I read with interest the letters from Neal Cadorette ’90 and R. Edward Price ’91 protesting the appointment of Marxist economics professor Mwangi wa Githinji. I do not agree with their remonstrations, as I believe that his worth as a professor is best assessed by his students and not those who would pre-judge him based upon his political beliefs. That said, when I read their letters, I was reminded of the leftist atmosphere that pervades UMass, and which, so entwined with political correctness, is almost unbearable. Like R. Edward Price, I too hesitate in writing a check to the alumni fund.
I attended UMass in the Reagan years, when you could barely walk through the Student Union without being accosted by some activist. Monday it was the anti-nuclear army, blocking my path, their faces made up like skeletons. Tuesday it was the PETA person, damning me for my choice of Hatch cheeseburgers. Wednesday it was some radical wearing a giant papier mache Mardi Gras head in the image of Reagan, murmuring about who knows what from the depths of the effigy. Thursday it was a self-righteous classmate trying to make me feel guilty because I grew up in Winchester. I almost looked forward to Friday, when I could see the conservative person with the pictures of the fetuses. (Boy, do I miss UMass!)
It got so bad that I started doing things like taking my Hatch cheeseburger upstairs to the health foods collective and eating it there, reveling in the expressions of “ew” from the hacky-sackers. To stymie my fellow liberal editors of the Collegian, I joined the Republican Club. There I was, with my little Mohawk and ripped Army jacket, sitting down and talking Star Wars.
But an odd thing happened. Initially when I joined the Republican Club, I did so with great mockery. But as I began to attend their meetings, I found that I got a worse reaction from the liberals around me. Sure, the Republicans looked askance at my choice of clothing, and some suspected my ruse, but the liberals were far worse. They were obsessed with whether I was actually a member of the Republican Club. Jokes turned into taunts turned into outright challenges. I was bullied at parties; people interrupted me while I ate my meat-laden meals. Other people came up to me and said, conspiratorially, “You can’t be,“ or “I know you’re smarter than that.” I was routinely asked to explain myself.
Well, I didn’t, and I haven’t, since 1984. And I won’t.
I will say this, however. No one on the liberal side wanted to hear what I had learned from the Republicans. The liberals only wanted me to tell them that the women were Stepford wives and the men Stepford husbands. No one wanted to hear what I heard close up: That the Republicans, more than anything else, were incredibly angry. But their anger, I noticed, was different from the liberal anger. The liberal anger was intellectual, luxurious. The Republican anger was targeted, grasping. It was the anger of people whose expression was shunted at every turn. It scared me, quite frankly. And so I learned of the unique rage that results when one is censored. When you try to censor people, people become reactive and hurt other people for no good reason. Ideas are lost entirely. History supports that.
At that time, my political views were left of center. They still are (though my hair is more evenly styled). But I have never forgotten the experience with the Republican Club, as it has allowed me to recognize that there’s an enormous ideological imbalance at UMass that needs to be addressed.
I urge members of the UMass community to read an article by Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein that appeared in the November 12, 2004 Chronicle of Higher Education, “Liberal Groupthink is Anti-Intellectual.” In that article, he says, “conservatives and liberals square off in public, but on campuses, conservative opinion doesn't qualify as respectable inquiry. You won’t often find vouchers discussed in education schools or patriotism argued in American studies. Historically, the boundaries of scholarly fields were created by the objects studied and by norms of research and peer review. Today, a political variable has been added, whereby conservative assumptions expel their holders from the academic market. A wall insulates the academic left from ideas and writings on the right.”
Maybe we should start all over with Stephen Tallentyre’s summation of Voltaire: ‘I may not agree with what you say but I will fight to the death your right to say it.’
Mary Cresse ‘86
I am a graduate student with the Landscape Architecture Department,
and am working with Professor Jack Ahern, Dean of the Department and
head of our Campus Arboretum. An arboretum is simply a collection
of trees, mostly of some ornamental, educational, or ecological value,
that is preserved and documented for educational purposes. Much like
a botanical garden, trees in an arboretum are labeled and accessioned
(into a botanical database), and the collection is usually open to
The entire UMass campus, is, in essence, an arboretum, with hundreds of unusual trees of great historic and botanical significance planted throughout the landscape. Some specimens are state champions because of their magnificent size, and some have great sentimental value as class or memorial trees. The arboretum, in fact, is officially the Frank A Waugh Arboretum. Professor Waugh was a distinguished professor of landscape architecture here in the early 1900's, as well as a greatly influential figure in the US Forest Service (there is currently a map of some self-guided arboretum “walking tours” at the Visitor’s Center).
