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Is Your Number Up?
Denis O’Neill ‘70 has written in to Dartblog to introduce a new book about his time at the College, an era that had more turbulence than any of us has or is likely to encounter. Whiplash: When the Vietnam War rolled a hand grenade into the Animal House also includes insight into various sides of the College, a good many of which are relevant today (see the excerpt below for a good laugh).
Denis is a screenwriter, author, and journalist. Among his credits, he drafted the screenplay for The River Wild (Meryl Streep) and A Shot at Glory (Robert Duvall). At WGBH TV, Boston, he wrote and produced programs such as Frontline, Masterpiece Theatre and No Irish Need Apply. He has published pieces in Sports Illustrated, The Boston Globe, Fly Rod & Reel, Antiques, and American Photographer.
After 40-something years of gestation, I have released a memoir about my rowdy and perilous last year at the College: 1969-1970. It was a school year bookended by Woodstock in August and Kent State in May, with the reinstatement of the draft lottery stuck in the middle on December 1 — a set of ingredients which made my class the first since WWII to graduate with a diploma and a draft number.
The idea for the book started in a 40th year anniversary tent near Fraternity Row. As we were sipping keg beer and swapping old stories, it dawned on me that we had lived through a time worth remembering and writing down: the most interesting of times (too interesting at times!!)… rife with political upheaval, war, assassinations, secret bombings, building takeovers… adding an unparalleled degree of difficulty to the normal collegiate coming-of-age experience.
I ended up including “classic” stories from fraternities other than my own — Heorot House — hoping to piece together a fair retelling of what it was like to be at Dartmouth in those harrowing times. An abridged version of the draft lottery night chapter should appear in the upcoming issue of the Alumni Magazine; they’ll also be running the chapter about “the great beer train heist” (1968) in the winter issue.
I think it’s a story that should resonate with students today. I’m sure any of us aging Big Greeners lucky enough to have lived back then, and survived to remember the way it was, might enjoy the company of conversation about those days.
Happy to hear from one and all.
In the below video, Denis — who was captain of the hockey team — and other alums describe the brutal tension of the 1969 draft lottery: the winners stay home; the losers could soon find themselves as grunts humping an M16 in the jungles of Southeast Asia:
Needless to say, Denis also recounts anecdotes about the colorful side of Dartmouth life:
Addendum: Denis happily reports that Country Joe MacDonald himself gave permission to use his song from Woodstock in the above video. Turns out that Joe served in the Navy from 1959-62 and was honorably discharged.
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
August 23, 2009
Fare Thee Well, Tom Crady
And now Dean Tom Crady has precipitously announced his departure from the College after only 20 months on the job. How to read this? By way of background, prior to coming to Dartmouth, Crady had…
May 31, 2009
Kangaroo Court, Indeed
In an interview with The Dartmouth, alumni-elected trustee T.J. Rodgers ‘70 explained his reasons for declining to participate in future evaluations of trustees up for “re-election,” namely the “kangaroo court” nature of such discussion in…