When thinking about Union's great names of the nineteenth century, several jump
to mind-Chester A. Arthur, twenty-first president of the United States; William Seward, the secretary of state who bought Alaska; Squire Whipple, the father of American bridge building; Lewis Henry Morgan…
Lewis Henry Morgan?
Yes: Lewis Henry Morgan of the Class of 1840.
Relatively unknown today, Morgan quietly made his mark by becoming the most respected ethnologist in the Soviet Union and, to many, the father of modern American anthropology.
Once called “a prophet without honor in his own city,” Morgan was admitted to the bar in 1842 and settled in Rochester, N.Y., where he lived until his death in 1881. But law was only Morgan's “day job.” By investing wisely in the railroad, he was able to withdraw from his large and lucrative law partnership in the mid-1850s to pursue his scholarly interests.
Those interests went back to his youth on a farm near Aurora, N.Y., when he became intrigued by the Iroquois tribe that lived across Cayuga Lake. As a young man attending the Cayuga Academy, he became a member of a secret society known as the Gordian Knot, which he later reorganized as the Grand Order of the Iroquois. Late at night Morgan and his cohorts would don headdresses and moccasins and head into the woods surrounding Aurora to reenact the customs and traditions of the Iroquois people.
Morgan retained this intense interest in the Iroquois throughout his life and usually made it a part of the work he was doing. As a young lawyer, one of his first cases was to go to Washington, D.C., to help “his” tribe reclaim some of the reservation land that had been taken from them. Grateful for his loyalty and help, the Hawk Clan of the Seneca Tribe gave him the name Ta-ya-da-o-wuhkugh, or “one lying across.” The name was a symbol of the bridge of communication that Morgan attempted to create.
Throughout his life, Morgan never stopped trying to build these bridges of communication. The first of the several books he wrote was the League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee or Iroquois. Published in 1851, this provided the
first ever scientific account of Native American people.
A second book, Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family (1871), had its origins in his frequent trips to Michigan to keep an eye on his railroad investments. Morgan became acquainted with another Native American tribe, linguistically unrelated to the Iroquois but one that used the same system of family classification. Intrigued, Morgan began a ten-year study of kinship systems around the world. The book was published by the Smithsonian Institute.
It was on these trips to the wilderness of northern Michigan that Morgan began his study of the beaver, resulting in the book The American Beaver and His Work. A contemporary of
Morgan's had this to say about the work: “If Morgan had done nothing else than write this book on the beaver, he had accomplished that to which any man might be justly proud as giving meaning and purpose to his life. But with Morgan, this splendid work was only the product of his summer vacation.”
Workaholic Morgan kept at his research and writing, and another book, Ancient
Society, propelled him to the forefront of ethnological studies. While Systems of Consanguinity put forth a theory of social evolution, Ancient Society went several steps further to offer a theory of cultural evolution. This approach-known as unilinear evolutionism-was adopted by both Karl Marx and Frederick Engels (Engels's 1884 book, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, was subtitled In Light of the Research of Lewis H. Morgan).
There was much more to Lewis Henry Morgan than a list a book titles. He found time to be active in politics, serving in the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate.
He was a member of the National Academy of Science, and served as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
And he was a strong advocate of popular education, helping to charter the University of Rochester (to which he left $85,000 for the education of women) and serving for many years as a trustee and advisor for Wells College, a women's college in his hometown of Aurora.
When she was growing up on Long Island, Nancy Camarata '83 never thought she'd be facilitating multi-million dollar stock and bond transactions at one of Wall Street's most successful investment firms.
Instead, she thought she'd end up in the press box covering major league baseball. Sports, especially baseball, was her first love, after all.
“I always thought I was going to succeed Gil Hodges as the Mets manager,” she says, only half-kidding.
As a student, Camarata began pursuing a sportswriting career by spending her summers working at Ring Magazine, known as “The Bible of Boxing.” During the winter she worked as much as
twenty-five hours a week helping to cover sports and everything else at a Schenectady television station.
But this was a time when female sports journalists were still waiting outside the locker rooms they were barred from entering.
