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Letters to the Editor: Spring 2019

Driving On

I graduated from IUP in 1981. I could not graduate with my class, because although I had 24 credits more than I needed, I still needed a course in fine arts to satisfy the School of Education requirements. I did take the course but was too poor by then to buy a cap and gown and stay for graduation.

[In 1992,] I decided to return to IUP for one thing only: to attend the graduation ceremony and listen to our commencement speaker—the real Mister Rogers. This was after I had worked for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit as a long-term, substitute special education teacher and had begun two educational programs at state institutions.

I did not know it at the time, but those years at IUP and at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit were some of the best of my life. Having Dr. [Jerry] Fiddler hand me my diploma meant the world to me. I do not want to beat my chest; however, I did graduate magna cum laude, which means very much to me to this day.

Dennis Fenstermacher in his IUP-themed sprint car

Dennis Fenstermacher in his IUP-themed sprint car (Courtesy of Dennis Fenstermacher)

Once I moved back to the Eastern Seaboard, along with changing careers, I started racing microsprints. Over the last 24 years, I have owned five sprint cars and used at least six different paint schemes on those five cars.

Last summer, knowing this would be my last season of racing, I could paint my race car only one theme, and that was maroon and slate, the colors of my alma mater. Finally, I was not under pressure to paint a race car theme based on sponsor desires.

There is a time and a season for all things. My years of participating in this hobby of microsprints has been an experience I never dreamed. The IUP race car turned out to be the finest paint scheme I ever did. It will always have a connection to the memories of attending class at IUP.

The number 66 was supposed to be the last year I raced, based on my age. I will not change it to 67, but—like having to graduate, then student teach, then go to work—my life, like everyone else’s, has to move on, change, and grow.

One last thing: Along with attending class each day, I also worked for a few days in the main cafeteria, then I got transferred to the main library. I remember thinking that putting books on shelves is much better than scraping plates, bowls, and trays into trash cans.

Dennis Fenstermacher ’81
Phoenixville, PA

Editor’s Note: The following is a response to the letter ‘A Pathetic Cop-Out,’ from the Fall/Winter edition.

Open Minds Are a Must 

Students must come to college with open minds. They will encounter different music and diverse religious practices and foods. Courses in literature, philosophy, and science will expose them to ideas that they might never have considered had they not pursued higher education. If students’ outlooks are not altered in some way by this experience, then they have merely warmed their various seats acquiring rote knowledge and have not progressed intellectually. An informed electorate is the underpinning of this experiment in democracy. It is abhorrent that a person who has sworn to uphold the Constitution would advance the idea of a pogrom to rid any institution of higher education of persons whose beliefs differ from their own. I am proud of my degree from IUP, and I suggest that someone who is not should return their diploma forthwith.

Leslie Chick McMaster, a proud member of the Class of 1974
Austin, TX

Editor’s Note: Readers continue to respond to the Summer edition’s “List of Legends,” about musical acts that have come to campus.

The Shows Go On

Love the list! However, you are definitely missing one from ’69 or ’70—Brooklyn Bridge. They were fantastic. Johnny Maestro was superb as always on vocals, and they had a female guitar player whom I dubbed “flying fingers.” I will try to rattle my cobwebs to see what other information I can come up with from 1967–71. I also went to Peter, Paul, and Mary, the Association, the Lettermen, Chicago, and the Beach Boys concerts. The list could also include musicals, such as Man of La Mancha, which was in Fisher Auditorium and was excellent!

Bob McKeever ’72
Alexandria, VA