From Bill Rapaport

I was at Rochester as an undergrad math major at the same time as Rob, Gary Russell, Alan Arkawy, et al. I have 3 Tennenbaum anecdotes:

1. As president of the undergrad math club, I invited Tennenbaum to give a talk. He chose as his title “The Communist Conspiracy in School Mathematics”, which was an eye-opening diatribe against school textbooks (as outlined elsewhere on this website). His explanation for the title was that, in those days (ca 1965), anything bad was said to be a Communist conspiracy. (The first attempt to give his talk had to be cancelled because of the Great Northeast Blackout. I have a vague recollection that the second attempt was held in the lounge of Gilbert Hall.)

2. The semester after Tennenbaum’s intro calculus course, he taught an upper-level set theory course for math majors, but a horde of underclass people who had been inspired by his calculus course had signed up for it. He taught it using the Moore Method of getting students to come up with, and prove on their own, theorems based only on a few definitions and axioms. It was slow going, but a fascinating experiment. Unfortunately for many, he disappeared early on in the semester (ill? bad back? I don’t recall), and after several cancelled classes, the department got Arthur Stone to take over, who immediately turned it into a “serious” math class, disappointing many of those former calculus students.

3. After graduation, I taught 7th grade math in a NYC junior high school. I was having a terrible time (for political reasons not relevant here) and sought a job at another school. In 1969, I went to the Dalton School (a posh private school in Manhattan) for an interview. When the interviewer (headmaster? math dept chair?) learned that I had been a Rochester graduate, he asked if I knew of Tennenbaum, and told me the following story. Tennenbaum had shown up at Dalton with (and I quote from memory) “a very pregnant young woman who was obviously not his wife”), explained that he was a mathematician, and asked if he could teach a class. He was allowed to do so. Now, at that time, Tennenbaum bore a striking resemblance to the then-popular TV actor Martin Landau, of _Mission Impossible_, and he had contrived to spread a rumor around the school that Landau was in the building. Apparently, he then used this to create a class on probability and statistics and on the spread of rumors.


Bill…..hello hello, long time. thanks much for the contribution, good to see Stan lives on in so many who were so fortunate to have met him…… all the best, Rob.

(Rob Tully)

From Micro Mannucci

Hi Rob, thanks for sharing your sparkling memories of the inimitable Stan!

It was very interesting to me to read about Stan in his prime: I knew him in his late life, starting from 1991…the same Stan, of course, yet different, like a great wine, which gets better with time.

As a starter, I wish to share a book, which Stan picked up for me during a memorable walk in mid-town Manhattan (we had stopped at a used books stand, while basking in the sun): the Autobiography of Solomon Maimon (…. It was quite shocking to find a soul which, in more than one way, had been akin to his own (the same iconoclastic attitude, the same energy, the same encyclopedic knowledge, even the same interests in foundation, witness the reflections on the infinitesimals). I joked about this booklet at the Tennenbaum Memorial, stating that -Maimon was Stan in his previous recursive iteration-. But it was no joke, though nobody realized that…..

Best Regards

Mirco Mannucci


Mirco, hello !…..thank you for your kind sentiments, very interesting from one who knew Stan in later life…..and for passing on word of the Solomon Maimon autobiography…… all the best, Rob.

(Rob Tully)