MS-118: Letters Solicited by Jerold Wikoff for Gettysburg Alumni Magazine
MS-118: Letters Solicited by Jerold Wikoff for Gettysburg Alumni Magazine
(2 boxes, .54 cubic feet)
Inclusive Dates: 1994-1996
Processed by: Sierra Green
Given to Gettysburg College Special Collections by Jerold Wikoff.
Scope and Content Notes
This collection is comprised of letters written by Gettysburg College alumni to Mr. Jerold Wikoff concerning three distinct topics: World War II experiences, dinks, and alumni couple sweetheart stories. The alumni who contributed the letters that comprise this collection wrote in response to Mr. Wikoff’s various requests within the Gettysburg alumni magazine. As senior editor of this magazine, Mr. Wikoff often elicited the stories and memories of Gettysburg College alumni concerning various topics, such as those listed above. Mr. Wikoff then utilized these stories to write articles for the alumni magazine. Mr. Wikoff utilized the letters within this collection to compose three different articles that appeared in the Gettysburg alumni magazine in 1995 and 1996. Each series within this collection is comprised of the letters solicited for each of the three articles composed by Mr. Wikoff.
Mr. Wikoff has been an editor of the Gettysburg alumni magazine since 1985. Though retired, Mr. Wikoff continued to edit each issue of the Gettysburg alumni magazine at the time this Finding Aid was composed. Mr. Wikoff received his Ph.D. in German language and literature from Stanford University in 1972.
This collection is divided into three Series. Series I: Letters Solicited for “War Comes to Gettysburg College” article in Gettysburg magazine. Series II: Letters Solicited for “Dinks” article in Gettysburg magazine. Series III: Letters Solicited for “Sweethearts” and “More Sweethearts” articles in Gettysburg magazine, Sub-Series A: Letters written by Jerold Wikoff to “Gettysburg College sweethearts” and David Hedrick, Sub-Series B: April 1995, Sub-Series C: May 1995, Sub-Series D: June 1995, Sub-Series E: July 1995, Sub-Series F: August 1995, Sub-Series G: September 1995, Sub-Series H: October 1995, Sub-Series I: December 1995-January 1996, Sub-Series J: August 1996.
Series I. consists of 42 letters written by various Gettysburg College alumni to Mr. Jerold Wikoff between 1994 and 1995. These letters were written by alumni in response to Mr. Wikoff’s request for their World War II experiences. Mr. Wikoff utilized many of these stories and photographs for the June 1995 issue of the Gettysburg magazine to write an article commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II.
The responses that Mr. Wikoff received comprise a wide array of personal experiences that take the reader from the waters of the Pacific to the skies above France. A majority of the wartime experiences within this collection are written by alumni who saw combat while serving in the Second World War. The following alumni shared memories of their time serving in the European Theater: Elmer Briner Ashway, Henry Burman, Joseph Cervino, Henry Froehlich, Robert Gray, Harry Gross, Alfred Hart, George Barton (as recounted by Emma Mary Hubsch), Alvin Jones, Elmer McShee, Herbert Raab, Robert Richards, Martin Shellenberger and Immanuel Klette (as recounted by Florence Singer). Among these servicemen who served in the European Theater, the following alumni participated in the D-Day Landing at Normandy: Alvin Jones, Elmer Briner Ashway and Hervey Froehlich. In addition, the following contributing alumni took part in the Battle of the Bulge: Alvin Jones, Joseph Cervino, Robert Richards, and Martin Shellenberger. Those contributing alumni who shared memories of their service in the Pacific Theater are as follows: John Bowers, Jim Graefe (as recounted by Eleanor (Stroehmann) Graefe, Sebastian D. Natale, George S. Rentz (as recounted by William K. Rentz), Edward Richter, Peter Smith, and Walter Sobers. Beyond the battlefields of World War II, a number of alumni also shared with Mr. Wikoff their recollections of what life was like on campus at this critical time in world history. In particular, Joseph Cervino, Eleanor (Stroehmann) Graefe, R. Adam Houtz, Reverend Robert Karalfa, Joy (Nelson) Mara, and H. Bruce Riefe contributed their recollections of life at Gettysburg College throughout World War II.
