IOWA Magazine | 06-23-2023

Campus Mail Summer 2023

8 minute read
Readers respond to author John Irving’s interview with Iowa Magazine.
Campus mail

Irving’s Iowa Connections

John Irving PHOTO: DEREK O'DONNELL Iowa Writers' Workshop alumnus John Irving will return to Iowa City for a Literary Legends event Oct. 13 at Hancher. Literary Legends event

I enjoyed reading the John Irving (67MFA) interview [“John Irving’s ‘Last Long Train,” spring 2023] and wanted to add that a University of Iowa alum appeared in The World According to Garp film. Mary Beth Supinger Hurt (68BA) graduated from the speech and dramatic art department. She acted in several films over the years and also did Broadway and off-Broadway. I think she also was the grand marshal at an Iowa homecoming parade.

Janet Teague-Grimley (69BA)
Port Orchard, Washington

I studied at the UI from 1964–70 and was a walk-on wrestler as an undergraduate. Later, as a young assistant professor of Portuguese, Spanish, and comparative literature at Penn State, I corresponded with John Irving about Iowa, wrestling, and his novels. One letter I remember well was about the character Merrill Overturf from The Water-Method Man. I asked if he knew my good friend Merrill “Meaux” Overturf (61BA, 70PhD), and I was surprised and amused when Irving replied that he did not, but had chosen his name out of the Iowa City phone book. Meaux was pleased to have his name catch the attention of the great John Irving.

And a note to Irving, who could not have been nicer to a green professor: If you ever wish to resume our correspondence, I am now a professor at Vanderbilt University, where I continue to cheer on the Iowa Hawkeye wrestling team from afar.

Earl E. Fitz (68BA, 70MA)
Nashville, Tennessee

Second semester of my senior year, I wanted to take a break from my business courses, and I chose to take fiction writing. It turned out to be the most challenging and rewarding course I took while at Iowa.

The instructor had a great sense of humor and told funny, interesting stories from his life. His command of the elements of writing and his enthusiasm for teaching really brought me in. In addition to discussing our writing, he had the class read other writers. Deconstructing their works illuminated my understanding and informed my thinking about my assignments. It also made me a better reader.

At the end of the semester, I met with the instructor, and he asked me if I planned on becoming a writer. I did not become a writer, but I appreciated his interest and advice.

You may have already guessed that my instructor was John Irving. Needless to say, I have followed his career with great interest and have been an avid reader of his work from the beginning.

Rick Petersen (67BBA)
Edina, Minnesota

Nest Knowledge

I experienced the empty nest [“How Do You Adjust to an Empty Nest?” spring 2023] in a different way. I was a single mom raising my three boys. Empty nest affects even those of us who are not married. One of the best things I did for myself was get a cat. I moved to a new location and started a new job. It was a challenging time in my life, but I enjoyed getting to know myself.

Carol Harshman (10BSN)
Tiffin, Iowa

Competitor and Coach

Adeline Kenlin [“In the Balance,” spring 2023] was my son’s coach at the gym she trained at in high school. Coach A was so amazing with the kids and had them doing things I don’t even think they thought they could do. I am so proud to see her back at something she has passion for. She will be a fantastic coach in her career, and many kids will benefit from her knowledge and skills.

Shannon Grecian
Iowa City

Lifting for Life

I was an athlete at the UI in the 1960s. Since that time, I have continued to do aerobic and weightlifting exercises. I absolutely feel that weightlifting has positively impacted my mental acuity and my physical flexibility and strength. And, as I read about people who are my age and younger suddenly dying, I am convinced that a regular exercise routine is the most effective “youth serum” that one can depend upon [“A Life Worth Lifting,” spring 2023]. It isn’t easy, but exercise and weightlifting are key to quality of life after age 70. Start slowly, build your routine, and fully enjoy life.

Richard Gibbs (68BBA)
Lake Forest, Illinois

Memory Mill

Thank you for sharing this beautifully written eulogy for The Mill [“Thirteen Ways of Looking at The Mill,” winter 2022–23]. Each vignette brought back vivid memories of my med school days (and nights) in Iowa City. We had a loose rule that if you weren’t at The Mill by 10 on Thursday nights, then you were studying too hard and not to be trusted. This was very impactful for me, and I suspect that I’m not alone.