“I realized that through no fault of my own, I just wouldn't be able to do as good a job as my male competitors,” she recalls. “So I decided to enter a profession with more equality and enjoy sports in my own time.”
Camarata moved back to the New York metropolitan area and, just a few months after graduating with an English degree, became the assistant to the director of research at a European brokerage firm called EuroPartners. Thirteen years later she is running her own portfolio management department at Lord Abbett, doing everything from managing an administrative and operations staff of fourteen to helping design new computer programs and reports.
“I oversee everything but deciding what to invest in,” she says.
Her rise has been steady despite the topsy-turvy swings of the financial market. The trick, she says, was becoming familiar with financial computer programs and a certain kind of investment tool before almost anyone else.
“For some reason I was always very good at understanding what the portfolio managers needed from computers and being able to give ideas to the computer programmers, who might not know very much about the financial side of the business,” says Camarata.
Add to that the good fortune of being one of the first people in the industry to work with what are called WRAP investments-in which large-scale investors annually pay their brokers a fixed fee instead of constantly doling out commissions-and you end up with one marketable Wall Street executive.
Not that there haven't been a few bumps along the way. For starters, Camarata was working on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center when a bomb exploded in the garage nearly one quarter-mile beneath her. Camarata trekked down the century of floors and escaped with a case of smoke inhalation, which landed her in the hospital that night.
But that experience was minor compared to what she went through the year before the bombing.
After seventeen months of trying to convince doctors that her exhaustion was not simply another overworked Wall Street yuppie, Camarata was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in December of 1991. The tumor in her chest required a year's worth of radiation and chemotherapy, and she worked continuously while undergoing treatments.
“I decided I was going to be very open about my disease to remove the mystery,” she says. “I wanted to show people that it's something you can go through, and then life continues.”
In early 1993 a friend recommended her for the job she now holds at Lord Abbett. When a partner at the firm offered Camarata the job, she noted that she was in remission after a year of treatment.
“Well, I hope you don't think that affects my offer,” the partner told her.
“I knew right then that this was the kind of company I wanted to work for,” she says.
More than three years later, Camarata has no regrets.
“I love my job,” she says. “Some people wonder what I'm doing on Wall Street because I have this dream of getting an M.F.A. in art, but I feel like I'm in one part of this business where both sides really get a great deal.”
Unfortunately, her interest in baseball has waned.
“I always hated the designated hitter,” she says, “And I really don't like this new tier of playoffs. Maybe one day I can become commissioner and get baseball back on track.”
By the time he was ten, Phil Galdston had taught himself how to diddle around fairly impressively on the piano. So his parents offered to pay for lessons.
But when the piano teacher arrived at his home in Great Neck, N.Y., she found a talented little boy who used all the wrong fingers on the instrument's keys. The teacher told him he had to learn to play the correct way or his second lesson would be his last.
“I didn't like being told I had to play the right way,” Galdston says today from his home on New York's Upper West Side.
So when the teacher returned a week later, she found Phil still using the wrong fingers. Needless to say, that was the end of Galdston's piano lessons.
Not that it mattered. Even without formal help, Galdston has had a twenty
five-year run in the music industry that most songwriters can only dream about. Galdston is best known for writing the Vanessa Williams hit, “Save the Best for Last,” which was nominated for a Grammy in 1994 and won the ASCAP Song of the Year award.
Galdston says that he and his partner, Jon Lind, wrote the major portion of the music to “Save the Best for Last” during February of 1989 in what he estimates was about twenty-five minutes. The two were working on another song when Galdston started to play a few notes of a melody and some initial chords. Lind jumped in, and together they shaped the music. A half hour later, Galdston's partner turned to him and asked half-jokingly what the name of the song should be. Galdston answered, “This song is 'Save the Best for Last.”
The song became a reality when Galdston and noted collaborator Wendy Waldman wrote the lyrics a month later in Nashville.
It's been that kind of a career for Galdston, who debuted on the “Tonight Show” when he was still in college. In
fact, Galdston's college experience was unique because, as he says, “I spent three days a week in Schenectady, three days a week performing in New York, and one day traveling back and forth.”
