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World Association of International Studies

Post Bolivar House Dress Code, 1964
Created by John Eipper on 03/11/14 1:38 PM

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Bolivar House Dress Code, 1964 (John Eipper, USA, 03/11/14 1:38 pm)

Bolivar House, founded by Prof. Hilton, was the home of Stanford's Institute of Hispanic-American and Luso-Brazilian Studies, which produced the Hispanic-American Report from 1948-'64.  The Hispanic-American Report re-emerged in 1970 as the World Affairs Report, which survives to this day as your favorite website (that would be WAISworld.org).  To give a brief genealogy:  HAR begat WAR, which begat WAIS.

For the last ten days I've been going through eighty years of Ronald Hilton records in the Hoover Archives, and I came across a detailed set of directives for graduate students admitted to the Institute.  These guidelines, from 1964, exude the inimitable RH narrative style.  They attest to the tight ship that was Bolivar House--how to do a newspaper clipping, how to organize files (cardboard divisions go behind the pertinent documents), the proper way to prepare an item for HAR, the number of work hours expected of the Fellows (answer:  20-30 per week), and finally, a dress code:

"Gentlemen will wear jackets and ties at all formal classes and seminar meetings; during weekends and after normal working hours sport shirts are permitted.  Overcoats and umbrellas should be left in the closet downstairs in the front hall of Bolivar House, or in the closet in Alvarado House.

"Every student should leave his desk and the tables clear of papers at all times unless he is actually working with them.  Papers may be left on a table if the student plans to return within one hour; otherwise he should store them on his shelves."

A testament to the era.  Since these "gentlemen" of a half century ago are our direct predecessors, how many of you are properly attired when writing for WAIS?  (Many of the Bolivar House students were women, but I presume their dress standards were self-evident.)

I'd be delighted if Richard Hancock and David Pike, Bolivar House alumni, could send a memory or two of those times.

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  • Bolivar House Dress Code, 1964 (Michael Sullivan, USA 03/12/14 9:51 AM)
    In response to JE's comments of 11 March, America and the world truly miss citizens like Ronald Hilton for their brilliance, work ethics, morals and civility.

    JE comments: These qualities are absolutely true, although in my research in the RH archives I'm learning more and more that Prof. Hilton never shied away from ruffling feathers. This point has become much clearer to me in recent days, as I read a particularly contentious 1964 epistolary exchange between RH and the Stanford administration, when the University wrested the degree-granting powers away from the Institute of Hispanic American Studies. Prof. Hilton was fearless and brutally frank as he sought (in vain) to maintain control of his program.  I should stress, however, that his letters were always a model of decorum and civility!

    More on this polemic, which led directly to the founding of the California Institute of International Studies (now WAIS) in 1965, as I assemble the pieces of this historical puzzle.

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  • Decorum at Stanford in the 1960s (Henry Levin, USA 03/12/14 11:03 AM)
    Following up on JE's post of the Bolivar House dress code (11 March), I joined the faculty of Stanford in 1968. By then the rules of "decorum" had faded as accoutrements of a gilded age, as the campus was wracked with demonstrations over the Vietnamese War, marijuana had taken hegemony over coffee or tea, long hair and denims and tee shirts had become the standard garb, and the young (I was relatively young) had no fear of those in power on the campus.

    Teach-ins and manifestaciones were the order of the day, and tear gas from helicopters and sheriff's officers was the menu in the evening. By the time I was asked to join the Latin American Studies group at Bolivar House in the seventies, the decorum had evaporated, although the Bay Area politeness and cordiality was still the superficial order of the day. There is more angry politics in the New York City of today than there was on the Stanford campus in the late sixties and early seventies, although there was not great reverences for authority.

    I remember about 1971 when the President of Stanford, a chemist who had come from Rice University, Kenneth Pitzer, went out to the Quad to explain Stanford's role in the war effort, what he called a non-role, even though Stanford was doing war simulations for DOD in its computer center. One of the student leaders kept interrupting him by shouting out "Mr. Pig Sir," a nasty transformation of his name. Pitzer was dignified and just tried to pretend that he did not hear the affront.

    JE comments: I'm immersed in much of this history as I work through the RH archives. There was a cultural sea change between 1964 and the end of the decade. Blame Vietnam? Blame the Beatles?

    It just so happens that I am presently reading a protracted 1964-'65 epistolary war between Prof. Hilton and Richard W. Lyman, then Associate Dean, who went on to succeed Pitzer as Stanford's President. The tone is certainly acrimonious, but letter writing at that time was an art form. People composed with an eye to posterity.  Will future historians be reading the text messages that pass for correspondence in our age?  They have no other option; LOL.

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  • Latin American Studies at Stanford (Richard Hancock, USA 03/13/14 5:00 PM)
    On 11 March, JE asked for my comments on Stanford's Bolívar House. That was after my time. I left Stanford in May of 1959.

