Winter 2020

Joanne Sawhill Griffin sent this note:

Husband Peter and I have been doing what all our friends are doing – sheltering in place.  We are enjoying time together and finally have time to finish up old projects.  Several previously incomplete needlepoint projects are done, several closets cleaned out, we bought a new vacuum cleaner (after adopting two hugely shedding cats).  I’m also reaching out to newfound relatives through DNA Ancestry, and getting into smaller projects (installed chandelier wire coverings).  I’ve been reading a lot – my library has only curb pickup so I must browse online instead of enjoying a good browse in the stacks.  We beautified the patio and deck with potted flowers, tomatoes, herbs, knowing we’d be home a lot more so could enjoy them.  I’m president of the St. Louis Smith Club; we are trying to reach out to our new graduates to help with jobs, and to our new first years students to make them feel welcomed into the Smith family.  Crazy times!

From your class secretary, Stefanie Solnick Cargill:

First, a reminder to classmates that your May responses to my requests for news cannot appear in the June “Summer” Smith Alumnae Quarterly (SAQ).  See them in the “Fall” Quarterly and on our class website.  We are so accustomed to immediate turnaround these days, but the Smith Alumnae Quarterly is…a quarterly and takes three months to come to press. 

The SAQ word limit for Class Secretaries’ columns is only 750 words…about 2 double-spaced pages.  Depending on the time of year, I will get 3-5 responses to the automated emails sent by the College, asking people to send news to their class secretaries.  When I send out personal email blasts to our classmates (a multi- hour task that I don’t mind, sending out emails in batches of ten, to avoid email spam filters), I tend to get around 20 responses –still a manageable number for my target 750 words.   This year, almost everybody has been at home these days, sheltering-in-place, with more free time than usual, so many sent me their news.  My May email request for news resulted in responses from 44 classmates – an embarrassment of riches! 

I could see that I was in trouble as I compiled the news into one document.  8,500 words – ACK!  It was much more than I’d ever received before.  Most of us write pretty well, but I always have to deflate and massage some of the essays I receive, to improve readability, clarify details, and comply with SAQ edit requirements.  

Note to classmates:  the Quarterly typically receives 100+ photos per cycle; they have room for about 25.  Further, the Quarterly prefers multi Smithies in a photo.  Not my rule.

Cleaning-up my first pass column barely made a dent in the word count.  The essays were so varied and interesting!  I asked my editor if I could split the column over two Quarterly issues.  No – the Quarterly policy is that I must include something from each person submitting news.  Indeed, delaying half the news until the next Quarterly just makes half the news content 6 months old (ancient!) instead of 3 months old (pretty old).

After working on the column for two more weeks, I was at 2,500 words but could go no lower and still have it make sense.  My patient editor had been most helpful; I’d sent her several “progress” emails and draft columns, and she’d sent me feedback.  A month after my deadline, my editor volunteered to take a stab at editing the column.  Ultimately, she let me combine some similar items and leave some sections behind to get to my inflexible 750 word limit.  (I am truly sorry about the cuts I had to make.)  I never dreamed that COVID and sheltering in place would impact my column in this way!

Re:  Photos:  The Alumnae Quarterly typically receives 100+ photos per cycle; they allocate space for 25 of them in the “News of the Classes” section.  The SAQ prefers to have MANY Smithies in a photo.  Leafing thru your Quarterly, you will see NO photos of a single Smithie, NO baby photos, and NO group/family photos with only one Smith alum.  (Those belong on our Facebook page and/or class website.)  Please look at the types of Quarterly photos that do get published.  I know some of you secretly wonder if I’m the roadblock to seeing your photos in the Quarterly.  No – I didn’t make those rules.  😊

This is probably ‘way more than you wanted to know!  Hope you are well and finding constructive things to do.  I’m in Arizona, which has been a crazy COVID hot spot.  All I can do is shake my head, wash my hands, stay home, and avoid in-person, facemask-optional rallies!