Most of the mature trees you see around campus were specially selected
over the last century to enhance this arboretum, and some originals
(and their offspring) that were planted by past presidents and professors
of UMass—back when it was the Massachusetts Agricultural College—still
Many trees were labeled with metal tags years ago, but the labels are in poor condition or the trees have "outgrown" them. Many trees are not listed in the campus arboretum database; these trees need to be documented and labeled. As well, many trees have died over the years, and many new trees have been planted. These fluctuations in our campus landscape need to be documented to insure the educational value of this “living museum” for years to come.
To accomplish these goals and others, public awareness of our arboretum and its educational and aesthetic value must be generated.
Most importantly, perhaps, is that the Alumni Association has awarded the Landscape Architecture Department with a grant that allows us to continue working towards our goals. This grant has allowed me to begin to accomplish the goals listed above, under the supervision of Jack Ahern.
We can use all the help we can get, and the Association’s contribution has truly "jump-started" our arboretum work. In return for their generosity, we want to bring them good publicity and continue to encourage an Arboretum-Alumni partnership.
The Alumni Association realizes the tremendous impact our UMass landscape has on students, and in turn, alumni. Landscape features such as the Campus Pond, Durfee Garden and the giant beech trees , and The Class Memorial Garden by the Fine Arts Center, etc, are all given life by a unique tree palette that was chosen for its aesthetic and horticultural value. These landscapes remain in students’ hearts and minds for years, and many people—not just landscape architects of plant science students—are curious to know “what kind of tree is that”, especially when the tree is in bloom or boasts striking fall color.
I think the readers of your magazine—both students and faculty—will
be curious to find out more about this project, and more about the
trees that form the armature of our campus. People have been especially
curious as I have been installing new labels on trees around campus,
and am often asked what it is I’m doing. Perhaps, in the future, we
will be able to develop a forum in which students can participate in
Publicity for our campus arboretum, and the beneficial partnerships that such publicity may generate, are essential for its “rebirth” in the awareness of current students.
MLA student, Department of Landscape Architecture
Coddling Can Kill
I read with great interest "In Search of Fairer Tests" (Winter, 2007), by Prof. Amanda Walker Johnson. In her piece she writes that she can "make no sense" of standardized tests, which are "unequal,” “unfair,” and result in “reinforcing and justifying” the treatment of students as disposable. She praises “activist” anthropology and indicates she wants to be involved in public policy “and perhaps testifying.”
After graduation from UMass in 1968 I entered flight training with the US Navy. Dr. Johnson may be horrified to learn that the US Armed Forces adhere strictly to standardized testing because to not do so has proven to kill people by producing less than fully qualified aircrew. After flying in the Navy and as a civilian for over 35 years I have to say that Dr. Johnson has no idea what she is talking about.
I have to say that although one may be able to slide through life in such soft fields as Activist Anthropology, the real world, which includes aviation and other hard disciplines, cannot exist without the testing she opposes. To assert otherwise is insupportable and destructive.
That UMass now coddles this nonsense is disappointing.
Ken Sherman ’68, ’75G
Dear Grace Friary,
I read your article "In Perfect Harmony" and strongly disagree with you and Ms. Snyder-Grenier that " in 18th and 19th centuries..... . Some people lived nearly an entire lifetime rarely hearing music." The fact is that pianos and harpsichords and other instruments were as common as iPods. We are the people that are deprived. Almost no one of my generation or the generations following me know how to make live music.
I spent my summers on a family farm without electricity when I was young and almost every evening we sang to a guitar or some other musical instrument.
Your article was very interesting and I thank you for taking the time to write it.
Guy Yagunoff ’75G
San Francisco, California
Stay at Home Moms—the Hardest Job of All
Joanne, first of all thank you for defending me and all "Stay at Home Moms", but I felt that I should write in to clarify that "identity theft" were not Charles Creekmore's words but actually my own.
