E.F. Schumacher, his life and thought by Barbara Wood

By Barbara Wood

Biography

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Fritz grew impatient. He did not like to keep his visitor waiting. As he paced up and down there was a flurry of excitement at the door: a message had been delivered. Fritz Schumacher was to come at once to the Rhodes Scholarship Selection Board; the committee was waiting. Without stopping to change out of his knickerbockers into formal dress, Fritz left his friend to Edith and hurried to the Berliner Schloss where a dozen other candidates were already assembled. The qualities for which the selection committee were looking had been laid down by Cecil Rhodes in his Will when he founded the scholarships in 1901.

He had come to New York armed with letters of intro- duction from his father to former colleagues who received Fritz warmly. The disadvantage was that his father wanted reports of all these friends and Fritz found it hard to find time to look them all up as well as meeting the demands of his own contacts in the banking world and the Rhodes Scholarship circle. Within the first few weeks of arriving in New York he managed to dine with Mrs Rockefeller, be taken by the vicepresident of the Chase National Bank, Mr Shephard Morgan, to hear Leopold Stokowski conduct Tristan and Isolde (to which Fritz commented that `Wagner would have turned in his grave') and get himself invited to the country for the weekend by President Aydelotte of the Rhodes Foundation.

Hovering over the river ... although it is the longest, most expensive, widest (etc. ) suspension bridge in the world, there is nothing of that crass, crazy desire to break records, of that childlike and naive desire of the masses for superlatives, but the greatest triumph of technical elegance, the conquering of space, the most convincing example of beauty of the appropriate. However, now they do want to bungle a lot of it: there is to be a restaurant on one of the bridge's pillars and with that the whole thing will become stupid.

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