YAM Notes: January/February 2009

By Rich Banbury

It’s interesting to look at the scatter patterns for the souls of ’60, our origins and destinations, geographically speaking.  When we lined up on September 13, 1956 for freshman registration, 987 of us had traveled to New Haven to join the 29 classmates who already resided in the Elm City, 16 of whom had graduated from Hillhouse High School, virtually on the Yale campus across from the Gym.  And of the five mates who now live in New Haven, only Harvey Feinberg, a semi-retired history professor at Southern Connecticut State University, was also among those 29 New Haven natives of 1956.  In those days before jet plans and the Interstate Highway system, many of us did not have to travel far.  New York State barely edged Connecticut, 186 to 184, as the primary breeding ground for the new class of bulldogs.  Pennsylvania was third, with 85, while New Jersey (57), Ohio (55), Massachusetts (53), and Illinois (50) were all on essentially equal ground in sending their sons to New Haven.

Our 2005 Reunion book provides some notable contrasts with those yearling profiles.  Where do the approximately 870 surviving classmates, less the 69 ensconced at undisclosed locations, now dwell?  California, which contributed only 36 Elis to our incoming class, is now home to 83 of us, while Arizona’s original number has doubled to 12.  Our 37 members now living in Florida significantly outnumber the stalwart nine who made their way in 1956 from the Sunshine State to the Elm City.   Although the Class census from New York State has dwindled from 186 matriculants to 106 alums, the number for New York City has actually increased over the intervening years from 52 to 58.  And while the current numbers for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio and Illinois have substantially declined to 32, 20, 19 and 21 respectively, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which originated only 53 class members, is now home to an impressive 69.

Of those who walked through Phelps Gate that long ago September, 16 had traveled from foreign lands, including three residents of Havana.  There are now 28 of us living outside  the United States, none of whom travel on Cuban passports.  I have no data regarding our departed comrades, but if post-mortem habitats exist, I’m confident that all of our colleagues have found their way to the Promised Land and signed up with the Yale Club of Heaven.

John Hetherington has been added to the political endangered species list, having survived as one of the few Republicans elected in November to the Connecticut Legislature.  Of the state’s 24 shoreline towns, John’s homestead of Darien was the only one to vote for John McCain.

The University of Michigan has recently honored Carl Akerlof with a Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award.  Carl is a leading researcher in the area of astrophysics and has pioneered breakthrough science in the esoteric field of tera-electron-volt gamma-ray astronomy.  Prominent on a planet-wide level, the citation recognizes Carl for “his creation and leadership of a collaborative, international team of about 45 physicists and astronomers who study gamma-ray bursts that had been a persistent mystery for many years”.  One of the astronomical instruments that he developed has observed the brightest optical object ever detected.  In addition to his outstanding research, Carl has also designed innovative lab courses at Ann Arbor, dramatically increasing student enrollments and outstanding evaluations for those courses.

Out in Greeley, Colorado, Bill Garnsey stays busy mentoring and life coaching adults and married couples.  With golf in the summer and skiing in the winter, Bill is setting a good  example of physical fitness through outdoor activities for his eight grandchildren.

The Yale Center for British Art recently staged the world premiere of Gilbert and George, a documentary produced by Lynn and Rob Hanke.  The film relates the story of Gilbert Prousch and George Passmore, two well-known contemporary British artists who, as Rob puts it, “work as one artist … permanently compelled to be inseparable from each other and their art”.  This story traces the humble beginnings of these two talented artists and their unique collaboration in producing world-class works of art.  Television and DVD distribution is anticipated in 2009.

Don Catlin found himself at the epicenter of last year’s controversy over the doping allegations leveled against Tour de France multiple winner and celebrity Lance Armstrong.  Prominently featured in the New York Times and Sports Illustrated, Don was retained by Armstrong to investigate the allegations.  The SI article bills Don as “one of the world’s top antidopping detectives”.  The former head of UCLA’s Olympic Analytical Laboratory, Don is now the chief science officer of Anti-Doping Sciences Institute, where his son Oliver is the ceo.  One of the Times articles quotes Don as saying that he would “post Armstrong’s biological information online for public scrutiny”.  That may be a first for professional athletes.  Don and the aforementioned Harvey Feinberg were both members of that distinguished and productive Hillhouse High class of 1956.