The Magazine of The University of Montana
The Montanan welcomes letters to the editor. Please sign and include your graduating year or years of attendance, home address, and phone number or e-mail address.Send them to: Montanan Editor,
325 Brantly Hall, Missoula, MT 59812
Because of space limitations, we are not able to include all letters sent to us. Letters may be edited for length or clarity. While universities are places of discussion where good people do not always agree, letters deemed potentially libelous or that malign a person or group will not be published. Opinions expressed in the Montanan do not necessarily reflect those of The University of Montana.
WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME
When I looked through my mail today, I saw a classmate’s name, John Shaffner, on the cover of the Montanan. I flipped through the magazine to read the story but was sidetracked by “All Roads Lead to Montana.” The stories were fun. Then I read John’s story. We were in costume and set design classes together.
I have been president of the Yellow-stone Genealogy Forum for several years. A couple of years ago, the program coordinator was a bubbly woman named Sydney. I found out she lived on a ranch in Dillon while growing up, and she knew a couple of people there who attended UM at the same time I did. I then asked her what her maiden name was, being the dedicated genealogist that I am. “Shaffner” was her response. I asked if she might be related to John Shaffner of Missoula. Of course she is—John is her first cousin.
Phyllis Beecher Smith ’73
IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL
I grew up in Broadus and attended college at UM. My husband, Brett Swimley, grew up in Libby and graduated from Montana State University in 1983. We have laughed more than once over the years that even with 780 miles between our hometowns, we still know all of the same people. Last night I read Bill Johnston’s essay in your “All Roads Lead To Montana” feature titled “Guessing Game Gone Right” and laughed, because it is so true.
After reading the article, I said to my husband, “You have to hear this. It is an article by a guy named Bill Johnston.” Without missing a beat my husband said, “I know him.” I laughed more and then read him the article! Then my husband told me he knows Bill’s brother better than Bill and Bill’s grandmother took care of my husband when he was little.
Thanks for connecting us further. Everyone knows everyone in Montana!
Susan Brooks Swimley, ’86, J.D. ’89
I received my issue of the magazine today and was quite taken with the picture of the new Payne Family Native American Center. It is fascinating and so appropriate for it to be there. It looks so interesting and obviously fills a need to encourage more American Indian students to attend and then finish their degrees. I like that President George Dennison visited all of the reservations to encourage just that. Many of the issues don’t really relate to me that much, but this one did.
Nancy Stephenson Bond ’45
The One that got away
I was twenty-five when I enrolled at UM in 1982 with no academic plan other than pursuing the pleasure of learning. And what a pleasure it was to walk into Paul Zarzyski’s poetry class. Richard Hugo was supposed to teach the creative writing class, but he was ill, so there was Zarzyski (rhymes with whiskey, he told us). The man’s passion for the music in language was palpable, and it inflamed my own
passion. I eventually found a direction and have been spreading his gospel in my own classroom for more than twenty years. So I was surprised not to find his name included in the winter 2010 article “Where The Big Fish Lie” about UM’s Creative Writing Program. Paul earned his master’s degree from the Creative Writing Program and was a student and friend of Hugo’s.
In the thirty-seven years Paul has been writing, he has published ten books and produced four spoken word CDs. In
addition to performing on Garrison Keiller’s A Prairie Home Companion, he has read for the Library of Congress and The Kennedy Center. He also performed with the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra and at other venues nationally, as well as in Canada, England, and Australia. He has appeared on national television and is one of six poets featured in the documentary No Need for a Saturday Night. He has branched into music and recently co-wrote songs on the CD Hang-n-Rattle! produced by John Carter Cash. In 2005, he received the Governor’s Arts Award for Literature.
I’d say Paul Zarzyski is a pretty big fish. It’s unfortunate he’s one that slipped the Montanan’s net.
Susan Fogarty Schwab ’86, M.A. ‘01