Letters to the Editor

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Blight and Lang

Sound Off

I just finished reading your latest issue of the UNH Magazine. Another great issue! Especially the article entitled "Call To Action." Of particular interest was the picture on the backcover. Though I am not positive, I think my mom, Marion Gorman Sullivan '45, is the second person in the right row. Is there any way to identify those coeds? Do you and/or UNH archives have a list of names? If you do that would be great because I would love to know the identification of that person. In fact, here is some brief but interesting background regarding her.

My mom grew up in a house which still stands today located behind the UNH Health Center. Before her death, she told me many stories about what UNH was like during the war. She had a very interesting perspective on campus life: her parents owned the drugstore located on main street in what is now called Town and Campus. She worked there often scooping ice cream to the soldiers fresh off the train and the battlefields of Europe or the Pacific. My grandparents used to own that entire building. Originally, it was called (I think) the Gorman Block. She was an English major and was the Editor-in-Chief for the New Hampshire student newspaper around '41-'42. She met my dad, Daniel Sullivan '49, when he first started at UNH in '41 before he departed for the war. After WWII, he finished up at UNH and of course they got married once he finished dental school at Georgetown University. Of their four children, three of us went to UNH. UNH has certainly had quite an impact on my family!

Editor's note: We haven't been able to identify the students in that photo, although according to the caption in Life magazine, the woman in front was a sergeant. The Jordans, below, recognized one marcher; perhaps some additional readers can help?

We always read UNH Magazine with great interest, but the winter edition is extra special because my wife of almost 65 years, Mary Williams Jordan '45, is readily identifiable on the back cover—the fourth student in the right column. She too says it was cold out!

One thing struck me about the photos from Life magazine, none show anyone wearing glasses! Did they remove them for exercises? Was it "Boys never make passes at girls who...?" I got my first pair of glasses just after the war, in 1945—but don't ask me about the "passes"!

Editor's note: Arline Ekman '45 reports, "We took them off when we were doing anything that might break them."

Not the Only Bog

The "Bottomless Bog?" article may have an oversight. The article states "There were once six kettle holes known to exist in southern New Hampshire; all but Spruce Hole have been destroyed." However, in The Secret of Sharon, author Adam T. Collier notes that the Sharon Bog "is an exceptional ecological community. It is a classic kettle hole bog that appears largely undisturbed by the sights, sounds and activities of man." It's been many years since I've visited the kettle hole, but my brother, Carl '79, assures me it still exists.

Nice story. However, one southwestern kettle hole was overlooked. Sharon, N.H., has one. Of course no one knows where Sharon is. This one was saved and is owned now by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. You can get close to it but not that close, since it's surrounded by a floating mass of fly-catcher plants. It's off the beaten path, near a glacier-built drumlin. Another master's thesis? I'll show you where it is.

Don't Bother Inviting Cheney

The article in the 2010 winter about James '73G, '74G and Janet Lang '74G, '77G and their oral history conferences was interesting to me because it brought back memories of classes in the early 70's on sensitivity sessions and Interpersonal Communication Workshops. The purpose of those meeting was to make you better managers by better understanding the people who worked for you. Of course, we weren't dealing with past events but with making the future events better, but there were tensions during the sessions and great moments of togetherness when the group was able to express feelings about themselves and the others. At the end of the sessions, for most of us, it was like being on a drug high—you felt ready to tackle and lick any personality problems that might develop. For some members, though, this openness was too much to take part in, and so I can easily believe that in their oral history conferences some, like Henry Kissinger, could not be comfortable. I understand that their intent is to "understand what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future". The conferences succeed in the 1st part of the intent but I doubt it will have much effect on the second—to avoid similar "royal international screw-ups." For one thing, drug highs quickly wear off, and so did all our early attempts to "feel better" about each other. The problem is that not everyone is at these conferences and have so little or no understanding of what the attendees are saying or mean., how can Blight and Lang get what they've learned to the people who make the decisions that create R.I.S.?

