ARCHITECTURE | Exploring Don Hisaka

Hikasa_leadThe Owen D. Young Library at St. Lawrence University. The main wing, designed by Don Hisaka, was completed in 1980.

More than 30 years after it opened, the Owen D. Young Library at St. Lawrence University continues to be a polarizing building. Set amid a campus that developed in two bursts — the first between 1856 and 1915 and the second between 1925 and 1930 — the international-style, cement behemoth seems incongruous to many. Indeed, its brutalist exterior is a stark contrast to its gothic and neocolonial neighbors.

Once inside, though, one can realize that architect Don Hisaka wanted the library to complement its neighbors. Windows on the second floor frame terrific views of Richardson Hall, Gunnison Chapel and other older campus buildings. Hisaka also intended the building to stimulate — its original furnishings included a spectrum of primary colors. In the 1999-2000 renovation, those were replaced with more muted and earthy tones. Among the library’s other features are a massive indoor garden and raised study carrels known as treehouses.

While ODY can be interpreted to be severe and uninviting, Hisaka’s houses are charming. Based in Cleveland in the 1960s and 1970s and later in Massachusetts and California, Hisaka’s work pays heavy tribute to the international style. Again, though, I find his domestic work very approachable. Check out this house, built as a summer residence in Peninsula, Ohio, in 1965:


And this is the courtyard of Hisaka’s Shaker Heights home, built in the late 1960s:

More Hisaka here.

ESSAY | My Sept. 11

I wrote the following thinking I’d submit it to The Hill News, but I ultimately decided against it. My readers here may enjoy it:

By Ed Forbes ’02

St. Lawrence is not really fully in gear, in my experience, until noon and as news of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon broke, much of the campus was just waking up.

News organizations were still adjusting to the Internet and I recall most students following the story via television reports. My roommate, Matt Lavin ’02, and I were living in a suite with Tim Furnary ’03 and Leif Skodnick ’02. All of us were on The Hill News and I was the editor.

Lavin was watching “Today” when Matt Lauer broke away from an interview and footage of the Trade Center appeared at 8:51 a.m. I was in the shower and he shouted in that a prop plane had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Of course, it wasn’t a prop plane, it was American Airlines Flight 11. By 9:03, when United Flight 175 crashed into the south tower, it was clear what was happening.

We immediately tried calling Carl Juers ’99, a good friend who was working as a trader for CIBC on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Juers was based in the World Financial Center and so, too, was Skodnick’s father, Joel. Telecom infrastructure was swamped.

On campus, word of the attacks spread by word-of-mouth. Few Laurentians had cell phones in 2001 and, if they did, they didn’t work anyway. Students in 8:30 classes emerged from academic buildings to a landscape of rumor, hyperbole and fear.

Just as classes changed, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. I had left our room and had gone up to the Noble Center to see if any murmurings about canceling classes had been heard form Vilas. Craig Harris, a member of the Student Life staff, and I watched footage from Washington. Not long afterward, Lavin and I went to the President’s Office to see how St. Lawrence would handle the attacks. Classes went on; the University was to gather for a vigil at 8 p.m.

Counseling staff set up a center for students to grieve. At noon, the Bacheller Memorial Chime rang 12 times to honor the victims. The Rev. Kathleen Buckley, just arrived as University Chaplain, led her new flock through the evening service of compassion.

On Wednesday, Sept. 12, after having established that both Juers and Mr. Skodnick were safe — both had fled northward from Ground Zero and Juers had witnessed Flight 175’s impact and the horrific scene of bodies falling from both towers, we set about publishing The Hill News for Sept. 14.

Lavin wrote a main story that detailed the University’s reactions. We carried a two-page photo essay comprised of images taken our imcomparable photo editor Dustin Williamson ’02. Every member of the Editorial Board wrote his own editorial or column, which we published on pages 2 and 3. The big get, as it were, was an interview I did with Juers, who relayed his horrific experience. Further inside, we ran a list of alums who had reported themselves as safe in both Washington and New York.

We would know for sure that five Laurentians — Robert J. “Bobby” Coll, Catherine Gorayeb, Christopher Morrison, Michel A. “Mike” Pelletier and Richard H. “Richie” Stewart Jr. — until after the paper went to bed.

