Oberlin Alumni Magazine

Spring 2010 Vol. 105 No. 3 OAM Home | Oberlin Online


Our Writers Write

I was fascinated by the article about writers. I am not suggesting you inadvertently left me out as one of the Oberlin writers, for I am an academic rather than a creative writer. After two years at Oberlin, I moved to Chicago to attend Chicago Wesley Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, earning my BS at Northwestern.

At Oberlin, I was mentored by Professor Hoover, whose lessons from English composition I still value. I suspect he would be surprised that his mediocre B to B- student has published 35 books, more than 100 articles, and 16 chapters in books or monographs. To be sure, these are all professional publications in nursing, but I do have one short story and a few poems that have been published. Rare is the day that I don’t write or edit something. After a long career in academia, I am now writer in residence at Simmons College, where my role is to mentor faculty to write and publish.

So hurrah for Oberlin and its long tradition of mentoring writers.

Joellen (Beck) Hawkins x63
Auburndale, Mass.

My sincere thanks and congratulations on a marvelous article about Oberlin’s surprisingly large and diverse output of writers in multiple media over the years. As a screenwriter (among other things) myself, I was especially pleased to see William Goldman included, as well as my contemporary Josh Neufeld.

Obviously no such article can be exhaustive, and I commend you on finding so many names —some familiar, some surprising—to include. To your list, I would add the playwright Peter Ullian ’88, whose prodigious output began at Oberlin with the premiere production of The Triumphant Return of Blackbird Flynt, which I was fortunate enough to have acted in.

I’d also suggest that you might want to include video game writers in a future article. I suspect I’m not the only Obie writer to be making inroads in interactive media.

Thanks again for your article!

Tom Abernathy ’90
Seattle, Wash.

Editor’s Note: Abernathy was named one of the top 20 game writers by Gamasutra, a website that covers the videogame-making industry.

Movie Memories

Belated thanks for the wonderful article on the Apollo, an important part of our social and dating scene, not to mention its occasional glimpse into new wondrous worlds of Ingmar Bergman and many others. I have searched the Internet for years (unsuccessfully) in vain attempts to locate an Italian movie staring the great comedian Alberto Sordi, To Bed or Not to Bed (terrible name in United States for movie in Italian) that I think we saw there in 1960. I still recall the scenes of car races on ice or his futile attempts to seduce lovely young ladies... and of course, I remember the girl I went with, even though I haven’t seen her since those days. Thanks for the memories.

Neil Richards ’60
Pittsford, N.Y

As an alumnus who grew up in Oberlin in the ’30s and ’40s, I was delighted to read the article “Apollo Rising” (Fall 2009), which brought back fond memories. An early rite of passage for many of us was being allowed to attend the matinee on Saturday afternoons, while a later rite was being old enough to see the midnight show on New Year’s Eve.

One of the first films I remember was Drums Along the Mohawk in 1939. A frightening scene of an Indian attack has remained lodged in my memory ever since. By contrast, State Fair, with Jeanne Crain and Dick Haymes, and songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, left me with unrestrained romantic notions at the age of 15.

And, yes, for my first date in junior high school we went to a show at the Apollo.

In the days before television, the films at the Apollo were our window to life outside of Oberlin, with newsreels that graphically displayed what we read about in the newspaper or heard on the radio.

In those early years, the Apollo often had live entertainment on its stage. One event I recall was a performance by the jazz cornetist Red Nichols and his Five Pennies. Though I was just a kid, I was thrilled by the music I heard.

Many thanks to Oberlin College for acquiring and restoring the Apollo Theatre.

Lawrence Siddall ’52
Amherst, Mass.

Amen to MLK

I greatly enjoyed your Winter 2009-10 issue, as always. Your remarks about Rev. Martin Luther King’s three visits to Oberlin to speak in the 1960s reminded me of his earlier visit during my senior year. I was at his main talk in First Church. There were a number of African Americans in attendance, and I, like a number of other students, was particularly struck with the widespread display of traditional congregational responses from the audience, such as “Hallelujah” and “Amen Brother.” It was a valuable learning experience in a variety of ways.

Joe Hickerson ’57
Wheaton, Md.

Still OAM

After leafing through the Winter 2009-2010 issue, I decided to write and suggest that the title be changed to the Obama Alumni Magazine to more accurately reflect the recent content.

Robert M. Slugg Ph.D. ’79
Portland, Ore.

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