Your Turn

Readers write, react, and respond. (November/December 2021)

Home Run
Bianca Smith ’12 [“She’s Got Game,” September/October] has used her hard work, perseverance, and wisdom (read her reply to Joey Votto) to reach at a young age what may very well be her ideal career position. And yet I hope during the coming decades we’ll hear and read more of her. Anyone associated with Dartmouth can take great pride in her accomplishments, regardless of their level of interest in baseball. Kudos to author Jim Collins ’84—he’s written the best DAM article of the past 48 years or so.

TOM DEWLAND ’73
Vero Beach, Florida

While not a big fan of baseball, I was captivated by Collins’ portrait of Smith—her enthusiasm, positivity, and energy—so uplifting in these troubled times. Thanks so much.

Nicholas ROWE ’64
Peterborough, New Hampshire 

Congratulations on the wonderful picture of Smith on the cover of the September/October issue. The article artfully describes her Dartmouth and professional baseball careers. Both reaffirm my long-held belief that Dartmouth knows how to spot and attract super-talented people, as do the Red Sox.

JIM HARRIS ’64
Nashville, Tennessee

“She’s Got Game” by Collins was outstanding. And Smith? What an awesome lady! Thanks for a great story about an admirable subject.

FRANK STECH ’68
Glenn Dale, Maryland 

Reading the story about Smith, I remember how shocked I was freshman year to hear a ’76 on the team tell our dorm unequivocally, “Baseball is a white man’s game.” I look forward to DAM’s story about her future career successes as coach, then manager of the New York Yankees, then retirement after service as commissioner of Major League Baseball.

MIKE MOSHER ’77
Bay City, Michigan

River of No Return
The piece by C.J. Hughes ’92 on the Moffatt expedition [“Overboard,” September/October] is the most gripping story I’ve read in DAM in some time. It has prompted me to plan to check out Moffatt’s journal in Rauner Library the next time I’m in Hanover. I hope Hughes is working on a book on the subject. Keep up the interesting work!

GRANT REEHER ’82
Manlius, New York

Insights into the unusual adult lives of the surviving members of the 1955 Moffatt party members are interesting and much appreciated, but as a member of that group I take exception to two aspects of the article.

“To save time they stopped scouting rapids from shore before plunging in” suggests that we uniformly changed our river running strategy, blindly charging ahead, no matter the risk. That simply was not the case. We certainly became more aggressive in the later stages of the journey when confronting fast water, but we were still carefully following Canadian geologist J.B. Tyrrell’s descriptions of river conditions, stopping to scout heavy rapids from the shore. During two weeks prior to the fatal dump, we scouted 10 rapids from land, subsequently shooting seven, portaging three.

The unsubstantiated innuendo regarding circumstances of Moffatt’s death seems to be trying to inject some vague dark mystery into that tragic event. The statement, “Some speculate that something darker was afoot than just an accidental drowning,” is irresponsible without more specifics. Who are the “some” and what is the “something darker”?

Similarly, regarding Creigh Moffatt’s alleged uncertainty about her father’s death, “Her question echoes claims made by others.” What claims? By whom?

This sort of journalism is the stuff of supermarket tabloids and should have no place in DAM.

FRED “SKIP” PESSL ’55
Bellevue, Washington

I dove into “Overboard” with great enthusiasm but finished the tale unfulfilled and unsatisfied. The article begins by foreshadowing conflict and intrigue, then hints at a possible crime, but develops none of those angles to a satisfactory conclusion. Two of the living participants, Pessl and Grinnell, have refused to speak, much less reconcile, for nearly 70 years, but the reader is at an utter loss to understand why. There is no explanation of the questions upon which “the survivors have never agreed.”

After reading, I can discern nothing more than a tragic accident. There is certainly no clarity surrounding “recklessness or bad luck” as the title page suggests one will discover. I would love to hear the rest of the story.

RICHARD WAHLSTROM ’72
Rapid City, South Dakota

I read “Overboard” with more than common interest. The July 1988 issue of Canoe magazine carries the article written by George Grinnell (and edited by me) titled “Art Moffatt’s Wilderness Way to Enlightenment.” It was something of a scoop, since it was the first telling (not counting Sports Illustrated’s 1958 account) by an actual member of the crew. Grinnell had earlier attempted to tell the story at an annual gathering of canoe-expedition aficionados in Toronto, Canada, but broke down in tears, unable.

In an amazing coincidence, another crew member, Skip Pessl, turned out to be a near neighbor of mine in Bellevue, Washington, who delivered to me two reels of 16-mm movie film taken by Moffatt on the fatal trip. Like Grinnell, Pessl, with 30 years in the rearview mirror, was also unable to share any reminiscences of the trip, nor did he want those film reels.

Not long after we published Grinnell’s article, I was in Hanover to take part (as competitor and journalist) in the U.S. Marathon Canoe National Championships and made the acquaintance of Art Moffatt’s daughter, Creigh (or, as I knew her, “Cree”). On the banks of the Connecticut River, she mainly wished to take me, as the editor, to task for Grinnell’s faulty characterization of the fated trip. Having no other source, and facing Pessl’s stonewall, George Grinnell was our “expert” witness, so to speak.

