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st. lawrence university magazine | spring 2015



sciences from both a humane and an ana-

lytical perspective. When I think about

my many positive learning experiences at

St. Lawrence, Bernie Lammers is always a

major portion of the equation.

Issues of social justice were a major part

of his life view. When he saw wrongs, he

fought for what he viewed as good for the

college, the community and his country.

Our contact with Bernie crossed gen-

erations through my brother Sterling


and our daughter Jessica

04. My wife,

Melissa, and I had the good fortune of

spending time with Bernie in May of

2013, during a class reunion. A short

Christmas note just before his passing

showed, as always, his upbeat nature and

hope for humanity.

—Jim Goodspeed ’73

Queensbury, New York

The Van de Waters’ country place

I was sorry to read of the death of Peter

Van de Water ’58. His future wife,

Becky Blaisdell ’60, lived just a few

doors down from me freshman year in

Dean-Eaton Hall. In about 1965, the

Van de Waters bought a shabby old

place near St. Regis Falls, my home-

town. They were often at my dad’s saw-

mill buying supplies. We both had three

children by then, so we were invited out

for s’mores over a fire. I will never forget

that day. We have read about Peter and

Becky ever since because of their in-

volvement in so many worthy activities.

—Jeanne Giffin Wright ’60

Manchester, Connecticut

A different kind of performance

Most alumni know that the new Kirk

Douglas Hall [see page 30] is named in

honor of the actor, philanthropist and

loyal Laurentian. But few know that he

was also president of Thelmo his senior

year (1938-39), and an advocate of

higher academic standards at the college.

That year, Prof. Harry Reiff, of history

and government, lamented the “incred-

ible clutter of extra-curricular activities

on the campus...a situation inimical to

the best interests of an institution intent

on developing citizens with a good

scholastic background.” (

The Hill News


April 17, 1938.) A solution proposed

by Douglas (then known as Isadore

Demsky) was a committee, made up

of students, which could review poor

student performance brought to its

attention by professors.

Thus, the new dormitory honors

not just a notable actor, but also his

contribution to St. Lawrence as a

student leader and advocate of higher

academic standards.

Daniel D. Reiff

Kenmore, New York

The writer is Harry Reiff’s son and the

author of

Teacher, Scholar, Mentor: Dr.

Harry Reiff of St. Lawrence University


available through Brewer Bookstore.

Remembrances of Bernie

We were saddened to learn of the passing

of teacher, mentor and friend Dr. Bernie

Lammers in December [see “In Memory,”

page 80]. He helped me view the social


university magazine

volume lxIV


number 2



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Neal S. Burdick ’72

assistant editor

Meg Bernier ’07, M’09

art director

Alex Rhea

associate art director

Susan LaVean

vice President for communications

Melissa Farmer Richards

Design director

Jamie Lipps

photography director

Tara Freeman

News editor

Ryan Deuel

class notes editor

Sharon Henry

ing team has done for public awareness,

though being national champions twice

in the last three years merits more than a

footnote mention. This proposition does

not require wreaths and ribbons to clear

the jump: The horses on campus and the

students who care for them exemplify the

liberal arts philosophy that so many of us

are giving our lives to perpetuate.

When I visit the Elsa Gunnison Apple-

ton Riding Arena, affectionately known as

“the barn,” for a horse show or an impulse

drop-in, I observe qualities that I wish

every student at St. Lawrence will find

in equivalent ways. I notice the constant

atmosphere of patience and pace while

walking the corridor of stalls. Its whis-

pered air resembles the feeling of a library.

The French scholar Arlette Farge once

wrote, “To feel the allure of the archives

is to seek to extract additional meaning

from fragmented phrases found there…

an unplanned glimpse offered into an

unexpected event.” The barn has the pull

of an unfinished story at the pen’s nib,

a first draft taking patience to trace and

write down.

I have witnessed in my barn tours a way

for students to be emotionally connected

to an activity without being foolishly

emotional. We expect the sciences to

teach a cool detachment in front of the

he guide in paris

left the message to

meet at the statue

of Charlemagne

by Notre Dame

Cathedral. No

matter what grand

city, it is easy to

find on horseback

a marble king or

a bronze general to mark the place of

rendezvous. We had earlier been in Nor-

mandy’s medieval city of Rouen to visit

St. Lawrence students, a city known by

a fixed Napoleon on a rearing horse. In

London, where other St. Lawrence stu-

dents attend class and theater, the Duke

of Wellington rides again after Waterloo

in three-dimensional stillness. Closer to

campus, a day trip made by students and

faculty to the capital city of Ottawa usu-

ally begins the tour at the War Memorial,

a vivid freeze frame of 1915 that captures

a scrum of exhausted combat soldiers,

one of whom rides a draft horse, an eye-

riveting large animal with brute shoulders

pulling a big gun on a muddy road.

When we come back to Canton,

however, there remains a subtle sense of

a living past. The North Country is still

frisky as horse country. The “rush hour”

on Main Street signals the familiar whir of

passing cars (and pick-up trucks), but then

there is the occasional clip-clop cadence

as old as the rhythms of a Roman road.

At home, I hear daily the Amish buggies

on market errands. It makes me think of

the pictures kept in our archives of college

professors on horseback and the children

of the farms who brought their trunks to

campus by horse cart.

St. Lawrence’s widespread reputation

reaches many admirers of our accom-

plished liberal arts alumni in every field

of work and service. We have numerous

reasons for the world to know

St. Lawrence. And yet, we should also be

known as a place that cares about horses.

This is not a personal appeal to nostalgia

or “back-to-the-land restorationism”

inspired by a historian’s active imagina-

tion. Yes, I know that if Napoleon had

installed a reliable supply chain of fodder,

he might have reached Moscow sooner

than the first snowfall.

The fact is I never learned to ride,

though my mother, wife and daughter

can be found in family albums sitting a

horse confidently. I grew up in a city with

more than two dozen equestrian statues,

but now I live in a setting with more than

two dozen active equestrians (almost all

women) who manage a liberal arts educa-

tion accompanied by an equal number of

school horses owned by St. Lawrence.

My appreciation for St. Lawrence as an

appropriate home for horses is not drawn

materially from the great good our rid-

AWord From thePresident


Been Around the Barn

facts as presented; we also expect that

literary texts will cause human feelings

to stir in class, but without losing the

capacity to analyze what things mean

or matter. I marvel at the mature

emotional intelligence being developed

around the horses by an experience for

students that shows the grace of trust

and the gift of being trusted.

Years ago, I spent a day with a

St. Lawrence alumnus at his workplace

on a Hudson Valley farm. A world-re-

nowned breeder and trainer of Arabian

horses, he took me into a round barn,

told me to stand quietly against the

wall as he worked the paces and turns

of a young horse. It was a truly sublime

and beautiful moment to see this man

and magnificent horse communicate

so effectively in a language that ap-

proached something mystical.

It takes tremendous athletic balance

and intellectual poise to ride a horse, a

creature that is both extremely power-

ful and remarkably gentle. While I

couldn’t achieve that myself in exactly

the same way, I can take its example

and use it to explain a college’s purpose,

in making clear how we want all our

students to turn out, bringing gentle-

ness out of power, equilibrium out

of speed. Socrates once had a student

who wrote knowingly about horses. He

maintained that in looking at a horse,

the key is to pay attention to the feet.

And in the liberal arts, too, the show is

never the same as knowing the source.


I have witnessed

in my barn tours

a way for students to be

emotionally connected

to an activity

without being

foolishly emotional.