Still, Galdston credits a musical composition course he audited at Union with giving him the discipline and the analytical skills he says he uses every time he sits down to write a song.
“[Professor of Music] Edgar Curtis's big message was that all of
the great music of the western world is based on linearity-on melody,” he explains. “Even though today a lot of pop music is based on chords, or on rhythm, it's the marriage of a great melody with other elements that produces the greatest emotional impact. The melody is the story of the song. The rest is scenery and character. I try to make things work first at a simple level.”
Nowhere is this philosophy more evident than in “Save the Best for Last,” which is carried by a melody that flows throughout a song that doesn't have a chorus.
“People still come up to me and say, 'you really wrote such a beautiful song,' and that always inspires me,” he says.
By the time Galdston arrived at Union he had already made a few small records. Early in his college career he formed a nine-piece jazz rock band called Freeway that was a regular hit at New York clubs such as the Fillmore East and the Bitter End.
After graduating in 1972, Galdston split his time as an accompanist and record producer for comedians Robert Klein and Robin Williams and as one half of the jazz-rock duo Galdston and Thom. Galdston ended his performing career in 1982 when, he says, he realized it was not going to end up being the success he hoped.
Galdston says the breakup liberated him by allowing him to experiment with different kinds of music.
“I write what I want to write, and I write from my heart,” he says. “And at all times I'm relatively satisfied because I'm getting the chance to express myself on my own terms.”
Galdston acknowledges that relying on the whimsy of popular culture for your income isn't an easy thing to do. He says promoting his work is a struggle every day, and an old lesson from his close friend, the Lovin Spoonful's John Sebastian, helps him keep his chin up.
“He told me that if you're going to be in this business, you have to be in it for the long run, and you do it because you love doing it,” he recalls. “Some days are going to be
good, some days are going to be bad, but you do it because you love the creative process.”
Galdston says he is “cautiously optimistic” about the current state of the pop music world. As long as people continue to write songs from their hearts, he believes everybody should be optimistic about the future of pop music. Galdston thinks that kind of emotional investment has been the key to the recent success of Alanis Morisette, and he thinks people in the industry are taking note.
“The key as a songwriter or any kind of artist is that you can't stand still,” he says. “So many artists do one thing and do it well, and then they don't broaden. And then what happens is the subtleties of the work get overshadowed by popular success. It's a humbling realization, but you just can't stand still.”
One of the most common sights of any Reunion is to see alumni strolling across campus pointing out the sights to trailing spouses, children, and even grandchildren.
“Here's where we had mandatory chapel;” they say, leading their entourage into Memorial Chapel.
Or, “Here's where I stayed up all night finishing my thesis;” as they explore the nooks and crannies on the top floor of Schaffer Library.
Finally, they come to Jackson's Garden, as everyone does sooner or later. Here the comments are apt to assume a softer tone. There's something about these eight acres that says “sanctuary,” or perhaps “village green;” in the midst of activity. If you see students throwing a frisbee or talking in groups elsewhere on campus, here you're likely to see an individual studying quietly.
The history of this 160-year-old garden is the subject of a fascinating exhibit on display in the Mandeville Gallery of the Nott Memorial. The exhibit was put together by David J. Miller, a landscape designer and planner from Needham, Mass., who was hired by the College (with support from a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts) to study the garden and make suggestions for improvements.
What follows are some highlights of the exhibit-and some things that you may not know about the history of Mr. Jackson's Garden.
MR. JACKSON'S GARDEN Jackson's Garden is the oldest continuously cultivated garden on a college or university campus in the United States, and it's one of only a few public gardens in the country established by 1850 that has survived in its original location.
The garden is named for Isaac Jackson, a professor of mathematics at Union who began planting the garden in 1831supposedly at the urging of President Eliphalet Nott as a cure for dyspepsia.
In fact, the first era of garden development at the College dates to Nott's early years as president. Nott had a strong interest in developing a garden, and Joseph Jacques Ramee, the French architect hired to design the campus in 1813, made sure that his plans incorporated Nott's vision.