Somewhere in our conversation, Cree told me she had a steamer trunk filled with slides and photos. My rejoinder to her criticism was to invite her to submit her own story and a selection from that photographic trove. She, too, was unable to face the task. So, my congratulations to DAM, 63 years after death in the barrens, for getting the real scoop!

DAVID F. HARRISON ’60
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Radio Silence?
Your recent two-sentence squib in Campus Confidential [“Over and Out,” September/October] about the sale of WFRD-FM deserved more space. WFRD-FM is just one branch of the student activity known as Dartmouth Broadcasting. But Dartmouth Broadcasting is not dead. Recognizing the global trend toward streaming and digital media in general, the flagship outlet of Dartmouth Broadcasting is now webDCR. Dartmouth Broadcasting gave many of us the opportunity to learn skills—all in a real-world environment where there were no excuses. I call on the College to transfer the resources it devoted to previous Dartmouth Broadcasting outlets toward webDCR, giving undergraduates the highly educational and richly rewarding experience that we alumni had.

CARL STRATHMEYER ’70
Lunenburg, Massachusetts

Regarding the item “Over and Out,” let’s start with how insensitive the headline is to the many alumni who have gone on to careers in the media industry because of the opportunities they enjoyed at WDCR and WFRD, both FCC-licensed commercial stations that served the Upper Valley as well as the College

Then, your writer can’t even get the facts straight about what remains. WDCR, the AM station whose FCC license the trustees gave back, has been silent for some time now. The only scrap of Dartmouth Broadcasting left is “webDCR,” which is digital only.

STUART ZUCKERMAN ’70
Bridgehampton, New York

Difference Maker
I freely admit my bias regarding Rob Portman ’78 [“Homeward Bound,” July/August]—he is my classmate and long-standing friend. I further freely admit there are times when we agree—his support for the integrity of the 2020 presidential election, his position on marriage equality, his groundbreaking work on the opioid crisis and on human trafficking—and there are times (like the Trump impeachment) when we strongly disagree. I have always believed that, unlike Trump, Rob approaches his public service with thoughtfulness and with a commitment, as he says, to making a difference in people’s lives.

JEFF KROLIK ’78
Hillsborough, California

The interview with Sen. Rob Portman was excellent. I knew Rob from Ledyard Canoe Club trips and events and some coursework. I am thrilled that he is serving in politics, a necessarily messy business. He was always a kind, decent, and fun-loving classmate and paddler.

What disturbed me in the next issue [“Your Turn,” September/October] was the two New York letter writers who do not know the man and tarnish his independence while he serves a critical role in our two-party system. 

GREGORY K. JOHNSON ’79
North Andover, Massachusetts

I must respond to the cover story on Rob Portman. I recall years ago when you did an article on Dartmouth alums who had won elected office. I thought at the time—and continued to think—that Rob was a decent guy and someone who would work for the good of the country. With ascendency of that foul charlatan, I had hoped that Rob would be a Republican who would say, “No, we can’t have this. This is wrong.” I waited for four increasingly dangerous years. I’m still waiting. Rob is not going to run for reelection, but he still has not stepped away from the mass of obstructionists who represent his party. Those who don’t speak up against evil deeds are complicit through their silence. How hard is it to do the right thing? Too hard for Rob, I guess. That’s a shame.

KEVIN KENNEDY ’70
Winchester, Virginia

Puppy Love
I enjoyed the article by Kathy Gord Callahan ’86 [“Dog House,” July/August] and really loved Ping Zhu’s illustrations. Great art. Use her more often.

ART LaFRANCE ’60
Portland, Oregon

Wind Chill
Regarding “Expect Controversy” [“News Briefs,” July/August], the assembled team is most likely to go along with President Phil Hanlon’s removal of the Baker Library weathervane. Too bad this subject was not brought up before the removal. Some of us do not like the rewriting of history. Did not the College start as an Indian mission school? If so, the weathervane should be replaced atop Baker Library. As the song says, “lest the old traditions fail.”

GIB WARREN ’53
Fort Myers, Florida

JACK TUKEY ’53
Fort Myers, Florida

Parlez-Vous Francais?
With regard to learning languages at Dartmouth [“Stall Tactics,” September/October], “Auprès de ma blonde, qu’il fait bon dormir” was my early French lesson from François Denoeu, Dartmouth’s enthusiastic French prof. Sung from atop his desk to aspiring newbies, it has clung all these years to my few neurons, well pre-Rassias! Vive François!

RODGER EWY ’53
Boulder, Colorado

Portfolio

Alumni Books
New titles from Dartmouth writers (May/June 2022)
Inspiration Unearthed
Artist Karyn Olivier ’89 digs into history.
Vox Clamantis in Deserto

A special issue in celebration of Dartmouth’s 250th anniversary

“Sandy” Alderson ’69
The New York Mets president on America’s game

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