Congratulations to our caption contest winner, Polly Olson Porter (80MSW) of Iowa City, who won a prize pack from the Pentacrest Museums.
I spent around two hours reading the fall 2019 issue of Iowa Magazine. My respect for the University of Iowa just grows and grows! From America Needs Farmers ["Home Field Advantage"] to Nancy Drew ["The Real Nancy Drew"] to Game of Thrones ["King of the Screen"] to Duke Slater ["Duke Slater: A Hawkeye for the Ages"], not to mention the medical services for our LGBT community ["Care Across the Spectrum"], I am simply amazed.
Lee Riter (71MA, 84PhD)
Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin
As I read the UI Homecoming guide in the fall 2019 magazine, I saw on p. 9 where alumnus Roy M. Pitkin (56MA, 59MD, 63R) said that "some things stay the same" when you visit Iowa City. One was Joe's Place, established in 1934.
My grandfather, Joseph Vitosh, opened Joe's Place (named after him) in the heart of the business district at 130 S. Dubuque St., only a few days after 3.2% beer was legalized. He was called the jovial, smiling proprietor of Joe's Place by the Iowa City Democrat paper.
He had a beautiful bar, and he was the only one who served drinks. His two daughters (my aunts) served soup and sandwiches in the business. I was only about 5 years old at that time. In those days, people did not go out for dinner like they do today.
When he sold the business, the new owner kept the name Joe's Place. It has been sold a few times over the years and moved. I know Joe's Place is a lot different now than when my grandfather owned it, but the name stayed the same.
Dolores Neuzil Denner (53BCS)
West Des Moines
I had the honor of being recruited to the UI in 1952 by Duke Slater (28LLB), who was profiled in your fall 2019 magazine. I was a graduating student-athlete from Gary Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana, who set the state's broad-jump record, opening me up to many college possibilities.
I had originally intended to go to the University of Michigan, but one day found Slater in my living room talking to my parents. He suggested that I visit the UI. On that visit, I met the track coach, Francis X. Cretzmeyer (36BA, 38MA), who had me stay with his family instead of at a hotel. We immediately bonded, and the UI became my new home. I went on to win the 1954 Big Ten indoor and outdoor broad-jump championships, placing fourth in nationals.
The article mentioned that, in 1955, the Iowa football team had five black players in the starting lineup—something unheard of during those turbulent times. I was fortunate to be one of those players, along with All-American offensive guard Calvin Jones; Eddie Vincent, who earned Big Ten honors and won the Big Ten rushing title; All-American right end Frank Gilliam (57BA); and lineman John Hall (56BA).
As a running back at Iowa, I became the leading scorer in the Big Ten and set what was then the all-time school scoring record. Even now at age 85, I consider my time with teammates among my most treasured memories.
Earl H. Smith Jr. (57BA)
I join my voice to the many women who say that their attitudes, spirit of adventure, and derringdo came from Nancy Drew, who was featured in your fall 2019 issue. I read and re-read her books. In my obsession with the series, I learned to speed read, identify patterns, and understand plot arcs and character development. I read the blue/green books published in the 1930-1940s, which contained the fiercely independent sleuth.
I went on to do an Edmund Hillary commemorative climb on Mt. Everest, and when a blizzard hit our struggling band, I knew immediately what to do because I'd been taught by Nancy Drew. Today I drive a convertible because Nancy drove a roadster.
These are just little things that reflect Nancy's influence on me. Thank you so much for bringing Mildred Wirt Benson (25BA, 27MA) to her rightful place on the stage of mystery writers.
Celinda Brouhard Pearson (66BA)
Just finished reading your Nancy Drew article
and wanted to compliment you. It was a terrific
piece, both in the reporting and the writing.
I was director of the School of Journalism
and Mass Communication at the time of this
campus event and have firsthand knowledge
of many of the details you reported. Most of
all, I appreciated your crediting one of our
secretaries—Susan Ayer Redfern—for
rediscovering the author behind many of the
Nancy Drew stories. Susan's own story is worthy
of a Nancy Drew sequel. Perhaps "The Secret of
the Old File?"
I'm an independent scholar of more than 30 years who specializes in juvenile series books. Your Nancy Drew article has a very long list of misrepresentations that are not backed up by evidence of the events. There are many old legends repeated here that have been debunked:
This article seems more interested in puffing up the institution than in presenting factual historical information. Evidence of the period should hold more weight than popular legends and stories, no matter how satisfying they may seem to be.
James D. Keeline
Editor's Note: We reached out to Carolyn Stewart Dyer, UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication professor emeritus and co-editor of Rediscovering Nancy Drew, to respond to Keeline's letter. Here's what she wrote:
I think Iowa Magazine was careful and accurate in its reporting that Benson's identity was more or less secret, that most folks did not know until the conference. It had not been widely reported in mainstream national media until then. The response to the conference, and the correspondence I have had over the years, confirmed that most people were unaware even that Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym. I read every article that mentioned Nancy Drew— perhaps 400—collected in the LexisNexis news database between about 1972 and 1992. There was no mention of Benson.
To take Keeline's points specifically:
Carolyn Stewart Dyer