Forum: September/October 2011

October 1, 2011
 
Still Laughing Nixon Lives OnFootball's FailingsLabor Lessons Drilling for AnswersKudos

Still Laughing

July/August 2011 CoverThe history of Duke’s humor magazines [July-August 2011] evoked powerful memories for me because a major part of my life at Duke was devoted to the Duke ’n’ Duchess. In 1942, as a freshman, I delivered the D’n’D door-to-door in the dorms. When I returned to campus in 1946 after World War II military service, I signed on with editor Chan Hadlock as a writer and gofer.

I think the D’n’D may have gone into hibernation for a couple of years during the war, and Chan was heavily engaged in bringing it back to life. He had been an Army combat photographer during the war and had journalistic experience with military publications. I learned a lot from Chan on writing humor and how to put a magazine together.

Pete Maas ’50 succeeded Chan as editor, and the magazine gained popularity on campus. I worked with Pete and followed him as the 1948-49 editor. I liked the way Chan and Pete had developed the magazine and did little to change it during my tenure. Art Steuer ’51, the 1949-50 editor, was more innovative and developed some engaging ideas that brightened the pages.

The next editor, Walt Wadlington ’51, had worked closely with me and Art and had good promise of continuing the existing policies, but alas, a minor lapse in judgment swept the D’n’D into oblivion.

The loss of the D’n’D saddened me because we had put a lot into making it a thoroughly professional publication with good writers and talented cartoonists like Clarence Brown ’47. I would have loved to see the offending edition and make my own assessment of its lack of taste, but existing copies were not allowed the light of day. I’m glad at least one copy was preserved in the University Archives.

I’m proud of the magazine we produced in the late 1940s and wish future Duke humor writers and editors creative success…and good judgment.

Bob Wilson '50
Boca Raton, Florida

 

Kudos to Aaron Kirschenfeld and Duke Magazine for the cover feature on the history of humor magazines at Duke. Back in the late 1970s, Duke (and other schools, no doubt) had undeveloped interests when it came to humor publications. In its quest to be similar to other top colleges, it wanted to have one. It also wanted the material to be relevant to Duke, yet not embarrassing; the publication would be similar to and competitive with humor published at other top institutions, but never coarse or controversial. These competing standards have caused the likes of The Harvard Lampoon to become entirely independent of Harvard. As the article notes, some others, such as at Duke, simply were shut down or disappeared.

Regarding Pravda, the magazine article may give the impression that Pravda was the work of a few people— in fact, it was a large and devoted group, with much support (overt and covert) from students, faculty members, alumni, workers, and folks at other publications.

The Duke Composition Shop was never “fooled” by Pravda’s staff (we really weren’t that clever!)—people at the comp shop had first warned us that folks from The Chronicle had been found “snooping around” the Pravda materials as they were being offset. (This was confirmed when The Chronicle, which then had dominated the Pub Board, shamelessly published an article that described the provocative materials they had spied.) After an administrator on the Pub Board then warned us of plans to seize the Pravda galleys, and to attempt to delay their release until after the semester had ended, people at the Comp Shop had recommended a photocopying service that we had ended up using.

The Pub Board’s charter back then had stated “no publication will be censored, either publicly or in private.” To clarify, our “bad faith” was in our decision not to allow the seizure plan to proceed with Pravda, and accordingly not to engage in an ex post facto debate with the Pub Board on whether their intentional delay of a publication was censorship.

It was a painful experience, but I think we learned more from the Duke Pravda saga than in any college class.

David Woronov '82
Boston


Nixon Lives On

May/June 2011 CoverAs University Archivist at the time of the library debate, I was amazed that no one inquired about any Nixon records on hand [May-June 2011]. For starters, the campus archives has Nixon’s handwritten paper from his legal ethics course. Then there are interesting files regarding student employment through New Deal-sponsored programs, and his application to the FBI and correspondence with Dean [Claude] Horack about employment after graduation. Clipping files compiled over the years contain revealing, littleknown aspects of his life easily viewed at one place. Duke has a Nixon Library of sorts waiting to be consulted.

William E. King ’61, A.M. ’63, Ph.D. ’70
University Archivist Emeritus
Lake Junaluska, North Carolina

 

Reading your estimable article on the Nixon Library reminded me that it was my late wife, Darcy, who first articulated the key distinction between the library and the accompanying buildings, et al.—the distinction that opponents of the project then made the heart of their successful case against the project. At one of the first meetings of faculty and others wondering what, if anything, to do, she said, “I’m for the library but against the gift shop.”

David L. Paletz
Professor of political science
Durham

 

Your article on the Nixon Library was definitely the funniest thing I have read in years. Obviously, President Sanford was no historian, or he would have learned from the 1960s and the ’70s. I was delighted to learn that my old major department, zoology, and Dr. [Peter] Klopfer played a significant role in the “revolution.”

Congratulations on such a well-researched and entertaining piece.

Larry L. Farmer ’57
Lynchburg, Virginia


Football's Failings

Your symposium on college sports [July-August 2011] was of special interest to this rabid sports fan. The comments by Nancy Hogshead- Makar [’86], my advisee in the early 1980s, were especially insightful. However, the discussion failed to recognize sufficiently the underside of Division I football.

With a few notable exceptions (Duke, Stanford, Penn State, and some others), Division I football is a sewer. A quick scan of recent news about USC, Ohio State, Auburn, Oregon, Colorado, Georgia Tech, and even UNC reveals that striving for victory trumps even the loosest standards of academic institutions. If, as seems likely, Duke decides to go “big time” in Division I football, the consequences are predictable: ever lower admissions standard for prized recruits and, possibly, even the creation of new majors (e.g., “general studies”) for them. Another likely side effect is that Duke players will more frequently appear in the “crime columns” of sports pages.

Duke has won many NCAA championships: four in men’s basketball, six in women’s golf, and one each in men’s soccer and men’s lacrosse. It has done so while continuing to rise in the rankings of the world’s great universities. Is it worth risking that success in a search of Division I football glory?

Ole R. Holsti
George V. Allen Professor
Emeritus of international affairs
Salt Lake City


Labor Lessons

I was interested to see that some writers were upset that a Duke history professor defends labor unions in her lectures [Forum, July-August 2011]. On the basis of my twenty-eight years as a university professor, I feel confident recommending to them that if they will restrict their children’s coursework to a business school, the youngsters are unlikely to encounter any sustained critique of laissez-faire capitalism. And, any day now, that philosophy is bound to save the world.

Susan P. McCaffray A.M. ’79, Ph.D. ’83
Wilmington, North Carolina


Drilling for Answers

By the author’s own conclusions, they find “no evidence for contamination of the shallow wells near active drilling sites from deep brines and/or fracturing fluids” [Q&A, July-August 2011]. Maybe higher concentrations of natural gas found in the shallow reservoirs are a result of the higher concentrations of natural gas in the deeper reservoirs, and that is precisely why gas wells are drilled in those areas.

Why would anyone want to drill a gas well in an area with a low concentration of natural gas?

Rob Jacobs ’84
President, Classic Hydrocarbons
Fort Worth, Texas


Kudos

Duke has long been one of my favorite alumni magazines, and I love its design. But your most recent cover [July-August 2011] is simply knock-your-socks-off brilliant.

Gigi Marino
Editor, Bucknell Magazine


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