The College Pump
On a favorable early autumn Thursday afternoon, Primus’s small dog, Dixie, went to the Science Center Plaza, atop the Cambridge Street tunnel, to see what entertainment was on offer. After a year of construction jointly undertaken by Harvard and the City of Cambridge, the Plaza has reopened in a new design by Chris Reed ’91 (see “Uncommon Space,” September-October, page 47) with a new purpose as part of President Drew Faust’s Common Spaces program. Heretofore, the Plaza was a wasteland of concrete and patches of beleaguered grass, a space that students and residents of Cambridge passed through quickly on their way elsewhere.
Today, as the Harvard Crimson noted in September, “students lounge in comfy beanbag chairs, read and write under the shade of wide umbrellas, line up in front of gourmet food trucks and even face off at giant chess on a board that doubles as a stage for a cappella groups and other performers.” Madeline Meehan, events director for Common Spaces, says programming for the Plaza is in the experimental phase. “We’ll try to do what works to build community.”
What Dixie found on her visit was a small petting zoo. She pushed her nose through its chain-link fence, met a goat and a baby porker, and eyeballed ducklings, a chicken, a kitten, and a rabbit. She found the experience interesting, but appeared to be glad to be on her side of the fence. Others were more enthusiastic. “If I were a new student on campus,” Isabelle Jenkins, a graduate student at the Divinity School told the Harvard Gazette, “this would definitely make me feel less homesick. I stepped into the pen and was surrounded by bunnies. It was heaven.”
Blended graduate. Robert G. “Rob” Greenly ’75, of Newton, Massachusetts, advises that he is the first Harvard College graduate to be elected president of the Yale Club of Boston. (He also has an M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management.) As executive director of the Corporate Physician Leadership Center, he coaches physicians working in a business setting to become more effective managers and leaders.
“When I was a student at Yale,” says Greenly, “I sat once on the Yale side at a Harvard-Yale football game, and I vowed I would never do it again. However, considering the responsibilities of my new leadership role, I have decided to release that vow and sit on the Blue side during my Yale Club presidency. Not sure how easy or difficult that will be for me.” Greenly is philosophical about his lot in life. “What color do crimson and blue make when mixed?” he asks. “It’s purple, the color of royalty, right?”
Long gestation. “The searing tale of a wife and mother, a husband and father, both of whom are—like the rest of us—flawed, their animosity for one another only outweighed by their deep and abiding love for their children. No spouse or parent who picks up this book will be able to put it down. Nor will anyone else.” So writes author Andre Dubus III on the jacket of Lies You Wanted to Hear, a novel by James Whitfield Thomson ’67, to be published November 5 by Sourcebooks. A number of other literary notables wax enthusiastic there as well. “Hard to believe Thomson is a first-time author, given the achievement of this novel,” writes Jodi Picoult, Ed.M. ’90. “Compulsively readable and stunningly written.”
There is a slight Harvard connection in the story line; the hero’s ex is an editor in the Class Report Office. But the point of citing Thomson’s story is perseverance, that he got published at 67 after 20 years of rejections. In an author interview at the back of the novel, he says: “I wish I had known how long it would take for me to get my first book published. If I had, maybe I would have set a goal that was more realistic, like becoming pope or the host of Jeopardy! Last summer, when I got word from my agent, Laura Gross, that Sourcebooks had accepted Lies, I could hardly believe it. When I told my wife, Elizabeth, she said, ‘It’s like you’ve been pregnant for 20 years.’”