Readers comments 7-22-16

Renwick Gymnasium

Dear Editor

Readers who enjoyed articles about Helen Renwick’s contributions to the Claremont Colleges may also want to know about her donations to construction of the old Renwick Gymnasium, in her husband’s name, as Judy Wright tells it in her priceless book, Claremont, A Pictorial History.

The Renwick Gym was a favored place to find a pick-up basketball game for local gym rats like Terry Kneisler, Ralph Miller, Howard and Steve Sinclair, Connie Elwell and myself. Perhaps other readers recall stories of playing basketball, volleyball, badminton and other sports inside Renwick. Stories and pictures could become newsworthy chronicles of an earlier Claremont.

One Saturday morning in the late 1970s (a search of COURIER archives could reveal the date), I arrived at Renwick on my bike, hoping for a game, only to find the entire building was gone. The lot was scraped clean except for a small basement filled with old metal lockers, broken folding chairs and other debris, apparently soon to be loaded onto the next dump truck. I jumped down to search the debris and found two homemade basketball hoops, which I removed and have been storing in my garage ever since.

Later I searched the online Claremont Colleges Digital Library and found several photos of Renwick Gym, showing it behind Bridges Auditorium, and an interior photo, dated 1904, showing four “track and field athletes” posed below a basketball hoop with support bars extending to the backboard at a downward angle. I believe the photo shows one of the hoops I retrieved mounted there on the backboard.

Ms. Wright’s book shows a picture of blacksmith’s shop on Yale Avenue owned by H.A. Wallis. It’s possible that the hoops were made in that shop. The hoop with the angled (and threaded) support sleeve appears to be the one in the 1904 photo. The other hoop, with threaded holes on either side of the hoop, appears to be an earlier, flawed design.

There’s more to the story, but I know only part of it. The original Renwick Gym was at least partly destroyed in a fire in 1952. Since the hoops I retrieved were in use in 1904, they must have remained in the basement while the new gym was being built over it.

Since Pomona College is the rightful owner of the hoops, I offered them to Pomona College’s archivist who sent me a Deed of Gift, accepting the hoops but offering no opportunity to document the story of these relics from the early days of basketball.

I delayed delivering the hoops and deed in order to elicit a more complete story of the Renwick Gym experience from fellow Claremont gym rats and history buffs; hence my call for the COURIER and its readers to fill in the missing parts of this story. I am eager to deliver the hoops to Pomona College and await your replies.

Ken McPherson



Insurgency justification

Dear Editor:

The National Rifle Association (NRA), the lobby of the gun manufacturing industry, holds that assault weapons must be legal because every American should own one. How do they defend that belief? Their justification is that citizens need such weapons in order to defend themselves against tyrannical government deeds. That is known as the “insurgency” justification: we must ready to do literal battle with our own government.

Now Micah Johnson in Dallas has acted on just such a belief. Using an assault rifle that he had legally acquired, he shot and killed policemen, government agents, because police are tyrannizing black men, shooting them and suffering no penalties for it.

That is, he acted on a major NRA principle. He should be a hero to the NRA. But there has not been a sound from the organization in support of what he did. That is hypocrisy. Of course, they could also renounce the principle—but don’t hold your breath.

Merrill Ring



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