I was quite disturbed to see the editor’s referral in the fifth paragraph to “Shannon.” During my time at the University the name reference would always be “Mr. Shannon.” As I recall that was tradition. Never was Mr. Shannon referred to as “President Shannon” or “Dr. Shannon” unless away from the Grounds. I think Mr. Shannon still deserves the respect.
Richmond dePeyster Talbot Jr. (Col ’66)
Boca Grande, Florida
While “Tom the Builder” illustrates a lesser-known aspect of the construction of the Academical Village, to call it “the monumental task of supervising one of the country’s largest construction projects” ignores what was going on outside of the Virginia Piedmont in these same years and limits the concepts of “construction” and “builder” to things of a purely static, domestic scale.
Consider that during the same time frame, 1816-1825, New York built from scratch the Erie Canal, 363 miles long and costing about $7 million, a project that Jefferson thought could not be attempted until the 1920s instead of the 1820s. Philadelphians built the Schuylkill Canal, 90 miles and $2.3 million. Philadelphians also built the Fairmount Dam and a water-powered pumping station for their Fairmount Water Works. Without leaving Virginia, one would find Fort Monroe at Hampton Roads, the largest masonry fort built in the U.S.
Of course, we are in very un-Jeffersonian country here, which is the point.
All of these construction projects were not only substantially larger and more costly, they demanded technical and organizational skills that were beyond both Jefferson and his crew of enslaved traditional carpenters, brickmakers and masons.
Nor were engineers simply copying and adapting static architectural elements from books. They required at least some measure of hands-on familiarity with successful examples in the realm of hydraulics and mechanics. Nothing in the Academical Village has the mechanical complexity needed to fight off a bombardment by the Royal Navy or deliver cleaner water to a city of thousands or maintain reliable communication on a continental scale. Compared to the skill and labor needed to build the deep rock cut and flight of combined locks at Lockport, N.Y., or carry a canal across the glacial bog of the Montezuma Marshes, Jefferson’s work is little more than a very interesting assemblage of Legos.
Of course, the Academical Village is an esthetic tour-de-force, but it is still of a domestic scale; its very name indicates an assemblage of residential buildings. And it is still also a provincial knock-off, replicating in native brick, wood and daub what the Romans and later Italians, French and British would have built of cut stone. That, of course, is part of its charm and American-ness. And Jefferson was, in fact, a gentleman-amateur, a very well-read and intellectually active one, but an amateur nonetheless.
So, with so much about Jefferson being rethought and qualified, shouldn’t we be doing the same with his architectural accomplishments and shortcomings?
Christopher T. Baer (Arch ’70)
Hagley Museum and Library
I will never forget those last weeks prior to graduation and was never prouder of the way the University responded to the Kent State shootings. Having Kunstler/Rubin speak during that volatile period was incredible and showed tremendous confidence in the student body. During the time period of 1966-70, UVA became much more socially aware, finally breaking away from the white frat boy, coat-and-tie mentality that had persisted for way too long. All of my professors canceled classes and exams as there were greater lessons to be learned. Their support was greatly appreciated. At graduation, there was a small group who did not wear their cap and gown in continuing protest against the Vietnam War. I think Jefferson would have been proud as well.
Fred A. Williams Jr. (Col ’70)
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
I wrote my Political and Social Thought major thesis on this same topic in 1978. The title was “Strike!” In the fall of 1977, I had sent (by snail mail) questionnaires to every member of the 1970 fourth-year class. My thesis constructed an account based in part on their responses. The mystery was who actually called the cops onto the UVA Grounds on Friday night May 8? If I recall correctly, my conclusion (which really was not much more than speculation) was that it was Frank Hereford, then the provost and later president of the University. There was still, in 1978, some hostility toward Hereford among the graduates who had responded to my questions.
Rory K. Little (Col ’78)
San Francisco, California
Joseph W. Cotchett Professor of Law
U.C. Hastings College of the Law
By the time antiwar fever had swept campuses across the country, I was in the service. I had not heard the details of the William Kunstler/Jerry Rubin rally at University Hall and their call to “liberate the president’s house” because President Shannon would not close the University as a war protest, or the march to Carr’s Hill, with some yelling “burn it down” as defenders linked arms in front to protect Shannon, his wife and five children, and the house with Kunstler still goading them on.
Fortunately, it ended well, but I am wondering why Kunstler and Rubin weren’t charged with inciting to riot for the mindlessly dangerous situation they created. I am reminded of last summer, when other outsiders of both extremes came to our community and wreaked havoc with not enough accountability. People not from a community don’t really care about it, only about getting their message out.
As a participant in the events [Ernie Gates] describes, I can confirm the accuracy of his account. Gates lumps Kunstler and Rubin together in encouraging students to engage in violent protests. I have a different memory of their roles. I recall Kunstler as using every available opportunity to encourage violence. I recall Rubin as injecting a lot of humor into his statements, thereby relieving some of the pressure toward violence.
We owe President Shannon our gratitude for implementing a carefully crafted response that minimized the adverse effects of a situation that could have had devastating consequences for the University.
Richard J. Pierce Jr. (Law ’72)
I was one of the 1,974 people who graduated on June 7, 1970. I was also commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force the day before through ROTC. Several weeks before, during one of the mass anti-war demonstrations on the Lawn, I was walking across the area in my ROTC uniform. I was approached by a protester; he spit on me and called me “baby killer.” He was filled with so much hate! I remember thinking, “What did I ever do to you?” I did nothing and continued along my way. Maybe he helped strengthen my resolve to continue to be a commissioned officer in the USAF for the next 26 years. Good things do come from bad acts.
