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Teller Ave.--Idea That Bombed

The City Council of Davis, Calif., which has declared itself a “nuclear-free zone,” has decided it made a mistake in naming a street after Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb. “This may not be a person we wish to have a street named after,” said Councilwoman Ann Evans, the swing vote in the 3-2 decision to rename Teller Avenue. The city also has an unwritten policy that streets not be named after living people. Public Works Director David Pelz said the staff member who approved the street names for University Research Park, where Teller Avenue is situated, did not realize that Teller, known for his work on the hydrogen bomb in the 1950s, was still alive. But Councilman Jerry Adler, who opposed the name change, said: “Teller Avenue would have become an issue even if Teller were dead.”

The 13 love letters of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin detailed a passionate affair that eventually ended in tragedy. They were owned for years by Russian-born choreographer Serge Lifar, whose lifelong dream was to see them returned to the Soviet Union. Lifar died in 1986, but this week the Soviet Ministry of Culture paid an undisclosed sum for the letters in a private deal negotiated through Sotheby’s, the auction house. All but two of the letters are in French and addressed to Natalya Goncharova before Pushkin married her in 1831 after a turbulent courtship and over the objections of her mother. In flowery prose, the letters tell of Pushkin’s love for Natalya, who was separated from him for months because of a quarantine imposed on Moscow residents during a cholera outbreak in 1830. Many are pierced with a pin, apparently in the belief that this would kill the dreaded disease. “I give you my word of honor that I will either belong to you or never marry,” Pushkin wrote. He died in 1837, at age 38, of injuries suffered defending his wife’s honor in a duel with his brother-in-law. Lifar had refused many offers for the letters from other countries, including the United States, despite being in dire financial straits. They will become part of the Pushkin Museum in Leningrad, the former St. Petersburg, where the author of “Boris Godunov” settled after his marriage.

Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederick is coming to California to learn the kingly art of wine-making. A palace official in Copenhagen said Frederik, 20, who recently completed his military service, will spend five months in Oakville, at the Napa Valley vineyards owned by the Mondavi family. He is due to return in the fall to study law and political science at Aarhus University.

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