Category Archives: tributes (written by Roger W. Smith)

My posts on Ralph Colp, Jr., Norman F. Cantor, and Eiji Mizutani have been updated.

 

 

 

The following posts of mine – each of them a tribute to a deceased person I admired — have been updated by me:

 

 
Roger W. Smith, ‘tribute to Ralph Colp, Jr., MD”

 

https://rogersgleanings.com/2016/02/16/tribute-to-ralph-colp-jr-md/

 

 

 

my history professor, Norman F. Cantor

 

https://rogersgleanings.com/2016/06/13/norman-f-cantor/

 

 

 

Roger W. Smith, “Reminiscence of Eiji Mizutani” (ロジャーW.スミス、「水谷栄二さんを偲んで」)

 

https://rogersgleanings.com/2017/08/18/xxxx-roger-w-smith-reminscence-of-eiji-mizutani-%E3%83%AD%E3%82%B8%E3%83%A3%E3%83%BCw-%E3%82%B9%E3%83%9F%E3%82%B9%E3%80%81%E3%80%8C%E6%B0%B4%E8%B0%B7%E6%A0%84%E4%BA%8C%E3%81%95/

 

 

To each post, I have added  communiqués I received from relatives of the deceased. It was an oversight on my part not to have done this before.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

    June 2019

Roger W. Smith, tribute to Pierre Coustillas (Gissing authority)

 

 

 

 

roger’s tribute to piere coustilas

 

 

Posted here as a PDF document (above) is:

 

Roger W. Smith, “Tribute to Pierre Coustillas,” Supplement to The Gissing Journal, Volume LIL, Number 4, October 2018
Pierre Coustillas (1930-2018) was a French literary scholar and emeritus professor of English at the University of Lille. He was the world’s foremost authority on the works of the late-Victorian novelist George Gissing.

William Sage Dalzell (1929-2018)

 

 

‘William Sage Dalzell (1929-2018)’

 

 

 

Bill Dalzell was one of the first people I got to know after moving to New York City. I will never forget his kindness to me. My friendship with Bill was a long and enduring one.

If you got to know Bill well, as I did — if you were privileged to know him — you will probably know the following things about him, and, if you do, will know that they are all true.

He never cared about externals. Dressed simply. Lived by intuition. He followed politics closely but was fundamentally an apolitical person.

He believed absolutely in the spiritual, in mysticism, and in bona fide psychics such as Edgar Cayce and the medium Grace Cooke, author of the White Eagle books. He was interested in the writings of mystics such as Meister Eckhart — in the case of Eckhart, in the concept of detachment or disinterestedness: renouncing self-interest to attain spiritual enlightenment.

He believed without any doubt that there was an afterlife on “the other side.”

He was skeptical of much of what is considered orthodoxy — he used to say, “Science marches backward.” A paradox with an element of truth in it.

He absolutely did not believe in medicine or doctors. He had no bank account, as far as I knew.

He had an interesting mind, in many respects totally unconventional. Was a nonconformist. Yet he was one of the kindest, politest, most civil persons you could hope to meet. He was a true gentleman. He had a warm, mellifluous voice with an inflection, which he never lost, that bespoke his Pennsylvania roots.

He thought for himself and by himself. He had an interesting way of expressing original concepts. For example, he told me that he liked to call cats “fur people.” He said it made it easier to conceptualize having a relationship with them. And, then there was his concept of the “foot philosophy,” which he explained by saying that when he couldn’t decide which bus or train to take, whether to go to a museum or the cinema, or whether to walk uptown or downtown, he would go wherever, instinctually, his feet took him, follow his feet.

He did not put on airs. Just the opposite. He used to say to me, when he was living on East 5th Street between Avenues A and B, “I live in a slum and I like it.” At that time (which was the time when I first met him), urban renewal and slum clearance were in the air.

He was a deeply religious person and, especially in his later years, a churchgoer. This despite the fact that he detested religious dogmatism.

He was a very earnest thinker. He dwelt all day long, every day, in the realm of ideas. He thought long and hard about things. Over and over again. Immortality and the afterlife. What is truth? The truth of art. The spiritual. Past lives. Places.

He did not have much use for formal education, although there was an English teacher at the prep school he attended, Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, whom he never forgot, who taught him to appreciate poetry. He wasn’t impressed by scholarship or academic credentials. He developed his own credo, but it was never set in stone. He would often say, quoting some philosopher: “Truth is like a butterfly. If you pin it down, it dies.”

He had acute tastes in art and loved the arts.

He was an earnest seeker after truth. In a conversation we had a few months ago, he told me something a philosophy professor in a college class he was enrolled in said many years ago: “The question is not whether a philosophy or belief system is true, it’s whether you like it nor not; does it appeal to you, say something to you? The same thing applies to art.” He sent me a postcard of Notre-Dame de Paris on a trip there in the summer of 1969. I remember in essence what he wrote. That he would continue seeking truth wherever he went. That he was in search of truth, repeating the word several times.

 

 

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Some biographical details about Bill.

He grew up in Wilkinsburg, a borough adjacent to Pittsburgh. He loved the hills. The trolley cars. The movie theatre. How he went to a film once and before the film heard music, which he later learned was Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. He wasn’t expecting it. The music overwhelmed him. It was a mystical experience. Bill’s grandfather had a 78 rpm record of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. Bill played it over and over again and said to me in old age that he had never ever tired of it.