Craig R. Jones (Engr ’70, ’75)
Thanks for the memories. My friend and fraternity brother Rich Hafter and I were two of the 30 linked-armed students in front of Carr’s Hill—as anti-war as anyone else at the Kunstler/Rubin rally earlier that evening—but determined not to allow anyone’s righteous outrage translate into physical destruction of University landmarks. Good thing that all of us there had long hair and anti-war buttons and flashed those peace signs to the crowd. It probably enhanced our credibility and helped keep the simmer from coming to a boil. We’re also two of the students in the photo of President Shannon getting a real-time introduction to reality at its most raucous. I wish Rich were still with us. He’d have enjoyed this time trip.
Andrew Sussman (Col ’71)
Rancho Santa Margarita, California
I noticed that the cover of the Spring 2018 issue “Groundswell May Days 1970” contained multiple members of the 1974 Med School class, including me. Not sure how we found the time.
Marvin Roberts (Col ’70, Med ’74)
When are you gutless wonders going to write an article about the UVA alumni who fought and some died for our country?
Patrick Kelly (Wise ’73)
As the reporter for the Daily Progress assigned to cover UVA at the time, I was there for all of it. Gates did a great job recounting.
I was there for all the Vietnam War protests on the Grounds. My news nose sent me rushing to the top of Edgar Shannon’s front porch because it was clear Kunstler’s speech inspired the audience to amass on Carr’s Hill and demand confrontation or else. I sat in a porch glider and took notes.
I was there when UVA went through the upheavals of court-ordered undergraduate coeducation and integration. Delicate times.
I was there in the thick of it the night the army of shield-bearing state troopers massed in front of Madison Hall, brandishing night sticks, and faced a larger army of students across the street brandishing idealism. Martial law had been proclaimed via bullhorn. The students were told to go home. They didn’t.
I was there when 68 people, most of them students, were loaded into a Mayflower moving van provided by a sympathetic Lloyd Wood for transportation to the city police station. It was there that the area’s major real estate developer, Dr. Charles Hurt (Med ’54), awakened from sleep by his pastor, bailed them out. Thanks for the memories. By the time you’re 81, no cup is large enough to hold them.
Rey Barry (Col ’59)
Lacking documentary evidence from the founder, it is hard to understand how the forensic examination of some of the Lawn’s columns, revealing sand/tan surfaces with a level of undated white wash right above them, is a conclusive Jeffersonian argument for propagation of the sandy shade. What does seem definitive is the aesthetic testimony against it. As instantiated by the “restored” Pavilion X, the sand/tan color looks dingy in most lights and even worse in damp conditions, when it takes on the chromatic character of a dirty tooth. Under the prevailing and at least century-long presence of white colonnades, it is possible to walk down the Lawn and have the magical experience of a radiant and enduring Age of Reason smile—until one encounters Pavilion X, which seems now to require a hygienist more than a preservationist.
Page Nelson (Col ’76)
Jocelyn, you make me proud. As a double ’Hoo, I have always loved my school and have followed its sports and athletes for decades. You are exactly the epitome of the Wahoo student-athlete—a term that has lost a lot of its original meaning, relative to the “student” part. Keep chasing the dream, young lady.
Rob Austin (Col ’71, Darden ’78)
I rarely dwell on the In Memoriam section but the entry for Melanie Crotty caught my eye. “As an engineering major, she was exceedingly proud of her C in Physics and would not let it deter her.” I didn’t know Melanie but we are kindred spirits in having some struggles in the Tool School.
Arriving at UVA after being a top student in my rural high school, it was a rude awakening to now be studying with the top students in the country and from around the world.
Reading the previous articles about the Jefferson and Echols Scholars and other top graduates and then seeing the passage from Melanie’s memoriam, I am glad I was not the only one to feel the thrill of passing a class that you just didn’t get! And not letting it deter you!
God bless you, Melanie; you lifted the spirit of this proud E-School graduate!
Paul T. Garrison (Engr ’83)
Virginia Beach, Virginia
My father nearly died from some opioids prescribed for him for some back pain. He was affected to the point that we expect he will never regain his former mental capabilities. This was almost three years ago, and he was being treated by multiple doctors who, apparently, each were ignorant of the medications from the other doctors.
Richard Fredenburg (Engr ’71)
Garner, North Carolina
Donuts redux. My apologies for such a late reply to your excellent article on the University Diner (“U.D.”) in your Fall 2017 issue. I was a late-night regular in the 1960s, along with my fraternity brothers from Pi Lambda Phi.
Your photo of the front exterior of the U.D. captured its modest simplicity. Inside, the large side windows looked straight onto a blank brick wall of the neighboring building. The booths and tables were a pinkish Formica, the harsh lighting softened by cigarette smoke.
Ethel Booker in a rare free moment would smoke a cigarette while standing sentinel at the cash register. She was a born disciplinarian, and when she approached your table, woe to you if you didn’t have your order ready. “What’ll it be, young man?” she’d ask in a voice that only the reckless would gainsay. I have never forgotten her reproving look (she even appeared some 40 years later in a dream to chide me).
With Ethel firmly in control at the front end, Elwood Breeden, soft-spoken and mild-mannered, worked as chef (he is named in your article but unidentified in the photo with Mr. Shiflett). He serenely cooked order after order—one side of the grill for Grillswiths, the other for one-eyed bacon cheeseburgers. He often had a cigarette in his mouth—for that matter, we all did.
The Grillswith in its 1969 manifestation was one donut with one scoop of vanilla ice cream. To get two scoops you had to enunciate clearly, “double order.” (Ethel scolded me in my dream for not expressing myself clearly.)
I savor memories as sweet as ice cream on a grilled donut or two. Thank you, Ethel! Thank you, Elwood!
Charles T. “Hook” Dent (Col ’69)