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Mizzou Mail

Who decided what to show?

Who chose the arrangement of material goods in the photos accompanying “Desire to acquire” [Winter 2009]? It’s fascinating that the U.S. family has major appliances up front, followed closely by toys; that the Mali and Bhutan families display kitchen utensils almost exclusively; and that the Japanese family members lined up their sandals and shoes first and is the only group to display clothing among its possessions. Does that reveal something about the families’ values, the values of their cultures, or is it only what photographers decided would look interesting in Peter Menzel’s book?

Charles Wetzel, BJ ’53
Chester, N.J.

Peter Menzel of Napa, Calif., responds: The photographers chose the arrangement of the families’ possessions for Material World: A Global Family Portrait (Sierra Club Books, 1994). It was a big challenge to show everything clearly and not get rained on, snowed on or blown out.

Japan was the first country I used as a test case. I thought if we could photograph a statistically average Japanese family with everything outside their house, we could do a family in any country. I was struck by how many shoes they had, so I lined them up in the gutter. I could only hang a representative amount of clothes due to space. After that photo, I decided that we should not photograph all the families’ clothing.

Sometimes we forgot something or else it was too big to bring out. These items are listed in the back of the book. To see another worldwide comparison of families, our latest book, Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (Ten Speed Press, 2005) shows 30 families in 24 countries with a week’s worth of food.

Professor ready; student not

I read the short update on John Kuhlman’s latest adventure, “An icon of econ,” in the Fall 2008 MIZZOU alumni magazine. Long ago and far away (fall semester 1969), I was one of the worst students in his huge Econ 51 class. I got by with a low C but to this day I regret it as an opportunity I wasted by not being ready to take in what he was giving.

I do recall, however, the feeling that Kuhlman’s Econ 51 tests were the fairest I ever took in my college years. I knew the tests covered the material he taught. I just did not do a very good job of learning the material. A few years later, I signed up for his Economics of Public Utilities class. As I recall, it was more a class about antitrust law and monopolies than public utilities. Either I was a better student, or his teaching improved immeasurably in the two intervening years because I got an A.

A journalism graduate, I’ve been the publisher of some smaller daily newspapers for the past 22 years. I’m sure if I had only listened more carefully in his Econ 51 class in 1969, I would be better at my job today.

Even though I squandered 50 percent of the time I spent in his classes, I want to thank him for the lessons and laughs I took from the experience.

Max Thomson, BJ ’73
New Castle, Penn.

Inquiring minds want to know

I have just received my copy of MIZZOU magazine with the article about wearing the Mizzou Tartan [“Dressed to kilt,” Fall 2008].

I am a 1937 MU graduate with a major in poultry husbandry. My home was originally in Flat River, Mo. I turned 93 years old on Sept. 2, 2008. I am a member of The Stewart Society in Edinburgh and also a former secretary of The Clan Stewart Society in America.

In 1995, our T.J. Stewart Family held a family reunion in Scotland. What a great experience! At one point in time I heard a little old lady approach an old Scotsman and ask: “Sir, what do you wear under the kilt?” He replied, “Aye Madam, only what me good Lord graced me with at me birth.”

But, really, I believe that most of us wear the traditional shorts as underwear.

On July 25–26, 2009, there will be a huge Gathering of The Clans in Edinburgh, Scotland, where the Stewart/Stuart surname originated.

I didn’t do very well in school, but the professors were kind and passed me anyway. 

Morris M. Stewart, BS Ag ’37
Monroe, La.