In this the third of The New Fireside Chats, Father John Jay Hughes, ’48 author of No Ordinary Fool, discusses spirituality, dogma, and his 60-year quest for faith. Ordained an Anglican minister, Father Hughes explains why he converted to Catholicism (at great personal cost – his father, also an Anglican minister, never spoke to him again) and narrates, with trademark wit and humor, the trials and rewards of a lifetime spent in the service of God.
(Editors’ note: if you are having trouble viewing this video, click the blue “HD” button to turn off high definition and view the video in a faster format.)
On November 20, 1959, Wendell Garrett wrote a series of letters as he frantically sought information on a portrait – painted before the American Revolution by one of the foremost artists of the colonial era – that may have once graced the walls of Adams House.. Garrett, who had embarked on graduate study in history at Harvard and was at that time working at the Massachusetts Historical Society, had been commissioned by Reuben Brower, master of Adams House, to write a history of Apthorp House on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of its construction. Then, as now, Apthorp House was the master’s lodgings at Adams House. The house had been built in 1760 by the Reverend East Apthorp, the first rector of Christ Church, Cambridge. It was a leading example of colonial architecture and had a long and distinguished history, even if its builder and first resident had left Cambridge and returned to England in 1764 as a religious controversy swirled around him. (See “Tales of an Old House,” Gold Coaster, Vol. 1, No. 2, Spring 2011) Reuben Brower took a keen interest in Garrett’s book and other efforts to commemorate Apthorp House’s bicentennial.
Garrett very much hoped to be able to include an image of the Reverend East Apthorp in his book, which was published as Apthorp House, 1760–1960 (Cambridge, Mass.: Adams House, 1960). Having heard that John Singleton Copley had painted a portrait of East Apthorp, Garrett tried repeatedly to find the portrait so that he could include a photograph of it in his book. He wrote letters to experts on colonial American art, friends, art museums, and relatives of people who may have owned the portrait. His fruitless efforts—and those of others—are chronicled in the letters and other notes that remain on file in the Adams House office. The following account is based on that archive.
Sketchy Reports of a Portrait
John Singleton Copley (1738–1815), the purported painter of the Apthorp portrait, was one of colonial America’s most famous painters. Boston’s Copley Square is named in his honor and features a statue of him. His most important works include portraits of Paul Revere and John Hancock, as well as the eye-catching Watson and the Shark, which depicts the rescue of the unfortunate and partially dismembered Mr. Watson from a large shark in Havana harbor. Copley often painted prominent Bostonians of the pre-revolutionary era—including friends and relatives of East Apthorp—so it would not be surprising if Apthorp had sat for a portrait by Copley in the 1760s.
Although he is associated with the Americans who fought for independence in the American Revolution, Copley was averse to political agitation and many members of his family had Loyalist sympathies. He sailed from Boston to England in 1774 and, like East Apthorp, never returned to North America. The two men probably saw one another in England, where they lived until their deaths in 1815 and 1816. Apthorp became vicar of Croydon, the destination of several Loyalist families, and Copley is buried in the church of St. John the Baptist in Croydon, near Apthorp’s first wife, who died in 1782.
Two early books on Copley’s life and paintings list a portrait of East Apthorp among Copley’s works. In his 1873 volume, A Sketch of the Life and List of Some of the Works of John Singleton Copley, Augustus Thorndike Perkins referred to a Copley painting of “Rev. East Apthorp, rector of the Episcopal Church in Cambridge.” Perkins noted that the “picture is in the possession of a Miss Dexter, of Philadelphia, Penn.” The same information, with a short biography of East Apthorp, appears in Frank William Bayley’s 1915 update of the Perkins volume, The Life and Works of John Singleton Copley: Founded on the Work of Augustus Thorndike Perkins. Bayley, however, wrote that the “picture was in the possession of a Miss Dexter, of Philadelphia, Penna.” (emphasis added), suggesting that he was not sure of its location. It is unclear whether Bayley or Perkins ever tried to contact the Dexter family to confirm the existence of the portrait.