Ramee's concept-the first
documented use of a landscape gardening plan at a college in North America-included designs for planting along Hans Groot's Kill, the stream that runs through the campus (an interesting fact about Hans Groot's Kill: The name is actually an amalgamation of two names-Hendrik Hansen and Simon Groot, former owners of the land through which the stream runs).
Seventeen years after Ramee and Nott put their ideas on paper, Jackson began to carry out their plans for a formal garden. He was an enthusiastic and knowledgeable gardener-so skillful, in fact, that Nott early on said to him, “Go on, Jackson, you can have all the ground you want.”
When Jackson began, he found “a few beds of poor flowers or vegetables and, adjoining them,
a rude, tangled vale,” according to one source.
In his forty-six year tenure as “Superintendent of the College Garden,” Jackson turned that into a ten-acre space that included formal gardens, a ceremonial amphitheater, fruit tree and shrub groves, and woodland.
Jackson had a “thorough awareness of species and gardening skills,” according to Miller, and he began receiving national recognition less than a decade after he started the gar
den. In the January, 1839, issue of the Magazine of Horticulture, editor Charles Hovey wrote, “Professor Jackson of Schenectady has one of the finest flower gardens in the country.”
Much of what has been learned about the garden was discovered through Jackson's
writing more than 1,100 pages in garden journals, diaries, and ledgers describing garden space names, construction techniques, plant and seed sources, material and labor expenses, family life, and current events. Some of these entries record the receipt of species from national horticulture centers during the 1830s, including the Botanic Garden and Nursery, the nursery of Andrew Jackson Dowling, and Linnean Garden and Nurseries (the Hudson Valley was known as an early horticultural center in North America).
When Isaac Jackson died in 1877, his daughter, Julia Jackson Benedict, took over the care of the garden. Over the decades of her care, the formal garden matured into dense rows of shrubs and narrow rows of annual and perennial beds. Julia Jackson Benedict died in September of
1925, bringing to an end nearly a century of Jackson family stewardship.
John C. Van Voast, an 1887 Union graduate and Schenectady resident, took over garden responsibilities with “technical advice” provided by landscape architect Richard Schermerhorn. Under Van Voast's care, the Melius Conservatory was added, the walks designed by Jackson were maintained, a rose garden was planted, the Kappa Alpha gate and Delta Phi sun
dial were added, and an evergreen garden was planned.
In 1935, Marian Osgood Fox, wife of the College's twelfth president, Dixon Ryan Fox, assumed responsibility for the garden after Van Voast's death. Among her improvements, additions, and changes, the evergreen garden planned by Van Voast was planted. Fox's care of the garden ended when her husband died in 1945.
Since then, care of the garden has been in the hands of the College, with hired landscapers, such as Richard Lunieski, joined by “unofficial” gardeners such as Professors Gil Harlow and the late Bill Huntley. Perhaps the most noteworthy recent changes have come on the garden's periphery-construction of the Morton and Helen Yulman Theater, which overlooks the garden, and new dining facilities in what is now the Murray and Ruth Reamer Campus Center. The buildings provide a striking “frame” for the
eight-and-a-half-acre garden, which contains 500 shrubs and trees representing more than ninety-three species, mostly deciduous.
Perhaps the most serious
issue facing the garden's future is the flooding of Hans Groot's Kill. Stormwater run-off from both the city of Schenectady and the town of Niskayuna is collected in catch basin structures and piped to the creek. A recent study by an engineering firm outlined several measures to correct the problem, which has led to some erosion along the stream corridor through the garden.
BORN TO GARDEN When Isaac Jackson began his garden at Union in 1831, he was no stranger to traditions of horticulture. His grandfather, John Jackson, started a garden at Harmony Grove in Londongrove, Pa., which was recognized by 1777 as an important national botanic collection.
Isaac Wilbur Jackson was born Aug. 29, 1804, to William and Phebe Jackson. Isaac and his brother William were raised as Quakers in the town of Canterbury, N.Y. (now
At age seventeen, Isaac traveled north to attend the Albany Academy, from where he graduated in 1824 with distinction in mathematics and classics. He came to Union, where he earned the rank of “captain” in the College Cadets, Company A (hence his nickname “Captain Jack”). Jackson was also a founding member of the Kappa Alpha Society, the first social fraternity on any American college campus.
