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Letters to the editor

Rosie and Ann

Describing Autism

In the fall issue of the University of New Hampshire Magazine, an article ("Rings Around Rosie") gives credit to Leo Kanner for the description of autism. It should be noted that the condition was also described by Hans Asperaer in Vienna at about the same time. The interesting thing is that independently both men used the same term, autism, to describe the condition.

David C. Young, M.D. '48
Zihuatanejo, Mexico

A Good Year

I threw it away--tossed it in the trash--as I do with so much of what arrives in my rural mailbox. We consider all this stuff a major addition to our winter's heating cache. Something, though, made me retrieve your Fall 2000 issue of UNH Magazine. Its colors? Graphics? Topics? Don't know. But grab it I did, and I've read about every page. Such interesting articles! Writing with real appeal and accompanying images with meaning. How could I have ignored your absorbing commentary all these years?

After all, UNH has kept track of me all this time! Don't know why. I've never responded. I've barely read any UNH news since I spent my freshman year on campus, living in Congreve North and following freshman regulations as interpreted by Miss Phipps. It was a good year at UNH, but my only year there. I transferred to another school and a year after that dropped all academic efforts. Eventually, I did get back to university study and completed a B.S., M.Ed. and Ph.D. over the period of a decade. After all, who wants to be a college dropout more than once?

Yes, my year at UNH was indeed good. I take pride when I tell folks I went there. I am saddened to learn of the death of Jane Harrer Ritchie '48. She photographed me for a photo course project back in '45-46. My family treasures that picture. Yes, she was lovely. I picked up an occasional familiar name as I continued to read. And I recollected: Durham was where I learned to drink hot coffee. Had to do something to combat the chill after ice skating! And what was the name of the building that was host to the largest living cockroaches I had ever seen? Seems I was taking a biology course, but these critters were on the loose, not part of a lab exhibit!

Marcia Brown Crosman Bepler
Port Matilda, Penn.

Cheers for the Boy Scouts

I was surprised and disappointed to see that the editorial staff of the UNH Magazine felt that Matthew Chagnon's comment concerning his rejection of the Boy Scouts was "Worth Repeating" (Fall '00). Knocking another group rarely brings credit to the critic (or to those who repeat it).

With both of my sons being Eagle Scouts, and having just completed my 32nd year as an adult Scouter, I am very much aware that the Boy Scouts cannot meet all of the needs of each of its members and that this may cause them to leave the organization. However, I am not aware of any other group that has done more over the past 90 years to help youths prepare for meaningful lives as adults.

It's too bad that Chagnon only gave the Boy Scouts one week to work with him before he quit. But he must have had a better experience elsewhere that helped him win the Teaching Excellence Award at UNH.

Thomas Fonda '58G
State College, Penn.

Editor's Note: Neither professor Matt Chagnon nor the editors intended any criticism of the Boy Scouts. Chagnon is known around the university for being ultra-prepared for anything, and the reference to the Scouts was merely intended to demonstrate this.

Veterans on Campus

Reading the column "Johnny Came Marching Home" (Spring '00) brought back a flood of memories about what Durham was like right after World War II. It was my good fortune to be able to return to UNH in February 1946 for the second semester while assigned to Cushing Army Hospital in Framingham, Mass. I was undergoing a series of surgeries, and there was a period of five months before the surgeons could operate on my arm, which was injured by shrapnel during an air raid on Roverto, Italy, in November 1945.

Many GIs returned that semester. All of us were eager to get our degrees, get jobs and get on with our lives.

One event stands out vividly in my mind. I had registered for Biochem 4, animal nutrition, with professor Stanley Shimer. The home ec students had just finished introductory biochem, and he just continued on where they had left off. His lecture was about long-chain carbon compounds, and near the end of the lecture the GIs, almost as a group, started to laugh. We didn't understand a thing he was lecturing about. Professor Shimer never missed a beat. "I know what you are laughing about, and you gentlemen stay after class." We did. In a few special night classes, he brought us up to date on the material we had missed. He was later chosen as professor of the year for the College of Agriculture.

Before the veterans got back, there were very few men on campus, but with the return of service people, that all changed. It's hard to believe how crowded the classes were, and UNH tried to increase the staff to keep up with the higher enrollments. Construction of new buildings also went into high gear. In 1945-1946, College Road developed. On the campus side were single-story apartments for married GIs with no children. On the other side were two-story buildings with apartments for families.

In the spring of 1946, I lived with geology professor Ralph Meyers' family. I was getting married that summer, and I planned to move into an apartment Perley Fitts '20 was building over his garage on Edgewood Road Extension. It wasn't ready when the fall semester started, so my wife and I lived with the Meyers family until it was completed. The rent for the apartment on Edgewood was $50 a month and included heat, water and electricity. Automobiles were scarce on campus from '41 to '45. After industry returned to making cars and working people could again buy them, secondhand cars became too common, as there weren't enough parking spaces. Sound familiar?

Students didn't have much ready cash after the war. Many of the male students had jobs at UNH. The pay at "The Commons" was 30 cents an hour. This money was needed for essentials such as books and supplies. It wasn't uncommon for men to have only small change in their pockets most of the time. The GI Bill and the stipend it provided for veterans changed all that.

Gerald L. Smith '48
Durham, N.H.

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