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Pitt Magazine
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Family Ties

I am the granddaughter of Margaret Stein Fetterman and the great-niece of Stella Stein. I loved the cover and article about their accomplishments at the University (Summer ’07). May I get more copies of the magazine? I would love to share them with my family.
Ruthanne F. Bauerle
Business ’79G
Pittsburgh, Pa.

That Face

The summer edition of Pitt Magazine caught my eye instantly. What a joy! I knew the face immediately—that of my 10th-grade geometry teacher at Pittsburgh’s South High School in 1938, none other than Miss Stein. She was everything a student could hope for: Kind, intelligent, wise, and inspiring were just a few of her attributes. To see her beautiful face on the magazine’s cover brought back many memories. Thank you!

Matilda (Papuga) Larson
Education ’44
Port Angeles, Wash.

Vintage Pitt

I saw the Stein sisters story in your summer issue and wanted you to know about another valedictorian of that era. My grandfather, William Stansbury Plotner, attended the Western Pennsylvania Medical College, when Pitt was called the Western University of Pennsylania. He graduated as first in his class and valedictorian in 1888, 10 years before the Stein sisters received their undergraduate degrees from Pitt. He went on to become, as noted in his 1909 obituary, “one of the prominent physicians and surgeons of East Pittsburgh.” As his granddaughter and a Pitt graduate, I’m pleased to share his story as part of the University’s “Big 220.”

Lois Plotner Williams
General Studies ’74
Monroeville, Pa.

More, More, More

Regarding last issue’s story, “The Big 220,” I recognize there is no way you could cover all of the highlights of Pitt’s history. You did indicate the great gridiron powerhouses of the 1970s but did not mention those of the ’20s and ’30s under John B. (“Jock”) Sutherland, for whom a drive on the Pitt campus is named, nor those of the 1950s and ’60s under his protege John Michelosen.

Murray Tucker
Arts and Sciences ’67G
Steamboat Springs, Colo.


I don’t know how Pitt Magazine finds me! From Coraopolis to Pittsburgh to Denver to Bowie, Md., and for the past 21 years, in Washington, D.C.—and that’s saying nothing of my name change from Green to Breslaw. I just want to say that I’ll always remember Pitt. I boarded at a home in Squirrel Hill, worked my way through Pitt by selling shoes at Gimbels, and graduated after five years. My degree enabled me to become a copywriter. I enjoy the magazine very much, and I show everyone a picture of my alma mater. My grandchildren are astounded.

Dolores J. Breslaw
Business ’48
Washington, D.C.

What a Circus

The fantastic Sketchbook article on Ben Sota and the Zany Umbrella Circus couldn’t have been better timed. Our Pitt Magazine came when we learned that the circus would be performing for the children at our very own elementary school in a few days! Now, the kids can’t stop talking about Ben’s frozen-bubble juggling and stories about his grandfather. Thanks for giving us the heads-up on this strong Pitt talent, who we were honored to have in our humble town.

Christine Cavalier-Purpura
Arts and Sciences ’93
Havertown, Pa.

The Real Thing

I want to correct an item in the summer 2007 issue of Pitt Magazine. On page 26, there is a caption for the Langley Aerodrome that states, “A replica of Langley’s craft hangs in Posvar Hall.” The Langley Aerodrome on display is not a replica, but the actual Aerodrome No. 6 dating from 1896. As one of two Pitt engineering students who restored the Aerodrome, I can testify that the fabric on the wings and tail is the only “new” material on the vehicle. The tail was not available and had to be built, but the wood for it and for several repairs to the wing ribs were provided by the Smithsonian Institution and date from the same time period. Aerodrome No. 5 (the first heavier-than-air craft to fly) is in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Al Goetz
Engineering ’81
Xenia, Ohio


Your summer issue notes the accomplishments of former Pitt professor Samuel Langley and draws a comparison of the flight of Aerodrome No. 5 on May 6, 1896, with the Wright brothers’ manned flight of Dec. 17, 1903. Langley’s mark in the history of science is indelible. However, it is misleading to compare the unmanned and uncontrolled flight of Aerodrome No. 5 with the Wright brothers’ achievement of manned, controlled, powered flight at Kitty Hawk. Langley’s research was widely supported by Richard Rathbun of the Smithsonian Institution, Alexander Graham Bell, and the wealthy railroad magnate William Thaw, among others. The fact that the Wright brothers succeeded in their efforts despite a nearly total lack of financial and technical support from the outside world makes their achievement even more remarkable.

David Rathbun
Arts and Sciences ’73
Fairfax, Va.

P.S. On page 37 of the same issue, there was a curious picture of some Pitt students locked in a jail cell or animal cage. I was surprised to see my image in the back row! I have no memory of the has been said before, “if you remember the ’60s, you probably weren’t there!” I guess the same can be said of the early ’70s. Because I retired from a successful career in law enforcement, the circumstances must not have been too serious.

Zoo Days

Thanks to all those who responded to last issue’s Homecoming photo.

Here are some of the replies. In 1973, the brothers of Sigma Chi were, indeed, wild ones—at least in this pose.

One reader suggested a photo caption: Zookeeper, lock the door!

The photo is of a fundraising stunt at the Highland Park Zoo during Homecoming. The students were locked up to raise money for charity. I believe that is my old friend Grant Brown, center top, in the light coat.

Bob Jones
EDUC ’72
Chevy Chase, Md.

The photo on page 37 is a Homecoming picture that includes me and some of my fraternity brothers. What people probably don’t realize when looking at this picture is that we were behind bars not to keep us from getting out, but to keep the girls from getting to us. I mean, look at us! Me personally, I wish I still had the hair I had then.

Greg Rodgers
Arts and Sciences ’72
Pittsburgh, Pa.

While thumbing through the magazine, what should I stumble upon but a page full of memories. On page 37, I noticed, at first glance, a “somewhat” familiar face. Right in the middle, looking like someone out of the J. Geils Band, stood Bob Smoko, familiar hat, goatee, and grin. Then I looked at some of the other faces and realized—I know these guys! And, yes, they belong behind bars. There, right in front of my eyes, were 19 of my fraternity brothers—the brothers of Sigma Chi—in what must have been the late fall of 1973 (note the jackets and the hands in the pockets to keep warm). “Where were you, Dad?,” asked one of my daughters. My reply: “Honey, I am sure I was studying that weekend.” Thanks for the memories.

Jim Howell
Arts and Sciences ’74
Laurel, Md.

The photo is of the brothers of Sigma Chi fraternity in yet another one of the unusual locations they used for their Owl yearbook photo, namely the Highland Park Zoo. Others included a Depression-era-type soup line outside the Oakland “O” and a toga-clad “Greek assembly” in the antiquity hall of the Carnegie. I will spare divulging the names of some of the participants in the “Animal House” photo; needless to say, it included a number of then-campus leaders and varsity athletes. I graduated five years earlier so, thankfully, am not in the picture.

Mike Bryson
University of Pittsburgh Trustee
Arts and Sciences ’68
Sewickley, Pa.


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