Inside the Octagon, spring 2014
I believe that your editors have shown poor judgment in prominently displaying the ritualistic scarring and branding associated with the Omega Psi Phi fraternity in six pictures in the article on Ovince Saint Preux in the spring 2014 Tennessee Alumnus magazine. The university recently revoked the charter of another campus fraternity for similar actions. Featuring the Omega-shaped scars in the Alumnus magazine lends a tacit approval to those actions on the part of the university and is an insult to the 1000-plus members of other chapters that have been sanctioned and lost one of their primary connections to the university. Please consider printing an apology in the next issue and showing more tact in the future.
Ryan Thomas (Knoxville ’98, ’99)
From War to Writing to the World, spring 2014
I was the one Charles Herd hired while at the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce to establish the Knoxville Dogwood Arts Festival. I, too, was fresh from WWII service as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was serving as a professor in the UT School of Journalism. Russell Hillis, formerly with WBIR-TV, was assigned to work with me at the chamber. The task was largely accomplished. I returned to full-time teaching in the UT School of Journalism, and Charles shortly after moved on to the Louisville, Ky., chamber, where I note he enjoyed much success. It all happened so quickly, Charles and I were never able to celebrate. I note as a fellow WWII vet we both have made Honor Flights to Washington, D.C. I wondered how my good friend Charles made out in his Louisville career. Our paths have never crossed in the years since. Charles was wonderful to work for. He gave Russell Hillis and me full rein to proceed with the Dogwood Arts Festival. Charles ordered his chamber staff to “give them whatever support they need.” Obviously, I enjoyed Fred Brown’s story on Charles very much.
Frank Thornburg (Knoxville ’48), faculty member 1955-1985
Not Lost, Found, spring 2014, by Dan Conaway
I usually read the UT Alumnus magazine quickly and always from back to front. This morning I completely mired down in the last page of the spring 2014 issue. Wonderful, memory-evoking piece. Somehow the old men pictured do not look as old as the usual ’60s crowd.
William P. Alexander III (Knoxville ’69, ’74)
I read with interest your article about your friend Bob Alley. I grew up in the old neighborhood near UT and lived at the corner of 20th Street and Lilly Avenue. I was able to live at home all the way through UT. In fact, your ATO house was on my paper route, as was Circle Park. The aquatic center complex is now located where my house was located. I think your friend’s dad, also Bob Alley, grew up across the street from our house. As a little boy, we called him Uncle Robbie. He flew during WWII. He came back from the war, and one day our Mom told us that Uncle Robbie had crash landed a plane on the roof of a house down on 15th Street, just across the street from the UT football stadium, known then as Shields-Watkins Field. We got in our 1937 Plymouth and drove the five city blocks to see what had happened. Yes, there it was; the plane Uncle Robbie was flying was sitting on top of a one-story house that was located where the large parking lot is now. Uncle Robbie flew for many years for Eastern Airlines and lived in Florida.
Maybe this helps explain why your friend Bob took you “flying low over Miami Beach just after dawn and so low over the Everglades you felt you could reach out and touch the waving sea of grass.” I remember reading about your friend Bob when he passed away and knew about his real estate company, but I never knew him or knew that he was Uncle Robbie’s son. I have found something, too. Memories are a wonderful thing!
Jim Shawn (Knoxville ’63)
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