Letters to the Editor

Author: Readers

Editor’s note: Letters appearing in the Autumn 2020 print issue are marked by a double ##.


Remembering Ernie Bartell and CILA

I appreciated your write up about Father Ernie Bartell, CSC, ’53 in the summer edition of Notre Dame Magazine. As an active member of CILA (Council for the International Lay Apostolate) for four years, I got to know him pretty well. He accomplished many things and his guidance for CILA was truly important and extremely effective. He was a mentor, and I owe him a lot. It has been great to follow from a distance the work of CILA carried on and greatly expanded by the Center for Social Concerns. Perhaps you will do another article on the center in the near future? I am sure it has a lasting impact on students and on the communities it serves.

John Hess ’70

Andover, Massachusetts


##Thanks for the touching obituary for Rev. Ernest Bartell. It was priests like him who inspired decades of Notre Dame students to lives of progressive social service. He not only “put Notre Dame on the map” in Latin America through his work with the Kellogg Center, but he also began this work still earlier by helping start CILA, which began with summer trips to Peru and other Latin American countries. I was fortunate to spend the summer of 1966 in Spanish Harlem after destinations in the United States were added. Man, was that an eye opener! The lives of people existing in extreme poverty quickly ceased to be abstractions studied in class, and we had the living, breathing, down-and-dirty experience of sharing the lives of people who most of us middle-class, white, privileged ND students had rarely met and now got to know as friends. It changed the arc of many lives, both Spanish Harlem residents and ND students. It certainly changed mine.

Andre Papantonio ’67



A vote for Mike DeCicco

##While I respect and admire Muffet McGraw’s career and her professional and personal approach to basketball, I would not say she’s the most successful Notre Dame coach since Knute Rockne. I believe the fencing coach Mike DeCicco ’49, ’50M.S. should garner that honor. His teams won more than 90 percent of their meets, set a sport record for the longest undefeated streak and won national championships as well. Multiple All-Americans and United States Olympians came under his tutelage. McGraw was a phenomenal coach who represented Notre Dame well and deserves honors. But this one I don’t think is hers.

Luis Krug ’79

Edinburg, Virginia


South Bend

Congratulations on the South Bend issue. I never thought that an entire issue devoted to a single medium-sized town could be that interesting and well done.

Ed Duggan ’53

Short Hills, New Jersey


Just a little shout out about your summer 2020 magazine. I am a regular reader of Notre Dame Magazine, and this edition was by far my favorite. So glad to hear more about South Bend and the progress that has been made to benefit its residents and the Notre Dame community. Big fan of the many partnerships between the city and school. As these stories show, we can do so much more good working together.

Dan Colleton ’96

Chatham, New Jersey


Great job to the Notre Dame Magazine team! My congratulations on the last two issues. The collection of eclectic articles in the spring issue provided needed, intellectually stimulating reading material during this time of social distancing. Well done!

Following this up with the summer issue featuring my hometown was a great idea. Getting back to the area periodically throughout the last 50-some years and with family members still living in the area, I have been able to keep up somewhat with all the changes. But the issue did shine a lot of light on the many ways that South Bend and Notre Dame are linked together today. (By the way, Ken Garcia ’08Ph.D. did a much better job describing the “divide” than I did in a freshman-year English essay!)

One word I didn’t see in the summer issue was “Villagers.” That’s what my brothers and I and many others like us were back then. Had we not the chances to live at home and attend ND we would have undoubtedly missed many of life’s opportunities that being associated with it provided us. To this day, I feel I was lucky to be “born into the Notre Dame family.”

Larry Scherpereel ’67, ’69M.S.

Murrysville, Pennsylvania


##I read James Seidler’s “How we ever survived outside the bubble” article about his senior year off-campus house on my first Wednesday in my own senior year off-campus house. It was by pure chance that I even got to read it; the copy of the summer 2020 issue that arrived in my mailbox was addressed to a previous tenant — once, twice or three times removed, who knows? Reading the funny, nostalgic stories from James and his friends filled me with an overwhelming sense of excitement for what lies ahead. It also made me realize that I would need to invest in some drain cleaner. Now it’s my turn to make memories with my friends in our dumpy off-campus house on North St. Louis Boulevard. As much as Notre Dame emphasizes the importance of strengthening its community with the new off-campus living policy or, as we like to call it, “the senior exclusion policy,” there’s something to be said about becoming a part of the South Bend community, which I now have the roadmap to do thanks to the South Bend issue of Notre Dame Magazine that serendipitously arrived at my doorstep.

