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Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Cornell


Charles Milhauser


This issue's Internet "X-clusive" is from the forthcoming Charles Milhauser book, "Cornell from A to Z: All You Never Wanted To Know and More." Here is a tour of the letter X:

Years after acquiring and handling the Carpenter collection of stuffed birds dating from the 1890s, the biology department learned that Mr. Carpenter had died from the arsenic he used in preparing these specimens.

In 1932-33 the administration prevented one of the issues of The Cornellian from being mailed to subscribers because it contained a poem about a blanket party. In October 1975 the administration banned the sale of Playboy and Playgirl in the college bookstore.

A liberal education has as one of its goals to free individuals from unreasoning distrust or resentment of strangers and foreign things. One of the first visiting artists to perform at Cornell was soprano Minnie Methot, a pupil of the legendary vocal teacher Mathilde Marchesi. The reviewer for The Cornellian (1891) criticized her for "singing nearly all her songs in Italian." Not much later (1903) the editor of the Mount Vernon Record voiced the complaint that townspeople are bewildered by the foreign words in the programs of the May Music Festivals. The same editor in 1909 wrote: "To my mind it is an imposition on the audience for these singers to continually insist on singing in a foreign language."

Cornell's first Xerox photocopy machine was installed in the 1960s in the registrar's office for use by all administrators and faculty. The place thus became a popular rendezvous, all the more so because the recorder and office manager, Patsy Sommerville, kept a well stocked dish of chocolates on her desk. At night the office mouse, a cute little fellow, was fond of helping himself to a chocolate and eating it on the paper tray, where presumably he also spent the night, enjoying the residual warmth inside the machine.



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