Letters to the Editor Spring 2011

More Mac Memories

The article about Mac Court [“Always a Classic,” Winter 2010] brought back too many memories to recount here. But two from the ’58–’59 academic year merit comment: a lecture by Eleanor Roosevelt, who argued in favor of health care reform; and a concert by the Kingston Trio, who reported the hanging of Tom Dooley.

R. G. Dimberg '60, MA '62
Charlotteville, Virginia

I got a particular charge out of the retrospective on Mac because, in addition to still proudly possessing my “Deranged Idiot” button, I was the weekend security guard at the arena for most of my junior and senior years. I got to know every nook and cranny of the place, and I swear you could hear the echoes of the crowd roar even when the building was locked up tight—or supposed to be, since my brand of “security” was somewhat less than airtight. We had some great pickup games in there—usually in the semi-dark, since the lighting panel was padlocked. Then-NBA-rookie Greg Ballard joined us for one memorable run, and even GB flinched going up for rebounds he couldn’t really see.

My favorite Mac Court story, however, isn’t hoops-related. It was a Saturday morning, and the Shrine Circus was setting up for a matinee performance. I wandered out in front of the building to watch the unloading of the animals, and the first thing I saw was an elephant chained by the foreleg to a parking meter. One of the handlers spotted me, in my security coveralls and badge, and executed a faultless sight gag. He ran over and stuck a nickel in the elephant’s meter.

Thirty-three years later, it still cracks me up.

Mike Gaynes ‘78
Moss Beach, California

Thanks for the up-to-date information about Mac Court. In addition to all those wonderful basketball games, and other sports activities, Mac Court was a community center. The Civic Music Association held concerts there for many years—for me, the ’40s and ’50s. Sitting in rows of wooden fold-up chairs, we heard opera stars Patrice Munsel and Blanche Thebom, among others, and entertainers like Arthur Godfrey and the McGuire Sisters. Even Robert Shaw’s famous chorale performed. The big bands came to town, and the dances were at Mac Court.

I remember that Billy Graham held a revival there one year, and I think Easter sunrise services were there as well. Dean Kratt, UO Music School, conducted the orchestra and chorus in performances of the Messiah. My younger brother played basketball there when his junior high school team provided halftime entertainment at a ball game. The state high school basketball championships were played there. Sweet memories. McArthur Court was very important for many of us in the Eugene community.

Barbara Fulton Royalty ’53
Diamond Bar, California

I would like to add to “Always a Classic” to show how Mac Court affected lives of many who were not UO students or alumni.

After graduation from the UO, I became a partner in an accounting and management firm that specialized in handling the financial affairs for fraternities and sororities. Our office was just off the campus. I was approached by the UO Athletic Department for help in improving their food and beverage concessions. I signed a contract with them and brought in two individuals with experience to manage the operation. In time I bought out the others and ran the business myself. This lasted ten years.

A number of events took place in Mac Court other than [college] basketball. There were concerts, circuses, and, most important, the Oregon State High School Basketball Tournament. This ran for five days and brought thousands of high school students to Eugene. The Eugene Active Club sponsored the tournament and made arrangements for the students to stay in local homes. So many people became a part of the tournament, it was all like family. We provided breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday and food and beverage all day. Some people practically lived in Mac Court. In fact, at times I did. It is difficult to describe the feeling that tens of thousands of high school students took away from Mac Court. Memories.

Also, there was another side of being in Mac Court. There was never a shortage of people wanting to work there. This provided an opportunity for those who had not had the University experience to be a part of the University. Even though we worked while everybody else played, we all enjoyed what we were doing. We were a big happy family, thanks to my wife. Mac Court was a part of our lives for ten years. As an example of how it affected individuals, my ninety-year-old sister and her husband, who worked for us more than forty years ago, still insist that those time are the most memorable of their lives. Memories.

I, myself, of course, could give you ten years of memories. I will only relate one of those at this time. Working with Leo Harris, the athletic director, was a true pleasure. We worked together to improve the concessions and provide income for the athletic department. We were able to increase the benefits to the department sixfold and still provide me with compensation for my efforts. Leo was a pure businessman and a true friend to my wife and myself. Memories.

David W. Pierson ’52
Black Butte Ranch

Mac Critiques, Mistakes

While an alum and a huge fan of all Duck teams and, of course, Mac Court, the selection of the picture for the cover of the Winter 2010 edition was a poor choice in my opinion. I was shocked at first glance because it appeared that everyone in the photo was giving a salute to Hitler. For crying out loud, did nobody else see that? It would have been more appropriate to have an actual picture of, oh I don’t know, say, McArthur Court!?!? Call me oversensitive, call me whatever you want. This photo was in bad taste. I expect more from my university.

Kevin Dahlstrom ’91
San Ramon, California

When my daughter showed me this photo I really had a good laugh—we all love our Ducks!!! And will miss Mac Court, but did you stop to consider that this photo looks like the UO is saluting Hitler! Maybe a different angle?

Made my day!

Kris Correa

Guy Maynard responds: I must confess that yellow-clad Duck fans raising their arms did not trigger associations with Hitler and the Nazis for me. But I apologize to those who found it in bad taste.

