Letters to the Editor

March 2000

UW professor Quintard Taylor

UW history professor Quintard Taylor. Photo by Kathy Sauber.

Getting a Clue About History

Not only do most of us not have a clue about the African-American Experience in the West, most of us have little more than a clue about history in general, and our own in particular. Generations pass, current memories fade, and histories become fragmented uninteresting tales. Quintard Taylor ["True West," Dec. 1999] restores the fragments to make the story whole and worth knowing again.

We need more Taylors in a world where the increasing pace of change seems to decrease the length of apparently useful histories. When tomorrow is going to be obsolete in a week, who will care about the yesteryears?

Perhaps the current wave of amateur genealogists can help, but they must expand those thin ink lines that link ancestors into broader lines that wrap around ancestral communities and activities.

Ronald A. Scheurer, '81, SeaTac

World of Resources Right Here

Your article on Professor Taylor was excellent. As to the "far greater resources here" some mention should be made of them.

While developing the Manuscript Collection during my career at the UW, one of the programs originated was an Afro-American history project in 1964. To carry it more actively forward in 1967 I hired Larry Gossett (then president of the BSU, presently a county councilman). These resources received extensive use by Professor Taylor. He also is making extensive use of records collected in the course of the Japanese American project which was begun in 1967. These projects were quasi-volunteer projects inasmuch [sic] as they were funded only from our student helper budget. A Jewish Archives project, [sic] also was started in 1967, but fortunately it has been funded by organizations in the Jewish community.

For your staff reference shelf I recommend asking the Libraries administration for a copy of "The Comprehensive Guide to the Manuscripts Collection and to the Personal Papers In The University Archives (1980)."

Richard C. Berner, Seattle

Al Brevik in the 1940s.

Photo by James Sneddon.

Lost and Found

On page 40 of your December issue an "unidentified alumnus" is pictured. He is leading a group in song; presumably during a football game [see also Dec. Alumnotes on this web site].

One look at the subject's profile and I knew immediately that he was Al Brevik, a grad student who lead [sic] half-time activities at Husky Stadium in the late 1940's. Al is a friend and neighbor and has confirmed my I.D. He is hale and hearty and still loves to sing. He also regales us quite often with interesting stories about his experiences at Husky Stadium.

Jim Mc Cormack '51, Tacoma

PS: The paper bag covered the microphone to protect it from rain.

Starting High

I especially enjoyed the December Columns for the picture and recognition of my late uncle Clairmont Egtvedt in the "100 Alumni of the Century," but when I got to page 40 and saw the "unidentified song leader" my reaction was: J. Al Brevik! I do remember that for one game he organized a "1000-voice chorus". We rehearsed before the game. Come half time, I guess his adrenalin was pumping, as he started us off about a half octave high. That lost a lot of us. As my church choir director, Al instilled in me a love of choral singing. While the picture angle makes a positive ID difficult, the features [and facts] do fit my memory of him.

Myron Egtvedt, '51, Skaneateles, NY

One Out of a Thousand

The "unidentified alumnus" pictured on page 40 of the December 1999 Columns was Al Brevik, conducting the "Chorus of 1000 Voices" at one of the Husky home games in the 1947-48 era. Also known as the "1000 Voice Choir," it was a volunteer group of variously talented students who filled the central portion of the card stunt section, to entertain the crowd during half-time ceremonies. See page 203, 1948 Tyee. It held rehearsals, both during the week at Meany Hall, and before games in the stadium. See page 124, 1948 Tyee. Al Brevik was the human dynamo organizer and its conductor. See page 122, 1947 Tyee, and page 123, 1948 Tyee. Al could teach a chorus of tree stumps to sing gloriously. To this day I still remember some of the songs we sang: "When you're down and out, Lift up your head and shout, There's gonna be a Great Day!" He was also the director of the men's chorus of [Methodist] Wesley Club, which won first place in the 1946 Songfest. See page 216, 1947 Tyee.

Ken Dean, '49, Redmond

Weighty Matters for Lewis and Clark

I have some reminiscing to share about Lewis and Clark Halls, which were featured on the last page, p. 46 ["Our Back Pages," Dec. 1999]. While I was a student from 1943 to 1947, they sat a bit north of the 'quad', those beautiful brick buildings whose names I have forgotten, because I had all my classes on lower campus, in Bagley, Johnson and Physics Halls. They were not used as dorms, but primarily housed offices of intramural organizations and possibly even The Daily and Columns. Incidentally, at that time Columns was the monthly college humor magazine. There was a lot of activity going on in those two buildings, with many students rushing through their doors or standing and talking about 'important' ideas.

Sometime during that period of time, probably '44 or '45, the student body was involved in a major magazine and newspaper 'drive,' where we gathered the editions people didn't want to keep and brought them to a collection point on campus. And again, I don't remember which hall it was, but it was either Lewis or Clark, which received the weight of that drive. There was a headline in The Daily which said, "Stop, Cease and Desist," or words to that effect. The article under that said, "do not bring any more copies to turn in. The floors are sagging and it is feared there may be structural damage to the building." Well, the building did not collapse, but it was treated very carefully until it was unloaded and "shored up."

Some of older alumni might be interested if you could give us a run down on how that came about and was resolved.

Dorothy Mae Newkirk Harper, '47, Belfair

Bow Down to Washington

I have attended all the home games (in Berkeley) for the University of California. My grandson is Samuel Clemons, (#5) a quarterback. My question is: Why does the band no longer play the fight song and only Bow Down to Washington? I have been listening for the last several years and haven't heard Heaven Help the Foes of Washington for a long time. Did they give it up?

Janet Van Kessel, '48, Sonora, Calif.



100 Alumni of the Century

Few Columns articles have engendered as much reader reaction as "100 Alumni of the Century." What follows are your comments and complaints. The newest letters appear at the bottom, as does a link to add your own voice to the discussion.—Tom Griffin, Editor



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