University News

Seeking Stories
Got a good tale for the BAM to tell?

By Pippa Jack / January/February 2019
January 10th, 2019

About six years ago, Robert Schwartz ’70 started getting in touch with my predecessor, editor Norman Boucher. After each issue landed, Bob would send Norman an email meticulously detailing every error he’d found.

Norman was grateful Bob read the magazine so thoroughly—and had a feeling Bob wasn’t going away anytime soon. So Norm wisely co-opted him, which is why ever since, Bob has been our proofreader. After everyone on staff has been through every story, often reading each one on-screen and then on paper—twice—we think we’ve found every typo. We never have. We send Bob proofs, and in between the hours he puts into his semi-retired day job as a lawyer in Atlanta, he marks them up. He’s uniquely well suited to the task: not only did he do time as a newspaper copy editor, but he’s omnivorous in his interests, scrupulous in his grammar, and ever true to Brown, by which I mean that he’s not blindly loyal, but deeply interested and quick to pounce on factual errors, syntactical swamps, and absurdities in any form. So he catches much more than typos, and while I don’t always agree with his miserly approach to commas, the fact is Bob is nearly always right.

Omnivorous in his interests, scrupulous in his grammar, and ever true to Brown

Occasionally he throws us a story idea; he was even moved to write a letter recently (it’s on page 8). Every now and then we’ll ask him about his years as a student, which is how we came to send him the archival photo with which we planned to open our Classes section. Bob sent the photo out on what became a wild and joyful email ride amongst his Brown friends, who refer to each other by nicknames such as Beast, Gator, and—now we know!—Schwartzie. Amongst their reminiscences: Papa Joe of Papa’s Lunch Truck was an avid Brown hockey fan. When Don “Cat” McGinnis ’70, a hockey goaltender fabled for his skills and his extremely big hair, caught his mane on fire working at Papa’s one night, his friend David “Gator” Broadway put it out—just barely, because he was laughing so hard—while Papa yelled, “Cat, you can’t sue me!”

Then there was how Schwartzie went away for the weekend, leaving a single playing—on repeat and at top volume—in his locked room. It might have been the Rolling Stones, or “Hey Jude,” but Schwartzie himself remembers it as “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Indeed.

And so, to my point: We know you’re out there, all you groups of old friends, with your nicknames and your in-jokes, your rich shared memories. There must be thousands of you making up the Brown alumni tribe—but here at the BAM, we rarely get to hear your lore. And we want to! In particular, we’re looking for reflections about the Open Curriculum, its exhilarating but vertiginous freedoms and what they meant to your lives. It was students who led the charge to create the new model, something that changed Brown forever and has since been emulated by schools all over the country. We’re planning a special issue to commemorate the curriculum’s 50th anniversary, and we can’t tell the real stories, the ones that show the good and the bad, the heartbreaks and the triumphs, without you. We’d be so grateful if you’d email us with your memories at And if you find any errors in this issue, at least we know why: Schwartzie must be playing the Beatles again.

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