Monthly Archives: April 2009

Do Not Pass Go…


Wheaton College Monopoli was created in 1972 by the Kodon and Tower editors, Tim Neumann ’73 and Dan Varisco ’73. These two senior roommates who controlled most of the college printing power decided to collaborate their creative energies and produce a parody of the original Monopoly board game. According to Neumann the game was revised to reflect Wheaton’s spiritual heritage.

“Go to Jail” became “Go to Hell,” “Free Parking” became “Wages of Sin,” “Chance” cards became “Predestination” cards and “Community Chest” became “Abraham’s Bosom.” HUD MoneyPresident Hudson Armerding’s portrait appeared on the play money in the form of HUD bucks and Christian-controlled properties circled the board. The cheapest property, Mediterranean Avenue, was replaced by Bob Jones University, Water Works became “Water into Wine Works,” and North Carolina Avenue became Billy Graham National Monument in tribute to the famous alum’s home state.

In lieu of the customary literary magazine, a Monopoli game was produced for every student on campus.

Monopoli Cards

Although board games in general were never banned at Wheaton, President Armerding instructed that all copies of this game be destroyed due to threat of legal action from Parker Brothers. Parker Brothers has fought hard to retain the rights and trademark to Monopoly and has seen their efforts come to nought and be reversed several times, ultimately lobbying for a change to U.S. Trademark Laws to retain control of the brand. Decades later, this copy of the game surfaced from a retired member of the college’s administration.

Horse of a Different Color

Tower of TiresIn her “Echoes of the Past” article in the November-December 1934 issue of the Wheaton Alumni News Julia Blanchard recounted the story of one of the earliest pranks played at Wheaton College. It was the favorite story of Albert L. Miller, an early student of the College. Miller’s daughters recounted the story to Blanchard of how in the spring of 1863 some “fellows painted grandfather’s [Jonathan Blanchard’s] white horse in their class colors and then parked him up in the Tower.”

Another early prank at Wheaton College that involved Jonathan Blanchard and retold by Clyde Kilby in his biography A Minority of One occurred one April Fool’s Day when students placed a goose on the lectern prior to Blanchard’s arrival. Upon entering Blanchard assessed the current situation and left the classroom after exclaiming, “well, students, I see you have chosen a new leader. Since he must be more to your liking, I will take the only course open to me. I will withdraw.”

April Fool’s Day often presents the opportune moment for high-jinks. In 1974 large cut-outs of President Armerding and Mickey Mouse replaced the faces on the Edman Chapel clock.

Perry MastodonA well-known prank from the mid-1970s involved the Perry Mastodon not long after its dedication on the 22nd of November 1975. The original exhibit narration recording was replaced with fanciful history of Perry Mastodon that included being frozen in a giant ice cube for thousands of years, being tranquilized by Judge Joseph Perry, and, after reawakening, having half of its body removed for use in the cafeteria, and knowing how to talk and dance among other things. This was purported to be the work of Larry Shackley (’77) using the WETN studios.

Audio icon (mp3 – 00:02:55)


The Narnia Code

Norman Stone’s professional affiliation with C.S. Lewis began when he directed the original Shadowlands, a film about the marriage of Lewis to Joy Davidman and her subsequent death. Most may be familiar with the title but remember Anthony Hopkins in the role of Lewis rather than the BBC’s Joss Ackland from 1985. Lewis’ papers and family wardrobe are housed in Wheaton’s Marion E. Wade Center. Stone also produced a docu-drama in 2005 titled C.S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia, which is viewed to be more accurate than the final production of Shadowlands. After a long association with the creator of Reepicheep, Tumnus and the Pevensie children, Stone returns to Lewis with The Narnia Code. To air on BBC1 April 16th, The Narnia Code details Michael Ward’s cracking of the mysterious thread that holds the various Narnian tales together.

Norman StoneNorman Stone has had an illustrious career with his being awarded a first class honors degree in Visual Communication Leeds College before transferring to London’s Royal College of Art for a Master of Arts degree in Film and Television. He began his professional career in television as the youngest producer/director for the Religious Department of the BBC.

Moving from Everyman documentaries and a pioneering Sunday children’s show into drama, he produced the highly acclaimed film A Different Drummer about the blind and deaf Cornish poet Jack Clemo (1980). Shadowlands helped more firmly establish his career with its international success. The film won two BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards, an International Emmy and the Prague D’Or for Best Director. Other of Stone’s dramas include Martin Luther – Heretic, starring Jonathan Pryce; New World, starring James Fox; The Vision, starring Dirk Bogarde and Lee Remick, and the award-winning Burston Rebellion with Eileen Atkins and Bernard Hill. In 1988-89 he directed a three-part thriller series for BBC Scotland, The Justice Game (first series), and the television feature Pied Piper, starring Peter O’Toole and based on the novel by Nevil Shute (a Granada TV/CBS co-production).

While working on the script of The End Time with Murray Watts, Stone also collaborated with Watts on a film adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Dream of a Ridiculous Man (BBC 2), starring Jeremy Irons.

