Princeton Magazine, June 2022

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JUNE 2022

Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy Bring Their Expertise to American Repertory Ballet




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CONTENTS

44 34

24

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60

JUNE 2022

52 THEY MET AT THE BARRE

BOOK SCENE

BY ANNE LEVIN

BY STUART MITCHNER

Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy Bring Their Expertise to American Repertory Ballet

“The Best Journey Yet”: Bonding with Art, Books, and Children 56

14

THE BLUEBERRY QUEEN OF NEW JERSEY

Q&A WITH PU PROFESSOR EKATERINA PRAVILOVA

BY WENDY GREENBERG

Elizabeth Coleman White’s Agricultural Impact More than a Century Later

BY DONALD GILPIN

“Unimaginable, Unthinkable” War in Ukraine

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24

UNDER THE BOARDWALK “A HISTORY OF PRINCETON TENNIS”

BY DONALD H. SANBORN III

Musical Landmarks of the Jersey Shore

BY JUSTIN FEIL

A Comprehensive Book Looks Back

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34

A WELL-DESIGNED LIFE BY LYNN ADAMS SMITH 74, 76

CREATING A WILDLIFE-FRIENDLY GARDEN BY TAYLOR SMITH

An Investment in Health and the Future of the Planet 44

74

RAZIA IQBAL BY ILENE DUBE

Speaking Truth to Power 52

ON THE COVER: Gillian Murphy and Ethan Stiefel of American Repertory Ballet. (Photo by Andrew Wilkinson)

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(CREDITS) CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: ELIZABETH COLEMAN WHITE, PHOTOS COURTESY OF WHITESBOG PRESERVATION TRUST; PRINT COURTESY OF THE STONE PONY; EKATERINA PRAVILOVA PHOTO COURTESY OF PRINCETON UNIVERSITY; FOX, SHUTTERSTOCK.COM; RAYMOND LITTLE ’01, FRED ALEXANDER ’02, A HISTORY OF PRINCETON TENNIS; BEES AND SUNFLOWERS, SHUTTERSTOCK.COM; ETHAN STIEFEL AND GILLIAN MURPHY, PHOTO BY ANDREW WILKINSON; AI WEI WEI AND RAZIA IQBAL, COURTESY OF RAZIA IQBAL; ULLA JOHNSON LOTUS FLOWER POCHETTE PRISTINE WHITE BAG, ULLAJOHNSON.COM.


Giannis Antetokounmpo


| FROM THE PUBLISHER Has spring finally sprung? March came in as the lion it is supposed to be but, judging by the chilly and rainy weather, the lion was still with us at the end of April and into May … as was inflation, a volatile stock market, an ineffective Washington, and the horrible war in Ukraine. Wouldn’t you just love to curl up with this June issue of your magazine and read all about uplifting things? Well, before you do that, you must read Donald Gilpin’s Q&A with Ekaterina Pravilova — Princeton University professor of history and acting director of the PU Program in Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies — on the situation in Ukraine and Russia, including her contemporary responses and her view through the lens of history. When I see the journalists report on what is happening in Ukraine, I have to admire the bravery of those reporters, as I do the bravery of all journalists reporting from the sites of violence all over the world. You will get some interesting perspectives on journalism from Ilene Dube’s visit with Uganda-born Razia Iqbal, a visiting lecturer in the Princeton University Humanities Council as Ferris Professor of Journalism. She is best known worldwide as an anchor on Newshour, BBC’s World Service program. You may have heard Ms. Iqbal on Philadelphia’s WHYY 9AM broadcast of the BBC Newshour every weekday. With warmer weather come blueberries — not from the South, not from South America, but from Hammonton, New Jersey. Our writer Wendy Greenberg takes you to the Pine Barrens, where there are thousands of acres of blueberries that make up a $76 million industry in our state, with many farms that go back to the early 1900s. This is all due to the work of Elizabeth Coleman White, known as the Blueberry Queen of New Jersey. The title is in recognition of her role in crosspollinating wild blueberries to create the very first commercial blueberries. Today some of the largest berries developed could pass as small grapes. Ms. White was the first woman to receive a New Jersey Department of Agriculture citation and also founded the Blueberry Cooperative Association; not bad for the daughter of a cranberry farmer! While you are reading about farming and cross pollination, why not try your hand at gardening as a way to attract pollinators such as birds, bees, bats, and butterflies? I encourage our readers with an interest in gardening to visit the New Jersey Audubon Society’s website, where you can learn how to create a Certified Wildlife Habitat by providing food, water, cover, and places to raise their young. According to our writer Taylor Smith, creating a garden using sustainable wildlife-friendly practices can also help reduce stress through your interaction with nature. Exercise is another way to reduce stress — tennis anyone? Our Justin Feil reports to you on a book by Rob Dinerman, the newly released A History of Princeton Tennis, which chronicles the long history of men’s tennis and the comparatively short 50-year history of women’s tennis at Princeton University. The book starts with the late 1800s and ends with the COVID-19-truncated 2019-2020 season. Of course, as in every issue of Princeton Magazine, Stuart Mitchner’s Book Scene brings you a wonderful collection of art therapy books for children, especially good as you move into summer with your children or grandchildren. Editor-in-Chief Lynn Adams Smith also brings you her Well-Designed Life pages, which I find are just wonderful and filled with very special “gotta-haves” from every sector of the fashion and design worlds — and those pages get better with each new issue. Donald Sanborn is our “Music Man” for this issue with his terrific tour of “Musical Landmarks of the Jersey Shore.” Learn about the Ocean City Music Pier that was rebuilt after it burned down in 1928 and later became a lookout for German submarines during World War II. Then there is Red Bank’s Count Basie Center for the Arts, which opened in 1926 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places as it ought to be, having hosted such performers as Tony Bennett, Art Garfunkel, Lyle Lovett, Ringo Starr, Bruce Springsteen, and, of course, Count Basie. A similar history belongs to Asbury Park’s The Stone Pony, which has launched both Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. A stone’s throw away is the Asbury Park Convention Center, which has hosted Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, and the Rolling Stones.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFFREY E. TRYON

Dear Princeton Magazine Readers,

Did you know that the largest pipe organ in the world, with its 33,112 pipes, was built for Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall in 1929 and has been played for the Miss America pageants? Up the coast a bit is Ocean Grove’s Great Auditorium organ, an icon of the Methodist-dominated post-Victorian culture of the area. That musical tour leads us back to Princeton’s famous ballet couple who grace this issue’s cover, Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy. Ethan is the artistic director of the American Repertory Ballet and Gillian is the artistic associate. They met on the ballet stage, and have been dancing happily ever since. I once heard ballet dancers beautifully described as the absolutely best athletes in the world who use their refined athleticism to practice their art. Recently, on TV’s Sixty Minutes, they covered how the war in Ukraine had totally destroyed the Ukrainian ballet troupe and all of the dancers had left as refugees to many Western European countries. On top of that, several dancers of Moscow’s famed Bolshoi Ballet, including their lead dancer, had quit and also left Russia, in protest, over the war and with fear of being jailed for having expressed their anger over Putin’s invasion. How tragic it is to see such a serene and delicate art as ballet become another casualty of this ridiculous war. We are fortunate to have Stiefel and Murphy with us to keep the art alive and growing in the U.S. As you can see, there is lots to do as we emerge from the pandemic and into a beautiful and welcomed spring. We hope part of that emerging will get you through the doors of Princeton’s retailers and our advertisers who actually make this magazine possible. Go shop — locally! Lynn Adams Smith and I thank you for your loyalty and wish you all the best until our Summer issue arrives. Respectfully yours,

J. Robert Hillier, LhD, FAIA Publisher


POLARIS



They Met at the Barre Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy Bring Their Expertise to American Repertory Ballet By Anne Levin Photography by Andrew Wilkinson The first time Ethan Stiefel was approached about becoming artistic director of American Repertory Ballet (ARB), he wasn’t sure it was the right move for him. The Princeton and New Brunswick-based company had already performed a piece that the former star dancer had choreographed, and he felt a rapport with its dancers. But becoming their artistic leader was another matter. “I was happy where I was,” said Stiefel, who at the time was coaching and teaching at American Ballet Theatre (ABT), the company from which he had retired a few years before. Stiefel’s wife Gillian Murphy was, and still is, a principal dancer with ABT, and one of its most enduring stars. Most importantly, they had a baby on the way. It seemed wise to stay put. JUNE 2022 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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B

Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy in “Swan Lake.” (Photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of American Ballet Theatre)

y the time ARB executive director Julie Diana Hench posed the question again, it was four months into COVID-19. The couple had sold their New York apartment, pre-pandemic, and were riding it out in a cabin in northeastern Pennsylvania. They weren’t sure when, and if, life would ever get back to normal and they’d be able to pick up where they left off. “Julie was elegantly persistent,” said Stiefel during an interview in one of the sunny studios at ARB’s affiliated Princeton Ballet School. “And I had time to reflect. I thought, do I still have something creative to say? And is this a place where we can see our lives moving forward, and have a positive place for our son to grow up?” Hench’s persistence paid off. By December 2020, ARB had announced Stiefel’s appointment as artistic director. He began the job last July. Murphy, whose career has included teaching and coaching as well as performing, signed on as artistic associate, and has since played a key role working with the company and students at the ballet school. Stiefel’s version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was his first new work since joining the troupe; it premiered at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center this past March to enthusiastic reviews. “I felt it was the right time for us to make this move,” said Murphy. “This is a great place to develop talent. And it’s commutable for me

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PRINCETON MAGAZINE JUNE 2022

when I’m rehearsing and performing in New York. Plus, it’s a great place for our son to grow up.” Founded by Audrey Estee as the Princeton Ballet Society in 1954, ARB has had an

