Gilbert Highet
A WORD OF THANKS and praise for the elegant remembrance of Gilbert Highet, my old Latin teacher. Of the many memories I have of Columbia, his remains one of the brightest. Robert Ball did an excellent job of capturing the sweep and breadth of his learning and achievement, as well as the warmth of his personality and the dynamic style of his teaching.

“Your mothers will grow mustaches before I leave this building by a window,” was, I believe, the exact quote Highet gave the occupying students barricading Philosophy Hall in 1968. He overawed them by sheer presence. They opened the door and let him walk out, while other teachers had to let themselves out via the windows.

He could be exceptionally kind to students. When I was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1972, when it was already clear we were losing the Vietnam War, Highet wrote me a friendly letter urging me to make the best of it and maximize the experience. Later he sent me a first edition of his book of essays, Explorations, as “a slight alleviation of military boredom,”and I still have it. Beneath his dignified Scots exterior, he was an exceedingly kind man. He maintained a correspondence with me over the next two years, letters I treasured. I showed one of them, in which he described his visit to Hitler’s Fuehrerbunker beneath Berlin after the war, to a fellow soldier who had never been to college, and who read it raptly. “God, this guy just sees everything, doesn’t he?” he exclaimed in a Kentucky accent.

Moses Hadas passed away the summer before I came to Columbia, but Highet mentioned him affectionately in a tribute delivered during our freshman orientation week. Highet’s noontime lecture on the poet Robert Burns, given that winter, still lingers in memory. It was electrifying. He was more than a learned man. He was practically a hypnotist, and he cast a genial spell over every student he taught.

Thanks for recalling many fond memories!

—Michael C. Browning ’70C ’73GSAS

Note: Robert Ball ’71GSAS, author of “Gilbert Highet and Classics at Columbia,” studied with Highet in the sixties, not the fifties, as stated in the introduction to the article. Highet retired in 1972.

I WAS ONE OF THOSE who passed through Moses Hadas’s Humanities A1 section, and the experience remains vivid.

Early in the semester—we were reading Homer—an off-color witticism from MH brought snickering and guffaws. He drew himself up, feigned outrage, and with a smile called out, “Ribald band of youths!”

I’d never heard a teacher talk like that. It set the tone for the rest of the course: we had so much fun and learned so much. . . .

He was a wonderful teacher and a most kindly man.

—Raymond Shapiro ’48C ’50GSAS

Moses Hadas '30GSAS
I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED the “Living Legacy” article “The Many Lives of Moses Hadas” in your Fall 2001 issue. It had a great deal of personal meaning for me.

I attended Columbia in the professional option program; i.e., three years in the College and two years in the Engineering School. This, combined with my obligation to take NROTC courses, meant that I had little room in my program for elective courses.

As a result, I realized at the end of my sophomore year that I had taken little advantage of the great teachers and scholars on the Columbia faculty. Since I needed to complete my Humanities requirement in the next semester, I decided to visit Professor Hadas in his office and request admission to his section. I told him about my situation and he granted the request. His course turned out to be my most memorable Columbia experience.

I always wondered why Professor Hadas had granted my request. Perhaps it had something to do with his “appetite for admiration” mentioned in the article. Some may have found this characteristic disconcerting but it may have redounded in great benefit to me.

As a member of the Columbia Alumni Representative Committee, I always tell my Hadas story to applicants at the end of their interviews. The point I make is that they should seek out the great teachers at whichever school they attend.  

—Richard E. Kameros ’54C ’55E

I WAS DELIGHTED TO READ Rachel Hadas’s piece on her father, Professor Moses Hadas. It was my good fortune to take several of Dr. Hadas’s courses nearly fifty years ago. They were not only occasions for joy but also—because of his incisive commentary on the art of narrative in classical times—they had a powerful effect on my life, since I went on to become a novelist and short-story writer, and much of what I know about the technique of story construction derives directly from the readings in Homer and Sophocles that I did under Dr. Hadas’s guidance.