He moved to New York in the 1950’s. He loved his adopted city. He used to say, “Would you care to hear me sing the praises of New York?” He used to marvel at the fact that so many people of all races and nationalities lived cheek by jowl in harmony. At how much the City had to offer by way of culture and places to enjoy at modest prices.

He made friends with many spiritually inclined people and, also, readily made friends with artists such as his lifelong friend Edwin Treitler, an artist, writer, and spiritual healer; the “magic realist” painter Gregory Gillespie; and the Greek-American painter Bill Komodore. He had an affinity for people in the arts. Gillespie’s portrait of Bill Dalzell, “Bill (in Studio),” was painted in the mid-1980’s when Bill was living in Pittsfield and Gillespie was living nearby in Belchertown, Massachusetts. The painting is owned by the Forum Galley in New York City. Bill had befriended Gillespie when the latter was studying at Cooper Union in New York in the late 1950’s.

He would on occasion speak about his parents: his father, who would visit Bill from time to time at his apartment on East 5th Street; and his mother, who died tragically of cancer in middle age. He felt an unnecessary operation led to her death. He never mentioned that his great-grandfather John Dalzell was a congressman from Pennsylvania.

He used to go the Metropolitan Museum of Art every weekend. He said that going to the Met was his equivalent of attending church. He would always begin by sitting in the cafeteria for an hour or so nursing a cup of coffee, lost in thought.

He had his favorite haunts. Besides the Met: the Thalia theater, an art movie house on West 95th Street; the Staten Island Ferry; the automat. He loved being able to see two films for the price of one at the Thalia and discovered art films there (as well as at the Museum of Modern Art). He loved to take the Staten Island Ferry to Staten Island and back. We did it together several times. Bill would recommend getting off on the Staten Island side and having a cup of coffee or walking around for a while. In his early New York days, he would get off and see a movie in Staten Island, then take the ferry back.

He had a discerning eye for art. He was an admirer of the painter Edward Hopper. During museum trips we made together, he would point out how Hopper made use of light. “The light is different in America,” Bill would say. By “different,” he meant brighter. More brilliant. An observation which was true.

Bill loved the painting “The Peaceable Kingdom” by the American folk artist Edward Hicks and how the painting depicted visually Quaker principles: the lion lying down with the lamb. He would often go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the painting.

Bill singlehandedly made me into a discerning filmgoer. He got me to appreciate foreign films such as Ivan the Terrible, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, the director Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Ordet, and The Gospel According to St. Matthew, films that most people would be unlikely to know about.

He loved the D. W. Griffith film Intolerance, which he had seen I don’t know how many times. The film ends with an idealistic vision of a day “when prison bars wrought in the fires of intolerance will no longer prevail” and spectral prisoners in striped uniforms are seen moving through prison walls which disappear. A scene remarked upon by Bill.

He only recently called my attention to a film he loved from his early days in New York City: 3rd Ave. El, which was made in 1955. The music, as Bill pointed out, is a Haydn concerto played by harpsichordist Wanda Landowska. Bill thought the music was great and that it made the film. He made an observation to me once that I remember. He said that films work their magic by “sight and sound.”

His aesthetic senses were astute. Yet, it was all intuition, never tendentious. I learned much from him about how, while trusting my own intuitions, and being guided by them, to discriminate between the most profound works of art (chiefly films and paintings) and currently popular ones which (he could see) were of only passing interest at best or works that did not speak directly to him. He told me once that a good “measuring rod” for films was to ask oneself: do you still think it’s great, are you still thinking about it, the day after?

This kind of thinking — a sort of seat of the pants ratiocination — influenced me strongly. I feel that Bill never got credit for it and that it was overlooked. Another thought of his along these lines was a remark he made about traveling. When one arrives home after an overseas trip, he said to me, one is not quite home yet, mentally, and is still, mentally, a traveler. It takes a day or two to feel fully back home mentally, and, during that day or two, one is experiencing one’s own city as a traveler would experience it.

 

 

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I remember Bill at 218 East 18th Street like it was yesterday and wish I could bring those times back. The cubbyhole in the cellar where he had his printing press. The pay phone in the hall on the bottom floor on which he would get calls from clients. How Charlie Bloomstein, the executive director of the New York Friends Group, would haggle Bill about paying part of the monthly phone bill.

In the 1960’s, he was kept busy printing flyers for the War Resisters League and Women’s Strike for Peace. Handouts announcing a march or demonstration. They trusted him; he was their printer of choice. “The war is good for business,” he would say to me jokingly.

Bill and his printing press. How he seemed to keep it working with rubber bands and paper clips and would, in his own words, get down on his knees and pray to the press to not stop working. How he would read his New York Times as the press was humming with sheets coming out of it. He had bill pads he had made up with the words: “William Dalzell, Quality Multilith Printing.” He explained to me how a multilith printer worked. The key thing to keep in mind, he said, is that “oil and water don’t like each other.” He loved to observe how mechanical things worked, and he loved old inventions. In a Thanksgiving card Bill sent me in the 1980’s, he wrote about visiting the Science Museum in Boston with Ed Treitler and his daughter Anya. “My favorite thing was the steam engine,” he wrote. “I love steam engines.”