Murphy and Stiefel in “Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison.” (Photo by Marty Sohl, courtesy of American Ballet Theatre)

impressive list of artistic directors over the years, including Dermot Burke, Septime Webre, Graham Lustig, and Douglas Martin. Snagging Stiefel and Murphy brought major name recognition and international credentials to the

organization. Critics have praised them over the years: “His performance was daring, explosive,” wrote New York Times reviewer Brian Siebert in a review of Stiefel’s farewell show at ABT a decade ago. “Pirouettes, jumps, and whole phrases started at what seemed to be full power and then amazingly turned up a notch. Risk was palpable, and yet classical form was never distorted. Instead, Mr. Stiefel channeled his energy into a marvelous tautness and torsion. The inevitable ovations were well deserved.” Robert Gottlieb, reviewer in The Observer, described Murphy in 2018 as “the company’s senior — and still finest — ballerina. She’s been a principal for more than 15 years, dancing just about every role a ballerina can dance, and she seems as powerful and secure as ever. Murphy, with her striking red hair, has a rare combination of virtues: she’s rock-solid and she’s deeply musical.” Both Stiefel and Murphy look impossibly young for their ages — he is 49, she is 42 — and carry themselves with the athletic grace unique to dancers. Both are friendly and genuine. Stiefel is talkative; Murphy a bit more reserved. They have been together for nearly 24 years. “We dated for 13 years, were engaged for three, had a honeymoon, and then got married,” Murphy said with a smile. Son Ax came along in June 2019. Princeton clearly agrees with them. At the time of this interview, they had just signed a lease for a carriage house on a farm in Hopewell


and were looking forward to moving in. “It’s on a 100-acre parcel, which means there is so much room for Ax to run around,” said Stiefel. “He loves it here. He loves Terhune (Orchards). An amazing moment for Daddy and Ax was when we walked through the Princeton University campus for the first time. And most of all, he loves the sandbox at Marquand Park. The first time we went, he stopped and looked at me as if to say, ‘Is this for me? Can I play here?’” A Pennsylvania native, Stiefel joined the New York City Ballet (NYCB) at age 16, quickly rising to the rank of principal dancer. He left for ABT when NYCB’s then artistic director Peter Martins wouldn’t allow him to explore guest appearances with other companies. Stiefel’s performing career has also included Ballett Zurich, where his sister was a dancer. From 2011 to 2014, he also served as artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet and dean of the School of Dance at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Fans of the 2002 film Center Stage know him as the hunky ballet star/bad boy who zooms onstage on a motorcycle. There has been a renewed interest in the movie this year, its 20th anniversary. “I was in Walgreens here in Princeton Shopping Center and someone recognized me,” Stiefel said with a laugh. “That hasn’t happened in a while.” Murphy, who was raised in South Carolina, joined ABT at 18, and was promoted to the rank of principal dancer six years later. At New York’s Metropolitan Opera House this summer,

she will dance two performances of Swan Lake and one of Romeo and Juliet. For three of the years that Stiefel was directing the Royal New Zealand Ballet, she was a principal guest artist — splitting her time between New Zealand

Murphy and Stiefel in “Don Quixote.” (Photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of American Ballet Theatre)

and New York. Both she and Stiefel have fond memories of their years in New Zealand. “Wellington is absolute heaven on a sunny day,” said Murphy. “We met so many amazing people. It was an adventure to be there.” Stiefel’s grandmother was born and raised in

New Zealand, giving him a personal connection. “The distance, and being off the grid, was healthy and invigorating and exciting,” he said. “I think we did some good work there. They love their ballet company. It is really a part of the cultural fabric of the nation. But it was lonely after a while, especially when Gill wasn’t there.” Moving back to New York, Murphy continued to dance leading roles in all of the company’s full-length classics as well as shorter works. In 2018, she graduated summa cum laude from St. Mary’s College of California with a bachelor of arts. She has also completed the Harvard Business School’s Crossover into Business program. Stiefel returned to ABT as a teacher and coach, a position the company created for him. His job at ARB involves all of that, and more. There are 11 dancers in the troupe, six apprentices, and four members of ARB2, its second company. “They are all authentic and genuine,” Stiefel said. Choosing to create a reimagined version of the ballet A Midsummer Night’s Dream this year made use of their dramatic and comedic talents as well as technical skills. Murphy took the lead role of Oberon, traditionally danced by a male. “It was fun for me to step out of what felt familiar, and create something very different,” he said in program notes for the performances. “I wanted to make it honest in terms of my own creative vision, but also genuine for the dancers in front of me right here, right now.”

JUNE 2022 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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Stiefel has a vision for ARB, which returns to the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center June 3-5 with Movin + Groovin, a triple bill of works created specifically for the dancers by choreographers Ja’ Malik, Caili Quan, and Claire Davison. “My mission is to create new work that supports the company’s identity, inspiring people so we are building our own kind of special canon of work,” he said. “We want people in the community to feel it is exclusive, but also inclusive.”

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PRINCETON MAGAZINE JUNE 2022

Existing ballets are part of the vision, and will return to the repertory next year. Stiefel also wants to reimagine the full-length classic ballets. It’s a lot. “We want to be real ambassadors,” he said. “Because we are doing so much new work, we are making ourselves connected to the now, and to the future. But we also want people to connect to ballet and its history — what it looks like in this new world we’ve emerged from.” Nearly a year in, Hench is enthusiastic about the couple she was able to persuade to give

Princeton a try. “Ethan and Gillian both have such a humble yet charismatic way about them,” she said. “They inspire an incredibly high level of professionalism while bringing humor, grace, and creativity to our studios and stages. In just a short amount of time, they’ve expanded the organization’s network and provided unparalleled opportunities for our students, professional artists, and audiences. And it’s just the beginning!”


JUNE 2022 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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Featuring world premiere choreography by:

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With Princeton University Professor Ekaterina Pravilova on “Unimaginable, Unthinkable” War in Ukraine

Interview by Donald Gilpin PHOTO COURTESY OF PRINCETON UNIVERSITY OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS


P

rinceton University History Professor Ekaterina Pravilova holds the Rosengarten Chair of Modern and Contemporary History and is the acting director of the Princeton University Program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, she received her Ph.D. from the Russian Academy of Sciences. She came to Princeton University to join the faculty in 2006. We spoke on April 4, about six weeks after the Russian invasion and start of the war in Ukraine. News and photos had just come out revealing the mass killing of civilians in the Ukrainian city of Bucha. How does your perspective as an historian of Russian history help to shed light on the current situation in Ukraine and Russia? This war is completely unimaginable, unthinkable. We live in the 21st century and we are witnessing something that resembles the 19th century colonial wars with the methods of killing that we cannot comprehend because we thought that these kinds of wars were in the past. It is very, very difficult to explain this war. We see that [Vladimir] Putin is obsessed with

Aerial view of the Ukrainian flag in the city of Kyiv, Ukraine near the famous statue of Motherland in 2021. (Shutterstock.com)

Ukraine, and this obsession may appear as some kind of a mental disorder. At the same time, as historians, we know that the Ukraine has been one of the most problematic questions for Russia. Before the Revolution, Russia was a colonial empire based on autocracy and centralization. When in the mid-19th century Ukrainian thinkers and intellectuals raised the problem of Ukrainian cultural and political autonomy, the Russian government was just furious, and it reacted by banning small cultural societies that were just trying to educate the public and strengthen the Ukrainian culture and language. In 1863 the Russian government prohibited the use of the Ukrainian language. The government claimed that it was a dialect, the invention of these bizarre intellectuals who wanted to use cultural autonomy to advance their political goals. Since the mid-19th century the Russian imperial government was trying to resolve the Ukrainian problem by silencing the Ukrainian intellectuals. But even liberals during the Russian Revolution didn’t really want to accept the fact of Ukrainian sovereignty and its cultural, political, and historical existence. In 1917 the Empire collapsed, and a new, Soviet empire emerged on its foundation. Then the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991. Now, more than 30 years later, Russian government is trying to build a third empire. Why is this happening? As a historian, I cannot say that this is all predetermined and this all goes back to the 19th century. Things could have gone very differently, if the government and

the Russian society had accepted the fact that the Empire was over in 1991. Politically, the Soviet empire collapsed, but in the minds of Putin and others, the de-imperialization just didn’t happen. Russians have the same colonial imperial mindset that allowed to perceive Ukraine as part of its imperial space. This is what we see, the persistence of this imperial syndrome. Now Russian intellectuals are experiencing a sudden realization that the preparation for the invasion has been underway for quite a long time, not only in the form of chopping off some of the territories of Ukraine, but also in what the government has been doing to the Russian public and Russian society. As a Russian and also an American, can you provide other lenses to help us understand what’s happening? It helps to understand that in the 19th century Russian imperialism was based on a very peculiar concept of truth. This is not truth as we understand it, as something that needs to be discovered, critically analyzed, and supported by proof and evidence. Historical truth for the Russian government was something that the government imposed, and society was supposed to accept. And this is what’s happening now. Putin gives the people of Russia a certain version of history, a certain version of political events — for instance that Ukraine is a failed state or Ukraine is in the hands of Nazis or that Ukraine has no rights to Crimea. He makes society JUNE 2022 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

| 25


Uzhhorod, Ukraine — February 26, 2022: Refugees waiting for permission to cross the border into Europe through the Ukrainian-Slovak border. (Shutterstock.com)

believe that this is true. And any kind of doubt is exterminated. For many years — and this is what we have not been paying enough attention to — the government has cultivated this attitude to truth: as something that is based on blind belief, asserting that there is no reason to wonder or to doubt this version of events or this version of history or ideology. Year by year the government has been gradually establishing consensus about what is truth. And what is most shocking is that people do not question it. This is what I see in Russian society. What do most people in Russia believe about the current situation? We don’t know. We really don’t know because all these polls, Putin’s public opinion surveys — they’re false. They want to show 80 percent support, which is not true. Even the words that they use matter. If you ask people in Russia if they support the war they would say “no,” but they support the “special operation,” as it’s called. It’s psychologically very comforting. It’s just the army fighting some terrorists — some Nazis. It’s not a war against another nation. It is important to understand that

26 |

PRINCETON MAGAZINE JUNE 2022

most Russians do not see the pictures that we see daily in the news. Therefore, we cannot say that they support that war. Even if they support war, this is not that war that we know about. When the war had just begun, I couldn’t believe that anyone could be in favor. Nobody in my family or my friends is “pro-war.” But as the war progressed, I started finding out that some other people — not in my immediate circle but the next circle — some of them are pro-war. The moment when you find out about people’s opinions is really painful. This war is taking place in two countries. It’s a tragedy of the Ukrainian people because they suffer from horrible human losses, and at this point we cannot even imagine the consequences of this war for children, families, for the Ukrainian society. And there’s another war taking place inside Russia — a cold civil war, which can actually turn into something bloody. As someone was saying recently, people who are deprived of dignity, people who are humiliated, when they are suppressed by someone, they start hating — not the one who suppresses them, but those who did not give up, those who have not lost their dignity, those who have resisted. The level of antagonism in Russian society

that exists now is not so visible because there is a law prohibiting anti-war actions. This antagonism may be silent now, but in the future, we’re going to see a tremendous civil strife, the rise of cultural and political conflicts between these two Russias. The gap is growing day by day. Over the past two days as atrocities committed by the Russian army in Bucha were revealed, this polarization became even more significant. Because earlier people were saying “Oh, this is Putin’s war, and Russian soldiers are his victims.” Now we see it’s not just Putin. It’s also Russian men who commit these atrocities, who make a choice — to open fire and kill women and other civilians, or not. Scholars will spend years after the end of this war analyzing the sources of this inexplicable violence. I have no explanation now. I don’t think anybody has an explanation. This is a tragedy of half of the Eurasian continent. It’s not just Ukraine. It’s also Russia. Have you been in communication with friends and family in Russia? What are their thoughts about this war? Some of my friends have left the country – out of fear or because they think that by staying in


Russia, they would become Putin’s accomplices. But most of my friends cannot leave – they have families, children, parents who need care. I often hear this: it is unbearable to stay silent, you lose all self-respect. And yet you know that individual protests can hardly change anything. People are responsible for their loved ones, and this moral choice is the hardest thing, especially now, when the violence of war becomes so blatant and explicit. Lives have changed dramatically in these few weeks. My parents are learning how to keep connections with the outside world. If you don’t make these efforts, you’ll be a prisoner of the state propaganda. Do your parents in St. Petersburg have access to the internet and news from around the world? Would you say they are better informed than most Russians? Yes, but they cannot easily find everything. They used to watch just one independent TV channel, listen to one independent radio station. That was enough with all the information condensed in two outlets. Now they need to really collect this information from different sources. That’s what they are doing. My parents are in their 80s, so it’s not easy. We send links to YouTube videos.

