(Photography by Samantha Chapnick [CC BY-ND 2.0])

Readers sound off

Alumni check the weather, remember Midway Studios, and more.

Weather reportage

I enjoyed reading the articles in the Fall/20 issue of the Magazine on aspects of the history of meteorology at the University (“Pilot Program”). The program has had an impact on the development of atmospheric science research and programs over the decades. Details about Tetsuya Theodore Fujita were particularly interesting (“Singing for the Pine Trees Are Stormy Winds”). As a graduate student, I took courses that he offered. Subsequently, as an atmospheric science faculty member at Texas Tech University, I interacted with him and his graduate students on the investigation of tornado damage.

Following the death of Dr. Fujita, our group was contacted by his son, Kazuya Fujita, LABʼ69, regarding the disposition of his fatherʼs research materials. Along with an assistant, I spent several days gathering archival items from Dr. Fujitaʼs University offices. These were transported to Lubbock, Texas, where they are now housed. Subsequently, there was a formal ceremony wherein Kaz presented the materials to Texas Tech Universityʼs Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library. The presence of the Fujita archives has induced other storm researchers to contribute their materials to the library.

Richard E. Peterson, SMʼ64
Lubbock, Texas

I very much enjoyed Maureen Searcyʼs article “Pilot Program” (Fall/20), with the mention and photo of UChicago meteorologist Dave Fultz, SBʼ41, PhDʼ47, known for his “soup pot” experiments modeling Earthʼs atmosphere. He had gotten beyond the soup pot stage when I began working in his laboratory for a few summers in the 1950s, when I was 15 years old. I built the flash units used to produce the light for the photos that showed the aluminum dust flow patterns on the surface of the water. I also developed innumerable prints.

It was there that I met Yoshinari Nakagawa, whom I also worked for when he got his own laboratory. He used the then-available small cyclotron magnet to conduct similar experiments with rotating mercury. The magnet and mercury were used to try to understand flow patterns in the sun.

Recently, when I was trying to understand how the north pole of Saturn could have a hexagonal pattern around it, I remembered my time in Fultzʼs laboratory and how various wave number patterns could form in the rotating liquid. Going back to read Fultzʼs papers, which I could now understand, resolved what I called the enigma of Saturnʼs north-polar hexagon. I only wish that he could have known about this very recent application of his work.

I wrote a paper on the subject, “The Enigma of Saturnʼs North-Polar Hexagon,” and gave a colloquium on it at the Illinois Institute of Technology in March 2018.

Gerald E. Marsh, SBʼ62, SMʼ65

I enjoyed “Singing for the Pine Trees Are Stormy Winds” (Fall/20). However, I was very disappointed by your incorrect caption for the opening photo. The airplane in which Tetsuya Theodore Fujita is seated is a Boeing 727. This is clearly distinguished by the fact that there is a captain, copilot, and flight engineer. The picture also shows the pressurization panels on the flight deck—a feature used for high-altitude pressurized flight.

Low-flying Cessna aircraft in the years 1865–1991 were not pressurized. They also did not have cockpits such as the one shown. They typically seated two people; the larger models might seat four—especially if the rear passengers were children or small.

Having spent over 30 years in aviation, as a Boeing captain and a proud Cessna owner, I can assure you that the two aircraft are very different.

Soma Getty Priddle, AMʼ81
Norwalk, Wisconsin

While the caption stated correctly that Fujitaʼs surveillance of tornado paths was mostly conducted from Cessna planes, Priddle is right to point out that this was misleading adjoined to a photo of Fujita in a Boeing 727. We regret the incorrect implication and thank Priddle for the clarification.—Ed.

Drug risk and regulation

Victor S. Sloanʼs (ABʼ80) well-intended and reasonably appropriate admonition to Jason Kelly about the “safe” use of hydroxychloroquine unfortunately came with its own stale failure to recognize the flaws in the drug approval process as administered by the FDA and like-minded government agencies elsewhere (Letters, Fall/20). To say that to achieve approval for prescribing use is tantamount to the “benefit in a given condition ... outweigh[ing] the risks (a positive benefit to risk ratio)” is to pander to the party line that is trotted out by the FDA and its supporters despite a tremendous array of studies and common sense that suggest such a notion ignores the tremendous diversity of conditions and circumstances that might impact a given individualʼs risk-benefit ratio.

