Just a Tiny Bit

I would like to say that the "Fun Issue" of Johns Hopkins Magazine was very funny. I usually do not pick up or read any magazine, even the monthly Highlights. I liked the snowman of uncertified gender, the 21 banjo players, and the men in the pool suspected to be running away from the banjo club. There are a few more things that are a tiny bit funny, but those are the main ones.

Eric J. Yoder-Wells, age 8

Member of the Peabody Children's Choir


Vocabulary Maize

The second photo in "Illuminating the Weird" [Summer] depicts a "cornfield game," followed by the comment, "Where is the corn? There is no corn!" The term corn, by definition, refers to the seed of cereal plants (wheat, barley, rye, oats, maize)—corn being the chief crop of a particular country. In England, home of the depicted "cornfield game," corn refers to wheat (as in Sir Robert Peel's Corn Laws). In Scotland and Ireland, corn means oats. Only in the United States is corn equated with maize.

John George, Ed '72 (MEd)

Frederick, Maryland 

One More…

In "Illuminating the Weird" in the delightful summer issue, you ask, "Where's the corn?" Right there in front of your eyes. In England, "corn" is what we in the U.S. call "wheat." Surely it makes a better visual for Keats' lovely line about Ruth in his "Ode to a Nightingale": "She stood in tears amid the alien corn."

Gerald Kauvar

Washington, D.C.

The Best Medicine

I was surprised that there was no mention of Norman Cousins in the article "Might As Well Laugh" [Summer]. His book Anatomy of an Illness describes his struggle with an undiagnosed illness in the 1960s. In it, he writes about watching reruns of old TV comedy shows and humorous movies, using laughter to get through the pain.

Nicholas J. Calvano, Engr '66

Ormond Beach, Florida

He Lit Up the Room

I read with great pleasure your piece on comedian Jeff Altman ["A Man Walks into a Bar," [Summer]. In the late '60s I ran the university radio station WJHU, and Jeff was a frequent DJ/personality on our broadcasts. He was funny then, trying anything—everything—to be funny (and often succeeding). To my knowledge, his first major venture on stage was a JHU holiday show, which my friend Phil Wiehe, A&S '71, and I produced for both the Homewood and hospital campuses.

It was a revue that featured all of our talented (and less talented) friends onstage—a fractured Christmas/Hanukkah song, dance, and theater potpourri. Jeff, in his usual fashion, came to the auditions at the Barn in a quasi-Hawaiian getup, walked up to me and Phil, and announced he would do his famous talking Christmas tree.

Just before show time, we heard rustling of curtains, then several light standards being knocked over. In came the talking Christmas tree, lit up with real twinkle lights and sporting a red and green cardboard torso painted with various reindeer and elves, waiting patiently his turn. As emcee, I thanked the chorus for their re-enactment of the "12 Days of Christmas" and asked our audience to welcome our very own talking Christmas tree. On came Jeff. He went straight to the microphone, told several holiday-themed jokes, knocked himself silly on one of the backdrop garland fences, did an impression of Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon (spot on), and exited to loud applause and laughter. I thanked him; he winked and walked away into the drizzle—his usual exit.

The last time I saw Jeff in person (not on stage) was at a bar in Syracuse. I was a radio personality of sorts working while doing my master's at the Newhouse School. He and I embraced and talked just a minute or two, enough for him to tell me eye to eye he was heading to L.A. for a career in comedy. I wished him luck. There was never any doubt in my mind he would make it. And he did.

Baird Thompson, A&S '71

Tucson, Arizona

A Nerve Struck

I would like to ask you to consistently refer to students in the nursing program as "nursing students" and not "student nurses," unless of course you do the same for those in the Chemistry Department by calling them "student chemists" and those in the medical school "student medics." (You can see you struck a nerve here.) Many nurses feel that the term "student nurses" implies that they are of low morals and inferior in other ways.

Joan Lorenz, Nurs '71 (Cert), '76

Gainesville, Florida

Into the Woods

The summer issue included some old black and white photos from the archives ["We're Having Fun Now"]. The caption to one photo refers to nursing students canoeing. The location was indicated as "lake in Sherwood Forest." The author suggests that this lake "does not exist." I cannot tell you with any certainty where the photo was taken. I can, however, assure you that there is a community on the southern shoreline of the Severn River near Crownsville called Sherwood Forest. In the 1930s, this was primarily a series of summer cottages used for getting away from Baltimore and Washington in the hot weather. The river water there is brackish and would not normally be considered a "lake." But to a nonscientist, that part of the Severn is near Round Bay, where the river bulges out, making a wide-open stretch of water that would appear to be lakelike. There is also a nearly enclosed tidal pond (Brewer Pond) that is located on one edge of Sherwood Forest. 

John Veil, A&S '75

Annapolis, Maryland

Looking Back

I was a member of the Pithotomy Club and president of the club in 1948–49, and I was delighted to see it mentioned ["We're Having Fun Now"]. Although the club is now past history, it did mean a great deal to its members and the medical school in that era.

William F. Rienhoff III, Med '49, HS '58

Worton, MD

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