IOWA Magazine | 06-25-2024

Campus Mail Summer 2024

6 minute read
Readers share their memories of short-story writer Diane Oliver, the Hamburg Inn, and studying Shakespeare at Iowa.
Campus mail

Familiar Face

I was both shocked and thrilled to receive the spring 2024 magazine with Diane Oliver’s face on the cover [“Diane Oliver’s Unfinished Story”]. I lived next to her in Burge Hall our first year at Iowa, and we hoped to room together our second year, but my parents said no and would not lend me tuition. Diane (66MFA) graciously said school was more important, so we found other roommates.

I was at the party the night she was killed. She had called me and insisted I go with her. I doubt she was on her way home when she was hit, because we had gone together, and it was only 10 p.m. I heard she had gone for gum and snacks. After we got news of the accident, a group of us gathered in an attic apartment on Brown Street to hold a candlelight vigil and then mourn and reminisce after we heard she had died.

I made two intaglio etchings based on her death (pictured below). The one of her floating on a cloud reflects her sense of humor, laughing at us as we mourned. The etchings were chosen as a few of my thesis prints and are in the Iowa Print Group collection. I also painted an oil of Diane, but I used too much linseed oil, so I eventually had to destroy the painting since it never dried.

Diane gave me four of her stories a few weeks before she died: “Confessions of a Schizophrenic Downtowner,” with a personal note to me; “Spiders Cry Without Tears,” with corrections in ink; “With Silver Bells and Cockle Shells,” also with a few corrections in ink; and “The Closet on the Top Floor,” with extensive ink corrections. I would be glad to donate the stories to the university.

“Confessions of a Schizophrenic Downtowner” tells of our exploits in Iowa City’s after-bar scene. I probably took Diane and her roommate to their first party in Iowa City. I know we went to Kenney’s Bar together, because I told them about or introduced them to some of the characters in this story, and I identified most of the characters while their names were fresh in my mind. The story possibly isn’t included in her collection, because it isn’t really about the Black Southern experience.

I am so glad to hear that Diane’s stories have not just been stashed in some file but are out in the world where other people can enjoy them and learn from them.

Joan E. Mitchell Robertson (67MA)
Wauconda, Illinois

As they watched artwork Click to enlarge
Artwork Click to enlarge
artwork Click to enlarge

College Connection

As I scanned the first paragraph of the Diane Oliver article, my eyes caught the words “the corner of Tate and Walker Avenue.” I thought, “That corner from my undergraduate days?” Then I noticed mention of Greensboro and the corner of N. Dubuque and E. Davenport in Iowa City.

I am an alumna of the University of North Carolina Greensboro (1980) and the University of Iowa (1981). Thank you for bringing to light Oliver’s story. I knew the story of the Greensboro Five and Woolworth’s lunch counter at UNCG, but not about the first students integrating the former Women’s College.

Kathy Parsons (81MA)
Ames, Iowa

Health Care Home Run

Christi Eldred (93BA), featured in “Iowa Brain and Eye Surgeons Team Up to Save Patient's Vision,” was a classmate of mine in the College of Education. She made a huge impression on me on how thoughtful she was in the deliberate manner in which she pursued her education and conducted herself given her unique relationship with baseball star Cal Eldred. I am grateful that I got to know Christi and graduate with her. I am even more grateful to know that her University of Iowa Health Care providers were able to achieve a successful result in treating her medical condition. I am relieved to know that Christi is doing well, enjoying her time with her family, and thriving in her community.

Thank you for keeping us connected with our classmates, as well as sharing the success stories of the university. Happy endings are always the best kind of stories, especially when it involves great people being able to continue living productive lives.

Jim Meseck (93BA)
Denver, Colorado

College in Common

Great to know that John Sandford (66BA, 71MA), one of my favorite authors, is an Iowa alum [“Background in Crime Reporting Shapes Iowa Native John Sandford’s Thrillers”]! Thanks for the good article.

Lori Miller Wilhelm (87BBA)
Escondido, California

Growth of the Game

Regarding the Crossover at Kinnick [featured in “For the Hawkeye Women’s Team, It’s Bigger Than Basketball”], I sat in the Kinnick Stadium endzone in the ’80s as a student watching football. If you’d told me that nearly 40 years later, I’d be watching a top-ranked women’s basketball team from this vantage point, I wouldn’t have believed it. Believe!

Shelly Richards (84BSN)
Cedar Rapids


Burg Brought Back

I graduated in 1968, and Hamburg Inn [“Iowa Alums Nate Kaeding, Ben Smart Revive Hamburg Inn”] was a favorite spot. Loved the juicy hamburgers and coffee in white mugs.

Stewart Truelsen (68BA)
Hoffman Estates, Illinois

I was an early 1970s east side dormie and ate at the Burg as often as I could afford. I lived several blocks north on Kimball Avenue for law school. Since then, I’ve stopped on every trip back for 45 years. The last time was late September, right before renovations were complete. See you later this year!

Bill Crews (74BA, 77JD)
Washington, D.C.

I have been coming to Iowa games since 1971, but for one reason or another I haven’t eaten at the Hamburg Inn. I met my wife in Iowa City in 1972. Sometime soon we will take a leisurely drive from Eldridge, Iowa, where we live, to patronize this eating establishment. Thank you to Nate Kaeding (04BA, 15MBA) and Ben Smart (04BS) for making this investment in one of my favorite towns.

Dan Flink
Eldridge, Iowa

Fantastic story of two inspiring Hawkeye alumni who have contributed so much to the economic, cultural, and gastronomic fabric of Iowa City. Iowa City is a stronger, more vibrant community, thanks to people like Kaeding and Smart.

Quentin Misiag (16BA)

I welled up a bit just knowing that these “kids” cared about preserving a piece of Iowa City history. I’ve been in town since there were two Hamburg Inns. Iowa City would not be the same without one.

Rex Clemmensen (79BA)
Iowa City

Prime Professor

I loved the fall 2023 story by Jennifer New (88BA) about retired UI English professor Miriam Gilbert [“Retired Iowa Professor Makes Shakespeare Accessible for All Ages”]. It was so amazing to read about all the people who were impacted by her teaching, as I was.

My Uncle Bob (G. Robert Carlsen, a former UI English education faculty member) highly recommended taking her class. Gilbert was an incredible professor who believed that Shakespeare should be studied as stagecraft, not literature, though her class was offered through the English department. I got to rehearse and perform a scene from The Winter’s Tale in class. It was great fun to do, surrounded as I was by serious theater people. Gilbert assigned us a thick, hardcover anthology of all of Shakespeare’s plays, saying that carrying it around campus would build character. I still have my copy.

Mary Lilja (77BA)
Edina, Minnesota

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