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In Other Words

Letters to the editor.

Having started rowing and “racing” a full 31 years after my graduation from the University of Massachusetts, I did not know the story of the 1871 regatta. In reading it, I felt like one of the boys in the boat—most likely one of those with “radical faults.” Thank you.
Mary Lynch Cadwallader ’79



Reading John Sippel “call” Massachusetts Agricultural College’s 1871 rowing race against Harvard and Brown (“Muscle, Pluck, and Yankee Vim,” Summer 2018), I could feel the excitement as if I were on the banks of the river watching and listening as the Aggies trounced Harvard, the favorite going into
the race.

Eric Sondergeld ’84



Having been on the crew team at Wellesley College in the fifties and having devoured The Boys in the Boat, the best-selling book about the U.S. rowers’ triumph at the 1936 Olympics, I could appreciate the drama of this great story as well. Excellent tale, beautifully written. Kudos.

Nina M. Scott
Professor Emerita of Spanish and Portuguese



I hope that future graduates show in their chosen fields the same stamina and endurance the Aggies demonstrated. There is an underlying concept in this story: rank and privilege may merit a fair start, but not a strong finish.

Christopher Read ’67



When I was involved with starting the crew program in 1965–66, I had no idea that UMass had ever been involved in rowing. Thanks for filling in this important chapter in the university’s sports history.

Jan H. Carstanjen ’66G



The delightful story of the Massachusetts Agricultural College rowing crew’s win brought to mind our next auspicious contest with Harvard University—83 years later.

On October 2, 1954, in their first-ever Ivy League football game, the University of Massachusetts challenged Harvard University at Harvard Stadium. This prompted the mobilization of a motorcade from Amherst to Cambridge, led by none other than UMass President Jean Paul Mather. My friends and I excitedly joined the procession. As we approached the stadium we slowed to a crawl, engulfed by a multitude of raucous Harvard fans. At one point, they began dangerously rocking my car while shouting disparaging slogans. My blaring horn and a judicious use of the accelerator provided our escape to safety in a parking lot.

The excitement was electric. My yearbook states, “From the opening whistle, the UMass rooters cheered each successful play. Overconfidence on the part of Harvard and a do-or-die spirit by the Massmen produced a 13–7 victory. The Umies went wild with joy. The school had at last gained the recognition it deserved.”

True to form, prior to the game Boston sportswriters termed it “the mismatch of the century” and a Harvard newspaper satirically mocked “the invasion of the cow college from the western hills.”

Back in 1871, our rowing win over Harvard prompted the Hartford Courant to note, “Culture and breeding have gone down before muscle and practice.” In 1954, UMass once again showed Harvard that “the cow college from the western hills” was a formidable competitor.

Donal W. Halloran ’55



UMass Amherst rowers

The 1871 rowing team feature was inspiring. There is more to the ensuing story!

A handful of Umies with pluck and similar Yankee vim decided to form a rowing team back in 1965 and went right back to Harvard. Our leader was a wood science  major named David Clarke ’68 who boldly approached the revered Harvard coach Harry Parker and convinced him to donate a dilapidated old “Pocock” eight-oared shell and oars. He used his skills with wood to recondition this classic masterpiece. He then used his Yankee pluck to convince the Amherst rowing team to allow us to share a rack in their boathouse.

The Amherst rowers with prep school experience were amused by the upstarts and smiled broadly at our initial attempts to move a boat as we were easily bested by the Amherst JVs. To inspire us, Coach Clarke told us the story of the 1871 victory over Harvard and legacy of the famed George Pocock whose shell we now grew to love. He challenged us that first fall and entered us into one of the first “Head of the Charles” three-mile regattas against experienced crews. Although in a second-tier category, we managed to defeat an eight composed of experienced Harvard Business School rowers. It was grueling and painful but the experience and history vs. Harvard was motivating. By the next spring of ’66 we were easily beating the Amherst crews and we knew rowing had a future at UMass.

Those with an eye or rowing experience will look at the 1871 crew photo in your magazine, which shows the farm boys had much more than strong legs and backs. The precision and timing of their oars shown entering the water at the same instant with no splash defines the “Perfect Catch.” That team photo would be meaningful to the most up-to-date coaching. They were refined rowers and It’s great that their story can continue to inspire. Those who have been blessed by the rowing experience at UMass all know the joy and PAIN of a team working together to speed a racing shell through the water. The lessons of selfless teamwork and respect for perseverance provide a “Perfect Balance and Catch ” to the education experience.

Roger O'Donnell ’68
Captain, 1968 Varsity Crew Team




Are alumni the chief readers of the UMass magazine? If so, what do we gain from reading it?

Alumni are collective graduates of a certain educational institution. They gain knowledge there, and generally rise up and leave, moving on to live their lives. Time marches on and they work, experience, learn more, mold their existence.

And then what? How do they take that knowledge and experience and keep honing it, learning from it, sharing it, being inspired—and at least trying to leave the world a better place?

Perhaps it is by widely reading, by casting a net toward continued learning, by gaining inspiration from articles such as “Interwoven,” “Down the Rabbit Hole,” and ”Wham in the Middle of London” (Summer 2018). And more, from diverse sources.

Thank you for indeed inspiring us, for giving us an intelligent stretch, for always reaching to improve and move us.

Diane Kearney Doyle ’74




I just read Patricia Sullivan’s captivating “Wham in the Middle of London” (Summer 2018). Minouche Shafik is an extraordinarily talented and inspirational human being, motivating the rest of us to take on more challenges and devote more time and resources to improving the lives of others. Minouche is an exceptional, down-to-earth role model.

It is an enormous credit to the university, and brings me great personal pride, that UMass educated and shaped the thinking and selfless character of this extraordinary woman.

John Hurley ’81




Re: “The Persistent Motherhood Penalty” (Summer 2018): After working as a geologist for five years, I saw that I could not be both a very good geologist and a very good wife, so I quit my very well-paying position at an oil company and took jobs as a Girl Scout field director and a geology lab teacher, which cut my salary in half but increased my happiness. Later, after marrying and having children, I wondered how anyone could survive as a single parent. I certainly could not have done it and, had I tried, my children would have suffered for it—not because I would have lacked daycare for them, but because they would have lacked the time with me, their own mother. My rewards for having stayed home with my children are not monetary but they are far more valuable to me than any material benefit I might have received from concentrating on my career as a geologist. To be fair, any article about a “motherhood penalty” needs to take account of the unsurpassed though often intangible benefits of full-time motherhood for those able to take advantage of the opportunity.

Catherine Norman ’75




Thank you so much for publishing the photo of the a cappella group Vocal Suspects (“Seen,” Summer 2018). It brought me back to former times at UMass. In the spring of 1961, Alcie (Alice) Edgerton ’62, Francis Lovejoy ’62, and I organized the first women’s a cappella singing group, The Musigals, on campus. Fran was a member of the men’s singing group The Statesmen. Our advisor was Ms. Winifred Field. Auditions were held and 12 women were selected for the group.

The group made its first public appearance at the 1961 Interdorm Sing.  Subsequently, we appeared at the Senior Mix, the banquet held for Amherst’s new residents, President Lederle’s Faculty Dance, and many other events. 

I’ve been told there have been many other a cappella singing groups at UMass since that time. For me this was an experience I shall long remember. Thank you for the wonderful edition of UMass, evoking many memories of those years at college. 

Jayne Hayden Uyenoyama ’62