YAM Notes: March/April 2009

By Rich Banbury

When flatlander Talmage Rogers climbed the tallest peak on the African continent, he abjured the use of portable oxygen, a resource which some short-winded members of his party gratefully indulged.  The ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro was actually a side trip during a Yale-sponsored Tanzanian safari, an experience which Jean and Talmage greatly enjoyed.  Though not an experienced climber, Talmage was thrilled with the high adventure, which he describes as “the most punishing, physically draining week” of his life.  Jean wisely opted out of the 19,340 foot climb, with temperatures bottoming out at a chilly 16 degrees.  Exploring East Africa and its exotic and diverse wildlife was sufficiently vigorous for Jean and her intrepid husband, who was a bit leg-weary from his vertical trek.  After a stopover on the isle of Zanzibar, Talmage and Jean returned to their sea-level home and haunts in Vero Beach.

If you’re passing through Spain anytime till June, stop by the University of Barcelona, where Ambler Moss is serving a semester on a Fulbright Senior Lectureship.  If you can’t find Ambler at the University of Barcelona, he’s also lecturing at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.  After their Catalonian gig, Ambler and Serena will head back to Coral Gables, where our guy is a Professor of International Studies at the University of Miami.

Edda and Harry Hare have been traveling regularly between Philadelphia and Germany to visit Edda’s family.  The Hare household is still celebrating 2008, delighted by the double victories of the Phillies in the October World Series and Barack Obama in the November election.  As a newly-minted naturalized citizen, Edda was able to cast her vote for the winning candidate.

Two Writers from Boston — Les Epstein’s place in the world of American fiction, as a brilliant and imaginative novelist, is well-established.  Evidence for this proposition can be found in John Crowley’s compelling piece in the November issue of Boston Review.  Crowley, who teaches creative writing at Yale, examines Les’s body of work, but with particular emphasis on King of the Jews (1978) and The Eighth Wonder of the World (2006).  In his laudation of these works, Professor Crowley admiringly embraces an overarching and provocative theme, which he describes as “the collision between organized human activity and an unstoppable impulse to chaos”.  The emergence of Mussolini as a character in The Eighth Wonder is “a tour de force of narrative management that is a continual surprise not only for what happens but for the chutzpah of the enterprise”.  As the Director of Creative Writing at Boston University, adjacent to his beloved Fenway Park, Les has taken his stand as an acclaimed writer of serious and at times surreal fiction.

Another of our Boston-based classmates is playwright Sandy Campbell, co-author of The Patriot Act, which received positive critical reviews at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival.  Recognized as the world’s largest drama festival, with over 2000 productions during a period of approximately one month, Edinburgh is a head-spinning experience for international theatregoers.  Co-authored with Lydia Plumbleigh-Bruce, The Patriot Act concerns a character inspired by Arthur Miller and played at the Festival by Will Lyman.  By the end of its run, Sandy and Lydia’s work was designated a “Hot Play” and received Five Stars from The Scotsman, the gold standard for Festival reviews.  When not writing plays, Sandy treks over to MIT, where he teaches a course in engineering design.

One Writer from New York — After many decades of providing legal representation to elderly clients who could not otherwise afford such services, and a year in Italy as a Fulbright Scholar, Jonathan Weiss has co-authored a book in philosophy entitled Right and Wrong: A Philosophical Dialogue Between Father and Son, published by Basic Books and in paperback by the University of Southern Illinois Press.  Many classmates will remember Jonathan’s dad as a popular teacher of existentialism in the Department of Philosophy.

A tip of the hat (or perhaps helmet) to Hugh Wyatt, who led the North Beach High School football team to a 2008 record of 7-3, having taken over a program with a dismal 1-9 season the previous year.  Life as a successful head coach along the sparsely-settled Pacific Coast in southern Washington made for a highly enjoyable and rewarding year.  As a player, general manager, and coach, Hugh has had a long and rewarding run with what he calls “the greatest game in the world”.  After a decade in business following graduation, Hugh started playing some semi-pro ball in Maryland, which eventually led to being recruited as the Director of Player Personnel for the fledging Philadelphia franchise in the World Football League.  The next year, in 1975, Hugh accepted an administrative position with the WFL Portland (Oregon) Thunder and, along with his wife Connie and their four children, planted his roots deeply into the soil of the Northwest.  After the demise of the World Football League, Hugh became a very successful high school coach in Oregon and Washington.  As an expert on the double-wing formation, Coach Wyatt has conducted clinics and produced teaching videos relating to the sport that runs through his veins.  A defensive back at Yale, Hugh has a long history with the game, and has won the respect of the athletes and their families that he has come to know through his coaching career.  That respect was demonstrated last Fall when, as a surprise, the North Beach band played traditional Yale football songs at one of his home games.  A nice touch and tribute to a good man.