YAM Notes: July/August 2007

By Rich Banbury

Six times a year I have the opportunity, as a labor of love and respect, to write of matters concerning a group of guys in their 60’s appropriately known as the Yale Class of 1960.  Where does this varied collection of bipeds fall on the spectrum of human associations?  It must be somewhere in the vast chasm between a cohesive team, say the Boston Red Sox, and the survivors of the Titanic.   Several members of the Class, our own little lost sheep, have gone astray.  Either we cannot find them or they would just as soon not be found.  For many others, however, there is a strong but undefined force pulling us together, somewhat like an extended family of second and third cousins with their wives and girlfriends.  And for us that force grows as the years pass.

And so it was in Boston.  The early May New England weather was perfect for our three-day gathering of the clan.  Thursday featured the history of Boston, including a tour on the amphibian Ducks, a multi-purpose vehicle which doesn’t know whether it’s a bus or a boat.  Following a visit to the well-preserved U.S.S. Constitution, known to the original New England Patriots as Old Ironsides, there was an evening cruise on Boston Harbor, sans the Tea Party.

Friday began with a tour of the Edward Hopper special exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts.  We were well prepped for viewing Hopper by Carol Troyen ’71, whose introductory lecture brought the artist and his work into historic and stylistic perspective.  Carol, the curator of the Hopper exhibit, was introduced with humor and panache by Ted Stebbins, the distinguished curator of American art at Harvard’s Fogg Museum.  Friday night was reserved for a concert by the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall, where conductor Keith Lockhart delighted the audience with music from the ‘60s  and ‘70s.  The energetic and limber Lockhart reprised lively scores from both stage and screen, including My Fair Lady, Mary Popins, Lawrence of Arabia and The Sound of Music.  The program concluded with an audience sing-a-long, opening with Margaritaville and finishing with a spirited rendition of American Pie.  (We then left the Chevy at the levee and danced our way back to our respective hotels.)

Charlie Nesson, an engaging and provocative professor at Harvard Law School, started us off in Cambridge on Saturday morning.  Two secrets were revealed during Charlie’s talk:  (1) Harvard has sold the digital rights to its entire library collection to Google, and (2) the aforesaid Ted Stebbins, who introduced his old card-playing friend, runs the “best poker game in Cambridge”.  Following a talk by Yale Professor Paul Bracken, who discussed the surging economies of Asia, Peter Knudsen introduced three Yale undergraduates who have been awarded summer study grants through the Aspin, Heinz and Branford Fellowships.  These articulate students, and many others who have greatly benefited from the opportunities underwritten by our class, impressively represent the future leadership of our country.

A Class dinner at the Harvard Club on Saturday night brought this magnificent Reunion to a conclusion.  Peter Wells, our dynamic ceo, gave special recognition to Mike Dickerson, the keeper of the Class website at yale60.org, and to Pete Knudsen for his coordination of the three fellowship programs, which include interviewing panels headed by Chuck Schmitz (Aspin), Bill Weber (Heinz), and Arvin Murch (Branford).  (One of our erstwhile compatriots, Harry Mazadoorian, had to duck out a day early in order to receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Quinnipiac University.)

This highly successful Reunion was diligently organized and skillfully executed by Jim Taylor, Bob Ackerman, Al Durfee, Dave Carls and Ted Stebbins.  It was not only an intellectual and aesthetic success, but more importantly an opportunity to renew old acquaintances and forge new friendships, not just among mates but also among the many wives and special companions who brought the total participation to over 100.

For those who invest in the uncommon stock of the Class, I can report that our net worth as of March 31, 2007 was $59,899, an increase of $822 from the prior year.  This portfolio continues under the guidance and administration of Dave Carls. 

Talk of a possible Reunion in China has attracted the attention of Boris Shlomm, who has two joint ventures operating in that vast entrepreneurial land, including one in the exotic province of Inner Mongolia.  Boris reports that his son Daniel ’96, who studied Chinese at Yale, is now responsible for the management of these Sino-American enterprises.

We can add Dr. Bob Schmidt to the class club of aviators.  Bob reports that his “few years behind the stick” were something of an adventure, including several dicey flights due to nasty weather conditions, with diversions to landing locations far from the original destination.  A retired general and vascular surgeon, Bob hangs out in Milwaukee.

An encrypted postcard from Ecuador gives proof of Yogi Jensen’s interest in the development of oil reserves on the remote Ecuadorian frontier with Brazil.  Whether Yogi’s interestin the subject is of a professional nature or merely the keen observation of a perceptive tourist could not be deciphered from the cursive script on the card.