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      I would like to offer a resounding second to many of the thoughts in "Sharing Paths Never Imagined" in the July-August issue. Six women from the Class of 1963 (Meredith Parsons Reeder, Carol Ramsey Turpin, Betsy Miller Fuller, Phoebe Welt Kent, Sherer James Easa, and Amanda Wright Smoot) have been sharing our own reunions. We represented two sororities at Duke (Kappa Kappa Gamma and Alpha Delta Pi), two dormitories (Bassett and Pegram) where we were suite-mates, and we were equally divided between Yankees and Southerners. We knew we had "bonded" at Duke, but we had no full knowledge of the depths of our friendship until we started gathering as grown women.

      Our first reunion was in 1985, twenty-two years after graduation. We had kept in touch, some of us had seen each other, but we had not been together--all six of us--until then. We relived the joys and hilarities of college days, but quickly moved on to who we were in 1985, and found that we loved each other even more than we had at Duke.

      We had two more reunions in intervening years and kept in closer touch with round-robin letters in between. Our most recent reunion was just last July. This one would prove to be a watershed experience for all of us.

      Sherer James Easa had been fighting breast cancer for several years. Now we knew we would have to say goodbye to her. We met in the mountains of North Carolina, but she was too ill to come to us, so we drove to another mountain town a few hours away, where she was being tended to by her husband and sister. It happened to be her fifty-fourth birthday. In spite of her weakened condition, we celebrated. We had cake and presents, but mostly we had the joy of making her laugh at our remembrances. We shared silly gifts that we always bring to reunions, we showed her pictures of our families, and we were able to hug her and stroke her and compliment her on the way her hair was growing back.

      Then the five of us would go back to our hotel and cry, but we would also laugh, be silly, and tell jokes. Mostly we gloried in the way our friendship was moving to a more profound level than ever before. We were literally in the middle of a life-and-death struggle and we were loving each other through it and taking strength from our companionship.

      We left Sherer on Saturday, July 21. Little did we know that only a week later she would be mercifully released from this life. The five remaining ones recognize that we had been partners in a life-changing experience. We are determined to keep our reunions, and we know that when we meet, we will still be six because Sherer is so much in our hearts.

      Amanda W. Smoot '63
      Radnor, Pennsylvania



      I was fascinated by Taylor Sisk's article about Dick DeVenzio ["Pay for Play?"] in the July-August issue, even though spectator sports have little interest for me. As an undergraduate, I attended only one football game and left at half-time. I missed the basketball season altogether.

      I now encounter collegiate sports only through the problems they raise in the uni-versity where I teach. There is an ongoing discussion about admissions standards, behavior in residence halls of student-athletes, the cost of training facilities, the need for new stadiums, etc.

      The consistent answer to the obvious question "Why have intercollegiate sports programs?" is divided into three parts: 1) Intercollegiate sports provide a pathway to a better life for disadvantaged inner-city African Americans; 2) The public relations value to the university is so significant that enrollment surges are often explained by the success of teams in national championship play; and 3) A well-managed sports program brings significant revenue to the university.

      Setting aside the "pathway for the disadvantaged" for a moment, public relations value translates to "free advertising," and if advertising is essential to a university, then we are back to revenue. So, two-thirds of the reason for sports is income, and Mr. DeVenzio is right on target.

      The first point is much more interesting to discuss. It is, of course, obviously true that an African-American child who grows up in an inner-city neighborhood and who is able to attend college and go on to attain personal satisfaction and garner financial awards has accomplished something remarkable in a society where the leading cause of death among its young men is homicide. Do intercollegiate and professional sports contribute to such success stories in significant numbers relative to the size of the population?

      I think it is instructive to examine the image of the professional athlete as a role model for pre-teen children to see whether aspects of that role model reinforce the values that help children respect the academic setting. Do we see athletes off the courts and playing fields reading books, entering into informed discussions about the issues of the day? Do their televised performances rely on some intellectual achievement or mastery of a body of knowledge acquired in the classroom? Do they work effectively in groups? Do they enjoy mathematical games and puzzles? The laughable nature of such questions provides a quick answer.

      Professional sports holds out the artificial promise that if an above-average person plays ball well, he will get a lot of money and have nice clothes, fast cars, and an exciting and glamorous life. Professional sports cannot support very many athletes and do little if anything to encourage students to persevere in the classroom. It is more likely that they encourage students to look for shortcuts or an easy path to wealth.

