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Amherst College > News & Events > Amherst Magazine > Archives > Winter 2004 > Letters


Shakespeare illustrations

I read in the spring 2003 Amherst magazine that the Folger Library recently acquired a copy of Twelfth Night with illustrations by Ethel Webling. I was very interested to read of this because Ethel Webling is my great grandaunt, and I have a
collection of her artwork and miniatures (including an ink-and-watercolor sketch of a scene from Julius Caesar). I know that Ethel was acquainted with Ellen Terry and Henry Irving (four of her sisters, including my great grandmother, Josephine, were actresses), and I have copies of letters written by Terry offering her box at the Lyceum to the Webling family.

I have always thought that Ethel’s drawings and miniatures were top-notch (apparently John Ruskin had the same opinion), and treasure the ones in my possession.

Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum
Duxbury, Mass.

A complaint about Class Notes

Some readers of Amherst may not be aware of the new policy limiting the word length of Class Notes to an average of 70 words per classmate entry plus an additional 150 words. I’m writing to protest this restriction. The college did not widely consult with class officers, the class secretaries who write the Notes or the alumni who avidly read them. Nor did the college provide persuasive reasons to make the change when it announced the restrictions.

I’m sure most alums value in-depth news of their classmates. Telegraphic accounts of marriages, travels, children and grandchildren born, job changes and the like—about the only news that’s reportable in 70 words—won’t satisfy us. The Notes will lose their human interest, their historical value and surely some of their readership.

Why did college officials make this decision, reminiscent of the (short-lived) segregation of younger and older classes within distinct versions of Amherst? Perhaps their vision of Amherst differs from ours. To us alums Amherst is a place, and an experience, in which we’re still immersed. Amherst, through its seasonal news, profiles of grads and especially through Class Notes that give respectful space to each classmate (and don’t rob Peter to portray Pauline), evokes and perpetuates some powerful feelings. Amherst remains a large part of who we are.

It seems those who now deploy Amherst’s resources have become so focused on its immediate present—intent on attracting and enrolling the gifted, on remaining at the top of the statistical heap—that they’ve chosen to save money by reducing to rationed whispers the spirited voices from 70 years of shared history. It seems, to us in ’57, money ill saved. For 47 years we’ve looked to Amherst and Amherst to keep on connecting us to the college and to ourselves. We’re unhappy to see that connection endangered. Alumni aren’t merely revenants who pitch tents in the old haunts for a few days in May. We live here, too. The printed tent that broadcasts Amherst’s sense of itself needs to be capacious, highly visible and worldwide. It should be
pitched to span centuries and be kept aloft by the quality of what we say to each other—and by the respect in which we hold Amherst and its entire community. The tight word limit will tear a large and needless hole in that tent. We ask that
you either explain more persuasively why that limit must be imposed or else rescind it.

Robert Bagg ’57
Ashfield, Mass.

Bountiful boxes of books for boys

I am writing to express my appreciation for the incredible support I have received from the Amherst alumni community for my Books for Boys program at Children’s Village. Since the publication of Leanna James’ sensitively written piece, “Book Balm,” in the summer issue of Amherst, a wonderful phenomenon has occurred. I have been receiving many generous donations and boxes and boxes of beautiful books for the boys of Children’s Village from Amherst alumni. I have also been finding, tucked in alongside the books, notes to the boys sent by the young children of alumni. What a profound and moving example this has been for me of the deep sense of community that Amherst fosters.

Pamela Krupman-Allyn ’84
Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.


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