After being in the corporate world for 10 years and devoting so much of life and energy to my career, I experienced an abrupt change when I chose to stay home. Overnight, my responsibilies shifted from wearing a business suit, driving a company car, having a title on a business card, overseeing 100+ employees and earning a paycheck to caring for a newborn baby, being up all hours of the night, wearing jeans (when I finally fit back into them), doing laundry and grocery shopping. While I never doubted my innate desire to be home with my child it was definitely a huge mental and emotional adjustment and took me some time to inwardly reestablish the definition of who I was.
I am incredibly proud to be a Mom, and have the utmost respect for all Moms—"Stay at Home" and "Working Moms" as we can all agree it is the hardest job we've ever done but certainly the most rewarding!
I also wanted to take the time to thank all of you that have reached out to me as a result of the joluka article. It's been wonderful to hear from old friends and great to make new ones. All of your emails/letters have been incredibly kind and supportive. Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
PS I was class of 1990, not 1986—don't want any of you thinking I'm older than I am!!
Cheryl Duddy Lentine ’90
The recent issue of the UMass Alumni magazine carried an interesting article about Alumni Families and legacies. Though we may not claim the largest family or legacy in today’s Alumni Association, we can claim a Legacy that spans all three phases of development in the Amherst Flagship Campus.
As active Life members of the Alumni Association, we are proud to trace our Legacy to Massachusetts Agricultural College 1903 and 1908. Family members as shown on the attached compilation have graduated from Mass Aggie, Mass State and UMass.
It was a challenge to compile this Family Legacy. Thanks for providing the impetus to put it all on paper. We’ll be interested to see if other Alums submit family stories to you.
We enjoy receiving the Alumni Magazine so that we can keep in touch with UMass happenings. Thank you for your efforts.
- Theoren L. Warner MAC 1908
Daughter Louise MAC ‘37
Daughter Elizabeth MSC ‘39
Married Rexford Avery MSC ‘39
Son Edward C. MAC ‘43
Married Mary E. Martin MSC ‘44
Sarah Warner Stone UMass ‘97
Jennifer Warner UMass ‘06
- Frederick C. Warner MAC 1909 (brother of Theoren)
- Raymond W. Warner MAC 1914 (brother of Theoren and Frederick)
Son Charles UMass ‘47
Married Jacqueline Marien UMass ‘48
Son David UMass ‘80
Married Maria Montenegro UMass ‘80
Daughter Kimberly UMass ‘77
Daughter Kathryn UMass ‘82
Daughter Mildred UMass ‘50
Married Robert Byrne UMass ‘51
Son Jeffrey UMass ‘77
Daughter Teresa UMass ‘74
Daughter Linda UMass ‘82
- Henry T. Martin MAC 1903
Son Henry F. Martin MSC ‘43
Daughter Mary E. Martin MSC ‘44
Married Edward C. Warner MSC ‘43
- Clarence F. Clark MAC 1922 (brother-in-law Theoren Warner)
Married Frances Martin MAC ‘23
Mary Martin Warner ‘44
Edward C. Warner ‘43
Hilton Head, South Carolina
In Support of Marxism
In response to Mr. Cadorette in the "No More Marxists" section of the Winter
2007 publication, I cannot help but to disagree. The first thing that Mr.
Cadorette has to understand is the his personal definition of Marxism is very
far from the actual meaning. First of all, Marxism is NOT the same as the
Socialism exhibited by the USSR. The economic system attempted by the Soviets
after the Bolchevik Revolution of 1914 was not so much Marxism (although it was
Karl Marx, who WAS a Russian who is the father of Marxism) as it was
Socialism. Furthermore, what the Soviets paraded around as socialism, was
really just a form of frustrated capitalism, or in other words, a state
capitalism. Joseph Stalin and his actions against his people in the USSR were
a result of Stalin's own thirst for power and control, not the "leftist" school
of thought called Marxism, or the much more accurate title of State Capitalism
for that matter.
"The only places Marxism is relevant is in the rarefied air of
academia and the
dictatorships where human rights don't matter." Mr. Cadorette, this statement
is as ignorant as your analogies. Marxism is a form of Socialism, which
stresses that the work performed by people is to be equally compensated back to
the worker. For instance, a worker produces 10 dollars worth of a particular
commodity; that same worker receives 10 dollars for his work. This is to say
that Marxism preaches the equality between all members of a society (which
cannot be said for capitalism). How many people in our own capitalist society
just sit around in a boardroom making millions of dollars, while workers are
continually getting laid off in efforts to cut costs, and subsequently,
increase profits. This system is unfair to the worker.
