News From Fort Schuyler

April 22, 2001 - Volume 5, No. 15

WE HAVE A WINNER - The Eagle Scout Fraternity staged a come-from-behind win to take first place honors in the Student Propeller Club's First Annual "HAP" Parnham Cup Monomoy Race, held on Friday, April 21.

FRONT AND CENTER PLEASE - The Admissions Office needs someone to represent the Maritime College at a College Fair in Front Royal, Virginia on Saturday April 28 from 10 AM to noon. The event will take place at the Randolph-Macon Academy. If you can help, contact for details.

GANDHI EXPLICATED BY ALUMNUS - The dean of modern India's history and politics, STANLEY WOLPERT, Class of 1947, has just added another title to his long list of publications. "Gandhi's Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi", published by Oxford University Press, rated a full page review in the April 15th NY Times Book Review. Dr. Wolpert is Professor Emeritus of South Asian History at the University of California, Los Angeles. (For more, go to ,click on "Newsletter" and see NFFS Volume 1, No. 9 and Volume 2, No. 20)

ENOUGH ALREADY - Two brave souls have weighed in on the great apostrophe controversy. BARRY MARSH, Class of 1986, writes: "At Homecoming 2000, ALLAN LONSCHEIN ('46) and I got into a "conversation" in the Maritime Industry Museum Office in the Fort about the ST. MARY'S and her apostrophe. Seems Allan wanted me to believe that when the US Navy commissioned the ship in 1844 and named her after St. Mary's (note the apostrophe) County, MD, they had no problem allowing the bell-maker to leave that ol' apostrophe off the ship's bell. Only one thing (it was thought) could end the controversy over the ship's name - an examination of the bell at the St. MARY'S Pentagon entrance to the Sallyport. So Allan and I trooped out to the bell. I looked closely (with my 36 year old eyes) - and saw an apostrophe. Allan looked closely (with his 70+ year old eyes) - and saw no apostrophe. Admittedly, the bell has been broken and repaired, so it was a bit hard to be sure. A careful pencil rubbing didn't answer the question, either. A course of action was decided upon - putting the question to a sample group of Cadets, selected randomly as they saluted the flag and passed by. So...without telling any of them why, and without telling them Allan's (no apostrophe) belief and my (apostrophe) belief, the test began. First Cadet we grabbed (a 3/C ?)definitely saw an apostrophe! Second Cadet we grabbed (a Mug ?) definitely saw an apostrophe! Third Cadet we grabbed (a 1/C Rate ?) definitely saw an apostrophe! (Added Bonus - Museum Curator BILL SOKOL wandered by during the test - and saw an apostrophe!) So...three Cadets, the Museum Curator, and I saw an apostrophe; Allan didn't see the apostrophe. Allan and I both returned to our neutral corners, both sure we were right. I told JOE GERSON ('47) about the blind test within five minutes of its conclusion, and he was just as sure as Allan that there was no apostrophe. Sigh..."

Another person who begs to disagree is ERHARD KOEHLER, Class of 1987, who notes that: "The apostrophe question was one that Allan Lonschein and Joe erroneously (in my opinion) "settled" a couple of years back - on the basis that there was no apparent apostrophe on the bell in the pentagon, and Allan's research that indicated the contemporary spelling of St. Mary's County in Maryland (the ship's namesake) did not have an apostrophe."

"The State of Maryland spells the county name with an apostrophe - in most places (for example, the highway map doesn't have it, but highway road signs and the tax forms do). There are other geographic and political examples in the state with/without the apostrophe. Records in the Naval Historical Center seem to consistently refer to the ship with an apostrophe, as does the entry in the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The WW2 AKA USS ST. MARY'S, spelled with an apostrophe, is named after the sloop-of-war, further supporting the "with apostrophe" argument. About 10 years ago I transcribed the entries describing an 1850's (the exact date escapes me at the moment) overhaul of the ST. MARY'S from the logbook of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, which is maintained at the National Archives branch office in Philadelphia. The logbook refers to the ship almost exclusively with apostrophe. The preponderance of evidence, as well as the weight of the College's tradition, heavily favor the spelling with an apostrophe.."

"Unfortunately this is one of those arguments where reasonable people will disagree, and passions run high. About the only way to convince Joe (or Allan) would be to find a contemporary document recording the ship's name at launch. The records of the Washington Navy Yard are either housed at the National Archives, or at the Naval Historical Center at the yard. It has been my intention to research them, but I haven't had the opportunity."

[Editor's note: Perhaps we should end this item with the concluding sentence of Clyde Haberman's April 21 NY Times column dealing with punctuation: "... punctuation lapses may be nothing to :) about, but there's also no reason to get too :( " ] Now, is that clear ?

OLD COLLEGE TRY - "Well, as a female graduate of the Dome," writes MARIBEL SOSA, Class of 1991, "I felt I have to comment on updating the Alma Mater. Frankly, I don't think it's necessary. I never felt offended or excluded. But not all of the other females grads might agree. I think Mr. Stagg's suggestion [ lads and lassies] is a good one, however." Another take on Juan's suggestion comes from ROD McFADDEN, Class of 1975, who writes in his best Peter Finley Dunne style that, "I suspect that them what are Politically Correct enough to get upset at the old and new lads will get absolutely apoplectic at 'lassies.'"