Covering the News From a Zany Angle of Her Own

At this week's reunions, many alumni will be talking about their careers. Alice Nelson Furlaud '51 will be demonstrating hers, by carrying around a microphone and tape recorder and reporting on the reunion for National Public Radio (NPR).

The radio reporter, who offers self-described "ranting and raving" to her audience on a New York radio show titled "Don't Get Me Started," began her journalism career at age 51. Since then, she has reported on such varied subjects as birth control techniques to reduce Paris pigeons and to the retirement of guard dogs from the Berlin Wall. She has served as a free-lance correspondent for both NPR and the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) in Paris, and now from her Cape Cod home after returning to the United States.

But preparing to interview others about their post-Harvard experiences, Furlaud says she remains far more interested by her classmates' experiences than her own.

"A lot of these people [in the Radcliffe Class of 1951 reunion book] are fabulous people," Furlaud says. "I feel as if I have done nothing."

Radcliffe Days

On January 8, 1951 the Crimson published a picture titled "First Snow Stirs Snowballing," showing Alice Nelson `51 hurling a snowball with an expression of rage on her face.

Furlaud calls this picture her one brush with the media while at Radcliffe.

Instead of reporting, Furlaud turned to the stage at the College, where she achieved what the frequently-heard journalist says is her "one claim to fame" in life.

She played the lead role in "Skin of Our Teeth," written by then-Harvard professor Thornton Wilder, who would later go on to write such famous plays as "Our Town."

But Furlaud came to Radcliffe from a background that foretold much of her eventual career path.

She was born in Baltimore, Md. to Frederic Nelson '16, who worked for the Baltimore Sun and then moved to Philadelphia when he became editorial page editor of the Saturday Evening Post.

And on her mother's side, Furlaud says she came from a long line of "francophiles"--an inheritance that led her first to a year abroad in France and eventually to a career shaped around her time in France.

At Radcliffe, Furlaud spent her junior year in Paris on a self-created study abroad program. She shunned the traditional classes taken by American students studying in Paris and tried to avoid associating with Americans.

Instead she enrolled in a French acting school, where all the other students were native Parisians. The school provided a total immersion into both French language and culture.

Furlaud also gained a first-hand knowledge of radical French politics while in Paris. She was assaulted by a pair of anti-American French communists, and saved from violence only by the unexpected arrival of one of the criminals' girlfriends.