Taken together, the letters within this series would prove valuable to those who desire to form a broad understanding of the World War II experiences of Gettysburg College alumni. In most cases, the letters within this series open with a short explanation of the alumnus’ location/position during the war before recounting a handful of notable wartime experiences.
There being no discernible inherent order concerning the organization of the letters prior to processing, the letters were arranged in alphabetical order according to the last name of the alumnus who wrote each letter. In nearly all the cases, the alumnus who wrote the letter was sharing his or her wartime experiences. There are however, a small collection of cases in which an alumnus wrote to Mr. Wikoff recounting the wartime experiences of another alumnus. In cases such as these, the first name listed is the name of the alumnus who wrote the letter to Mr. Wikoff. However, the name of the alumnus whose World War II experiences are recounted is also indicated within the content description. The following are examples of this: Florence Singer recounts the World War II experiences of James Hudson and Immanuel Klette, Constance Heiland touches on the World War II experiences of George Barton, Robert Neal, Samuel Kirkpatrick, and Frank Beachley, Linda Olsen talks briefly of the World War II experiences of Rev. Norbeth Stracker, Eleanor (Stroehmann) Graefe recounts the World War II experiences of her husband James Graefe, William K. Rentz submitted material concerning the World War II experiences of his father, George S. Rentz, and Emma Mary Hubsch recounts the World War II experiences of George Barton.
The last folder of this series contains a collection of five miscellaneous black and white photocopied photographs that are linked to the article written by Mr. Wikoff. Two of these photographs are taken in front of a campus residence referred to as “Myrtle Terrace.” Elizabeth Ensor and Mildred Barrick discuss this residence in their letters also included within this series.
Mr. Wikoff recounts within his Gettysburg magazine article the memories of the following alumni who contributed letters preserved within this collection: Robert Gray, Dr. Elmer McKee, Martin B. Shellenberger, Pastor Stewart Herman, Joy (Nelson) Mara, Joseph Cervino, John Bowers, Hervey Froehlich, Walter Young, Alvin Jones, Elmer Briner Ashway, Sebastian D. Natale, Edward Richter, Glenn Walker, Peter Smith, Alfred Hart, Henry Burman, George Barton and Harry Gross.
The citation for the article is as follows:
Wikoff, Jerold. “War Comes to Gettysburg College,” Gettysburg 86, no.3 (Summer 1995): 4-18.
Series II. includes 13 letters and two photocopied photographs submitted by alumni in response to Mr. Jerold Wikoff’s request for photographs of Gettysburg College students wearing “dinks.” These letters were submitted from July 21, 1994 to November 22, 1994. Mr. Wikoff utilized these letters and photographs to write an article on dinks that appeared in the Winter 1995 issue of the Gettysburg alumni magazine.
The dink was a beanie that Gettysburg College freshmen were required to wear during their first year on campus. As explained in Charles Glatfelter’s A Salutary Influence: Gettysburg College, 1832-1985, the college tradition of the dink can be traced back to the fall of 1906. According to the 1941 G-Book (Gettysburg College’s freshmen handbook), the dink was to be worn by first year students at all times, “except when out of town, when in uniform, on Sundays, and when engaged in College athletic activities.”From its inception in 1906 until the tradition was abandoned in the early 1970s, the dink itself as well as the regulations surrounding it changed over time. A glimpse into the evolution of the dink as a college tradition can be seen within some of the letters in this series.
