Applause for the fall edition
It was ironic, fitting, and tender to read how the college became home to a number of international students because of Covid restrictions on travel. “In loco parentis” had its finest hour on campus.
And Roger Tulin’s story of the unanticipated benefit from his part-time job at a local gas station to launch his sociology major on his own initiative is a credit to his intellectual and physical integrity as well as the institution’s, if not also to the petrochemical distribution industry in its heyday.
The essays that appeared back-to-back in the magazine were delightful for their wit and insight about distinctively different forms of the college-student experience.
Amy Elliot Bragg’s account of “When the Lights Went Out” — a power outage in April of 2003 caused by a chipmunk — comically illustrated how the “magic” of the power outage was the gift it provided for what every college kid wants: an excuse to party and skip class and studying for a day.
Roger Tulin’s vivid recollection of the look and feel of a Clark gasoline station in his essay, “Freshman At The Pumps,” is exactly what I recall from my own college-kid experience pumping gas. I wasn’t nearly as enterprising as he was in conducting an informal sociological study on the job. My own sociological experiences on the overnight shift at a Clark station in suburban Minneapolis cannot be recounted in this magazine. But I salute Mr. Tulin’s sharp recall and his astute sensitivity to racial conflict 50 years ago.
Denny Caneff (Beloit parent)
Beloit Plan anything but a disaster
I thought I should address a comment made by Thomas McGonigle’66 in his letter about Beloit in the ’60s, asserting that the “Beloit Plan was a disaster and nearly broke the college.” I cannot speak to whether it nearly broke the college, but I believe that the Beloit Plan was anything but a disaster. In fact, it was a unique way to individually restructure a four-year college experience.
Not only was I able to get the benefit of a ninth semester, but I spent a very memorable field term in San Francisco in the fall of 1967 introducing the SF Redevelopment Agency to the value and utility of IBM card readers for storing and processing data about those displaced from the South of Market area and the Embarcadero.
I also participated in the Beloit Tutoring Center in Cleveland, Miss., in the fall of 1966 with two other Beloiters. We picked up kids from the formerly all-white schools they had just integrated in a beat-up brown delivery van (with a .45 caliber bullet hole in the driver’s door window exactly at head level). We drove them to the tutoring center on the other side of the tracks where there were no paved roads and helped with their studies in English and math so they could successfully compete. It was a remarkably effective program, and their improving grades reflected their continuing progress. On Saturdays, the three of us drove the van 10 miles up the road to Mound Bayou to tutor children in an old rundown church. Mound Bayou was founded in 1887 by people freed from slavery as a self-reliant and autonomous all-Black community on 800 acres of hardwood forest they purchased. It was famous for sheltering and empowering its thriving citizens in an era of Jim Crow on the Mississippi Delta. We apparently caught it on the downswing.
The point is to say that the Beloit Plan offered extraordinary opportunities to anyone who wished to take advantage, and I benefited from it immensely. Professors I remember with great fondness and enduring respect are William Jones (music), Max Yount (music), Daniel Schroeder (physics), Robert Irrmann (history), Eudora Shepherd (music), Crawford Gates (music), Joseph Stoltzfus (physics), and Miller Upton (President). I can still hear the Eaton Chapel organ on which I spent countless hours practicing and performing, an activity that continues today on the four-manual virtual organ I built in my living room. Max – I’m still working on that Hindemith Sonata, but I have some amazing gospel pieces from Concord Baptist in Brooklyn you might like.
Beverly Hills, Calif.
Where were the Young Americans for Freedom?
Thomas McGonigle’66 writes that “Young Americans for Freedom was well situated on the college scene and of course they saw Reagan elected president.”
Since I graduated in the spring of 1980, I don’t know if a Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter was created in the fall of 1980. But between the time I came to Beloit in the fall of 1975 and the time I left in the spring of 1980, there was no YAF presence on campus. I was an alternate delegate to the 1979 YAF convention, but I was connected to YAF through the University of Wisconsin and the Badger Herald, not through any activity at Beloit. There were very few conservatives or libertarians at Beloit when I was there.
Martin Morse Wooster’80
Silver Spring, Md.
Great coach, better man
Don Lane’48 mentioned Dolph Stanley in the fall issue. Coach Stanley was the most successful basketball coach in the Midwest Conference, but he was a bigger man than his record of wins suggested, which is why I write of him.
He also coached baseball. Our baseball team included a catcher who was Black. He was a fine person and a reasonably good ball player, but not outstanding. This was 1956, and racial problems didn’t exist in the north because most everyone knew his place and took it: de facto segregation. Black people abided by this unspoken rule. Accordingly, it had to be difficult to plan team meals at restaurants while traveling with a Black student. This teammate would likely not want to enter the restaurants we customarily used and be refused service. It may have been more convenient to leave him home and use substitute players on the travel squad.
At one luncheon during a trip, I recall seeing Dolph through the corner of my eye cozying up to the restaurant manager, speaking quietly to him. I sensed he was convincing him to accept his players, all of them. He was successful, but it wasn’t easy, I’m sure. Every player ate with the team at every meal on every trip. Dolph worked as hard to get his Black player accepted as he did to win baseball and basketball games. He was a great coach but a better man, in my opinion.
Congratulating all grads
I was caught off guard by the “Inaugural Black Student Graduation” article in the fall edition of Beloit College Magazine. The goal in today’s world is to treat everyone as equals. I applaud theaters that practice “color-blind” casting, with roles assigned to a mix of actors—whomever portrays the character the best. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theater in Chicago casts that production in this manner, even portraying Bob Cratchit’s family with a racial mix of actors. The esteemed American Players Theatre (APT) in Spring Green, Wis., follows the same practice. Roles are assigned by ability, not color. Nobody in the audience thinks twice about it.
In everyday life, we’ve learned to be considerate in identifying people by other characteristics (any other characteristics) beyond the simple color of their skin. As the father of a different-race child, I always hoped she would be accepted or rejected on the basis of the person she is, apart from her race.
While I’m aware you were identifying Beloit’s Black students for a positive reason (the achievement of college graduation from a fine institution), you’ve missed the whole point of inclusion. Including people because of their color is as racist as excluding them because of it. Did Beloit also have separate graduations for their white, Asian, or Native American students? It’s a slippery slope you’re starting here.
With the photograph on page 7, the article also seems to insinuate it was out of the ordinary for high recognition to be achieved by Black students. Were these Black students not expected to be capable of high achievement? I’m sure we agree the best should be expected from everyone who is accepted into Beloit College. I hope my alma mater will reconsider segregating graduates by color for recognition (or for any purpose) in the future.
I offer my congratulations to all the new graduates of Beloit College, regardless of their gender, race, or religion.
Fred S. Duerkop’60
Land O’ Lakes, Wis.
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