In Response to: The Hickel Heckle

Re “The Hickel Heckle” (That Was Then, March 7): In 1970 I was a personal assistant to Secretary of Interior Walter Hickel. I had left the comfortable life of Philadelphia’s suburban Main Line to move my wife, four children, and three dogs to join the solicitor’s office at Interior, and in late 1969 I was asked by the secretary to move to his capacious office area to help in organization and management of his responsibilities. This was a fascinating job, especially for an Easterner in a huge Westerner Cabinet post.

When the secretary was invited to speak at Princeton March 5, 1970, I was asked to prepare a draft of his remarks. I was aided by another Tiger a bit younger than I (whose name eludes me now). We wrote a graphic tribute to the environment, a strong cry for cleaner rivers and air. We flew up to Princeton that afternoon in a tiny plane, and “the rest is history.” We were greeted by a mob of screaming undergrads dressed in Indian headdress and with painted faces.

The irony of this confrontation is that the speech, which few could hear, was what the audience would have marveled at as a forceful and quite eloquent cry for environmental protection. A sad day in Princeton history.

Alan G. Kirk II ’50
McLean, Va.