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Students huddle around a new radio amplifier purchased for the student-operated radio station, KVDU, sometime between 1949-53. Robert Mott (MA '51) is second from right. Photo: Ed Maker

KVDU who’s who

Reading Page 35 of your spring 2008 magazine [Alumni Connections], I noted that Robert Mott identified Greg Guinan as standing to his right in the photo (pictured at right). I believe that Greg is actually to Mott’s left. Greg was a senior at my high school in 1950 when I was a freshman.

Yvonne (Dulla) Harding (MA ’73)
Aurora, Colo.

Kirkland connections

Your spring 2008 edition carried a feature on Vance Kirkland [“The Kirkland Connection“] and requested further information on Prof. Kirkland from previous students. Vance Kirkland was my major professor during my graduate work in painting (1953-55). My observation of his teaching philosophy was to maintain a learning environment conducive for the student and to not interfere with the student’s development. He did not impose, even expose, the notions that drove his own personal art. I recall he once remarked that perhaps the best thing an art teacher could do was to encourage the student to continue his or her pursuit of their creative endeavors. I certainly appreciated that approach. An anecdote that reveals something of Prof. Kirkland’s wit (I only know of this from his telling) was his being asked to speak on modern art to a business group. Anticipating what would probably be the prevailing attitude of his audience toward modern art, he provided the audience with a slide show of what must have appeared to be examples of abstract expressionism, although he offered no identification. He pointed out patterns, color situations, composition, etc. I’m sure with some hidden mirth he endured the snickers and guffaws of the group as the display continued. Finally, when over, he took a few derisive questions from the group before revealing to them that he had actually been showing them stark realism. He had borrowed the colored slides of microscopic tissue from one of the local health facilities. I am greatly indebted to Prof. Kirkland, along with a parade of other educators, who helped prepare me for life and a career. He was an unusual gentleman.

Don Bruce (MA ’55)
Baton Rouge, La.


The Kirkland article was an enlightening event to me. It immediately brought to mind his voice, which I could only describe as raspy. He indeed was all that the article brought to light. As a student of Mr. Kirkland’s, a memorable occasion of counseling by him took place in my second round of studies. My studies’ requirements had Mr. Kirkland assign for me a P.E. course. After the completion of the P.E. assignment, it was brought to Vance’s attention that I served in the United States Army, for which, he said, “Oh Tony, I didn’t know you were in the Army. You didn’t need to take P.E.” I was relieved to skip P.E. the second semester. Tennis was my choice for the P.E. requirement; that has given me the formal understanding of tennis when the need arises. Thank you for the nifty article on Vance Kirkland. That one deserves a few more perusals.

Anthony Szabo (BFA ’63)
Windsor, Ohio


Lambda Chi wedding

Although I’m not a Lambda Chi Alpha alumnus, your story about the fraternity’s new “digs” [Top News, spring 2008] certainly offered a meaningful nostalgic moment to me and prompted this letter. During World War II, several of the fraternity buildings on the DU campus were converted to women’s dorms, including the old Lambda Chi house. That’s where my fiancée, Ellen Jackson (liberal arts ’44), lived while attending DU. When I came home on leave before shipping overseas, we got married in the Lambda Chi house on March 22, 1945. Our wedding reception there followed the ceremony, but we spent our first night together at the Shirley-Savoy Hotel before honeymooning in a friend’s cabin near Idaho Springs.  After I shipped overseas she moved out of the Lambda Chi house into an apartment on East Evans Avenue. Now, on the eve of our 63rd wedding anniversary, your article couldn’t have been more timely. Thanks for the memories!

Keith Hendee (BA ’50)
Pompano Beach, Fla.


Tattoo view

I was pleased to see the winter 2007 cover story on the partnership of the University of Denver with the City of Denver’s initiative to end homelessness. However, I was horrified by a letter [spring 2008] from an alumna regarding the story. In discussing the subject on the magazine cover, the writer stated: “Even if we are successful in elevating her out of homelessness … ” as if the now-successful college student had no initiative and will of her own to alleviate her own situation. More importantly, the writer chose to then focus her letter on the tattoos adorning this successful parent and student, stating that this woman will be relegated to entry-level jobs because of her tattoos. How judgmental! I wonder what the writer would think of my past Fulbright Award, with which I taught overseas with a nose ring? Or my partner’s current job as associate dean of a university library, all the while sporting her own nose ring? I am disappointed that this alumna could only focus on her own outdated ideas of appropriate work appearance when the article aptly showed this formerly homeless mother’s strength and determination to better her and her daughter’s lives.

Sarah Friedmann (MA ’04)
Flagstaff, Ariz.

