Dennis Frost

Dennis is the Wen Chao Chen Associate Professor of East Asian Social Sciences at Kalamazoo College. His article “Sporting Disability: Official Representations of the Disabled Body at Tokyo’s 1964 Paralympics” was recently published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Sport and Social Science.

Arthur Bennett (Ben) Schram Jr. ’58

Ben died on August 15, 2014. He matriculated to Kalamazoo College from his hometown of Jackson, Mich. He earned his B.A. in political science and after graduation studied law at the University of Michigan. He spent his career assisting congressional representatives and committees on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. Ben had a passion for history and collecting. His home was affectionately known as the Schram Museum.

Malia Johnson ’07 and William Sbach ’07

Malia and William were married on July 26, 2014. Malia works as a curatorial assistant at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and as a baker for Albemarle Baking Company. William is working on his doctorate in political theory at the University of Virginia. Malia earned her bachelor’s degree in American history; she studied abroad in Rome, Italy. William earned his bachelor’s degree in political science, and he also studied abroad in Rome. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Toronto. Malia and William live in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Henry Yaple ’63

Henry recently completed a 30-year labor of love: a bibliography listing the thousands of works printed by a celebrated religious commune formerly located in Benton Harbor, Michigan. In the early 20th century the Israelite House of David (founded by Benjamin and Mary Purnell) was known for its semi-professional baseball team, whose players sported long locks, flowing beards, and major league talent. The Benton Harbor House of David was later re-organized by Mary Purnell as Mary’s City of David.

Yaple earned his bachelor’s degree in English from K and a Master of Library Sciences degree from Western Michigan University. He began his professional life as a librarian and bibliographer at Michigan State University. He retired as Librarian Emeritus from Whitman College (Walla Walla, Washington) and did much of his compilation work during retirement.

According to Sue Moore, who wrote a story about Yaple that appeared in South County News, “The idea for researching and compiling a bibliography stemmed from his studies as a librarian. The sect headed by Benjamin and Mary Purnell, who had only an eighth grade education, realized that it could attract converts with written material outlining its beliefs. They didn’t attribute or date most of their works but published thousands of titles. The published works helped to attract large numbers of men and women to become members, some from as far away as Australia.

“According to Mary’s City of David web site, the sect published The Star of Bethlehem and by 1910 it was in its third edition, having circulated around the world to the churches and followers of the former six Israelite messengers. Their “Eden Springs Park” was in its second successful season in 1910 and on its way to become America’s premiere pre-Disney theme park. The House of David schools would provide education and recreational activities for its children, who soon developed into legendary barn storming baseball teams, known to Satchel Paige as “Jesus boys”, and traveling jazz bands that would catch the attention of America in sweeping nationwide vaudeville circuit tours throughout the 1920s. By the mid-1920s, and in spite of the worldwide economic depression, the Israelite House of David and Mary’s City of David would come to dominate southwestern Michigan’s economy, tourism and agricultural industries.”

Yaple’s retirement activities are not confined to academics. He is an avid skier, and has also published two works on that avocation. He and his wife, whom he met skiing, live out west in ski country.

Christine Ritok ’03

Christine is an associate curator at Historic Deerfield (Deerfield, Massachusetts). She is responsible for managing, studying, and interpreting the museum’s extensive collection of period furniture and for developing exhibits. Her first museum job, at the National Design Museum in New York City, gave her the opportunity to study the decorative arts in depth, working with old furniture and ceramics. She went on to obtain a master’s degree in the history of design and decorative arts from Parsons New School For Design in New York and began working at the Museum of the City of New York in 2010, where she undertook a complete study of the institution’s vast furniture collection to bring the associated scholarship up to date. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history and studied abroad in Strasbourg, France. Historic Deerfield is an authentic 18th-century New England village in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts. It’s a museum of history, art, and architecture along a mile-long street laid out in 1671 and still lined with 18th- and 19th-century houses on their original sites.

Marti Goetz ’76

Marti has been named the first executive director of Friends of Bear’s Mill, a nonprofit organization formed in 2000 to ensure the 165-year-old mill (in Greenville, Ohio) is protected and remains open to the public. Marti brings more than 35 years of administration, executive planning, organizational leadership, project management, grant writing, communications, art production, and public awareness experience in the nonprofit sector. At K she earned her bachelor’s degree in art and studied abroad in Caen, France. She obtained a master’s degree in art therapy from Wright State University, and recently completed a doctorate in leadership and organizational change from Antioch University.