I enjoy your magazine and I appreciate being able to read it online and save paper. Nice work! I hope you hear the good with the bad as I know we readers tend to only write when we’re unhappy with something, and yes, that’s what I’m doing as well.

The article on McArthur Court opens with an error. The article says the last game to be played in Mac [was] the men’s game on January 1. Actually, the last game [was] played January 8 when the women’s team host[ed] Washington. The women were originally scheduled to open the new arena, but the powers that be couldn’t allow the women that honor so the men [got] to open Matt Arena on January 13 even though the new building [was] ready—and standing empty—when the women [played] the last games in McArthur Court.

Unfortunately, the Oregon women have been dismissed by the athletic department from being the first to play in the new arena and now dismissed in your article from being the last to play in McArthur Court.

I’m particularly sensitive to these facts because I’m an alum of the women’s basketball program and I am occasionally disappointed in decisions made, and not made, in regard to women’s athletics here on campus. I also know that your author might have been the victim of bad timing, getting their information before the decision to move the women’s games back to Mac. 

I guess I just had to get this off my chest; thanks for listening.

Peg Rees ’77, MS ’91

I'm a '64 graduate of the UO and while reading the Winter issue of Oregon Quarterly, I noticed that you had a photo in your article regarding Mac Court that was labeled “undated photo of cheerleaders” (page 31 in print edition).

The photo is from 1964 or 1965 and is of Barbie Jones Corey who graduated in 1965. I can't recognize the male cheerleader, but could certainly find out. Barbie is married to Buck Corey, class of 1964 and lives in Portland. Happy to help.

Kathryn Brandt White '64

I just wanted to write to express my appreciation for the online tribute to Mac Court. Much of my experience in the facility was as a student lighting technician working shows in the late seventies and early eighties. Memorable performances included Frank Zappa, Jackson Browne, Bill Cosby, and George Carlin. For events of this nature, we had to disassemble the followspots owned by the EMU, move them to Mac Court, carry them up many flights of stairs to the “crow’s nests” located at the corners of the upper balconies, and reassemble them to use for spotlighting the performers. These were carbon arc followspots; the rods or carbons that produced the illumination had to be changed several times during the show, and we always worried that in the process of trying to quickly remove the red-hot spent carbons in the forty-five seconds usually allotted to us by a lighting director to do so, we would accidentally drop one onto an unsuspecting audience member sitting below the cage. Good times . . .

The other reason I’m writing is to draw your attention to one of the images included in the Mac Court slide show, captioned “A student tries to register in late 1960s or 1970s.” As someone who has spent more than thirty years working in the EMU and on this campus, I can tell you that picture was taken not in Mac Court—but in the EMU Ballroom, where fee payment and academic advising occurred prior to computerized class registration (advising still takes place in the Ballroom). The alternating wall panel pattern in the background was the giveaway for me: that was an electrically operated partition that ran the entire length of the room’s east side prior to the 1985–86 remodel. Just wanted to alert you of this minor discrepancy and throw out a few fun facts!

Mike Kraiman ’82

Endangered Photographer?

Thank you for publishing Susan Rich’s article about Myra Albert Wiggins in the Winter Quarterly [“Entering the Picture”]. I liked her fresh way of looking at Wiggins’ photographs and expressing how she felt about them as a poet. However, there is an inaccuracy that I would like to correct for your readers.

Contrary to Wiggins being in “danger of extinction” or a “miniscule footnote in early American photography” there is a wealth of information and resources available about her work. Wiggins is mentioned in many books, articles, and bibliographies on the subject of photography, women photographers, and Salem and Oregon history. In addition to the sources Rich cites, readers can explore Wiggins’ life and work with the help of the following resources:

The photo collection of the Oregon State Library Website has an interesting collection of Wiggins photographs: http://photos.lib.state.or.us

The Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection in the Library of Congress contains a group of Wiggins photographs and correspondence between them. There is a fascinating story behind their relationship that can be read in Toby Quitsland’s 1979 book, Her Feminine Colleagues: Photographs and Letters Collected by Frances Benjamin Johnston in 1900 and the more recent, Ambassadors of Progress: American Women Photographers in Paris 1900-1901(2001).

Naomi Rosenblum’s History of Women Photographers (1994) includes a full-page reproduction of Wiggins’ image “The Forge” (page 101) and a smaller reproduction of her better-known photograph, “Hunger is the Best Cook” (page 100). C. Jane Gover’s seminal The Positive Image: Women Photographers in Turn of the Century America (1988) was amongst the first books to mention Wiggins.

Scholars of the Arts and Crafts Movement, a pivotal time that explains much of the content and approach of her photography are also familiar with Wiggins. Lawrence Kreisman and Glenn Mason’s book, The Arts and Crafts Movement in the Pacific Northwest (2007) includes Wiggins’ work, as does the currently traveling exhibit with the same title. My article, “Myra Albert Wiggins: Arts and Crafts Photographer,” Style 1900 12 (Spring/Summer 1999): 34–40 sheds light on Wiggins and how the Arts and Crafts movement shaped much of her photographic style.

