YAM Notes: January/February 2012

By Rich Banbury

Edinburgh is to drama what Cannes and Sundance are to film.  And once again, Sandy Campbell has had a successful play premiered at the Edinburgh Festival, one of 44 in the Scotland Street series.  The World According to Bertie, adapted from a book of the same title, develops the story of a six-year-old boy and a border collie.  All 46 performances were sold out, and Bertie was designated in the Scotsman as a “Hot Show”.  Sandy and his co-author, Lydia Bruce, had another hit drama at Edinburgh, Patriot Act, a couple of years ago.  Perhaps Sandy, whose nom de plume is Sandy Burns, should get together with Wilse Keithline, who was recently cast in a community theatre production of Curtains, the professional version of which won a Tony as a Broadway show.  That casting call would work best for Wilse if the dramatis personae includes young Bertie’s grandfather.

Perhaps the most engaging lecture course in Yale College during our day was John Morton Blum’s epic interpretation of American History, followed closely by Vincent Scully’s tour de force in History of Art, with his inspiring narrated slide shows, during which architecture was often observed as a form of sculpture.  Film buffs may remember Professor Blum’s role as an historian in Woody Allen’s Zelig, that zany story about a ubiquitous yet amorphous 1920’s celebrity.  Professor Blum, who recently passed away at 90, was also a congenial individual who had close relationships with Pete Riddle, Barry Schaller, and John Wilkinson.  It turns out that Barry was Pam and John Blum’s “regular babysitter & occasional handyman” during both college and law school years.  Pete enjoyed an extensive correspondence with Professor Blum over the years, and John had personal and family relationships with the Blums under the elms in New Haven.

Nicki and I were invited to crash a Calhoun Reunion at the beautiful lake home of Mike Griffin and partner Molly Butler Hart, in Warren, one of the quintessential New England towns in northwest Connecticut.  The Calhoun contingent included Nancy and Owen Cylke (Bethesda), Joan and Tom Dent (Santa Barbara), with Mary and Harold Hammet (Fort Worth).  The non-Calhoun crashers included Helen and Pete Knudsen (Hamden, CT) and Patti and Tom Yamin (New York).  Molly and Mike were gracious hosts to this wayward Yalie collection.  Many memories and lots of laughs joyously filled the marvelous space and treasured time spent together.

The invasion of Charleston on March 19th has been fully subscribed.  The South Carolina low country cuisine, and various planned activities, punctuated with lots of free time, are awaiting the invasion force of approximately one hundred guys and dolls.

It was a good year for hardy classmates to renew friendships and share experiences.  Brad Warner joined Reuel Warriner and Tom Urmston in Manhattan for a Chi Psi and Navy reunionAlso in Manhattan, Brad and Gerry Tyrrell were dinner guests at the home of Jerald Fessenden.  On both occasions, fond memories of the late Barron Fletcher were shared by all.  In the same vein, Ellen and Jock Pillsbury teamed up with Lyn and Jim Taylor for a European adventure, highlighted by high-end hiking in the Alps, with friend and professional Alpine guide Fred Jacobson leading the way.

Our golfing guys are still driving, chipping and putting, a fair way to enjoy the company of classmates.  The most recent stop on this tour, hosted by Merrill Magowan and Tom Trowbridge, included the scenic California courses at Cypress Point, Pasatiempo, and the Black Horse at Fort Ord.  Once again, Keith Kittle won the three-day competition with a low gross of 254.  Mike Harris, with two birds, and Bill Shipman shared the low net prize, using the modified Stableford scoring format.  Thanks to our golfing czar Steve Lasewicz for coordinating this established class tradition and reporting the results.  Taking a different course, Alan Gilison recently scored a very competitive 76 at the Beinecke Member Guest Invitational on the venerable Yale Golf Course.

A conversation with the Class of 1986 has been initiated with regard to our Summer fellowships.  These three programs, John Heinz, Les Aspin, and Branford, have been a hands-on project with our Class funding the programs and choosing the undergraduates who benefit from them.  One general concept is to enlist another class to participate in the administration of these fellowships and eventually assume that responsibility.  Our point man is Arvin Murch.  This is a preliminary exploration, and the signals from 1986 have so far been ambivalent.

Recent research has established the importance of mind over matter when it comes to leading an active and fulfilling life during the senior decades.  These investigations, including work by psychology Professor Becca Levy at Yale, conclude that “expectations of their capabilities can have a greater impact on health, happiness and even longevity than the date on their birth certificate” (The Hartford Courant, Oct. 19, 2011, D3).  According to this research, pessimism about elderly decline can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and subjective age has been found to be more important than chronological age in predicting performance on memory and other mental tasks.  So …