    I did write the president of Stanford, asking him not to close the Hispanic American Studies Department, saying that my education in that department had served me well in all of my post-Stanford career.

    Attached is a copy of the letter. I sent Prof. Hilton a blind copy and, as a result, he asked me to join WAIS.


    May 29, 2002

    President John Hennessy

    President's Office, Bldg. 10

    Stanford, CA 94305-2061

    Dear President Hennessy:

    I have just learned that Stanford has decided to terminate the degree-granting status of its Latin American Studies program. As a Stanford Ph.D (1959) in Hispanic American Studies, I am troubled by this decision. I studied at Stanford from 1955 through the spring of 1959 under the direction of Professor Ronald Hilton, and would like to state that this background has served me well.

    After graduating from Stanford, I spent two years as the director of the Peace Corps in San Salvador and then worked for 22 years as director of international training programs at the University of Oklahoma. I found that my Stanford years afforded me ideal preparation throughout my career both abroad and in this country. The Hispanic American program at Stanford allowed me to focus on the realities of Latin America in a way that would have been impossible in any of the traditional disciplines.

    My doctoral dissertation was on the subject of the Mexican contract labor program as exemplified by a case study of the Mexican State of Chihuahua. My dissertation was later published by Stanford. I can testify that I could not have written this dissertation for any other department at Stanford.

    Primarily because of this dissertation, I have been recently asked by the Governor of Chihuahua to undertake the publication of a beautiful coffee-table book, Chihuahua, Images of Yesterday and Today, which will be published this summer. At the age of 76, my Hispanic Studies education is still paying dividends!

    Some feel that Latin American Studies is unnecessary because a Latin American emphasis in any of the traditional disciplines will serve the same purpose. I disagree with this because the student in one of the traditional disciplines will naturally feel an allegiance to the discipline more than to the area. I consider myself to be a generalist in Latin America rather than a specialist in a discipline with Latin American applications. I believe that there is a place for both generalists and disciplinary specialists in the study of Latin America.

    At any rate, my Stanford training as always made me feel at ease wherever I went in Latin America. I think that Latin Americans accepted me as being bicultural as well as bilingual, and that for me this is the quality that can best be provided by an Area Studies program such as the one that I enjoyed at Stanford.

    Yours sincerely,

    Richard H. Hancock

    cc: Provost John W. Etchemendy

    JE comments: I've found several letters and comments in the RH archives praising the work of the young Dick Hancock. Prof. H. was especially proud of Richard's book, The Role of the Bracero in the Economic and Cultural Dynamics of Mexico (1959).

    This afternoon I'm going to stop by the successor institute to Prof. Hilton's Bolívar House, Stanford's Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS).  Our colleague in Brasília, David Fleischer, has forwarded a couple of my "WAIS History" posts to Elizabeth Sáenz-Ackermann, the Center's Associate Director, who is interested in learning more about Prof. Hilton and his pioneering work in Latin American studies.

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  • Bolivar House and Ronald Hilton, 1964 (David Pike, -France 03/15/14 7:19 AM)
    John Eipper asked Richard Hancock and me (11 March) to "send a memory or two of those times" at Bolívar House. Richard has already replied. John's discussion began with the dress code, so I should mention that.

    As RH's executive assistant I succeeded Ronald Chilcote, and when I left for France in Fall 1964 I was succeeded by Colonel Thomas Crystal, US Army (retired). I believe I was RH's first assistant to be appointed (in 1963) to the Faculty, with Ponce de León becoming (in 1964) the second and the last. The rest of the Bolívar House faculty were highly distinguished, but they were all Senior Lecturers and, as such, all unpaid. There was the lexicographer James Taylor, the Caribbean specialist Sir Harold Mitchell Bt, the Spanish Civil War historian Burnett Bolloten, and Dr Kemnitzer, whose full name I have forgotten [William J. Kemnitzer--JE], but I remember him as being very well connected in DC, and a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt. And then we had our two contrasting secretaries, the demure lady from Argentina and Sonia the bombshell from Brazil.

    The dress code was rigidly enforced. I was told to send any man home who came to work without a jacket and tie. But such dress was common everywhere up to the end of the 1960s. I remember the closet at Bolívar House, because one day I came in and dropped my raincoat on a chair in the lobby. Ronald Hilton picked it up, and before I could grab it he had taken it, and without saying a word he (slowly!) put it on a hanger and hung it in the closet. Such an experience stays with you forever.

    Then there was RH's no-smoking policy. A visiting speaker was starting off his talk, and reached in his pocket for a cigarette. RH: "You can't smoke. Fire hazard. No protection." Blank amazement on the face of our distinguished visitor. Meanwhile, the notice outside his office ran: "No smoking! A cada cerdo, le llega su San Martín!" The sign was emblazoned with the face of the Devil. Then there was the day when a notice went up on the board: "The member of the Institute who was smoking in Room X [on the second floor] is no longer a member of the Institute." I'm happy to say that after two days of agony, RH relented, and the well-liked member was back among us.