The first academic salvo that blew a gigantic hole in the whole concept of a government body usefully wielding this kind of power was delivered in 1973 by Chicago Booth economist Sam Peltzman, PhDʼ65, in the Journal of Political Economy. I will simply point out that any serious student of the subject would be hard pressed to come away thinking that the net effect of FDA restrictions on the entry of new drugs into the market has been beneficial to the general public.

David Whitney, MBAʼ78, MDʼ80

Print culture

After checking the current issue of the Magazine to catch up on classmates, deaths, and books, I checked (as usual) the names of my sisterʼs classmates (in 1962), and glanced, finally, at the picture on page 56 (“Beneath the Paving Stones, the Litho Stones,” Alumni News, Fall/20). Wait! Itʼs me!

I spent much of 1965, my last year at Midway Studios, pulling lithographs to complete my portfolio for the exhibition to meet graduation requirements for my BFA. Somehow, this photo shows me rolling ink over the stone, getting ready to pull a print. A historic shock. Possibly this isnʼt me, but hey, what fun!

Suzanne Deitch Shure, BFAʼ65
Lorain, Ohio

Thank you very much for including the photograph of the lady working on a lithography stone at Midway Studios in the Fall/20 Alumni News section.

I have vivid memories of working with the exemplary Max Kahn from the Art Institute of Chicago at Midway Studios. The photograph of these lithograph stones was particularly welcome at this time. I returned to painting, etching, and exhibiting six years ago after completing a PhD in political science and anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a law degree at Kingʼs College London. I still work part time as a human rights lawyer, focusing on migrants, while increasingly working as an artist.

I live in London. I have searched without success for lithography stones like the ones I used at Midway Studios. I also exhibited art while at the University. I retain some of the editions of lithographs that I made at Midway Studios.

I wonder if it is possible to see more photographs of Midway Studios with lithography equipment. Do you know what happened to the stones and the glorious press? I would like to learn of others who worked at Midway Studios. If they would like to visit, pandemic permitting, I look forward to seeing them in London.

Louise Sweet, ABʼ61

Alison Latendresse, associate director of programs and student affairs in the Department of Visual Arts, writes: “The lithography press and stones seen in the early-1960s photograph of Midway Studios are no longer held by the University. Professor emeritus of visual arts and former printmaking instructor Robert Peters says the studio art program shut down its lithography studio soon after he joined the faculty in the 1970s and sold or donated the lithography equipment to other institutions.”

I am answering the call for experiences from Midway Studios.

I applied to the U of C visual arts program because I had visited the campus when my son Nicholas Bundy, ABʼ96, matriculated there. Upon entering, I had just turned 50 and was the oldest student in a class of seven (2000–02). From day one the faculty called you an MFA artist—that meant a lot. I painted more than 40 works, volunteered for several student organizations, and wrote art curricula for the Graham School, where I taught a weekend drawing class.

Presently I am a writer/painter living in Anchorage, Alaska. I write a biweekly aesthetic column for Anchorage Press, partly because Bob Peters, one of my advisers, dragged me through three months of writing an artist statement.

Not all was rosy. Some professors at Midway and across campus resented an older student and were brutally rude. Other times I was ignored when there were artist visitors or fundraising events. However, I received two fellowships, and in 2004 I had a painting with an accompanying essay, about experiencing my daughter giving birth, accepted into the UChicago Center for the Study of Gender and Sexualityʼs conference on depression and counter-depression.

Twenty years later, I can say that Midway Studios changed my life. I went on to get a master of fine arts in writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a PhD from the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. I show my paintings at Pleiades Gallery in New York City. Three of my paintings appeared in the off-Broadway play Puffs (2017–19). I serve on the board of the International Association of Art Critics, where I started climate change envoys and have been appointed awards chair of the associationʼs next congress in Istanbul.

Jean Bundy, MFAʼ02
Anchorage, Alaska

I was admitted to the MFA program with an emphasis on printmaking, specifically lithography, in the fall of 1963. My mentor and faculty adviser was Max Kahn, whom I had met as an undergraduate student at the Art Institute of Chicago. I was assigned a studio on the second floor of Midway Studios that was accessible by an indoor metal spiral staircase. Each student was given three or four litho stones that were kept in racks on the first floor. Next to those racks was a grinding station, an etching area, and a large litho press. Once you finished prepping the stone for a new image, done in liquid tusche and/or crayon, you carried those 20-to-30-pound stones up the staircase to your studio where you worked on the image.