Ryan Israel ’21

Formerly: Birmingham, Michigan

Now: South Bend, Indiana


Senior year my friends and I lived next door to Club 23 in a dumpy house without air conditioning. We drank on the roof, the floors sagged, we had a wall we’d throw knives at (tastefully covered by a poster of Nixon bowling), and there was a hole in the foundation that let in all kinds of neighborhood wildlife. It was called Club 24. So obviously 23 was our place. In the winter we dug out the sidewalk for an easy hop to the warm bar 40 feet away. On Monday nights it had a deal for $5 pitchers of Long Island Ice Tea and karaoke. We rarely went on Monday nights. That was for the general populace who didn’t share a yard.

Tuesday through Saturday though we’d gather around the sticky tables on the sticky carpet and make friends with the bartenders and the owner, Moe. Moe was from Lebanon and always had a cigarette in his hand. He gave us shots of something called “Moe’s Deathwish.” I don’t remember what it consisted of, and I’m not really sure I ever knew. One Saturday night he came over to our house so we could give him a drink for once. Our friend was asleep on the couch and Moe immortalized the night by taking a Sharpie marker to his leg. “Moe was here” makes me smile right now.

The second “level” of 23 was just a couple steps higher than the first, but it had electronic darts and a pool table. The bathrooms were small and dirty, and women could be found in the men’s on a pretty regular basis. There was a door to the basement right by the darts. We stayed late one night and Moe took us down there. There was a foosball table and the walls were brightly painted. It was the only time I was down there.

A couple years after we graduated Moe died, and 23 and 24 were bulldozed for the change in the route of State Road 23. Our senior-year home and haunt are gone, but I can still feel the sticky carpet pull on the bottom of my shoe.

Aidan McKiernan ’10



##The article touting real estate near Notre Dame (“The blue-and-gold coast”) is emblematic of the economic inequality that has become endemic in America: the lack of concern that properties costing in the half-million dollar range are only used for a few weekends a year and that low-cost housing was either not built or had to be demolished so that the wealthy can enjoy a short walk to the stadium. The fact that Notre Dame collaborated in the gentrification of its neighborhood speaks volumes about the values that the University actually has as opposed to the ones that it likes to talk about.

Guy Wroble ’77



Congratulations on a fantastic issue. It is chock full of inspiring stories about the Michiana community where I have lived for the past 50 years following graduation. That said, you may have missed an opportunity to inventory the impact that Notre Dame graduates have on this community. Several years ago, when I was United Way Drive chair for St. Joseph County, I recall wondering how many alumni actually live here, how many of them hold important positions (including board memberships in education, government, not-for-profits and the private sector), and what the total economic impact of that would be. I am still wondering.

Greg Downes ’69

South Bend


##I just got around to reading the summer issue devoted to South Bend. I must admit, I put it off for a long time, thinking it would not be very interesting or entertaining. I was wrong.

When I was at ND in the early 1960s I don’t think we interacted with South Bend very much except for barhopping and movies . . . mostly barhopping. Our host city did not seem very inviting, and we were probably lousy guests.

In the early ’80s, I worked for a development company that had a six-month consulting assignment to advise South Bend on possible development and restoration projects. The city was a mess back then: lots of poverty, racial discord and very weak leadership. Worse, the two major banks were led by two men, one an ND grad, who were seemingly at war with each other. This meant that any major project we proposed could only get the support of one bank; the other would automatically veto it. Not good.

It was also the policy of the city to buy and raze any residential or commercial building that was either vacant or in default. This left the neighborhoods and some of downtown with lots of holes and vacant lots. Not good. Needless to say, our plans were not very successful.

I’m sure Mayor Pete did a lot to change this during his eight years in office. Probably his most important task was to lift the morale of the city, which is always an important first step. He developed and spread a can-do attitude, and it worked.