Norman StoneStone has won an International Emmy, Gold Awards for Best Film and Best Director at the New York Film and Television Festival, and the Monitor d’Oro for Best Drama at Umbriafiction TV ’92 for the Catherine Cookson television film The Black Velvet Gown, which he directed for World Wide International Television.

Following up on his successful direction of They Do It with Mirrors, BBC’s 1991 “Miss Marple” Christmas special, Stone has also worked on BBC’s final “Miss Marple” adventure, The Mirror Cracked from Side to Side.

Other awards include a BAFTA for the Omnibus special on the life of Dudley Moore, After the Laughter, an Andrew Cross Award for best documentary of the year for The Tartan Pimpernel and a Golden Remi for his first feature film Man Dancin’, which he created and directed in his home town of Glasgow. Stone directed Florence Nightengale, a period drama, which aired in the UK in mid-2008.

Faith & Geology @ Wheaton

Wheaton faculty Steve Moshier, David Maas and Jeff Greenberg recently saw the publication of their article on the history of geology at Wheaton College and its engagement with Wheaton’s theological stance and teachings in Geology and Religion: a history of harmony and hostility (Geological Society, London).George Frederick Barker

Since the college’s founding in 1860, geology has been part of its curriculum. Jonathan Blanchard sought to recruit the best faculty possible and this was true for the natural sciences as it was for the humanities. One of his first recruits was George Frederick Barker, whom Blanchard wanted to teach geology and natural history. Unfortunately, due to a number of circumstances his appointment lasted one year.

As scientific knowledge grew the tensions between science and religion began to grow. These emerged, in some campes, shortly after Darwin’s writings became widely available and taught. Wheaton’s geology faculty respected the geological evidence for an ancient Earth and interpreted Genesis’ telling of creation and its chronology as representing epochs of God’s creative activity. Wheaton’s first faculty member with an earned doctorate was L. Allen Higley, Louis Allen Higleywho harmonized mainstream geological history and the Bible through the gap or ruin-restoration interpretation, wherein the epochs of geological time preceded the biblical account of six days of recreation several thousand years ago. Higley and his ideas became a major influence in Wheaton’s interactions with its fundamentalist constituents and its recruiting of new faculty. By the 1930s geology became an established major and an independent department in 1958. Like the study of human origins, geology education at Wheaton has been profoundly influenced by the tension between science and faith in the evangelical sub-culture, causing concern in certain quarters. Wheaton’s faculty and administration have had to address these concerns on numerous occassions since the 1960s.

John L. Smith, donor and missionary, dies at 89

John L. SmithJohn L. Smith passed away Sunday, April 5, 2009 in Marlow, Oklahoma. Known to many as John L., Smith was born Monday, March 15, 1920 to Emmon and Viola Jeannetta (Gayle) Smith. In 1937 he graduated from Marlow High School and enrolled at Oklahoma Baptist University. He later attended Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma and Brigham Young University. He was awarded three honorary doctorates (Doctor of Divinity) and a Doctor of Theology from Southwestern Baptist Seminary.

On November 27, 1940 Smith married Winona Inez Muncrief in Coalgate, in south-central Oklahoma. They were married for nearly fifty-one years and together they bore and raised a son (John, Jr.) and two daughters (Winona and Bonita). Inez passed away on August 27, 1991. Smith married Pearl Gayle on June 4, 1995.

Rev. Smith’s career in ministry spanned nearly seventy years, serving for seventeen years in Utah. He pastored for fifteen years in several churches in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Utah. While in Utah, he began his study of of Mormonism–something he would engage in for over fifty years, leading Smith to write several books on this subject. In 1953 while in Utah, Smith and his wife, Inez, founded Utah Missions. They later moved the ministry to his hometown of Marlow, Oklahoma. Smith began to donate portions of his papers to Wheaton College in 1990. At the age of 80 he began The Ministry of John L. Smith to continue his missionary efforts.

You’ll never become a cartoonist…

Vaughn ShoemakerVaughn Shoemaker, who died in 1991, was a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist for the Chicago Daily News and his work is as relevant today as it was when he sketched it. Along with being an acknowledged cartoonist, Shoemaker was a Christian whose work often displayed his convictions.

According to David Enlow in a tract titled Meet a Pulitzer Prize Winner, in 1918 Vaughn Shoemaker enrolled in the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, with a class that was overcrowded and with many waiting to get in, the instructor, after three months, took to the task of weeding out the least likely to succeed. The first one picked was Shoemaker.

“You’ll never become a cartoonist in a thousand years,” said the director.

Twenty years later he had won his first Pulitzer Prize. Also he won the National Headliners Award, two National Safety top awards, eleven Freedom Foundation gold medals, topping it off with an honorary degree from Wheaton College and his second Pulitzer Prize.

What happened to transform this young man into a distinguished American cartoonist?

