First, let me thank many of you for your good recent correspondence including Ted Over, Carl Wells and Steve Kase. I appreciated each note very much from Carl, who asserted that, while good fences don’t necessarily make good neighbors, they do prevent his dogs from bolting, to Steve who, while not being able to interest his wife in the reunion (a common and not unanticipated issue), actually remembers content from the last one, to Ted whose unabashed humility did not immediately bring to mind the guy with the perfectly straight (and enviable) long blond hair but a much more understated self that I look forward to meeting.
There are other people to thank, including Carolyn Grillo, Joe Orfant and Bob Martin, each of whom took one for (and from) the team and have likely now learned the lesson to never volunteer. I also want to include Thomas Corbi whose IM’s never fail to entertain.
Finally, it is incumbent upon me to thank Harvey Kent and Stu Rohrer who both individually and together picked up the reunion ball I was intent on dropping for lack of bandwidth rather than love. Harvey will now chair the reunion (any volunteers for his partner) and Stu, as always, will lead tech and communications. That’s not say that Shary Aziz and I are not doing our thing. We’re simply doing what we are better at: Shary will be in charge of class gifts and “swag” and I will be doing my usual writing of what Stu sends out, and with, I believe, Gail Heidecorn Kedrus as my OUTREACH co-chair, and a host of college captains including Saybrook’s own Tom Fowler and Mike Dowling who were among the first to volunteer. We need more! Let us know!
Okay, I’ve gotten in a lot of names, But I’m going to add one more: Bob Rettew. You will not have seen Bob’s name in this column before, because he was in the class of 1973, but he is the person as much as any other who influenced my attending Yale.
Bob was a year ahead of me at one of the snobbiest prep schools in New England, but he was anything but a product of the place. From the time, I first heard his voice as a lowly eighth grader (I think he was yelling “this place sucks!” as he slammed his football helmet on the ground), I knew this was a mind that challenged conventional wisdom (not that certain things about the school didn’t suck; it was just heresy to say it). I also think Bob was the first true intellectual I ever met and, since he was a year old, the first person to give me permission to become one as well. While we both hid it well by referring to each other as “Surf” and “Stick,” I will never forget our many intense conversations in the vending machine room at CCL. I mentioned to him that I was fascinated that Yale’s heraldry, albeit manufactured, added the word LUX to Harvard’s VERITAS so that ours read “LIGHT and TRUTH.” Bob wanted to know why and off we went, the English major and the American Studies geek doing our thing that would have bored the crap out of anyone silly enough to sit with us.
A few weeks ago, I learned Bob had passed away. A bunch of us from our class at St. Paul’s agreed to submit memories of him, and I wrote about our conversation around light and truth. And since then, I’ve been thinking about how heavy truth can be without light and how the two go so well together. Why add “light?” There are many uses of the word. It can mean not dark (duh!) or not heavy (double duh!). Faulkner used it to describe pregnancy as in Light in August. And we all know the enlightenment followed the dark ages. And all Elis generally know that Yale was a conservative reaction to the deistic Unitarian heresies being promulgated at Harvard at the dawn of the 18th Century (fortunately, Princeton was a conservative reaction to both gracing us with NOT having the younger Aaron Burr follow his father to Yale since the former had left New Haven to follow Jonathan Edwards to New Jersey). But if a conservative reaction to Harvard, why add light to truth? Very simply, and my friend, Bob, lived this, truth is nothing without light. It’s purely subjective and situational. Only objective truths survive the light. Please remember that over the coming months and darkness will not prevail.