LaNesha (McCoy) DeBardelaben ’02

LaNesha is the vice president of assessment and community engagement at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. She engages the museum in substantive community collaborations and initiatives, and she is leading its effort to gain national accreditation. LaNeesha also supervises the museum’s education department. She has served on the board of directors of the Michigan Council for History Education. Her honors include a 2014 Crain Detroit Business “40 Under 40″ Award. LaNesha has a passion for public history, culture and the arts, literacy, and education, and she fosters museum programming around these critical areas of impact. She also serves as president of the Detroit Pierians, Inc., a national black women’s arts society. At K she earned her B.A. in history and studied abroad in Kenya. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Missouri and a Master of Library Sciences degree from Indiana University-Bloomington. She is pursuing a Ph.D. at Michigan State University.

David Kyvig ’66

David died unexpectedly on June 22, 2015, from complications of diabetes. David was a Distinguished Research Professor of History at Northern Illinois University (DeKalb). He was a prominent and prolific scholar of 20th century U.S. history who wrote nearly a dozen books and numerous journal articles, several book chapters, and countless encyclopedia entries.

He came to Kalamazoo College from Muskegon, Michigan, and cited the lasting influence on his life and career of several key professors: Wen Chao Chen (who also served as his faculty advisor), John Peterson (whose specialty was African history), and Ivor Spencer (U.S. history). David spent his career service quarter working in the office of Michigan Senator Philip Hart during the middle of the debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He studied abroad in Muenster, Germany, and used that opportunity to study and listen to what Germans found noteworthy and intriguing about American history. His Senior Individualized Project (which focused on the U.S. Senate during the “100 Day Session” of President Franklin Roosevelt’s first term) immersed him into primary historical research, and he loved it.

After graduating with his B.A. in history (cum laude), David earned a Ph.D. in American history from Northwestern University. He spent a year in Washington, D.C., as an archivist in the Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives. He began his college teaching career in 1971 at the University of Akron. In 1999 he joined the faculty at Northern Illinois. He also taught as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Tromso in Norway (1987-88) and was a resident fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The majority of David’s research and writing focused on the U.S. constitutional amendment process. His book Explicit and Authentic Acts: Amending the U.S. Constitution, 1976-1995 earned the Bancroft Prize, the most prestigious book-publishing accolade for American history. More recently he published the highly regarded book The Age of Impeachment: American Constitutional Culture Since 1960.

David was the subject of a LuxEsto story (Spring 2002) in which he cited the fundamental importance of history, “how looking at the past can be useful in coming to terms with contemporary moments, particularly moments of crisis.” He attributed his appreciation for that insight to his experiences at Kalamazoo College. “K,” he said, “took a provincial kid from West Michigan and exposed him to the possibilities of life. Working in Washington, D.C., going abroad, being surrounded by so many bright people, new ideas, new ways of looking at things—and discovering that I could hold my own in that environment—instilled a confidence in me that I could handle new experiences.”

David is survived by his wife, Christine Worobec. David was instrumental in establishing at Kalamazoo College the Wen Chao Chen Endowed Professorship of East Asian Social Sciences. Christine has established an endowed scholarship at K to honor David. It is called the “Dr. David Kyvig ’66 Memorial Scholarship for the Study of History,” to which alumni, classmates and friends are invited to contribute.

Oyster Wars with Camera Cutlass

Editor’s Note: Try on this image: if author David Hammond ’73 were a recipe, its ingredients are the liberal arts—mostly literature and writing (he was an English major, after all), but also heaping measures of food and travel (in Strasbourg, France, and beyond, to be specific), enough science to understand the effect of nuanced environmental differences on organisms in seemingly close proximity, a taste for history (in chronicles such as The Oyster Wars of Chesapeake Bay), and an appreciation of the ebb and flow of economic-environmental influences. I hope readers enjoy, as much as we did, the following piece–product of a curiosity refined by an education in the liberal arts. And not just any such education. Like oysters, a liberal arts education can have important variations, even in close proximity. Cheers to David Hammond, and to the K way of doing a liberal arts education.

Pleasure House Oyster … none better! Photo by David Hammond ’73.

In a recent Chicago Sun-Timesoyster guide”, I mentioned, with a hint of disbelief, that “some oyster enthusiasts even claim to detect subtle flavor differences between bivalves grown on different sides of the same bay.”

That claim once seemed to me somewhat unbelievable. I’m not scoffing any more.

A few hours after landing in Richmond, Virginia, I went to an oyster tasting that involved sampling the same breed of oyster grown in multiple locations all around Chesapeake Bay, north and south.

What I discovered in this pan-Bay sampling was that flavor variations in oysters from different parts of this bay are, indeed, clearly palpable.

It just makes sense: oysters cultivated closer to the Atlantic Ocean are saltier, and those further north and deeper up into the bay, closer to freshwater rivers, are sweeter. Similarly, oysters cultivated near moving waters tend to be somewhat cleaner tasting than those in beds where water moves more slowly.

