Schuyler was born 65 years ago in January of 1947. He lived only six years, passing away in March of 1953, and leaving a brief record of his writings in Beacon Lights. Now the staff has decided to resurrect him, albeit in slightly altered form.
In recent months you may have noticed some “teasers’ scattered throughout the magazine, designed to pique your interest. So who or what is Schuyler, and what is this all about?
The word is of Danish origin and means “scholar.” The Dutch brought the term to America in the seventeenth century. Since then, with various spellings it has been used as a given name for both males and females. It is pronounced as Skyler.
In the context of Beacon Lights, Schuyler was the author of a rubric that appeared infrequently between 1947 and 1953. At that time the name was spelled Schuiler, although Schuyler is preferable. This rubric took the form of a question and answer column. Readers could write in with questions, and Schuiler answered them.
What made this rubric unusual was its anonymity. The identity of both questioners and Schuiler remained unknown. The reason for this was given in a very brief introduction appended to the first column. The background is lost to history, but the rationale was this:
You ask me who I really am. I’d gladly tell you as far as I am concerned, however, the Staff of Beacon Lights thought it would be better if I’d use an anonymous name. I suppose they think this is better for me in case I’d say too much, and it is better for our potential questioners because they may feel a little more free to ask questions. Naturally I will keep your name confidential if you so desire and I will also treat your
correspondence confidentially in as far as this is necessary (Beacon Lights, Vol. VII, Number 4, January 1947, p. 25).
We thought this reasoning had some merit, and we have decided to go in this direction. The procedure is simple. All submissions must include the identity and contact information of the questioner. Only the editor (firstname.lastname@example.org) will know this information. If the question is deemed to have good merit (and we certainly hope this is true), it will be submitted to Schuyler for an answer. At this time there are no restrictions (other than common sense) on the type of questions that may be submitted, and we hope that no further rules will be necessary.
Curiously enough, a total of only eight columns were written by Schuiler between 1947 and 1953, six of them in 1947 and one each in 1952 and 1953. One column that will likely grab everyone’s attention appears in the November 1947 issue and is entitled Sex Information. The reason for the infrequent appearance of the rubric is unknown, but I certainly hope we can do better.
Despite extensive sleuthing, the identity of the original Schuiler remains unkown. Based on the content and quality of the writing, my guess is that the author was a minister. Based on the fact that the column abruptly ended in March of 1953 (the exact time of the great schism in the PRC) it is likely that this minister went with the wrong side and never again wrote for Beacon Lights. But all of this is speculation.
One thing that is not speculative, however, is that the identity of our Schuyler, like that of Schuiler, is confidential. We think we have a very good Schuyler, but the success of this concept is predicated in large measure on his anonymity, which we intend to preserve. Many of you will be curious as to his identity (and that’s half the fun). You may even pester the staff for clues. But we’re not talking. We have locked our lips and thrown away the key.
So let the questions begin.