[Filed May 26, 2016. If you haven’t joined our Facebook group yet please email email@example.com to get your invitation]
One of the wonderful things about being Class Secretary is that I have many opportunities to recognize my own fallibility and even apologize for it. With that I begin this column with a sincere apology both to Charlie Godwin and Jenny Phillips Godwin for having misfiled or misplaced the following which was sent to me on February 16th.
“Our first correspondence ever is to announce our impending 45th wedding anniversary and to stake our claim as the first Yale undergraduate married couple. We entered Yale in 1969 with the class of ’73 and wed March 27, 1971. Our fondest regards to all who made the trip to Mississippi for the spring break wedding. We took a leave of absence to travel in Europe and returned to graduate in ’74. Gabriel, who we believe to be the first Yale undergrad baby, was born August 14, 1972. After that we were blessed with two more children and now three grandchildren. We consider our long friendship and love affair our life’s great achievement and I think of myself the luckiest guy in the world. We have kept in touch sporadically with a few college friends and have travelled extensively with George Downsbrough ’73 and his wife Tamara. We live a mostly quiet life in coastal North Carolina. We would love to hear from old friends and promise to be better about being in touch.”
Congratulations to both of you! And I promise to be a better scribe. We just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary and were treated to a video from our kids that I have reposted on Facebook and now can be found on YouTube. It was the best present we could have gotten.
Now back to the present:
About an hour ago, as I was suffering from the scribe’s nightmare of nothing to report, I received a phone call from a reporter for USA Today asking about our own Sherrod Brown. The reporter seemed to think that as the class scribe, recent reunion chair and fellow Saybrugian, I would have some pithy insights into a man who is often mentioned as the “perfect VP candidate” for Hillary Clinton. The lone drawback seems to be that he has several years left in his term which would allow the Republican governor of Ohio and onetime presidential hopeful, himself, to appoint a fellow GOPer to fill Sherry’s seat. That’s apparently a non-starter in a year where the Democrats have pledged to win back the Senate. Ah politics!
Anyway, I was embarrassed to say that I really didn’t know Sherry and was not in a position to say anything about him (thus avoiding the current political trend to comment on anything just because it’s there). But my response caused me to reflect about how I could not have known him. I mean, I remember him physically, but in our four years of living in close proximity, first in Wright Hall and then in Saybrook, I don’t remember our exchanging a single word. We were ships that passed in the night. And then, of course, that reflection made me think back to the Yale of our time and how, if one objectively looked at our class, it made complete sense that, no matter our physical proximity, any two people would have had nothing in common other than attending Yale and by the early 1970’s, that wasn’t enough.
It would seem that all entering classes at any university are definitionally an experiment, but I’m not so sure that was the case at Yale as recently as a few years before we were admitted. From inception through the mid-1960s, anecdotal evidence, at least, suggests that matriculation at Yale was largely a matter of self-selection, the next stop for well-heeled families from homogeneous backgrounds and the ability to afford private education for 17 years (K through college). One arrived at Yale from a “feeder” school knowing many classmates before you arrived. The challenge of making one’s way through an increasingly pluralistic environment was one not known by most of our predecessors until the arrival of the redoubtable Inslee Clark. How closed that Yale must have been! It was not one I would have applied to. In fact, until Yale admitted women, it wouldn’t have been on my radar either. So the fact that I didn’t know Sherry is my loss; I was too busy seeking my own level to find those at a level beyond. Congratulations, Sherry on your outstanding achievements to date.
It’s finally warm in New York City, perhaps a little too warm as it went from the drizzly fifties at the beginning the week to a high of ninety yesterday. I’m off momentarily to begin a Memorial Day weekend that will begin with a visit from my son, his wife and their three kids. They are on their way from Connecticut to the Princeton Reunion. Since he went to Georgetown and she to Cornell, one might ask why but her brother, who lives in Hong Kong and her father, who is not only Princeton ’74 but also president of Princeton’s alumni association go every year so it’s an opportunity for a family reunion for my daughter-in-law. I have already told Sam that if he comes back in one of those ridiculous striped Princeton reunion blazers, I’ll burn it.
And so it goes….