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Riot Act Redux

"Riot Act" (Spring 2010) is an amazing transport back to the spring of 1970 when the cataclysmic events following the Cambodian invasion and the shootings at Kent State landed squarely on the UNH campus. I was two feet from Paul Brockelman when he gave his speech and I felt the crowd could have gone either way. Looking back now, it could have been a complete disaster but for some good decision-making all around.

John McConnell
SIGN OF THE TIMES: President John McConnell addresses students in May 1970. Mark Wefers '73 is at right holding a jacket. For more photos, see unhmagazine.unh.edu/chicago3/.

Ten years later, as a publicity directorat the Putnam Publishing Group, I got to spend time with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. Jerry was on Wall Street, and Abbie, who had been a fugitive for seven years, resurfaced at a press conference to promote his book, Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture. What was most remarkable about them was not their firebrand charisma, but their everyday qualities, walking the streets of Manhattan largely unrecognized and pretty much OK with that. They fondly remembered that day at UNH, especially Abbie. Nothing could have gotten either of them to move that speech a minute earlier once they knew the facts.

Thanks for a very fine article about a very intense time in our country. The decision by President McConnell and Attorney General Rudman to keep the N.H. National Guard off campus was brilliant, as there very well could have been a nasty confrontation. We were, as was much of the country, pretty worked up over the Kent State shootings, but I don't think any of us who were protesting would have instigated violence.

I volunteered to be a marshal during the speech. Afterwards, a group of friends and I heard someone yelling, "Burn down Thompson Hall! Burn down Thompson Hall!" We looked around and saw four guys who were so obviously not from UNH that it was laughable. They were dressed like some Hollywood version of hippies. But they really gave themselves away with "Thompson" Hall. Everybody on campus called it T-Hall. Whether it was anger or a sudden urgency to protect our school (or both), we quickly said nobody was going to burn down anything. A wild chase ensued; we followed them across campus to a parking lot where they jumped into a car with Connecticut plates and took off. I am not prone to conspiracy theories but I am convinced that these guys were "outside agitators." Looking back, I have to chuckle to myself about the paradox of being both a young man railing against "the system" and someone who was ready to do bodily harm to guys who wanted to hurt "my" school.

A personal memory I have of that day supports the realization that John McConnell was the right president at the right time, and always a class act. I was designated as the "temporary press secretary" for the student government, and I helped organize the student marshals who would help keep order in the Field House, if necessary. One rule was that there would be no moving around the gym by anyone unless they were wearing an orange and purple button. These buttons were for the surprisingly large contingent of reporters who showed up during the day. We had just checked the credentials of an AP correspondent when a well-known "investigative reporter" from the Union Leader loudly and vehemently insisted that he didn't need to show identification to gain access to a "tax-supported building." I took him aside and tried to quietly explain that this was a procedure that everyone had agreed to. Just as he was demanding to know who came up with such an outrageous procedure, President McConnell walked by. He politely but firmly told him that he had come up with the outrageous procedure. He then had a few quiet words with the reporter and walked away. I still cherish the vision of this gentleman humbly returning to the press table, producing his identification and pinning his button to his lapel.

Washington, D.C. protest
Front row left to right are Alice MacKinnon, Bill Schultz '71 and Ric Wesson '71. Back row: Linda Nestle, Bob Butcher '71, unknown, Alan Stone '73, Lisa Buss Schultz '72, unknown, unknown.
Names provided by Duke Kline '71, Mary Flaherty '71, Bill Schultz '71 and Craig Abbott '70. Larger image

I loved the article on the 1970 protest at UNH. It brought back a lot of memories for me. It certainly was a tense time, but the protests against the war did not stop there. I recently came across a photo of myself with a group of students who attended a 1971 anti-war protest in Washington, D.C. I am in the center with the bad glasses and long hair. I would love to identify the others and would be happy to share a copy of the photo with them. By the way, I recently attended the 40th anniversary panel presentation on campus and it was interesting to hear how time has changed the perceptions of the events.

Editor's note: If you recognize anyone in this photo, please e-mail alumni.editor@unh.edu with a copy to alanstone@alumni.unh.edu. We'll post the names at right.

I just finished reading with amusement "Riot Act." It was all news to me! By 1975, students had become somewhat apathetic, and one day I noticed a crowd growing outside the MUB from my room in Sawyer Hall. Curious, and equally apathetic, I thought "Hey, President Ford will be driving by soon (on his re-electionbid)," so I walked across the street and joined the crowd. The next day, I was on the front page of the Boston Globe.

My high school teachers put the photo on the wall; my mother was told she couldn't get a picture of "protestors" from the Globe--it was against policy to release it! Later that day I got to shake President Ford's hand. I have very fond memories, needless to say.

Glen's Legacy

The kayak adventure story ("Be Still My Heart," Spring 2010) really hit home. I joined the New Hampshire Outing Club in September 1969, about a year after Glen's death. I remember seeing a plaque at the Franconia Cabin dedicating the cabin to Glen's memory on my first "Frosh Trip." It gave me pause to think.

I later became a leader and officer of the Outing Club. On my first club whitewater canoe trip in spring 1971, we had some problems where canoes were destroyed and damaged and participants were nearly injured. I got chewed out by the president at a meeting the following Monday, along with the trip leaders, probably because I was club vice president at the time. The president knew Glen well—his death was still fresh in his mind.

