The Catholic Question
At our first conference, Bill asked me what I thought of Christina Rosetti, the Catholic poet. I told Bill I didn’t care for her poetry.
“Why not?” Bill asked.
Demonstrating a lack of discretion, I blurted, “Because I think the Catholic Church is a crock of bullshit.”
Without missing a beat, Bill asked, “Did you know that I am an Orthodox Catholic?”
“Please tell me,” he continued with sincere interest, “why you think the Catholic Church is a crock of bullshit.”
I explained my point of view to him—a bit more politely now—and he explained his faith to me. I adopted Bill as my don almost immediately. That was 1985, and he and I remain friends to this day. There are few Sarah Lawrence teachers I’ve heard as many misconceptions about as Bill. In actuality he has a great sense of humor and is curious about people’s opinions. With Bill, I always know the conversation will be lively and interesting. From Bill, I learned that you don’t have to agree with someone’s perspective to be their friend.
Gillian Culf ’88
Rolf Altschul was my favorite professor. I spent the most time with him—more time playing bridge than I would like to admit. That was a favorite of his. I’m not a great bridge player, but members of my family play very well, and we played bridge in between classes with Rolf in his office. And I got to know the lady who became his wife about that time. Her name was Lucy. I remember Rolf in part because it was so typical of him to say, well, he was going to get married in a few days, you know. He wasn’t exactly clear of when or where or why. But, yes, he was going to get married. And by the way, he had no dress clothes. Could he borrow my jacket to get married in? So I said okay.
Ralph Kilsheimer ’51