Steve Knight ’12, editor of The Hill News today, asked me earlier this week if I worried then or now about a ROTC ad that appeared in the Sept. 21, 2002 issue of the paper. At the time, The Hill News supported itself significantly on advertising revenue and ROTC was likely under contract before the attacks. Even so, “United We Stand” were the watchwords that week and really for the rest of the semester. Every student organization, it seemed, was doing something patriotic. American flags were everywhere. There was seemingly a genuine unity — among students, at least.

When my parents, northern New Jersey residents, came to campus at the end of the month for Parents’ Weekend, they were shell-shocked. Canton hadn’t received the full barrage of coverage that the metropolitan market had and my understanding of how badly the attacks had altered so many communities became instantly clearer.

As the fall wore on, my class made plans to erect a monument to the Laurentian victims of the attacks. Our foray into Afghanistan grew into a real war. Our coverage of these events was certainly green at times and maudlin at others. The opinion pages, in particular, grew crowded with debate about the war and American foreign policy.

When the spring semester opened, that debate continued in earnest. The government department sponsored a February panel that examined the media’s coverage of the attacks and the American response. Fred Exoo, John Collins and Karl Schonberg all shared memorable perspectives. Student sentiment against the war on terror began to grow and fully blossomed in the 2002-2003 year.

Vigorous conversation about the attacks and the American response went on to define a decade and a generation. Some Laurentians were called to national service while others gave themselves to activism. We should be glad of both.

As a journalist, Sept. 11 has been a constant. Over the last 10 years, I’ve had a hand in stories about troop deployments, peace vigils, soldiers’ funerals, charity events and tolerance. Even now, we at The Journal News are putting the finishing touches on a special section that includes vignettes about each of the 230 victims who had connections to Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.

It’s a story we’ll never stop covering.

LIVES | The Rev. Peter J. Gomes, 1942-2011

President William L. Fox ‘75 applauds as the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, rector of Memorial Church at Harvard, is hooded by University marshals Aileen O’Donoghue and J. Mark Erickson after receving an honorary doctor of divinity degree honoris causa at St. Lawrence University’s 150th Commencement in May 2010. Gomes died on Monday. Image taken by Tara Freeman, University Photographer.

The passage of the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, longtime Pusey Minister of Harvard’s Memorial Church and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at the School of Divinity, is worth noting here. Mrs. F. alerted me to his passage just after I arrived at work this morning. Gomes died Monday at Massachusetts General Hospital from complications of a stroke he suffered in December. He was 68.

Though neither of us are Harvard people, we shared a Laurentian affinity with Dr. Gomes, whom we met last spring when he was awarded an honorary degree at St. Lawrence’s 150th Commencement. As I noted on Facebook earlier today, Gomes delivered the finest speech I’ve heard at any of the dozen St. Lawrence commencements I’ve attended. His oratory, which drew simultaneously on his African-American roots and the best traditions of the English church, was remarkable. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., writing for The New Yorker today, likened Gomes’ style to Cotton Mather’s. Here’s a favorite passage from his delivery in Canton:

… I am obliged to say a few things to you. Otherwise, you wouldn’t think me worthy of the degree that has just been given me. And so, I have given some thought as to what to say to candidates for degrees on this very happy occasion. I love occasions like this. They remind those of us who live in the University, as I do, that there is a greater and a wider world out there. And from time to time we must go into it. This is the day in which you must go into it, for better or worse. I salute my colleagues in the faculty, for we don’t have to go anywhere. That is one of the glories of academia. …

You can download — and I strongly recommend you do download it — Gomes’ speech here.

Indeed, he was terribly stylish. All of us who attended last spring’s commencement remarked on his appearance — watch fobs, three-piece suits, circular, tortoise eyeglasses. Remarkable. He received his degree in Harvard’s crimson robe, a tailed Roman collar and a pinstripe suit.

But far more important than that, Gomes was substantive. He was a member of the sadly dying breed of flamboyantly brilliant American public intellectuals. He was deeply complicated. He made waves in the early 1990s when he came out of the closet. As a child, he was convinced that he was a descendant of the Pilgrims — much of his scholarship was devoted to the beginnings of Yankee culture. He was a staunch Republican who delivered the benediction at Ronald Reagan’s second inaugural but broke with his party late in life to support Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. And he believed the story of Christian faith was ever evolving.

I’ll leave you with this video, in which Gomes addresses the Kennedy School’s Center Public Leadership on the misuse of power by religious authority:

Here’s the Times obituary.

SKIING | Gone skijoring outside Saranac Lake

SkijoringYour writer and his hound, Kennedy, give skijoring a go a few miles from Saranac Lake on Sunday morning.

