At the crack of dawn on Friday, we fly off to San Francisco for my sister's eighty-fifth birthday party, which I am hosting. Naturally, I shall make a speech. I plan to read a few passages from the hundreds of letters Barbara wrote home to our parents from Swarthmore College, where she matriculated in the Fall of 1948. Re-reading those letters evokes some feeling for what a first-class college education could be back then. I don't wish entirely to tip my hand [my sister sometimes reads my blog], but this line caught my attention. It is from her junior year, dated Nov. 6, 1950:
"Guess what? T. S. Eliot is coming to speak here. I may go to hear him. What with Russell [Bertrand], and Sandburg [Carl], and the madrigal concerts and Alexander Schneider [a great classical violinist] and the [William] Saroyan reading I've been doing, I feel quite intellectual and artistic."