My job title at the New York Friends Group was Workroom Supervisor; my responsibilities included mimeographing. Bill would patiently try, repeatedly, to show me how to stack a ream of paper so that the ends lined up. I never quite got the hang of it.

 
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Bill’s mind interested me because, like mine, it ranged all over the place. Nothing was seemingly too mundane for him to notice and consider, think about, and nothing was too arcane or “airy.” He once got to talking about waiters. He didn’t like coffee shops because he preferred not to have to be waited upon. He preferred places such as a cafeteria or fast food place where you could place your order and take it to your table. “Americans don’t make good waiters,” he told me. “They don’t like to be in a subservient position.”

Bill said that he had once had an experience in a restaurant in Europe (he was no snob and was anything but an epicure) with the perfect waiter. “A good waiter,” he said, “is someone who is there when you want them and is not there when you don’t.”

 

 

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Bill was a great traveler. The places he went to (on a limited budget)! Europe. Mexico, where he lived for a while on a Friends Service Committee project. Alaska and Labrador. The Aran and Orkney Islands. The Findhorn spiritual community in Scotland. Russia. The Monastery of Trinity-St. Sergius, which is located near Moscow in what was then known as the town of Zagorsk. Bill had what he described as a mystical, or near mystical, experience there.

He had interesting observations to share — some of them “episodic,” but nonetheless fruitful. “The Scotch are in a class by themselves when it comes to love of books and reading,” he told me once. “You go into a bar and you’ll see a working man in working clothes with a worn [meaning its cover] book sticking out of his back pocket.”

His favorite place was Notre-Dame de Paris. He said that Notre-Dame was “the most holy place” he had ever visited.

He was in the United States Merchant Marine during his young adulthood. It must have been his first experience of travel. He told me that there is a lot of time on a ship where one is doing nothing and can presumably read and reflect. He said that as far as his duties on the ship were concerned, they almost always involved painting. Bill was not afraid or too snobby to do menial jobs.

He was not much of a writer, in terms of output, but he would write occasionally when he was away, always a very short communique — by design — usually a postcard. His writing was notable for its deliberate plainness and its sincerity. And his neat printing, which resembled calligraphy. He was a generous and thoughtful giver, on a limited budget, of gifts. If he wished to share a book with you, he would give you his own copy to keep, such as his ink stained copy of Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy and a book by Edgar Cayce.

Bill’s favorite poem was Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” which ends with the following lines which Bill would recite:

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   March 2018

 

 

 

Bill Dalzell's note to Roger

This note from Bill Dalzell to Roger Smith was inserted in a copy of a book, “Edgar Cayce’s Story of Jesus,” given to Roger by Bill.

 

 

 

can the sun “grin”?

 

I learned in yesterday’s New York Times about the passing of my former journalism professor Maurice (Mickey) Carroll, who died on December 6th.

 

“Maurice Carroll, Political Reporter and Pollster, Dies at 86”

By Sam Roberts

The New York Times, December 6, 2017

 

 

 

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Mickey Carroll was a tough, dapper Irish guy and an outstanding reporter on the Times’s city desk for many years. He taught me far more about writing than any of my other journalism profs; it wasn’t even close.

It’s a truism that the best way to learn any skill is to do it. Well, besides lecturing, Carroll meticulously critiqued our writing (stories we had to report and write as class assignments).

I would hand in a story to him. I remember one was when he let the class interview him press conference style and we were assigned to write a profile of him. “This is very good,” he said to me, handing back the paper a day or two later, “but it’s too long.”

I kept tightening up my work. I began to appreciate how important space limitations are in a newspaper. For a feature article, it’s usually six hundred words. Six hundred words meant just that: six hundred words. If you wrote, say, 615 words, your editor would be unhappy, having to do the work himself of excising a “graf” from your story.

I would hand in papers that I thought were as carefully and tightly constructed as I could make them, with no superfluous words. They would come back with red lines drawn though maybe ten or fifteen words or phrases that I had never realized were superfluous. A “that,” say, where it could be dispensed with.

 

 

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Professor (and seasoned reporter) Carroll told us a funny story in class one day which illustrates the frustrations he himself had experienced as a writer. He finally left the Times for another paper. He said the final straw was when he once assigned to cover the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Manhattan.

The lead sentence in the story he turned in was “The sun grinned on the Irish yesterday.”

“Grinned” was too colorful a word for the copy editor at the Times, which was known for bloodless prose. (It still is, but efforts have made over recent years to make the writing more lively.) For “grinned,” the copy editor substituted some more generic verb.

“That did it,” Mickey said.

I could identify with the frustrations he felt with pettifogging editors.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

  December 7, 2017

 

 

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Addendum: Sam Roberts, one of the Times’s best obituary writers, and an outstanding writer in general, wrote the obituary. He notes: “Known to be cranky but easily amused, Mr. Carroll would often pepper his reporting with wry and iconoclastic asides.” That’s how he was in class: the teacher/editor who applied principles of “tough love” to improving the writing of his students, while doing it with wit and grace. And, he showed us how, while adhering to strict standards of newspaper writing, you could also have fun and work in a quip or an amusing detail or two. Shoehorn it in, that is, word length permitting.

