Your Turn

Readers write, react and respond. (September/October 2017)

Food for Thought
As someone who loves eating and reading about food, I was thrilled that Jane Stern lent us her culinary wisdom [“Bon Appétit,” July/August]. My recollection of dining at Thayer Hall in the 1970s, however,  was that the food was actually very good. Many of us came from a background of marginal high school cafeteria food and, if we dined out, a choice pretty much limited to our region. (She was spot on in her assessment of the preponderance of Italian-American cuisine in my native New England.)

I loved that Thayer introduced me to the cuisines of the South and West. Some things I hadn’t eaten growing up, such as Cornish hen and vegetarian entrees, were novel experiences.

I do realize that the bar has likely been raised for dining in general since those days. And, yes, there were occasional missteps. But, by and large, I remember food of good quality and variety, served with love.

Stanley S. Sack ’79
Key West, Florida


“Bon Appétit” reminded me of Green Key Weekend the spring of 1960, when those of us who worked at Thayer dining hall as part of our financial aid packages banded together to participate in fraternity Hums on the lawn of Dartmouth Hall. Thanks to the tape recorder of then-roommate Bruce A. Phillips ’63, Tu’64, which caught the doings from the WDCR broadcast, I have an audio recording of that event. The brothers of Delta Delta Alpha (a.k.a. Dartmouth Dining Association) offered the following paean (to a familiar tune, but a title I can’t remember) to the gray-brown protein we were served several times a week:

Ah, mystery meat
Sweet mystery meat
Each day at Thayer
A piece we eat.

Not from cows or hogs
but from Thayer Hall dogs
It just makes each day complete
Sweet mystery meat.
Sweet mystery meat.

I guess things are a lot different now.

Stu Mahlin ’63


Like Jane Stern, I also attended college at a time featuring “mystery meat in brown sauce.” Now I’m a Brooklynite who dabbles in a basement brewing beer, concocting kombucha and fermenting sauerkraut or kimchi.

Since 2009 I’ve written more than 70 movie reviews for a film series focusing on food called Plow to Plate and review restaurants for an online newspaper, Bklyner. Clearly, I took an interest in Stern’s survey of Dartmouth’s current food scene.  

To me, Stern’s funny, informative and insightful article stood out in a magazine that routinely features great writing. We can certainly forgive her for attending Yale.

Adam Rabiner ’88
Brooklyn, New York


The proximity of the letters on “Troubling Numbers” in the July/August issue with the cover article on campus food mirrors Malcolm Gladwell’s controversial thesis regarding Bowdoin College. Briefly summarized, Gladwell’s argument is that Bowdoin’s spending on excellent food is unethical given the income inequality of the school’s attendees. That is, more of the money spent on providing the perfect food should be spent on ensuring lower-income students can afford to attend. I am curious if anyone else noted the parallels.

Justin Latham ’03
West Springfield, Massachusetts


War and Pizza
Perhaps you attract more readers with pizza, but in the future I hope you will consider articles such as the story by C.J. Hughes ’92, “The Idiocy of War” [July/August], as cover worthy.

History is often hard to digest and easy to avoid for some. It reminds us of how past events and people shape where we are today and where we may go in the future. Vietnam veterans, whether they are Dartmouth alums or not, are part of history. I applaud Hughes for his frank examination of the Vietnam War in relation to Dartmouth soldiers and campus and world events.

Lighter topics provide a little levity and instant gratification—but don’t forget about those of us who appreciate some deeper food for thought.

Rebecca West ’91
Cody, Wyoming


After reading “The Idiocy of War,” I write to note that there are other, private memorials on campus honoring the sons of Dartmouth killed in action in Vietnam. Many years ago the brothers of Theta Delta Chi placed a memorial plaque in the house library honoring Lt. William S. Smoyer ’67. And in November 2011 the brothers placed a new, larger bronze plaque above it honoring the fraternity’s seven WW II and two Vietnam War dead, Smoyer and Capt. J. Robert Peacock II ’68. The newer plaque was dedicated at a ceremony at the house featuring an invocation by the chaplain of Aquinas House, moving remarks by former President James Wright, songs by the Dartmouth Aires and the presence of many close friends of Theta Delt brothers Smoyer and Peacock. In the twilight at Theta Delt that evening, “You [could] almost hear the voices of the boys of long ago.”

