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Letters to the Editor

  Cornell eReport  
Alter egos suprising Romance revisited
Wheat-Foster dynasty Putnam dynasty


Alter egos surprising
It was a great pleasure and surprise to see the photo of Dennis Modracek and his cornet on the cover of the spring 2002 issue and to read his story and the other features about the alter egos of Cornell's staff and faculty.

I met Dennis in April 2002 in Cincinnati at the North American Brass Band Association Competition. At the time, I played tuba with Prairie Brass Band and, as your article states, Dennis plays cornet with the Eastern Iowa Brass Band. At a post-concert party, Dennis politely and sincerely said that “he would look after my son” who was a freshman at Cornell. What a testament to the fine quality of people on campus!

On May 3 , I came to Cornell to help my son, Jon, pack up his dorm room. That evening, I took my tuba over to Mount Vernon High School and sat in a rehearsal with the Eastern Iowa Brass Band. One of the pieces featured Dennis in a beautiful solo. What a sweet tone he has on his cornet!

I look forward to seeing Dennis again when I return my son to campus for his sophomore year. Thanks for the heartwarming story. It's just part of the positive experience for a parent of a Cornell student.
Steve Marcus
Barrington, Ill

Romance revisited
What a wonderful story about the Mansfield couple getting together after 50 years! It's a stark reminder of how time flies. When you look at the two pictures, you can imagine in the one as students the thoughts in their minds standing in their overcoats. He'd be thinking, “If only I didn't have to go to my wrestling practice,” and she's thinking, “Oops, I better hurry after this to my poetry reading with Dr. Isaacs.”
Shervin Mellegard ’84
London, England

Wheat-Foster dynasty
I really enjoyed the Dynasties issue [summer 2001] and the sub-sequent information prompted by that issue—especially since I have known many of those families.

My niece, Christa Foster Niver ’70, was the 234th member of our family (which is connected to the Moores and Rigbys through my brother, Rev. Dr. William F. Foster ’47, and his wife, Esther Swords Foster ’49, whose brother, the Rev. John E. Swords ’49, married Alison Moore Swords ’35, granddaughter of Alice Fellows Rigby) to enroll at Cornell and the 40th direct descendant of her great-great-grandfather, Joseph G. Wheat, to attend Cornell. Dr. Wheat retired from his medical practice in 1896 when he moved his family to Mount Vernon, where some of his nine children were already attending and others later enrolled. Dr. Wheat oil painted with Cornell art professor Henry Mills.

My Bair/Lindsey grandparents also moved to Mount Vernon for the primary purpose of having their children attend Cornell, which three of the five did. My mother [May Bair Foster Starry ’21] even had to re-enroll and go through most of high school again in order to be accepted at Cornell, as her small-town high school was not accredited. That took nerve and persistence. She attended 2 1/2 years before my father [William Floyd Foster, Cornell Academy] returned from World War I Navy duty and they were married. In the 1920s, my grandparents Bair rented a couple of rooms to Cornell men, and years later, the Deans rented most of the bedrooms to Cornell men during World War II while renting (later buying) the home from my grandfather Bair.
Lorrie Foster Henderson ’46
Austin, Texas

Putnam dynasty
I would like to add to the Putnam dynasty provided by my cousin Merle Irish Biggs ’38. Our mother's family's contacts with Mount Vernon began in the late 1880s. Her uncles, George Hogle 1889 and Isaac Hogle [date unknown], were at Cornell at that time. George became an M.D. and settled in Mount Vernon, while brother Isaac became a druggist there. The Hogles bought a big house and rented rooms to Cornell students.

George Hogle married Dr. Kate Mason and they practiced in Mount Vernon together for many years. They were married in London, since Dr. Kate was doing graduate work there. Dr. George and Dr. Kate bought the big house and remodeled it into a sanitarium where students worked for their room and board.

Our mother, Lulu Botts Putnam ’06, lived for a while with Dr. George and Dr. Kate. She was a classmate of the Putnam boys from Bedford, Iowa: Irving Putnam ’05, Charles Putnam ’07, Clyde Putnam ’07, and Leslie Putnam ’10. She married Charles after graduation and mothered Philip Putnam ’34, Pearl Putnam ’37, Paul Putnam ’38, and Phyllis Putnam Minard ’46.

In 1904, she was joined at Cornell by her sister, Elsie Botts, who finished one year there. Her brother, Ellery Botts ’15, became a company doctor for Boeing in Washington state.
Paul M. Putnam ’38
Pharr, Texas

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