YAM Notes: July/August 2010

By Rich Banbury

Mother Yale warmly welcomed home 314 of her sons for the 1960 family reunion in New Haven during the first week of June.  Father Time, always the linear thinker, observed the festivities respectfully and approvingly, but with a quizzical smile on his lips.  The presence and participation of 251 spouses and special friends helped make the party a truly joyous affair.  We gave praise to alma mater and she in turn reflected it back upon us.

The range and depth of the academic programs available during Reunion week were extraordinary.  Spearheaded by Peter Knudsen, the three-day panel presentations at scenic Water’s Edge on the Connecticut shore were highly informative and well attended.  The full-day program on the subject of China Today and Tomorrow included classmates Oscar Tang, Professor Tim Light, and Po-Wen Huang, a resident of Beijing.  China is clearly a dynamic country, with what was described as a non-ideological regime where the young generation “laugh at the Marxist version of communism”.  Po-Wen estimates that private enterprise in China accounts for approximately 70% of GNP.  Other pre-Reunion panels at Water’s Edge included George McClain, Bob Neville, and Jim Lodwick on the religions of the world, as well a panel on Africa, moderated by John Wilkinson, with John Bing, John Dwyer, and Harvey Feinberg.

The featured class speaker Saturday afternoon was Patch Adams, even more idiosyncratic in person than as portrayed by Robin Williams in the feature film.  Recognizing each other’s creativity and curiosity, Patch was introduced by his friend Dave Sellers.  Physician, philosopher, comedian, clown, humorist and humanitarian, Patch is a brilliant and dynamic lecturer.  Reflecting on the inadequacies of the healthcare delivery systems in our country, the role of humor as therapy, and his clinical outreach to the most underserved outposts on the planet, Patch presents as a force of nature with an indomitable spirit.  At one point, dressed in a clown outfit, Patch indulged in some clowning riffs to illustrate how absurdity can be disarming.  During the second hour of this unique performance, a panel of classmates in the healthcare professions shared their observations and insights, as well as their reflections on Dr. Adams’ message.  The panel members were Kevin Herrington, Steve Kunitz, Larry Nazarian, Karl Robinson, and Bill Wiese.

Another featured speaker was Marcus Giamatti, who gave a dynamic and animated soliloquy regarding the honorable avocation of being a member of Red Sox Nation, a cult status which he inherited from his father.  A professional actor, who has played Hamlet, Marcus is taller and leaner than his younger, better-known brother Paul, who played John Adams in the acclaimed PBS documentary.  Marcus declared that being a citizen of Red Sox Nation required experiencing joy followed by despair on the many occasions in which the Red Sox came ever so close before the gods of baseball yet again wrote a tragic ending to the season.  There were of course references to light-hitting Bucky Dent’s home run in 1978 and the muffed grounder by Bill Buckner in 1986.  Given that special place in the panoply of baseball, Marcus did not seem to know what to believe about the championship seasons of 2004 and 2007.  Although making reference to those triumphs, this loyal son apparently considers 2004 and 2007 as aberrations to be examined with a suspicious eye, perhaps a pair of Trojan horses mistakenly allowed inside the temple.  After his talk, I advised Marcus of similar broodings by Les Epstein in our 25th reunion book (see page 40), authored at a time when his son Theo was eleven.  It is only right to assume that Bart shared some special code with Les, who thereafter produced Theo, who in turn, as General Manager of the Red Sox, assembled the triumphant teams of 2004 and 2007.  This theory is not inconsistent with the fact that, at the time of his death, Bart was the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

This was one helluva gathering of the clan.  Kudos to tri-chairs Peter Knudsen, Steve Lasewicz, and John Wilkinson, as well as the reunion gift chairs, David Clapp, John Levin, Jim Ottaway, and Dave Wood.  During the class meeting, Bob Ackerman was elected to succeed Dave Carls as Class Treasurer, while Harry Mazadoorian replaces Ed Leavitt as our AYA Representative.  The other Class Officers were re-elected, including Peter Wells, our Class Secretary, who has served diligently and effectively as our Chief Executive Officer.

Finally, the Reunion Book is just plain amazing.  Led by Peter Parsons, many volunteers played critical roles in arriving at the finished product, including but not limited to John Blanpied, Mike Dickerson, Rob Hanke, and master illustrator Steve Johnson.