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. And in all the years I lived in the Adirondacks, I never gave it a go.

Skijoring, in which a nordic skier is pulled by a dog or horse, is not something I ever thought my hound, Kennedy, could handle. While he is a very fast runner, he’s led by his nose and he only weighs 35 pounds. But on Sunday, during a visit to Camp Mary, aka Mount Van Hann, a property outside Saranac Lake owned by our dear friends Molly and Steve Hann, we gave it a try.

Ken was up for the challenge.

Despite initially trying to play with Lola, the Hann’s English Setter, he eventually got the concept, if not the practice. That nose distracted him quite a few times. He was, after all, at home in his native Adirondacks and he loves to dive into deep snow piles.

By the time Steve yielded the harness to me, though, Ken had basically hit a stride, albeit a slow one as he was tiring out — 45 minutes of dashing around with a snowshoed Mrs. F. diminished his strength.

As you can see in the gallery below, the Hanns have developed a nice little network of loops. Steve, ever the man for a project, has purchased a 1979 SkiDoo Alpine and built a groomer. They’ve got a kilometer and a half of trail in total, all cleared and well marked.

Take a look:

SCENE | Saints v. Yale at the Whale

Saint goalie Matt Weninger turns back a Yale shot during a recent game at Ingalls Rink.

A recent Saturday night was spent in the company of some of our dearest Laurentian friends. A good group of us headed up I-95 to New Haven, where our Skating Saints were squaring off against the Bulldogs of Yale at Ingalls Rink.

Better known as the Whale for its striking and very unique appearance, Ingalls Rink was designed by Eero Saarinen and was constructed between 1953 and 1958. Like our own Appleton Arena, the Whale has a unique timber roof, whose curves are supported by a central concrete arch. The building was recently renovated and was sparkling on Saturday night. Particularly impressive were the distinctive banners, whose diagonal stripes were highlighted by the shields of each ECAC team. The game was less impressive; the Saints dropped a 4-1 decision to the Bulldogs, the No. 1 team in college hockey.

Prior to the game, St. Lawrence hosted a very nice dinner at the New Haven Lawn Club. In addition to cocktails and a decent buffet spread, the Alumni Association’s executive council sponsored a silent auction. I’m told it raised nearly $1,300.

Here’s a photo gallery:

SKIING | Young Reynolds mounts up

TJRThomas Reynolds tries out the sticks for the first time earlier this month.

Outdoor correspondent Steve Reynolds sent along this charming image of his son, Thomas, 1, on skis for the first time.

Skiing is an important component not only of Lake Placid culture but also in Reynolds culture. Steve was an All-American at St. Lawrence and we all have high hopes for the next generation.

BOOKS | ‘Two Dumb Ducks,’ Maxwell Eaton’s latest charmer

TwoDumbDucks“Two Dumb Ducks,” the latest from Maxwell Eaton III.

Noted children’s author, contributor and very good friend Maxwell Eaton III publishes his fourth book today.

“Two Dumb Ducks,” a Knopf title, introduces us to Steve and Carl, two entertaining foul who battle against the scourge of the seagull. Max and I have been corresponding about his new protagonists. Here’s a part of that conversation:

Q: A new book. Fantastic. Why ducks?

A: It was Two Dumb Crows for a good number of drafts until the alliteration gods cast their rays of inspiration upon this desert domicile, whereupon I changed the characters to long-billed dowitchers. Then Editorial had a suggestion.

Q: Steve and Carl. Any inspirations there?

A: There needs to be balance when writing and illustrating what might otherwise turn out to be cutesy. And nothing balances cutesy like “Steve” and “Carl.”

Q: A: And what about cans and socks? Cornelius? Zanzibar?

A: Cans and socks seemed like things ducks might come across when crossing the road from one side of a swamp to the other. And when it came to Carl’s sock friends, I suppose, in retrospect, Cornelius was a bit of a subconscious nod to a Wes Anderson flick. And Zanzibar, a nod to my East Africa aficionadic acquaintances.

Q: What about the gulls? Do you hate seagulls?

A: The trick is to pick unsympathetic antagonists. And hairless cats didn’t work in an aquatic setting.

Q: The book sends a strong anti-bullying message that very much connects to the conversation of the day. Obviously, you’re making a deliberate comment. Why?

