I read with interest the article “Altered Paths” (feature, March 7). The stories brought to mind the pathway our dad, Bill Hewson, took after his graduation from Princeton in 1933. No question times are very tough for recent Princeton grads, but imagine matriculating to Princeton in 1929. His father owned a specialist firm on Wall Street, which not surprisingly was hit hard in the Depression. From our dad’s perspective, Wall Street was not only a high-risk profession, but its future must have been unclear.
So he followed his gut, and took a job as a trainee at the Brooklyn Union Gas Co. after graduation — after all, utilities weren’t going anywhere. During his first summer, he painted the Elmhurst gas tanks by day, and partied with his pals in New York City at night. When he retired at age 55 as the executive vice president of the company, he probably was as surprised as anyone to look back on his choice — surely not the career path he had imagined, but one that brought him great satisfaction. From his position at Brooklyn Union, he served on the boards of the Brooklyn Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and became an active mentor for children in need through the Big Brothers organization. After retiring, he rejoined the Princeton community in the development office for 10 years.
Was there hardship for Dad and his generation? You bet. But the legacy of his Princeton experience served him in ways far beyond monetary rewards, just as that legacy will serve the current generation in their own altered paths.