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Troy: On a Path to Greatness

Spring 2004 Cover

It was with great surprise that I received my Spring 2004 Rensselaer alumni magazine (“Collar City Comeback”) during my third month in office. The full-page color pictures of the Hudson River and the stories of our new and old investors is exactly what we need — positive press about all the great action we have going on in Troy.

Of course there was still the usual political talk, but I like to look past that. We’re not Democrats or Republicans here, we’re Trojans, and as a city we have so much momentum right now it is hard to keep it all inside.

Soon you will see extended development of both Hoosick Street and our waterfront. Many investors are aggressively pursuing both areas, and several years down the road, it is my intent to have people travel up Interstate 787 and say, “Wow, what is that over there?”

We’re on the path to greatness. We’re on a path that will lead Troy to become one of the greatest cities in the Unites States. Through positive publicity, future investors, and yes, a continued commitment from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy will soon be one of the greatest places to live and work in our country.

Harry J. Tutunjian, Mayor
Troy, N.Y.

Best Is Yet To Come
You really captured the spirit of Troy’s comeback, especially Rensselaer’s part in this new resurgence. The history of Troy and Rensselaer is really one history. I believe the best is yet to come.

Vincent Lepera ’68
Troy, N.Y.

Farmers’ Market
I very much enjoyed the article “Reinventing Troy” in your Spring 2004 Rensselaer magazine. We moved to the area in 1997 and lived in Troy for a brief time. We quickly realized what a jewel in the rough Troy is.

There is, however, one organization overlooked in your article that has contributed significantly to Troy’s “comeback” — the Saturday Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market. The market, under sponsorship of the Regional Farm and Food Project, began in 1999 with about 12 farmer and craft vendors and a few hundred people coming through each week. The market grew rapidly in popularity among vendors and consumers alike. In 2003 there were around 50 vendors and, during the peak summer months, 1,500 to 2,000 customers a week shopped at the market. Many of these people also visited the antique district and other shops in town. The market is a draw for people who would otherwise have no particular interest or reason to be in Troy on a Saturday. The market now operates year-round — at the Hedley parking lot on River Street, May through October, and in the Atrium, November through April.

Voted the “Best Farmers’ Market in the Capital Region” the last two years in a row in Metroland’s annual survey, the market is definitely a treasure that needs to be recognized, nurtured, and supported as part of Troy’s revitalization.

Judith Beckman
Farmer and Former Farmers’ Market Vendor
Mechanicville, N.Y.

Critical Shortage
As I read President Shirley Jackson’s article (“A Critical Shortage,” Spring 2004), I realized that I was part of the problem facing America. It may be hard to encourage women to choose a career in engineering but it may be just as difficult to get them to stay. I left my career in 1990, nine months after my first child was born. It was just too hard to work when my child was sick or up much of the night crying with colic. As I told my supervisor, “I feel like a lousy engineer because I have to keep leaving to care for my child and I feel like a lousy mother because I have to keep leaving to go to work. Since I am the type of person who needs to be good at what I do, I think I will quit the only job I can quit.”

Now, 14 years later, I would be interested in returning to engineering but on my terms —part time. Is there such a thing as a part-time engineer? Is there such a program to update my skills that would not cost as much as the first degree since I now must consider the upcoming college costs of my firstborn? It seems the best I can offer my country is to get a teaching certificate to teach math or science but is that enough? I know I am not the only woman who left engineering to raise children. I would be interested to know how many people have engineering degrees but are not using them. They are people who could bridge the gap until our children can come along behind us.

Carol Yeaton Hartman ’84
Centennial, Colo.

Tame “Pup”
The short article about The Pup brought back memories that hadn’t surfaced in decades. Each edition was greeted with great enjoyment. The jabs at the administration were usually on target, and even if they weren’t, it was always fun to make the establishment the target of humor.

I think you missed the mark when you said the humor was off-color by today’s standards. It probably was by the standards in place when it was published. But now, when the standard is, as the title of the Cole Porter song states, “Anything Goes,” it would seem tame.

Thanks for delving into the extracurricular facets of student life in the past.

Jim Lafferty ’54
Paradise, Calif.