A: The comment is more about how you chose to deal with problems and view solutions. When I was in elementary school the anti-bullying curriculum was fairly impractical. In fact, I’ve used it here as the backbone of Steve and Carl’s initial failed attempts. Ask the bully why they’re calling you dumb. Tell the bully to stop. If these work for you then great, but I want to show kids that it’s alright to deviate from the standard (and often useless) solutions and to adapt to the situation. If each bullying scenario (or any problem for that matter) if different, then each solution may have to be different. When (spoiler alert!) Steve and Carl wake up resembling muck monsters and the seagulls flee in terror, they realize that they’ve temporarily solved their problem. The seagulls aren’t really being hurt. And Steve and Carl aren’t directly threatening them. They just happened to be covered in pond scum. It’s completely passive. And, even better, it’s completely consistent with their own sense of fun and weirdness. Even if it didn’t discourage the seagulls, they’d probably still be playing in the mud. You’re talking about the same birds that are obsessed with aluminum cans and dirty socks. So I hope that readers experience “Two Dumb Ducks” not as a book about stopping bullies in their tracks, but as an example of how to go about dealing with unique challenges in creative ways that don’t hurt anyone and allow the individual to be true to him or herself.

Q: Who are you trying to reach? Are you hoping to maintain a relationship with your “Max and Pinky” readers? Are you hoping to attract new readers?

A: I think “Max and Pinky” Heads will appreciate Steve and Carl. And, of course, I would hope that some will discover the duck book only to be led back to the pig and the bald kid. But for a sappy instant I really do just want them to enjoy the story in front of them and not think about the collected works of the socially inept, marginally employable, consistantly disheveled author sitting at his desk drawing neckties on beavers.

Q: Tell me a bit about the book’s promotion. How can fans connect with you?

A: The best way to connect with an author is to write them a letter. Authors truly are attention starved creatures desperate to spend half a day or more responding to-, buying a stamp for-, and then mailing a letter in return. And if you think they’re the kind of author whose mail might be filtered by assistants or interns, simply mark the envelope “PERSONAL.” That works for congressmen, too. But, as far as promotion goes, keep your eyes peeled for further interviews and media of that nature.

Q: You’ve moved on from “Max and Pinky.” Will they ever ride again?

A: Max and Pinky have bogged themselves down with infighting and passive-aggressive displays of inter-agrarian one-upmanship. The sink is full of dishes. The barn is listing dangerously. And nobody has seen the horse, Chuck, since “The Incident.” For now, Max and Pinky are going to sit tight while a few other pairings hog some of the attention.

Q: What other projects are on the burner?

A: “The Flying Beaver Brothers” first and foremost. In a transparent attempt to stalk my first readers throughout their subliminally scarred lives (read The Mystery backwards in a mirror), I’ve upped my audience’s age bracket with a graphic novel series about two beavers (brothers, I believe) that surf, skateboard, and indulge in detrimental levels of napping. I’m hard at work on the first two stories as we speak and will have concrete release dates soon. But more on that later!

Eaton offers readers a chance to preview “Two Dumb Ducks” at

Eaton lives in Arizona with his wife, Kristin. He graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2004. We talked last year about his extensive creative process.

Contact your local bookseller to purchase a copy of “Two Dumb Ducks” today.

“Two Dumb Ducks”
Maxwell Eaton III
Alfred A. Knopf, Oct. 12, 2010
Hardcover, 32 pages

BELTS | Coming soon to a Brewer Bookstore near you

ScarletandBrownBeltKnot Belt Co.’s Scarlet and Brown belt, created exclusively for the St. Lawrence University Alumni Executive Council’s SaintsWear line.

As many readers now, I have the privilege of serving as secretary of the St. Lawrence Alumni Executive Council, the 40-member governing body of the University’s Alumni Association.

The Council, which funds a range of programs for current St. Lawrence students and supports activities for alumni, raises funds through an affinity credit card and SaintsWear, a growing line of Scarlet and Brown clothing and accessories. SaintsWear is sold via the Brewer Bookstore, St. Lawrence’s college store.

The newest addition to the line — which already includes a Barbarian rugby shirt, Louis Garneau cycling jerseys, SmartTurnout socks and accessories from Sara Langley — is a belt designed by this writer and Nick Mannella, proprietor of Knot Belt Co.

You may remember Mannella — we did a profile interview last fall. Nick is also a Laurentian and graduated from St. Lawrence in 2006.

The belt features four St. Lawrence motifs: An Adirondack chair, evergreens, the University shield and the clocktower of Sykes Residence Hall.

It will retail at $38 and should be available online later this month. In the meantime, you can order your belt directly from Knot.