An Attempt to Contact the Dexter Family (1937)
In the late 1930s, Barbara Neville Parker and Anne Bolling Wheeler researched and wrote John Singleton Copley: American Portraits in Oil, Pastel, and Miniature (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1938). Their book also reported the existence of the East Apthorp portrait. In the course of their research, Parker wrote to a C. Joseph Dexter of Philadelphia on July 9, 1937, and enclosed a questionnaire regarding the painting. For some reason, Parker and Wheeler believed that C. Joseph Dexter’s father, the brother of a Miss Stella Dexter, might have the portrait. C. Joseph Dexter replied on July 12, 1937, and said that his father was in Vermont for the summer and would look for the portrait when he returned to Philadelphia. Mr. Dexter also mentioned that his father had some items that belonged to his sister. Barbara Neville Parker’s secretary, Lucy Thomas, apparently replied to thank Mr. Dexter and to say that they hoped the portrait could be found before the catalogue went to press in October. They did not hear anything further and did not inquire again. Years later, in October 1959, Adams House Master Reuben Brower took an interest in the purported portrait as he prepared for the bicentenary of Apthorp House. Barbara Neville Parker then wrote to Brower to explain the earlier correspondence with Mr. Dexter and speculated that “the portrait got destroyed in a fire” but gave no basis for this suspicion.
Wendell Garrett’s Efforts to Locate the Portrait (1959–1960)
In 1959, Wendell Garrett resumed the search for the Copley portrait after Brower had asked him to write a history of Apthorp House. One of the letters he wrote on November 20, 1959 went to C. Joseph Dexter of Philadelphia. Garrett wrote Dexter that “it is possible that you might have inherited from your aunt [Stella Dexter] a portrait by John Singleton Copley of East Apthorp” and explained that he was “anxious to locate the painting.” The Patterson Oil Company, where Mr. Dexter apparently had worked, promptly replied on November 23 to say that Mr. Dexter had died on July 14, 1944, and gave the address of his widow, Mrs. Ernestine C. Dexter, in Haverford, a Philadelphia suburb.
Garrett wrote to Ernestine Dexter on November 30, 1959, explaining that he had been “desperately searching” for the portrait of East Apthorp “without avail.” She replied almost immediately that she knew “nothing whatever of such a portrait” and suggested that Garrett contact Joseph Dexter’s sister, Mrs. Paul A. Chase (formerly Doris Dexter) of South Newfane, Vermont. Doris Dexter, she explained, “kept everything pertaining to the Dexters and perhaps she could at least shed some light on the subject.” From that point on, the search for the rumored Copley portrait of East Apthorp proceeded through a prolonged and complicated exchange of letters between Doris Dexter Chase, Wendell Garrett, and Reuben Brower.
On December 7, 1959, Garrett wrote to Doris Dexter Chase and reiterated his plea for help in finding the portrait. He explained that he “desperately would like a photograph” of East Apthorp and that he had “searched high and low in this country and in England.” He assured Mrs. Chase that “we do not intend to invade your privacy” in having the portrait photographed.
Doris Dexter Chase apparently replied in December 1959, although her letter is not in the Adams House files. According to an undated summary, she had a “dim memory” of an etching, engraving, or photograph of a painting that might be of East Apthorp. She wrote from her winter residence in La Jolla, California, however, and would not be able to search the attic of her Vermont house until she returned in the spring. Mrs. Chase also reported that her Aunt Stella (actually her father’s aunt) had been married twice, first to a Thomas Nash and after his death to a Mr. Shields. She said she could not remember Mr. Shields’ first name because Aunt Stella had died before she was born. According to Doris Dexter Chase, Shields had been eager to acquire Aunt Stella’s property and was said to have burned her will so that he would inherit everything. He lived in Vineland, New Jersey, but Mrs. Chase’s family never had anything to do with him. Mrs. Chase thought a nephew was his heir. Why Doris Dexter Chase found it necessary to relate this tangled family saga and whether it has any connection to the purported portrait remains a mystery. One can only speculate that the portrait may have been part of Stella Dexter’s estate.
Garrett replied on December 27, 1959, with a cautiously optimistic letter that said that he was “very encouraged to hear that you might have an etching or photograph of the painting.” He promised to “reserve a possible spot” in the book for any picture of the Apthorp portrait that Mrs. Chase might find, even though the book was to be typeset in the near future. Mrs. Chase replied immediately to say that she had thought of “another possible lead for the portrait of East Apthorp” and introduced another (apparent) relative who may have been connected to the painting. She said that “there used to be a Sydney Dexter who lived in Chestnut Hill who might be able to give you some information about the portrait.” How, if at all, this Mr. Sydney (possibly Sidney, because a Sidney Dexter was a prominent resident of Chestnut Hill) Dexter was related to Joseph and Stella and the other Dexters was not revealed. Doris Dexter Chase explained that Chestnut Hill was a suburb of Philadelphia and that she had not been there for many years. She again promised to search in her attic in Vermont in the spring, but she declared to Garrett that she was “not [at] all sure that I will be able to find anything that would be of use to you.”