    JE says that Ronald Hilton ran a tight ship. I remember one day in the seminar, RH was joking about complaints he had heard about the rigorous the way I was running things. I admitted: "I run a tight ship." Captain then roars to Mate: "You mean you run a taut ship, or do you mean everyone here is running around tight?" I still don't know what he meant. What's wrong with "tight."

    Anyway, the seminars were always fun. RH would come back from a trip (Latin America, Morocco, an address to the Soviet Academy of Sciences, ...) and regale us with his experiences, but it was less fun when you were his target, and the Wild Bull of the Campus could explode at any moment, in any direction.

    Life certainly wasn't easy for him. He was a genuinely modest man, but he had to deal with Stanford Administration secretaries who were under orders to make things as difficult as possible, to the point that he was saying what he could not normally ever say, "I am a full professor, and you are treating me as if ..." To put pressure on him, the University at one point interrupted the payment of my salary. To sort it out, I had to go to Graduate Dean Virgil Whittaker, whom I much admired as a Shakespearean scholar but not at all for his take on Bolívar House, telling me that RH was pushing empire-building to an unacceptable limit. I suggested to Whittaker that if the State Department needs a standing order for 35 copies of our monthly Report (one for each Desk in the State Department plus seven), it is because there's nothing else like in the whole wide world.

    There is of course an enormous amount more to say about all this, and I was present at his board meetings when he revealed the problems he faced.

    I ought to mention how I came to Bolívar House, from total obscurity in Mexico. I was in Oaxaca, writing my first published articles for a London magazine on pre-Cortesian history. I was about to apply to Woodrow's program at Berkeley when I came across RH's published address to Unesco. It was an address that either won you all the way over or offended you forever. I showed it to young American professors in Mexico who told me to steer clear of such a man. Far better, I thought, to steer clear of soulless people like you. I had a feeling, before even meeting him, that I would be with him the rest of my life.

    It wasn't quite that, of course. I missed the cataclysm of Fall 1964 because I had taken a year's leave of absence, to recycle myself as an historian, in France. After that, there was no Bolívar House to return to. Instead, for RH, there was the worst humiliation. The building itself on Alvarado Row still remained, and there, sitting in his office when I returned, was RH's strongest opponent, the Latin American historian John J. Johnson. Worse, in a sense, was to find that Colonel Crystal had gone over to Johnson's side. RH told me that whenever he walked from Santa Ynez to the Quad and back, he took care never to pass by Alvarado Row, or walk through the lane where he used to drive his car, the iconic old white Ford.

    There was further irony. The man who undid Bolívar House was surely Richard Lyman, and RH told me in advance about his fears that here was a highly ambitious, power-hungry young man who would destroy the work of others if it served his purpose. The irony is that later I came to admire him, from far away in France, where I had some responsibility of my own. I admired the way Richard Lyman would separate the two issues (the Antiwar Movement and the Wreck the World Movement) and say to every student gathering, "This far and no farther." [President] Kenneth Pitzer was not the man for this at all. Stanford needed a fighter, and Lyman was a fighter, and a highly eloquent one at that. At The American University of Paris, we have just celebrated our 50th anniversary, and I have written in its Magazine my own account of "The Vital Years" when our university faced a Board of Trustees vote that came out at 17-16, .... not to shut the doors! In my article I made several comparisons with the crisis that Richard Lyman faced.

    I could go and on, about the great and happy community we were, about the "mission" we felt was ours, the work that was indeed the envy of others. But I shouldn't. I leave for Minneapolis on April 1 to speak at MSU. WAISers, including a beloved ghost, could be interested in my major topic, one that I have already tried out at the English Speaking Union: "The King versus the Constitution: British support for American resistance, 1766-1783." The meeting here in Paris, on the corner of Jacob and Saints-Pères, was a perfect end to an unwinnable war. Or more precisely, both sides won ... everything that counted.

    JE comments:  David Pike has beautifully summed up a period I'm seeking to piece together via the documentary record.  The 1964 epistolary war between Dean (after 1970, President) Lyman and Prof. Hilton went on well into 1965, involving dozens of letters.  Both combatants were at the height of their rhetorical powers, but the subject matter became increasingly impatient, even petty.  One letter from Dean Lyman instructed RH to return a "Stenorette dictaphone machine" to the University, and there were a number of exchanges about telephone bills and unforwarded mail.  All in all, Prof. Hilton was struggling against the bureaucratization of the university, with our Founder increasingly playing the Quixotic role.

    The silver lining:  the California Institute of International Studies, now WAIS, was founded as a direct reaction to Prof. H losing control of Stanford's Institute of Hispanic-American and Luso-Brazilian Studies (Bolívar House).  Sir Harold Mitchell, Baronet, contributed $5000 to seed our endowment.  This was, needless to say, a good deal of money in 1965.

