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Dan Alexander, Alum
School of Engineering and Applied Science 1972

Some of you will remember Sam. When I arrived at Columbia after the spring 1970 riots, he was sitting on Low Library steps or at the Broadway Gate selling his color abstracts. They were always of fanciful otherworldly creatures brought to life with magic marker. Sam was not a normal person.

I had come to Columbia from a small college in the wheat fields of Walla Walla, Washington. And there were a lot of "Sams" here. Columbia was a reflection of the city; cosmopolitan, exciting, never stopping activity, full of abnormal people. I took a contemporary culture course from Golding, an adjunct professor and music critic. He introduced us to Lenny Bruce, Charlie Byrd and many others I had never heard of.

My favorite place was off campus, a subway ride away. I liked to go to the Cloisters, especially on a warm day. The monastery was quiet, its stone walls and walkways respectful, not at all like the city. I think now that the contrast attracted me.

I graduated with a degree in Mining Engineering and left for the coal mines of West Virginia, where I have worked my whole career. Today I am a lecturer and working on my dissertation in Mining Engineering at WV University. Lately the media has been insistent for interviews, trying not to confuse the readers and listeners any more than they are already about why do we need to mine coal when we have electricity. Education and knowledge are wonderful things.

I am glad I passed through Columbia and the city.

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