“He never lost his reporter’s perspective, though, advising would-be journalists never to take themselves too seriously, no matter how important the news they’re covering may be,” Sam Roberts writes.

I found this to be true. He was a complete professional, and, as such, he was never out of character in class, yet he himself was a character.

He stressed that his vocation was that of REPORTER, and he once told a story to illustrate what that meant.

Early in Carroll’s career, a reporter on the Times’s arts desk, a cultural critic, was somewhere in Manhattan at some event or performance one evening. As he was leaving, he observed that a big fire had broken out in a building across the street. He telephoned the Times from a pay phone, shouting, “Get a reporter here immediately! There’s a fire!”

He was a reporter,” observed Carroll, who happened to be at Dallas Police Headquarters on one of his first reporting assignments when Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby. “He was there. He should have covered the fire.”

Roger W. Smith, “Reminiscence of Eiji Mizutani” (ロジャーW.スミス、「水谷栄二さんを偲んで」)

 

 

 

‘Reminiscence of Eiji Mizutani

 

 

 

Chizuko Mizutani

to Roger Smith

February 27, 2016

 

 

Dear Roger-san,

How nice of you to comment nicely about Eiji.

Ten years has past. And still you remember vividly.

I was so impressed.

If I succeed in printing out your Reminiscence of Eiji Mizutani, I will visit his grave yard and read for him.

Roger-san, Thank you so much.

Gomennasai means I am sorry.

Very fondly yours,

Chizuko

 
Chizuko Mizutani

to Roger Smith

March 3, 2016

 

Dear Roger-san,

I would like to report that I visited Eiji’s graveyard with bunch of flowers, and read your article “Reminiscence of Eiji Mizutani”.

He smiled and listened to my voice calmly.

He was a bit surprised to notice the date January 2016, the same as I was.

Anyway, he told me to convey his kindest regards to you.

These are my imagination.

Very fondly yours,

Chizuko

 

 

 

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下記の日本語訳をご覧ください

 

 

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Roger W. Smith, “Reminscence of Eiji Mizutani” (ロジャーW.スミス、「水谷栄二さんを偲んで」)

 

 

Eiji Mizutani (水谷 栄二), a former colleague of mine at Watson Wyatt Worldwide, passed away in Tokyo on January 30, 2006.

Mr. Mizutani was the manager of the Wyatt Company’s Tokyo office. During the 1990’s, he divided his time between Tokyo and New York and was involved in initiatives to establish new business for the Wyatt Company with Japanese clients both in Japan and the United States.

I was employed in Business Development and Mr. Mizutani was interested in recruiting me to work with potential Japanese client firms.

Unfortunately, not much ever came of this. But Mr. Mizutani arranged for me to go to Tokyo on a business trip and paid for the trip with a plane ticket purchased with his frequent flier miles. It was thanks to him that I got to see Japan. He was keenly interested in my trip and gave me advice on what to do and see and whom to meet with.

I spent a great deal of time in New York with Mr. Mizutani, both at the office and in causal encounters.

I had great respect and affection for Mr. Mizutani. He was a wonderful person. He was intelligent and well informed in so many areas: business, languages, and general knowledge. He was interested in many things. In fact, it seems he was interested in just about everything. We talked about many subjects, ranging from business to sports. He was an avid sports fan.

He told me about his childhood and his education in Vietnam and the United States. He was a modest man with an impressive background. Apparently, much of his early education was in Vietnam, and he attended college in the United States during the 1950’s, I believe in Indiana.

He knew three languages fluently: Japanese, English, and Vietnamese. His English was impeccable.

He once told me, which I found surprising and interesting, that Vietnamese was an even more difficult language to learn than Chinese.

Mr. Mizutani was a kind person. He seemed to enjoy life greatly.

He enjoyed sharing his experiences and wisdom with his colleagues. This was something he seemed to see as part of his role.

He took his work very seriously, yet he was a delightful companion whom one loved to spend time with. He had a very good sense of humor.

On one occasion, Mr. Mizutani; his secretary, Iseko Kano (叶 伊勢子); his wife, Chizuko Mizutani (水谷 千鶴子), who was visiting New York; and I had lunch together at an Italian restaurant in Manhattan. The waiter spoke to us in an affected Italian accent. Mr. Mizutani joked that with customers in restaurants like these, they “forget that they know English” (pretend that they don’t know it).

He was a very thoughtful and generous person, always doing little kindnesses, like leaving some Japanese pastries on my desk on a day when he left the New York office to return to Tokyo because he thought my sons would enjoy them.

We talked together about family and kids. He was modest about his family, but one could tell that he was very proud of them. I know he was delighted with his sons’ accomplishments, thrilled when his oldest son got married, and very pleased to become a grandfather, because he told me so. (As of the date of this writing, his widow, Chizuko Mizutani, has four grandchildren. See photo below.)

Mr. Mizutani loved to travel, and everything he saw seemed to interest him. One of the last conversations we had was about a trip he had made to Eastern Europe. He had taken a great interest in Bulgaria, a country I myself had once traveled to, and we were able to compare notes.

He liked to experience different cuisines, like a restaurant he introduced me to on Restaurant Row in Manhattan that featured Italian-Jewish cuisine. He was interested in sampling the food in Bulgaria.

