Ferry House

Dakota Kim ’02 has written about Ferry House (“Our House is Bauhaus,” VQ Winter 2006) with such loving care that I hope she will welcome a correction. She explains the closing of the cooperative Palmer House in 1947 with the statement, “...geographically isolated as they were, Palmer students felt a lack of participation in college activities.”

Nothing could be farther from the truth. During my year in Palmer House, 1946–47, three of us housemates were elected to head major campus organizations — College Government Association, Polit, and Community Church. It was, in fact, our intense participation in both campus activities and off-campus politics, at the time of a red scare sweeping college campuses, which sealed our dormitory’s doom.

In our supplicant meetings with them, the trustees stood firm in their decision to close Palmer House, but they did promise a new cooperative house and even asked what features we would include in the new plan. We emphasized a domestic layout that made private rooms accessible only through a shared social space, a living room, convinced that the Palmer plan might have prevented a recent suicide in another building.

Imagine my disappointment when I finally stepped across the threshold of the new Ferry House and was forced to choose: left to the social rooms or right to the dormitories. While I can admire Breuer’s modernist massing and detailing, I will always regard his layout as a lesson lost.

Barbara (Bibs) Muhs Walker ’48
Ossining, New York

Quarterly Design

The Fall 2006 issue of the Quarterly was a pleasure to read because it contained six white pages of text, four that were pale green and one pale gray, and despite the thin typeface, the words on these pages were accessible. No bright, obscuring colors or fancy overlays to strain the eyes! I hope this is the start of a trend.

I really do want to read about the Vassar community of today, but so often will lay aside an issue of the Quarterly after scanning hard-to-read pages and miss something of true personal interest. If you were to adopt darker print and white text pages, saving the color for side bars and photos, I think you would significantly increase your readership in every cohort, not just the World War II generation.

Eleanor Stoddard ’42
Chevy Chase, Maryland


The winter 2006 alumnae/i quarterly is the best you’ve ever published — superb on all counts.

Nancy Smith Breckenridge ’29
Castle Rock, Colorado

Mystery Person

The Vassar Quarterly came today and on page 24 [Winter 2006 Vassar Yesterday] is an unnamed Daisy Chainer. She sure looks like Irma Kempel to me. She’s the class of 1963 and lived in Joss, as did I.

Jennifer Rodman Dawson ’64
Salt Lake City, Utah

I imagine you have already heard from many graduates about the identity of the young lady on page 24 of the Winter Quarterly. In case you haven't I am fairly sure that she is Irma Kempel, '63. I was her House Fellow in Josselyn starting in 1958 and remember her well. I thought your Winter issue was one of your best.

Henry Albers, professor emeritus of astronomy
Fairhope, Alabama

[Editor’s Note: Sally Page Herrick ’63 also recognized Irma Kempel as her fellow Daisy Chainer.]

In Memoriam: Charles Tamez '95

Charles Tamez ’95 was a great friend and exceptional person. Charles was smart, intensely loyal, and uniquely fun. Our senior year, when five of us shared a TH, was one of the best years of our lives.

The Vassar classes of ’94, ’95, and ’96 all remember Charles as a tireless socialite and advocate for positive change through his leadership at BiGALA and Poder Latino. Everybody knew Charles and most were positively affected by Charles one way or another during their years at Vassar.

Unknown to many at Vassar, Charles was raised by a single mother and was the first person in his family to go to college. With his Vassar degree, he could have done anything. Instead, Charles consciously decided to dedicate his life to helping others through his work empowering troubled teens at Anytown and in recent years with the League of United Latin American Citizens lobbying on behalf of education policy reforms to benefit Latinos.

We are honoring Charles’ memory and important legacy of helping others in two important ways. First, a permanent physical memorial will be laid at a Chinese Chestnut tree outside Main Building on May 5 (Founder’s Day). All are welcome to the memorial service.

We are also working to raise $100,000 to endow a scholarship permanently at Vassar in Charles’ name. To date, over $11,000 has been raised, and donations of any amount are welcome. Your donation of $100, $200, or even $500 over the course of the next two years will really make a difference. Please specify the Charles Tamez Memorial Scholarship or IMO Charles Tamez when donating via the Vassar website, telephone, or by mail (Box 725, Development Office, Vassar College, 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604). If we do not reach the endowment minimum of $100,000, the money will be used to fund an expendable scholarship to memorialize Charles.