My mom listens to podcasts and interviews, and she knows what’s going on. Some people are comfortable with not knowing the truth. They think the truth is what’s given to them, that they don’t need to try to figure out what is true and what is not, what is authentic and what is fake. This is about a desire to learn the truth, to excavate it, to explore this mass of information. What do you tell students in your classes to help them understand the war? Education is the best weapon. We talk a lot about nationalist myths. For instance, we analyzed Putin’s articles, the speech which he gave on the eve of the invasion. He is obsessed with history, and the way he twisted historical facts, the way he presented this nonexistent history of Ukraine, says a great deal about his imperialist mindset. What is the most likely outcome or resolution to this? We don’t know. Putin is losing the war on the battlefield. He probably thinks of himself as Napoleon, but his army resembles the Napoleonic army retreating from Moscow. Maybe the end will come in some kind of a

coup d’état, but I cannot predict the future. We don’t know what’s happening in Putin’s inner circles. What can we do to help? There are many possibilities to donate money. The biggest thing that the U.S. can do is to ease the process of getting visas for Ukrainians. There is a great Ukrainian diaspora here, and these people could take care of their relatives and not only just their relatives. Princeton University is trying to bring Ukrainian scholars here. When they arrive, they will need help and support from the Princeton local community. Some of them will come with families and children. Another thing we can do is to keep talking about the war. I know everybody is getting used to it because it’s been in the news for weeks. Another city is bombed, another family is divided. It’s almost the same thing over again, but it’s not the same thing. Every case is a human tragedy. We need to resist this feeling of numbness, of getting used to it. We need to keep the temperature high, and pressure the government to be more active in defending Ukraine, helping refugees and people who have lost their homes. And when the war comes to its end, we should demand justice and punish all war criminals. It is in the interests of the Russian people, Ukraine, and humanity.

Los Angeles, Calif., 2022: Stand with Ukraine protest against the war and Vladimir Putin. Americans in defense of Ukraine. (Shutterstock.com) JUNE 2022 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

| 27


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History of “A Princeton Tennis” A COMPREHENSIVE BOOK LOOKS BACK By Justin Feil Images courtesy of David Benjamin, A History of Princeton Tennis

Marjory Gengler, 1973.

34 |

PRINCETON MAGAZINE JUNE 2022


1952 NCAA team, from left, Earl Schulze ’54, Gil Bogley ’52, Chuck DeVoe ’52, Edward Dailey ’54.

avid Benjamin always had an appreciation for history. Before he gained attention as men’s tennis coach at Princeton University and executive director of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), Benjamin taught American studies at Harvard University and Princeton University. He recognized as an undergraduate opponent at Harvard the rich and respected history of the Princeton men’s tennis program and was thrilled to join the program as their 29-year-old men’s tennis coach in 1974. “When I came, Princeton had a very special history,” said Benjamin. “I felt it was a shame there wasn’t any sort of story or record of Princeton tennis.” Following his retirement from coaching and the ITA, Benjamin, in his increased spare time, pursued the project and encouraged the Princeton men’s and women’s programs to chronicle their years in a book. Commissioned by The Friends of Princeton Tennis, A History of Princeton Tennis, a 378-page leatherbound book by Rob Dinerman and co-edited by Benjamin and Cameron Stout, was released in April 2021.

“The feedback has been great,” said Benjamin. “It’s something that everyone is very, very happy about.” A History of Princeton Tennis, available

at the Princeton University Store or through its website (pustore.com), winds through the eras of Princeton tennis. Dinerman used The Daily Princetonian archives in particular for details about the men’s teams prior to World War II, and also found the school’s athletic website, GoPrincetonTigers.com, articles from the Princeton Alumni Weekly, and personal interviews very helpful in pulling together a complete history. Current PU coaches Billy Pate and Laura Granville were also informative sources. “There were great stories,” said Dinerman. “It was wonderful covering all of it. There were so many little vignettes that stand out as I think back on it. There was a great editorial written when tennis first started proliferating on campus expressing concern that people would lose track of the important sports like football, that they were afraid that tennis would interfere with the concentration on football.” Dinerman intertwines the players, teams, and stories along with adding historical context and follow-ups to significant figures beyond graduation. The book therefore includes the likes of former Secretary of State and Chief of Staff James A. Baker, who only played freshman

JUNE 2022 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

| 35


tennis at Princeton but names it as one of the most important experiences of his life; Mercer Beasley, who coached the team in the 1930s and 1940s and essentially invented the ball machine; as well as current Boston Red Sox Executive Vice President and COO Jonathan Gilula. Gilula was planning on playing on the professional tour after graduation in 1998, but his plans shifted when he made a connection with Larry Lucchino, a former Princeton basketball teammate of Bill Bradley’s who rose prominently as a Major League Baseball executive. Gilula talked to Lucchino, then with the San Diego Padres, for his senior thesis on building professional sports venues. “He so impressed with Gilula when he was working on the project that he offered him a job working for him after he graduated,” said Dinerman. “This is a Princeton connection. To my mind, those things are fascinating.” The book includes tennis legend Stan Smith, who married former Princeton star – the first female star athlete at the school – Marjory Gengler. Their son, Trevor Smith, also attended Princeton, played first singles, and was the 2003 national winner of the ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship. It also mentions notorious figures like convicted murderer Lyle Menendez, a highly sought national high school recruit who started at and was expelled from Princeton, as well as O.J. Simpson, who once helped the Princeton men’s tennis team gain quick entry into an upscale Los Angeles restaurant in the late 1980s. “There’s a big slice of Americana that is one way or another connected to the Princeton tennis program,” said Dinerman.

Margaret Court and Marjory Gengler, 1973.

Ellsworth Vines and Mercer Beasley.

Pia Tamayo ’84.

Princeton University Tennis Team, 1909.

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PRINCETON MAGAZINE JUNE 2022

A professional squash player, Dinerman had only written books focused on the histories of squash programs at Harvard and Princeton and several preparatory schools prior to taking on Princeton’s tennis history. Benjamin, who also coached four years of squash at Princeton, liked A History of Princeton Squash, for which he was interviewed by Dinerman, so much that he suggested that Dinerman be considered to capture the tennis programs’ years. The book follows the men from their inception in the late 1800s and the women from their start in the 1970-71 season. He captures the programs right through the spring of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic ended promising seasons for both. “It was a golden anniversary year for the women, and it might have been their best team ever and they might have had the best results ever in the NCAAs,” said Dinerman. “They were a lock to win the Ivy League. There was no question about that. It’s really that much more of a shame that season that never got to happen in view of its historical connections.” The book dissects standout teams like the


only two Ivy League men’s teams ever to finish ranked in the Top 10 nationally at the end of the year, which the Tiger men did in 1979 and 1980. Princeton also won seven straight Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Association (EITA) titles in a row beginning in 1974 among their record 24 EITA crowns overall. The women’s 15 Ivy League championships are recounted, including their four won from 2015 to 2019. It includes stories of former Princeton players like Jay Lapidas, who made it into the Top 35 in the world after graduation, and Leif Shiras, another highly ranked player on the professional tour who later drew acclaim televising the sport. Ted Farnsworth’s U.S. National College Indoor Championship as a Princeton junior is recounted along with his untimely death as a Top Gun Navy pilot. Farnsworth is one of five PU players to win a national singles title. “What really struck me was the fact that they’ve had great coaches who had long tenures,” said Dinerman. “And they also had a whole bunch of very good players.” The book goes into great depth on the whirlwind start for the women’s tennis program that began with a five-year plan to bring the sport up to varsity status after the school went coed. The plan transformed overnight when Marjory Gengler and Czech student Helena Novakova received permission and athletic department support to enter the Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Championship in 1970 though Princeton did not yet have a women’s tennis program. They represented the school in Princeton T-shirts bought at the U-Store with their names hand-sewn on, and Gengler won the singles draw and the pair together won the doubles championship as well. The five-year plan ended then. “By that spring of ’71 they actually had a

David Benjamin (captain), Harvard Men’s Tennis, 1966.

Leif Shiras ’81 and Jay Lapidus ’81.

Linda Rice, 1978.

