Thomas Way’s tribute to Miss Mary Sweet (winter 2005) brought many memories to new life.
I too respected Miss Sweet, under whom I studied modern drama. I respected her not so much for the red marks as for her deep love for the subject, and her ability to make modern drama both understandable and memorable. Ibsen, Rostand and Arthur Miller took their place in my psyche, along with many unforgettable lines from their works. Miss Sweet did not try to be nice, but how she could teach!
By the way, I was one big step ahead of Mr. Way: I was in the first English 131A class (Fall 1949) under Dr. E.S. Clifton, who knew and beautifully explained the power and pleasure of good grammar.
UNT (then NTSC) was good to me.
Jim Johns (’53)
What a memory Thomas Way brought forth. Yes, Miss Mary Sweet had a lasting influence on my life. In 1939-40 when England was threatened and Dunkirk was a news item, I sat in the lady’s class. She had studied in England and was particularly touched by the threat — and she nailed us to our seats with her passionate outpouring for the English people and their struggle.
Then, she had emergency surgery and left us to the whims of a substitute. Having been brought up to take flowers to the ill, a friend and I sent her a floral gift to the hospital. When she returned, she informed the class she had received several nice “bouquets,” but she would consider the sender after the grades were given out. Ouch.
I did learn from her, though. And now, some 65 years later, I still am trying to pass on that love of the language and the correct usage she drilled into me. God bless you, Mary Sweet.
Jackye Anderson Plummer (’42)
Linda and Fred
As I am always interested to know about friends from North Texas, it was a pleasant surprise to see and read the article about Linda Wicker Lackey (winter 2005).
In the early ’60s, my wife and I attended a Fred Waring concert in San Jose, Calif., where I was stationed during my military days. Following the performance, we visited with Linda backstage and enjoyed her friendliness and graciousness. Although she did not know me very well at the time, it was nice to see a familiar face.
Thanks for the update on her career and life.
John Nichols (’61)
The Green Fuse
The recognition of Alan Lee Birkelbach for his poetry (winter 2005) comes as no surprise to me. In 1977, the campus literary magazine then known as The Green Fuse almost wasn't published due to lack of funding.
A group of students led by Dorothy Damico raised the money privately necessary to put out a limited edition. A major donation by Professor Rick Sale put enough money in the pot to publish a few hundred copies. It was known as The Shadow of the Green Fuse, and was published in the spring of 1977. The Shadow featured two poems by new Texas Poet Laureate Alan Lee Birkelbach, named "Lines Upon a Tranquil Page Whose Name I Can't Remember" and "Jonah."
The following year, a major effort was undertaken to secure funding from the Student Service Fund for The Green Fuse, and an official publication came out in the spring of 1978, also featuring a poem by Birkelbach named "Stoutheart." In going back and reading these poems from his North Texas days, I am struck by the similarity in voice to the poems featured on the The North Texan web page.
Congratulations, Alan Lee. Keep writing.
Douglas Ray (’76, ’78 M.A.)
Every time I read a story about the UNT Eagle (“ The first flight,” winter 2005), my memory automatically harks back to the era when Hayden Fry was the head football coach. It was somebody’s misguided brainstorm to redesign the Eagle in a sort of modernistic way, and to change the dark green of the uniform colors to a sort of limey chartreuse. The logo quickly became known as “the flying worm,” because that’s what it looked like.
As for the new shade of green, well, I clearly remember one of my all-time favorite headlines in The North Texas Daily. The story was a pre-season “dope” story that told about the new color and evaluated the team as not being quite as strong, especially defensively, as in previous years. The head said: How mean slime green?
The name of the headline writer long ago slipped from my memory, but he or she probably got an “A” in editing lab that day.
UNT “head flack,” 1966-1968
UNT journalism faculty, 1972-1997
The common good
I struggle over the best way to describe my disappointment upon reading the back cover of the fall 2005 issue. (It shows a photograph of a hand-made sign held up by a faceless person against the backdrop of downtown Dallas' high-rise office buildings. The sign reads, "Homeless Please Help Thank You!" The photograph is then superimposed with writing intended to mimic the hand-written, cardboard sign, saying "Ideas with Economic Impact.")
These past 30 years I have used some of the basics of the discipline of political philosophy, as taught to me by Martin Yaffe, each and every day. One of these, as I recall it, is that the objective of politics is to organize a body of people so that the highest good for the most people is achieved — the highest common good.
The very meaning of the word “economics” is rooted in Greek, having to do with the organization of the household, the household being the basic unit of a body politic. How then, can UNT use “the homeless” to advertise economic development and research? What is the effect of Dallas’ homeless population on the downtown district? Economics is far more than abstract finances. What, in the name of all things good, is the effect of homelessness on flesh and blood people who are homeless? People with potential unrealized?
A far more essential question is, what is the effect of economic development and research on the homeless in Dallas? What has it done to promote solutions to end homelessness? I am, it must also be said, a 22-year veteran of commercial real estate in Dallas, working as a tenant representative in the suburbs north and south, as well as in the Central Business District. (I have heard the fears, seen the people whom many wish to be unseen, and have dared to ask for empathy from my clients.)
For most of the ’80s and well into the ’90s, I was involved in grass-roots efforts working side-by-side with people to help them help themselves out of poverty. During those years, many low-rent housing projects were closed, while not even one living unit was built for every two closed (1981-1994).
Throughout our society we have lost the ideal of the common good. We decide not to strengthen old, weakened levees on the Mississippi River because the statisticians determine that the chances the levees will be breached is too slim to justify the cost. Who is paying now? And how much?
Well, folks, let me close by reminding us all that politics, indeed government, is about serving the highest common good, not the highest return on investment. The lifeblood of a university is to provide a forum for the lively debate on what is the highest common good, and hopefully, not simply what is the highest return on investment.
Myra Maher (attended 1975-1977)
Vice president, Equis Corp.
As a former Campus Chat writer and editor of Southwestern Bell’s Scene Magazine, a four-color monthly, I appreciate good journalism. Your fall copy of The North Texan is a gem. I admit that the Pepper Lady did a lot to bias me toward the publication, but the layouts, writing, typography and photos throughout the book are outstanding. The pictures are fresh, colorful and creative. What a great cover!
Norm Baxter (’60)
News in Iraq
When I was deployed to Iraq, I enjoyed getting news from UNT. I received the North Texas Insider (e-mail newsletter) from the president, and my wife sent me The North Texan. It was great hearing about all that is going on at UNT. Keep up the good work.
Daryl Stapper (’84)