    I too found documentary references to the Institute's unpaid Senior Lecturers, specifically Sir Harold.  Such dedication would be incomprehensible to a university administrator, and possibly explains Stanford's desire to bureaucratize and "professionalize" the program.

    David mentions Prof. Hilton's old Ford.  I saw several references to a 1942 Studebaker, which RH apparently owned at least until the early 1960s.  Perhaps David (or Mary Hilton Huyck) can indulge this Detroiter's car curiosity.  (Studebakers, however, were built in South Bend, Indiana.)

    Many thanks to David Pike for these memories, and best of luck on his trip to Minneapolis.

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    • "Tight" and "Taut" (David Duggan, USA 03/15/14 1:45 PM)

      In response to David Pike (15 March), "tight" was a common metaphor for being inebriated (a pastime on this observance of St. Patrick's Day along Chicago's most Irish north-side street, Southport, which is where I live, with revelers getting free breakfast at the Mystic Celt four blocks from my house as a bonus for buying $5 pints). I doubt that "taut" is susceptible to that double meaning. I indulged in the hearty breakfast (scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes and melon cubes) without taking advantage of the beer.

      JE comments:  I'm quite sure this was Prof. Hilton's intention when he questioned David Pike's use of "tight" when speaking of ships.  If I understand the Bolívar House rules, "tightness" wouldn't have been tolerated.

      Gives a whole new meaning to "sleep tight"!

      Mary Hilton Huyck (next in queue) has also sent a response to David Pike.  And yes:  her father was a Studebaker fan.

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    • Bolivar House and Ronald Hilton, 1964; RH's Studebakers (Mary Hilton Huyck, USA 03/15/14 4:46 PM)
      David Pike (15 March) has written a very interesting and, so far as I can recall, accurate recounting of the successes, struggles and ultimate demise of the Hispanic American Studies program at Stanford in the 1960s. (Of course, Ronald Hilton would surely have disagreed with the favorable things said about the Stanford administrators and professors who brought down the program he had worked so hard to establish.)

      To answer JE's question about cars, RH was never very interested in automobiles. For decades, my parents owned one car at a time. My father usually walked back and forth to his office, so only one car was necessary. Through most of my childhood, that car was a gray 1942 Studebaker. My father liked Mr. Baer, who owned the Palo Alto Studebaker dealership, so perhaps that is why my parents felt committed to Studebakers. In 1956 they bought a second car, a two-toned blue Studebaker sedan. Once I got my driver's license, I usually drove the 1942 car and was delighted that we now had two vehicles. My only concern about the old car was that it used more oil than gasoline. My parents eventually sold the gray car to one of RH's graduate students for $50. It would be practically an antique by now, and I sometimes wish I still had it!

      JE comments: Among the postcards in the RH files are a number of reminder notices from G. A. Baer Studebaker: "It's been three months; time to service your 1942 Champion!" The latest one of these is dated 1962.  It was quite unusual at that time to keep a car more than 3-4 years.  Studebaker would stop US production the following year, although they continued to manufacture cars in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) through 1966.

      G. A. Baer, on the corner of Alma and Forest, Palo Alto, was about one mile from where I presently sit.

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      • Bolivar House, Stanford, and Ronald Hilton, 1964 (David Pike, -France 03/17/14 6:12 AM)
        Mary Hilton Huyck's posting and JE's comment (15 March) bring me to look again into the causes of collapse of Bolívar House. The Hispanic American Studies program depended of course on the participation of a number of Stanford professors from outside Bolívar House, in History, Political Science, Geography, Philosophy, Spanish, Economics, Business, Food Research, Anthropology, Sociology, to mention what come to mind. I would say that only John J. Johnson in History pulled out of the group, because he saw himself as the anonymous target of RH's published address to Unesco (on how not to conduct research in Regional Studies). Everyone in Bolívar House understood that, because it was a delicate matter for any HAS student to enroll in a course with Johnson.

        What really changed the climate was when a group of PhD candidates at Bolivar House opened a chapter of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. The Stanford Administration began to suspect that Gus Hall was lodged somewhere in the attic. A certain Dean Carl Spaeth (from Yale, I believe) was called in to investigate the links between us and Castro. An investigative committee was set up under Spaeth, who demanded that the contents of each issue of the monthly Hispanic American Report be passed to the Committee before it was published. RH properly refused to accept censorship, but invited Spaeth's Committee to meet freely with those on the Cuban Desk, or any other Desk. Spaeth himself walked in one day, and I was there when Spaeth met the Cuban Desk. They were quite polite and pleasant with him, but it became immediately obvious that Spaeth didn't understand anything about events in Cuba. He looked plain sheepish, and he didn't return. Years later I told RH that he had missed an opportunity to expose the ignorance of his accusers. He should have insisted that Spaeth and his ilk come in and discuss the points in an open forum.

