Class Notes January 2015

Bitter cold and generally lousy weather has invaded the Northeast as I write this column so please excuse any brain farts that emerge from my incipient brain freeze (Ooops! Was that just one?). Anyway, since winter supposedly presages the rebirths of spring, I wanted to share news of two resuscitated projects that seem to have gained some traction in recent weeks.

The first achievement by and for the Class of 1974 as we enter 2015 is that we have finally got our Facebook page up and running! While in no sense can we fully escape an association with the Luddites, our failures in early adoption to this technology should be viewed less as opposition to the new media but rather attributed to our several yearlong inability to get it right. Nonetheless, 35 classmates have signed on since early December and we hope more of you will join us. Here’s how:

1) Join Facebook
2) Send me a friend request
3) Once I have received it, I will both accept it and invite you to join our “secret”
(i.e. by invitation only) site.

From then on you will have access to the posts by any member, and you can post whatever thoughts you may have, including those really cute ones I received around the reunions from those of you who fiercely pledged never to think again about Yale. Here’s your chance to vent. Remember “sharing is caring”. Oh God, there I go again. Wake up brain!

Second only to our FB “triumph” is the reintroduction of monthly lunches at the Yale Club in NYC. While the Supreme Court is renowned for reconvening the first Monday in October, the Yale Class of 1974 now reconvenes the first Tuesday of every month. We held our first such gathering in December and our second just this week ( if you were on FB, you’d already know this!). The first was attended by six souls other than your scribe (Paul Zelinsky, Barb Guss, Pedro Castillo (El Liberator Cubano), Stu Rohrer, Susan Lightfoot, and Scott Glasscock (El Presidente Yale Club Nuevo York!) but we doubled our attendance on the second try. Present were Paul Zelinsky (that’s twice Paul!), Brian Kelly, Geoffrey Menin, Anne Riney, Joan Sari Faier, John Sullivan, Shari Aziz, Will Draper, Scott Glasscock, Chet Cobb, the newly single Barbara Guss (look out New York!) and yours truly.

Fred Peters was supposed to join us but he was feeling under the weather so simply stayed on Facebook for the day. Fred is a true FB maven and posts on everything from pies to real estate prices to the joy of having grandchildren. His wife, Alexandra, is equally adept and the running commentary between the two on FB is wondrous to behold. For some reason they constantly “like” each other’s posts and comment on them to a fare thee well. True entertainment from a very loving couple.

At my end of the table the topic was the prior weekend’s “society murder” where a 30 year old Princeton grad allegedly shot his father, also a Princeton grad, after sending his mother out for a sandwich. The latter fact has been established so I don’t have to “allegedly” sent his mother out for a sandwich. It’s actually a horrific story but for those of us whose primary source of news is The New York Post, it’s the fodder of many a good conversation. Or maybe we were all suffering from brain freeze because we were drinking ice tea. The other end of the table looked to be drinking wine so I’m sure their conversation focused on more weighty topics like the meaning of whiteness to Melville and Pascal’s Wager. Or maybe they were just sayin “good grapes” but it seemed that we all had a good time. More importantly, each of us seemed interested in what others had to say, which is why I kept my mouth shut.

scott austin yale 1974Less happy news comes from College Station, Texas where we lost classmate Scott Austin quite unexpectedly. Here is Scott’s obituary. And it makes for interesting reading. Apparently Scott was a well recognized authority in ancient Greek philosophy and, as a Professor at Texas A&M, was revered for his “pedagogy and devotion to students.” What more can be asked of a scholar? To Scott’s family and to the Texas A&M community, we are very sorry for your loss.

I will end this column with some observations that have been inspired by the reunion, notes on FB, the two lunches, various correspondence with classmates since my assuming the role of Class Secretary and the growing awareness of mortality that recent losses have occasioned: We all came to Yale from very different places at a very difficult period in our country’s history. For four years, while being pretty much sheltered from the realities ex-Yale, we were none the less bombarded by them through the media, the faculty and because there was no real hiding. Yet I often look back and think, “With all that was going on in the world, I could still delight in a Yale Hockey victory, in a heroic performance by Kevin Rogan in our last football game as undergrads; in a good conversation, a club soccer game, in the elevated discourse of the classroom and the intellectual substance of my major which changed my view of the world and myself forever. How was that the case?” And the answer is quite simply, because being at Yale
allowed it to happen. And then I think that no matter who we were, what we did or do now, or what has happened, we had four years where we were allowed to try on myriad
versions of who we might be become. That was Yale’s gift to all of us and why I assume the role of Class Secretary and Regional Social Cheerleader, But I also do it because people like Scott Austin, Burr Tweedy, Luigi Attardi and others deserve to be remembered for the lives they led and how they touched ours.

We all went different ways, but for four brief years we had it all. Imagine that.


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