January 12, 2005
“Cabbages and Sprouts, Sprouts and Cabbage”
by Jim Foxlow ’48
The respect the Wabash men of the post-World War II years bore George
Kendall, Insley Osborne, and Byron Trippet bordered on adulation.
With me, at least, that respect persisted well into the years after I’d
left Crawfordsville. When my wife, Gloria, told me in the 1960s that
she’d seen Trippet thumbing through a movie tabloid in an Indianapolis
supermarket, I had great difficulty believing her!
Sixteen months in the Navy V-12 unit at Dartmouth College, along with
one-quarter at Kenyon, had enabled me to enter Wabash as a junior in
1946. I was doubly fortunate in having Byron Trippet as my advisor.
After I had worked my way through his suggested readings in the summer
of 1947, I returned to campus with the notion that I might be more
interested in literature than in history. I told Trippet so, and he sent
me to talk with Dean Kendall, who was amenable to my transferring from
history to English. When I asked him whether he thought acceptance into
a graduate school in English might be a problem, he said he thought that
graduate schools would welcome an applicant who knew something of
“Of course,” he added, “you always run into some damn fools who think no
poetry was written before the time of William Butler Yeats. I once heard
Yeats give a reading when he was going about the country with Lady
Gregory and, well, he looked more like a poet than any poet has a right
I carry an abiding regret for missing Dean Kendall’s Shakespeare course.
Professor Osborne (even in my 80th year I find it hard to refer to him
as Osborne) valiantly tried to fill the gap by giving up his Saturday
mornings to leading me through the plays. His patience with me was
extraordinary; when I dumbly received his questions on passages I’d
obviously failed to read, he’d mildly comment, “Well, I think you’ve
been reading this too fast.”
Insley Osborne’s course in 18th-century English literature was one of
the high points of my Wabash years (the textbook we used, its spine
tattered, still stands on my shelves). That course dictated my
graduate-school concentration. And I remember his searching questions
and trenchant comments in the Colloquium on Great Books. There was also
his patent delight—probably anathema to the Great Books Foundation—when
somebody got it right: “Isn’t that just it!”
A chapel announcement in the spring of 1948 that Dean Kendall was
receiving applications for Rhodes Scholarships interested me; but
believing I wouldn’t stand a chance of being selected, I took no action
until a late-night telephone call from the ever-hopeful John Forbes of
the History department prompted me to turn up on Kendall’s doorstep on
deadline day. The Dean suggested that I should at once see Insley
Osborne, himself a Rhodes Scholar. The English Office being crowded,
Professor Osborne led me down to the Old Chapel, where he began to talk
about his experiences at Oxford.
“You might enjoy it there,” he said, “provided you could put up with the
fare—cabbage and sprouts, sprouts and cabbage.”
Then, with some evident embarrassment, he turned to a discussion of
”They may not be all that important; but Cecil Rhodes mentions them in
his will, and so the trustees have to pay attention to them. And
frankly, Foxlow,” he said, scratching his eyebrow, “you’ve never struck
me as either a General Patton or a Henry Wallace.”
He was right, of course.
Jim Foxlow earned his masters at Columbia University and he was
awarded an honorary doctorate by Butler University after more than 30
years distinguished teaching at Park Tudor School in Indianapolis.