It happens that I briefly dated, just before I entered Columbia in the fall of 1952, Dr. Hadas’s niece. I learned of this when I encountered a distinguished-looking bearded man at her apartment. “This is my Uncle Moses,” she said, and Uncle Moses greeted me gracefully with a pleasant quip or two. Imagine my astonishment a few weeks later, when my first semester at Columbia began, to discover that “Uncle Moses” was none other than the famed Moses Hadas, and that I was going to be granted the rare privilege of having so significant a scholar as my teacher for freshman humanities! It was an extraordinary and unforgettable experience.

—Robert Silverberg ’52C

Note: Silverberg has won three Hugo awards and five Nebula awards for his science fiction.

André F. Cournand '65HON
MY FATHER, André Frédéric Cournand, loved sports and believed very passionately in the virtues of the team spirit, which was an essential element in the great productivity and success of Bellevue’s cardiopulmonary lab. During his boyhood he was an avid soccer player and later accompanied his father, a fervent mountain climber, on many challenging climbs in the Alps. Flying over the Alps with him forty years later, I can still remember him looking out the window, exclaiming, “I climbed this peak . . . in 1924! And this one . . . in 1926!” And so on. He was also a seeded tennis player and enjoyed all forms of athletics. (He was not, by the way, “stocky,” as the article describes him, but of medium height and build, with very strong arms.)

He also loved and admired the game of baseball. For this reason I particularly enjoyed seeing his picture beside Lou Gehrig’s, and am sure he would have been delighted and honored by the juxtaposition. At the end of World War I, while still in the trenches, he had been fascinated by the sight of two American soldiers pitching and catching a ball for hours on end and resolved to find out what this mysterious game was about. After he arrived in New York in 1929, and before my mother joined him, he spent many Sunday afternoons at Yankee Stadium and saw Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth in their prime. Even after his work took over his life, he would take his daughters to Yankee games two or three times a year and was always busy scribbling in his scorecard. He thought baseball was a superb game, understood nearly all its rules (I’ve been told that no one can possibly know them all), and described it to me as “supremely scientific and supremely athletic!”

I congratulate you for a very fine, interesting, and original issue of the magazine.

—Marie-Claire Cournand

Eddie Collins '07C
I ENJOYED THE ARTICLE by Ray Robinson on Lou Gehrig, and I’d like to add a useful note: Lou Gehrig is one of two Columbia College players in the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown: no other Ivy League University has two. The other is Eddie Collins, who was part of Connie Mack’s “hundred-thousand-dollar infield.” Collins also played for the Chicago White Sox (but he wasn’t part of the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal, unlike his teammate Shoeless Joe Jackson).

—Ned Hastings ’41L

Note: Eddie Collins was the starting second baseman for the Philadelphia Athletics, a key facet of manager Connie Mack’s famed infield along with Jack Barry at shortstop, Stuffy McInnis at first, and Frank Baker at third.

Collins played for the Chicago White Sox from 1915 to 1926. He was in the lineup during the infamous 1919 World Series, after which eight of his teammates were banned from the league for allegedly throwing the series in favor of the Cincinnati Reds.

The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig MDA/ALS Center

Following up on the Fall 2001 “Living Legacies” article “Lou Gehrig: Columbia Legend and American Hero” by Ray Robinson ’41C ’44L, Hiroshi Mitsumoto, M.D., professor of neurology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, points out that the baseball hero’s legacy at the University goes beyond his academic and athletic careers.

Mitsumoto directs The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig MDA/ALS Center, part of the Neurological Institute of New York at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. Since 1987, the Center has been providing comprehensive care for people with ALS, continuing the Neurological Institute’s distinguished history of ALS research and clinical work. The MDA/ALS (Muscular Dystrophy Association/Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Center offers one of the nation’s largest ALS care programs; each year more than 300 new patients benefit from the Center’s collaborative team—from neurologists, nurse practitioners, and physical therapists to psychiatrists, social workers, and nutritionists—all of whom work to address each individual’s full spectrum of needs in support of independence and quality of life. To learn more about the Center, call (212) 305-1319 or visit the Web site at www.columbiaALS.org.

PHOTO CREDITS
Hadas: Vytas Valaitis/Courtesy of Rachel Hadas. Highet, Cournand and Gehrig: University Archives—Columbiana Library, Columbia University. Collins: Bettman/Corbis.