I have continued to lead hiking, camping, backcountry skiing and whitewater trips, and am still a part-time commercial raft guide in Colorado. I have been a very cautious trip leader for the last 40 years because of lessons learned as a result of Glen's death. Thank you for this wonderful and touching story that really comes close to home for me.

Todd Balf '83 writes a heartfelt account in "Be Still My Heart." I took a canoe trip with three friends in the summer of 1971 in northern Ontario. There are numerous similarities to the story, including a near tragedy. I sympathize with Geoff's misfortune and heartbreak. That's a tough one.

The story "Be Still My Heart" made me remember another story of a boy drowning—in The Story of a Bad Boy by Thomas Bailey Aldrich. In Chapter 14, Aldrich writes, "my thoughts revert to this particular spring more frequently than to any other period of my boyhood, for it was marked by an event that left an indelible impression on my memory." Read it—it's very well-written and very sad. Todd Balf '83 and of course Geoff Jones '70 did an excellent job with this tragic story.

When my sister sent me the article from your magazine it brought back memories. My dad had called me to tell me that Glen had died up in Canada on a field trip. No more was said and I went to the funeral. Now all of the elder Levesque's are gone and there are only seven of Glen's cousins left. The article about Geoff Jones was awesome—a few tears were shed. I got in touch with Geoff, and we had a great talk. I hope that one day we can get to meet. All I can say to him is thank you on behalf of Glen's cousins.

I cannot tell you how amazing this has been for my family as well as myself. When my Uncle David first sent me the link for the original story about Geoff, I was blown away. Glenn was one of my mother's first cousins and due to the fact that he was a lot older than me (I was 7 years old when Glenn passed away), I did not know a lot about him. In fact, my younger brother, Kevin, was born two days before Glenn's accident. Growing up I can't remember anyone talking about what happened to Glenn, probably because in that time children were not privy to such conversations. I remember being older and hearing about a kayaking accident but that was the end of it. I had no idea of the magnitude of what these young men had set out to accomplish. I always thought that Glenn was kayaking up in the mountains in New Hampshire when this happened. When I read the story about the purpose of their adventure and their day-to-day accounts, I couldn't believe it. Why hadn't anyone ever talked about this? Maybe it was too painful for my aunt and uncle to hear. I am so glad that Geoff has taken this on. This is a tribute to an amazing person and about an adventure that should be shared. My mother has Glenn's original log book from the trip and I had the opportunity to read through it this summer along with his letters home. This intimate view of what transpired was humbling. I have shared this story with my 11-year-old, who wishes she had the chance to sit down with this person and hear the countless stories of adventure. Geoff did an amazing job at recounting this piece of history and I am so grateful. What these young men did at this period in time is a story that should be told, not unlike any other great feat in history that was on the cusp of something new and innovative. What a wonderful film this would make!

This account of my cousin Glen's and his friends' adventures, and his life as a young man, was very interesting. I remember Glen as a young shy young cousin, nine years my junior, whom I would see occasionally at family gatherings at our grandmother's farmhouse in Nashua. What joyous memories I have of those times. Glen was kept pretty busy with school work and activities when he was at Sacred Heart Academy, he was in the Boy Scouts, and worked his way up to be an Eagle Scout, I believe.

I did go with Uncle Al, Glen's dad, once to pick Glen up at UNH, and got to see some of the kayaks that they were building. Quite the operation they had going there. This was quite the revelation to me that, according to Geoff, Glen was not the shy kid that I had known.

I had no worries when it was reported that Glen was lost I knew that he would be OK if he was in the woods or forest in Canada, because I knew that he was proficient, and could survive in the wilderness on his own. But as the time for finding him grew longer I really was worried for him.

The account that Geoff related answered a lot of things about Glen that I or we (the cousins) did not know--we did know that he was doing something that he really enjoyed doing. The family did have a copy of the log that Glen was keeping. I had never seen it or knew that we had it until Geoff's story came out, so we owe Geoff a big thank you for having this account published.

I always refrained from asking Uncle Al and Aunt Louise anything about Glen, because I did not want to upset them or make them think about this anymore than they already had. I do know that Uncle Al was not the same person after this event, Glen being the only child they had.

Thanks to Geoff and UNH Magazine for publishing this account, we now know so much more about this adventure and what transpired.

Thumbs Down, Thumbs Up

This is to express my dismay at the glitzy cover photo of New York City and its accompanying lead story, "Broadway Bound," as well as "Be Still My Heart." The cover article is about the talented quartet of UNH drama students, but it is inappropriate in this alumni magazine. It belongs in a publication about theater arts. The other misplaced article, "Be Still My Heart," should appear in something devoted to outdoor adventures. Yes, the subjects and their authors are all UNH graduates, but the text and photos, as well as the cover shot, are out of place because of the lack of relevance to most readers.

Kudos to the Spring 2010 UNH Magazine. I found it to be one of the more engaging issues. Keep up the good work.

Rock On

I opened up the latest UNH Magazine to find the photo of the newly refinished James Hall. I spent many days there as a geology major and seem to remember a large rock located in the foyer in front of the stairwell. Did the rock get moved to another location?

A response from earth sciences professor Will Clyde: "The rock that Paul speaks of is still alive and well. In fact, I can see it from my office! It is from the Standing Pond volcanics of southeastern Vermont and is a good example of a garnet-hornblendeschist, a type of metamorphic rock. It now sits on the north side of the building w i t h m a ny other unusual large specimens we saved from the move. These specimens serve as wonderful teaching tools for our undergraduate courses."

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