        Instead of that, the John Birch elements in the Stanford Administration began to question RH's "loyalty," meaning loyalty to the United States. RH mentioned it in the Seminar, with the comment, "It depends on what you mean by loyalty." He was an immigrant as I was, from the same country (UK), and even from the same town (Torquay), with the difference that he was naturalized and I wasn't. When it came to his final meeting with President Wallace Sterling, and RH ended the meeting by offering his resignation, Sterling refused to accept it, but he passed it down the ranks until it fell into the hands of Lyman, and the rest is known.

        To correct an error in my original posting (15 March), the 28 copies sent to the US State Department were addressed of course to the 28 country or group Desks under the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs, and not to the State Department at random. What it all meant, when the Report came out for the last time in October 1964, was that the State Department and professors of Latin American Studies everywhere had to do all that work by themselves.

        When RH corrected me by saying a tight ship should read a taut ship, it was based once again on his encyclopedic knowledge. His hometown (my hometown) Torquay is famous for its sailing, and the 1948 Olympics were held there. As for the comment that "tight" in certain areas of Chicago can mean "drunk," I'd like to know where in the Anglophone world "tight" and "drunk"' are not synonymous. But that's just a digression. Carl Spaeth, I would say, was the direct cause of the collapse of Bolívar House. Perhaps in 1970, when Lyman faced the tsunami of the Stop the War movement, and Stanford itself rocked on its foundations (as recent research has shown), it crossed his mind that six years earlier he had destroyed an academic enterprise of world renown. It is so easy to destroy, and so hard to build.

        JE comments: Absolutely, although the demise of Bolívar House directly paved the way for the creation of CIIS/WAIS. Without exaggeration, had Deans Spaeth and Lyman not done their dirty work, there would be no WAIS today.

        Another outstanding note from David Pike. This is the second time I've thought of Communist Party USA leader Gus Hall in the past week. In the archives I came across a very critical 1970s Ronald Hilton missive to the Stanford Campus Daily, attacking the University for inviting Hall to speak on campus. Irony of ironies that just a few years earlier, the Administration would have suspected RH of permitting communist infiltration in his tight/taut ship.

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    • "Tight" and "Taut" (Mary Hilton Huyck, USA 03/16/14 10:06 AM)
      I was curious to see whether my father had used the word "taut" appropriately (see David Pike, 15 March), and he most certainly had. According to the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Idioms, "taut" and "tight" mean the same thing. Taut is correct nautical use. With sailboats, it refers to the necessity that the lines be taut.

      JE comments: Prof. Hilton let a typo make it to WAIS from time to time, but I don't think he ever committed a lexical mistake.  (I did come across one letter from a reader of the Hispanic American Review, ribbing RH for confusing "principle" and "principal."  I'm sure the blame lay with one of the graduate students!)

      Might "tight ship" vs. "taut ship" be a British-American thing?  With all matters nautical, we should defer to our seafaring cousins in the UK.


      Ah, but there's nothing more uncomfortable than taut shoes!

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      • "Tight" and "Taut" (Clyde McMorrow, USA 03/16/14 3:08 PM)
        John E may have hit on something. Taut implies to me a certain correct tightness. "The lines are taut" suggests that they are rightly tightened and shipshape, whereas "The lines are tight" may mean we are pulling the mast over.

        I am not so sure about the shoes being taut.

        While you are at Apple, take a look across the street at the demolition for the new Apple campus. That site was the Cupertino campus of Hewlett-Packard, a once proud and powerful company.

        JE comments: We ended up postponing the Apple visit for a future date. Roman and I ended up spending a couple of hours at NASA's Ames Research Center, with its small but very interesting museum.  This is my last day in California, and time has become very taut... (!)

        Great to meet you, Clyde, last Sunday. I hope our paths cross again soon, so I can hear more of your excellent Brazil stories!

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      • "Tight" and "Taut," Etymologies (John Heelan, -UK 03/16/14 6:08 PM)
        When in doubt, check the etymology:

        taut (adj.)

        mid-13c., tohte "stretched or pulled tight," possibly from tog-, past participle stem of Old English teon "to pull, drag," from Proto-Germanic *tugn, from PIE *deuk- "to lead" (see duke (n.)), which would connect it to tow (v.) and tie. Related: Tautness.

        tight (adj.)

        c.1400, tyght "dense, close, compact," from Middle English thight, from Old Norse þettr "watertight, close in texture, solid," and also from Old English -þiht (cf. second element in meteþiht "stout from eating"), both from Proto-Germanic *thinhta- (cf. Middle High German dihte "dense, thick," German dicht "dense, tight," Old High German gidigan, German gediegen "genuine, solid, worthy"), from PIE root *tenk- (2) "to become firm, curdle, thicken" (cf. Irish techt "curdled, coagulated," Lithuanian tankus "close, tight," Persian tang "tight," Sanskrit tanakti "draws together, contracts")