He was very much a real, full, and accomplished person in the best sense.

I miss him very much.

 

 

— Roger W Smith

     January 2016

 

 

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ロジャーW.スミス、「水谷栄二さんを偲んで」

 

掲載日 2016年1月4  掲載者Roger’s Gleanings

 

 

水谷栄二さんは、私がワトソン・ワイアット・ワールドワイドに務めていたころの同僚で、2006年1月30日に東京で亡くなった。

水谷さんは、ワイアット・カンパニーの東京支社のマネージャーだった。1990年代、彼は東京とニューヨークとに時間を振り分け、日米で日本の企業を対象にワイアット・カンパニーの事業を推進していた。

私は事業開発部に所属しており、水谷さんは日本のお客様担当として私を採用してくれようとしていた。

不運にも、これは実現しなかった。しかし水谷さんのおかげで、私は彼が飛行機のマイレージサービスを使って購入してくれた航空券で東京に出張させてもらうことができた。日本に行かせていただいた事を彼に感謝している。彼は私の日本訪問に強い興味を示し、何をし、何を見、誰と会うべきか、いろいろと助言してくれた。

私はニューヨークで水谷さんと、仕事でも私生活でもかなりの時間を一緒に過ごさせていただいた。

私は水谷さんを大変尊敬しており、深い敬愛の念を抱いている。彼は素晴らしい人だった。彼は知的で、ビジネス、言語、および一般知識にいたるまで、幅広い知識を持っていた。彼は多くのことに興味を持っていた。事実、彼はすべてのことに関心があるように見えた。私たちは、ビジネスからスポーツまで、様々なテーマについて話した。彼は熱烈なスポーツファンだった。

彼は子供の頃のこと、ベトナムとアメリカで受けた教育のことについて話してくれた。彼は素晴らしい学歴を持ちながらも謙虚な人だった。彼は子供時代の教育のほとんどをベトナムで受け、1950年代にアメリカの(インディアナ州だったと思う)の大学に通った。

彼は、日本語、英語、およびベトナム語の3ヶ国語に精通していた。彼の英語には非の打ち所が無かった。

彼は一度、ベトナム語を学ぶのは、中国語を学ぶよりも難しいと話してくれたことがあり、驚いたのと同時に、興味深かったことを覚えている。

水谷さんは親切な人だった。彼は人生を存分に楽しんでいるようだった。

彼は、彼の経験と知識を同僚と共有できることに喜びを感じていた。彼はこれを彼の職務の一環と考えているようだった。

彼は仕事にとても真剣に取り組むまじめな人だったが、誰もが一緒に時間を過ごしたいと思うような楽しい友人でもあった。彼には素晴らしいユーモアセンスがあった。

水谷さん、秘書の叶伊勢子さん、ニューヨークを訪れていた妻の水谷千鶴子さんと私とでマンハッタンのイタリア料理のレストランで昼食をとっていたときのこと。 ウェイターが偽物のイタリアンなまりの英語で私たちに話しかけてくると、水谷さんはすかさず、こういうレストランに来るお客さんの影響で、「ウェイターさんは英語が話せることを忘れてしまうのかな[英語が話せないふりをしている]」とジョークを飛ばした。

彼はとても思いやり深く、寛容な人だった。常にさりげない優しさを忘れず、彼が東京に戻る前のニューヨークオフィス最後の日にも、私の息子が喜ぶだろうから、と私のデスクに日本の菓子パンを置いていってくれたことがある。

私たちは家族や子供たちのことについても話した。彼は家族の事を褒めちぎるようなことはなかったが、内心はとても誇りに思っていることはよく分かった。彼は息子さんの成功をとても喜んでいること、ご長男が結婚されたときはとても感激したこと、そしておじいさんになったときはとてもうれしかったことを話してくれた。(このブログを執筆時、彼の未亡人・水谷千鶴子さんには4人のお孫さんがいる。(下の写真を参照してください)

水谷さんは旅行が大好きで、見たものすべてに興味を持つようだった。最後に交わした会話では、東ヨーロッパの旅行についても話した。彼はブルガリアにとても興味を持っていた。ブルガリアは私も訪れた事があり、互いの旅行記を比較しあった。

彼は異文化の食べ物を体験するのが好きで、彼が紹介してくれたマンハッタンの「Restaurant Row」ではユダヤ系イタリア料理を楽しむことができた。彼はブルガリアでも新しい食べ物に関心を示していた。

彼は最高の意味で、地に足の着いた、中身のある、洗練された人だった。

私は彼が居なくなってとても悲しい。

 

 

ロジャーW. スミス

      2016年1

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

Chizuko Mizutani email of 11-14-2007

 

 

mizutani-grandchildren

Mr. Mizutani’s grandchildren

Professor Joachim Gaehde

 

 

 

elevation-of-the-eucharist-ca-1483-90

 

 

 

Brandeis University Art History professor Joachim Gaehde passed away three years ago. I had not thought about him for years and learned about his death from an online obituary:

http://www.brandeis.edu/now/2013/November/joachim-gaehde.html

May I be permitted a few words about the professor and his course?

“Gem” is a good word for Prof. Gaehde. He was very dedicated and serious in class, but you could tell that he was a very warm person.

