Edward R. Wolpow

I graduated Tech in the winter class of 1955 and was class valedictorian. There were two large issues I had wanted to discuss in my valedictory address but was dissuaded by both parents and faculty — and, regrettably, I didn’t discuss them. The first was the striking difference between my classmates and a random group of Brooklynites — say, the folks at the RKO Albee down the street watching the latest movie. Looking at my copy of the Blueprint, there were three Blacks, one Asian, and a handful of Latinos (most notably, Richard Farina, who made a name for himself as a writer and folksinger). And, needless to say, no women. That all changed for the better over the years. I remember being told there were just not that many girls interested in science in Brooklyn (although, judging from Bronx Science, that did not appear to be true in the Bronx). Has the story been told about the steps toward inclusion at Tech over the years?
These were the Eisenhower-McCarthy years, and two of my best teachers, Meyer Case (Economics) and Raymond Blau (English) were fired by the New York City Board of Education for failing to take a “loyalty oath” required of New York City teachers. Mr. Case’s testimony before the notorious House Un-American Affairs Activities Committee of Congress is available online. For all I know, there may have been more victims than just those two. I wonder what information about those years might still be available at the school. I also hear echoes in today’s news. In 1954, Eisenhower signed a bill adding “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, which the entire school spoke each morning in unison. There were teacher-monitors who roamed the halls checking to see that we students (and I presume, teachers, also) said it right.
I am a three-years-retired neurologist; my practice was at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, and I taught at Harvard and Northeastern. I am widowed and have two married daughters and four grandkids. I didn’t become an engineer. What did I learn at Tech? Specifically, at the least, the glories of math, with Mr. Glaubiger, and I believe that later learning the very complicated anatomy of the brain and spinal cord was helped with Solid Geometry (is that still required?). I also learned at an early age that I did not do everything well. My worst course at Tech was Freehand Drawing, where I managed a minimal 65, only because the teacher told me that since he was the only person teaching that course, and definitely did not want to see any more of me, we’d agree on 65. And I ran into so many classmates in college and medical school who had never done poorly in anything in school until they ran into unexpected trouble. I’d gotten over that feeling so many years earlier!