Ted Farnsworth, 1984. Winner of the 1983 ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Singles Championship. JUNE 2022 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

| 37


Ivy World Team Event, 1977.

varsity tennis team, and they went undefeated,” said Dinerman. “They were extremely popular.” Princeton added other women’s sports the next year. Tennis was so popular, as Dinerman captures in another story about that 1970 spring, that then-men’s tennis coach John Conroy had to move the top women’s matches from the less visible courts at the far end of the Pagoda Tennis Courts to the ones more visible after he noticed fans leaving the hill that overlooked the top courts just to watch the women play on the lower courts. It was “a very graphic visible symbol of how quickly women’s tennis at Princeton was an entity, whereas five months earlier no one was even thinking about it,” said Dinerman. Gengler’s sister, Louise, joined the program the next year and starred in her undergraduate years before coaching the program from 19792004. Gengler, whose passion for the Detroit Tigers was so well known that it earned her special seating from the ballclub’s management, is one of three Princeton coaches along with Conroy (1946-1971) and Benjamin (1974-2000) who coached for 25 years or more at Old Nassau. They were guiding lights to decades-long success. The book is more than a history book with its colorful accounts that personalize each era’s highlights thanks to Dinerman’s interviews with more than 100 alumni dating back as far as the Class of 1952. “It’s important to give the nuts and bolts and the score and who won and describe the dual meets and when it comes down sometimes to the last doubles match on court and it’s 4-all, that’s very important and needs to be described. And all that was described,” said Dinerman. “In my mind what makes the histories that I’ve written first of all so enjoyable for me to write, and much more interesting and entertaining for the reader to read, are in fact the compelling personal stories.” Benjamin and Louise Gengler were instrumental in helping to connect Dinerman to

38 |

PRINCETON MAGAZINE JUNE 2022

alumni and in compiling the hundreds of photos that augment the book’s stories. James Baker is pictured with President George H.W. Bush and Princeton alumni Gil Bogley and Chuck DeVoe at the White House courts in the mid-1980s. There’s a rare find of Arthur Ashe and Charlie Pasarell playing for UCLA at Princeton’s courts before they went on to greater fame. Benjamin supplied photos from three Marx Tours abroad that his teams took, and University photographer Robert Matthews had hundreds of candids from through the years that add a special joy to the collection. And of all the Princeton teams from

over more than a century, only two team photos could not be found for the book. A History of Princeton Tennis is a thorough guide to hundreds of teams and thousands of players and people and their accomplishments and stories that enliven the school’s uniquely rich tennis program. “Tennis is a big part of Princeton University and the Princeton University community,” said Benjamin. “When I came, the courts were right in the middle of the campus where Whitman College is. Princeton has had great teams in many sports, but tennis has a special place in Princeton sports. I’m glad we did it.”

1949 Freshman Team Co-Captains James Baker and Gil Bogley, along with their teammate/classmate Chuck Defoe and Vice President George H.W. Bush. (Photo courtesy of Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy)


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Creating a Wildlife-Friendly Garden An Investment in Health and the Future of the Planet

“Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirits of divine discontent and longing.” —Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

By Taylor Smith


photos and illustrations courtesy of shutterstock.com

N

ew Jersey is one of the most populated, fastest-growing states in the nation. In fact, the New Jersey Audubon Society website states, “with less than 20 percent of unclaimed space available, New Jersey is running out of land and is projected to be the first state in our nation to reach build out.” The magical thing about cultivating your own green space is that you can create a livable habitat for birds, bugs, insects, microorganisms, and all sorts of other creatures to enjoy. It doesn’t matter what size your yard is. Urban gardening for wildlife can be achieved with a few well-placed and well-chosen plant varieties in pots and window boxes on a balcony. If you do have a small backyard to work with, gardening for wildlife is the perfect summer challenge. What many people don’t realize is that, unlike traditional notions of landscaping, ecofriendly gardens are all about sustainable living practices. These are gardens that you loosely cultivate and then sit back and simply watch. In the age of COVID-19 and international uncertainty, who wouldn’t want to see the drama of birds, bats, frogs, insects, and woodland animals creating a home in your own backyard? One important thing to avoid when creating a wildlife garden is pesticides. These harmful chemicals not only kill bees, the primary pollinators of plants, they can also negatively

impact human health (many have cancer causing agents), contaminate soil and vegetation, the ozone layer, and more. Bees are central to a healthy garden. To attract bees, focus on soil health over chemical treatments. The U.S. Department of Agriculture

(USDA) states that in one teaspoon of healthy soil, there are more living organisms than there are currently people on the planet (nrcs.usda. gov).

(Above) The areas in green represent protected open space and recreation areas owned by the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). This includes parcels such as parks, forests, historic sites, natural areas, and wildlife management areas. The teal areas show environmentally sensitive areas. (state.nj.us/dep/gis)

Achieve soil health by adopting a “no dig” or minimal dig policy within your wildlife garden. It’s worth noting that the soil at the edge of cultivated farmland is usually the healthiest. This is the undisturbed soil that still has natural plant cover to hold the different layers of soil in place. By removing or disturbing any one of these layers, you risk disrupting the biological diversity of the earth. If you do engage in digging to install plants or to move them around, treat the soil with well-rotted manure or garden compost. Another significant benefit of soil health is that it discourages flooding. Soil layers (particularly when they are well-covered with meadow or native grasses) will hold onto water and release it slowly, as needed, throughout the yard. British horticulturalist Monty Don says that “real gardens have a past, a present, and a future.” In other words, sustainable practices create an ever-evolving garden that will naturally attract wildlife and biodiversity. It may be a new concept to some, but being the least invasive as possible with your new garden is the best practice. The “natural” drama of watching your garden evolve over time can also bring great pleasure and a sense of internal peace. One can also think of a wildlife garden in terms of a green postage stamp, in which wildlife can jump from one backyard or open space to another, helping them to avoid high traffic roads or desert-like high pollution areas. This is especially helpful for reducing the amount

JUNE 2022 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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photos and illustrations courtesy of shutterstock.com

of roadkill and creating safe havens for New Jersey’s wildlife. Waterscapes like birdbaths, bubbling fountains, or a pond will attract a range of aquatic creatures. You can even take a large ceramic pot or water trough and use it as an above-ground water feature. When creating a pond-like element, think of it in terms of different depths. Layering in plants and adding lily pads, stackable rocks, moss, and branches will enable small animals to take a drink and then be able to climb back out. You wouldn’t want a hedgehog or mouse to drown inside your water feature while trying to take a drink of water on a warm summer day! Designing your wildlife garden around year-round blooming plants is also a great way to ensure that your greenspace is active and lively year-round. Princeton’s planting zone is in Hardiness Zone 6b. The average frost date falls between October 21-31 and usually lasts through April 21-31. Summers are hot and humid and winter temperatures can reach as low as -5 F (plantmaps.com/08540). For the winter, ivy and evergreens are a great option. They provide natural coverage and nesting materials for birds. The branches can also be clipped off and dre ssed along the pathways of the garden for an ethereal look that bugs and mice will love. Spring flower options in the Garden State include daffodils, tulips, azaleas, dogwood flowers, and rhododendrons. June’s birth flower is the rose, and these bushes can bloom from late May through early

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PRINCETON MAGAZINE JUNE 2022

fall if well maintained. Other blooming plants that can withstand the state’s summer heat are dahlias, butterfly weed, peonies, and aster. Some may worry that these fragrant, heady blooms attract ants and beetles. In fact, a healthy garden can take care of itself with little to no chemical

intervention. For example, if you notice your dahlias are starting to attract aphids, wait 2-3 weeks before reacting. In most cases, the aphids will be eaten by the excited birds and the problem will resolve itself. In the case of ants, there’s nothing a little spray of the garden hose

can’t fix. More than likely, the ants will disperse, especially if there are natural predators within the area. If you feel you simply must intervene to combat insects on your blooming plants, garlic spray is a good option. Insects do not like the smell of garlic and the spray will discourage helpful as well as harmful insects, so use this solution only when necessary. Garlic spray can be made using garlic cloves, mineral oil, dish soap, and water. Add 4 cloves of garlic to a tablespoon of mineral oil and let sit for one day. Strain out the garlic and add 1 teaspoon of dish soap to a pint of water. This is a concentrated form of garlic mixture so you will need to add 1 pint of water and 2 tablespoons of your garlic concentrate to a spray bottle. Shake to mix and then test the formula on a hidden part of your plant. Wait a day or two to make sure that no damage was done to the leaves. You can always dilute the mixture further. Other elements that will encourage a wildlife garden habitat are gravel for pathways and creating vertical space with climbing plants and hanging birdfeeders. Make sure the bird feeder is filled with diverse seed and is hung well outside the reach of neighboring cats. House walls and shed walls are great for bird and bat boxes. Bats are an important part of the Earth’s ecosystem, and it’s good to support them. Did you know that electrical light disorients bats? One way to combat this is to use solar powered garden lights instead of electrical landscaping lights. The Native Plant Society of New Jersey


(NPSNJ) has expert-level tips on how residents can incorporate native plant species into a home garden. They also offer advice on how to create a butterfly habitat and ways to protect your garden from the out-of-balance deer population that roams much of the state. So, why are native plant species so beneficial to creating a sustainable garden? The National Park Service (NPS) states on its website that “it takes millennia for specialized insect-plant relationships to develop. A well-known example is the monarch butterfly and milkweed. Monarch mothers only lay eggs on milkweed species because monarch caterpillars have evolved the ability over tens of thousands of years to digest poisonous milkweed leaves other insects cannot eat.” By removing milkweed from its natural habitat, the monarchs inevitably find somewhere else to go or disappear altogether. This is why people often refer to these intra-mutual plantinsect relationships as “fragile.” As described by Doug Tallamy, professor of agriculture and natural resources at the University of Delaware, “when we create a meadow, we restore an ancient food web.” (audubon.org/content/why-native-plants-matter). It has taken generations upon generations of time for insects to adapt and to be able to derive nutrients from certain plants. Most plants have evolved some means to defend themselves,

making the relationships between distinct native plants and insects extremely specialized. Tallamy’s tips for designing your own native plant garden to attract and sustain wildlife are very helpful. He suggests considering planting an oak. There are native oak species for nearly every state in the nation. Oaks grow very quickly and act as a hub for wildlife activity within your own backyard. Next, add a birdbath or water feature followed by a multilayered hedge which will attract nesting animals, spiders, and insects. Other options include the addition of ivy, creating a meadow, planting native fruit trees, and/or a native harbor. The Philadelphia Horticultural Society (PHS) runs a PHS Gold Medal Plant Program that helps gardeners find the perfect tree, vine, or perennial plant to add to their wildlife garden. These plants have been pre-selected for “their ease of cultivation, multiple seasons of interest, commercial availability, appropriateness to the Mid-Atlantic region and value to wildlife.” Learn more at phsonline.org. For those looking for coursework to enhance their gardening knowledge, Longwood Gardens offers a variety of excellent online courses that will expand any gardener’s knowledge of plants and native species. A sample of upcoming summer courses includes Creating and Managing Landscapes for Native Bees (beginning June 21); Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers (beginning July 11);

and Annual, Perennials, and Vines (beginning July 11). Visit longwoodgardens.org to check for new online courses, which are added throughout the year. The wonderful thing about gardening is that it is an investment in health. On a personal level, the act of being outdoors and tending to your plants can dramatically improve one’s mental health and outlook. On a global scale, a return to sustainable gardening practices is an investment in the future of the planet.

