From Print Issue

Author: Notre Dame Magazine

Lyons, tuggers and elephants, oh my

The story about the Lyons Hall An Tostal elephant was historically inaccurate. In spring 1972 Lyons was a very “live and let live” type of place, with a lot of creativity and fun but not a lot of very large, strong people suitable for a tug-of-war team. So one night a few guys drinking wine hatched the elephant idea, and soon we had elephant rallies, elephant wapatoola parties and elephant raffles. We raised enough money and found the elephant, which came in a moving van and was draped in a Lyons Hall banner and marched, along with about 250 of us (many in festive attire “borrowed” from the theater department), to the tug-of-war field. We were totally stoked.

The other teams couldn’t believe it, and for the final tug-of-war the rules were relaxed so the other team could add more people. Initially the elephant backed up toward the water- and mud-filled pit and the other team thought it was winning. Then, as the elephant neared the pit, his trainer tapped lightly on the right front leg and the elephant took off like a locomotive, pulling about 20 people into the pit. It was awesome.

Kevin Finan ’74
Houston, Texas

I was dismayed that the Lyons Hall portrait misrepresented true Lyons lore. Lyons had acquired a reputation as the “Hall of Anarchy” and we entered the elephant (paid for with appropriated hall funds and not a special collection) as an anarchistic joke, not to dispel the rumor we were nerds. In fact, Lyons was considered the home for hippies. We were the hall that gave the campus King Kersten. We were the hall that paraded the “Hot Chili Is Groovy” banner at football games as a direct slap at the nerds who flew “Go Irish, Beat (Opponent Name)” signs. We were the hall that flouted campus authority so much that, the year after the elephant won the tug-of-war, we were designated as the next women’s dorm.

I am fearful that our attitude has now been eradicated from campus. We should never stop asking our authority figures, “Why?”

Kurt P. Bottjer ’74, ’82Ph.D.
Jacksonville, Florida

Both Sides Now

The article on the Palestinian/Israeli situation by Arie Kacowicz brought back memories of my sabbatical semester at Notre Dame’s Tantur Institute in Jerusalem. Although the author’s residence in Gilo was only a short distance from Tantur, he makes no mention of the daily realities of that area — for example, the bypass road (for Israelis only) that passes through Gilo and travels through Palestinian confiscated properties. I still remember flinching at my desk every time Israeli road engineers dynamited their way past Tantur. Nor does he mention the Israeli checkpoint adjacent to Tantur where I daily witnessed the humiliation, detention, arrest and beatings of Palestinian travelers by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). The same IOF soldiers periodically terrorized the Notre Dame compound at 6 a.m. with AK-47s drawn and helicopters whirling overhead as they tried to apprehend Palestinians who snuck through Tantur to avoid the checkpoint because they lacked the “proper travel documents.” Each Palestinian must have prior approval (often denied) to go to work and school, get medical care, see a family member, attend church or mosque. Nor does the author mention the Palestinian homes and orchards demolished by the IOF with U.S.-made bulldozers in the same area (instant homelessness).

Rather the author focuses on suicide bombings. But I always wondered why there were not more bombings, considering the daily, grinding, brutal treatment that sadistic young soldiers wreak upon an impoverished population. Palestine has become one huge prison. This is nothing short of genocide.

Finian D. Taylor ’77Ph.D.
Hilton Head, South Carolina

Those who follow the news are continually bombarded with the truly terrible living conditions and dangers faced by Palestinians. Yet Neve Gordon felt it necessary to remind readers that all is not well in the Holy Land. Since 1948, when Israel was recognized by the United Nations, the Israeli government has tried many approaches toward peace with the Palestinians and their Arab neighbors, but nothing short of bloodshed has been effective. This tiny nation with fewer than six million Jews is outnumbered more than 40 times by its Arab neighbors, is greatly outnumbered militarily and nearly devoid of natural resources.

The Saudis, Egyptians, Iraqis and Syrians have contributed little more to the Palestinians than armaments and anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric. A tiny percent of Saudi oil revenues would greatly ease the pain of daily living for their Palestinian brothers and sisters.

Mandell S. Ziegler ’44
Massapequa, New York

“I Was Abused . . .”

I would like to thank John Salveson ’77, ’78M.A. for baring his soul in his horrific abuse story. For almost two years newspapers have recorded the stories of sexual abuse by priests, but because John shared his personal tragedy with us, the impact is infinitely stronger. I praise him for his candor and his courage. I am yet re-sickened and re-shocked at how the church has mishandled this. I remain loyal to the Catholic church because I know that there are many, many more wonderful priests than those fiends who have marred the bodies and souls of innocent children and severely tarnished the title “Father.”

Deborah Rudy ’87
Wellsboro, Pennsylvania

The magazine received dozens of letters, e-mails and phone calls in response to John Salveson’s account of his abuse. To read more letters to the editor, go to the magazine’s summer ReactOnline site and to the web extra letters.

(October 2003)