A majority of the letters within this collection contain simply a short description of the pictures submitted by the alumnus. For descriptions of the freshmen tradition of the dink and personal experiences while wearing the dinks, refer to the following letters: Nancy (Hemminger) Bothwell, Jane (Dise) Bowles, Fred B. Dapp, Jr., Robert Siebold, and Thomas de la Vergne. The photographs included within this folder of students wearing dinks are of Leslie Schweizer and Robert Siebold. Within the article written by Mr. Wikoff based on these memories, Mr. Wikoff includes photographs of Nancy (Hemminger) Bothwell, Robert Siebold and Norman Foster; he also includes photographs submitted by M.R. (Bill) Hagerty and Edward Stare.
In addition, Mrs. Phyllis (Berger) Byrne ‘55, submitted three photocopied pages taken from her 1951 Gettysburg College handbook that explain the various freshmen customs for male and female students, including the dink. These photocopied pages are attached to a letter written by Mrs. Phyllis (Berger) Byrne that is also in this collection. This letter as well as the photocopied pages can be found under Series III, Box 2 , Folder 10, “Letters Solicited for “Sweethearts” article in Gettysburg magazine: August 28-31, 1995.” Mrs. Byrne submitted these photocopied pages along with a letter that recounts the sweetheart story of she and her husband, John C. Byrne ’53.
There being no discernible inherent order concerning the organization of the letters prior to processing, the letters were arranged in alphabetical order according to the last name of the alumnus who had written each letter.
Seeing as these letters were written in response to Mr. Wikoff’s request for photographs of alumni in their dinks, this series generally contains relatively short descriptions of student memories concerning dinks. Therefore, this series is best suited to provide a few glimpses into student experiences with the freshmen tradition of the dink.
The citation for the article Mr. Jerold Wikoff wrote based on these memories and photographs is as follows:
Wikoff, Jerold. “‘Dinks’ Remembered.” Gettysburg 86, no. 1 (Winter 1995): 16-17.
Series III. consists of 108 letters submitted by alumni in response to Mr. Jerold Wikoff’s request for stories of alumni couples who met while at Gettysburg College. In addition, this collection also contains three letters written by Mr. Wikoff. Two of these letters were written to the alumni who contributed their sweetheart stories and one letter was written to Mr. David Hedrick, the director of Special Collections at that time. The letters within this series span from April 4, 1995 to August 26, 1996.
A majority of these so-called “sweetheart stories” appeared in two issues of the Gettysburg alumni magazine. Initially, Mr. Wikoff planned to publish just one collection of sweetheart stories in the Winter 1996 issue of the Gettysburg magazine. However, as the number of sweetheart stories swelled, Mr. Wikoff chose to publish another collection of the stories in the Summer 1996 issue of the Gettysburg magazine. As he describes in his October 6, 1995 letter to the alumni who contributed their sweetheart stories, Mr. Wikoff chose to publish the sweetheart stories in the order that he received them. Consequently, the letters were kept in chronological order. This being the inherent order chosen by Mr. Wikoff, the letters in this series are arranged as such. Although many of the letters have a corresponding date, there are also a number of undated letters within this series. Although undated, these letters were preserved in chronological order by Mr. Wikoff and were therefore not pulled from the original order chosen by Mr. Wikoff.
This collection of sweetheart stories provides a wealth of insights into student life at Gettysburg College over time. One particular theme that emerges from these letters is the role of the Greek system played in connecting alumni to their future spouses. In addition, college courses were also cited a number of times for their role in connecting sweetheart couples. In recounting the circumstances under which they met and fell in love, the contributing alumni share a number of treasured memories and experiences that shaped their future identities.
All of the letters within this series recount the stories of how an alumni couple met while on campus with the exception of those written by Peter Smith and Richard Reutter. Although Mr. Smith and Mr. Reutter wrote of how they met and dated their future wives in Gettysburg, both women were not graduates of Gettysburg College.
The citation for the collections of sweetheart stories published by Mr. Jerold Wikoff is as follows:
“Sweethearts.” Gettysburg 87, no.1 (Winter 1996):6-15.
“More Sweethearts.” Gettysburg 83, no. 3 (Summer 1996):16-23.