Bob Walker (76MD)
Hull, Massachusetts

Pete Nelson’s (79MFA) recollections of The Mill brought back some long-dormant memories of my time tending bar in Iowa City in the early ’70s. The Shamrock was a neighborhood bar, a shot and a beer kind of place on South Gilbert about five blocks from The Mill.

Nelson spoke of Brother John and Whale and their biker band of brothers, who were mostly skilled tradesmen, capable of discussing anything from rebuilding a Harley to Leon Festinger’s (40MA, 42PhD) theory of cognitive dissonance. They were regulars at The Mill and at the Shamrock, scary looking, but loyal friends and customers.

Fifty years doesn’t feel so long ago.

Thomas Carter (74BA)
Bettendorf, Iowa

Back to the Boom

Hawkeye Marching Band PHOTO: FREDERICK W. KENT COLLECTION OF PHOTOGRAPHS, UI SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES, UI LIBRARIES The Hawkeye Marching Band visits Disneyland in California during its trip to the 1959 Rose Bowl. The band also made Rose Bowl appearances in 1957, 1982, 1986, 1991 and 2016.

I enjoyed the article on the Hawkeye Marching Band in the winter Iowa Magazine [“Ready for the Boom,”]. It brought back many memories of my 20 years working with the band. I can still remember the feeling of being in the stands with the band at our final home game in fall 1981 and realizing that we were going to the Rose Bowl. Growing up in Wisconsin, Big Ten country, I had watched the Tournament of Roses Parade and the game every year, never imagining that I would be part of it. That would be just the beginning of multiple bowl trips that took the Hawkeye Marching Band across the country.

I found the information on the FlipFolder app quite interesting—no more hand-drawn, multiple-page field charts. Also long gone are the days when Hawkeye Marching Band Director Morgan Jones (60BM, 61MA) would hand me an eight- or nine-part piano score of his latest music arrangement from which I would extract, transpose, and write out the individual instrumental parts on flip-folder size manuscript paper. This was done on a volunteer basis and after hours, so it meant a lot of late nights and writer’s cramp!

Sandi Dillon (76MA)
Plano, Texas

I was in the Hawkeye Marching Band in the early- to mid-’90s, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am in life without it. I came to the UI, like so many others, to write the great American novel, but it didn’t take much more than my first game in Kinnick with the roar of the crowd to steer my mind to music. The late David Woodley (83BM, 85MA) was my first college band director and a hero to me. There are very few friends from my days at Iowa I am still in touch with who weren’t in band with me. My years in the uniform may have been limited, but the relationships made and the memories live forever. I’d like to think I can somehow pay back the massive debt I have to the Hawkeye Marching Band by paying it forward to my students.

Tim “Ruby” Anderson (98BM)
Amherst, Massachusetts

Tradition Takes Flight

I enjoyed the article [“Home of the Hawks” winter 2022–23], as it brought back a memory from perhaps the first raptor flight from the field at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa played Air Force in a 1958 game, and part of the halftime entertainment was a demonstration of the Air Force falcon. The bird was released, and it never returned. Iowa and Air Force tied 13-13 in the game.

Larry Ely (70BBA)
Loveland, Ohio

A Writer’s Review

Having devoured most of the stories, I want to congratulate you on the winter edition of Iowa Magazine. I think it’s one of the finest journalistic works I’ve seen in a long time. As the first Daily Iowan Rose Bowl editor and sports editor (1956–57), I naturally found the stories on Hawkeye programs and athletes to be excellent, but no more so than those on the Iowa band, space, and The Mill. From the editorial content to the photos to the layout, it was just outstanding.

Other observations:

  • The greatest concert I ever attended was Bill Haley & His Comets. Dressed in all pink suits for the first half, they all wore red for the second and marched through the Union playing “Rock Around the Clock.” Other campus guests during my time: Louis Armstrong, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bob Newhart, Peggy Lee, Duke Ellington, and Stan Kenton.
  • My best memory of the Iowa band: In the 1950s, the band practiced on an open field adjacent to the Iowa River and directly across from Hillcrest Residence Hall. In the 1957 Rose Bowl, I vividly remember the band starting with “On Iowa” and suddenly breaking into “California, Here We Come.”

Thanks again for updating me on a great university, one which provided me with a great education and 64 years in newspaper and college public relations.

Alan Hoskins (58BA)
Kansas City

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