Washington State Magazine

Spring 2009

Spring 2009


In This Issue...


What Is Art For? :: Art, says independent scholar Ellen Dissanayake '57, is "making special." It is an act that gives us a sense of belonging and meaning. It is passed from mother to child. Its origins lie deep in our evolutionary past. It makes us human. by Tim Steury

The Love Letters :: In 1907, Othello had no high school, so Xerpha Mae McCulloch '30 traveled 50 miles to Ritzville to finish school. There she met, and fell in love with, Edward Gaines, a few years her senior. The recent gift to Washington State University of her steamer trunk reveals the life of a woman whose story is not only threaded through the University's, but also through the story of agriculture in Washington State. by Hannelore Sudermann

{ WEB EXCLUSIVEGallery: Photos and letters from Xerpha's trunk }

You Must Remember This :: Having reached a certain age, our correspondent sets out to learn the latest from Washington State University researchers about memory. She learns that memory comes in different forms, that the human brain is made for problem-solving, and that the key to much of brain health is the "dendritic arbor." And then she sets out to create an action plan. by Cherie Winner

{ WEB EXCLUSIVEStory: Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe's work to help people with memory loss }


Privacy and the Words of the Dead :: Do we violate the privacy of the dead when we read what they wrote for themselves? Maybe it depends on our purposes. by Will Hamlin

{ WEB EXCLUSIVEGallery: Annotated pages from early English editions of Montaigne's Essays. }




:: SPORTS: Coaching with heart

:: GREEN PAGES: Building green

:: A gift toward fuel research

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Story: Yucatecan lentil soup recipe }


Cover photo: Bryan Hall clock tower reflected in the Abelson-Heald skybridge windows on the Pullman campus. By Zach Mazur.


Letters in the Spring 2009 issue

© Washington State University

A time machine
My hat is off to your staff for what should be an award-winning issue. It was like a time machine for me. I spent many hours in the Conner Museum as an undergrad, marveling at the enormous moose and large black wolf. My high school friends and I explored Point Defiance Park in Tacoma every time our basketball team made it to the state tournament. Your article, “Rethinking the fundamentals,” is a classic. I can’t agree more that we need to rethink the way we farm. I’m glad you had as much fun with Shepherd’s Grains’ co-owner Fred Fleming as I used to. We were both Agronomy majors back in the early 1970s. Fred’s “loud infectious laugh” almost got me and Kit Coleman [’73] kicked out of the office we shared as seniors with then ARS wheat breeder Don George. It seems Don objected to our boisterous lunch gatherings, and we had to promise to keep (Fred) quiet or find another place to study and store our textbooks.
Brian Cieslar ’73 B.S.

I read with great interest and recollection the article about the Conner Museum titled “Fine Specimens,” Winter 2008–09.
My father, F.H. (Spike) Armstrong, collected specimens with and for Dr. Hudson, museum curator during the 1950s and ’60s, including the black bear from the Blue Mountains, a porcupine family group, bobcat, blue grouse, woodpeckers, purple finches, and many species of squirrels, rats, mice, and bats. I also collected some rubber boas and mice for Dr. Hudson during the summers I worked in the Blue Mountains while attending Washington State College, 1954–1958. I have some knowledge as to how Conner Museum has the finest collection of purple finches in the world. Father shot at some purple finches with a 20 gauge shotgun loaded with dust shot, intending to collect a pair for Dr. Hudson, and when the smoke had cleared the one shot had killed 42 purple finches that all had to be made into study specimens and shared and/or traded with other natural history museums in the Northwest.

Another bit of trivia concerning the Conner Museum is the outdoor writer, Patrick McManus [’56, M.S. ’62] who wrote a short story about the museum at night with its live snakes, mounted specimens, and the black bear being prepared for taxidermy.
This was a very fine article about a great scientific museum.
Herbert A. Armstrong ’58

To Hannelore Sudermann:
I have just spent several hours with the most recent issue of Washington State Magazine. Each issue seems even better than the one before!
If my count is accurate, credit goes to you as the author of five articles in the current issue. I’m sure you also contributed to others. Your writing style is so precise and versatile to adapt to the various topics. Yours is a fantastic skill and I commend you for making the publication meaningful and enjoyable for many people with an interest in WSU. Special recognition is certainly deserving for your contribution to the magazine.

In the Fall 2008 issue, your article on the high cost of a college education and how students cope with the challenge was outstanding. Our oldest granddaughter is anticipating her first year away at college next September–not in Washington, I regret–and I have made your article a must read to help prepare her for the experience.

And finally, an update on Bill Keithan, whom you featured in an article about the Westin Hotels Archive Collection at WSU in the Summer 2008 issue. I’m pleased he was given that recogntion.
Charles D. Comstock ’52

When the winter Washington State Magazine came in the midst of Christmas mail I sort of looked it over with dazed eyes and got ready to pass it along to others who are not so fortunate. Now that things have slowed down and I’m not so word weary I made the mistake of picking it up and still haven’t been able to get it out the door because of the interesting, well written articles that I keep finding. I don’t know if it is you or me that has changed but the format is wonderful and easy to follow and the topics are fascinating. I was also wondering if the “Job Carr” who built the first structure in Tacoma, mentioned in “On The Waterfront,” was any relation to John and Virginia Carr who graduated from WSC in the late 1940s, early ‘50s. Their father was also the principal of Stadium High at that time. We all three were born there long ago and have gone far and wide since.
Janice Dorman ’53

Photomicrograph of dragonfly wing
This photomicrograph of a dragonfly wing by Gregory Paulson (’90 Ph.D. Entomology) was a finalist in National Geographic’s Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest. Paulson is a professor and chair of the Department of Biology at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. View it online at www.nationalgeographic.com/energizer/winners_6.html .

Categories: Alumni | Tags: Letters

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