Letter from Dorcas (Eason) MacClintock ’54 to Betty Horner
Dear BEH: For more than
a half-century you have been part of my life, and still I
cannot call you “Betty” as others do. As a freshman I was
led astray as your assistant in a small mammals study at
nearby Arcadia Sanctuary, a project that was filled with
interest and adventure, and a few misadventures as well.
Serious study came the next year, in your Comparative Vertebrate
Anatomy course. From my window in Washburn House I saw your
office window, the light burning until all hours, for never
did you give the same lecture twice. Several of us, your
students, were treated to forays afield—to Whateley Glen
and on nightly springtime prowls in search of amphibians.
In your shiny blue Plymouth, of which you were so proud,
there were nightly excursions to the Florence Diner for coffee,
followed by a scurry to get us back to campus by the witching
hour of 10:15 p.m. You gave me custody of the dormouse you
and Robin Callery had brought back from England, and made
room in Burton’s basement for my own kangaroo rat. Later
on, there were brush-tailed possums, grasshopper mice, and
prairie dogs. In the sun-filled Animal Quarters, presided
over by our friend Mr. Russell, were rabbits (including our
favorite Harvey), hamsters, and other small mammals.
there were the vacation times when you visited in Wilton.
My mother, having been allowed to participate in a comparative
lab session, soon became your friend and relished these visits,
though she never came along when we set out live traps along
stone walls and in the woods.
The ASM meetings, better known
as the mammal meetings, always held in an interesting place
each year, North, South, East or West. One of the best sessions
was in Oklahoma, when you were the honored recipient of the
first Grinnell Award, and a field trip took us to explore
the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. In Maine we came home with
an Old Town canoe atop my car. And who but BEH would order
a lobster omelet for breakfast? In Florida, we drove south
from Gainesville between sessions to see the house where
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings had written “The Yearling.” In
Utah, high in the Wasatch Mountains, you were late arriving.
Speeding across Nebraska, you had been detained by the police—a
50-mile-each-way detour so that you could argue the MPH charge.
Arcata, CA, was dense with fog, but beautiful for the meetings
there. We flew over Anchorage just after the Valdez oil spill,
and on to Fairbanks and the University of Alaska. After the
Denali field trip, you continued on a trek of your own to
the North Slope to see the caribou herds. When you no longer
could attend the ASM meetings, I too gave them up, knowing
it would not be the same without you.
As mentor to many of
your students, you always expected the best from us, and
let us know whenever we fell short of the mark. Through the
years, as our friendship deepened, I continued to rely your
interest and feedback as I pursued various projects.
you inspired us with your sense of wonder in the living world
and your delight in all its creatures, great and small.