Letters

The account by Caroline Cretti ’06 of her Olympic Trials marathon experience (“Quite the Crowd,” January 2009) was a delight on two counts: She writes beautifully; and she captures—with all the power of a simple story, well told— the extraordinary nature of the bond among graduates of Williams. Thanks to her and also to Ernie Imhoff ’59, whose two contributions to the January issue (“Victory at Sea” and a letter to the editor) provided fascinating glimpses into the history of my college and my hometown.

—Dennis O’Shea ’77, Baltimore, Md.

Six years ago, my firm designed a memorial to Liberty Ships and the South Portland, Maine, shipyard that built 266 of them during WWII. Our extensive research included visits to both remaining ships, the SS John W. Brown (while in dry dock in Toledo, Ohio) and the SS Jeremiah O’Brien in San Francisco, but I had not heard of the SS Williams Victory until seeing the magazine. I hope it is no more than a coincidence that I graduated from Williams in 1969, the year the ship was scrapped.

—Richard Renner ’69, Portland, Maine

Reading the January issue I was struck by the 1963 photo of Robert McNamara at Williams to address the graduating class (“Covering a Century”). Sadly, McNamara, one of the “whiz kids” of the Kennedy administration, well educated, genius IQ, a former brilliant executive, was soon to become one of the key charlatans of the Vietnam War. Whatever McNamara told the graduates that year, better advice might have been: Beware of intelligence without wisdom, brilliance without honesty, hubris without introspection. And when you’re emperor, always listen to what that slave behind you keeps whispering in your ear.

—Richard Eggers ’60, Niwot, Colo.

That’s me on the stern of the six-man bike in the picture just to the left of the very first Alumni Review cover (“Covering a Century”). Hank Flynt ’44 owns the bike and is the steersman. The rest of the members of The Berkshire County Wheelmen were Ted Emerson ’43 (#2), George Lawrence ’43 (#3), Tom Leary ’43 (#4) and Bill Rossell ’45 (power seat). We had to keep all our pedaling in concert. There was no coaster brake, and we had to slow down by carefully riding the pedal on the return upstroke. We took the bike to Northampton for a Smith College orientation outing at Look Park in August 1942 by putting it in the baggage car of the Boston & Maine passenger train headed east. We unloaded in Greenfield, pedaled south on U.S. Route 5 and were stopped by a nifty state cop who couldn’t believe what he saw. When we threw a chain, he got us help from the mechanic at the police barracks so we could continue on. We arrived at a little hilltop overlooking hundreds of Smith girls, and on our way down a substitute #4 man, Lon Hill ’43, lifted his feet off the pedals and stuck his legs out, kicking off his chain and eliminating our braking power. We hurtled down the slope, sped wobbling over the bridge and came to a horrendous cropper ass over tea kettle! What an entrance! We did better riding in parades and on the track at football games. One of our honorary members was Anne Baxter (Phinney Baxter’s ’14 wife), who was a great sport and a very good crew member.

—Malcolm MacGruer ’43, Madison, Conn.