Third Annual 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!