I learned things from his obituary that I never knew and about which, when taking his course years ago, I had no clue:

that he was a Jewish refugee from Germany;

that he had two children who survived him;

that his wife, Christa Gaehde (nee Christa Maria Schelcher), “was renowned in the field of conservation and restoration of art on paper, and worked for many of the top American museums.”

I took two courses with Professor Gaehde: one on early medieval art and one on the art of the high Middle Ages.

I loved the courses; they complemented the ones I was taking with Professor Norman F. Cantor on medieval history.

I barely passed. I got a C in one of the two semesters and a C- in the other semester.

Art history was never my strong point. I am especially bad at architecture (e.g., church architecture). I still can’t for the life of me tell what a flying buttress is.

But Professor Gaehde was a dedicated, enthusiastic teacher and a fine lecturer. He introduced us to much fine, rich, and beautiful art — particularly illuminated manuscripts, many of which are at the Morgan Library in New York City.

He would note that this or that illuminated book was at the Morgan Library, and I would be saying to myself, “that’s funny, wouldn’t they be in a MUSEUM rather than a LIBRARY?”

Professor Gaehde was not an easy grader, but I liked him and his course and got a lot from it, despite my subpar performance. It shows that grades can be a misleading indicator (sometimes) of the value of educational experience.

What I most enjoyed was the illuminated manuscripts that we learned about – mainly, the Carolingian, Gothic, and Romanesque manuscripts and the complex, fascinating Irish art, the former including the Lindisfarne Gospels and the latter the Book of Kells.

I rarely missed a lecture.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

      June 2016

my history professor, Norman F. Cantor

 

 

‘Norman F. Cantor’

 

 

Judy Cantor-Navas

to Roger Smith

July 1, 2016

 

Hello Roger,

Thank you very much for sending me the blog post you wrote about my father.

It was a lovely surprise. I know he would have been so pleased to have read it. It was interesting and gratifying for me to read how a student saw him, and know more of what his classes were like. And you took 3 classes with him!!

You preceived and remember a lot about his personality. He did love to tell stories and make jokes. Above all he loved to teach and to write, and to read. Besides his family, that was what was important to him, and that was what he dedicated most of his days to throughout his life. Although, as you noted, he liked watching baseball -and football- on TV. He also liked to cook, and was quite good at it.

I know that his strong opinions made him a controversial figure, but he believed in fighting for what he thought was right. In the Brandeis years, when I was a little girl, there were often students in our house. I loved living in Lexington- thanks for bringing that time back to me!

 

Best,

Judy

 

 

 

Roger Smith to Judy Cantor-Navas

July 2, 2016

 

 

Hi, Judy.

To say I was pleased to hear from you would be an understatement.

I worked hard on the essay (tribute) on your father. He meant a great deal to me as a teacher.

I noted from Facebook that you went to New York University, as did I as a graduate student. Once, in the 1980’s, I saw your dad on a street corner in the NYU neighborhood. I did not make an attempt to speak with him. He would not have remembered me.

in a Wikepeida article about your father
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Cantor

 

I read the following:

Cantor was intellectually conservative and expressed deep skepticism about what he saw as methodological fads, particularly Marxism and postmodernism, but he also argued for greater inclusion of women and minorities in traditional historical narratives.
A feeling I got about your father – I am not sure that this is right – was that he could be very liberal minded, but that he distrusted phony liberalism. In this respect, his thinking (if I have intuited correctly what it actually was) resembled mine (or, one should say, mine resembles his) and it resembles that of my hero Samuel Johnson, who was suspicious of liberal hypocrisy and had no patience with cant.

A fellow student of mine at Brandeis told me a story (I had graduated already, but he was still there) – it may be apocryphal – that in 1969 when black students took over the campus briefly and shut it down, your father put a sign on his office door saying something to the effect that he was against totalitarianism and “storm trooper” type actions, or whatever you might call them (perhaps one might say putsches) from any side, be it the right or the left. I am a liberal democrat, but I am totally against PC.

You mentioned that your father loved to cook. I was very interested to learn this.

As noted in my essay (tribute), I absolutely loved being in your father’s class. His erudition, wit, and personality.

He was a great writer.

I recently got around to actually reading his textbook, Medieval History, from cover to cover. It was something that I never did when I took his course; we were assigned sections to read. I enjoyed so much reading it at my leisure without missing anything.

Thanks again very much for your response.
Roger Smith

 

 

 

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Norman F. Cantor — a noted medieval history professor, an inspiring teacher whose textbook on the subject reads like anything but a textbook — was THE medieval history professor of the past couple of generations.

It was my great good fortune to take several courses with Professor Cantor at Brandeis University in the 1960’s. This alone makes me grateful that I attended this particular school.

Professor Cantor passed away, sadly, in September 2004 at the age of seventy-four.

I say sadly because, in my experience, not only was he a great, popular teacher, he was the sort of person you felt you would have liked to get to know better.

I took the following courses at Brandeis — where he taught only briefly before moving on — with Professor Cantor:

Europe in the Later Middle Ages (sophomore year; spring 1966); grade A-

Civilization of the Early Middle Ages (junior year; fall 1966); grade A-

Topics in Medieval History (proseminar, 2 semesters; senior year; 1967-68); grade B+

I recall vividly the excitement I felt when I learned that Professor Cantor, who had been teaching at Columbia University and had become disgruntled with the Columbia history department, would be coming to Brandeis.