Furthermore, your remark of Marxism and dictatorships is an oxymoron.
first idea that Marxism teaches is that there is only one class of person in a
Marxist society, the worker. It is the worker who produces the commodity, it
is the worker who determines how much to produce, it is the worker who dictates
what its value is. There is no dictator or prime minister in a Marxist
society. At worst (as in Stalin's state capitalism), it is a worker vanguard
who takes the place of the dictator or prime minister. This means one of two
things: either your definition of Marxism is wrong or that whatever
dictatorship your referring to was wrongly labeled Marxism.. both choices seem
Furthermore, exposure to different ideas and beliefs is certainly
college fun and interesting, but more importantly, different ideas and beliefs
are what broadens our knowledge, and makes college what it is. Your assumption
that Marxism is harmful is harmful in and of itself. I feel the only reason
you feel Marxism is harmful is because you know only as much as the mass media
is willing to tell you.
Again, I want to stress that Marxism is not a murderer, it is not
ideology of some Soviet madman. It is not a dictatorship with no regard to
human rights, it is NOT like hiring a gardener to work at a parking garage.
Marxism is an alternative perspective when trying to understand how modern
societies work. Not to mention, your darling Capitalism has even adopted
certain Socialist systems to make up for it's own shortcomings. Therefore, I
think it is more important than ever before that more schools and more people
study and understand the different schools of thought, whether it be the age
old debate between capitalism and socialism, or the debate between evolution
I applaud the UMass Amherst economics department for supporting the
of knowledge rather than trying to eliminate it. College is about being open-
minded and experiencing things you've never experienced before. It's about
learning new ideas that you would have never known about otherwise, as well as
meeting people from around the world who may and will change your outlook on
life and the world in general.
Richard Lee ’07
No Swamp Yankees
Please pass on to Don Cary Freeman (letter in winter 2007 issue) the following information. In Lexington, Massachusetts, there are two public buildings paying tribute to the Cary family who were successful business people and passed on their good fortune to a town they loved: Cary Memorial Library and Cary Hall where town meetings are held. No Swamp Yankees here.
Judy Moore Adams ’60G
Musical Wonders Beats Morris' Music Box
I hate to burst the bubble of the claim by the Morris Museum that its assemblage of 700 music boxes, curated by Ellen Snyder-Grenier '80, is "the only one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere" "In Perfect Harmony," winter 2007 issue). I've been to the Musical Wonder House, 18 High St. in Wiscasset, Maine, which claims 5,000 music boxes and which did repair work on a Madonna-and-Child figurine music box that belonged to my maternal grandmother. Visit for yourself and see room after room crammed with music boxes of all varieties. It will reopen in late May; phone 207-882-7163 for hours.
Mark Pattison '98G
Bravo to Cheryl Lentine “Blue Jean Baby,” winter 2007, for her creative success and her willingness to put her family first. I take issue with the writer’s choice of words to describe Cheryl’s departure from the corporate world. There was no “identity theft.” She willingly made the change to be home with her child. To use such words implies that women without a career have no identity, and that those who find themselves at home have been robbed of something basic to their existence. Is it really so difficult to give credit to a mom who chooses her children over a career? Clearly Cheryl’s identity did not evaporate, or she would not have gone on to create joluka.
Joanne (Ezbicki) Hamilton ’72
Marxism Has its Place in History
Regarding “Inbox,” winter 2007 “No More Marxists”:
Although I did not attend UMass, my husband, Alan Sica ’78G, did. We lived in the area for four years while he completed his Ph.D. studies in the 1970s. Every cultural era is followed by a reaction to it. Mr. Cadorette ’90 and Mr. Price ’91 both express their disapproval of Dr. Githinji in the Economics Department, descrying Marxism as an embarrassment and a murderous failure.
On the contrary, in the name of academic learning, there is nothing
more important than knowing what the rest of the world knows and thinks.
The undergraduate years are often a brief period of exposure to the
world of human thought. Keep up the good work, UMass. And be proud
of your degree, Mr. Cadorette: your alma mater does not bend with the
winds of fashion. And thank you, Mr. Price, for contributing to the
campus’s attractions; may they continue.
