tufts universitytufts magazine issue homepage
contact us back issues related links
 
Features Tufts Now Connect Departments President’s Page From the Editor Letters

LETTERS

MEMORIES OF BARNUM

I enjoyed the Fall issue of Tufts Magazine, especially “The Great Barnum Fire” by Francis Storrs and “Thriller Whales” by Shannon Fischer.

The fact that they ran back to back is interesting, since Roger Payne, who is mentioned in “Thriller Whales” as a pioneering student of whale songs, taught freshman biology and animal behavior in Barnum Hall as a junior faculty member in the early and mid-1960s. He and Nancy Milburn, who shared so many of her memories in “The Great Barnum Fire,” were two of the most inspiring teachers I had during my time on the Hill.
WILLIAM PRIMACK, M.D., A66, M70
PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND PEDIATRICS
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA

The Great Barnum Fire” brought back memories. My grandfather, Paul A. “Pop” Warren, was a professor of botany at Tufts, and his sidekick was Russell L. “Bud” Carpenter, the biology professor who, as the article notes, used to buy ashtrays for Barnum Hall with the pennies that students would put in Jumbo’s trunk for good luck. In the early 1950s, Grampa often took me to “work” at Barnum on Saturdays.

Later, I returned to Tufts as a student at the engineering school. Grampa retired the year before I matriculated (always wondered about that). Fortunately for me, however, Bud was still there. Memorization, which is essential to mastering biology, has never been my strong suit, and I put off satisfying my biology requirement until the spring semester of my senior year. I was so sure I had failed the course that I didn’t rent a graduation gown—but Bud knew who I was and took pity on me. I got a D-minus. (If you look at my graduation photo, you’ll notice that my gown doesn’t match any of the others.)

Thanks, Bud, wherever you are.
DAVID WARREN, E68
MELVIN VILLAGE, NEW HAMPSHIRE

Reading “The Great Barnum Fire” reminded me that during a visit in 1962 to the Museum of Natural History in New York City, I came upon the skeleton of Jumbo. I noticed that the last bone of the tail was loose. Shall I grab it? I wondered. Is anyone looking? If I give it to Tufts, can I take a tax deduction? No, I better not, I finally decided.

Anyhow, Jumbo is gone but his bones still live. They’re no longer on display at the Museum of Natural History, but they remain in storage there.
STEPHEN B. JAFFE, E64
MOORESTOWN, NEW JERSEY

A SCHOOL OF NUTRITION IS BORN

Thank you once again to our eloquent Sol Gittleman—this time for reminding us about Tufts President Jean Mayer and the distinctive School of Nutrition he created (“The Little Magician Who Could,” Fall 2016). Mayer was many years ahead of his time.
BARBARA KEEN DRELL, J76
HOUSTON, TEXAS

BOUVÉ’S LEGACY

It has taken me until now to simmer down enough to respond to Sol Gittleman’s “Miracle on College Avenue” (Spring 2016). The article traced the history of the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, but it also touched briefly on historical attitudes toward the Bouvé-Boston School of Occupational Therapy. I was infuriated when I learned that some people believed my four-year education at Tufts and Bouvé was “not up to Jackson standards.”

The truth is that my 1955 diploma from Tufts and my certificate in physical therapy from Bouvé required me to meet very rigorous academic demands. In addition, physical education majors had to complete practice teaching assignments in area schools, and physical therapy students went for hands-on training at hospitals and clinics throughout Boston and beyond.

The physical education majors expanded health education, coached, and often championed opportunities for women’s participation in dance and sports. The physical therapists treated patients of all ages in hospitals, clinics, home health agencies, and rehab facilities. I myself worked with dozens of patients afflicted by poliomyelitis, having graduated right before the vaccine became available.
JOAN BISSONNETTE BREWER, J55
PLYMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE

As long as you’re not mad at me! My article provides an accurate characterization of how the Tufts faculty felt about four affiliated professional schools—Bouvé-Boston School of Physical Education, the Boston School of Occupational Therapy, the Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, and the Eliot-Pearson School—during the early 1960s: they wanted all four gone. Thanks to faculty members Bernie Harleston and Evelyn Pitcher, and Tufts President Nils Wessell, two of the schools were integrated into Tufts, but Bouvé and Forsyth were tossed out. That in no way minimizes the accomplishments of the graduates of those programs —Sol Gittleman

FINDING MARY STEARNS
Finding John Brown” by Geoff Edgers, A92 (Fall 2016) got me interested in the family of George Stearns, the businessman who helped John Brown with his abolitionist mission, and I was annoyed to find that you did not include a picture of Stearns’ wife, Mary Elizabeth Preston Stearns. This was especially disappointing because, as the article notes, it was Mary Stearns who enlisted the sculptor Edward Augustus Brackett to memorialize Brown with the bust that is now part of Tufts’ art collection.

Unfortunately, when I went online to find a picture of Mary Stearns, I couldn’t find one there, either. If you happen to have one, I would like very much to see it.
ANN HABLANIAN, J59
WATERTOWN, MASSACHUSETTS

We, too, were disappointed by our inability to find a picture of Mary Stearns in time for publication. As you note, such photos are in short supply. Happily, the Medford Public Library recently provided us with this one of Stearns, taken in her garden. —Editor

 
  © 2017 Tufts University Tufts Publications, 80 George St., Medford, MA 02155