I teach about the murder of Emmett Till in AP American History. Thank you for Margaret Russell’s article [“Justice Delayed,” Spring 2006]. I will use this as a resource to pique my students’ interest. It truly is the awakening of the Civil Rights movement!
The San Jose lynching in 1933
While a student, I drove for the San Jose Ambulance Co., and my supervisor told the story that he had once taken one of the leaders of the lynching [of Thurmond and Holmes, who had kidnapped and murdered Santa Clara graduate Brooke Hart] to the county hospital. My supervisor told me that, as they passed St. James Park, the patient had remarked, “This was the park where we hung those murderers. I have a length of rope in my house still.” When the lynching took place, Gov. Rolf of California remarked that the hanging was a justifiable act.
Tom McGeeney ’60
In the letters section of the Summer 2006 issue, Margaret Russell mentions the 1936 movie “Fury” as having some connection to the 1933 lynching in San Jose. While the incident and “Fury” have some similarities, they are not connected. But “Sound of Fury” (later retitled as “Try and Get Me”), a 1951 B-grade movie starring Frank Lovejoy and Lloyd Bridges, shows the entire incident (names altered, of course).
In 1956, I prepared a short paper for sociology class at SCU. I interviewed people and scrutinized morgue material at the San Jose Mercury. There was still much reticence about the matter.
André DuBay ’58
For the record (in stereo)
One correction: Jack Mullin was never an employee of Ampex. He worked for Bing Crosby Enterprises. He consulted with Ampex and gave them the recipe for how-to build a tape recorder in exchange for the first two machines off their manufacturing line. He knew his modified Magnetophons were working hard on the weekly Crosby radio show and was worried that they might wear out.
Eve Mullin Collier
What a wonderful article Karen Crocker Snell wrote on “The Man Behind the Sound” [Summer 2006], the story of John “Jack” Mullin! I was a class behind Jack in mechanical engineering, so I was well aware of Jack and what he was doing.
For his senior thesis, Jack theorized, designed, and demonstrated stereo recording on a record disk, with a single needle instrumented to use the horizontal amplitudes to produce sound in the right speaker and vertical amplitudes for the left speaker. And during the noon hour, Jack would frequently play high fidelity recording music with a big speaker out the window of the second floor of Montgomery Lab, the engineering building that was located where the Mayer Theatre is now. The one I remember best was “Just a Gigolo” by Jack Hyltin, an English band leader. For the Class of ’37 reunion, I wrote to Jack wondering if he still had that record, as I hoped to play it at that Golden Jubilee event. Sure enough, Jack sent me an audio tape, which he personalized in voice.
In 1994, I nominated Mullin for the SCU Distinguished Engineering Award, which also notes that he helped develop and demonstrate the first video pictures reproduced from magnetic tape, and that he held more than a dozen patents on video and audio subjects.
William J. Adams Jr. ’37
Chance, Luck, and "Three Roommates in Paris"
[In “Three Roommates in Paris,” Summer 2006], John Patrick Donnelly, S.J., writes: "Historians...search for deep causes of developments…but sometimes luck or chance play the major role." In fact, the belief in luck or chance is rather an artifact of primitive superstition than a logical category. We can only say there is a distinction in our mind between what is susceptible of causal explanation and what is not. What is not understood may be very, very complex; it is a leap of faith to conclude that what we do not understand is beyond explanation.
Jeffrey Paul Bedolla
John Patrick Donnelly, S.J., responds:
Regarding the sentence, "Historians…search for deep causes of developments…but sometimes luck or chance play a major role," maybe my meaning comes clearest from the example of this I use often in the classroom. In 1914, Europe was the center of world civilization; think colonial empires, art, literature, science, etc. No doubt there was a confluence of deep causes in Europe's relative decline, but it was started by what happened by chance in Sarajevo in July 1914--the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which started World War I. The assassin was one of a team whose first attempt failed, but the archduke's chauffer, in fleeing to safety, made a wrong turn and started backing up--just in front of where the last of the assassination squad was standing. The archduke was a sitting duck. That bullet killed 10 million young men and started, or affected greatly, Europe's slide. Chance was big in the scenario. Likewise at the University of Paris, when the three roommates were joined together.
