Letters (cont'd)
Oberlin Journalist Intrigues Alumna

Just a comment regarding the article "Reporting for Duty" in the Spring 2000 issue. I was fascinated to learn how many Oberlin alums are in journalism. Also, as I do not watch television, I have to say that when I heard on National Public Radio the ad for Robert Krulwich's program "Brave New World," I was intrigued and enjoyed all the parts of the series very much. If only more programming were like that.

Sylvia Sanders '56
Grosse Pointe, Michigan
Living for the Moment

My husband and I recently had the pleasure of hearing an Oberlin Collegium Musicum concert in Washington, D.C. As expected, the music was exquisite and was enhanced by the medieval atmosphere of St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill. Afterwards we enjoyed chatting with several articulate Oberlin students. As we drove home, we realized we had been struck by the same thing. We had asked the students about what they were doing at school and what they hoped to do in the future. They were greatly relieved to hear that, in our 50-ish opinions, they need not decide on a firm and final career by their junior year, nor even, perhaps, for years to come. Our message to them, which we wish we had stated more clearly at the time, is:

Throw yourself into whatever you are doing. Enjoy it and get what you can from it. It may not be your "real career," but while you're at it, do some learning and have some fun!

Mary Louise Cohen '71
Arlington, Virginia
He Made History Come Alive

Geoff Blodgett has been such a valued presence for so long that news of his retirement caught me by surprise. Not yet, I thought. As a student in his class in the early 1960s, I recall listening spellbound as he wrapped his webs of wonderful words around historical events. Keep talking, I thought.

His lectures on modern American history cast such a spell that I couldn't help becoming an historian myself. To be fair, his colleagues Barry McGill and Robert Neil had something to do with my decision. Playing bad cop to his good cop, they beat it out of you, while he coaxed. In the end, I think it was the combination that did the trick.

I was once told that he said, "Dawley went to Harvard and turned left." That was true enough, especially in view of the radicalization of so many of my peers in the late 1960s in response to Black Power and the unrelenting punishment of Vietnam. But my real turning point happened before leaving Oberlin, when I went off to 1963. I never talked with Geoff or his colleagues about my decision to join the civil rights movement. I doubt some of them would have approved. But in unexpected ways, their hard-headed engagement with the past certainly influenced my commitment to make history and learn about it at the same time. Geoff was always curious about what we were up to in the field of battle, even as he did his best to teach us how to take off the ideological blinders before looking at history. He always embodied the best in higher learning.

Alan Dawley '65
Professor of History
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Editor's note: News of Geoff Blodgett's retirement is reported in "Around Tappan Square."

A Vote against New OAM Logo

Here is one vote in favor of the upbeat, colorful magazine design and one vote against the new logo. The former is fun and exciting; the latter is terrible and depressing. A logo should not be created for the mere sake of innovation. It should visually reinforce an idea. It should be rational in relation to that idea. It must resonate with the people who use the logo as the symbol of something they love. Change the letter r in the Oberlin logo, and you alter a powerful symbol of uncommonly visionary history and beliefs. It is not just the name of an intercollegiate football team or a banner to be waved by party animals. It stands for intense moral and educational commitment. The new, revised logo does not have the power to carry the historic Oberlin vision in response to bigotry, laziness, ignorance, and failure of courage. Beyond personal taste, the logo design is effete, frivolous, disjointed, gimmicky, artsy, and capricious. It treats Oberlin as if it were just another commercial product. Symbols can be modernized, but not whimsically, without careful thought about the work they do.

Don Patterson '60
The Plains, Virginia


Another Glimpse of Andrew Bongiorno
Bless the Alumni Magazine for publishing Andy Ward's beautiful tribute to Andrew Bongiorno (Spring, 2000). It told me why Andrew had spoken to me so tenderly about Andy for so long. Over a 21-year period, which began when Andrew's dear friend, Ellen Johnson, visited Australia in 1977, Andrew and I corresponded voluminously. We also met in Oberlin while Laurine was still alive and after her death. I visited the gravestone described in Andy's tribute; Andrew took me to see it. Inevitably, my own tribute to Andrew (available through Oberlin's web site) differs substantially from his godson's. Since Andrew brought me to the Catholic Church, I believe that our Heavenly Father is all-powerful and just. God 'needs' Andrew only in the sense that, like all His saints, he can now intercede from heaven for everyone on earth who loves him. This is what saints in the Catholic Church, canonized or uncanonized, do.

In Sincerity and Authenticity Lionel Trilling encapsulates Andrew's amazing, supererogatory role in my own life and in the lives of countless other Oberlinians:

Jane Austen was . . ."saturated" with a "Platonic idea"--she was committed to the idea of "intelligent love," according to which the deepest and truest relationship that can exist between human beings is pedagogic. This relationship consists in the giving and receiving of knowledge about right conduct, in the formation of one person's character by another, the acceptance of another's guidance in one's own growth.
Susan Reibel Moore '61
Sydney, Australia
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