Doris Dexter Chase apparently wrote to Wendell Garrett again in January 1960, but only the envelope is in the Adams House file. Garrett replied, but no copy of his letter is in the file. Mrs. Chase wrote to Garrett on May 30, 1960, and said that she was “not sure just when I’ll be able to look for East Apthorp in our attic” because her husband was seriously ill in the Hanover, New Hampshire, hospital and her hands were full. She asked what the deadline was for getting a picture to Garrett, but at that point it already may have been too late. There is no reply from Garrett in the file.
Garrett made other efforts to track down the Apthorp portrait. He made inquiries at the National Portrait Gallery, London. He wrote to Charles Coleman Sellers, librarian of Dickinson College and editor of American Colonial Painting, who replied that he would inquire in Philadelphia. He also wrote to a woman named Jessica to ask her help and mentioned that he had “already tried the Phila. Museum, Parker, Prown, and Sellers.” All these efforts yielded nothing. Garrett’s Apthorp House, 1760–1960 was published in 1960 without an image of the Copley portrait of East Apthorp, although he was able to include a silhouette of Apthorp that had been sent from England in 1807 at the request of the Reverend’s sister.
The Search Continues in 1967
After Wendell Garrett’s book was published and Adams House (and Harvard) finished celebrating the 200th anniversary of Apthorp House, Garrett apparently abandoned his quest for the portrait of East Apthorp. There are no further letters from him in the Apthorp House file at Adams House. He continued to work at the Massachusetts Historical Society, where he edited the Adams papers, and subsequently served as editor of The Magazine Antiques, wrote several books on American decorative arts, and often appeared on the public television program, “Antiques Roadshow.”
The Search Continues
Reuben Brower appears to have remained interested in finding the portrait long after Garrett’s book had been completed. The Adams House files suggest that the quest for the elusive painting continued until at least 1967.
In July 1967, Robert E. Apthorp (presumably a relative of East Apthorp) of Marblehead, Massachusetts, wrote to Reuben Brower with an account of his own search for the Copley portrait of East Apthorp. Robert Apthorp said that Samuel Morison had told him that the research department of the Frick Museum in New York had been very helpful in looking up an old picture. Mr. Apthorp had written to the Frick Museum, but he reported that “they find no record of such a Copley portrait” and that he was “wondering what [the] foundation was for the story.” He also said that he would write to a Professor Prown at Yale—presumably the same Prown contacted by Garrett in 1959.
A month later, in August 1967, Doris Dexter Chase wrote to Mrs. Reuben Brower to say that she had found the time to search for the portrait or an engraving of it in her Vermont farm, although she did not explain when she had conducted this search or why she was relaying this information at that time, seven years after she had proposed to make a search. Mrs. Chase had not, unfortunately, found any pictures of East Apthorp when she cleaned out her attic in Vermont before selling the farm after her husband’s death. She did, however, find “an engraving of Governor Bradford, an ancestor, who looked anything but genial.” She also said that she would find Sydney [Sidney?] Dexter’s address the next time she went to Philadelphia.
After the letters were written in 1967, the trail of the purported Copley portrait of East Apthorp went cold. There is no further correspondence in the Adams House file and no record of any attempt to contact Sydney (probably Sidney) Dexter of Chestnut Hill.
Was there ever a Copley portrait of East Apthorp? Did it once proudly hang on the walls of Apthorp House? Was it destroyed in a fire, as Barbara Neville Parker suspected? Why did Doris Dexter Chase tell Wendell Garrett and Reuben Brower about Stella Dexter’s husbands and Sydney (or Sidney) Dexter? Did those members of the Dexter family ever have the portrait? Decades have passed since Wendell Garrett’s case went cold, so it is unlikely that these questions will ever be answered. Then again, given a probable six-figure value for Adams’ missing Copley, you never know what might still turn up in an old, dusty attic.
Like many Adams students and tutors, Sean and I have been on the go this summer. We just recently got back from Spain and Portugal, and now I am off again to Chile.
