Letters to the Editor

Spring 2016

I was the SGA [Student Government Association] social coordinator my senior year starting in the fall of 1976. Pat Irwin ’77
 and the late Dan Hexter ’77 were concert chairmen, and we managed a robust budget of $37,500 for the year to book bands for South Lounge parties, cultural weekends, and in Roberts Theatre. Georgia Dentel was an absolute genius at stretching that budget and getting acts at incredible prices. If Dan and Pat wanted a band, Georgia would not only book that concert for Grinnell, she would create a mini-tour for the band at two other colleges, get a reduced price for us, and of course mandate that our show would be on Saturday night. Her strategy for booking groups when they were on the cusp of stardom was legendary, and her network of former Grinnell students in the business, agents, and people she charmed provided her edge. 

But that is not even half of the story. I spent hours and hours on the phone with Georgia discussing politics, classes, music, and my family. She remembered every detail, and at graduation time I really wanted her to meet my dad. Georgia rarely met with us in person but finally agreed on her terms, sitting behind the wheel in her vintage 1964 Ford Falcon for a fast getaway.

I remember the open forum in September of 1976 well, as I spoke on her behalf representing the SGA. I said, “Georgia Dentel plays an integral role in shaping the ‘Grinnell Experience.’ Her dedication to the College and its students’ education cannot be distilled to a line item in a budget.”

- Robert Render ’77

Could someone compile a chronology of everyone Georgia Dentel brought to Grinnell and publish it in the magazine? I loved the story about her, although my faith in humanity took another hit when I learned she was almost fired once and was reduced to part-time once.

- Liz Rosen Kroin ’80

I enjoyed the Bob Greenberg ’80 memory in the “Prompted” section of your Winter 2015 Grinnell Magazine edition about The Police playing in the old Darby as the “hottest band in New Wave” at that time. Little remembered is that The Police that 
night were a mere warm-up band for another New Wave band, Ultravox, a band still in place today. Great times!

- Mark McAllister ’81

As a political junkie, I was excited to read the article in the [Winter 2015] magazine about the development of the Iowa caucuses as a force to be reckoned with and the participation by Grinnellians in them over the years. I remember being encouraged to attend the 1984 caucus by my political science professor and delighted in seeing democracy in action, as well as several of my instructors all gravitating toward the candidates I had hunches they would.

The magazine article seemed to focus preponderantly on Republican candidates and activists, which seemed a mite strange to me, as I recall the campus, even during the Reagan landslide reelection year, as being overwhelmingly Democratic. I realize that such was not always the case, and it warmed my heart to see President Jimmy Carter adorning the cover of the magazine, and to my recollection much of the recent political history of the scarlet and black has been solidly blue. Were there no alumni actively involved in Democratic politics? I shudder to think of the Grinnell Left as abandoning its verve.

 

- John Wetterholt ’86

I cannot believe your photo of a very disliked person [Jimmy Carter] on the front cover. How disgusting!

- Diana Bentley Brown ’58

Fall 2015

I personally have been very much impacted by the criminal justice system in the United States. So I was very pleased to read the “Liberal Arts in Prison” article in the Summer 2015 Grinnell Magazine. I’m impressed to find out that Grinnell staff and students have been interested in being involved with inmates in Iowa prisons and have helped those inmates find something to work toward and some hope for themselves. I’m also pleased to hear that the volunteers who helped with the program allowed their experiences to tutor them and inform their own life choices. It is my belief that most Americans would prefer to think as little as possible about people who are locked up. This article definitely makes me think well of Grinnell.  

 

- Jeanne Cook Diller ’67

I read with great interest the article by Dana Boone, “Liberal Arts in Prison.” I completely support and applaud the involvement of Grinnell students in making a difference in the lives of incarcerated people. What a wonderful way to empower not only the prisoners involved, but our society as a whole.

For the past 10 years, I have been a facilitator and a part of a group called Developing a Positive Attitude at San Quentin State Prison here in northern California. The group is modeled on Jerry Jampolsky’s teachings of attitudinal healing. The men who put in the work realize that they have a choice about how they think, act, and respond; their peace of mind and way of being is greatly impacted by this program, and the group members who have been paroled from San Quentin are, to a man, living productive, happy, and healthy lives.

There are also many college programs offered in San Quentin that pave the way for these men to return to society as people who contribute and make a difference. Many of the men in my group have been incarcerated for decades. One such man is a biker, heavily tattooed, and is only recently expressing emotions other than hate. He often stops me after group to discuss his newest passion, physics, and his fascination with string theory. Thanks to my Grinnell education, I at least have some idea of what he is talking about and how exhilarating it is to have the opportunity to learn.

Keep it up!

 

- Holly Hoebel Bacuzzi ’66

I really enjoyed the article on liberal arts in prison (Summer 2015). Could you, though, publish an article in your next edition on how Grinnell’s students and faculty show their social activism by offering courses to the victims of those incarcerated at the Newton Correctional Facility?

- Rich Bohm ’86

Your story about the Read residents who kept their friendship alive via a round-robin letter (Spring 2015) inspired me to recall another gang of devoted Grinnell buddies who lived in Haines Hall when it was still exclusively a women’s residence. They called themselves the Haines Hall Hellers, and though they were graduated in 1949, they still manage to keep in touch, albeit by less formal means. The modern-day Hellers exchange Christmas cards and meet occasionally when the opportunity permits, and I think most will recall the tune they used to sing, with or without provocation, on weekend evenings in the Haines Hall lounge.

Sung to the tune of “Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet,” the lyrics went as follows:

Oh, we’re the Haines Hall Hellers,

The pride of all the fellers,

We’re a hunk of heaven in your arms.

Oh, you can’t deny it, boys,

You’ve got to try it,

Try a Haines Hall Heller’s charms!

The most recent get-together of a majority of this charming group — I married one of them — was at Jeannette Mallison James ’49’s condo on Sanibel Island, Fla., a few years ago.

- Dave Leonard ’49

Although the cover for the summer Grinnell Magazine is spectacular, the photo which truly caught and held my attention was the alligator and Julie Appel Glavin ’74 on Page 37. That is now my all-time favorite photo. Brave or death-defying?  

- Carol Jensen Phelps ’57