Stephenson Tales


Elsewhere I have mentioned Prof. Gale Densmore, but since he was a great influence in my life while getting my degree of Ph.D. at the University of Michigan he deserves a separate space in these tales. There are two things that should go into his record.

1. When I was working at the British Museum doing research on Percy Fitzgerald for my disssertation, around me were other scholards from all countries also doing research in the lovely "Reading Room." Many of them had beautiful beards and so Lucy Chase and I decided that, just for fun, I would let mine grow for the three months (or so) that we planned to stay abroad. It WAS beautiful—kind of a reddish brown, elegantly curly and very soft. By the time we got back to Ann Arbor I had trimmed it into a very handsome decoration. In preparation for the course work for which I was to register, I consulted, of course, with Dr. Hugh Norton, the head of my doctoral committee, and, among others, our dear friend Prof. Eddie Stasheff, the head of the radio and TV wing of the Department of Speech. I also planned to apply to be Dr. Norton's graduate assistant in his course on history of the theater. Fortunately, just before I carried out this intetion, Eddie Stasheff called me on the phone and told me that in a faculty meeting, Dr. Densmore had declared, "If that man Stephenson comes in here for a job wearing that beard, he's not going to get it." I immediately went upstairs and, to my dismay, shaved it off. I got the job with Hugh and was his assistant for two years before I became a full-fledged instructor.

2. My title gives this story away. In case you do not recall, a "poseur" is one who, to impress others, puts on an act of being more important (wiser, cleverer, admirable) than he really is. Mr. Densmore called me into the inner sanctum of his office what day—for what I do not remember—and, as I entered, he laid down a small book and said to me, "I was reading Cicero in the original Greek." I gasped, then hid my amusement as any good actor knows well how to do—and nodded solemnly, thinking to myself, "That's a pretty good trick, Gale, considering that Cicero wrote in Latin." Why he thought he had to impress ME—a lowly graduate assistant—was beyond me. I think he was always somewhat ashamged of the fact that he did not have a Ph.D. I can think of no other reason for this. (See also his intimidating effect on Valentine Windt, our beloved theater director, as noted elsewhere in these tales.)

Composed 15 August 2009; Transcribed by Robin

© Jim Bob Stephenson 2009

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