Duke University Alumni Magazine

Please limit letters to no more than 300 words. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity. Include full name, address, and class year. Our fax number is (919) 684-6022 and our internet address --for Forum and class notes only--is: dukemag@acpub.duke.edu


     I recently read [President Keohane's] baccalaureate address to the Class of 1996 printed in the July-August issue. By the time I finished reading it, I was in tears! I am a 1943 nursing school graduate and, as Duke hadn't finished with me, earned an M.S. in nursing in 1964. Retired for thirteen years, I have had a long and, to me, productive life in nursing and have always been proud of my Duke education. For the times in which I graduated, I had a superb education.

     Through it all, the Duke Chapel has been my solace, comfort, and celebration. I learned things about Duke Chapel from [President Keohane's] address that I had never known. Thank you!

     Our baccalaureate was in May 1943 (because of the war), and all of my family came: my father from Connecticut, where he worked at Sikorsky; my brother, Bud, from Long Island, where he worked for several years and had enlisted in the Army Air Corps; and my mother and younger brother from St. Simons Island, Georgia. My parents were not separated, but until my father found housing for them in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and my younger brother graduated from high school and went into the Navy V-5 program, they lived over 2,000 miles apart!

     During World War II, while teaching basic science at Duke to the nursing students in the Cadet Corps, I remember walking down from the medical complex to the Duke Chapel to meditate on D-Day in 1944. I remember going to the memorial service there for five Duke senior nursing students who were killed in a highway accident returning from Florida after the spring break in the early Sixties. On a happier note, I went to the wedding of one of my classmates during World War II in the small chapel to the left of the main part of the building.

     If I had remained in the Triangle area, I would have become a member of the permanent Chapel congregation. I have lived on the coast since 1967, and had worked in local community colleges and finally at East Carolina University School of Nursing, so my ties were to eastern North Carolina.

     Thank you for reminding me of what Duke University Chapel has always meant to me.

Barbara Bain B.S.N. '43, R.N. '43
Cape Carteret, North Carolina


     I am appalled that a graduate of Duke University, Earle Sweat '57, M.D. '61, would write such a letter [November-December 1996 "Forum"] in response to the Holloway article ["Poised to Fulfill a Promise," July-August 1996] on standard and nonstandard English.

     Sweat insisted that Holloway should have stated that she "spoke standard American English as well as a dialect of American blacks." He also stated that this type of speech "identifies her ethnic community [and] represents a failure of our educational system to teach our citizens," and continued by insisting that he knew of "no educated [person] of any race who use[s] that dialect in their daily lives."

     Is Holloway not educated? Sweat egotistically denies the existence of Professor Holloway's stated reality. And, although he does not so state, implicit in his letter is that black dialect is somehow inferior, and certainly nonstandard American English.

     I am educated. But daily I may say, "Good" in response to "How are you," or "Yo, what's up," as I pass as colleague, or "Oh my gosh, I have sooo much work to do, you know." None of these phrases demonstrate the use of standard American English. Nor do the "like totally"s, "she's hot," or "he's such a tool."

     I hope that Sweat and the rest of the Duke community recognize that educated people daily use nonstandard English, and that English does not majestically become standard simply because a majority of whites, rather than blacks, use such phrases. Truth is, "hey, that's totally cool" is no more or less a use of nonstandard English than "yo, that's phat."

Nedra D. Campbell '94
Alexandria, Virginia


     Your brief article on Professor William Reddy's course on the history of money [November-December 1996] was interesting, but there are two points upon which I wish to comment.

     First, he states that money is "a symbol that is totally invented" and that we have to "pretend that it is natural." To the contrary, however, many economists, notably those of the "Austrian School," maintain that money is a perfectly natural phenomenon of the marketplace, arising spontaneously because it significantly lowers transactions costs. For a clear exposition, see Murray Rothbard's Man, Economy, and State, pp. 162-168.

     Now, perhaps Professor Reddy means that our present, irredeemable fiat currency is unnatural, and if so, he is quite right.

     Second, he states that "Volcker raised interest rates up to 20 percent and essentially killed Jimmy Carter's chances for re-election." Not really; the Fed can raise an interest rate, the discount rate it charges commercial banks to borrow from the Federal Reserve, but the entire structure of interest rates is determined by supply-and-demand forces in the market for loanable funds. Interest rates soared in 1979-80 because of inflation. Lenders expected to be repaid in dollars of significantly less purchasing power and therefore were adding on a large premium to cover that probability. That the Fed had a hand in bringing about the inflation cannot be denied, but that is not the same as saying it "raised interest rates."

George C. Leef J.D. '77
East Lansing, Michigan

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