about that time we saw the flashing lights of the cops, so our group decided that the time for “the better part of valor” had come and we made a break for the car. And that was it.
I was unaware that this episode had grown to mythic proportions until I attended the 40th Class Reunion of my class, when we were all presented with large buckets in memory of the event. No one had to tell us what the significance of the gift was. And now here it is being related by someone who came to Wabash five years after the fact. Will wonders never cease!
—George Oshry ’61Kiryat Yam, Israel
Read more memories of The Great Wabash-DePauw Water Fight at WM Online.

Perfect Pitch
After we reprinted a remembrance of pianist Dave Phelps ’58 originally published in theChicago Tribune, Mead Killion ’61 (mentioned in the piece as having taken lessons from Phelps) was kind enough to forward his own remarks from his teacher and friend’s memorial service. An excerpt:
While Dave was at Wabash, he played in a band that took jobs in towns around Crawfordsville. The leader used to give Dave an LP or two and ask him to listen to them the week before the job. That was all Dave had to do to learn the tunes and the style.
Dave had perfect pitch. Once during his conservatory studies, he was assigned a difficult Bartok piano piece. He thought he had learned it perfectly, but when he started to play it for his teacher, he fumbled surprisingly for a few bars and then played the rest of it perfectly. When he looked up after he had finished, his teacher was looking at him quizzically and asked “Why did you transpose that up a half a step?” To Dave’s ear, the only solution to a piano that was tuned down nearly a half note flat was to transpose the tune up a half a step while he was playing! Dave really played by ear: His fingers played what he heard in his mind. The amazing thing to me was that his ability to play in any key carried over to classical music! 
During the first year of my piano lessons, Dave would play some jazz rhythmic pattern and I would repeat it perfectly—I thought. He would say “No, not quite right,” and play it again. I suspect the process is like learning to pronounce /r/ if you were born in Asia. Perhaps his greatest gift to me was having the patience to listen to endless repeats of almost the same thing until the student finally mastered jazz rhythms to his satisfaction.
I heard Dave play in clubs in Chicago several times in the 60s and 70s: flowingly, effortlessly to the eye and ear. My happiest memory was watching Dave during a formal concert he and the band gave. It was shear joy from beginning to end, including a spectacular piano solo of “St. Louis Woman” that Dave played. After the concert while we were con-gratulating him, my wife Gail asked him how long a tux lasted. “Not long enough!” was his answer.
—Mead Killion ’61

Mistaken Identity
Another good issue of the magazine (WM Fall 2009). However, there is an error: The picture on the back of the front cover was not taken in 1934. It was taken in the spring of 1958. Those are my classmates in the photo—my good friend and late Professor of Biology Tom Cole ’58 is standing across the wall. The gentleman sitting in the chair is Professor Pat Patterson and, I believe, the fellow with his foot on the wall is Jack Butcher ’58.
Also, Karen Ristine’s “Remembering Papa Dick” in the same issue brought back some happy memories. Dick Ristine ’41, then Director of Development at Wabash, hired me in late December of 1987 to be the Director of Alumni Affairs and Annual Giving. In those wonderful days, my office was in Forest Hall on the second floor.
Whenever Dick got a big check from a loyal alumnus or “Uncle Eli” [Lilly Endowment, Inc.], he would bring it over to Carolyn Harshbarger, the Annual Giving secretary, for processing. As he came up the stairs he would be singing “Bringing in the sheaves, Bringing in the sheaves, We shall come rejoicing, Bringing in the sheaves.” I can hear him now.
—Gordon Colson ’58Zionsville, IN
Send your comments on and suggestions for the magazine, as well as your Wabash stories, to WM editor Steve Charles:
Letters may be edited for length or content.



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