State College, Pennsylvania
Kudos to Magazine
I subscribe to too many magazines, but I always take time to peruse the UMass Magazine. In fact, after reading the winter issue I wanted to let you know that I think your magazine does a fantastic job of showcasing the University. The writing and photography are both first rate and the diversity of topics shows the incredible variety of choices that students enjoy. The magazine makes me want to go back to college! The alumni publication I receive from the private college where I earned a master’s degree pales in comparison! Keep up the great work.
Neil Rhein ’85
Ignorance of Marxism
In regards to the opinions expressed in the last issue about the hiring of Professor Mwangi wa Githinji, it is just such dogmatic and factually incorrect ideas that make teaching Marxism as an economic theory important today. Equating Marxism with totalitarian political systems and mass murderers is just plain ignorance of the subject. Marxist economic theory is simply an alternative model of how the economy works. It is neither an "economic system", whatever that is, nor a model for mass murder.
How a theory that attempts to explain the workings of contemporary economic models can become a "discredited failed economic system" is baffling. There is no proposed "system" in the writings of Karl Marx. Day One of any intro course would have made that clear. Even more baffling is how the same theory can explain the actions of ruthless totalitarian political regimes bent on maintaining their power base at any cost. Far more people have been killed by followers of a Christian belief system than any followers of Karl Marx. Maybe UMass should avoid hiring Christians or teaching the subjects they espouse. Or maybe the editorial staff should be more careful about publishing opinions from the lunatic fringe. They make my UMass education look bad.
Britton Cooke '01
Re "Swamp Yankee": have you ever heard of the "Bog Irish?" Same deal.
Dan Osterman '87
Stockbridge History Appreciated
I was pleased to read Vince Cleary's article about Levi Stockbridge in the Winter 2007 issue. The campus has a rich history linked to people and buildings and I hope to see more of this kind of article in the future. I suggest that one might be on Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the Minuteman and the Lincoln Memorial, who, as the son of UMass' first President, lived in the Boltwood-Stockbridge House and was dubbed by his father as "the first graduate of the Massachusetts Agricultural College."
I would offer a correction to Vince's history of the Boltwood-Stockbridge House (1728). It was not built in Amherst, even though today it is the oldest house still standing on its original location in Amherst. It was built in Hadley, which was founded in 1661.
Amherst was not created until 1759, thirty one years after the house was built. I think that Vince may have been misled by some speculation in Paul F. Norton's 1975 booklet Amherst: A Guide to Its Architecture.
Joseph S. Larson '56, ’58G
Appreciating Today's Student Life
The winter issue of 2007, UMass Amherst, “student life 2007” was a joy to read and quite a source of enlightenment with the brief profile of Levi Stockbridge, rare music machines (marvelous) the impressive achievements of alumni and alumni authors of significant books and alumni inventors. “Blue Jean Baby” was a great story about a creative vision and what it takes as well as health and sports topics.
In the spring of 1949, I graduated (Languages and Literature) and married Don Blomquist after a 6-month campus romance. He was in the Navy in World War II, so he went through UMass on the G.I. Bill and worked at Norton Co., now St. Gobain, for 33 years in research and development. We were married 49 years and in those days there was no “degree” for parenting, but today, you need all the help you can get especially if sending a son or daughter to college, i.e. the role of the cell phone!
In the 40’s, men’s and women’s fraternities played a key role. I was Pi Beta Phi and Don SAE and they created a stable college experience with all the then current values stressed: respect, consideration, caring, help in various ways, sharing, achieved through open discussion and adult examples.
I think in my days, it was not common for women to attend college but
fortunately, that has totally changed.
Nancy Bowman Blomquist ’49
I was interested in the article “Quabbin’s Keeper” in the fall ’06 issue of UMass Amherst. I remember as a young man on our farm in eastern Massachusetts of following the development of Quabbin. I believe a signed event was the final total submersion of a town named Enfield.
Are there any brochures or booklets about Quabbin that I might send
for? I would like to add to my knowledge about this enterprise.
William Hardy ’41
Will We Ever Get it Right?
You wrote in your editor’s note: Writer and history professor emeritus Vince Cleary (Morrill Made Easy, fall 2006) received a letter from Dorothy Winer ’51 of Marblehead, telling him he needed to return to Grammar 101 to learn when to use “whomever” correctly. We want to absolve Vince of any wrongdoing; this mysterious mistake happened on our watch, not his. We’re still trying to smoke out the culprit from among several editors who stirred the proverbial pot. And when we do, rest assured, he or she will be lashed with a wet noodle and made to type “whoever it was” 100 times on their computer screen “without using cut and paste!” You STILL need Grammar 101. You correctly say “he or she” in your last sentence above, then you err again when you use a plural pronoun “their.” You ought to have said, “on his or her computer…” Best regards, an internet reader.