Glee Club Memories
I was looking through my nearly 53-year-old Transit the other day and read the story about the RPI Glee Club’s win at Carnegie Hall. That reminded me of another Glee Club victory that I’d like to share.

RPI Varsity Glee Club

Many of us found a high degree of relaxation in the RPI Varsity Glee Club. We gave concerts in Northeastern New York and nearby Vermont. There was a Harvest Festival concert in Carnegie Hall in New York City, which we won, and an “eisteddfod” in Utica. The latter was a Welsh competition of men’s choruses, all of which were required to sing “Men of Harlech” and another number of their own choosing. Prof. Joel Dolven, our director, contacted a Welsh lady in Troy who provided the Welsh words and pronunciation for “Ar Hyd y Nos,” which is better known as “All Through the Night.” We sang both numbers, brought down the house, and won the competition.

The summer of 1985 found my wife and I on an extended coach trip through England, Wales, and Scotland. Ever since our RPI Glee Club eisteddfod victory in 1950, I had wanted to hear a real Welsh men’s choir sing, “Ar Hyd y Nos.” I mentioned this to the bartender at the Hand Hotel in Wales. He told me he was a member of such a choir and they would be rehearsing at that hotel that night.

I told him the Glee Club story and asked if it would be OK to listen in. He said, “Sure, you can” and so we did. They  sang “Ar Hyd y Nos” and several other songs for us. We learned that the choir raised money by singing at hotels, etc. — and by holding raffles. Guess who won the raffle that night?!

Carl Christiansen ’51
Hendersonville, N.C.

Remembering Harry Herbrandson
I don’t recall seeing any mention of the passing in November 2002 of Professor Harry F. Herbrandson, retired from the chemistry department after about 40 years of service. I was privileged to be one of his organic chemistry graduate students, completing my work in 1963. He taught me a great deal and helped shape me into a working contributor to the chemical industry.

I’m proud of the training I received under Harry and always felt a little superior because of it. It helped me on many occasions to know that I came from “good stock,” as it were, and that the experience also helped me mature. The lab procedures from those days still give me confidence and I’ve never lost the desire to work in the lab. One of my co-grad students at the time, Jim Bennett, used the byline, “I’m proud to be a chemist” when he was running for an ACS office some years ago. That phrase works for me. It’s all because of my years with Harry.

Daniel Kruh, Ph.D. ’64
East Brunswick, N.J.

I always look forward to receiving my alumni magazine so I can see what is happening at the ’Tute. It was nice to read the fall article on Alpha Phi Omega and Norman Zelvin ’51’s letter about his daughter Lynn, who benefited from their presence. But I was shocked and dismayed to see his letter talk about “Physics using the famous Sears textbook.” Famous in whose mind? Definitely not mine, a reader of the most famous physics textbook, [written by] Halliday and Resnick — our own Dr. Resnick. Don’t tell me we are dropping our high standards! Two volumes in three semesters was a wonderful roller-coaster ride.

Dan Siegel ’79
Saint James, N.Y.

Remembering James Greenidge
I was sorry to note the absence of an item on James E. Greenidge, Boston Globe sportswriter who was sports information director and JV baseball coach at RPI, 1972-82, who died Jan. 11, 2004.

True, Jim Greenidge was a former RPI employee, not an alumnus, and he’d left Troy two decades ago. Even so, Jim was a special individual. He had been a highly visible figure on the campus, known probably to every athlete, the good-humor man of the athletics departments. He was a rarity: a 260-pound guy who played in tennis tournaments and, in the collegiate world of 30 years ago, quite possibly the only African-American sports publicist at a historically white university. He went on from RPI to do publicity for Harvard and the New England Patriots before joining the Globe, but he never lost touch with friends he’d made at RPI.

I’ve been around both the newspaper business and sports almost 50 years, and I’d be hard put to name a more decent, more diligent person I’ve met in either field.

Robert Barton
Northford, Conn.

We’d love to hear from you! To provide space for as many letters as possible, we often must edit them for length. Please address correspondence to: Rensselaer Magazine, Office of Communications, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180, e-mail to, or call (518) 276-6531.
Rensselaer Magazine: Summer 2004
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