Potash Hill


Rear Window: An inspiring tale of Marlboro lore from Tim Little ’65

“Javed Chaudhri and I shared a room in Mather, where the dean of students’ office is now. I woke up early one morning, in my bed over in the corner, and there was a man’s butt coming through the window. It was right there, up close. I don’t know how I knew it was a man, but I did. He was fully armed, and he was taking aim at a deer that was over at the future site of the music building, which didn’t exist yet. And he was going to shoot the deer, bracing himself against my window.

“So, of course, what do you suppose I did? I said, ‘Hey, what do you think you’re doing?’ I suppose it was dangerous, but I had Javed to protect me. I don’t know if he thought the place was abandoned, but it was 5:30 in the morning and he was hunting illegally: in the twilight but also out of season. He turned around and looked in the window, and looked all weird, and started running down the hill. The road was much narrower then, and it was still dirt.”

What was the strangest thing you ever saw out of your dorm window? If you have a Marlboro memory to share, or any other reflection from this issue of Potash Hill, send it to pjohansson@marlboro.edu.


Taking Sides on Science

I enjoyed the great article by Bob Cabin (“Science Is Not On Our Side” Winter 2014) on the limits of science in resolving conflicts. Unfortunately, the internet has taught us that even definitive science will not dissuade people from believing what they want to believe. One clear example for me was a recent article featured on the website Business Insider “debunking” gluten intolerance as a medical condition, pointing to a single study on the subject. The comments that follow the article make almost no reference to the points made in the study, but instead viciously refer, over and over, to how “irritated” they are with people who claim gluten intolerance. What becomes clear is how many people really want gluten intolerance to be untrue, and are ready to lap up articles that support that conclusion. 

As the bandwagon fills up with enthusiastic appreciators of any science that agrees with their biases, let me swim against the tide here: one study? That’s not science. That’s an experiment. Call me when two studies, or 20, have been done and people actually know something and are willing to talk about it. America seems unable to moderate its a priori logic based on evidence.

—Mike Auerbach ’97


The article “Science Is Not On Our Side” presents a negative view about science. I regard science as a tool that presents a means for dealing with observations and views, and believe it does not represent positive or negative values. It is a bit like saying, “A hammer is not on our side.” It is a tool that it is of great help to a carpenter in his efforts to build things, or it could be used by a murderer to bash someone’s head. One should praise or condemn the user of the hammer, not the tool.

We enjoy living in a heated house. We can turn on an electric light and cook our breakfast with a gas or electric stove. We can watch news on our TV and then ride to work in our car. These benefits would not be ours without science. In fact, as an 88-year-old, I probably would not be living today, since life spans have doubled in my lifetime.

The good in scientific developments has outweighed the bad, and the quality of my life is better than that of my parents. Scientists have provided the tools, but it is not their job to teach others how to use them.

—Richard Stein, father of Anne Stein ’86


Kipling Clarification

I read with great interest your excellent piece on the Kipling symposium last October, which I was unable to attend. As someone who had a ringside seat on the material of the “Kipling box,” I thought I’d let you know that the Just So Stories were born while Kipling lived at Naulakha, not afterwards. Although they were published in 1903, they were stories he made up for his elder daughter, Josephine, with whom he used to go tramping through the woods. In fact, the Father, Mother, and Daughter in the stories are Kipling, Caroline, and Josephine. May I suggest that Fox Butterfield’s article on Marlboro College in the New York Times of May 19, 1992, could be reprised by those who want to get a wider perspective on Kipling in Vermont. The one-page article is part of our Kipling Collection in the library.

—Jaysinh Birjepatil, retired literature professor


Senior Eloquence

I write to tell you how moved I feel by the address given by your senior speaker, Emma Thacker, at the 2014 commencement. I have watched Emma’s address a couple of times on YouTube and have been moved to tears. She spoke so eloquently of the natural beauty of Marlboro and of the spaces that all who live at Marlboro share. I still live in those spaces every day in my memory. We are all so blessed to have come to that “humble little hill in the middle of nowhere.” The best of both worlds: learning so much and living so fortunately in Marlboro, Vermont.

—Terry Woods ’75


The Missing Magazine

I just received notice of the availability of The Marlboro Record electronically. I hope this does not mean I can no longer receive the Record and Potash Hill in magazine form. I have lived 30 years in a home without electricity, and therefore I have never owned a computer. Please do not make my conscientious lifestyle obsolete!

—Stephen Bies, father of Ashley Bies ’05

(Sorry to say we have discontinued the print version of the Record, but will continue to publish Potash Hill in magazine format for the foreseeable future. Both are available online at marlboro.edu/news/publications. -eds.)


Nomen Meum Est Erratum 

I enjoyed reading the winter issue of Potash Hill, but I was curious who this guy Scott Housman is to whom you attributed my quote?

—Scott Hausmann ’76


Code Red

I just read your excellent piece about President Obama’s proposed rating scheme (“Code Red for College Ratings,” Potash Hill, Winter 2014). I can’t help but think the folks in the White House got a bit out over their skis on this idea. Will you be sending your piece to them, the U.S. Department of Education, and others who could benefit from your cogent thoughts?

—Barbara Brittingham, director of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, NEASC