Author Archives: Brett Tomlinson

#ThrowbackThursday: Time for Tackling

PAW Archives

PAW Archives

“Hitting the hay” had a less-than-restful connotation for this unnamed Princeton tackler, shown with assistant coach Keene Fitzpatrick during preseason football practice in 1928. The Tigers, under the direction of head coach Bill Roper, went 5-1-2 that fall, including a 12-2 victory over rival Yale and a 6-6 tie at Ohio State in Princeton’s first and only trip to the famed “Horseshoe.”

This year’s Tigers kick off practice today (on artificial turf, not grass and straw) and begin the season Sept. 19 at Lafayette. Princeton was picked to finish fourth in the Ivy League’s preseason media poll, behind Harvard, Dartmouth, and Yale.

Tiger of the Week: Patrick Ryan ’68, Gallery Director

Patrick Ryan ’68 at his Princeton art gallery, Gallery 353. (Jeanette Beebe ’14)

Patrick Ryan ’68 at his Princeton art gallery, Gallery 353. (Jeanette Beebe ’14)

By Jeanette Beebe ’14

Patrick Ryan ’68 doesn’t do “art speak.” But he does know how to command the stage at an auction, rattling off antiques and art at break-neck speed to the highest bidder. Last Saturday, at the historic Benjamin Temple house and dairy farm in Ewing, N.J., where he was born and raised, Ryan auctioned off more than 80 items in 2 1/2 hours under a blazing hot sun — all for charity, to support the Ewing Township Historic Preservation Society.

Ryan has led a life of talking fast and moving faster. A long-time art collector and gallery owner, Ryan is just as comfortable in overalls and work boots as in seersucker shorts and a polo shirt.

He reckons he somehow “inherited the Irish gypsy gene,” a drive that rattled against the quiet rituals of his father’s 166-acre dairy farm: rising at 4:30 a.m. to milk 50 cows, twice per day. “The cows don’t care if it’s Christmas,” he remembers.

One item on the auction block was an original milk bottle from the Ryan family’s farm, which opened in 1903. “No one can believe that there was a dairy farm out in Jersey,” he says. “But that’s all there was: horses and cows and peaches.”

Ryan’s wanderlust took him far beyond his father’s dairy farm — to boarding school, to Princeton, and after graduation to law school in Washington, D.C., then homes in Chicago, Honolulu, Louisiana, La Jolla, San Francisco, Sante Fe, Oregon, Key Biscayne, Las Cruces — and home again, after five years as the director of an art gallery in Charleston, S.C., and nine years as a pecan farmer.

Last May, Ryan opened Gallery 353, a one-room art gallery in Princeton. Tucked within the basement of the McCarthy building on Nassau Street, the gallery’s current collection is as eclectic as Ryan’s background.

“It’s a great job to be able to sit and just enjoy beautiful things. Especially when you can’t lift — when you can’t do fence holes any more!” he laughs. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Football Broadcaster Ross Tucker ’01

Ross Tucker ’01 (Courtesy RossTucker.com)

Ross Tucker ’01 (Courtesy RossTucker.com)

Fans often dismiss the NFL’s preseason games as meaningless exhibitions, but broadcaster and former pro lineman Ross Tucker ’01 sees something different. “I love preseason football,” he told PAW, “because I know how important it is to the people participating in it” — particularly the second-team players, who begin each game knowing they’ll play “15 to 20 snaps for all their dreams to come true.”

Not long ago, Tucker was one of those anxious dreamers. He played for five teams in a seven-year NFL career, primarily as an offensive guard. After retiring, he joked in guest column for Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback that he was “the only 28-year-old Princeton grad that has been fired five times already.”

Tucker prepared for life after football with offseason internships in several fields, including commercial real estate, finance, and sports marketing. But the experience that made the biggest impression was an NFL-sponsored broadcasting boot camp, where he learned the basics of TV and radio. The former politics major also was ready to give writing a try. “I figured if I can write 18 pages on Machiavelli, I probably could come up with 1,000 words on the Bengals’ offensive line,” he said. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Keyboardist Gavin Black ’79

Gavin Black ’79 (Jeanette Beebe ’14)

Gavin Black ’79 at the harpsichord bench. (Jeanette Beebe ’14)

By Jeanette Beebe ’14

Gavin Black ’79 has devoted his entire adult life to studying, performing, teaching, and recording 17th- and 18th-century keyboard music. But he knows that studying Baroque music on antique instruments isn’t an easy sell.

“The harpsichord is not remotely as popular as the piano,” he laughs from a bench at the Princeton Early Keyboard Center, the non-profit music studio he founded in 2001. It offers harpsichord, clavichord, and organ lessons for students, composers, and group classes.

Black discovered the organ and harpsichord at age 14, after a stint taking piano lessons left him curious about Baroque music.

As a freshman at Princeton, he would practice the organ alone in the vast and empty University Chapel, lit only by moonlight, courtesy of a special access key. He served as an assistant university organist at Princeton, and recorded an album on a harpsichord he kept safe in his senior-year dorm room.

Black earned his Master of Music degree from Westminster Choir College, and he has been teaching the organ, harpsichord, and clavichord for over 30 years.

Though the Princeton Early Keyboard Center occupies only one room within Christ Congregation Church, across the street from Westminster Choir College, the carefully air-conditioned studio holds no fewer than five instruments, each uniquely ornate: a late-17th century Italian harpsichord; a mid-18th century German clavichord; a Flemish-style harpsichord build in 1986 by Hill & Tyre; a small Renaissance-style clavichord built in 1983 by Hill & Tyre; and a German-style, two-keyboard harpsichord built in 1978 by Keith Hill.   Continue reading

#ThrowbackThursday: Freshman Seminars

PAW’s January 30, 2002, cover featured Laura Smith ’05 at the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains, taking notes during a class trip for Jason Morgan *64’s “Active Geologic Processes,” one of 67 freshman seminars offered at Princeton that year. An accompanying feature story called the program “Princeton’s most successful curricular innovation in a generation, and the most popular.”

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This year will be the 30th for freshman seminars, and the classes remain popular. There are 39 in the fall-semester catalog, including Joshua Katz’s “Wordplay: A Wry Plod from Babel to Scrabble,” and former University president Harold Shapiro *64’s “Science, Technology and Public Policy.”

Olson ’16 Competes at World Ultimate Tournament

Lyra Olson ’16 accepts the team spirit trophy for the United States at July’s World Under-23 Ultimate Championships. (Ultiphotos/Kevin Leclaire)

Lyra Olson ’16 accepts the team spirit trophy for the United States at July’s World Under-23 Ultimate Championships. (Ultiphotos/Kevin Leclaire)

When Lyra Olson ’16 went to the Eastern tryouts for the U.S. under-23 women’s ultimate Frisbee team last fall, she was amazed by the talented players around her. “These girls were just ballers,” she said. “It was the highest level of competitive ultimate I’d ever been in.”

Olson, in just her third year playing ultimate, admits that her skills may have been a notch below the top players. But she made her case with fitness, a valuable asset in a sport of near constant running and tournaments that routinely include two or three games in a day.

Olson was one of 24 women selected for the team, which traveled to London in July for the World Under-23 Ultimate Championships, held every four years.

For Olson, it was another highlight in a remarkable year that also included a trip to the national collegiate championships with the Princeton women’s team.

Olson began throwing a disc at an early age with father, Eric Olson ’80, who played ultimate as a Princeton undergrad. But she didn’t have a chance to play on a team until college. (In high school, she was a devoted violinist as well as a field hockey player and self-described “fitness junkie.”) Continue reading