Letters to the Editor

Fall 2015

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

As a 1956 grad whose first career was in the U.S. Air Force, I was pleased to read Lt. Col. Gail Fisher ’84’s explanation of why she joined the Army. It was certainly a very different set of circumstances from those I experienced yet the outcomes seem to me to be very similar.  

Like Gail, my Grinnell education firmly convinced me that peace was a major human goal. However, this was only a few short years after World War II and Korea and our view of keeping the peace in the midst of a Cold War was very different.

In fact, we males still had a “military obligation,” and many of my classmates were drafted to fulfill that obligation. I and several others received our commissions as second lieutenants in the Air Force as a result of our time in AFROTC at Grinnell.  

Like Lt. Col. Fisher, I have found that all who wore the uniform hate war and were in the profession to keep it from happening. And, this was never more the case than when we sat across the table from a Congressional committee that didn’t have the same ideas we had about how to get the job done.  

I join Lt. Col. Fisher in her pride at being an American warrior and, with many others, thank her for her service.

- Don Cassiday ’56