In organizational development work after the "touchy-feely" era of the 70's, the simple thinking was to toss this stuff all out and make sure your people are told what's expected of them and measure their performance on how well they succeed.

Blight and Lang

On future conferences, my advice to Blight and Lang is don't invite Dick Cheney or Rahm Emanuel. I don't think they'll attend.

I was just delighted to see the article about James Blight '73G, '74G and Janet Lang '74G, '77G and to find out what they have been doing since the late 1970's. I had Jim for statistics in 1973 and he made a difficult course into a great one. I have never forgotten it.

Passage to UNH

Just finished the story "High Hopes." My arrival at UNH in 2002, after being injured in 2001, was greatly enhanced by Northeast Passage. I'll always fondly remember my introduction to them and how their support, enthusiasm and goodnatured kindness consistently raised my spirits. I wasn't a competitive athlete, yet I love being active and being allowed to participate at a level that is compatible with my abilities.

Bowled Over

A letter in the last issue commented on the magazine missing a Wildcat who has played in the Super Bowl. Also left out was Dwayne Saab '92, who was drafted by the Patriots and played as a linebacker in Super Bowl XXXI on Jan. 26, 2007.

In Memoriam, Part II

In 1979, I was a student at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, working on my Master's Degree in city planning. One spring day, some of us had gone downtown to a conference of some sort with our professor, Dr. Bragdon. After the event was over, Alan Kiepper, who had spoken at the conference, needed a ride back to his office, and Dr. Bragdon offered him a ride. I was in the back seat, getting a ride back to campus, and I remember how impressed I was at meeting the C.E.O. of MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transportation Authority), Alan Kiepper. Next to the Governor of Georgia or the Mayor of Atlanta, he probably had the most demanding, highest profile, and most difficult job in the entire state. He was running a huge public transit agency in a rapidly growing metropolis, and building an enormous, billion-dollar, state-of-the-art, heavy-rail transit system across several competing city and county jurisdictions, each with their own politicians, skeletons in the closet, and potential budgetary disasters to avoid. He did it all with grace and aplomb. I remember wondering how this man could possibly juggle all of the demands on his time every day--interview requests from the local media; politicians angry over some bus incident; hundreds of contractors to keep track of; budget talks; federal Department of Transportation overseers to keep happy; and all of the other problems of running what was the biggest public works project in the State of Georgia, since the construction of the Interstate highways. As his obituary stated, he did it on time and on-budget, and Atlanta became the first city in the Southeast to have a modern subway mass transit system in the late 1970s.

As a mere student that day, I couldn't think of a thing I had in common with this impressive guy. For me—a student of urban planning and mass transit at the time—it was like meeting a football hero or a rock star, but I couldn't think of anything intelligent to say to this man except "hello" or "pleased to meet you". Had I only known that we were both UNH alumni, what a conversation we could have had, and what a foot I could have had "in the door" so to speak. I do recall Mr. Kiepper's conversation with Dr. Bragdon in the car. It was about why he insisted that each bus and subway car had to be washed daily--because those were rolling advertisements for MARTA and its service. Every bus was painted a bright white, with a colorful orange, yellow, and turquoise stripe with the MARTA logo. If the bus was dirty, he maintained it would give the transit agency a bad reputation with the public. The buses were always spotless! And so was Alan Kiepper's reputation for a well-run agency. I can definitely say that meeting him and reading about him daily in the newspapers there influenced me to do my Master's thesis on the history of mass transportation planning in Atlanta and Boston.

I am an historian by profession, and obituaries provide some of the best information about those who have gone before us. I think obituaries haven't caught up with modern times, which is why Anne Downey's are so masterful. Conventional obituaries tend to be impersonal, fact-and date-filled, a chronology of events and not a true capturing of a person's life and spirit.

Downey does an incredible job of turning someone's life into words—she honors them completely. I think she's an exceptional recorder of human history (which, I have come to believe, is the most important history of all). Historians many years from now will pay tribute to her very personal glimpses of life as it used to be.

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