Dartmouth 64 Sports Book

Valley News Book Review

Introduction -- "A Legacy of Exceeding Targets"
The Table of Contents Plus Full Cover
Valley News Book Review
Classmate Reviews
Encore Reviews From Classes & Community
The Story Never Ends
Old Men And The Tee
That's Why We Play
Rockefeller Intern Project
List of 1964 Sponsored Rockefeller Interns


Class Of '64 Looks Back
Ex-Dartmouth Athletes Featured In New Book
By Don Mahler
Valley News Sports Editor

    Ronald Schram had a decision to make.
    Two years out of Dartmouth, Schram was on the cusp of starting his professional life. The job of his dreams awaited.
    Only the opportunity of a lifetime stood in his way.
    Schram had come to Dartmouth in 1960 with his sights set on getting an Ivy League education and earning Big Green athletic letters. While he achieved his academic goal, a serious knee injury as a freshman ended his collegiate career before it began.
    It was only because of long hours of rehab and years on the sidelines that he was finally able to resurrect his basketball career while continuing his education at King's College in Cambridge, England.
    Now, needing money to continue his post grad work, Schram was overjoyed to receive a job offer in a management training program at General Motors for the summer of 1966. It was the golden chance to reach the career goal and prosperity he had always dreamed.
    So what was his hesitation?
    Maybe it had something to do with a basketball game in Israel.
    On the face, you could say this is a sports book. You're right, sort of.

    As you begin turning the pages, however, you realize this is a different kind of athletic memoir: More about life than about final scores; more about individuals than about jocks.
    The book, Sports: A Generation's Common Bond, is a collection of personal essays written by a group of 70 Dartmouth College grads from the Class of 1964 -- guys from an athletic era when being an amateur meant something honorable, a time now called -- with a hint of disdain -- old school.
    In a way, the book is about the old school -- Dartmouth. And, in a way, it's about a bunch of old guys. You see, Schram's idea for the book was born out of the fact that he and his classmates were about to turn 65 this year.
    It seemed an appropriate time to take stock of certain things -- things that seemed to be connected in all their lives: Dartmouth and athletics (though not necessarily Dartmouth athletics).
    "It's an age and time in your life when you turn reflective," says Schram, who edited the 353-page book. "As we look back on our lives, you can see the influences that have shaped you and how essential sports was to the lives of our classmates."
    As Schram started the project he was amazed at the response and warmed by the connecting and reconnecting that was achieved by the class through the writing commitment.
    But it was also a learning experience.
    "Most of the stories in the book were new to me," he said. "Here was Bob Bartles, one of my closest friends, and I had never heard the story (about meeting 1955 World Series hero Johnny Podres of the Brooklyn Dodgers) before."
    The stories -- including offerings from Dartmouth President James Wright and legendary soccer coach Whitey Burnham -- are interesting and varied. Some with specific Dartmouth references and some more painted by the individual writers' personal lifetime reflections.
    What gives the book its unique appeal is that you need not be a Dartmouth grad nor an aging athlete to appreciate the merit and message within its pages.
    In one short essay, The Role of Sports in My African Experience by Whit Foster, the author relates his experiences teaching history at a men's teacher training college in the Niger Delta in Nigeria. And how he bridged the cultural and racial bridge to his students by serving as the school's basketball and track coach.
    The thread, obviously, is about athletics. The overriding message is how the games and sports these men have played have influenced them -- and brought them comfort and enjoyment -- throughout their long lives.
    There are stories about personal athletic experiences like Bob Cahners and his life as a world-class Masters weight thrower, and a story by Len Glass about his daughter's soccer experiences. Then there's football captain Scott Creelman relating his memories of the victory over Princeton in which Dartmouth rallied in the fourth quarter to win the title -- with Creelman playing a pivotal role.
    Some are short and light, others long and rambling. They cover all ranges from competitive sports to recreational pursuits. But they allhave one message, as captured by John Lane in his essay, Football Friendships: "My remembrances of sport wins and losses seems less relevant as the years go by. But my memory of the friends I have made and the mutual experiences we shared grows stronger."
    The book is on sale at the Dartmouth Bookstore for $19.95. The proceeds, after printing and publishing costs are covered, will go toward establishing a student intern program in the Public Policy Center.
    The plan is to set up 15 internships through the Rockefeller Center to help Dartmouth students who want to devote themselves to working for non-profit or international agencies.
    "It's our way of giving something back," said Schram.

    As Schram was pondering a return home for his waiting job at GM, a friend offered an intriguing alternative: The opportunity to represent England in the World University Games in Tel Aviv.
    And making the event even more special was the fact that Germany was sending a team -- the first time since World War II that a German team had set foot in Israel.
    More incentive? There was a job waiting at a kibbutz in Israel to cover Schram's expenses and the necessary Cambridge tuition for the upcoming school term. Oh, and by the way... they wanted him to be the team captain.
    Schram was tortured. His life's plan had finally come together. The job at GM was everything he had ever wanted. But there was this basketball tournament...
    After a sleepless night, the choice was made. It was an easy decision, actually. And years later, Schram has no regrets.
    He did return to the States, but not right away. GM? It would have to wait. After all, he had this basketball game to play.
    Schram never did work at GM. Instead he went to law school and embarked on an entirely different professional career path.
    "I realized that I had many years to pursue a career," Schram writes in his essay. "(I realized) that GM would not be the only opportunity, and that memories are more important than money."
    And certainly more important than wins and losses.

    Don Mahler can be reached at dmahler@vnews.com or (603) 727-3225.