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CABRIN RUN FARM

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MARBELLA

$8,000,000

The genesis of Cabin Run Farm was 1785 in the original keeping room and throughout the years, this formidable homestead has grown to 37 plus acres and has become one of the most prestigious compounds in this area of Bucks County. The main house is sited on the precipice of a hillside overlooking Cabin Run Creek and the distant farms. The current stewards have spent endless time restoring the home to its pristine condition. Contact Stephanie Garomon at 215.595.7402 or Art Mazzei at 610.428.4885.

Stunning New Construction Waterfront Property in New Hope, PA. “Marbella” is an ultra premium, modern design build package for highly sophisticated clientele looking for the “Creme de la Creme”. The offering consists of three tax parcels totaling over 10 acres of the last buildable land of New Hope’s highly coveted riviera. Complete in depth details regarding the architectural renderings, engineering site plans & pricing options available upon request. Contact Revi Haviv at 845.492.1315 or Art Mazzei at 610.428.4885.

Art Mazzei

Art@AddisonWolfe.com Cell: 610.428.4885

550 Union Square, New Hope, PA 18938 • AddisonWolfe.com • 215.862.5500


HORTULUS FARM

$3,995,000

WINDWOOD

$2,495,000

Hortulus Farm, as featured in House and Garden, House Beautiful, Elle Décor, Veranda, Town & Country, and The New York Times, is arguably one of the most spectacular private gardens on the American East Coast. Comprising 30+ acres down a 1/4 mile long, tree-lined drive, this classic 18th C. Bucks County farmstead boasts absolute privacy, 5 ponds, a waterfall, and 30 acres of “world-class” gardens, including lavish Perennial and Summer Borders, a Woodland Walk, a birch Alee, French and Mediterranean Gardens, and state-of-the-art Vegetable and Herb Gardens.

For many years, two lovely and sophisticated Country estates served as the Summer residences of the Guggenheim family. These secluded properties provided the privacy that only a prominent family could enjoy. One of these properties, Windwood, in Upper Bucks County, has now become available on the open market. The clean, white stucco and clapboard house, circa 1870, has been meticulously maintained through the years and, especially by its last steward. The junior Olympic sized pool has been re-surfaced with new gunite, piping and equipment. There are two guest homes. A separate cottage is perfect for a caretaker, guests or inlaws. While, the two-bedroom apartment over the garage also satisfies the needs of family and friends.

Art Mazzei

Art@AddisonWolfe.com Cell: 610.428.4885

550 Union Square, New Hope, PA 18938 • AddisonWolfe.com • 215.862.5500


THRIVING Congratulations Class of 2022! Accepted: George School, The Peddie School, The Pennington School, Princeton Day School, The Hun School, Solebury School

Montessori makes a difference. Programs for Infants - 8th Grade 487 Cherry Valley Road, Princeton princetonmontessori.org • 609-924-4594


The Pride of Princeton’s Battle Road 12 Battle Road | Princeton, New Jersey 08540 | callawayhenderson.com/NJME2006388 | $3,200,000 Overlooking Princeton University’s Graduate College and serving as the elegant cornerstone of one of the town’s most prominent residential streets, this stately house was built for the 93rd Mayor of NYC. While some interior spaces are magnificently adorned with carved marble mantles, delicate picture molding and fanciful hardware, the overall scale is surprisingly livable and welcoming. Architect Glen Fries oversaw a renovation of the gourmet kitchen, marble bathroom, and splendid outdoor terraces and gardens. Above the 3-car garage is a charming guest cottage.

Willow Gate Farm: A Home for All Seasons 4370 Province Line Road | Princeton, NJ 08540 (Lawrence Township) | callawayhenderson.com/NJME2001544 | $2,700,000 Willow Gate Farm is one of those rare historic properties that grows even more romantically beautiful with each passing decade, while also surpassing modern standards of comfort. At 16 acres with 4 charming outbuildings and heated inground pool, the grounds present endless opportunities to relax, explore and pursue any hobby. Inside the stone manor house, spaces are grand and bright, especially the double living room, the dining room with cooking fireplace, and the family room with wood-stove and bamboo ceiling. The kitchen is refreshed with all-new appliances and countertops.

Barbara Blackwell, Broker Associate c 609.915.5000 | o 609.921.1050 | BBLACKWELL@CALLAWAYHENDERSON.COM CALLAWAYHENDERSON.COM | 4 NASSAU STREET, PRINCETON, NJ 08542 For more information about properties, the market in general, or your home particular, please give me a call.

Each office is independently owned and operated. Subject to errors, omissions, prior sale or withdrawal without notice.


Razia Iqbal

Speaking Truth to Power By Ilene Dube “The role of media — the reason journalism exists — is to consistently pull back the curtain and show how the government or executive or business or legislative body works…. Journalism is not a crime — it’s a job, and a really important one.” —BBC Host Razia Iqbal and visiting lecturer/Ferris Professor of Journalism, Princeton University


Photographs courtesy of Razia Iqbal

R

azia Iqbal’s voice used to be one of the first I heard in the morning. I had come to rely on her thorough and accurate coverage of world affairs, broadcast while many on the East Coast are brewing our morning joe or heading off to work. As anchor of BBC World Service’s Newshour — a current affairs program with 12.5 million listeners in the U.S. and millions more worldwide — she is never afraid to ask the tough questions. And to ask them again and again, rephrasing, peeling away the layers. Through the radio waves you can almost feel her interviewees squirm. On leave from the BBC, Iqbal is a visiting lecturer in the Humanities Council, Princeton University, serving as Ferris Professor of Journalism. Her unwavering voice, with its British accent, has been heard closer to home this spring during the panel talks she moderated, available via Zoom and YouTube. At the time of our phone interview, Iqbal had just tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing flu-like symptoms and extreme fatigue — yet she insisted we carry on because she couldn’t imagine when else she might possibly fit the interview into her schedule. And she never faltered. Residing in Palmer Square, Iqbal’s favorite part of Princeton is the campus. On her last stay in Princeton, in 2012 to interview writers Paul

Razia Iqbal interviewing Jhumpa Lahiri, left, in London.

Auster, Toni Morrison, and Joyce Carol Oates for a TV program, she was so busy “I didn’t clock the campus,” she admits. “It’s beautiful, seen in different light and weather.” On the mid-January day she arrived the temperature was 20 degrees. “Even though I’ve

covered the New Hampshire primaries, I never experienced such a bitter cold,” she says. She was as thrilled as anyone when spring arrived. Iqbal says she spends her spare time wandering the campus. “The reason I’m here is

the University, to be teaching, so I wanted to be rooted on campus. I love the library. Being here is like living a dream.” Born in Uganda, Iqbal and her family lived in Nairobi (where she first listened to BBC) until she was 8, then moved to London. As the only child of Asian descent in her school (her Indianborn father lived in Pakistan after the partition), she turned to the world of books for a feeling of belonging. Iqbal attended the University of East Anglia and graduated with a degree in American studies in 1985. At an early age, Razia was inspired by the work of James Cameron, a foreign correspondent for The Guardian, and Martha Gelhorn, the American novelist, travel writer, and pioneering war correspondent (and Ernest Hemingway’s third wife). In Iqbal’s three decades reporting from around the world, covering arts, books, and current affairs, crises have come on like a firehose. Does she miss it? “It would be disingenuous to say I didn’t wake up February 24 feeling I was missing out, not being involved in the coverage of the war on Ukraine. But that regret does not overshadow what I’ve been doing here. I’m so glad to have this opportunity to be taking time out to think differently, breathe differently, immerse myself in an academic environment.” The original focus for the seminar, International News: Perspectives, Prejudices and Pitfalls, had been to explore how a single event

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Filming inside the Royal Academy in London for the program “Witness History,” which Iqbal presented until 2020.

— 9/11 — caused a paradigm shift in both the global situation and journalism, but she had to pivot to fit world affairs. Class discussions have explored the 20year engagement in Afghanistan, and how the invasions of both Iraq and Ukraine are covered. “(Saddam) Hussein was a different president than (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy,” says Iqbal, “yet the media coverage of the two illegal invasions has been so different.” Her goal for the course is to show that there are different perspectives on everything. “One of the reasons covering Ukraine is so striking and stark, is it allows the media to frame it as a good versus evil narrative. But it’s complicated. The point is to introduce to students’ minds that the world is not binary, though the media and world find it easy to frame it as such.” As one who asks questions for a living, I had to ask Iqbal how she hones hers. “Journalism is as much about listening as it is about talking,” she says. “The interviewer should really listen. The reason you ask questions is curiosity. If you’re not interested in hearing the answer, then you’re in the wrong business. Increasingly in the world we live in now, the people who hold power are trained to answer (in a way that makes them look good), so it becomes important to reframe the question. The audience makes up its mind based on the whole picture. If a politician refuses to answer or obfuscates, that becomes something for an audience to interpret.”

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And then there are the politicians who deny the truth, such as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali about the genocide against the Tigray people of his country. “That was a hard interview,” she says. “You need an enormous amount of evidence, evidence presented by the U.N. or another bona fide representative, that this is happening in this country, so when they continue to say no, they cannot hide. Journalists hold people in power accountable.” Audiences listening to the interview “take away that the person dodged the question,” says

“The list is long, sadly,” Iqbal says. “The BBC has a huge challenge in places like Iran and China. BBC has filed an urgent complaint with the U.N. against Iran’s ongoing harassment of BBC News Persian journalists and their families. Journalism is not a crime — it’s a job and a really important one.” Earlier in her career, while reporting from Sri Lanka, Iqbal found herself caught up in a gun battle and suffered shrapnel injuries. “That’s the nature of putting yourself in harm’s way,” she says. “Many of my colleagues covering the war

“Journalism is as much about listening as it is about talking.” Iqbal. “The voice tells you an awful lot. It’s so important to persist with questions, and it’s terribly revealing when you don’t get answers.” It can sometimes turn into “well you said this” and “no I did not,” another reason listening is so important, she says. “All of these things are predicated on the interviewer knowing the subject and feeling confident. I work with a team of producers who are brilliant, they give you a briefing — as presenter you’re expected to know a huge amount about a huge number of topics.” Documented dangers to journalists run the gamut, from muzzling and kidnapping to rape and murder and threats to one’s family members.

in Ukraine are immensely brave on a daily basis. Hearing day after day of hospitals and shelters being bombed is only possible because of the people on the ground.” After the semester ends, Iqbal plans to travel through the American South before returning to London (she’ll be back on-air August 1). Having studied Southern writers, she says, “I’m keen to see the world of William Faulkner, Zora Neal Hurston, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and others. I interviewed Toni Morrison twice, and she would say to understand her work you have to read Faulkner.”