The second floor had no heat, so during the winter, you worked in coats and scarves, as bundled up as possible, hoping your chilled fingers would do as you wished. The windows didnʼt open, so there was no flow of fresh air, and warmer months were beastly. Once your studio work was complete, you carried your stone back to the etching area and readied it for printing. Every student printed on their own; there was no in-house full-time printing technician. Max was always available, and student critiques were held in the printing area, usually with all the majors in the program, at his behest. In my case, Max emphasized working in black and white, and the vast majority of my work was done in that vein. He would also hold individual “crits” with me, pointing out aspects I might not have considered to help embellish the work. Under Maxʼs direction, students were free to determine the subject matter and format of their work. We had great liberty to explore what truly interested us. I chose to combine realism and abstraction within the same body of work.

Stuart Schar, MFAʼ64, PhDʼ67
Bradenton, Florida

Off the grid

Your interview with Whet Moser, ABʼ04, and the excerpts from his book Chicago: From Vision to Metropolis (Reaktion Books, 2019) were fun to read (“Three Things We Love about Chicago,” the Core, Winter/20). I learned some details about our city that I had never known.

However, the section on the grid states that “the street numbers go out in the four cardinal directions at eight blocks to a mile.” Thatʼs almost 100 percent true, but not quite. Going south from the Loop, it is one mile from Madison Street to Roosevelt Road (aka 12th Street). It is one mile from Roosevelt Road to Cermak Road (aka 22nd Street). It is one mile from Cermak Road to 31st Street.

In other words, the first three miles south of the Loop are not eight blocks to a mile—they are 12 blocks, 10 blocks, and nine blocks, respectively.

John Pierce, SBʼ71, MBAʼ83
Park Ridge, Illinois

People of the books

I am responding to your request for memories of the old campus bookstore (“In Under the Wire,” Alumni News, Fall/20). I was a foreign student from China from 1945 to 1955 and a steady customer for interesting books. The picture of the campus post office in Alumni News brought back old memories. My College classmate, James D. Wheat, PhBʼ47, used to mail dirty laundry to his mother in Freeport, Illinois.

I built up a collection of thousands of books. (I probably was one of the bookstoreʼs best customers.) I lived in Coulter House at Burton Judson for six quarters before moving to International House. The medical school and the physiological psychology laboratory, where I did my doctoral research, were next to the bookstore, so I could easily check out the latest new arrivals.

It was a small but serious bookstore and was an outlet for the adjacent University of Chicago Press. Although there were several used bookstores in the neighborhood, the official campus bookstore was the best place to browse new academic books. I got to know the staff and would sometimes make suggestions to stock especially intriguing new books.

Thanks for encouraging nostalgic thoughts.

Nelson Yuan-sheng Kiang, PhBʼ47, SBʼ50, PhDʼ55

The space on the north side of 57th Street between Blackstone and Harper Avenues—where the Medici restaurant was before its move to its current location—was, in 1954, the Little Village Nursery School, which I attended along with Roscoe Giles, LAB’66, AB’70, and Elaine Kwan, LAB’66, who both also went to Lab School. By the time I was old enough to go to stores by myself, that space had become the Green Door Bookstore, and it was a regular destination for me. Their selection included books in languages other than English, and it is where I got my copy of Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal. Nowadays the Seminary Co-op and Powell’s are the last remnants of what used to be a Hyde Park filled with independent bookstores, selling both new and used books.

I remember that the Medici opened as a coffee shop in the back half of the Green Door, whose space was thus reduced. The Green Door must have already been having trouble making ends meet. Then the Green Door went the way of all the other independent bookstores in Hyde Park (except the two mentioned above, both of which were relative newcomers in 1961 and 1970, respectively), and the Medici expanded into the entire space and went from being a coffee house into being a restaurant.

The Medici was very good to my parents, who lived at 57th and Kimbark. When my parents were old and no longer mobile, they would order meals from Medici, who would deliver. My parents were very happy with their food and service. Of course, I have also been happy with the Medici for many decades now.