P.S. Dorothy is still beating her brow.
Franklin Lakes, New Jersey
Music to Their Ears
What a great cover story on the Minuteman Marching Band in the Fall 2006 issue (“A Song, A Season, A Lifetime,” page 39).
Back in 1963, I was a freshman band member (trumpet) when John Jenkins arrived on campus from Michigan. (In fact, I modeled the new band uniform then being considered, marching solo on the field, while Director Jenkins viewed from the stands.)
Now my wife, Gail, and I (both Class of ’67) are among the sizeable crowds who remain in the stands to enjoy the stellar postgame shows—icing on the cake—after UMass football games. We attended the William & Mary game on Oct. 7, High School Band Day, to see and hear that colorful spectacle of 4,000 high school band members joining forces with the Power and Class of New England.
The band is a huge part of the tradition of a great school. It’s wonderful
to see George Parks and the band members get the recognition they so
Edward Orzechowski ’67
What perfect timing! I received UMass Amherst magazine a few days
after attending the 22nd Annual UMass Band Day on Oct. 7. How exciting
to see the band featured on your cover! Chaperoning the Andover High
School Marching Band trip to UMass Amherst was great fun. It was a
beautiful day in the valley and all those high school bands on the
at halftime was truly a spectacular sight . . . and the football team won big!
We received a wonderful welcome as band members lined the entrance to the stadium to greet the high schoolers. The organization and energy to bring together all those musicians and color guard members in a couple of hours to play three pieces was remarkable. The Minuteman Marching Band is a fun, exciting, and impressive representative of UMass Amherst. Thank you to the band for hosting Band Day and to your magazine for your timely and informative article.
Jane Bondaruk ‘82
A Memory with a View
I thoroughly enjoyed the article “Quabbin’s Keeper” in your Fall 2006 issue (page 20). My ancestors were displaced when the towns were evacuated for the reservoir, and I have always been in awe of the landscape when stopping at the scenic pull-off on Route 202. It is nice to know that Bruce Spencer ’64 treated the surrounding area with such respect for nature. I am curious though—what exactly is a Swamp Yankee accent?
Suzanne Engel Baron ’71
Editor’s Note: We decided to pose Ms. Baron’s question to retired professor Don Freeman, who founded the linguistics department at UMass Amherst in the early 1970s. He describes himself as a Swamp Yankee.
My knowledge of “Swamp Yankee” lore is sort of anecdotal and episodic (like the concept itself, perhaps). I was raised (by a mother who was born in California) to think that our family were Swamp Yankees, and the definition I was given was that a Swamp Yankee was from an old, preferably Mayflower-descended, Yankee family that had never amounted to a hill of beans, which fit our family pretty well. Family lore has it that the Carys (Cary is my middle name) were tossed out of Plymouth and then Boston settlements for unspecified shortcomings and fetched up in Deerfield, which was the western frontier of this part of the United States for a pretty good while. Indeed, when I came to teach at UMass Amherst in 1968, the South Deerfield telephone book (there was such a thing then) had about a half page of Carys in it. The Carys moved west with the frontier, and the last of them was my great-grandfather Cary, who took up a tree claim near what is now Ogallala, Nebraska. The government was trying to figure out how to both plow the prairie and retain the soil, and gave tree claimants 160 acres of land, which was theirs for nothing after 10 years if they had managed to grow trees on 10 percent of it. Great-granddad failed and had to go back to Michigan, but not before my grandmother was born in a sod hut on the tree claim (later they discovered the Chinese elm tree, which has a complex root system and requires almost no water, and it is those trees that line U.S. 30, the old National Road, straight across Nebraska). So that’s the social idea—either retreating into the land and living a semihermitic existence (some Swamp Yankees) or constantly lighting out for the territory (my Swamp Yankee ancestors, or so my mother would have it).
