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John Watkins <[log in to unmask]>
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Thu, 29 May 2003 14:45:24 -0600
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I had the pleasure of having Allen for three quarters of the history of
economic thought back in 1979-80. As I recall, we had a fairly large
class, which included Dan Underwood. By the second quarter we too were
at Allen's home. In those days breaks included beer. Some of the
students sought to see how many beers they could down. I confess to
doing so on occasion, but never to excess--after all, we only had 10

The reading for the year was phenomenal. The first quarter included
Polanyi, Aristotle, Plato, Tawney, Roegen, Childe, Stark, and much more.
We read a classic a week, a pace that was to continue for the entire
year. Allen's only regret and mine too was reading a reader on
Post-Keynesian economics instead of Schumpeter's Capitalism, Socialism,
and Democracy.

Allen was not the most exciting teacher. He would sit there hunched over
his notes, yellowed with age, looking up occasionally to ask a question.
Sometimes the discussions would soar. Unfortunately, many students had
difficulty keeping up with the reading. Myself and Dan, however, made a
concerted effort to keep up, and genuinely relished Allen's classes.

What Allen sometimes lacked in his delivery he more than made up for in
his comments. As I look back on my notes from those years I find a
wealth of insights and erudition.

When you asked a difficult question, he usually refrained from
responding directly. Instead he responded with another question, and a
wry smile betraying that he knew more than he revealed. He would make
suggestions, but it was up to you to find your own way.

I regret that Allen did not serve on my dissertation committee. Lawrence
Nabers, chair of my committee, did not want Allen because he thought he
would be difficult. Sometimes committee chairs wield too much power.

Professors influence their students perhaps more than they realize. And
as my own education continues, I appreciate more and more Allen's
erudition, his Talmudic approach to scholarly activities, his kindness,
and his intellectual curiosity.

Allen will be sorely missed.

Best wishes to you all,

John Watkins