I am sitting for an hour or so in the Santiago airport, juicing up my iPhone and computer in all the familiarity of this modern, cosmopolitan city. But I am heading away from the familiar — to join my friends and teammates who are working on Recupera Chile in three of the seaside towns that were devastated by the 2010 earthquake and the ensuing tsunamis. Unfortunately, now nearly 2 and a half years later, large numbers of families in Perales, Dichato and Cobquecura are still living in temporary, housing camps. It is winter, cold and wet and miserable in the tiny shelters that were intended to be called “home” for a couple of months. Recupera Chile is a project designed to help in the reconstruction of these hard-hit towns.
Made up of faculty and students from the David Rockefeller Center, the Kennedy School, the Harvard School of Design and the Harvard Medical School and Chilean counterparts from the Ministry of Planning and several Chilean Universities, Recupera Chile is an effort to move the process of reconstruction forward in an integrated, community oriented and future minded fashion. As a physician and child development specialist, my role is to ensure that as rebuilding of the towns moves forward, we remember the children and families and build structures and institutions that foster their health.
While the work we are doing is hard, there are amazing joys involved in it. The Recupera Chile team is meeting the community residents and learning from them how they want their newly recovered towns to be. So far, we have helped fishermen get back to fishing, farmers get new seeds and soil, restaurant owners and artisans prepare for the onslaught of tourists. We have struggled with the planning around adobe restoration and we have worked with women’s sewing circles. On this trip we may buy some cows and if all goes well, start the planning for a much needed day care center.
Work like this is one of the treasures of being at Harvard, where, as President Lowell once noted, “true education should extend outside the classroom, and into the world beyond.” It’s a privilege to be part of that.
A happy and rewarding summer to you all,
Judy and Sean
In 1951, filmmaker Pare Lorentz had a problem. Embarking upon what he hoped to be his opus magnus, the definitive filmography of FDR, Lorentz was attempting to gather information on our 32nd President’s early years. But the sands of time were rapidly running down: 70-year old memories had grown dim, and the list of those who could provide credible insight into FDR’s thinking in those formative years was short indeed. There was however one clear voice left: Lathrop Brown, FDR’s Groton chum, and Harvard roommate.
Remarking on why FDR later became such an effective leader, Brown stated: FDR had traveled much more than most boys of his own age… He had an inquiring mind, and unlike other boys brought up like a litter of puppies in a kennel, who spent their time cuffing each other, he had plenty of time to spend on individualistic pursuits. Because of this, he was more mature in many respects than his contemporaries. His eyes opened earlier." The key here was travel: by age 15, FDR had spent nearly half of his life abroad, spoke fluent French and German, and had seen much of Western Europe: the very land he would be charged to defend 40 years later.
This year, as we at Adams bring the physical restoration of the FDR Suite to a close, it’s time to embark on another, and perhaps more significant project: the establishment of the FDR International Traveling Fellowship program. Planned as a working memorial to Roosevelt, this program would each year award a stipend of up to $8,000 per applicant to pay for an accredited academic program abroad, and then, once successfully completed, provide the student with a $3500 stipend to make up for lost summer wages. This last distinguishes the FDR Fellowships from all others: while there are already established programs for study abroad, applicants need to possess sufficient wherewithal to be able to afford the economic cost of not working during the summer in order to take advantage of them, which effectively eliminates the very neediest from participating.
As a country we were extremely fortunate in that FDR’s family had the foresight and ability to guide his education to become a true "man of the world." However, we can’t know where the next FDR is coming from, and thus we seek to expand the field of candidates to the greatest extent possible to include talented individuals of limited economic means.
The FDR International Traveling Fellowship Program would be available to undergraduates below a fixed income threshold, and would be awarded to students of any race, culture, creed (or political view – this too is important, as these scholarships will be entirely non-partisan) who wish to pursue clearly delineated goals in both the sciences and humanities that have the potential to foster cross-cultural communication and assistance in the international spirit of FDR’s Fourth Inaugural Address:
"Today, in this year of war, 1945, we have learned lessons—at a fearful cost—and we shall profit by them.
We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other Nations, far away…
We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.
We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said, that, ‘The only way to have a friend is to be one.’"
An endowment of 1.5 million dollars will permanently fund the Foundation’s operations, maintain the Suite’s collections, and provide for up to 5 FDR Fellowships per year. Additional funds, if acquired, would go to expanding the scholarship program. Scholarships will begin to be awarded once the program reaches the $250,000 mark, and will be offered first to current residents of Adams House, and then to the undergraduate body as a whole.
Our intention is to begin actively seeking this money during the next year from individuals, foundations and especially corporations that share global business and societal interests in improving the human condition around the world.
