2009 Latchstring Award

Dick Low, Bill Barrrett, Ned Baldwin, Jed Davis, and Doug Hotchkiss met on Aug. 17 to determine the award recipient for this summer. After reviewing hundreds of comment cards and input from all of you that visited huts, we chose the Lonesome Croo from a large group of great croos. As always it was hard to single out one group, but we felt that the team work this croo showed the entire summer was second to none.

On Aug. 20 we made the award at the OH Cabin in front of all the summer crew members. As you can see they were ecstatic and got a standing ovation from their peers. The Lonesome Croo all showed up in bright pink T shirts with a dragon logo. Names: Eliza O’Neil HM, Peter Hyson AHM, Hilary Burt, Hannah Orcutt, Jeff Pedersen, and Johannes Griesshammer Naturalist.

2008 Latchstring Award

2007 Latchstring Award

2006 Latchstring Award

2005 Latchstring Award

2002 Latchstring Award

The croo of Madison Spring Hut was the 2002 winner of the Latchstring Award presented at the OH Cabin during the End of Summer Party festivities at the end of the third week of August. Each summer the Latchstring Committee of the OH Association presents the award to the croo which seems to best demonstrate the philosophy of “mountain hospitality for all” first attributed to Joe Dodge. Selecting the winning croo is usually a difficult process because of the high caliber of all the individuals hired to staff the huts. In fact, on any given night during the summer, each of the hut croos is probably at some point providing the best guest experience in the system. But most years, it seems that there are two or three huts where the chemistry among croo members vis-àvis the hut guests really seems to come together consistently. After going through guest comment cards, discussing committee members’ visits to the huts, and getting a little feedback from management, the committee eventually discovers a few things that make the winner stand out just a little more than the other finalists. In 2002, the Madison Croo stood out for such things as preparing food and drink and taking it to a volunteer trail adopter who was working in the area. When a guest’s dog became injured, they volunteered to carry the animal down the mountain. They averted a potentially dangerous situation by offering food and lodging to an under-equipped group of young people and their leaders. And, last but not least, they put on a stupendous Mad Fest Party to relieve the mid-summer doldrums of their fellow hut croos. Congratulations to the 2002 Madison Croo of Emmy McQuaid (HM), Carter Wilding-White (AHM), Mason Herring, Mac Cook, John DeCoste, and Lara DuMond (Naturalist)!

2001 Latchstring Award
Where Everyone Knows Your Name
Submitted by Ned Baldwin
On a pair of crystal perfect late August evenings the annual End of Summer Croo Party (aka Guinea Night) was held at the OH Cabin in Jackson. After a sumptuous meal of salad, steak and lobster on the deck of the Cabin as well as lots sharing of summer memories and plans for the future, the gathered crowd of this year s hut croos along with a few year-round staff and assorted OH filed inside to witness the announcement of this year s Latchstring Award winner.

However before that much anticipated bit of news could be revealed, several requisite opening remarks had to be made by OH members, Ned and Sally Baldwin, Doug Hotchkiss and Bill Barrett. First was a brief review of what the OH is: an alumni organization of former hut employees, which owns and maintains the Cabin, publishes a newsletter, organizes reunions, maintains a website and, of most immediate importance, hosts the evening s festivities by providing the hall and buying the food. The origins of Guinea Night were explained by Doug Hotchkiss as being the idea of Vinnie Lamanna, who worked at Pinkham in the late Forties. Vinnie decided to have a party by cooking up a bunch of spaghetti, inviting all the croos to bring bottles of Chianti and calling it Guinea Night, a name which he was legitimately entitled to use being of genuine Italian ancestry. (Apologies were offered to any who might be offended by the definitely non-PC nature of the term today.) Then discussion turned to the Latchstring Award itself and how it is intended to foster some friendly competition among croos in the name of promoting in Joe Dodge s words "mountain hospitality for all". It was also emphasized that at some point during the summer, each of the huts in the system probably had a night when they were the best of the best and that the award was given to the hut which just seemed to be able to do that a little more often. It should perhaps be noted here that according to hut system sources the Latchstring Award has gained enough status in the system that at certain times of particular croo success the question is often posed among croo members, "Is this a Latchstring moment?"

By this point, of course, all of this rousing commentary had served to whip the crowd into such an expectant frenzy that they could barely contain themselves. And although only one member of the winning croo was present the first night, because two had already left for the summer and two were back at the hut, the excitement accompanying the presentation was in no way diminished. The winning croo had been considered by the selection committee to be very deserving, because they had a very well run operation and they all made the extra effort required to do an extra special job. They also managed to connect well enough with their guests that more than any other hut the individual croo members were referred to by name in the vast majority of guest comment cards. And it seemed by the amount of whooping and whistling and applause that accompanied the announcement when it was finally made that there was much agreement among the assembled multitude that the right decision had been made. And which was the hut where everybody knew their names? The 2001 Latchstring Award winner was...Galehead!

Hutmaster Caitlin Gray was the croo member on hand the first night to accept the award and she was so thrilled that her hut won that she came back the second night with her croomates, Kristie Robson and Meg Meixner to enjoy the accolades all over again. The guys on the croo, Abe Jaffe and Reuben Levy, were unable to attend either night as they had to leave the mountains beforehand to get back to school. They have all been informed of the bounty which awaits them as honored guests of the OHA at either or both the winter and spring reunions, so hopefully we will all have a chance to meet them on those occasions. Congratulations, 2001 Ghoul Croo!

2000 Latchstring Award

Around 7:30 PM on August 22 at the first of the two Guinea Nights, it was announced to a hushed crowd of croo personnel gathered at the Cabin that the possibly coveted and yet to be prestigious Latchstring Award had been won by the croo of the Pearl of the Western Division and the Crown Jewel of the Franconia Ridge, Greenleaf Hut. The announcement was well received and the trophy (newly adorned with a brass plate containing the words, "Greenleaf Croo 2000" with the individuals listed below) was held up for all to see. Certificates matted in a lovely shade of green (what else?) were handed out to the three croo members present and pictures were taken of the recipients by various people in the crowd to commemorate the occasion.

Much the same scenario took place the following night, but without the suspense, because, of course, the news had spread far and wide by that time. The two Greenleaf croo present that night were encouraged to take the trophy back to the hut the next day and after determining that the contraption was not really as heavy as it looked they eagerly agreed. So hopefully at this moment it is at Greenleaf and prominently displayed for all to see. OH on hand were Ned Baldwin and Bill Barrett the first night and Ned and Sally Dinsmore Baldwin the second night. Bill and Sally told everybody a little bit about the Cabin and the OH Association on their respective nights and Ned presented the award both times after explaining the switch from rookie to croo of the year and outlining the intricate and detailed selection process.

The award will be displayed at the Greenleaf Hut until season's end.

First Annual Latch String Award (1999)

Kristin Robson accepts
1st annual Latchstring Award

The rookie AMC crew member that best represented the Joe Dodge principles of guest service went to Kristin Robson. At a ceremony during the 1999 End-of-Summer Party, Kristin, who worked at Pinkham, received the award for her enthusiastic and welcoming attitude towards guests and her fellow crew. The award is displayed at the OH cabin.