Reading the various essays, many written by Notre Dame professors and magazine staff members, was very touching. Most of them were from distant (and perhaps nicer) places, but they were able to capture the history of South Bend, see its potential and, without denying its lingering problems and challenges, appreciate the value and promise of living in and raising their families in a medium-sized Midwestern city on the rise. I was really impressed with their attitudes and sincerity. 

Bob Bartolo ’63

Columbia, Maryland


##I am so grateful for your South Bend issue. Living in and developing pride for the city of South Bend, only the second town in which I had ever lived, are among my most valuable experiences in my years at Notre Dame. I hope that members of the Office of Residential Life and others involved in the decision to impose more strict boundaries between students and the city via a change in housing policy were able to read the South Bend issue. The mandate requiring students to live on campus for three years was, and is, a clear and disappointing money-grab for the University, and will have the effect of hurting both the students and the city fiscally and emotionally.

Will Streit ’13



##I am writing to tell you how much I thoroughly enjoyed the South Bend issue. I was born and raised in South bend and attended Holy Cross College then Notre Dame. I read the issue front to back and it brought back many wonderful memories. As a kid, we used to “borrow” one of the wooden picnic tables from the shore of a campus lake and take it out into the water for a floating dock. We would invariably be called in by someone in authority and be required to put the table back. But that was the extent of our punishment.

As a student, I bristled at the term “townie.” I was a resident, and if you didn’t come from South Bend, you were an “out-of-townie.” That attitude didn’t get me too far, but it was how I felt.

One character I wish you had acknowledged was Pasquale Anastasio, the owner of the Commons bar at the Five Points. He was a great man and, along with his wife, Lolita, and brother, Greg, took good care of us. Pasquale would let us play impromptu acoustic gigs in his back room at a time before the bars were standing room only. Late one night a deranged customer tried to strangle Pasquale with a pool cue. I was lucky enough to be outside when it happened and was able to extricate Pasquale and also save the assailant, because Pasquale, once freed, took up the pool cue and tried to beat the man with it. I remember holding the man down with one arm while trying to wrestle the pool cue from Pasquale with the other. We became close friends after that encounter, and Pasquale and Lolita attending my wedding. What memories.

Dan McInerny ’80



I am so happy that you decided to publish the summer South Bend issue. I read and enjoyed every article — easily the most enjoyable read of Notre Dame Magazine I can recall. It was particularly gratifying to read that Cosimo Rulli is still going strong (“A bit of Italy”). This piece conjured up memories of many pleasant meals at Cosimo & Susie’s during trips to campus to visit our children, Matthew ’02 and Erin ’05.

Thank you again for a wonderful read!

Rich Phillips ’69

Phoenixville, Pennsylvania


I visited many of the establishments listed in “Bar tour,” but for my money nothing could hold a candle to the Senior Bar. The team canoes race upstairs was a classic. After it closed, The ’brary got most of my quarters. Beers for a dime at the end of senior year!

Rick Clark ’74

Osprey, Florida


One of our favorite hangouts was The Library. Best name for a college bar. Ever. The phone rings in Zahm. “Hello? Oh Hi, Mrs. Coughlin. Sean? No, he’s not here; he’s at The Library.” “Oh, what a good boy!”

Quarter beers on Tuesdays and dollar pitchers on Thursdays. (As an accounting major, I figured out early that a dollar for a pitcher was a better value than a quarter for a beer.) Once during sophomore year — fall of 1976 or spring of ’77 — my roommate and I walked in and the place was packed. It took us FOREVER to get to the bar and another forever to get the attention of the bartender. When he finally acknowledged our existence, he yelled out, “PENNY BEERS!!” My roommate slapped down a buck and said, “I’ll take a hundred.” I think that was the one and only time he ever bought a round for the house.

Sean Coughlin ’79

Downers Grove, Illinois

It was the early spring of 1982. I had been summoned to the office of the director of students for Wilkes College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Art Hoover was his name and he had been alerted that I was interviewing for a job in the athletic department at Notre Dame. He wanted to see me. I walked in and he immediately threw a magazine at me . . . Notre Dame Magazine. He said, “Take it, read it. It’s the best in the country.” I did. And I’ve been reading it ever since. Except for the special Hesburgh tribute edition, I think the most recent South Bend issue is the best. Whether you graduated from, worked at or taught at the University, or you were born or raised in South Bend, that issue made you feel great! The work of the authors and editors was superb and was only eclipsed by the work of those who have made South Bend what it is today! GREAT JOB! (BTW, I got the job and loved my four years in Michiana, working as an assistant in the 1980s).