        JE comments:  Watertight, stout from eating--gosh, I'm more confused that ever.  As William Ratliff reminds us, we may need to consult the authority on English usage, William S. Gilbert (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame).  Bill's contribution is next in the queue.
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      • "Running a Tight Ship" (William Ratliff, USA 03/16/14 6:23 PM)
        The "tight" / "taut" discussion has taken several twists and turns, but if I remember rightly JE mentioned "running a tight ship" and then David Pike related how Ronald Hilton once put him down for claiming to be "running a tight ship" at Bolivar House; DP reports that RH said it should be "taut" unless they were all drunk.

        There are of course two primary sources of proper English usage over the past century-plus: William S. Gilbert in the late 19th century and John Cleese (mainly in "Fawlty Towers," set in Ronald's WAIS-beloved hometown of Torquay) in the late 20th. And then perhaps as a last resort, the OED.

        Specifically on "tight ship," see Gilbert's usage in the nautical-relateded spoof of ghostly Gothic melodramas, "Ruddigore." Without getting into a complex plot check, the "happily couple" duet in Act II where Richard Dauntless, a self-confessed "hardy British tar," affirms his admiration of the village maiden Rose Maybud, whom he characterizes as "a bright little, tight little, slight little, light little, trim little, prim little craft" [emphasis added]! Rose then modestly affirms that she is indeed a "tight little craft."

        Thus according to my preferred source "our seafaring cousins in the UK," as JE puts it, Ronald was off base in his outright rejection of "tight" in this context. Even the OED says "tight ship n. a ship in which ropes, etc., are tight; hence a strictly run ship," and that to "run a tight ship" means "Be very strict in managing an organization or operation" ( http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/tight?q=tight ). The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer defines "tight ship" as "A well-managed organization, as in The camp director runs a tight ship" and dates it to the second half of 1900s. Mary Hilton Huyck adds that McGraw-Hill says the terms mean the same thing and the OED confirms as much by defining "taut ship" as "a disciplined or strictly run ship."  So I think the "problem" is not that Ronald used "taut" incorrectly but that he did not know "tight" was every bit as appropriate.

        Of course maybe he was pulling DP's leg.

        JE comments: I'll go with the latter interpretation. This kind of language jest sounds very Hiltonian!

        It was great to see you this week, Bill.  Excellent cuisine and excellent conversation.

        And today is St Patrick's day, commonly believed to be the tightest (tautest?) day of the year!  Be careful out there, folks.

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        • "Running a Tight Ship" (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 03/17/14 9:52 AM)
          Even if I am absolutely not an authoritative source on English language usage, I wish to say that in all my life in the shipping industry I never heard the term "taut" but only "tight" relating to a ship.

          Just to tell you how tricky English can be for foreigners, I will tell you a funny episode.

          When I was chief mate on a tanker, we were supposed to make the vessel gas-free in the almost impossible time of three days before she was supposed to go to the shipyard Mitsui at Tamano. The schedule was so tight [taut?  Laugh Out Loud!--JE] that the main office wanted to be kept abreast of the progress.

          We were going fairly well, but at a certain point we had problems with containing the sludge on board (sediments of the crude oil remaining in the tanks), and we explained this to the main office. Immediately we got a strange answer that at first we could not understand. Worse, we thought that they were crazy. In fact, the answer was "arrange make shifts." What the hell with these shifts? we were already working round the clock 6 hours on and 6 hours off (even much less "off" than "on")!

          Finally, after a while we understood that the poor people in the office were suggesting "makeshift" efforts.

          JE comments: "Gas-free," as I understand the term, means that the inside of the tanker (or any enclosed shipboard space) is deemed safe for entry without special equipment.

          Granted, this is a makeshift explanation from a landlubber.  Eugenio, correct me if I've misunderstood.

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        • "Running a Tight Ship" and Prof. Hilton (Mary Hilton Huyck, USA 03/17/14 10:11 AM)
          Re: "taut" versus " "tight," I absolutely agree with Bill Ratliff (17 March). My father loved language and plays on words, and I suspect that he was simply teasing David Pike. Of course, RH knew that "tight" could mean drunk. He was just making a joke.

          JE comments: I'm glad Mary Hilton Huyck has set the record straight. As coincidence would have it, St Patrick's is an excuse for half of America (and Ireland, too, I suppose) to get slobberingly tight.

          And here I am at the Hoover, sober as a Methodist parson, but at least I'm wearing green! I hit the road for Michigan in two hours, so WAIS will be on hiatus until the evening. Next stop: Reno.  Pax et lux!