Photographs courtesy of Razia Iqbal Iqbal with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

NBA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Iqbal.

Iqbal with architect Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid.

Chelsea Clinton and Iqbal.

Toni Morrison and Iqbal. JUNE 2022 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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| BOOK SCENE

“THE BEST JOURNEY YET”

BONDING WITH ART, BOOKS, AND CHILDREN BY STUART MITCHNER

fter a visit to the Princeton Public Library in search of art therapy books for children, I came home with an armload, including one seemingly intended for serious, thinking adults, Alain de Botton and John Armstrong’s heavily illustrated tome, Art as Therapy (Phaidon 2013, paperback 2016). In fact, some reviewers treated both book and audience disparagingly. Elle called it a “cultural cure for what ails you” while Vanity Fair on Art gave it credit for massaging “the mind in all the right places.” Taking it to task in the New York Times (“Patronizing the Arts”), Parul Sehgal chided the authors for dreaming of the day “when museums can be redesigned as gyms for the psyche.” Sehgal also included an illustration from the book, a museum floor plan arranged according to therapeutic needs. Above the cafe and shop are five floors, the first a Gallery of Suffering, followed in ascending order by galleries of Compassion, Fear, Love, and Self-Knowledge. As Sehgal noted, de Botton had been accused of condescending to his readers, regarding them as “ants,” or more to my point, as children, as if this weighty book were little more than a child’s guide to art therapy on steroids.

to the art-as-therapy premise is the possibility that, perhaps with some parental prompting, the child will appreciate the beauty of Kuo’s artwork in contrast to wacky, playful, free-form books like Hop on Pop by the inimitable Dr. Seuss. The scope of the title’s “Everything” is conveyed in a spectacular opening vista (“Will you climb a hill with me?”), a two-page spread showing mother and daughter standing hand in hand gazing on a landscape in soft shades of purple and grey, under a full moon, a V-shaped flock of geese in the distant sky. The

THE BEST JOURNEY YET

I had better luck in the third-floor Children’s Department, especially once I gave up looking for attractively packaged volumes with “therapy” in the title. The first book on the New Releases table that caught my eye was Taiwanese American illustrator Julia Kuo’s Let’s Do Everything and Nothing (Roaring Brook Press 2022), with the subtitle Being together is the best journey yet. Marketed for ages 3 to 6, grades preschool to first, the closest it comes

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pages that follow extend the “everything” idea to include imagined mother-daughter adventures diving into a lake, viewing a starry sky, scaling the highest peak, “gasping” at creatures of the deep — activities that could only be dreamed of at the time of the pandemic-mandated lockdown during which this book was conceived and created. The first half of Let’s Do Everything and Nothing culminates in the not entirely child-friendly question, “Will we reach the very top, the very bottom, the

very end?” The answer “We will” is delivered with the book’s most spectacular image, a beautiful twopage panorama showing the two tiny figures atop a mountain peak. By contrast, what follows are scenes of domestic intimacy, bathing, resting, dozing, the sort of “doing nothing” implied by the “the best journey” of simply being together, the underlying therapy prescribed for sheltering in place. ANIMALS ON THE MOVE

In another book on the New Releases table, Sea Lions in the Parking Lot (mineditionsUS 2021), the lockdown environment is made explicit in the subtitle, Animals on the Move in a Time of Pandemic. Leonora Todaro’s text is amusingly written, while the illustrations by Annika Siems are big, bold, and colorful, especially the twopage spread of a herd of Sika deer riding a subway escalator. The book’s back cover shows two sea lions basking alongside a closed Fish & Chips food truck, with the message: “When people get out of the way, animal habitats grow — and scientists have a new chance to learn how we can best share the Earth.” Obviously, this is a form of therapy-for-the-youngmind (readers ages 4-8) that might make the book a target for red-state school districts. There’s even an epilogue about how the “anthropause” resulting from the pandemic “taught people something exciting about the connection between humans and animals.” A 2022 Green Earth Book Award Long List Nominee, Sea Lions contains “some of the few joyous tales told about the pandemic,” according to a New York Times review. This is Todaro’s debut children’s book; her work has appeared in the Times, The Atlantic, and Salon. Although Siems has won numerous awards for her illustrations, this is also her first children’s book.


DRUM THERAPY

My Life with Down Syndrome (Amicus Ink 2020) by Mari Schuh, with art by Isabel Muñoz, provides images of “racial diversity” with a “dyslexicfriendly font.” It is part of the My Life With [ADHD, Autism, Blindness, Deafness, and Dyslexia] series, which wins praise from School Library Journal as an “essential series for virtually any collection.” Based on a real-life boy named Peter, the book describes how he deals with the challenges of Down syndrome. As the cover suggests, he loves music, most of all playing drums. Schuh is the author of hundreds of nonfiction books for beginning readers, covering topics from tomatoes to tornadoes. Muñoz works in a studio she says is based in “a tiny, cloudy, green and lovely town in the north of Spain.” IN TIME OF WAR

While I was browsing in the Children’s Department, a librarian handed me a list of picture books chosen for their relevance to the invasion of Ukraine and the resulting refugee crisis. Among the titles were The Day the War Came by Nicola Davies, with illustrations by Rebecca Cobb (Candlewick 2018), which begins, “The day the war came there were flowers on the window sill.” Then there’s The Cat Man of Aleppo (Putnam’s 2020) by Karim ShamsiBasha, with a message from the real-life cat man, Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, who offered safe haven to Aleppo’s abandoned cats during the Syrian Civil War. For readers ages 6 to 12, Jacqueline B. Toner and illustrator Janet McDonnell’s What to Do When the News Scares You: A Kid’s Guide to Current Events (Magination Press 2021) offers the constructive therapy of “short, interactive lessons about media tactics interspersed with exercises to help kids cope with the strong emotions that can accompany exposure to scary news.” In the same notice, Kirkus Reviews notes that children are “invited to become investigators, with the book providing spaces for them to jot down observations each time they learn a new aspect of reporting, including camera angles, opinions versus facts,” the therapeutic message being “From knowledge comes power over emotions.” A UKRAINIAN MOUSE

Families hosting refugees from the Ukraine war

could make good use of The Fabulous Lost & Found and the Little Ukrainian Mouse (Neu Westend Press 2020), a bilingual English/Ukrainian book for kids ages 4 to 8 who want to learn Ukrainian words. Published at the onset of the pandemic, two years before Vladimir Putin’s invasion, the book is by Mark Pallis with illustrations by Peter Baynton. The plot centers on a little mouse who walks into a Lost & Found run by Mr. and Mrs. Frog, who don’t speak Ukrainian. This “story-powered language learning method” helps kids learn more than 40 simple Ukrainian words and phrases. Author Mark Pallis sees the book as his way of “helping little learners engage with a new language, empathize with strangers, and ultimately build a love of languages.” Better yet, the kids “don’t know they’re learning,” a subtly effective form of therapy, from the sound of it. As Pallis says, “All the learning is a bonus; the icing on the cake.”

greeted her guests perched in a potted palm tree, strolled zoo lions up Beacon Street,” and found adventure in “heart-soaring, mind-seizing, worldshifting art.” I’ve felt a special closeness to the Gardner collection ever since the afternoon my wife, son, and I spent there in August 1989. The following March, 13 pieces worth an estimated $500 million were stolen, including Vermeer’s The Concert, one of the paintings I spent the most time with. Fleming and Cordell feature a blue-tinted graphic showing the thieves at work “under cover of darkness,” cutting the canvases out of the frames: “Then thieves and treasures disappeared into the night.” The fact that one of the stolen paintings was the Vermeer still haunts me. Maybe there’s a lesson in the coincidence about the transient, vulnerable nature of all art and how important it is for us to take the time to calmly, quietly, and thoughtfully appreciate it.

ART APPRECIATION WRIT LARGE

Another book discovered among the library’s new releases for children is What Isabella Wanted: Isabella Stewart Gardner Builds a Museum (Neal Porter Books 2021) by award-winning author Candace Fleming and Caldecott Medal-winning author and illustrator Matthew Cordell. As the cover image suggests, the fabulously wealthy heiress is seen as an exuberant, welcoming, fashionably coiffed devotee of great art. No doubt there’s an element of psychological therapy in correcting kneejerk first impressions of “stuffy subjects” like art and wealth and museums. In that sense, this is a book encouraging appreciation rather than engaging in the sort of curative patronization Art as Therapy has been accused of. Isabella is presented as a free spirit who “wore baseball gear to the symphony,

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THE BLUEBERRY QUEEN OF NEW JERSEY Elizabeth Coleman White’s Agricultural Impact More than a Century Later

By Wendy Greenberg

Photos courtesy of Whitesbog Preservation Trust


Frederick Coville and Elizabeth Coleman White in a blueberry field.

W

hen New Lisbon’s Elizabeth Coleman White studied the blueberry more than 100 years ago, she probably didn’t envision a booming blueberry business in New Jersey, or the state’s reputation as Blueberry Capital of the World. White, in 1916, developed a hybrid blueberry that could be grown in the acidic soil of the Pine Barrens, and she became known as the Blueberry Queen for producing the first cultivated crop of blueberries in the United States. White created more than hybrid blueberry bushes — she created an industry. Blueberries are the No. 1 fruit or vegetable in New Jersey, in terms of the 8,400 acres planted, according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA), and a $76 million industry, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Agriculture Statistics Service. To put New Jersey’s 46 million pounds of blueberries each year in context with other crops, in the same year (the latest statistics are from 2020), New Jersey’s 15.2 million pounds of peaches were from 3,800 acres with a production value of $21 million; and cranberries claimed 3,000 acres, and 531,000 (100-pound) barrels, for a $20.4 million production value. While most of the blueberry harvesting takes place in Hammonton, which boasts a sign proclaiming it the Blueberry Capital of the World, and many farms with descendants of the founding families still running them, blueberries are also grown elsewhere in the state, where the

soil is sometimes adjusted for acidity. “New Jersey blueberries are plumper and have the full-bodied flavor that is highly desirable,” says Joe Atchison III, NJDA assistant secretary of agriculture, and marketing and development division director, when asked to describe the New Jersey blueberry. He notes that in a recent awareness study, 67 percent of respondents stated that blueberries with the Jersey Fresh label were better than blueberries from other locations. What blueberries lack in size they make up for in the distinct flavor they infuse in muffins, pancakes, and pie, or in their sweet, tart taste when eaten unadorned. Everyone seems to have a favorite fresh blueberry recipe. Most pull out those recipes in July, which is National Blueberry Month, so-designated by the National American Blueberry Council. SHE PERSISTED

The origins of the New Jersey blueberry are traced to New Jersey native Elizabeth Coleman White, who joined with USDA botanist Frederick Coville to develop and market the first blueberry bushes. Curious and persistent, White is honored on the New Jersey Women’s History website (njwomenshistory.org) and her story is told on numerous New Jersey historical and agricultural websites including Whitesbog Preservation Trust, New Jersey Historical Commission, and U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.

