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   Date: 9/30/09 Bookmark and Share

A 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.

Then 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.

Always you inspired us with your sense of wonder in the living world and your delight in all its creatures, great and small.

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