Letters to the Editor

Fall 2017

I read with fondness, interest, and appreciation “Portrait of a Teacher: George Drake ’56.” In your listing of his roles at Grinnell, you omitted, in my opinion, perhaps his best role: exemplary mentor. Though that role is likely implicit in many, or perhaps all, of the listed roles, it was the one that had lasting effect upon me.

My senior year was my only year of overlap with President Drake, and it got off to a bad start. Shortly before the start of fall semester, he decided to change the long-planned date of Parents’ Weekend so that it would fall on a weekend with more sports activities, if I recall. When I received that announcement I was crushed — my parents had planned on coming to their first (and only) of my years at Grinnell. 

As soon as I got to Grinnell I went to meet President Drake and explain my displeasure: how he screwed up our long-anticipated plans, how my parents have very busy schedules and now can’t come, and further, scheduling it on the weekend of Rosh Hashanah was thoughtless, at best.

By his response and thus his modeling, President Drake taught me that leaders make mistakes [he didn’t change the weekend], and the best ones admit it, apologize, and do their best to rectify the situation. He did so with class, sincerity, and respect toward me, and my parents.

Throughout my career, when I found myself needing to recover from my own blunders, I have often replayed President Drake’s example in my head. I did so with the hope that I was a good-enough student of my one “class” with President Drake.

- Bruce A. Crane ’80

Having just returned from a visit with colleagues at Nanjing Normal University (the big new campus) with side trips to Hangzhou and Suzhou, I very much enjoyed reading this feature [“Around the World, Around the Table,” Page 28, Summer 2017]. My husband and I tasted many of the same dishes described in the story and had similar reactions to some of the more unusual foods. I think I missed the pig brains, but pig lungs, duck tongue, and intestines were definitely on the tables. The Global Learning Program sounds like a brilliant way to learn about history, culture, and cuisine of other countries. Congratulations, Grinnell, on this innovative learning experience!

- Lynne McAnelly ’75

Thank you for a very enjoyable issue of The Grinnell Magazine. For perhaps the first time I read it cover to cover. Each article told me what was going on at Grinnell and was fun to read. I enjoyed reading about George Drake. (What a guy!) About Commencement 2017. What recent grads are doing. Things an alumni magazine should do. 
 

- Nancy Coe Fuller ’57

Summer 2017

Along with various things I would do differently were I to return to my days at Grinnell (1965–69), I can now add participation in women’s sports. I never thought of myself as an athlete and had no awareness of the opportunities available to women at that time. It was a major achievement for me to flounder across the pool for the swim test!

In my sixties, I began to dance and play tennis and have belatedly realized that I CAN be an athlete. I try not to dwell on how much better I would be now if I had begun earlier in my life. I just enjoy the experience now.

- Janet Hamilton Triplett ’69

I was delighted to read the article “Fit for Life” [Page 18, Spring 2017] about women’s sports at Grinnell before Title IX. I remember women coming in from field hockey with dirt on their uniforms and smiles on their faces. I remember women proudly wearing their Honor G sweaters. And I remember one particular moment not mentioned.

In early 1963, Grinnell’s women’s club basketball team played in the then-usual six-woman format, three forwards and three guards. Two veterans of Iowa girls’ basketball lit up the court for Grinnell. In one half, Janet Lind [Hewitt] ’63 from Argyle scored 19 points primarily turning around from free throw range. In the other half, Barb Benda [Jenkins] ’64 of Hartwick scored 19 points, mostly from what is now 3-point range.  

All of us in the crowd wished we could shoot like that! They would have fit just fine in Coach [David] Arseneault’s System if the rules had permitted them to play the whole court. 

- Steve Aldrich ’63

Received another copy of The Grinnell Magazine. I was struck by one title that I thought might actually be informative, but it proved to be just a compendium of pretty pictures.
“A Year at the Conard Environmental Research Area” [Page 22, Spring 2017] failed, miserably, in showing anything but wildflowers, skyscapes, a windmill, some geese, and … no substance as to what CERA actually IS.
How about a series of in-depth articles about one or more of the wild species of vertebrates and non-plant life that dwell therein? 
Are no Grinnell students capable of “in the real world of nature” research before the sun comes up? Is Grinnell Magazine just another “rag” for elitist socialists who can afford Grinnell’s overpriced schooling?

- Jim Greaves ’71

Students who work in the dining hall are now paid $9.25 per hour [Page 4, Winter 2016]. Sixty-six years ago when I entered Grinnell as a Younker scholar in 1951, I was required to work in the Student Union 8–10 hours weekly. The hourly wage: 40 cents. In my sophomore year I became the only statistician for the athletic teams with a 25 percent raise to 50 cents and became a lifelong friend of newly arrived Coach John Pfitsch. When I was a junior, Professor George Apostle hired fellow student Charlie Cook [’56, deceased] and me, at 60 cents, to independently solve all the problems in his new college algebra text as a check of his solutions — we found a few errors! In my senior year Professor Grant Gale hired me to grade first-year physics tests and lab reports at the phenomenal salary of 65 cents per hour. That was a 62.5 percent wage increase in three years. Not bad! 

- George Simon ’55

Students who work in the dining hall are now paid $9.25 per hour [Page 4, Winter 2016]. Sixty-six years ago when I entered Grinnell as a Younker scholar in 1951, I was required to work in the Student Union 8–10 hours weekly. The hourly wage: 40 cents. In my sophomore year I became the only statistician for the athletic teams with a 25 percent raise to 50 cents and became a lifelong friend of newly arrived Coach John Pfitsch. When I was a junior, Professor George Apostle hired fellow student Charlie Cook [’56, deceased] and me, at 60 cents, to independently solve all the problems in his new college algebra text as a check of his solutions — we found a few errors! In my senior year Professor Grant Gale hired me to grade first-year physics tests and lab reports at the phenomenal salary of 65 cents per hour. That was a 62.5 percent wage increase in three years. Not bad! 

- George Simon ’55

Spring 2017

That was a fun article about the Writing Lab in the Fall 2016 issue of The Grinnell Magazine. I remember going to the Writing Lab as a regular part of my paper-writing process at Grinnell. Mathilda Liberman was the person I most regularly inflicted myself upon, but I also had sessions with Kevin Crim and, I think, Judy Hunter. Their guidance helped me, I hope, to become a structurally-better writer, even if it took many sessions for some of their advice and comments to sink in.

- Richard Catrambone ’82

Congratulations to Katie Krainc! [Building a Baroque Violin, Page 16, Winter 2016] I have made a few fiddles and found that NO tool is the right one! It took me six hours of uninterrupted work to get one in the wrong place, after buying three or four tools advertised as being the right one.

- Eric Rinehart, father of Adam Rinehart ’98