If you’d like to help us – either through direct contribution or introduction to others who might – we’d love to hear from you.
We’ve been truly blessed at Adams with every educational opportunity that money can buy, including, perhaps, the most important of all – to have been surrounded by people who led through example – and it’s high time that we, too, take up the baton and extend Adams’ proud presidential legacy throughout the world.
Well, our mailbox was full last issue (and will be again, we think, when you finishing reading this latest batch of letters) but by and large your letters fell into two groups:
Responses to Sean’s wonderful piece on the Adams House pool:
Mac Dewart ’70 writes:
Beautiful and absolutely thorough piece! The unconscious never ages, said Freud……Why do our exploits at twenty, sexual or otherwise, live with such extraordinary luminosity…..as if cut into bronze, every detail never diminishing, never losing power… yes!
Fred Atherton ’90 writes
Hmm…just VERY much enjoyed Sean Lynn-Jones’s article on the pool and certainly availed myself of it quite happily after-hours in 1989-90. I can attest from personal experience that all that was needed to pop the door latch into the rather dismal little changing room off the steam tunnel/corridor was a bent wire hanger – there was a biggish gap between the metal-clad door and its metal frame, with the latch tongue clearly visible, until that door was put on the deadbolt, which wouldn’t submit to such ministrations.
I wasn’t at the infamous closing night, alas – I think (horrors!) I actually had work to do or something. From the undergrad perspective in ’90, things WERE basically over after that momentous ‘bust’: thereverafter, the deadbolt was on the door that had so easily been popped in prior days. By the following year, it was but a drained performance space. Sigh.
I well recall my roommate’s wonderful story of Janet Viggiani (marvellous fun brilliant woman, who saved my sorry arse more than once: requiescat in pace – she is sorely missed!) – apparently, she came in, and stood, quite regally, at the head of the double stair, surveying the general mayhem of naked undergraduates (et al.)… Tapping her foot suggestively, she noted, in a clear voice: “Alright! You have five minutes before I notice who’s here.” The assembled party vanished like Manhattan cockroaches when the lights come on, of course. [We’re still trying to figure out if this happened at the “pool party to end all pool parties” or on another occasion. Can any alums enlighten us? Eds].
Now that Mother (or is it Big Brother?) Harvard won’t even allow undergraduates to use their own bloody fireplaces, I’m particularly struck with the loss of such freedoms as the Adams Pool provided. It’s a poorer world without ’em.
P.S. You really should (re-)publish the Lampoon’s subscription page ca. 1987, spoofing the Kelly LeBrock Dior ads: Scene: male body, in dinner jacket, floating face-down in Adams pool; poolside, glamorous woman in evening gown and pale makeup plus another man in black tie laughing their heads off, pouring champagne or some such; caption: “The Diors refused to let a little senseless poolside tragedy spoil their fun!” (subscribe to the Lampoon…).
Maiya Williams Verrone ’84 writes:
I read with great interest the article about the Adams House pool. I remember the day I discovered it; I was exploring the tunnels on a rainy day and sort of stumbled across it, without realizing where the door was leading I just opened it up and there it was. A beautifully ornate, dimly lit space; dank, mysterious, and a bit scary since there was no one else there. I felt like an explorer discovering a lost city in the Amazon. I’m sorry the pool is gone, but it sounds like the theater is getting more use, at least more than the pool was getting in the early 80’s. Thanks so much for the online magazine, it’s a pleasure to read to relive and remember my wonderful days living at Adams House!
Edward G. Stockwell, ’55 writes:
I was especially moved by the article, The Deep End: Tales from the Pool, in the Autumn 2011 issue of The Gold Coaster. I lived in Adams House for three years (1952-55) and frequently used the pool for relaxing after dinner. I particular remember one weekend in the spring of ’55 when the pool was opened for our spring dance weekend and, as a member of the house dance committee, I volunteered to act as lifeguard during the afternoon preceding the dance. As I remember it, only one couple showed up. But it was still a memorable afternoon — even if we did not have nude coeds to share the waters back in those days . . . at least not openly.
And, responses to the first part of Bob Kiely’s memoir:
Guy Benveniste ’48 writes:
Bob Harmann ’50 confirms again in his letter in the last issue, that in the late forties the food at Adams was the best on campus. Well, probably it was . But that tells us little. It was abominable everywhere on campus. Un point c’est tout. We are unaware today how bad it was because we see the past in rosy colors and we were young and hungry. You have to wait for the seventies to witness the American culinary revolution. Today I can find better bread in Berkeley than I can find in Paris. But in the late forties: No. For us French foreign students it was an additional burden and I am certain that it affected our grades. How else can I explain my Gentleman C average and yet I wrote books , taught and acted as if I had eaten well…. The only nice aspect of the dining hall was that you had to wear a tie. they even supplied some at the door. and today I miss ties. But I do not miss the brown or white mush we were given.
