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Summer 2004


Great Job
Just a quick note to say that I think the spring 2004 issue of Tufts Magazine was the most interesting I’ve ever run across. Nice variety of subject matter, interestingly laid out…and the photography is great. I was Class of 1937—when it was still a college.

Leighton Harris, A37
West Chatham, MA
Back to the Land
I read the whole issue on the environment (spring 2004) with real interest, namely because I have started the Oakhurst Community Garden Project in Decatur, Georgia. Decatur is part of greater Atlanta, the poster child for urban sprawl in the Southeast. Our mission is to teach urban children about the environment via organic gardening and community-service projects that focus on protecting our watersheds. We have preserved almost two acres in the most densely populated city in Georgia. We raise ducks, rabbits, chickens, and bees to the delight of children and local residents. Thank you for such a heartening issue.

Sally Wylde, Museum 92
Decatur, GA
Presidential Report
President Bacow’s highlighting the value of interdisciplinary studies points up the richness and depth of a Tufts education (“A University Poised,” spring 2004). Over two decades ago, in the spring of my freshman year, I took a course at the Fletcher School titled “The U.S. in Northeast Asia.” I was the only undergraduate student Professor John Perry had ever taught.

What an experience! I sat side by side with accomplished graduate students from all over the world. We debated U.S. policy toward China and Japan since the mid-1800s. Some classmates added unique perspectives based on personal experience in the diplomatic services. To an 18-year-old this was heady stuff.

Professor Perry brought in as a guest speaker the founder and dean of modern Chinese studies in the United States, 75-year-old Professor John King Fairbank, from a college down the street. After the lecture I caught up with Dr. Fairbank in the lobby and was privileged to have a few questions answered. I’ll never forget the calm respect shown me by this academic lion in winter.

President Bacow reports that Tufts is poised to join the ranks of the most elite universities in the country. Continuing to encourage cross-fertilization between the undergraduate college and the graduate schools will help Tufts to realize that goal.

Gary Merken, A85
Rosemont, PA

Water, Water Everywhere
I applaud Tufts for the development of the Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) Ph.D. program (“Ph.D. in H2O,” spring 2004). Since graduating I have dedicated my career to the design of water systems. Water is clearly the most underappreciated material on this planet, at least in the U.S. Most people do not realize that the quantity of water on Earth is fundamentally finite. Every glass of water we drink contains billions of water molecules that have existed since the formation of this planet 4.4 billion years ago. Each of those molecules has made a remarkable journey before reaching your water glass. Many would have provided life-nourishing hydration for other animals and people, including possibly dinosaurs, George Washington, or Leonardo da Vinci. With every glass of water I drink I am reminded of an old cliché. The optimist says, “The glass is half full”; the pessimist says, “The glass is half empty.” But the engineer says, “The glass is twice as big as it needs to be,” while the water engineer says, “The glass contains billions of pieces of history that have made remarkable journeys that started with the formation of planet Earth.” I truly wish I were still in the Medford area so I might be able to participate in the WSSS program.

Timothy Allinson, E85
Aliso Viejo, CA

Editor’s note: Sometimes our readers are inspired to do more than just write letters. Peter Leeds, A74, was so taken with our article “Moments of Exquisite Compassion” (winter 2004) on sisters Ellen Cohen, J79, and Marjorie Cohen Stanzler, J73, that he wrote a poem:

I Read About Two Sisters

One who I knew long ago

a sweet young woman

from my college days

who lived down the hall from me

who could laugh away the night,

the other- six years younger who I never knew

who now wears her dark hair

short cropped like a beat poet

sensitive to the pain of life.

In our college magazine

I rarely consider,

I read how tightly bound

these women are to each other

from childhood the best of friends

no secrets no treasures went unshared

who went to the same schools

who lived all their lives

within easy reach of each other

who shared equally in life

who had no reason believe

theirs would not be good

in all the ordinary ways

were changed unexpectedly

by the early most public loss

of the younger sister’s

articulate caring husband-

a young man with plaintive eyes

who confronted

his harsh overwhelming

by lung cancer

[none could explain]

with the fullness of her love.

I read and thought about

the younger sister’s anguish

of a shared life that would never be

how once her grief must have known

no boundaries no relent

which at first even sharing

could not diminish,

became two sisters’ mission-

to make good by compassion

to grant sanctuary to those without

how these two women’s passion

to ease our inevitable leaving

inspired others to walk along with them and serve

as each sister had always done for the other

and I could feel how their work

finally healed one sister’s grief-

giving and returning meaning

as only such work can.

Peter Leed, Tufts Class of 1974
Written 3/10/04