Flavor differences, it turns out, are readily discernible, even in oysters that live a few miles apart. Historically, the oysters from Chesapeake Bay were known for being some of the finest in the world.

Faded Glory
According to John R. Wennersten, in his highly entertaining The Oyster Wars of Chesapeake Bay, there was a time in the late nineteenth century when Chesapeake Bay provided 40 percent of the world’s oysters!

Many poachers were shot by the guns of the Oyster Navy.

Throughout the past century or so, the oyster industry in Chesapeake Bay, much like that in the Gulf Coast, has waxed and waned, building up and then slipping down due to a variety of causes.

By the late twentieth century, the glory days of Chesapeake Bay oyster production had faded, due in part to fertilizer run-off that caused vast algal blooms that made life difficult for oysters. A little algae is just fine; oysters like it; too much algae crowds out the tasty creatures. Given the chance to increase and multiply, relieved of the burden of trying to live in heavily polluted water, oysters actually filter the water and make it cleaner.

Today, with regulations in place to reduce run-off, farmers are moving back into the Chesapeake area in a continuing effort to satisfy the perennial taste for oysters. Oysters are amazingly resilient creatures, and even though their numbers in Chesapeake Bay have dwindled over the years, the industry is undergoing a rebirth, with new oyster farms cropping up all over the bay.

Pleasure House oysters: Bringing Back the Old Ways
I had my first Pleasure House oysters at a restaurant called Terrapin in Virginia Beach. The oysters were much bigger than I’d usually prefer an oyster to be, but each was stunningly delicious, with briny, balanced flavors and beautifully firm flesh. Terrapin is one of only three restaurants that serve Pleasure House oysters; production at this oyster farm is understandably low.

Pleasure House oysters is one of many farms that have reclaimed their place around Chesapeake Bay. In response to the increasing demand for oysters, companies that had previously gone under are coming back to life, and new companies are starting up; some are doing their best to bring back the old ways of oyster farming.

At the Pleasure House oyster farm, cages are pulled up and the oysters sorted and tumbled by hand. This totally manual approach might seem like a gimmick, but Pleasure House oysters were perhaps the finest oysters I’ve ever eaten.

You cannot get oysters any fresher than this. Photo by David Hammond ’73.

We went out on a Pleasure House oyster boat with Chris Ludford, whose regular job is serving as the area’s fireboat captain. When he’s not keeping the bay area from going up in smoke, he works his oyster beds on the Lynnhaven River, cultivating and harvesting oysters by hand. We pulled up next to a patch of marsh grass where Ludford had his cages.

The fresh-from-the-water oysters were glistening jewels of deliciousness, brimming with briny liquor and dense with layers of flavor. Somewhat fleshy, their texture was excellent.

“We’re in a perfect location here,” said Ludford, “a few miles from the ocean, so we get a lot of fresh salt water washing through.”

The Lynnhaven River has been yielding oysters for centuries. Local legend has it that shortly after landing in the New World, the first European settlers sat down with the indigenous residents to enjoy fire-roasted oysters.

Shoot Photos, Not Guns
In The Oyster Wars of Chesapeake Bay, Wennersten relates many tales of pirates—some local, others coming down from Maryland—who raided oyster beds all over this area. To combat such pilferage, an Oyster Navy launched in the late nineteenth century. There were frequent pitched gun battles between this local law enforcement agency and oyster pirates. Much blood was shed. Many poachers were shot by the guns of the Oyster Navy.

Finally in 1959, a colorful local character named Berkeley Muse was out pilfering oysters with some good ole boys when he was shot and killed by the Oyster Navy. Beloved by the community, he was immortalized (more or less) in a song (I found it on iTunes) by Calico Jack & Janie Meneely:

Potomac was as good a place as any man could choose
Till the Oyster Navy came and shot down Berkeley Muse

With the death of Muse, and ensuing public outrage, the Oyster Navy was throttled back.

Predictably, the pirating of oysters continues.

“Every Fourth of July,” Ludford told me, “we have people coming in and trying to poach our oysters. It’s traditional for people to have some oysters and beer, and I guess some folks just can’t afford them. Last year on the Fourth, I got a call from a buddy who told me there were pirates in my oyster beds. I jumped in my boat and went out there. They took off, but I shot a picture of the license on their boat with my brand new iPhone.”

Police eventually caught the malefactors and their loot: a passel of Pleasure House oysters. No blood was shed.

Slurping unbelievably fresh Lynnhaven River oysters in the sun, with the wind blowing off the nearby Atlantic, it was easy to see why the oyster was one powerful food. Indigenous people, English settlers, red-blooded American boys, for all of them, oysters hold an enduring allure.