Class Notes: Special Covid-19 edition

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Alec Haverstick
Alec Haverstick

Dear Classmates: Like most, if not all, of you, I am in my seventh week of quarantine, isolation, social distancing, working from home or whatever you want to call it. And I have a question for each of you which I will phrase in my best Jerseyese: HOW YOU DOO-IN? Are you well? Are you sick? Are you sick of being home? Is your spouse sick of you being home?  What are you thinking about all this?

The reasons I ask are many, but here are two:

  • My last communication to you all, which, because of the ridiculous delay between writing  class notes and seeing them published , you will not yet have received, was written on March 9th and contains musings on whether to go to work or not four days before my company asked us to work from home, and
  • It occurs to me that, for the first time since we graduated, we actually have something that we all share and it’s not disdain for Harvard. It’s Covid 19.

My first real sense of the depth and breadth of what was not yet called a pandemic was not the press nor the government, it was Facebook. In particular, it was the posts from a beautiful writer based in Lucca, Italy named Jonell Galloway

Peter and Jonell

Now most of you will not have heard of Jonell, but you will meet her at our 50th. That’s because she’s married to our classmate Peter White. Peter and Jonell (see photo) live in Lucca, Italy about a four hours south of Bergamo, the initial epicenter of the virus which reached Italy in force in late February, officially February 20th

The first post I saw from Jonell was the first week of March. I had been pretty much off FB then because I had no time for it, but, as isolation set in, I began to rediscover its utility as a social connector. More on that in a minute. 

Anyway, Jonell’s letters from the pandemic were not only mesmerizing, they were lovely. Here’s an excerpt from one of my favorites which I quote with her permission. It’s called “Love in the Time of Coronavirus:

“March 29th: Living in lockdown for 3 weeks is not all negative….
My husband and I were already madly in love, and confinement has reinforced it. The only argument we’ve had was about the placement of a comma, and we argue about commas even in normal times, so I’m not worried…. We’ve realized what an incredible complicity we have. Liking your spouse or partner helps in these hard times as do tolerance and adaptability.”

I could go on but I won’t. If you want to read more, go on FB and friend Jonell. Let her know you know Peter and me.  Knowing me won’t help much. Knowing Peter may get you a fabulous meal as Jonell is also a graduate of Cordon Bleu. 

So that brings me back to Facebook with which I have, at best, a love/hate relationship. I’ve grudgingly discovered FB has a utility in these times of quarantine. It allows me access to friends, to their thoughts and, importantly, to their humor. Here’s what I’ve discovered:

Jane Miller writes great haiku and is a master of the double entendre and the slightly risqué pun. Carolyn Grillo has been to a lot more places than she thinks. Fred Peters understands the NYC real estate market better than anybody I know, Gale Haynes has a green thumb and Naomi Lewin could have starred in “Glee”. Barbara Borst would be able to join us for lunch now that classes are suspended but the Yale Club is closed. Joan Katter is very funny. Peter Marshall and Peter White remind me of Point/ Counterpoint in the 70’s. I keep waiting for one Peter to call the other Peter an “ignorant slut.” But which is Shana Alexander or James Kilpatrick?

Shari Aziz, Harvey Kent, Stu Rohrer and yours truly (see photos) have spent a lot of time recently on a plan to improve communications within the class of which this email is a part. Basically, we have agreed that Yale based communications suck and that we are no more interested in 95% of the formal communications which come from Yale than you are. Most of them are a waste either of paper or of storage. Personally, I hate the editorial restrictions imposed by the YAM.  What we are interested in is communication within our class and with the classes on either side of us and in getting more of you to come back for our 50th because you’re excited about continuing the conversations you began over the years preceding the event. More to follow but here’s a part of the plan. 

I will continue to post a column in the YAM to keep Yale happy. It will also be emailed to each of you on the day it is written. But the emailed versions and the printed version may differ widely or not. If you want your classmates to know stuff but not the YAM, mark it “email only” and that’s what it will be.

Finally, we’d like to email photos of people in their masks. Several of them accompany this email. Send us yours and we’ll get them out. 

*Our Facebook group is private. Ask Alec for an invite!


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