Eddie White

Carmel, Indiana


##In my 37 years of getting Notre Dame Magazine the summer 2020 was the best one yet. During my brief time living off campus as a Notre Dame graduate student I explored South Bend quite a bit and was fascinated by its history, industrial archeology and architecture. It always puzzled me that there was so little interest in the city itself among my classmates. I became involved with Mayor Roger O. Parent’s administration in raising support and awareness to help convert an unused railroad line that ran into downtown from Angela Boulevard to Niles Avenue into a bike trail, including a series of photographs I had taken to document it. I appeared on a local TV station and was interviewed for articles in the South Bend Tribune and The Observer.

Since graduating from ND I’ve come back as a visitor many times to South Bend, including taking my children to the Potawatomi Zoo and whitewater rafting downtown with them and my wife, Laura. Laura and I took part in an architectural tour of South Bend a few summers ago. My interest expanded to buying my own Studebaker, a 1964 Commander, following visits to the Studebaker National Museum over the years. In the spring of 2019, I stood in the cold rain waiting to hear Peter Buttigieg kick off his presidential campaign — outside the former Studebaker Building 84 complex that Kevin Smith ’78 has restored. 


What really caught my attention was the article, “Why I’ve Stayed, What I Found,” where the author describes his quest to find the origin of the Kankakee River. I, too, have explored the area south of Calvert Street in search of its origins and concur that nowadays it is probably the pond just west of the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and the ethanol plant where Calvert ends. I heard stories about water flowing in two different directions in ditches on either sides of the same roads in that area, with some water flowing into Bowman Creek eventually, then into the St. Joseph River, and onto the Great Lakes watershed, and water on the other side of the road flowing into the Kankakee River and the Mississippi River watershed. I was never able to find that fabled location.

My late father, Jerome Burke ’58, told me a story about how when he was a student his father told a classmate who was from South Bend that “the Kankakee River starts in your backyard,” which took him by surprise. I suppose I inherited my interest in history and going over maps from my grandfather, a task made easier these days by Google Maps.

Tom Burke ’83MBA

Fox River Grove, Illinois


I am an Engineering alumnus from the class of 1959. I love reading your magazine and sending donations to Notre Dame. I sure wish your stories had more science and engineering content or a more quantitative approach to what you write about. The magazine is full of liberal arts things like short stories.

The latest issue is about South Bend and its renovation. What I could not find is anything specific about the actual economy and population of the city. For a numbers guy like me, this just does not give a good picture. Left out was anything about Granger, which seems to be a rich ghetto. My father, Albert, graduated in 1920, my uncle in 1922, my brother in 1972. My sister is a sister of the Holy Cross and lives at St. Mary’s. My parents lived at St. Paul’s Retirement Home in the Bend. My father lived to be 100 and his funeral Mass was celebrated at Sacred Heart church. When he went to his 75th reunion, they asked him what advice he would give to the students today. “Study hard” was his answer.

This letter got a little longer than planned!

John Uebbing ’59

Palo Alto, California


On a pandemic afternoon I am reading every article of the summer issue and wishing I could revisit South Bend to enjoy the neighborhoods, the changed face of the city, experience the new vibrancy and feel of the place. I finished my master’s degree in psychology in 1984 and worked several years at Saint Mary’s, driving some three hours a day from my home on Lake Wawasee. Notre Dame was an important part of my life as a returning student with kids in high school. 

Every article in your recent magazine intrigued me and the variety in your writer’s voices gave me a most readable afternoon. I am truly delighted you invited us to get to know South Bend again. This is a superb edition, thank you.

Paula McLean Holcomb ’84M.A.

Sedona, Arizona

I just wanted to tell you that this current issue on South Bend is the best you have ever done. You talk about places my dad mentioned during his four years at ND. It also gives me a lot of new ideas for my next trip to South Bend. Please do more articles on the campus and South Bend. Tom Sheehan