Zappa postscript

I’ve been reading the accounts of Zappa Night at DU and recall covering the story for The Clarion. I was a Zappa fan and, as one [spring 2008] letter points out, Frank was not accommodating when I pressed for an interview. The Zappa treatment would later prove to be a most valuable, defining moment. I eventually wound up as a special correspondent for Life magazine faced with more daunting celebrity interviews and rejections, including one from Hunter S. Thompson, who threatened to “shoot my kneecaps off ” if I crossed his property line in Woody Creek. In a proposed Life story about Aspen, Thompson wouldn’t let me quote him, either. Thompson drove home his point by symbolically marching one of his typewriters into his snowy front yard, where he shot it, execution style, for our photographer. He reportedly asked the photographer to deliver the image to me. I quoted Daniel Ellsworth and Olivia Newton-John instead. After 22 years as a correspondent, I still remember the Zappa rejection with a kind of masochistic glee. Yes, the moment of rejection was painful, but I remember those initial defense mechanisms kicking in. I thought: “Who is this guy, anyway? Mozart, Dylan, Mahler, McCartney? Only time will truly define Frank Zappa.” Meanwhile, I still had a story to write. For the record, in that defining moment Zappa seemed like a rather small, frustrated man in the throes of an apparent pre-concert equipment meltdown. Zappa’s appearance on stage was overdue; the pressure was on as audience members began to complain rather loudly. I knew I had to press for that interview no matter what and probably got what I deserved. The Mothers of Invention finally took the stage by storm and sounded incredible. They rocked the house down, indeed.


Steve Marsh (BA ’74)
Centennial, Colo.

Regarding Richard Rose’s letter in the spring 2008 issue, the Zappa act was not the last great show held at the arena. We attended a great Lynyrd Skynyrd concert at the DU arena sometime in the 1976-77 school year when they were at the height of their popularity and “Free Bird” was an anthem for many of us.

Ricardo Dadoo (BA ’80)
Mexico City, Mexico



I enjoyed the spring issue, especially “The Kirkland Connection,” along with the cover, and “Bye Bye, Bookstore.” Because I am a librarian and because I worked for an independent bookstore, my answer to the question you posed in your Editor’s Note is definitely skewed. Even if you didn’t interview Joyce Meskis, I am sure you have a sense of what her Tattered Cover bookstores mean to the Denver area. Not only has she fought in court to preserve the First Amendment rights of her customers, but she also believes in carrying the widest possible range of books. Independent booksellers feature blockbusters, but they also carry books from a host of small publishers. Just as local restaurateurs give our city flavor and flair that the Macaroni Grill cannot, so the independent booksellers give Denver an identity, style and depth that the franchises do not. You are buying a great deal more than a book when you purchase the “pricier” volume at the independent bookstore. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to buy from chain stores and the Internet; I am just saying you ought to feel a little guilty about it.

Carol Abel (BA ’57, MA ’64)
Golden, Colo.


I would like to offer a few lines of support for Jan Gorak’s “browse and stumble” theory as a viable method used to acquire knowledge, new ideas and interests. In my career as a school library media specialist I have witnessed this phenomenon over and over as students arrive at the checkout desk with the title prescribed by their teacher and one or two more which piqued their interests on what I like to call the “browse by.” These titles were gleaned from the shelf above or below or just one Dewey Decimal number away from their assigned work. It could have been the title, the book jacket, the size or even the color of the book that enticed, but no matter which, the individual was hooked by his or her own curiosity. The happy result was a new hobby, interest, solution or point of view. I have had this experience myself and have seen it so often in patrons that I have come to regard it as a gift. Independent bookstores and libraries contribute significantly to this process of discovery. It is sad to realize that economics play such a heavy role in the determination of the survival of bookstores and, for that matter, libraries. Although I have no statistics to back the “browse and stumble” theory, perhaps more articles like “Bye Bye, Bookstore” will bring it to light. Readers may begin to recognize that they have had this experience and the value it has lent to their education and quality of life.

Janet Thomas (BA ’71)
Longmont, Colo.


I wanted to write you a little note to tell you how interesting I think your magazine is to me and many of my friends. Although I was never a DU student, I find many of the articles informative and interesting. And, yes! You should shop at the Tattered Cover [Editor’s Note, spring 2008]. I do.

Frankie Waits (CWC alumna)



Marching band memory

I read with great interest the article and letters about the DU marching band in the last two issues of the magazine. I was a member of the marching band during the glory years of DU football. The band was my part-time job while in engineering school at DU. I have some different memories from Eliot Dubin [Letters, spring 2008] about DU football in the ’50s. First, Fred Mahaffey, who was one of my classmates in ROTC, was not a fullback but an all-conference halfback. DU tried to get a non-conference “Mountain West Championship” against CU, but CU wanted no part of it. Mr. Dubin didn’t mention the band’s terrible “pioneer” uniforms with the fringe and coonskin caps. Modern day DU students wouldn’t wear them to a Halloween party, but we put up with a lot for our $25 a month. Aside from the uniform, the DU marching band is a great memory and it is too bad it is no more.

Fred Vote (BS ’55)
San Clemente, Calif.


Our mistake

In the spring issue article “Religion, Race and Politics,” we stated that “About 11 percent of Latinos voted for Bush in the last election.” That information is incorrect. According to CNN national exit poll data, George W. Bush garnered 44 percent of the Latino vote and 11 percent of the black vote in the last election.

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