Victor A. Friedman, LAB’66, AM’71, PhD’75
Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Humanities

The true meaning of mobile

The Fall/20 Letters section had many references to Students for Violent Non-Action. This brought to mind another non-recorded and shorter-lived group that existed for the 1946–47 academic year, namely the Church of the Mobile Soul. Its doctrine had members believing that on the first day of each month everyone acquired a new soul. So in order to attract the best possible soul on that occasion, one would dress up in the best clothing they owned. Furthermore, the best souls possessed a minimum of “effluvium,” which I never heard defined in this case, but was just bad bad bad! You wanted to avoid it all costs. All of these practices were a function of worshiping the Greatness.

In the middle of Autumn Quarter, at about 8 p.m., the Church of the Mobile Soul held a revival meeting. It was located in front of Green Hall, at that time one of the womenʼs dorms. One of the residents of Green Hall was named the Mother Inferior. Among the activities at this revival meeting was singing the following words to the tune of “The Doxology”:

It is the Greatness that we Praise,
Especially on Soul Change Days.
Effluvium is not for me,
Praise Pop and Smokey. And J. C.

Also among the revival activities were “miracles” performed by the Coordinator of Pyrotechnics. These consisted of homemade firecrackers and soda-straw rockets, all powered by black powder that someone always seemed to be able to get “from DuPont, somewhere in the Loop.”

As winter arrived, Church of the Mobile Soul activity seemed to slow down, but it did reappear slightly, toward spring, when the University administration announced a tuition increase of $10 per quarter for the next academic year. This would make quarterly tuition $150. Oh, my! What a hue and cry that caused. But soon after that, at the entrance of Burton Dining Hall, someone posted a sign saying, “The Church of the Mobile Soul demands a tuition increase of $20 a quarter. Keep out the riffraff!”

Also, the article on Jenny Holzerʼs (EXʼ74) creativity had so many different epigrams (“The Medium Is the Message,” Fall/20). I will throw another one “toward” that collection (I am not presumptive enough to say “into”): “Nothing is so constant as change. And that varies from time to time, occasionally.”

In the meantime, I shall continue to practice aggressive senility, excessive moderation, and dedicated inadvertence.

James A. Lessly, PhBʼ50
OʼFallon, Missouri

Eagle nest

Another terrific issue of the University of Chicago Magazine. Always enjoyable and informative. I entered the Graduate School of Business in the fall of 1968, when the Eagle was a favorite restaurant/pub (Letters, Summer/20). Then, following two years in the Marines, I returned to complete the MPA program. Many thanks for wonderful writing.

John D. Beam, MBA’72

Biblical reading

I read with interest Lucas McGranahan’s article “Love Thy Neighbor” (Fall/20), describing David Nirenberg’s studies of the “intertwined—and sometimes—violent histories of faith communities.” And I certainly look forward to reading the book Nirenberg coauthored with his father, Ricardo Nirenberg. However, I was dismayed by this statement, about a verse in the Gospel of John 8:44, states, “In that verse, Nirenberg says, Jesus refers to Jews and Pharisees as children of Satan.” My dismay is because Jesus doesn’t say that.

Here are citations from three bibles, where, for brevity, I only cite the first sentence. King James version: “Ye are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” Catholic version: “You are of your father, the devil: and the desires of your father you will do.” New English Bible: “Your father is the devil and you choose to carry out your father’s desires.”

Thus, nowhere does Jesus use the words, “Jews,” “children,” or “Satan.” It is certainly true that “ye” or “you” refers to a group of Jews to whom he is speaking and who seek to kill him. But they are only a group of Jews, therefore, logically, some Jews. But the statement being criticized implies all Jews. Even if we allow substitution of “Satan” for the “devil,” note that the word “children” does not appear. Jesus, as is well known, loved children, and his choice of language shields children, as it does the group’s mothers, whom the devil could have violated through rape or dissimulation. Clearly, the medieval anti-Semites misrepresented what Jesus said to justify their attacks against Jews, and in view of the widespread illiteracy then, and apparently even today, this false claim about Jesus continues to be used.

Frank R. Tangherlini, SM’52
San Diego, California

David Nirenberg suggests readers interested in the early Christian history of this passage of John can turn to Adele Reinhartz, Cast Out of the Covenant: Jews and Anti-Judaism in the Gospel of John (2018).—Ed.

The University of Chicago Magazine welcomes letters about its contents or about the life of the University. Letters for publication must be signed and may be edited for space, clarity, and civility. To provide a range of views and voices, we encourage letter writers to limit themselves to 300 words or fewer. While the Magazine staff works remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, please send letters via email: uchicago-magazine@uchicago.edu.