Please feel free to contact Sean at sean_sacks@hotmail.com or Adam at adsawyer2001@ya­hoo.com with any questions on the memorial service or the Charles Tamez Memorial Scholarship. Thank you for your support and thoughts.

Sean Sacks ’95
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Adam Sawyer ’95
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Eric McGlinchey ’95
Fairfax, Virginia

Jonah Shaw ’95
Delhi, New York

Memories of Vassar's Notable Entertainers

Perhaps he would not be considered an “entertainer,” but I’ll never forget Rudolf Serkin playing in Students’ in the early ’50s. It was my first exposure to a world-class pianist, and I was totally enthralled, hanging over the balcony and loving every note. We were all so grateful that he had been invited to play, and it was beyond thrilling!

Helen (Mimi) Mills Allen ’53
South Dartmouth, Massachusetts

I was a member of the student Entertainment Committee for the Squeeze and (blech) Flock of Seagulls concert that you mention in the winter VQ, but the most notable entertainment event I remember is the day that Dizzy Gillespie just turned up at Skinner. It was a great show, but there was no previous announcement, and it was FREE!! — one of those intangibles that makes a Vassar education so unique and special.

Andrew Miller ‘84
Needham, Massachusetts

You’ve asked about notable “entertainers” who appeared at Vassar. I have a memory of a 1973-or-so appearance by the great jazz pianist Bill Evans with his trio, including bassist Eddie Gomez, in Skinner Hall. Given my newfound interest in jazz, I convinced about six friends to go, somewhat against their will. At intermission they decided they’d had enough of “cocktail music,” and it was time to head out for some real entertainment. I think I stayed for the second-half on my own. But it may be that I’d like to think I did.

Lawrence Vogel ’75
West Hartford, Connecticut

Bonnie Raitt playing in the chapel back when I was a freshman? sophomore? 1973ish. She was of course fabulous, but particularly fun were her memories of attending Poughkeepsie Day School, which used to be on the other side of Skinner.

Deborah Heller Bacon Nelson ’75
Hanover, New Hampshire

Woodstock and long sets at Winterland were still fresh in public memory and, for some, in personal experience when Duke Ellington came to Vassar. On a February night in 1974, students, many of whom had passed on their own senior proms, put on tuxedos and thrift shop couture, stood for formal pictures, and jitterbugged along a fine edge between irony and unattenuated joy.

Other campus events of that era remain rich in memory, but none tops the night the A Train pulled into Vassar station.

W. David Winsper ’75
Holyoke, Massachusetts

Perhaps the single most poignant performance I witnessed wasn’t on stage but rather after a fantastic concert by the Violent Femmes. We were hanging out in the green room (the upstairs weight room at the Walker Field House), where lead singer Gordon Gano was paid a visit by his mother and his brother. I watched Gordon squirm as his brother mocked his fame. I gleaned that the two siblings hadn’t seen each other in a while and the brother was rather jealous of Gordon’s success. The brother chided and scoffed at the band, the performance, and Gordon himself. Gordon tried his best to keep a positive spin on the encounter and be a good son in front of his awkward mother. Gordon’s charisma could only last so long under the fraternal berating. He ultimately excused himself and a sadness lingered. It was the first time I personally witnessed a “star” in all his humanity. The encounter became a powerful lesson to a sheltered kid from Staten Island that no matter how talented or successful an entertainer could be, at the end of the day, fame and fortune were meaningless in the face of family dysfunction.

Edward Gamarra ‘94
Los Angeles, California

I remember comedians Denis Leary, Jon Stewart (long before The Daily Show). Memorable concerts included Tribe Called Quest, Belly (I think), Bim Skala Bim/Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Billy Bragg, Bob Mould, Blues Traveler. Wish I could remember more!

Melita Mullen Schuessler '94
Madison, Wisconsin

I am responding to a call for remembrance of notable entertainers who have performed at Vassar in the past (p. 5 of Winter issue on ViCE). Two come to mind: Jeffrey Gaines, who performed on the lawn (near Sunset Lake??), and Ani Di Franco, in the Villard Room. I bought Jeffrey's CD as a result and like his music very much. Seeing Ani in an intimate setting like that was great — my first introduction to her. I know there were lots of other great offerings, but those two stand out.

Rebecca Kranz Friedman '95
Metuchen, New Jersey