A roommate of mine, Ronald Ratner, also a history major, had learned from an older brother, who was a Columbia student, that Professor Cantor was decamping for Brandeis. “Cantor is coming to Brandeis next semester!” Ron announced.

I had recently changed my major to history, which I should have majored in in the first place. It was a natural subject for me.

My main interest was actually historiography — I liked to read good historical WRITING. I was mainly interested in how history was written and presented, more than the actual events themselves. My knowledge of history in terms of facts and chronology was then and has always been weak.

I had for a long time been yearning to learn about the Middle Ages. They have an intrinsic fascination. But there were few good medieval history professors anywhere, it seemed, even at top universities. If there even was a medieval history professor at Brandeis prior to Professor Cantor, I was not aware of it.

I can still remember much of Professor Cantor’s lectures. His witty remarks. For example:

— that knights (jousters) were like today’s professional athletes – they would retire and open a tavern with a sign outside showing them in armor;

— that St. Jerome, translator of the Bible into the Vulgate, was the sort of man who liked to sit and chat at the medieval equivalent of church coffee hours;

— that 99 percent or so of people in the Middle Ages believed literally in heaven and hell.

This last point Professor Cantor made by devising a ridiculous chart for our benefit and amusement. “You want statistics,” he said. “I’ll give them to you.” And, then he sketched a chart on the board, with made up statistics showing the percentages of medieval people who believed literally in heaven and hell, those who questioned the idea, and so on.

In appearance, he was sort of goofy looking. He wasn’t what you would call prepossessing, but he didn’t seem to care. He had the necessary confidence for a teacher; he knew he was good.

He was fit and still young when I took his courses, a former athlete, I was told. And, he was not slovenly in dress or appearance.

He had an impish wit and an infectious laugh. He delighted in taking you by surprise with a sally, but he was never mean or arrogant.

In the second course I took with Professor Cantor, in my junior year, the class met from four to six p.m. on Thursdays, once a week. It was the fall of 1966.  We had a class during the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles. The class would always have a short break at the midway point. During class on October 6, 1966, the same day as game two of the World Series, when time for the break arose, Professor Cantor adjourned the class. “I’m sorry,” he said (something to that effect), “but after all it’s the World Series and Sandy Koufax is pitching,” shrugging his shoulders (a characteristic mannerism of his) as if he were helpless to do otherwise. The game started late per East Coast time because it was in Los Angeles.

Cantor was a spellbinding lecturer. He had a folksy, down to earth speaking style and a rich voice. He spoke totally off the cuff, without notes and without a lecturer’s equivalent of histrionics.

His lectures were full of amusing and memorable anecdotes; brilliant aperçus; frequent jokes whereby he displayed formidable wit; asides intended to stir you and make you think; brilliant comparisons between one historical period and another or to the present day; considerable erudition, based on wide reading, that was brought to bear; analogies that would enable you to perceive and grasp ideas, controversies, and personalities that otherwise would have seemed remote, foreign, or strange to the modern student; and so on. He had the class eating out of his hand.

It was sheer pleasure to be part of the audience.

I had read St. Augustine’s Confessions in high school. Professor Cantor devoted considerable time to lecturing on the Church Fathers. He made the theological and philosophical disputes of the day come alive. He wrote in his textbook:

For his philosophic system [Augustine] was deeply indebted to the Platonic tradition, but his work sounded the death knell of ancient philosophy. He inaugurated a new world view. Socrates and Plato had identified knowledge with virtue: if a man knows what is good, he will do good. Augustine shows easily that this doctrine violates the realities of human life. It is obvious that men frequently know what good is but are powerless to pursue it. It is obvious, as Augustine contends, that man is not a rational animal, that will has primacy over reason, that man’s emotional, irrational tendencies preclude the following of dictates of reason.

Augustine’s doctrine, Professor Cantor contended, amounted to “religious existentialism” and prefigured modern psychology.

I said that Professor Cantor was a nice man. (His wit was sharp but gentle.) Once, I experienced this in a way that had a direct effect on me.

I was a horrible procrastinator when it came to term papers. I did write one A paper for Professor Cantor that he praised highly. But, in another course, I dashed off a paper which I completed slightly after it was due. It was too late to turn it in in class. I resolved to leave the paper in Cantor’s office without any further delay. But the building was locked. Unsure of what to do, I felt I had to somehow make it evident that I had finished the paper. So, I taped it to the front door of the history department building, affixing a note to it with big printed letters saying that the paper should be delivered to Professor Cantor’s office ASAP.

Time passed and the paper was not returned to me. A bit hesitantly, I made a trip to Professor Cantor’s office and asked him about it. “Oh, yes,” he said, “I remember that the janitor said something or other about a paper. I seem to recall that I got it, but I’ve lost it. I guess I have no alternative but to give you an A.”

Professor Cantor was aware of his popularity — like most born teachers, he had a strong ego. But he could be self-deprecating in a charming fashion.

As noted above, I took a proseminar course with him. A proseminar is a course that includes both graduate and undergraduate students. The course called for an individual student to deliver a paper on a given week, followed by class discussion. At the end of the term, Professor Cantor declared that the course had been more or less a failure. “I guess it’s mostly my fault,” he said.

