From the Editor-In-Chief
Happy New Year and welcome to the Winter issue of Princeton Magazine. I am pleased to report that 2024 marks our 15th anniversary of publishing the magazine! You might think that after so many years we would run out of ideas, but that is far from the case.
Princeton is home to a plethora of accomplished people and there is always another interesting person to interview. We also enjoy exploring topics on architecture, nature, health, cooking, sports, history, culture, politics, and businesses that have a positive impact on the community.
Publishing the magazine is a collaborative effort, and each member of the Witherspoon Media Group staff has their own favorite stories and covers. For me, a few of our most compelling covers were Albert Hinds, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Pearl S. Buck depicted as Mother Earth.
I had the pleasure of meeting Albert Hinds years before we put him on the cover, at the opening of the Waxwood. The building was originally the Witherspoon School for Colored Children, and Bob Hillier restored and renewed it as a condominium residence. Hinds was 102 at the time and couldn’t have been more charming. When I mentioned that I lived on Greenview Avenue, which faces Princeton Cemetery, his eyes lit up and he said he could tell me many stories about partying in the cemetery as a young man — then we both chuckled.
Another fond memory about a past cover story was meeting Ben Bernanke, who was the former chairman of the Federal Reserve. I pursued him for over a year before he agreed to meet us during a visit to deliver Princeton’s Baccalaureate speech.
To the dismay of the Baccalaureate organizers, Bernanke was incredibly generous with his time for the interview that took place in Prospect House, with the photography in Prospect Gardens. He talked about his obsession with baseball as a child and how the Strat-O-Matic Baseball game sparked his interest in statistics and probability. I was struck by how soft spoken and pleasant he was for such a powerful person.
When deciding on the editorial mix of a specific issue, we try to include at least one global story that has a local angle.
Given America’s complicated involvement with the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, as well as recent attacks on our ships in the Red Sea, our story in this issue is about ROTC programs at Princeton University, Rutgers, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Before reading Donald Sanborn’s article, I knew very little about the ROTC. I now have newfound respect for participants who balance academics, physical fitness, and training in leadership skills.
The leadership skills of some Ivy League presidents have been recently scrutinized in connection with their handling of antisemitism on campuses, making this next article timely by addressing what makes for a good college president.
Wendy Greenberg’s interviews with Drew Gilpin Faust, who was the first female president of Harvard University, and Ruth J. Simmons, who was the first female president of Brown University, as well as the first Black president of an Ivy League school, were focused on their recently published memoirs.
I read both books and appreciated their inspirational messages about embracing knowledge, recognizing opportunities, and believing in yourself.
The women come from very different backgrounds with Simmons growing up in rural Texas, the 12th child of sharecroppers, and Gilpin Faust growing up in Virginia horse country with a family history tied to politics and the military.
The interviews reveal they not only share a passion for education, but also for civil rights, and they both experienced losing a mother as a teen.
Reading is a vital part of becoming a successful student, and it may not come naturally for people who are dyslexic or visually impaired. Don Gilpin, a former teacher and brother of Drew Gilpin Faust, has written an article on the contributions made by Learning Ally to help people enjoy and comprehend what they are reading.
Originally called Recording for the Blind, the organization began 75 years ago to aid soldiers who lost their sight during wartime. Today, the volunteer driven organization offers a wide range of services to students, parents, and teachers using technology, audiobooks, magnifying texts, and reading braille.
Learning Ally makes us realize there are many ways to enjoy books, one being for their beauty. Stuart Mitchner’s Book Scene features mid-century modern books that are both beautiful and informative. Later this year we will be publishing an article on Bob Hillier’s mid-century home on Lake Carnegie, which is undergoing extensive renovations.
Ilene Dube has written an inspirational article on the Special Olympics with heartfelt quotes from participants in the New Jersey games.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver established the Special Olympics in the 1950s in honor of her sister, Rosemary, who had an intellectual disability. As a child, Rosemary enjoyed swimming, sailing, football, and skiing, but Eunice was aware that other children with disabilities were missing out on the many benefits of playing sports, and wanted to make the experience available to them as well.
Special Olympics New Jersey is based in Lawrenceville and offers a year-round sports training center for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The winter events will take place at various locations across the state, and Ilene’s article provides a schedule. In Princeton, the Hun School will host basketball games on January 14 and 21. The competitions wind down in February with skiing, snowshoeing, figure skating, and snowboarding.
Staying injury-free while playing sports or working out is a priority for athletes of all ages and abilities. Taylor Smith has written an article with helpful tips on how to be fit and avoid injuries. Visiting a physical therapist or a podiatrist may help to give some insight on how your body is performing in terms of your exercise form, balance, and overall muscular development. While regular movement and strength work is necessary for a healthy life, overexercise can be equally frustrating and detrimental.
During the worst of the pandemic, while all the gyms were closed, President Christopher L. Eisgruber opened Princeton University Stadium to the public. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for that because, to my surprise, I developed a routine of running up and down flights of stairs in the stadium. I did so with high schoolers, college students, and seniors. And I wasn’t exercising for time or distance, but realized that the sheer enjoyment included mental and physical benefits. I think it is important for everyone to realize that they should exercise with longevity in mind, and Taylor’s article helps to explain that point.
The Well-Designed Life pages continue our seasonal theme and feature winter getaways and snow sports. After a day of playing in the snow, or maybe just shoveling it, homemade soup is very satisfying. Making soup is a learned skill and cookbook author Mary Abitanto shares tips and some of her favorite recipes.
I am a soup lover and have attempted to make my own after becoming obsessed with Olives of Princeton’s white bean kale soup with sausage. My version turned out well and was especially delicious with crusty bread from Terra Momo Bread Company.
Every issue of Princeton Magazine has what we refer to as a “Princeton-centric” story. Anne Levin has taken us down memory lane with an article on former Princeton merchants. She posted a message about the article on the Facebook page “I Grew Up in Princeton,” and there were over 600 comments from people sharing memories about the mom-and-pop stores in Princeton. Some of our readers might be aware that Bob Hillier’s mother, Florence, was the proud owner of The Flower Basket on Nassau Street. Look closely at the photos in this story and you will see an image of her storefront.
Bob and I greatly appreciate how Princeton’s merchants contribute to the town’s character and vibrancy. So please join us in helping to support their success by shopping local!
Lynn Adams Smith