After graduating in 1826 with distinction in the classics and first honors in math and chemistry, Jackson stayed at Union as
a tutor of math. He was promoted to professor of mathematics and philosophy in 1831. Jackson made a name for himself in the world of academia, receiving an honorary degree
from Hobart College and publishing several works, including, Elements of Conic
Sections, An Elementary Treatise on Optics, An Elementary Treatise on
Mechanics, and Elements of Trigonometry, Plane and Spherical.
Jackson married Elizabeth Pomeroy, of Pittsfield, Mass., in
1829. They moved into the North College faculty residence two years later, and stayed there for the rest of their lives, raising five children. Jackson was an active mentor and disciplinarian of residence hall students.
Jonathan Pearson, who kept a diary about the College through many years of the nineteenth century, described Jackson in 1845 as “a small excitable man, of tolerable health, and hard working and faithful in his duties. He is likewise Superintendent of the Botanical garden and during summer months spends much of his time there. We regard this beautiful spot as our only Lion at union and during the summer months it is much visited and praised by strangers from abroad.”
In July, 1877, Isaac Jackson died of a stroke. A service was held under the Nott Elm in the Garden, and he was buried in the family plot in Vale Cemetery in Schenectady.
INSIDE THE GARDEN Within the boundaries of Jackson's Garden are three smaller
gardens-the gifts of friends and alumni of Union.
The Robison Herb Garden was the gift of Ellis H. and Doris Robison. Ellis Robison, a Schenectady native, was the president and treasurer of John L. Thompson Sons & Co., the oldest wholesale drug firm in the United States. A graduate of Cornell University, he earned a master's degree from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree
from Albany College of Pharmacy in 1973.
He donated $70,000 in the 1970s to build an herb garden at Union (there is also a Robison Herb Garden at Cornell). The walls of the garden, made from Helderberg blue stone, encase more than 400 varieties of herbs-including herb teas, herb dyes, medicinal herbs, biblical herbs, and cooking herbs.
The Levine Flower Garden, in the southeast corner of Jackson's Garden, was given by Ronald Levine '55 and Liz Kanof Levine in memory of Sidney and Geraldine Levine. The garden has sixty varieties of shrubs, ferns, and woodland flowers.
A portion of Jackson's Garden has been designated the John C. Van Voast Evergreen
Garden. A member of the Class of 1887, he was a Schenectady attorney and for many years the voluntary supervisor of Jackson's Garden. Many of the plantings there came from his own evergreen nursery. Funds for the memorial, created in 1936, were contributed by the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, of which he was a member.
Jan. 1-March 31,1996
The Terrace Council began in 1905 as a senior honor society. Today's Terrace Council seeks to promote leadership in the College community through giving and involvement. Membership in the Terrace Council is renewed annually with a gift of $1,000 or more. The College is delighted to welcome the Terrace Council's newest members:
John W. Bickel II, Parent, of Dallas;
Dr. August E. Cerrito '46, Schenectady;
Keith F. Edwards '79, Englewood, N.J.;
Michael 1. Fuchs '67, New York;
Keith M. Gottesdiener, Friend, Scarsdale, N.Y.;
Robert Herbst '51, Cheshire, Conn.;
Elisabeth and Thomas Judson, Parents, Victor, N.Y.;
Lawrence E. McCray '65, Arlington, Va.;
Susan N. Phipps '76, Branford, Conn.;
Deborah A. Rosmarin '86, New York;
David W. Siegel '61, Atlanta;
Emily and Bruce Strangle, Parents, Belmont, Mass.;
John C. Van Wormer '81, Rhinebeck, N.Y.;
Bruce D. Walsh '60, Longmont, Colo.
If you are interested in the Terrace Council, please contact Hayl Kephart, director of annual giving and alumni programs, at (518) 388-6174 or on e-mail at email@example.com.