John Patrick Donnelly, S.J.
Public service vs. legalized bribery
Professor Kirk O. Hanson’s insightful article (“There really is an ethics crisis in government,” Summer 2006) echoes concerns and fears which have been foremost in my mind for some 20 years. As a business major at SCU, I realized the importance of money as power and was keenly aware of the insidious nature of unbridled wealth as it affects our daily lives.
It is truly alarming to watch an increasingly money-driven American political system fail to serve the general populace. “Public service,” a term that once described a desire to serve the common good, is oft times manipulated into a self-serving agenda centered on personal monetary gain. True representation and reform can exist only in the absence of a political system which requires huge campaign budgets, allows legalized bribery through the malfeasance of lobbyists and special interest groups, and, in essence, undermines the foundation upon which our “public service” political system is built.
“Legalized” bribery is bribery nonetheless. Whether in the form of political junkets to exotic locales, highly paid special interest speaking engagements, or corporate VP positions awaiting exiting politicians, the monetary umbilical cord must be severed if government “by the People, for the People” is to exist.
Until the American people demand broad and sweeping changes in campaign financing, lobbying, and special interest tampering, the American political system will continue to follow the money and the words “public service” will continue to ring hollow to many ears.
Joe Stegman ’74
Paso Robles, Calif.
Let justice be served
I am not a lawyer, nor did I monitor any stage of the O.J. Simpson trial. That being disclosed, I believe that Gerald Uelman's response to a reader letter ("Two regrettable miscarriages of American justice," Summer 2006) exemplifies what so many lay people lament about our legal system.
Uelman notes that "criminal defense lawyers do not owe obligations to the public to see that justice is done," and that "justice will be done only when both sides are represented by vigorous advocates, to ensure that the strengths and weaknesses of both sides.have been fully exposed." But prosecutors and defense attorneys are never equally competent, and so the outcome of cases is too often determined by the relative skills of the attorneys rather than the relevant facts.
If I were ever a litigant, I would hope to engage a competent lawyer, of course. But I also would want that attorney to believe in me. As a member of our society, I would wish that all of the involved attorneys would also keep in mind the public imperative that justice be served.
Charles Taubman MBA '76
Professor Tollini's dedication to drama
As an English literature graduate, I will never forget Fred Tollini's fervor and enthusiasm for the Theater Arts. [See “In Print,” Summer 2006.] His passion for the works of Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe is both exemplarary and contagious; his 35 years of dedication to drama and dance within the Santa Clara University community should be acknowledged by us all.
John Stege ‘74
A high-flying pioneer
I appreciated your article [on aviation pioneer John Montgomery—“Former SCU professor and flight pioneer enters Hall of Fame,” Winter 2003, in the online SCM archives]. We have evidence that some of John’s 1904 flights took place in what is now Los Altos, on the SCU property which they later sold to Los Altos Country Club interests. One of our oral history stories is about John (or his brother James) befriending young John McKenzie, the son of people the Montgomery brothers apparently stayed with at times. Montgomery taught the young lad to fish in Permanente Creek, using a kernel of corn for bait.
A couple of corrections we need to make to the Summer 2006 issue of SCM:
“The Man Behind the Sound”
“Celebrating our Mission, Transforming Lives”
Page 24 incorrectly stated that the William Hannan Foundation has donated to the Campaign. The article should have stated that the Bill Hannon Foundation has contributed $4 million to the new Commons and Library. Ground was broken for the new learning commons on June 14.
Page 25 incorrectly stated that Santa Clara alumni founded the first alumni association west of the Mississippi. While not the oldest, the association was one of the first alumni associations founded west of the Mississippi.