P&S Journal: Fall 1994, Vol.14, No.3
Virginia Apgar: A Legend Becomes a Postage Stamp
Virginia Apgar, The Music Maker
An accomplished cellist and violist, Dr. Apgar built her own stringed instruments. In fact, the October meeting during which the Apgar stamp will be unveiled will feature string quartet musicians playing a cello Dr. Apgar made and two violins and a viola she helped make. Dr. Nicholas Cunningham, P&S professor of clinical pediatrics and of public health, will be playing an Apgar-made cello. Dr. Cunningham hopes to raise enough money to buy the instruments to donate to Dr. Apgar's undergraduate alma mater, Mount Holyoke College.
One Apgar legend illustrates her commitment to musical excellence. The legend was reported in a New York Times article published a year after Dr. Apgar's death. In 1957, the article reported, Dr. Apgar and another musician removed a shelf from a phone booth in the Harkness Pavilion to make the back of a viola (see Carleen Hutchins' remembrance on page 22). Because Dr. Apgar had been unsuccessful in getting the wood through proper channels, the two women devised a plot to steal it. When they found the piece of wood they brought to replace the shelf was too long, they had to use a women's lounge to shorten the replacement piece with a saw. Dr. Apgar, standing guard, told a nurse who heard the sounds coming from the lounge, "It's the only time repairmen can work in there."