Professor Cantor was brilliant when it came to describing the schools of medieval history:

The English institutional school – Cantor used the analogy of an acorn growing into a tree. The institutional school looked to the past to answer the question: how did our enlightened system of government and law come into existence?

Dialectical and sociological approaches – here, the emphasis was on history of ideas, an area in which Professor Cantor was brilliant and stimulating.

The devotional-personal school – it focused on “capturing the attitudes and mores of medieval religious leaders.” An outstanding exemplar of this approach, in Cantor’s exposition, was the English historian M. D. Knowles, who wrote a four-volume history of English religious orders. So much of what was happening in society in those days was ecclesiastical, the professor explained, that one could, by focusing on monasteries, uncover a lot of what was happening in that period. In other words, the monasteries were where you needed to look.

Cantor encouraged us to read the elegant writings of R. W. Southern, another English historian, with whom Cantor had studied. In monographs such as his The Making of the Middle Ages, Cantor explained, Southern “is able to talk of twelfth century churchmen as contemporaries and friends.”

The Annales school – – this school seems to have quickly become arid — few of its practitioners have had the brilliance of one its cofounders, Marc Bloch.

Professor Cantor introduced us to Bloch the man and his theory of history. Bloch, who was shot by the Nazis as a member of the French Resistance, wrote under duress during the Second World War an uncompleted, posthumously published book: Apologie pour l’histoire ou Métier d’historien (published in translation as The Historian’s Craft). Thanks to Professor Cantor, I read it. And read it several times over thereafter. It was an original, immensely stimulating book.

To summarize — as best as I can with only a layman’s knowledge – Bloch rejected event-based, factually based history. This appealed to me because, as noted above, I was always weak on the facts, and I found a lot of chronological narrative history to be dry and dull.

Bloch cautioned historians not to rely overly on written sources but instead to seek out the “tracks” of medieval men. So, say, one wants to know about society during the reign of some medieval king. You may get a lot of misleading information in an account of his reign written by someone from that time – a court chronicler bent on flattery and praise, say, or perhaps a churchman with a grudge against the civil authorities. Instead, you should make active use of other sources that were not left behind intentionally, but which can unravel mysteries for us: sources such as economic data, demographics, agriculture, linguistics, coins, ships, and so forth. They can tell us a lot more than the official sources can and provide mute empirical data.

Professor Cantor was always enlivening his lectures with interesting nuggets so that scholarship was vital, a monograph wasn’t just a book – it had been written by SOMEONE, an individual with strengths and limitations as a historian, writer, intellectual, and scholar, as well prejudices.

For instance, in lecturing on the English institutional school, he demonstrated that the study of the history of law – what one might think of it as a dry subject — can be immensely informative. (It was an area of study that Cantor took great interest in.) He told us about an English historical work of immense importance, the two volume The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I by Frederic William Maitland and Frederick Pollock. Cantor said that Pollock should not have been credited as a coauthor. “Maitland wrote more than ninety-nine percent of the two volumes,” he said.

He had a keen appreciation of excellence in historical writing, indeed of writing and exposition in general. He exhibited this in his own writing, which was notably lucid. His textbook reads like a work of literature.

Once, while talking about Edward Gibbon — the first and oldest of the medieval historians whom Cantor discussed in his lecture on medieval historiography — Professor Cantor read a few passages from The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to the class. He paused at a sentence where Gibbon, who was famous for the use of parallelism, uses several semicolons. He expressed appreciation for this device, then lamented that the semicolon was not used more frequently in modern English prose.

As a side benefit, I learned a lot of vocabulary in Cantor’s courses — words hitherto unknown to me that are now familiar: hagiography, pejorative, chrysalis, debilitating, acidulous, daimonic, plenary, patristic, peroration, contumacious, prevaricate, desuetude, feckless, pusillanimous, lugubrious, procrustean. Words such as these are underlined in the precious (to me) copy of Cantor’s textbook that I still have.

He was always thinking on his feet and would keep his listeners on their toes.  He would come out with things that would occur to him as interesting or amusing that were not necessarily part of his “script.” For example, in one course we were reading portions of Steven Runciman’s A History of the Crusades. “It’s the kind of book that makes for good summer reading in a hammock,” he said.

In another class, we were given the assignment — one, as it turned out, I did very well on — of summarizing and critiquing several books on a related medieval topic. To get an idea of what kind of paper to write, he suggested we take a look at The New York Times Book Review. Then he added, as an afterthought, “the Times is the paper of the Establishment. If you read it, you will find out what they are thinking and doing.”

This is an imperfect summary of the rich and stimulating content in Cantor’s books and lectures. I have read four of his books: (1) his textbook, Medieval History: The Life and Death of a Civilization; (2) The English: A History of Politics and Society to 1760; (3) Inventing the Middle Ages: The Lives, Works, and Ideas of the Great Medievalists of the Twentieth Century; and (4) his intellectual autobiography Inventing Norman Cantor: Confessions of a Medievalist.

I hope this post will convey some of the intense pleasure and intellectual stimulation I got from his courses.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

      June 2016

 

Note: Professor Cantor’s obituary has been posted on this site at:

https://rogersgleanings.com/2016/03/26/norman-f-cantor-obituary/