In 1917 as a lifeguard on a Chicago beach, he met a beautiful girl who later became Miss Chicago and it was love at first sight. Not only was this girl beautiful, but she was also sensible. It was “no go,” she said, unless Vaugn showed more signs of making some success in life.

With this incentive, Shoemaker found himself attracted by an ad in a magazine: “Draw this cartoon and become a famous cartoonist.” The fact that he had no particular aptitude in that direction did not stop him. Soon he found himself in art school, from whence came the director’s discouraging word.

An apprenticeship in the art department of the Chicago Daily News opened up, and this laid the groundwork for his 44 years of successful cartooning.

At the age of 20, a storybook situation brought the first break of his life. The chief cartoonist for the News left to take a position in New York City. His assistant had gone to take another position in the same city, and the second assistant had to leave because of illness in his family.

“You, Shoemaker!” the boss shouted. “Draw something, anything, until I can get a cartoonist somewhere.”

As he faced his dilemma, Vaughn thought of his mother, who years earlier had taught him to pray at her knee. Right in the chief cartoonist’s studio, he fell to his knees and asked God for help. Somehow, the cartoon came off his pen. He was known at The Chicago Daily News as a “gospel cartoonist.” He once said he started each cartoon “on my knees with a prayer.” He noted that the boys at the newspaper noticed it. Some laughed. “Some kidded me,” Shoemaker said. “I laughed back. There I stood: God helping me, I could do no other.”

In addition to his professional success, Shoemaker travelled far and wide to share the Good News of the Gospel which transformed his life.

John Q. PublicShoemaker created the character John Q. Public and won two Pulitzer Prizes. Shoemaker’s most familiar character represented the beleaguered American taxpayer. The character appeared first in The Chicago Daily News, the paper on which Mr. Shoemaker began his career in 1922. In 1963 Mr. Shoemaker’s cartoons were syndicated to more than 75 newspapers. He worked at the Daily News for 27 years and then moved to the New York Herald Tribune, the Chicago American and the American’s successor, Chicago Today, where he retired. By the time he retired, in 1972, he had drawn 14,000 cartoons

The Road BackHe won his first Pulitzer in 1938 for a drawing, “The Road Back,” which showed a World War I soldier marching backwards into war. The caption said, “You’re going the wrong way.” His cartoons were criticised by Herman Goering who described his work as “horrible examples of anti-Nazi propaganda.” In 1947, he won his second Pulitzer, for a cartoon titled, “Still Racing His Shadow.” In this cartoon a worker, marked “new wage demands,” tried to outrun his shadow, “cost of living.”

Train of Thought

Chicago Transit AuthorityMany artists admit that motion stimulates creativity. A somewhat surprising source of imaginative inspiration is the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). For many years it proved to be a dark but generous muse for Chester Gould, creator of the Dick Tracy comic strip. Each weekday Gould rode the train from his home in Woodstock, Illinois, to downtown Chicago where his office in Tribune Tower was located. Known for devising spectacularly nasty opposition for his square-peg hero, Gould frequently modeled his villains on the physical characteristics of the passengers sitting near him. One of his best-remembered baddies, Pruneface, was patterned after a horrifically scarred WWII vet. Other notorious mugs from Tracy’s Rogue’s Gallery were Flattop, Mrs. Prunface, the Brow, Pear Shape, the Mole and Little Face Finny.

Another proud graduate of the “CTA School of Artistic Expression” is Vinita Hampton Wright. Working as an editor at a Christian publishing house, Wright daily rode the train from her home in southside Hyde Park to suburban Wheaton. Already busy with various projects, she decided to use the travel time to finish her novel, Grace at Bender Springs (1999). After politely asking her usual commuting companions to ignore her as she concentrated, she opened her laptop and typed for the duration of the trip. When the book was published, she gave them free copies.

Metra CarReversing Wright’s trajectory was Dr. Ken Taylor. In the early 1960s Taylor rode the CTA from his Wheaton home into Chicago, where he served as Editorial Director of Moody Press. Desiring to produce a paraphrased Bible that appealed to young, modern eyes, Taylor, now concentrating on the Pauline epistles, set about performing his task during the morning journey. He writes: “…I sat with a Bible on one knee and a writing pad on the other. I tried to keep everything balanced and not let it fall over on my seatmate as he perused the morning paper.” And so, “…as the swaying train bumped along over the tracks,” he eventually completed The Living Bible, providing the foundational publication for the successful Tyndale House Publishers, international distributors of books, Bibles and videos.

First Impressions

Blanchard Hall, 1868In his autobiography, Charles Blanchard recorded his first impressions of Wheaton and the Illinois Institute, which was to soon become Wheaton College.

I remember most vividly the utter dreariness of the prospect….It was a little huddle of frame houses on the wind-swept prairie. Many trees had been planted but they were so small as to produce no impression upon the landscape. The ground was low in and about the town on which water stood the year around. A single building, small, in ill repair and in every way forbidding stood in the midst of a campus which was and is one of the most beautiful spots in the world.