Grinnell Connection

You Can’t Escape

I turned 40. It was escape time. I took my daughter, then 12 (what was I thinking?!), to Montserrat, a 35-square-mile island in the Caribbean (since obliterated by the volcanic eruption of the Soufriere). In 1982, all was perfect. 

One day, early in our stay, I was trudging up the hill from downtown, and a battered truck lurched to a stop. The driver asked if I wanted a ride. Yes! 

It turned out, after some conversation, that the driver, Gayle Baumgardner, who was also the sewing machine repair/ice/egg lady, had graduated from Grinnell in 1958. Not only that, she said there was a gentleman in the class of ’58 who sold furniture in downtown Plymouth. [The late] Wyndam Hunt, his partner, and I became fast friends for the year that I was there and they helped me develop a marketing strategy for downtown Plymouth.  

We called ourselves the smallest Grinnell Alum Association in the world.

Apples to apples

In the fall of 2018, Toby Cain ’12 mailed packages of rare apples to alumni across the United States for only the cost of shipping. She sent 21 different varieties, and everyone received 10 apples. The apples came from the organic orchard at Seed Savers Exchange near Decorah, Iowa, which has a collection of more than 1,100 different apples. Freeda Brook ‘07 helped Cain pick the 500-plus apples.

Cain connected with her fellow apple geeks on Plans, a sort of minimalist message board that predates Facebook. “I didn’t expect 50 people to geek out about the same things I geek out about!” she says. 

Mairead Ernst Saleh ’06 alerted The Grinnell Magazine to this mini story because, she writes, “I think this is such a great whimsical example of alumni connection post-Grinnell and also such an inspiring example of other ways we can support and give, teaching each other about our work and interests at the same time.”

In the Wild

Ali Wade Benjamin ’92 writes, “Wore my Grinnell T-shirt for a hike up Koko Head on Oahu, Hawaii, on Nov. 16. As I put it on, I wondered if I’d meet any Grinnellians. Sure enough, when I got to the top, Brian Ross ’82 recognized the shirt. He was hiking with his son, Samuel Ross ’16. The world always seems smaller and friendlier when I’ve got my Grinnell T-shirt on.”