      Perhaps someday we'll have all the sneakers and T-shirts we can use, the office betting pools will have made everyone rich, and beer production will be unable to keep up with demand. Then, perhaps, people will find other ways to use their capacity to have interesting lives besides watching sports on television. Until then, why not pay the student-athletes what they are worth? Let them have agents and unions and lawyers. In some small way, an open financial system as described by Mr. DeVenzio will bring some truth to academe, where it ought always be welcome.

      Maurice Wright '72
      Wyncote, Pennsylvania



      Bridget Booher sabotages the important topic of university finance ["Biting the Bullet," July-August] with whining, illogic, and unasked questions. She states, "Memories of splendid isolation, when students and faculty learned and taught in an atmosphere of genial camaraderie, are obsolete." Such "splendid isolation" is at the core of the problem with universities, which have too often detached themselves from reality. When did "genial camaraderie" replace the omnipresent intellectual tension that has existed at Duke for thirty-plus years? Finally, how has reduced congressional funding caused her idyllic image of campus life to become "obsolete"? The latter question is never addressed.

      Ms. Booher implies that the media share the blame for spoiling the fun, because they provided a forum for conservatives who questioned the direction of education (how dare they!), and also publicized the financial scandals regarding government reimbursement of indirect costs. Rather than provide any rebuttal to these criticisms, she dismisses conservative concerns as "crowing" against "so-called political correctness."

      Her discussion of Duke's efforts to bring administrative costs under control stops short of the mark. No ratios comparing trends of administrative costs to number of students or to tuition dollars over the past twenty to thirty years are presented. Such statistics would put current cost-cutting efforts into perspective. The disproportionate increase in tuition compared to inflation is ignored, as is the problematic lock-step rate of tuition increase among the major private schools.

      If Duke is serious about costs, I suggest that it take advantage of its own resources. What better project for students of the Fuqua School of Business and their professors than to take on the re-engineering of Duke's operational infrastructure? If incentive is required, offer to reimburse Fuqua with a percentage of the savings it creates!

      Separately, Taylor Sisk's article "Pay for Play?" links Joe Smith to UNC; he attended Maryland. UNC lost two sophomores (Wallace and Stackhouse, I believe) to the NBA.

      J. Christopher Smith '72
      Bethesda, Maryland



      It has been a pleasure for years to receive and to read Duke Magazine, but this time in writing I must express my appreciation, respect, and gratitude for publishing those memoirs of Professor Joel Colton ["Occupation and Affirmation: Postwar Germany," July-August]. Please forward to Professor Colton this honest statement of mine (being German, at the age of thirteen in 1945, living at Passau at that time when Professor Colton was there, too).

      Professor Colton analyzes Nazism and Nazi Germany in a very true way, without hurting the better side of Germany. At the same time, he points out the very beginnings of German postwar democracy and growing wealth--things that were tiny germinating plants in 1945-46, but clearly seen and described by Professor Colton already at that time.

      Coincidentally at this time, there is running an exposition in Munich organized by the Institute of Bavarian History in the house of the Bavarian prime minister called "Freedom, Peace, Rights--Bavaria After 1945," all those things that Professor Colton examines in his article. The aim of the exposition is to remind the old ones and to explain to the younger generation how the restart of integration of Bavaria/Germany into the democratic community of free nations was brought about. In this process, the dominant and graceful role of the United States is recognized and acknowledged gratefully.

      The president of the Institute of Bavarian History is a Rotary friend of mine, Professor Claus Grimm. I sent him a copy of the July-August issue, drawing his attention to the article and asking him to reserve an honorary place in the archives of the Institute for this Duke Magazine on account of Professor Colton's article.

      Hans Karl Kandlbinder A.M. '54
      Munich, Germany



      A friend visiting from Durham brought a copy of your September-October issue thinking I would be interested in the Grant Hill article, which I was. But the issue was so good, it barely edged out "Forging Electronic Futures" as the fourth most interesting. "Collecting Art, Jazz, and Criticism" was the easy winner, despite it grievous error locating San Francisco's Green Street in the Haight-Asbury. "When Pain Stops the Performance" has been forwarded to the physicians for the San Francisco Ballet, and the visit with James Applewhite ["Capturing the Rhythms of the South"] was thoroughly enjoyable.

      Good work.

      Bud Johns
      San Francisco, California

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