Photography has a fascinating past beginning with daguerreotypes, which were an early form of photography dating back to 1839 and waning by 1850s when newer forms of photography replaced them.

These are but some of the resources available to those who desire to learn more about Myra Albert Wiggins and her work that has attracted a devoted and sustained following. Fortunately she is neither “in danger of extinction” nor relegated to a “miniscule footnote.” I would strongly encourage your readers to learn more about this gifted, accomplished Oregonian.

Carole Glauber

Glauber is the author of Witch of Kodakery: The Photography of Myra Albert Wiggins 1869–1956 (Washington State University Press, 1997)

Susan Rich responds: I am glad that Glauber enjoyed my article and found it a “fresh approach” to the photographic work of Myra Albert Wiggins. I believe, however, we part ways on the issue regarding the current obscurity of Wiggins’ work. Yes, Wiggins’ reputation is in danger of extinction. During the past four years, I have given readings at more than seventy universities, book festivals, and community gatherings, but I have yet to meet one person who knows Myra Albert Wiggins’ work. Since I live in Seattle, Washington, where Wiggins resided the last forty-five years of her life, this is all the more prescient. Glauber provides several careful citations as “proof” that Wiggins’ reputation is not a footnote in American photography. Interestingly, with one exception, these references are more than a decade old. The exception, The Arts and Crafts Movement in the Pacific Northwest, 2007, devotes a scant five sentences to Wiggins. Each reference also includes a list of names detailing other members of the Oregon Camera Club. The more interesting question for me is: how could anyone believe that a handful of citations equates with an artist being known? Perhaps the beautiful photographs published alongside my article will do more than anything else to rescue Wiggins’ reputation and restore to her work the audience it deserves.

Go Ducks and No Bucks

I cannot quibble with Matthew Ginsberg's intellect [“The Crossing Guard,” UpFront, Winter 2010]. However, as clever as he is with artificial intelligence and computers, not to mention that he must be at least somewhat of a fan of the University of Oregon, since this article about him appears in, of all places, Oregon Quarterly, a question lingers. Anyone who does crossword puzzles on a regular basis, and who is also collegiately aware, cannot help but to notice that whenever a “west coast school” or a “Pac-10 school” show up as clues in a crossword puzzle, invariably the answer will be a short answer, either UCLA or USC. Not Oregon, nor even anything outside of Los Angeles. Maybe Ginsberg could start using his super powers for good, and ensure crossword puzzle fairness across the western states. Wouldn't it be great to see “go Ducks” as a crossword puzzle answer in The New York Times?

Mark J. Hash ’90

Upon receiving the Winter issue of Oregon Quarterly and upon learning that the Ducks are still at number one, I finally need to make one long-made decision known: I will never give money to the University of Oregon. Whilst we have a competitive football team, the national rank of the University is (as you stated without much shame) 111th, up from 115th. Does it really matter? It is not 11th, or even 51st, or even 91st, it is out of the top 100. If you have chosen to forget it already, it was ranked within the top 100 just a few years ago. The rank just sank faster than Titanic in the past few years.

There is only one reason why I will never give money to UO: it is not a higher education institution that adheres to the mission of educating, it is in the sports business. I have given money to the institution where I attended for my undergraduate, which has no professional sports team. I have thought of giving money to my current institution, which does not have a football team. But the University of Oregon? Never a chance.

When I was a graduate teaching fellow from 2000 to 2004, we negotiated our contract with the graduate school every two years. The process was ugly and unnecessarily so. We only bargained for a modest raise, which translated to an increase of about ten dollars each month for most of us. The bargaining team of the graduate school told us that being a GTF is being an apprentice; the end of the tunnel is much brighter. Now that I am out of the tunnel and have spare money to give to institutions, I will never forget the sulky faces and mean words at the other side of the bargaining table. Why doesn’t the University just ask those former student athletes who were not chosen to play professional sports to give money?

For those of us who are in a discipline which has a demand of PhDs, we are lucky enough to find full-time employment. However, the constant depressing rank of the University makes our upward mobility almost impossible when compared to fellows who graduate from similar programs. For those with a UO English and humanities PhDs, the end of the tunnel may never be here.

When I mentioned to colleagues that I attended the UO, the first few questions are: “Is it in the Pac-10? Is it where Prefontaine went?” If this is what UO is only known for, then it should feel ashamed of itself.

Micky Lee, PhD ’04
Somerville, Massachusetts

Measuring Success

The article in the Autumn issue relating Schombert/Hsu’s findings re college entrance scores vs. college performance [“The Measure of Success,” UpFront] was most interesting.

I would like to add that sometimes students become more focused and diligent upon reaching college, especially if expenses come out of their own pockets, than they were in high school when they pursued the “right social circles, dating, and activity clubs.” (Likewise, some students upon reaching college ditch the academic pursuits to “party hardy,” especially when parental oversight is miles away.) High school and college are two different milieus, and students are at different ages and maturity stages at each setting. Different achievement levels should not be surprising.

Susan L. Forkner, MA ’70

Ms. Forkner is a former high school teacher.