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          • St Patrick's Day (John Heelan, -UK 03/17/14 9:31 PM)
            On this St Patrick's day, try being a Brit in Boston (or even worse, Merrimack, New Hampshire) on St. Patrick's Night! I used to adopt my Gaelic name, imitate my father's Waterford accent and drink only Bushmills and Guinness!

            JE comments: The festivities are certainly over by now in Ireland, but Boston, at half past midnight, must still be in full celebration mode.

            So I'll be off to explore this casino hotel, to see how Reno gets its Irish on.

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          • International Felt and the Huycks (David Fleischer, Brazil 03/18/14 7:17 AM)
            I would like to ask Ms. Mary Hilton Huyck a question about her husband's surname.

            Is he any relation to the Huyck family that owned a felt factory in Rensselaer, NY as of the 1940s through the 1960s? They made felts for paper machines and even opened a branch factory in Brazil. I worked at this plant in 1959 and again in 1961. They later became the International Felt company.

            Another question, this time for David Pike regarding the "transition" at Stanford University. I understand that the current Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford is celebrating its 50th year in 2014 [2015--JE]. That means that this Center with its ensuing MLAS program began to operate in 1964, shortly after Ronald Hilton was "ousted" and the Hispanic American Program abolished.

            Regarding the "Red Cuba scare," Gus Hall, etc. at Stanford, what happened at Stanford in 1968--"the year that never ended"? This movement shook most US campuses, SDS, etc. (as well as in Europe and Latin America). By then, the "Fair Play for Cuba" committees were gone. At UC Berkeley and other universities, the 1968 movement was quite large, indeed. Perhaps some other WAISERs who were around at Stanford in 1968 could help answer this question.

            JE comments: Philip Huyck is a WAISer who has participated in some of our conferences. Prof. Hilton appointed him WAIS "Honorary Counsel" in 1999:


            I don't know if Philip's family is connected to the German Huyck.Wangner company, which apparently is now called Xerium:


            As for David Fleischer's question about Stanford's Center for Latin American Studies, it was founded in 1965 as the successor organization to Prof. Hilton's Institute for Hispanic-American and Luso-Brazilian Studies (Bolívar House). After Prof. H resigned from the Institute, he founded the California Institute of International Studies, the predecessor of WAIS. In this sense, CIIS/WAIS started as a competitor to CLAS, but our missions and activities have since moved in different directions.  Last week I was fortunate to spend some time with CLAS Associate Director Elizabeth Sáenz-Ackermann (David put us in touch), and we hope to work together on our respective institutions' Golden Jubilees in 2015.

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            • RH and Soviet Union; Gus Hall at Stanford (David Pike, -France 03/18/14 9:54 AM)
              Briefly, in reply to David Fleischer's questions of March 18:

              --Gus Hall apparently visited Stanford more than once. It was in 1963 that I met him. He had wit. He told me that some funds should be made available for the many poor Stanford coeds who were going around in their bare feet.

              --RH resigned of course as Director of the Institute, but not as Professor of Romanic Languages. At that point he had many offers to go elsewhere, but he preferred to remain at Stanford, even though his courses were no longer the same.

              --In October 1964, I was in Toulouse, so I missed everything, but I was afraid for a moment that the closing of the Institute could have a serious effect on the morale of RH. That thought was stupid! In October 1965, RH came to Toulouse and we spent a day or two together. He told me to my delight that, far from letting Stanford get him down, he had "gone across the street" and opened a new institute (CIIS), and this one outside of Stanford's power to control. "You can't build anything inside Stanford," he would say, and to anyone!

              --Which shows that the Stanford of that time is today unrecognizable.

              --A word of pity, though, for President Wallace Sterling. His office block (right below RH's, that I was using day and night) was torched in 1968 in the middle of the night, and his important collection on the Austro-Hungarian Empire was destroyed. I didn't see the attack; I had left the office just before. I had the chance the next day to speak to Sterling, and I was deeply impressed by his equanimity. "We're seeing what we can put together," said the president, amid the debris.

              --One final comment, and then I should stop. RH said the same thing to me about the Soviet Academy of Sciences. "They'll never invite me again. They don't want to hear what I have to tell them."

              JE comments: Yesterday in my final day in the RH archives, I came across a file containing Prof. H's itinerary for his visit to the Soviet Union in June and July 1971.  (He visited Moscow, Leningrad/St Petersburg, Tashkent and Tbilisi.)  The file contained many cordial letters of thanks, but the most interesting was an anonymous missive, typed in broken English, that was harshly critical of a letter RH had published in the New York Times on his visit.  Among other topics, the nameless critic lambasted RH's claim that Stalin had conquered the Baltic nations:  "The so-called Baltic republics are and have always been Russian."  When we consider the present events in Crimea, it's a plus ça change moment.

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        • "Tight" and "Taut" in Sailing (John Heelan, -UK 03/19/14 6:05 AM)
          Cameron Sawyer will correct me if needed, but I seem to remember from my sailing school training--as as youth--that the mainsail and jib "sheets" (i.e. ropes) had to be kept "tight" to ensure that the sails were kept "taut," thus maximising energy transmitted by the wind.

