YAM Notes: January/February 2020

By John Wilkinson

In my last column sent from our mini-reunion at Cambridge, I mistakenly referred to our host college as Trinity House instead of Trinity Hall. We know that Harvard has 12 houses and Yale has 14 colleges,  and even Princeton now has six colleges. Cambridge, however, boasts 31 colleges, 27 of them named colleges, three named halls, and one unique Peterhouse, the oldest college, founded in 1284. Trinity Hall  (1350) has the distinction, among many, of being older than its larger, richer (thanks to Henry VIII), neighbor, Trinity College (1546) and one must never confuse the two. In addition to the usual paraphernalia marketed by academia, Trinity Hall has its own chocolate and, more importantly, its own gin with a distinctive flavor (rose and choisya) for a mere $97 per bottle. In fact, the former vice-master of Trinity Hall has twice been accused of sexual harassment while allegedly under the influence of (presumably) Trinity Hall Gin. I digress.

The mini-reunion was terrific. Picture 30+ octogenarians scrambling on hands and knees seeking safe seats in two rows of three punts on the River Cam. No falls or humiliating spills and a magical water tour of the University. During the next five days we toured eight colleges with libraries, chapels, halls, gardens; listened to lectures and earnestly participated in discussions on history, education, economics, politics; visited Ely Cathedral with its notorious (to me) rendering of the Virgin, the Cambridge American Cemetery where an Air Corps cousin is buried, and code-breaking Bletchley Park. Dave Sampsell has prepared a flash drive with pictures of our adventures. They have been placed on our website (Yale60.org, Reunions), including one of Jim Taylor in serene contemplation in the Edenic garden of his alma mater, Trinity Hall. You can also access Dave’s slideshow at youtu.be/5CDBaCx_1D8,  Plans are tentatively in place for another exciting mini-reunion in May, 2021, with Ralph Hirshorn introducing us to his home city of Philadelphia and Ann (Richard) Jones her Wilmington, DE. More later. It promises to be a ‘don’t miss’ opportunity.

Meanwhile, the program is well underway for the ‘60s 60th Reunion in May. Your Executive Committee met this fall and heard a full report from co-chairs Rusty Wing and Dick Sigal. A schedule of lectures, tours, discussions is contemplated, including our traditional memorial service for the over 70 of our cohort who have died since the 55th reunion. Dave Woods has offered to direct the choral pieces with our attending Glee Club members and lead us in “Bright College Years” at the Giamatti Bench. Pete Wells will oversee music under the tent in Timothy Dwight, our host college. This will be our penultimate official five-year reunion. I urge you to attend, not wait till the 65th when we, or, at least most of us, if still here, will really be ancient.

Also at our meeting were new Representative to the Yale Alumni Association assemblies, Donald Dell, and new Chair of Class Agents, Doug Guiler. Our Secretary also announced that there has been a reincarnation of the 25th reunion gift chairs, Levin, Ottaway, and Wilkinson, the Three Musketeers of yesteryear who will cajole you to divert your hard-earned funds from the I.R.S. to Y.A.L.E.

Distributed was John O’Keefe’s description, with striking photos, of Burning Man, the annual camping event which attracts 70,000 participants to the isolated Black Rock Desert of Nevada for a week of radical self-expression in many genres. Some have likened Burning Man to Woodstock, but it is much, much more than that. See NY Times, 4/12/2019. Six of our classmates have attended John’s  slide show of the event. See his description of Burning Man on our website (Yale60.org,  Classmates and Activities). You can also contact him at quenomica@aol.com.

Recent deaths: From Norfolk, VA, John Meek, submariner with the U.S. Navy, chemical engineer, corporate executive, and pillar of the Episcopal Church. From Tucson, AZ, Bill Wing, professor emeritus of physics and optical sciences at the University of Arizona, adviser to the  E.P.A., and nominee twice for the Nobel Prize. Both obituaries  are on the Class website.

Otium cum dignitate