Kevin Ward ’75 writes:
As the official Creator/Big-Time-Operator of the Adams Ivy-and -World-Championship Raft Race (and all of the posters, ridiculous T-Shirts, 100s of cases of cases of beer conned out of distributors for “marketing purposes”, Award creation (i.e. “Last out of Saigon”, “Most Revisionist Bourgeoisie”, and “Most Likely to have been conceived while on Acid”) and responsible for the fashion-forward thinking that resulted in the Harvard Band wearing fishnet stockings for our first 3 races), I want to set the record straight: Kiely (who I love) may have WISHED he came up with all that stuff, but we just jobbed him in to give this highly dubious insta-tradition some class. He was preparing awesome lectures while we were consuming the psychedelics necessary to dream up an event of such wit, grandeur, global scope and ultimate irrelevance. As they say, success has many fathers, but this was my baby (for better or worse)
…which is why I want some column space to tell the TRUE story!
Editors’ note: The gauntlet is thrown! Kevin, we gladly accept your offer for the next issue!
James Gillen ’59 writes:
In his article, A House Remembered, Bob Kiely describes being approached by a group of gay students who tried to have their presence openly acknowledged. There is some suggestion that his introduction to this dimension of Adams House was somewhat a surprise.
I lived in Adams House from 1956-1959 when I graduated. Sometime in 1957-1958, I returned to my room one night and found one of my roommates in flagrante delicto with an unknown male. Later that night, he confessed to me that he was a homosexual. That explained a great deal which has previously been a mystery. I was distressed to learn not to long ago he died in his 40s, presumably from HIV.
He began to educate me about homosexuals at Harvard, especially at Adams House. I was surprised by the large number he identified for me, including some of the resident tutors. It explained to me why I had never been really accepted by this friends and acquaintances as I was not gay. To this day, I believe I can recognize a homosexual simply by his appearance based on my “education”.
The most astonishing thing that occurred involved a course I was talking called “Human Behavior.” It was a kind of group therapy class with extensive reading of various classic psychology studies. We were asked to write a paper for our final grade analyzing some experience we had had.
During that year, I had produced the opera Dido and Aeneas for a performance at Adams House. All of the participants were members of Adams House. I had a very difficult time managing the production and felt it was a bad experience. I decided to use that experience for my study.
When I received my grade the then Professor in charge (the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences) I got a C. Having had mostly and A average, I was somewhat dismayed and asked for an opportunity to discuss the paper with the Professor. When we met he said: “You have entirely missed the point in your paper. All these people you describe are homosexual. Their behavior is exactly parallel to a study of Benedictine Monks in Spain. They resent authority, especially from someone who is not gay.”
I was stunned for I knew that he was correct that most of these people I had described in this paper were in fact homosexuals, based on my roommate’s identification.
I said to him. “You are right, but it wasn’t about these people. Furthermore, that study you referred to was not included on any of our reading lists.” He gave me an A.
I was struck by the fact that he could make this kind of identification without direct observation of those involved.
It has also convinced me that homosexuals have personality problems in addition to sexual preference, and are in fact “different.”
Nevertheless, I have not formed any prejudice against them.
From Mr. Kiely’s remarks, I sense that there is still some denial of the existence of homosexuality at Harvard. Based on my experience I am not surprised that they are attracted to Harvard as they have a sensitivity and identification with the intellectual and artistic which would seem to be helpful in obtaining a Harvard education. In any event, it was one aspect of my life at Adams House that was rarely discussed. Perhaps it’s best not to make too much of it as long as these students continue to contribute to the Harvard tradition of scholarship, creativity, and productivity.
Editor’s Note: We’ve published Mr. Gillen’s letter with full knowledge that it will elicit considerable comment, but after much debate amongst my fellow editors, I came to the decision that, whether we agree with the sentiment or not, letters like these are historical documents – part of a shared Adamsian heritage – and that it’s important to chart how our views of sexuality and gender have changed through time. To that end, we encourage others of you to share with us your experiences with sexuality and gender issues at Adams, in the hope of putting together a feature for a future issue. MDW