          JE comments: John Heelan and I had an off-Forum exchange on the nautical "sheet." I thought it referred to the sail itself, which to my eyes looks like a sheet, as in a big piece of white cloth. But John is correct:  "sheets" are ropes.  As I said earlier, always defer to our UK cousins when it comes to seafaring.

          I'm presently in Laramie, Wyoming, which in this hemisphere is about as far from the ocean as you can get. (According to one source, this particular "pole of inaccessibility" is the Red Lobster restaurant in Rapid City, South Dakota, 300 miles northeast of where I sit.)

          Plenty of wind, but nowhere to stick your boat:  Laramie, Wyoming


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          • "Tight" and "Taut"; "Hard" and "Slack" (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 03/20/14 5:03 AM)
            Actually, in response to John Heelan (20 March), we say "hard" and "harden up"; the opposite being "ease" or "slack" or "eased" or "slackened." I have never heard either "tight" or "taught" said on board a sailing vessel--to my ear, both of these terms sound lubberly. And certainly sails would not be necessarily "tight" or "taught"--the trimming of sails to produce the desired aerodynamic effect is much more complicated than just making them "tight." It is in fact incredibly complicated with a large number of controls interacting in an almost unlimited combination of ways. For example, just the mainsail, on many boats, will have the following controls:

            1. Halyard

            2. Mainsheet

            3. Outhaul

            4. Traveller

            5. Vang (or Kicker, to the British)

            6. Cunningham

            7. Backstay

            The halyard controls tension across the luff of the sail, that is, the forward, vertical edge. You use this tension to move the "draft" of the sail--the point at which it is fullest--forward and aft. The mainsheet controls twist of the sail, and when the boom is amidships or nearly amidships, the tension in the "leech" of the sail, that is, the after edge of it. The traveler controls the angle of the boom to the wind. The vang controls the tension in the "foot" of the sail--that is, the lower edge of it. The cunningham, like the halyard, controls tension in the luff, but by hauling down on it, rather than up like the halyard does. A backstay tension control (my boat doesn't have this) can be used to depower the mainsail by opening up the leech and letting the top of the sail twist off. The object of using all these controls is to produce the right shape for the point of sail and strength of the wind. When going upwind, the most challenging point of sail by far, since a sailing vessel can make way against the wind only by generating aerodynamic lift, the sail should be trimmed to minimize drag and maximize lift. In light wind, the sail needs a full, powerful shape, which you get by slacking the mainsheet (if we're still talking about a mainsail) and outhaul to let the sail assume a fuller shape. Then you use the other controls to get the draft in the right position and get the sail at the right angle to the wind. In stronger wind, drag becomes a great danger, as it not only counteracts lift you are generating, but also generates heeling moment, which pushes the boat over, reducing the amount of sail exposed to the wind, and producing undesirable hydrodynamic effects between the keel and underbody of the boat and the water (specifically, weather helm, which makes the rudder act like a brake). So going upwind in stronger wind, the sail is flattened as much as possible by hardening up the outhaul and mainsheet, and letting down the traveler to angle the sail further into the wind. The halyard and/or cunningham will also be hardened up to move the draft as far forward as possible. This way, you make a sleek wing out of the sail which produces as little drag as possible, increasing lift and reducing heeling moment. It's very tricky and very satisfying when you get it right.

            Nautical terminology is always a tricky thing, and there are many controversies. For example, many American sailors have an abhorrence for the word "rope," calling every bit of cordage on board a "line." British sailors disagree with this, and I think they're right--a "line" is cordage at work fulfilling a specific function; "rope" is the material itself, without reference to its function. In my opinion this is a much better use of the terminology than just making "line" a meaningless synonym of "rope" with a nautical flavor. There is also "head" or "heads," which is marine-speak for toilet. American sailors will say "the head" to refer to both the toilet and the compartment in which it is housed. British sailors say "the heads" to refer just to the compartment--as the term was used in olden days. The fixture is just a "toilet." Again I agree with the British on this. I could go on forever.

            JE comments:  Quiz to follow!  I don't know if I'm more impressed by the abilities of skillful sailors, or by their mastery of such a daunting vocabulary list.  I am reminded of a January 1953 postcard Prof. Hilton sent from on board the SS United States, as he sailed to Europe.  He explained to his daughter Mary that "port" means left and "starboard" right.

            I checked Wikipedia, and the maiden voyage of the United States had been just the previous summer, in July 1952.  When Prof. Hilton crossed the Atlantic, it (OK, "she") must still have had that "new-ship smell."  The ship was retired in 1969 and has been at dock in Philadelphia ever since.  There have been several plans to revive her for service, or as a stationary "floating attraction," but nothing concrete has emerged thus far:


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