Note: The classic St. Lawrence Leather Man Ltd. belt is not being discontinued.

SCENE | The Milligans are wed in Manhattan

MilligansMr. and Mrs. Sean R. Milligan, minutes after their marriage on Saturday, Sept. 11 at the Church of the Incarnation in Murray Hill.

We spent the better part of last weekend in Manhattan celebrating the marriage of very dear friends.

Molly McLaughlin was wed to Sean Milligan at the Church of the Incarnation in Murray Hill by the Rev. J. Douglas Ousley, the church’s rector. The Rev. Donald S. McPhail, a close friend of the bride’s family and past rector of St. Peter’s-by-the-Sea Church in Bay Shore, New York, took part in the ceremony.

Molly and Sean, not surprisingly, are very good St. Lawrence friends.

I had the privilege of serving as an usher and Mrs. F. was in charge of getting the male members of the wedding party set with their boutonnières — something Molly had done for us when we got married.

Church of the Incarnation is a Victorian marvel and was the perfect site for this wedding. There was an undeniable majesty to the service that was amplified by beautiful stained glass, sculpture and architecture.

A fabulous reception followed at the New York Athletic Club. As I remarked in a toast I gave to the bride and groom, it was deeply appropriate that the room we celebrated in faced north, out past the lights of our resilient city, toward the place where the Milligan romance was born.

Here’s a gallery of photos from the weekend, which includes a few shots from the Friday night reception hosted by the groom’s father, Charlie, at The Water Club.

LIVES | Bobby Thomson, baseball great, 1923-2010

ThomsonBobby Thomson and a player from the Tokyo Giants ham it up during a 1953 exhibition game in Pasadena, Calif. Image courtesy of the LIFE archive.

Leif Skodnick Contributing Writer

I was less than four years old, possibly younger, the first time that I heard Russ Hodges’ jubilantly exclaim “the Giants won the pennant!” even though the actual event had happened at least thirty years in the past. My dad grew up a Giants fan, his brother a Dodger fan. My indoctrination had to start early.

Baseball was different in 1951. It was different because it wasn’t just part of the American sports scene, it WAS the American sports scene. Sure, there was college and pro football, and the National Hockey League, and the National Basketball Association was just starting, but Major League Baseball commanded the nation’s

After a 154-game regular season, the New York Giants and their bitter cross-town rival, the Brooklyn Dodgers, found themselves pitted in a three-game series that would decide who would face the American League champion New York Yankees in a Subway Series. Brooklyn held a 13 1/2 game lead on August 11, and the Giants
erased that with a 16-game winning streak and an unbelievable 37-7 record in their last 44 games.

The Giants took the first game of the set at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn before dropping the second by a 10-0 score.

With the Giants trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth, fans filing out of the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan for the subway, Thomson stepped up to bat. He took a fastball down the pipe for strike one.

Four different broadcasters, three of whom are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, were behind a microphone, but it was Russ Hodges’ call on WPIX-TV that became the most famous. I’m not kidding when I say that I can recite it from memory, despite it happening 28 years prior to my birth.

Hartung down the line at third, not too big of a lead but he’ll be running like the wind if Thomson hits one. Branca throws, and it’s a long fly, deep to centerfield I believe… THE GIANTS WON THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WON THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WON THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WON THE PENNANT… Bobby Thomson… hit into the lower deck… of the left-field stands…

Sports, and baseball especially, is a bond that is shared between fathers and sons in this country. I grew up hearing of the baseball legends on the 1950s from my father, who had seen them all play in person. Mantle, Snider, and Mays; Musial, Ashburn, and Mathews, Williams, Berra, all whose greatness I heard of and wondered about and hoped to one day compare to.

And above them all rose Bobby Thomson, the above-average, but not a Hall of Famer, Major Leaguer who hit the biggest home run of the 1950s, perhaps baseball’s greatest decade. I heard Hodges call the play a thousand times, and every time, it’s as special as the first.

That golden era may be passing from our collective memory more quickly now, with Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams gone, and other heroes of our fathers not far behind, but the game remains the same, and the moment captured by that call remains as triumphant as it did 59 years ago.

Perhaps it’s because regardless of who you are, you can put yourself in the moment. But I never made it as a baseball player, I was cut from the St. Lawrence team as a freshman and the closest I ever made it to the Major Leagues was a few open tryouts. So I settle for Russ Hodges’ voice, forever embedded in my memory, and the
love for the game my dad imparted upon me.

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