According to Sarah Augustine, archivist at Whitesbog, where White lived and farmed, “Elizabeth was a person who strove to never stop learning. She was creative, educated, compassionate, and driven. She also kept up with causes important to her and was active in her community. I have heard her described as being stately and elegant, but very down-to-earth and approachable.” White was born in New Lisbon in 1871 and lived in the family home, Fenwick Manor, built by her grandfather. She graduated from Philadelphia’s Friends Central School, and what is now Drexel University, but she was self-taught in science and botany according to Whitesbog archives. She helped supervise cranberry pickers at the farm — which White’s father took over from his father-in-law. Both the Fenwick Manor and Whitesbog farms produced cranberries. White lived at Fenwick Manor until she built a home at nearby Whitesbog in 1923. Whitesbog Village in Browns Mills was New Jersey’s largest cranberry farm at that time, and Joseph White was a nationally known leader in the industry. There, blueberries grew in the wild and were thought to vary too much in size and quality to be a commercial success, but White wondered whether she could expand the farm by growing blueberries between cranberry seasons. Serendipitously, around 1910, she came across research by Coville, who was working for the USDA. His “Experiments in Blueberry Culture,” confirmed that blueberries needed acidic soil. White wrote to Coville, offered her JUNE 2022 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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ONGOING RESEARCH FOCUS

farm’s unused land, and volunteered to carry out blueberry experiments on her family farm. She gathered some 100 bushes from neighbors, and they cross-pollinated the bushes. In 1916 they harvested the first crop of highbush blueberries. In 1927, White organized the marketingfocused New Jersey Blueberry Cooperative Association, and was the first woman to receive a New Jersey Department of Agriculture citation. She was also the first woman to become a member of the American Cranberry Association. MODERN MARKETING

White also pioneered the marketing of blueberries in cellophane. Says Augustine, “This was incredibly significant. In supermarkets today, we know we can expect to see produce in clear packages ... in the early 1920s, however, this was not the case. Produce was sold in barrels, paper containers, or just loose. Elizabeth came up with the idea to use clear cellophane to package the blueberries so people could actually see what they were getting, thus making the product more appealing. She got the idea from European candy companies, who packaged their products in cellophane. Blueberries were the first fruit to be sent to market in clear containers.” When White’s father died, the Whitesbog farm where she did all her research was left to a male relative. White had lived her later years there, where — again ahead of her time — she planted a garden of native plants.

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“The precise reason for the farm not going to Elizabeth is currently unknown,” says Augustine. “We can guess that it was par for the times. Additionally, her brothers-in-law (there were three) all had an active role in business operations of the farm.” White’s later years were productive, as she used her knowledge of cultivation on holly plants and established the nursery Holly Haven, which grew and sold the American holly plant. Visitors to Whitesbog can envision a “woman who was resourceful, modern, and creative,” says Augustine. “Some of our artifacts visitors can see include photographs she took in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The largest ‘artifact’ is Elizabeth’s home, Suningive. This Arts and Crafts style home is reflective of her business sense, simplicity, and practicality.“ Whitesbog is located within Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, and the grounds are open every day from dawn to dusk. “We have miles of trails and sand roads to explore,” notes Augustine. “Also, many of our buildings, including the general store, barrel factory, and workers’ cottages, are open on weekends and during special events. During cranberry season, we are the only public place in New Jersey where you can view an active cranberry harvest. Our 100+ year-old plants still produce berries to this day.” Whitesbog will host the 2022 Blueberry Festival every Saturday from June 25 through July 25 this summer (see whitesbog.org).

Today, blueberries are so important to New Jersey that they are half the focus of the Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research at Rutgers University’s New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. Located in Chatsworth, the Center seeks to ensure continued production and availability of high-quality blueberries and cranberries; minimize the use of pesticides; maintain research programs to study the health benefits of phytochemicals in cranberries and blueberries; and investigate causes and controls of diseases that affect blueberries and cranberries. The Center is staffed by Rutgers and USDA scientists, each of whom manages a research program that targets specific problems experienced by growers. According to Peter Oudemans, professor and director, the Marucci Center’s research efforts “range from solving immediate, shortterm problems such as finding ways to control invasive insects like the spotted wing drosophila and spotted lantern fly, to long-term research programs targeting soil health.” The USDA-operated breeding program develops new varieties of blueberry “with specific horticultural traits to make blueberry farming more sustainable,” he says, explaining, in an email, that “plant diseases represent one of the more detrimental causes of crop loss and require continual upgrading of knowledge and application of new methods for control.” One of the biggest threats to blueberries is the buildup of resistance in pest, pathogen, and weed populations, he says. “Our researchers are fervently studying these detrimental organisms to determine the most effective ways to control them. Soil health has become an important concept for study.” This year, the Center launched a collaborative study to investigate the variation of soil health across the New Jersey blueberry farming industry “to measure and detect how changes in soil health can influence crop health.” One issue challenging growers is that many of the existing commercial fields have been in production for 50 years or more. “We are now seeing that the organic matter in some fields in the soil has declined to less than 1 percent,” said Oudemans. “This can have serious consequences for cultivation and blueberry growers are developing strategies to build up the organic matter in the soil. “ All this combined with climate change means that, “Like most crops, farmers have to walk a tightrope to create the ideal conditions for blueberry growth,” Oudemans said. TEXT A BLUEBERRY

In the years following the blueberry boom in New Jersey, from 1942 to 1962, 200,000-plus blueberry seedlings were spread across 13 states, and in 1959 the popular Blueberry Hill cookbook was published by Elsie Masterton, a Vermont


restauranteur. According to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, in the 1990s blueberry production reached 100 million pounds a year. In the last two decades, much scientific research tied blueberries to health benefits, and the nutritional properties of the blueberry are becoming widely known. According to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, the berries contain fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and potassium, as a start — all at just 80 calories per cup. Blueberries are also low in sodium and have virtually no fat, says the Council website. In 2019, the American Heart Association launched the Heart-Check Food Certification Program to help shoppers identify heart-healthy foods — and blueberries are certified as one such food. No wonder the blueberry has been the official state fruit of New Jersey since 2004. In 2020, the blueberry became a social media icon when a cluster of a few ripe blueberries was added as a smartphone emoji, according to emojipedia. PICK-YOUR-OWN

Terhune Orchards grows blueberries for pick-your-own. (Photo courtesy of Terhune Orchards)

are favorable and our farmers are dedicated and have great expertise,” Atchison says. Elizabeth Coleman White’s persistence was indeed fruitful.

shutterstock.com

“While the large majority of Jersey Fresh blueberries come from Hammonton, Atlantic County, the Blueberry Capital of the World, there is good production in Burlington and Ocean counties as well. Additionally, various farms across several New Jersey counties also grow

blueberries,” says NJDA’s Atchison. In New Jersey, the opportunities to pick blueberries are numerous. Various websites suggest farms and hours. One such farm is DiMeo’s in Hammonton, where Anthony DiMeo is a fourth generation blueberry farmer. The farm was started by his great grandfather in 1916, just after Coville and White revolutionized the cultivation of blueberries. Blueberry Bill Farms is also a multigenerational business, Sam Mento Farms is another, and Atlantic Blueberry Co. of Hammonton, owned by the Galleta family, has grown from four acres in 1936 to more than 1,000 acres today. Closer to home, Terhune Orchards grows blueberries for pick-your-own. A Terhune website article by Gary Mount explains how the Central New Jersey soil, which is not like the soil in the Pine Barrens, is adapted for blueberries. The berries are ripe for picking in early July. Mount describes the first berries as “amazing” and “tasty, big and sweet.” Findjerseyfresh.com has pick-your-own information according to location, and shows some 30 pick-your-own farms within 50 miles of Princeton. Blueberries are here to stay in New Jersey. “We anticipate blueberries to be one of the significant crops produced in the Garden State for the foreseeable future, as growing conditions

JUNE 2022 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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PRINCETON MAGAZINE JUNE 2022 Julie Teicher QP.indd 1

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Shore

JERSEY

BY DONALD H. SANBORN III

(photos courtesy of Shutterstock.com)

Under the Boardwalk


T

he Jersey Shore, which has a genre of rock ’n’ roll named after it, features many landmarks that stand as a testament to its rich musical history. One example is the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, which opened in 1926 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in America. Beside Basie himself, artists who have performed there include Tony Bennett, Art Garfunkel, and Bruce Springsteen. The Ocean City Music Pier was constructed in 1928, after a fire destroyed a large segment of the boardwalk. Built in the Spanish Revival style, the venue includes a concert hall which, the venue’s website states, is “suitable for a great variety of shows from stand-up comedy to musicals” as well as the Ocean City Pops orchestra. Residing in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, the Midmer-Losh Pipe Organ is the largest organ in the world. Built in 1929, it boasts 33,112 pipes. After decades of nonuse, the organ was played again during the 2013 Miss America competition. Listeners who enjoy organ music should also visit the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove. That venue’s organ was installed and dedicated in 1908. It boasts a 5-manual console and over 11,000 pipes; the website for the Garden State Theatre Organ Society describes it as “one of the largest and most famous working pipe organs in the country.” Dr. Gordon Turk, the Auditorium organist and artist in residence, will give a series of concerts starting July 6. No tour of the Jersey Shore’s musical landmarks would be complete without a visit to Asbury Park. (Springsteen’s debut studio album, released in 1973, is titled Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.) The annual Asbury Park Music Awards (formerly the Golden T-Bird Awards) launched at the T-Bird Café in 1993, and later moved to another venue, the Saint. Recently the ceremony has taken place at multiple larger venues, especially The Stone Pony.

