YAM Notes: September/October 2017

By Martin M. Snapp, Jr.

Sefik Buyukyuksel flew in from Istanbul. Andres Von Buch flew in from Buenos Aires. Doug Schofield flew in from Bhutan in the Himalayas. But the most remarkable journey to our reunion belonged to Cliff Allo, who pedaled his human-powered recumbent tricycle all the way from California to Connecticut. He left Santa Monica Pier, the western end of Route 66, on March 26 and arrived at Davenport College two days ahead of schedule on May 29, consuming 3,000 to 4,000 calories per day along the way.

But that paled in comparison to the amount of food we ate at the reunion, and I’m not even counting the Pepe’s pizza. “The excellence and abundance of the food made me wonder whether this was a college reunion or a cruise ship with a faculty,” quipped Randy Alfred.

Pretty much the whole reunion is on our class website, and I hope you’ll check it out. If you weren’t there, you can still get a good feel for what it was like from the videos. And if you were there, it’s a chance to relive some very pleasant memories.

If you watch the John Mauceri lecture, keep your eye on his hands. They’re the hands of a conductor. But this time he wasn’t conducting an orchestra; he was conducting us, using the subtlest gestures to guide our attention in the direction he wanted it to go. You’ll be watching a brilliant teacher at the top of his game. Not for nothing did he study under Leonard Bernstein.

And if you watch the fascinating Classmate Experiences panels, your heart will be warmed by the palpable love that exists between each speaker and the guy he chose to introduce him. Time and change shall not avail . . .

All praises to Tom Gottshall and his reunion committee, Barry Bardo and his college attendance captains, and Mike Kail and his class book crew, including Bob Miller’s wonderfully witty cartoons; John Dillon’s erudite Latin epigrams; Dave Richards’s absorbing history of our centennial predecessors in the Class of 1867; Barry Golson’s delightful doggerels; Andy Beveridge’s statistical portrait of our class; the long essays by Karl Marlantes, Randy Alfred, David Foster, Frank Berliner, and Maury Yeston; and, especially, Frank Clifford’s moving eulogies for our deceased classmates—not only his essay about Bill Hilgendorf that appropriately begins the book, but also the shorter obits interspersed throughout, each one a gem of conciseness, compassion, and understanding.

There were three ’67-related exhibits at the reunion: one in Sterling Library celebrating the authors in our class, curated by Dave Richards; and two at the Art Gallery: John Jackson’s dazzling collection of rare banknotes (who knew money could be so beautiful?), which he is donating to Yale; and three paintings by Hugh Steers ’85 depicting the anguish of the AIDS epidemic, which Lou Wiley donated to the Art Gallery in honor of Paul Monette and his partner Roger Horwitz, both of whom died of AIDS, as did Steers himself.

A special note of thanks to the Whiffenpoofs—especially their leader, pitchpipe Norm Hile—who have been the anchor of our reunions for as long as I can remember. And Class Treasurer Peter Petkas, whose wise management of our finances has enabled us to continue our tradition of subsidizing reunion fees for less affluent classmates and the surviving spouses of our deceased classmates. And, of course, Class Secretary Joe Briley, who epitomizes Ronald Reagan’s maxim (or was it Harry Truman’s?), “There’s nothing you can’t accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

But the real reason why the class book and the reunion were so successful was none of the above. It was you guys. Tom, Mike, and their teams worked hard for five years, almost from the moment the 45th reunion was over, but what really made this the best reunion ever was the 407 classmates and 317 guests who arrived with one thing on their minds: to enjoy being with their friends. And that’s exactly what they did.

It’s the same way with the class book. The heart and soul of the book are the 500-plus individual essays you wrote. That’s well over half our class. I’m still reading them and still learning more about you all, and I’m prouder than ever to be among your company.

The last thing I did on Sunday morning before leaving for home was take a sentimental journey with John Jackson to our old college, Calhoun (aka Hopper). The current head of college, sociology professor Julia Adams, was away at an academic conference, but her husband and associate head of college, Hans Van Dijk, was there, and he couldn’t have been nicer. And the old college looks better than ever.

Which reminds me: Weren’t we lucky to have such great college masters during our time at Yale? In Calhoun we had Davie and Joy Napier, who were surrogate parents for many of us, and their daughter Anne, who was like our little sister. Mr. and Mrs. Napier are gone now, but Anne sent me this message for the Calhoun guys (and I’ll bet if I asked the families of the other college masters, they’d say the same thing): “Joy and Davie worked all summer each year to memorize your names. Further, they worked on remembering where you were from and what you hoped to study. It was with genuine curiosity and glee that they welcomed you to Calhoun. The tattered sign on the courtyard entrance to the master’s house said, ‘Come in!’ and they meant just that! ‘Come into our lives.’ They worried about you, cheered you on, watched out for you. They loved you Yale boys. I believe they still do.”

Finally, I try not to write about myself in this space because it isn’t about me; it’s about you. But something wonderful happened to me at the reunion, and it’s because of you. I wrote about it in my newspaper column; so if you’d like to read it, click on the link.

Thank you, my friends.