Skip to content


Letters to the editor


Out of their gourd cover pageINSIDE SCOOP

I read “Out of Their Gourd” in the November/December 2017 issue. I know one person who put the pumpkin on top of the spire of McGraw Tower. He had climbed Mt. Orsorno in Chile with my son, Cristian I. Castillo-Davis ’97, the same year. Unfortunately, I promised I would not divulge his name until we have permission and I do not know the other(s). I have tried to track him down to get his permission, but he moved overseas.

The description in the article of how the pumpkin was put on the spire is pretty close to what I was told, except I understand that after hollowing out the pumpkin, one side of it was cut top to bottom so it could be wrapped around the spire rather than impaled. Then it was sewed together so that the pumpkin did not slip off.

James F. Davis ’67
Hayesville, NC

This is the first I’ve heard of how this infamous (perhaps more correctly: ‘famous’) stunt was carried out. It hadn’t occurred to me that there was a way to get most of the way up the steeple inside the structure (who knew, besides the perpetrators). They had then to be intrepid free-climbers, especially to accomplish the last bit on the outside! But in a way it’s too bad to know it wasn’t magical. Way to go, Cornell!

Robert LaBelle ’50
Baldwinsville, NY


Our feature on conversational Latin in the January/February 2018 issue prompted a flurry of responses from within the Cornell community and outside—in both English and Latin.

I particularly enjoyed the article “Living Language.” It gave rise to additional questions. I’ve always been curious about how the Western European languages developed from Latin. One can see the similarities between Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese, but they sound so different. Are the differences due to the tongues spoken by the native tribes in those parts of the Roman Empire? German, and the related languages (Dutch, Swedish, Danish, etc.), also show their Latin roots—but they are so different from the Romance languages! Perhaps Professor Gallagher will be kind enough to respond—or we can all enjoy a follow-up article. Could Thomas More, Galileo, and Erasmus, each writing in Latin but speaking different languages, have spoken to each other in Latin and been understood?

Many thanks for a very interesting article, which was beautifully illustrated.

Mona Deutsch Miller ’73
Los Angeles, CA

In Spain, there is a methodological revolution about the teaching of Latin. In many schools we apply the Live Latin method of Orberg. Therefore, it is very common to teach Latin in Latin, as we do with modern languages.

María Jesús Ramírez, teacher of classics
IES Urbi high school, Basauri, Spain

In his saeclis obliviscentibus, videre artes antiquas recultas toto ex animo praegaudeo. Utinam sapientiae reciperatio etiam extemplo adveniat! Perdifficilius quidem est. Quantum laboris restat!

Claude Pavur
Boston College

Our Latin experts translated this as:
During these forgetful times, I’m absolutely thrilled to see the ancient arts being cultivated again. I wish the recovery of that wisdom could happen instantly! It sure isn’t easy. There’s so much work to do!

Don’t forget to renew your dues and subscription to Cornell Alumni Magazine!

Pay by April 13 and receive $150 off a summer class with Cornell’s Adult University.

SPEAK UP! CAM encourages letters and comments from readers on the magazine’s content. They may be edited for length, clarity, and civility. We are not able to publish and respond to all correspondence received. Send to: Editor, Cornell Alumni Magazine, 401 East State Street, Suite 301, Ithaca, NY 14850;;