Tom Barnico ’77
Westwood, Massachusetts


The title of the excellent article by C.J. Hughes ’92, “The Idiocy of War,” is inaccurate. Per the source quoted, it should have been “The Idiocy of the War.” World War II, in which I fought, was not idiotic.

Robert L. Gale ’42


Nuanced Numbers
As an actuary and a College supporter, I was very interested in the “Rich Student, Poor Student” statistics you published in the campus section of your May/June issue, which showed that among the Ivies Dartmouth has the highest percentage of students who come from families within the top 1 percent of the income scale and the second-lowest percentage of those from the lowest 60 percent.

Unlike alums who wrote in to express their dismay and embarrassment [“Your Turn,” July/August], I did not jump to the conclusion, based on the very limited statistics shown, that there is a problem in our admissions process. More light might be shed on the issue by looking at percentages of applicants admitted who are in the top 1 percent and the bottom 60 percent of the income scale, and seeing how those percentages compare with the other Ivies.

What appears to some to be a relatively elitist admissions practice may in fact be a consequence of the demographics of those who apply. Note that Princeton, also in a non-urban setting, had the lowest percentage of students in the bottom 60 percent, while decidedly urban Columbia and Harvard had the highest.

On the other side of the coin, it isn’t hard to imagine Dartmouth’s relative attractiveness to those in the top 1 percent (which, by the way, does not include me).

Robert Goldbloom ’81
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York


Animal Planet
With regard to your Campus section item headlined “Alpha Delta, R.I.P.?” [July/August]: Eastern philosophy says, “Nothing is permanent!” Thanks for the question mark. Not “infamous,” but AD will rise again. More than 100 years of brotherhood cannot be denied. Kai re.

Jack Crowley ’56
Bellevue, Washington


I am really appalled by the letters [July/August] written in response to your “American Dreamer” story [May/June], which question the presence on campus of its recently graduated author. These letters are not a political counterpoint to a beautiful story. They are mean letters that help create environments of fear and danger that put my clients, neighbors, friends and colleagues in harm’s way. I think Dartmouth is proud of its undocumented students and would hope my fellow alumni are, too.

As an immigration lawyer [“On the Border,” January/February 2016], I am seeing American immigrants hurt and terrorized on a daily basis by President Trump’s policies—things so ghoulish and cruel you would not believe they are happening in our country. My clients are brave and ambitious humans who deserve respect.

Allegra Love ’03
Santa Fe, New Mexico


Right Note
Your “Jazz Coda” Class Notes cover photo in your July/August issue includes Jack English ’50 [initially a 1949] seated at the piano and me on drums to the left. Jack and I stayed in touch and frequently played together until his death. Frank Gilroy ’50, Joel Leavitt ’50, several others and I went to Jack’s memorial service (which was performed by the greatest musicians who had worked with Jack through the years).

I would list Jack as one of the most unique persons and friends I have ever known. In 1949 we traveled to Europe as the Dartmouth Boptet and ended up sitting in with members of the Dizzy Gillespie band all during the summer—after playing our regular job at a local club. They had come in to hear us and invited us back to play with them at the premier Paris jazz club. That still stands out as one of the greatest moments of my life.

The band also included the late Paul Simel ’51, Jack Morgan ’53, Howie (Leventhal) Lawrence ’50 and Roger Mathes ’50. I could recount a thousand instances about that trip, but one should suffice. We took turns going out in the morning to get bread and milk for breakfast. When it was Jack’s first turn, he went out in his khaki underwear with no shoes. We all rushed to the window to watch him walking down the street and heard two elderly American women say, “Aren’t the French quaint!”

The last time we played together we were all at Leavitt’s house and, as usual, Jack performed nonstop. He was remarkable in every way—sufficient to be adopted by our class of 1950.

H. Lee Sarokin ’50

La Jolla, California


Not sure who did the research [“Lone Pine Wine,” July/August], but: Hi! I’m half of Sweetzer Cellars and we’re getting some 90-plus scores in the August issue of Wine Enthusiast. We would have been a nice dot on that map between Paso and Temecula.

Lisa Liberati ’84
Santa Barbara, California


Alumni Books
New titles from Dartmouth writers (May/June 2020)
Light Verse
Scott Mason ’74 believes haiku is poetry for everyone.
Earth Mother

Acclaimed author Louise Erdrich ’76 speaks out to save the planet.​

Lea DeFrancisci Lis ’98
A child psychiatrist on sex ed and self-esteem for kids

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