Compiled May 11, 2022
I am working from home today and avoiding the almost three hours I have spent on my daily commute for almost 45 years. It’s a pleasant feeling sitting here in shorts and a tee rather than work garb, although I will admit that, since “dress for your day” has replaced the suit and tie I have worn for my entire career, going into the office is certainly more comfortable than it once was. I keep a suit and tie in my office closet just in case but, generally, I haven’t needed to use it. Perhaps there will be a time when clients return to office visits (about the same time as the oysters return to Oyster Bay), but since the New York Times reported this morning that only 8% of the pre-pandemic workforce has returned to the office full time, I am not going to hold my breath.
I do hold my breath, however, when I turn on the news, because none of it is good and I don’t want to hear about Tom Brady’s contract with Fox Sports in the same general time slot as I hear about Ukraine, the climate, inflation, the markets and the general state of the world. In fact, I don’t want ever to hear about Tom Brady again. Yes, I am a Giants fan. Eli Manning is completing the renovation of a perfectly normal center hall colonial about two miles from where I live, and nobody cares. That’s normal.
So it was with these various emotions filling my soul that I tuned in yesterday to what has become an oasis for the life of my mind to rediscover the community of thinkers I visit with every month on the Class of ’74 Zoom call. I think our regular attendees have come to welcome it and we were pleased to welcome some new attendees to the May call including, but not limited to, Harry Hamlin, Rich Feinstein and Sandra Wood Forand. Rich, by the way, has just become a grandfather for the first time; Harry is about to start filming a series for AMC based in New Orleans; and Sandy is at the forefront of making sure rights of privacy are preserved in, at least, Connecticut. And thank God for all of that.
Over the last six months or so, our monthly call (now the 2nd Tuesday of each month) has featured a variety of speakers whose stories seem to have migrated from post Yale career narratives to increasingly revealing personal journeys, the last of which featured Lela (Everyone knew her as “Singie”) Shepley-Gamble’s moving saga from Wall Street to Buddhism with Canada, marriage, widowhood and child rearing as rest areas along the way. After Singie’s great tale, I emailed my friend Bob Martin, who I can blame for introducing me to the world of investment banking, and we had a great exchange about what does it all mean, a conversation I remember having over and over again at Yale including one particular memorable one with Rob Cohen in the JE dining room on the value of metaphysics where he introduced me to the concept of whether a barely subsisting individual at the bottom of the economic ladder actually has time to focus on whether virtue can be taught. Thanks, Rob, your lesson has served me well. I worked hard to gain the economic freedom that allows me to find time to think, although never enough.
Anyway…on this particular call, we decided to take a break from stories to riff upon, well, what have these get togethers meant to the participants and where would they like to see them go in the future. Apart from being reminded of the impossibility of herding cats, I found the hour delightful. How often do you get 25 really smart people on a single call? And if that isn’t good enough, how often do you get any really smart people on a single call who have no interest in demonstrating how smart they are but just want to move the discussion forward?
So off we went as the topic moved from the calls, to the reunion, to the class as a community that might want to accomplish something by the reunion to what people viewed as their ultimate concerns. I invite you to view the recording that Stu Rohrer, our class keeper of the archives, that he will have posted on our website by the time you read this. I also invite you to read the accompanying chats that Stu preserved which introduces a plethora of ideas. And, finally, I invite you to contribute your own thoughts either on the website or for these notes, as to how to make our fiftieth reunion as meaningful as possible for all who attend. We also want it to be inclusive in the following sense: no story is unwelcome; no idea not respected; no person’s attendance not valued and no intolerance of ideas tolerated. Some questions: do we want to unite around a class project? Do we want to share personal journeys? Do we want to do both? More? Other stuff? We need your ideas and, if you have something to which you are committed, we want you to help make it happen and to share it with the rest of us. As Lisa Goldman put it, it’s an opportunity for leaders to lead. The first to put his actions where his mind is will be Mark Cramolini (no one knew him as Gordon) who has promised to craft what can best be described as a values/mission statement for how we might interact with each other as we try to find a common purpose in our remaining years, really how we diverse, disparate people might become a class. It’s a grand experiment. I invite you to participate.
“So I think I’ll light out for the North Country ahead of the rest cuz Aunt Sally, she’s gonna ‘dopt me and civilize me. And I can’t stand it. I been there before.”