Letters to the Editor

Illustration of woman holding cat up to Muslim neighbors from summer 2017 essay "The Opposite of Difficult"

Sisterhood of Service

The article titled “The Opposite of Difficult” (summer ’17) was an amazing testament to the amazing sisterhood of service that Wellesley bestows on all of its students. I know you’ve probably gotten a lot of positive feedback about this article so far, but I wanted to add my kudos, as well. I would love to see a regular “Sed Ministrare” feature in the magazine!

Dorothy Jones-Davis ’98, Silver Spring, Md.

Commencement Musings

Almost a half century ago, I was in the audience when then-senior Hillary Rodham, representing the graduating class of ’69, read the riot act to the commencement speaker, Sen. Edward Brooke (R–Mass.), the first popularly elected black U.S. senator. Hillary made it clear that she didn’t like his vision of the world.

Following Secretary Clinton’s commencement address this year (“Go Forth, Be Great,” summer ’17), no member of the class of ’17 stepped forward to deliver a rebuttal.

Over the last three decades, opportunities for women have increased exponentially. The wealthy, world-renowned former U.S. senator, secretary of state, and first female candidate for president is living proof of that.

Yet the optimism of Wellesley’s most famous alum’s commencement message was blunted by her own disappointments, which conjured up an adversarial world of “trolls” out to step on women’s dreams.

When I graduated in the ’50s, I was told the world was my oyster. To Hillary Rodham Clinton, it seems more like a Venus flytrap.

Doris Schaffer O’Brien ’54, Pasadena, Calif.

Wellesley’s Buildings

I enjoyed the article on the newly renovated Pendleton West (“The Art of Connection,” summer ’17) and am delighted at the opportunities it will be presenting to today’s students. Yet I have observed a tendency to portray these Wellesley renovations as if the preceding building was something to be looked down upon, and one that did not deliver a good educational environment. And I feel that is inappropriate. Each building at the time it was created served the student body. I have fond memories of Pendleton, Green Hall, the Science Center, and many of the buildings that have since undergone renovation. I did not feel deprived nor underserved by the facilities, because ultimately, it was my professors who defined the class in sharing their expertise and learning. While it is commonplace for succeeding generations to at times “look down their nose” at the “old-fashioned” and “quaint” things their parents and grandparents did and used, that does not mean there was anything wrong with them. Remember, the slide rule took us to the moon.

May the new Pendleton West bring new discoveries to today’s students, while respecting those made by alumnae of past decades in a building that was once state-of-the-art.

Claudia Newcorn ’81, Modesto, Calif.

Spring Reading in Summer

Congrats on a fantastic issue (spring ’17), which I only received yesterday, thanks to international post! “The Hidden Truth” by Julie Catterson Lindahl ’88 is the kind of solid personal reportage that I love to read. And the back page essay about being a mom in New York City by Jennifer Vanasco ’94 (“Mama in the City”) was really touching. Just wanted to write in and show my appreciation!

Bina Shah ’93, Karachi, Pakistan

Powerful and Moving

This is a line in appreciation of the article “The Hidden Truth.” Julie Catterson Lindahl ’88 has written a very powerful and moving piece. By raising awareness of the crimes of the past, one hopes that such horrors will not get repeated in the future.

Krishnan Menon, Father of Radhika Menon Mathur Kuruppath ’19, Madanapalle, India

Nazis in South America

Thank you for supporting, then publishing, “The Hidden Truth.” Julie Catterson Lindahl’s courageous search for her terrifying roots proved that falsehood can almost destroy us.

She also laid bare the hidden story of the Nazis’ infiltration throughout South America and their influence upon their communities. I recommend reading Wellesley Professor Marjorie Agosín’s book, A Cross and a Star, her “mother’s” memoir of growing up in Chile. In this memoir, pages 84 and 85 read, “Upon entering the main door of the house, I was confronted with an extravagant and huge portrait of Adolf Hitler situated on a small altar of lilies. The mother of my girlfriend prayed to Hitler like someone praying to a savior. At that time, I was thirteen years old, and I used to hear the emigrants tell stories of terror and agony in the living room of my house. Without saying a word, I fled from my friend’s home … never visiting them again.”

Nancy Lurie Salzman ’54, Cambridge, Mass.

Family History

For the first time ever, I have put aside an article from a magazine for rereading. Author Julie Catterson Lindahl ’88 (“The Hidden Truth”) has told us about a family attempting to erase history, and I am sure hers is not the only family that tries to obliterate the past. The past must be understood. And author Lindahl has decided to do just that—for the sake of the next generation—and, in her case, for the sake of worldwide understanding.

This article should be reprinted in German and sent to a German publication. And it should be reprinted in other languages as well.

On a smaller scale, many of us have had family history to confront. Writer Lindahl has helped us all think things through.

Mary Ingalls Waddell ’58, Tiverton, R.I.

Facing the Past

Thank you for “The Hidden Truth” by Julie Catterson Lindahl ’88. This must have been very difficult to write, and I appreciate her efforts very much.

Julie’s family should be proud of her for facing the uncertainties of the past. I am so glad she loved her grandmother. Love is powerful, and the chapel [at Wellesley] reminds us that God is Love.

Julie’s article reminds me of my many blessings.

Betty Gilbert ’51, Manchester Center, Vt.