Letters to the Editor

Summer 2016

Piles of kudos to everyone involved in the redesign of The Grinnell Magazine. It manages to be both more informative/engaging and less stuffy — a fine line to walk. I especially like the combined layout and graphic design of “Classnotes,” Kevin Cannon’s illustrations, the overall size and paper stock, and the Grinnellian feel of the whole thing.

I know undertakings like these aren’t easy, and it can feel like your work disappears into the void with little to no — or only negative — feedback. Consider this a ping from the darkness that your work hit its mark.

- Sarah Cook ’98

Congratulations on the latest issue of The Grinnell Magazine. It has the look, feel, and editorial judgment of a magazine that I want to read from cover to cover with good surprises on almost every page.

The double page spread is a beautiful example of eco-friendly printing. One small suggestion: Use the adjectival form of “pertaining to all things Grinnell” — which is Grinnellish. Save Grinnellian for references to “Grinnell people.” Now that is so Grinnellish.

Old English majors never die. We just parse away.

- Mark Schorr ’66

I was disappointed that The Grinnell Magazine showcased the series of prints entitled “All Hands on Deck” in its Spring 2016 publication. The hands-up mantra was shown through eyewitness accounts as well as the grand-jury testimony to be a total fabrication, to such an extent that even Obama’s sympathetic Justice Department didn’t deem it worth pursuing.

From the grand-jury testimony: “… Brown then reached into the SUV through the open driver’s window and punched and grabbed Wilson.” “Brown used his right hand to grab and attempt to control Wilson’s gun.” “… Brown’s hand was within inches of the muzzle of Wilson’s gun when it was fired.” “… Brown was moving toward Wilson when Wilson shot him.” “… [W]itnesses describe Brown then dropping his hands and ‘charging’ at Wilson.”

Tragically, a decent and honest police officer will never be able to work in his profession any longer due to this fabrication.

- Rich Bohm ’86

Of all the instructors I had at Grinnell, [Dennis] Haas was the one who had the greatest influence on me. Not only did he offer the normal course of instruction, amplified for some by his regular Sunday sermons, but he also opened his own home for additional, voluntary seminars for students interested in pursuing biblical study more seriously. I attended none of his sermons but went to every one of his seminars, inspired by him to read far beyond the requirements of his courses, inspired by him to positively enjoy close textual analysis and the discipline of biblical exegesis.

While I had approached biblical study with little more ambition than to finally read all the texts, Haas inspired me to go much further, transforming my life in the process. It was he who encouraged me to go on to his old school, the Union Theological Seminary in New York, and it was he and the seminary itself which led me to further study in philosophy afterward. Even now, never employed in any related field and never converted to any variety of Christianity, I continue along the political, intellectual, and scholarly paths he pointed out.

- Erik Graff ’74

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