Vintage photo of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. (Courtesy of The Stone Pony)

THE STONE PONY

One of New Jersey’s best-known venues is located on Ocean Avenue in Asbury Park. The Stone Pony opened in 1974, in a building that had housed a restaurant called Mrs. Jay’s, and has hosted luminaries that include New Jersey natives Springsteen, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and Jon Bon Jovi. Kyle Brendle, the longtime house promoter at The Stone Pony, can list countless other names when engaged in a discussion of its history. Asked whether any musicians from Princeton have played at the iconic venue, Brendle instantly responds, “The great Blues Traveler!” The band formed in Princeton in 1987, and is known for singles such as “RunAround,” “But Anyway,” and “Hook.” The Stone Pony was founded by John P. “Jack” Roig and Robert “Butch” Pielka. The venue’s website reveals that for years, many believed that the “club’s name came to Pielka in a dream. But in late December of 2014, Roig revealed that he was out with a young woman in October of 1973, and she was wearing a shirt with small horses all over the front of it. Jack says the shirt inspired the name.” Asked how The Stone Pony fit into Asbury Park’s musical landscape at the time it opened, Brendle considers, “I don’t think the Asbury Park music scene was really established as people know and remember it. There were a lot of cover bands, a lot of lounge acts, and there was a little bit of rock and roll. There was one great venue called the Sunshine In, doing concerts for two or three years before the Stone Pony opened.” “But The Stone Pony was before the 1970s music explosion happened — before the arrival of Bruce Springsteen as an international superstar,” Brendle continues. “Southside Johnny, of course; our house band, The Stone Pony … Bon Jovi; Sebastian Bach; and many other artists who came through Asbury. So I think the Pony changed the landscape, as Asbury Park became more of a rock ’n’ roll town. The Asbury

Park circuit started to line up with many more venues doing live music.” The Stone Pony’s website notes that the club’s opening night was beset with problems: “There were seven inches of snow, the heater blew out, and the night’s receipts totaled one dollar. By December of 1974 … foreclosure seemed imminent. That’s when the first of the Pony’s many “house bands,” the Blackberry Booze Band, began playing regularly, and the large crowds they drew saved the club.” Members of the Blackberry Booze Band included Southside Johnny Lyon and Steven Van Zandt. Eventually the band grew and was renamed Southside

45th Anniversary Artist Print. (shop.stoneponyonline.com)

Current photo of The Stone Pony stage. (Courtesy of The Stone Pony)

Bruce Springsteen. (Shutterstock.com)

JUNE 2022 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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Ocean City Boardwalk with the Music Pier in the background. (Wikipedia.com)

Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. The band played three nights a week at The Stone Pony, entertaining patrons with their “soulful, horn-driven, and classic R&B repertoire.” In the 1980s many venues closed due to the increasingly prohibitive cost of expenses such as insurance. “There was a huge change going on in Asbury Park’s oceanfront area, commonly referred to as ‘the circuit,’” Brendle explains. “The circuit was loaded with bars, restaurants, venues of all kinds. They were starting to close … there was an attempt at a redevelopment process that just wasn’t happening, and ended up going bust.” In 1991 the Stone Pony was sold in bankruptcy court. It was purchased by Steve Nassar, who in 1998

converted it into a dance club called Vinyl. In 2000 the venue was sold again, this time to Jersey City restaurateur Domenic Santana. In May of that year it reopened as The Stone Pony, and was rededicated by then-Gov. Christie Todd Whitman. “A visit to The Stone Pony has been considered a pilgrimage to rock ‘n’ roll fans around the world,” Whitman remarked at the time. Asked about his favorite memories of some of the famous artists who have performed at The Stone Pony, Brendle enthusiastically replies, “Well, there’s lots! But I could tell you of a few that pop up immediately. We had the great Stevie Ray Vaughan once; Huey Lewis and the News; we always had members of the Allman Brothers Band.” Remembering some of “Asbury’s favorites,” Brendle eagerly adds to the list Springsteen, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, John Eddie, Glen Burtnik, and Bobby Bandiera. He also adds the Black Crowes, who will perform there again on June 30. Their concert is titled The Black Crowes Present: Shake Your Money Maker. “They’re going to play that great album [their 1990 debut recording] in its entirety,” promises Brendle. As for events that are upcoming this summer, Brendle adds: “Starting in June we have Summer Stage shows; June 3 is Bright Eyes.” Other events he lists are Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (July 1), Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (July 2), and Flogging Molly and the Interrupters (July 3). Brendle says, “We’re always looking forward to Fourth of July weekend at Asbury Park!” THE TURF CLUB

The Boardwalk Hall Auditorium organ in Atlantic City. (Source: Wikipedia)

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PRINCETON MAGAZINE JUNE 2022

In the 1960s, Asbury Park’s Springwood Avenue was a thriving hub of music venues. The Turf Club is the only building that currently remains of those places. Since 2017 the Asbury Park African-American Music Project (AP-AMP) has been gathering stories about The Turf Club, and is working to renovate it, with the

intent of reopening a venue the organization describes as the “last chance to preserve a physical piece of Springwood Avenue’s music history.” Robert and Caroll Brown opened The Turf Club at 1125 Springwood Avenue in 1940. “We don’t have a lot of history about that site; we’ve been focused more on 1200 Springwood, which is the current building where The Turf Club is located still,” says Jennifer Souder, a board member of AP-AMP. “But we do know that The Turf Club was a key spot in terms of places people would have known to go and listen to good jazz. It was also right at the intersection of a central area of Springwood Avenue, a key community spot.” “It’s also important to emphasize that The Turf Club was just one of many music venues on Springwood Avenue on the west side,” adds Yvonne Clayton, another AP-AMP board member. “The west side was a haven back in the 1930s and 1940s for African Americans. It was a safe place to come and be entertained. It was on the Chitlin’ Circuit, midway between New York, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City.” In 1948, ownership of The Turf Club was transferred to Leo Karp and Sol Konvitz, who operated the club at its original location until 1955. That year, Karp published plans for construction of a new Turf Club building at 1200 Springwood Avenue (the property now owned by AP-AMP). Leo’s Turf Club opened on June 30, 1956. A booklet published by AP-AMP notes, “Music became a mainstay of The Turf Club beginning in 1959 and particularly the 1960s, offering local and national jazz, blues, and R&B acts.” Musicians who performed there include Al Griffin and the Gents of Jazz; keyboardist Dee Holland; and saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who later joined Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (and who also played at The Stone Pony). The Turf Club changed hands, and names, several more times. In the late 1990s a fire damaged parts of the building, forcing it to close. In 2004 Tamar Ayyash purchased the property — which had entered


Turf Club side entrance, with murals by Larry Walker (2021). (Photo by Conni Freestone)

A “Tuesdays at the Turf” concert in July 2021. (Photo by Conni Freestone)

The Turf Club before cleanout (July 2020). (Photo by Conni Freestone)

The Turf Club in 2021. (Photo by Jen Souder)

A “Tuesdays at the Turf” concert in July 2021. (Photo by Conni Freestone) JUNE 2022 PRINCETON MAGAZINE

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The Count Basie Center for the Arts. (Source: Wikipedia)

American jazz bandleader and pianist Count Basie, seated at the piano, in 1955. (Wikipedia)

foreclosure — and removed the roof for repairs. In 2012 the building was purchased by Vince Gifford, who sold it to AP-AMP in January of this year. Clayton recalls, “When we went to Gifford and said, ‘We would like to buy the building.’ He said, ‘OK.’ We said, ‘We don’t know when we’ll be able to pay for it; we don’t have any money.’ He said, ‘OK.’ Then, when things started to happen in the city, and other people became interested in development, interested in the building, he was committed to us, and he waited until we had the funds to pay for it. So we are very indebted to Vince Gifford, because he saw our vision, and he supported it.” AP-AMP began working in 2017, and formed as a

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PRINCETON MAGAZINE JUNE 2022

AP-AMP logo. (Illustration by Charles Trott)

nonprofit in 2018. Both Clayton and Souder are quick to acknowledge the help of the Asbury Park Public Library in getting the project going. Souder says, “We went to the library as a loosely-formed volunteer group, and said we wanted to apply for a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission. The library partnered with us, because we didn’t have a 501(c)(3) at the time. We were focusing on Springwood Avenue history, and then The Turf Club came into focus in a more recent time.” Currently AP-AMP is planning a capital campaign to raise funds for renovations; Clayton notes that a fundraising event will take place on

June 5. Souder adds, “We can confirm is that it is a fundraiser for the renovation of The Turf Club, and that there will be live music, and it will be at the Black Bird (131 Atkins Avenue) down the street from The Turf Club.” Last summer AP-AMP hosted a series of concerts at the (currently still roofless) property, Tuesdays at the Turf. “We’d have people come in and bring their own chairs, and enjoy the summer evenings — and live music,” Clayton says. Performing musicians included Al Holmes and the Tribe, Vel Johnson, and Bill Carter, to name a few. Souder recounts that a particularly special moment in the series occurred when 96-year-old saxophonist Cliff Johnson visited and “said he performed at every single venue on Springwood Avenue. He’s a phenomenal musician,” so it was gratifying that he had the opportunity to “see some of the musicians that he inspired.” When Bob Lee, a musician now based in California, returned to celebrate his birthday and perform at one of the events. “A lot of other musicians … joined him,” says Souder. “It was a coming home for a lot of Asbury Park musicians.” The organization is planning to resume the series this summer. There will be six events, starting July 5. The events start at 6 p.m. and last for two hours. Looking at The Turf Club today, one will see murals on the sides of the building, painted by artist Larry Walker. Souder explains, “That was a collaboration with Springwood Avenue Rising, which is another local nonprofit. The theme is the music and history of Springwood Avenue, so as you walk by you’ll see musicians, many of whom performed in The Turf Club. Other images are about music and Springwood Avenue history.” Of AP-AMP’s plans for The Turf Club once renovations are complete, Clayton says, “It’s going to be a live music venue; it will be a place for musicians to come and play, and for the neighborhood — and the greater area of Asbury Park — to come hear live music in a little jazz club.” She adds that it also will “be a place where musicians can teach our young people how to play instruments. There used to be places in Asbury Park, like the West Side Community Center, where many people learned how to play instruments for the first time. We’re trying to bring that concept back.” Asked what she particularly wants readers to know about AP-AMP and The Turf Club, Clayton says, “What we’re doing is vital; this is a history that could easily be lost. When you think of Asbury Park, you think of Bruce Springsteen and the ‘Asbury sound.’ No one thinks, ‘Oh, Clarence Clemons came out of The Turf Club’ — and he played with Springsteen. It’s a history that we’re so fortunate to be able to share.” Souder adds, “This history — Springwood Avenue, and African American music history — is central to the story of Asbury Park and the region. There’s this rich history that formed the foundation of the stories of the community.” She adds that AP-AMP wants to bring the venue back so that visitors can “enjoy the music, but also understand the stories.”


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