University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 77, Number 2 (Jan. 1976)

Letters,   pp. 24-29

Page 24

Death and the November Cover
That did it! The cover of the November
issue is the worst thing I ever saw   * * *
Wisconsin Alumnus has no interest for
me at all. Please cancel my subscrip-
tion and I hope I won't ever live to see
another so-called picture like that.
Winifred Bartholf Bassett '19
Pacific Grove, Calif.
Quoting a famous writer is a cheap, but
honest, way to obtain attention. Hence,
J. B. Pfiesfley: "When I was young we
were just young, we weren't Youth."
I was just young when I attended the
University, a confession that locates me
in time as surely as the carbon-dating
system and also qualifies me to comment
on "Views of Death" in the issue of
November. You have heard from Pro-
fessors Schoville and Ammerman; now
hear from an ordinary B.A. before the
postal rates go up. The story is my
wife's and mine, the tale of our en-
counter with death (if he wants a capi-
tal "D," he'll have to put it in himself)
right on fabled Langdon street between
the YMCA and the Armory.
   (By the way, who is the lady on the
cover of the issue in question? Was
she from Onalaska?)
   A youth certainly not disdainful of
$20 a week pay, I had gleefully signed
on as an announcer at station WIBA
among the, tap dancers, magicians,
female impersonators and other misfits
who then plied the trade. It was not yet
the world's oldest profession, but a
profession must begin somewhere. And
in that spring of 1931, late in the
afternoon, I had announced on the air,
probably on the advice of the Capital
Times, owner of the station, that Profes-
sor William Ellery Leonard had drowned
in Lake Mendota.
   Finishing my shift, I telephoned the
 girl, the girl rather, to report the sad
 news, which she had already heard on
 her crystal receiver. We were both
 snapped back by the shock of the stark
 loss, by the unreasonableness of snatching
 a person of fame and superior scholar-
 ship from the campus midst. The girl
 and I joined in a dark and sorrowful
 mood to walk down Langdon street
 toward the Hill. Why did this happen?
 Death in the lake we loved? There-
 was no answer, no solace. We walked
 tightly close to each other. Before we
 cleared the iron railing in front of
 the Armory, there appeared from the
 blackness a tall and skinny man with
 white long hair, black-rimmed glasses on
 a wide black ribbon, flowing purple
 bow tie, head down and heading home.
 I1-plived on the east side of Murray
 street, a few doors from the lower
   The man was William Ellery Leonard,
 and he strode to the flat ground of the
 campus where he ice-skated in winter-
 time in solitary dignity.
   Risen from the water? The ghost of
 the professor? No.
   The next morning we learned that
 Professor S. A. Leonard of the Compara-
 tive Literature department had been the
 victim. The first newsflash had been
 incorrect. William Ellery Leonard, author
 of "Two Lives," "The Locomotive God"
 and "The Scansion of Middle English
 Alliterative Literature," must have been
 brooding over his colleague at the
 edge of the ebony water. Surely he
 taught us something about death, that
 it hurts young persons more cruelly
 than others.
   Well-as the comic says-I'd say
more, but you'd only laugh. In any
event, I'll see you all and the others
who have slickered death at the reunion
in 1979.
That woman on your cover. Wasn't
she Prom Queen the last time the event
was held in the State Capitol? Seems
she is wearing the same dress. And I pre-
sume the man married her for her
Bob De Haven '29
Get That Room
In a news release prepared for the
November 1975 issue of the Wisconsin
Alumnus we attempted to paint a picture
of 1976-77 UW housing prospects for
your son or daughter. While the picture
wasn't rosy, neither was it as bleak as
present circumstances indicate it soon
will be.
The number of 1976-77 housing applica-
tions received to date is running six weeks
ahead of 1975-76 levels. And we ended
1975-76 turning 1300 applicants away.
Our message is urgent:
1. If you're an out-of-state parent, have
   your son or daughter submit a housing
   application immediately. Residence hall
   space for out-of-state applicants is
   becoming critically tight.
 2. If you're an in-state parent, time and
   space are running out for Wisconsin
   applicants also. They have only until
   March 15 to qualify for Wisconsin
   resident housing priority under Regent
   regulation. After March 15 it will be
   extremely difficult to accommodate
 We're sending you this urgent message
 now because we hope that residence halls
 living will be a part of your son or
 daughter's total University experience.
 You can help make it so by sending
 their housing applications in today.
 Applications are available from the
 Assignment Office, Slichter Hall, 625
 Babcock Drive, Madison, 53706.
 Newell J. Smith
 Director of University Housing
 Rohde's Steak House and Trameri's
 bar don't "remain" on East Washington
 Avenue, as remembered by
 J. H. Foegen in "Coming Back"
 (Nov.) and overlooked by the editor.
 Instead, they're right where they've
always been, in the 600 block
on West Main.-Ed.
Xvuume 77, Number 1
Noveabez 1975
Views on Death

Go up to Top of Page