Search the Bulletin

In My Life

It Was in Another Lifetime

By Gregg Davis ’80

It’s been a long time since I sat with some of you waiting to receive our diplomas in the Scott Amphitheater—a lifetime ago, you might say.
Parts of that day are clear as I look back: the ping-pong balls we handed to President Dorie Friend, the raucous trumpets when Peter Schickele ’57 received his honorary degree [...]

A Country. Not a War.

By William Ehrhart ’73

THE WEAPON THAT GOT KEN TAKENAGA AND ME was an RPG, a rocket-propelled grenade. You’ve probably seen RPGs in news footage of Afghan mujahedeen or Taliban fighters. The launcher is a long thin tube the gunner rests on his shoulder like a bazooka, and the projectile sticks out the front of the tube like a [...]

Caring for Mom

By Thompson Webb III ’66

I saw grief drinking a cup of sorrow and called out,
“It tastes sweet, does it not?”
“You’ve caught me,” grief answered,
“and you’ve ruined my business.
How can I sell sorrow, when you know it’s a blessing.”
—Rumi, Birdsong, transl. Coleman Barks
NOT LONG AFTER MY MOTHER DIED IN 2009, I realized that I had accomplished one of my life’s [...]

28 Years Untouched

By Noah Efron ’82

AFTER GRADUATION IN MAY 1982, I rented a U-Haul, filled it with my stuff, and unloaded the cartons in my parents’ basement. Weeks later, I flew to Jerusalem to play in a rock-and-roll band and study Arabic—and from there to Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and Ethiopia on a Watson Fellowship. At the end of the [...]

Homer, Earl Scruggs, and Me

By Ira Gitlin ’80

With a degree in ancient Greek and no clear plans for life after Swarthmore, I’d been relieved when the University of Pennsylvania offered me a fellowship for their doctoral program in classical studies. Because I enjoyed studying the languages, history, and literature of the ancient [...]

Too Important to Die

By Kenneth Turan ’67

More than 23 years ago, I signed a contract with famed theater producer Joseph Papp to work on a definitive oral history of the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, the most significant not-for-profit theater group in the country. During the next 18 months, I interviewed close to 160 people and turned nearly 10,000 pages of [...]

Waltzing the South Atlantic

By Philip Cooper ’57

DURING 35 YEARS IN THE CORPORATE WORLD, I encountered my share of job applications. But the one I filled out in June 2009 was the first that required a dance audition and a photograph of me in a tuxedo. The application wasn’t for a job per se but for a gig as a “gentleman host,” [...]

Teeing Off

By Ted Hoey ’52

Turning the pages of the Bulletin as I always do, I suddenly see some young men and women looking just like young golfers. Yes, young tigers ready to go after par on any occasion. Swarthmore golfers. Amazing.
I was a Swarthmore golfer. Back around 1950. Things sure have changed since then. For me it all started [...]

Art as a Matter of Public Safety

By Barbara West ’90

“Like any artist with no art form, she became dangerous.”—from Sula by Toni Morrison
Facing stacks of dirty dishes, unopened mail, and haughty preteen critics, I need Toni Morrison’s wisdom to embark on my next artistic adventure. Before I push-pinned her words to my bulletin board, I’d considered my own art merely a narcissistic indulgence. Now [...]

My Layer-Cake Life

By Malka Kramer Schaps ’69 (formerly Mary Elizabeth Kramer)

What has been pushing my professional life can be summed up in a single sentence: My father was a university professor who did not get tenure and a writer who never published a book. I didn’t quite grasp the significance of all this until I was a 16-year-old honors student about to finish high school [...]