Open Forum

Autism Perspectives
Thank you for the story by Chris Dall ’93 about his daughter, Martha, who has autism (“Just Our Martha,” Summer 2005). I am also a parent of a child “on the spectrum,” as we say in the autism biz, and I was thrilled to see the subject raised so well within our community. I am convinced this is an epidemic (with all the authority vested in me by my philosophy degree and an M.B.A.), and I am also painfully aware of the lack of clear guidance for parents facing such a diagnosis. The more we can provide these perspectives and share the pleasures, challenges, hopes, and opportunities of this group of children, the better.

I was also happy to see the condition getting such focus from Bates students and faculty. It appears to command a significant share of the research attention of one of the biggest and most accomplished departments at the school — that’s fantastic!

Timothy Shaw ’91
Alexandria, Va.

The Book on Joline
I could barely believe my eyes when I read the announcement that Joline Froton has retired from the bookstore (“Turning Points,” Summer 2005)! I don’t have many enduring links with academic faculty members, but memories of hours working at the post office during my senior year, being able to pour out my worries and reasons to be excited, are deeply etched into my mind. Working with Joline was like having an older sister/aunt/mentor all rolled into one great person of boundless empathy, and that relationship saved my sanity during the formidable thesis semester!

Ruth Thompson Mann ’89
Petaluma, Calif.

Penney Thoughts
The well-written article on Shirl Penney ’99 (“A Penney Earned,” Summer 2005) was outstanding and, frankly, almost put a tear in my eye. Congratulations to the magazine staff on your fine work. You make Bates Magazine a treat to read.

Isabel McBride Schulze ’49
Sarasota, Fla.

The story on Shirl Penney ’99 and his relationship with his grandfather and their shared struggle living in Eastport, Maine, is perhaps the finest human interest story that I’ve ever read in any issue. This young man’s love for his grandfather resonated with me, as my youngest son, John, had a tremendously strong bond with my father. John made sure that it was my father who was the first to hold John’s MVP trophy at his Holy Cross football banquet six years ago. The time frame of my father’s death was similar to that of Shirl’s grandfather, so I am humbled to understand that Mr. Townsend and my father shared something very special — the profound love of a grandson.

Shirl is a true son of Bates, and I am proud to call him a fellow alum. As Shirl gave his grandfather the diploma for eternity by having it buried with him, perhaps someday the College can honor Shirl’s act by providing this sterling young man with a copy of his diploma. Without a doubt I want this man to have the ability to show the world, like the rest of us are able to do, that he is a Bates graduate by having a diploma to hang on his wall.

Sam Aloisi ’65
Harrison, N.Y.

Mocking the Filibuster
I was interested in the photo and caption describing the Bates mock filibuster last spring, supporting Senate rules allowing the filibuster of court nominees (“No Nuclear Option,” Summer 2005). The current Senate requirement of an extra-constitutional 60 votes instead of a simple majority to confirm a presidential nominee appears at first blush a very dubious proposition. But the argument for it is buttressed by the moral authority of Ted Kennedy, the intellectual acuity of Joe Biden, and the impartial analysis of Chuck Schumer.

Moreover, almost everyone (at least in academia) knows that President Bush wants to pack our courts with reactionaries like John Roberts who might not go beyond the words of the Constitution to divine from its “penumbras and emanations” a general right to privacy to protect abortion, same-sex “marriage,” and similar adornments of an enlightened society. Such progressive advances might be lost if left to the uncertain vagaries of the democratic process. So the Bates event was a timely defense of social legislation by judicial decree.

And how thoughtful of President Hansen to join in opposing Bush, even though as a scholar of medieval literature she is unlikely to have brought to an exegesis of constitutional law the same intense study and level of understanding she would bring to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. But then, neither would the liberal Bates students. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see the Bates students and faculty so involved in the current political controversy, if, all too predictably, only on one side.

Charles W. Radcliffe ’50
Annapolis, Md.

Getting Spacey
Thank you for the photo essay of Rockland harbormaster Ed Glaser ’73 (“On the Waterfront,” Summer 2005). Our freshman year, Ed would broadcast Arlo Guthrie’s “Oh, In the Morning” faithfully each dusk from his Smith quad. I counted on this nightly ritual as I walked around the campus in search of interesting conversations. Friends spent hundreds of hours in Ed’s room playing guitars and singing harmony to old-timey, Appalachian, and bluegrass tunes.

In the same issue, the news story about plans for the new residence hall (“Rooms for Improvement”) and the “social engineering” of living spaces got me thinking about how and where I spent my time at Bates. On the third floor of Milliken, 10 or 12 women waited in line for one small bathroom each morning. Talk about “rich corridor culture!” But the most memorable times were spent with friends in the old Chase Hall Lounge. We met by chance on the couches near the old piano between and after classes. We talked about books, professors, ideas, and, of course, other students. It was joyous to be able to spend time with friends so easily, because the space existed.

There was another wonderful space on the second floor of Chase Hall, down the corridor. In one small room there was a record player. Someone had left the new Crosby, Stills & Nash album, their first. We never found out to whom it belonged, but it was such a treasure to be able to steal away and listen, undisturbed. Such spaces are so important in a college.

Joanne Stato ’73
Baltimore, Md.

Inside Outsider
Judith Magyar Isaacson ’65′s essay (“Yet Again,” Summer 2005) on her experience of being an outsider privileged to be on the inside of Bates very much moved me. I remember her fondly. I also very much enjoyed the news item on the president teaching Chaucer — good for her! And, I was very pleased to see the mention of the wedding of Bob Carr ’82 to Stephen Rivais in Class Notes.

Gary Paul Gilbert ’81
Jackson Heights, N.Y.