Letters: September / October 2021
The Not So Secret History of ARL magazine spread

ARL Memories

I was employed by ARL (then ORL) from 1967 to 1971, so I really enjoyed reading the article [“The Not So Secret History of ARL,” July/Aug., p. 30]. I attended classes, worked and traveled on business, and obtained my Ph.D. in metallurgy. I was married with three children, and being employed by ORL made it possible to support my family and work toward my degree. The role of ARL in educating students is an important part of its mission, and it would be nice to know the number of students who obtained degrees over the course of 75 years. Yes, there were some demonstrations at the time, but they did not interfere with the work of the laboratory, although the name change was the result of the antiwar sentiment. It is clear that the laboratory has expanded greatly over the past 50 years. I will always be thankful to Penn State and ARL for the opportunity that literally changed my life and my career.
George A. Di Bari ’70 PhD EMS
Chatham, N.J.


When I looked at the cover of the new Penn Stater, I changed my usual custom of reading the alumni news first and instead read the story about the Applied Research Laboratory. It was that lab that brought our family to State College and Penn State after World War II. When I was a very small child, I was sometimes allowed to visit Daddy at the office; he was then the librarian at what was then called the Ordnance Research Laboratory, ORL for short. There was a walkway to the front door; you had to cross the Bellefonte Central Railroad tracks, which were used to deliver coal to the college power plant, on the way in. You’d go in past the guard and climb the stairs. As a Navy facility, there were two sets of wastebaskets in the hallway: one for the usual waste, and the other labeled “BURN.” Everything was painted battleship gray. Inside my father’s office, there were all kinds of books and papers, none of which had any pictures and thus were of no interest to a 6-year-old. There were, however, rubber stamps, used for classifying the material in the library, and those were endlessly fascinating playthings for a little boy. I would stamp any available piece of paper. I have no idea how many lunch orders or “honey-do” lists became TOP SECRET courtesy of little me, but when I was deemed old enough to read, I was no longer allowed past the guard. While the people at ORL were very secretive about what they did at work, they were very publicly good citizens of State College. In addition to Dr. Walker, some notable folks who accompanied him from Harvard to Penn State were Arnold Addison, the much-loved former mayor of State College; Ernie Oelbermann, one of the founders of The Phyrst and the longtime banjo player for the Phyrst Phamily; and my mother—who didn’t work at ORL but came with the package—one of the founders of the Schlow Memorial Library. Thanks for a terrific article!
Stu Chamberlain ’65 Com
West Sayville, N.Y.

 

Robert B. Campbell and Maureen Bertha Campbell
We Are Around The World
Here's a great Penn Stater picture from Bryce Canyon National Park. We toured the Mighty Five National Parks in Utah on our first post-COVID trip in May 2021. A bucket list adventure—as the Penn Stater cover exclaims, "What a Trip."
—Robert B. Campbell '69, '70 MEd Edu and Maureen Bertha Campbell '82 MEd Edu

20/20 Hindsight

Your article “A Nostalgic Update” [Pulse, July/Aug., p. 16], regarding the development of the Glennland Building into a hotel and restaurant, was not news to me, as many of my State College friends had told me about it during its development and opening. It was nostalgic to me for another reason: My optometric practice was in the location now occupied by the bar! I practiced from that location from 1976 to my retirement in 2003. I wish the new owners much success in their venture, though I still long for the “good old days.”
Marshall L. Goldstein ’61 Agr
Warminster, Pa.

 

Open Books

Thank you for sharing a story on open educational resources [“Classroom Accessibility for All,” May/June, p. 73]. I also teach with OER in my undergraduate psychology class and was so happy to see this important teaching practice featured for readers. Let’s hope it helps OER gain momentum at Penn State and beyond to make textbooks more affordable for all students.
Melisa Ziegler ’17 PhD Edu
Tacoma, Wash.
 

Geologic Time

Twelve years ago, you wrote an article about my twin sons connecting with Penn State geologist Peter La Femina about their love of volcanoes when they were 4 years old. We recently took them (now age 16) and their Penn State gear to visit the active volcanoes in Iceland. In your article, you published a wonderful photo of them at age 4 (below) holding a piece of the Mount Hekla volcano that Pete sent to them in response to a letter they wrote him. I’ve sent you an updated photo—might be time for a light-hearted follow-up.
Joshua Pechter ’97 Lib
Atlanta, Ga.

twins at 4 and 16