The accent is a bit harder. It’s basically that of residents of non-urban eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire, parts of eastern Vermont, and Maine—the so-called “r-less” dialect. There are some lexical items that are a giveaway. One of them is “spider” for “frying pan” (pronounced SPI-DAH, of course). Another is “tonic” for any sweet soft drink (not just carbonated quinine water). Another is “spa,” pronounced SPAR, for what the rest of us call a convenience store with a soda fountain. A pronunciation that usually marks the Swamp Yankee is what linguists call a glottal stop, a catch in the voice (the best example is the sound between the syllables of “uh-uh,” the variety of that phrase that means “no”). My mom, ever alert to catch me in Swamp-Yankeeisms, used to make me say the phrase “Kettles and bottles in Brattleboro” without the glottal stop that a true Swamp Yankee would insert as the pronunciation of the double “t.” Despite Mom’s efforts (she’s still at it, at 93), I never did manage to conceal my Swamp Yankee origins from the truly discerning. My own speech has a very dark r where Swamp Yankees (and, to be fair, people from eastern Massachusetts) have the so-called r-less r. It turns out that this dark r is a well-attested substitute for r-less r in people who on the basis of birth and early residence might be expected to display that eastern Massachusetts characteristic but have (as Mom would have it) overcome our origins.
There’s another version of the Swamp Yankee narrative to the effect that it originates in Rhode Island, where the—shall we say “disadvantaged” didn’t live on the seven hills of Providence, but out in the western part of the state, which indeed used to be swampland in the 17th and 18th centuries.
As you can tell, the narrative that was passed down to me is rather heavily laden with family lore, but that’s the New England way, isn’t it?
Hereinafter, We’ll Try Harder
If I correctly understand the intent of the parenthetical in the lead sentence of Charles Creekmore’s cover story [Minuteman Marching Band, heretofore “the band”; page 39] in the Fall 2006 issue of UMass Amherst magazine, then I am disappointed that he used, and his editor allowed to stand, a word signifying the exact opposite.
David S. Mitchell ’68
Editor’s Note: Writer and history professor emeritus Vince Cleary (“Morrill Made Easy,” Fall 2006, page 9) received a letter from Dorothy L. Winer ’51 of Marblehead, telling him he needed to return to Grammar 101 to learn when to use “whomever” correctly. We want to absolve Vince of any wrongdoing; this mysterious mistake happened on our watch, not his. We’re still trying to smoke out the culprit from among several editors who stirred the proverbial pot. And when we do, rest assured, he or she will be lashed with a wet noodle and made to type “whoever it was” 100 times on their computer screen—without using cut-and-paste!
No More Marxists
UMass hires Marxist Mwangi wa Githinji as a professor of economics (“Economist for the Proletariat,” page 8, Fall 2006). Didn’t anybody in the Department of Economics get the memo that Marxism as an economic principle has been discredited everywhere it has been used? The only places Marxism is relevant is in the rarefied air of academia and dictatorships where human rights don’t matter.
Hiring a Marxist to be an economics professor is like hiring a gardener to work at a parking garage. What he knows won’t be of much use to anybody and it certainly wouldn’t appear to be money well spent. wa Githinji’s students will have to waste time in his class, learning concepts and ideas that have no relevance in the real world. Taxpayers foot the bill for an employee who teaches something akin to Trivial Pursuit™ and their hard-earned tax dollars are wasted yet again. UMass continues to cast its reputation as the far-left bastion in western Massachusetts that causes my friends who graduated from other colleges to snicker at how loony the place can really be.
I understand that exposure to different ideas and beliefs is part of what makes college fun and interesting. But Marxism has proved itself to be harmful, some would argue disastrous, to those it has been imposed upon. Students, taxpayers, and UMass Amherst would all be better served if Marxist textbooks were collecting dust in some storeroom and Marxist professors were getting hired somewhere else.
Neal Cadorette ’90
It’s not surprising that the economics department has hired yet another
Marxist. The leftist tilt in that department, and throughout much of
academia, is well known. But still, one would have thought that the
dramatic failure of Marxism as an economic system, as well as the accumulating
evidence that Marxists murdered more than 100 million people while
spreading their tyranny during the 20th century, would be cause for
some circumspection before continuing to push that failed ideology
on another generation of students. Your article at least reminds me
why I do not and will not designate any part of my yearly donations
to the University to support its academic programs. Instead I designate
my gifts for things like campus beautification, which the university
needs much more than another Marxist professor.
R. Edward Price ’91
Rochester, New York