July 2023 Class Notes

Compiled May 17, 2023

Alec Haverstick
Alec Haverstick

Good morning all you Yale 74ers anxiously awaiting news! For three years, the phrase most oft repeated in my presence has been, “You’re on mute!” But no longer. It has been replaced by a multitude of questions most often amounting to “what are the reunion dates?” This can be asked in direct form, often by the less passive aggressive among us, but it can also be delivered with an edge as in “how can you possibly not know the blankety blank dates?” No mas, por favor! I don’t know the dates because Yale does not make them public until after this year’s reunions are over. Secrecy rules! Why? I have no clue.  Perhaps it is a residual of the days where only Masons could run major houses of learning or perhaps it stems from the same disregard of prevailing sentiments exhibited by John Davenport in hiding the regicides (he may have earned salvation but he lost his colony). At any rate, your loyal Steering Committee is pressing forward with the same fervor our Alma Mater’s forbearers offered diseased blankets to impress and subdue those who met them on the shores of this great nation. 

John Davenport
John Davenport (Yale Art Gallery)

Here’s what we do know: the reunion will be one of two weekends: either the last weekend of May or the first weekend in June, 2024. And it will not be a “pop up” show or a flash mob in Harvard Yard or outside Nassau Hall. But it would be fun to see the hole made by Alexander Hamilton in the latter during the battle of Princeton. Traditional thinking has it that he fired the cannon because he had been rejected by President Witherspoon in favor of James Madison, thus commencing the intellectual fracas that would not only result in the Federalist Papers but also in Washington DC becoming the nation’s capital and, years later, Hamilton being killed by a Princeton graduate whose father was a Yale graduate, whose grandfather was Jonathan Edwards and whose cousin was Timothy Dwight. 

Okay… enough of the past except as Cleanth Brooks once taught me, “the past isn’t dead; it’s not even past.” Or was that Carm Cozza?

Anyway…deep breaths… and back to the reunion: all of us in the trenches have deeply appreciated the effort so many of you put into responding to our initial survey and the numbers of people indicating their willingness to volunteer, thus finally proving that the lessons of Vietnam have not been retained by most of us. You may not be able to win a land war in Asia but you sure as hell can try! 

Vic Corcoran
Vic Corcoran
McKim Symington
McKim Symington

Speaking of Vietnam (how’s that for an awkward transition?): I have been honored and grateful for a stream of communication from McKim Symington–one of our class Vietnam vets– first about the passing of Ben Works several years ago and more recently about the passing of Vic Corcoran in Tahiti on March 23rd. It appears Vic eschewed the “grim professionalism” Kingman Brewster claimed to see in us and led a life that more belongs in a novel than in the class notes. While his calling was not mine, it was Vic’s, and we honor him for it. According to McKim’s emails, Vic, who had previously turned down the opportunity to swim in the 1968 Olympics, carried his aquatic skills both to Vietnam and, in 1979, to the French Foreign Legion special forces as a “reconnaissance swimmer” where he specialized “offensive nautical intervention” for the balance of his career, including eight months of the Gulf War, ultimately receiving the Croix de Guerre which I understand is more or less the equivalent of our Silver Star. He retired to Tahiti and ultimately passed from cancer. McKim wonders if the cancer was connected to exposure to Agent Orange, the effects of which McKim has experienced but is now, thankfully, in remission.

Paul Zelinsky, Yale Class of 1974
Paul Zelinsky

News from classmates like McKim always gives me pause and prompts me to try to fathom how many different life experiences our classmates had before, during and after Yale. Whereas prior generations may have marched off to one of the two great wars of the last century or become men in grey flannel suits, our class, for so many reasons including Yale’s own interest in broadening its base of matriculants, seems incredibly diverse in its post graduate pursuits. I was especially reminded of this at our last Zoom (as I am on each Zoom) when we listened to Paul Zelinsky and were treated to an engrossing talk on the evolution of a Caldecott Award winning illustrator (Sandra Boynton, you who also have multiple honors, you’re next!!!) 

Again I drift. How about some news: first from Ozzie Taube

“After 43 years as a pediatrician, I am retiring June 30. Yes, a combo of excitement and fear would accurately describe my feelings at this point. I will be continuing advocacy work for kids and adolescents, as a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (which is chock full of retired pediatricians, who now have time to do the advocacy work! Dobbs V. Jackson has created a real crisis in teen reproductive care, among other issues). In about a week, I will be joining my son, who invited me to hike about 40 miles on the Appalachian trail in Virginia. Should be an interesting pairing: I am a CREAKY  OLD GUY; my 28 year old son runs marathons for a hobby. At Yale, I acted, in an outdoor production (Saybrook College Courtyard) of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. I think this Appalachian trail trip is going to be an outdoor production of: Waiting for Ol’ Ozzie. Tuesdays are very busy for me in my job, but I look forward, this summer, to joining the monthly zoom meetings. Warm regards to all my Yale friends. Ozzie”

Thank you, Dr. Taube, and a special thank you to two blasts from the past, Tom Fowler and Mike Dowling, who had the temerity to question my memory in a recent much appreciated email.

Be careful out there!