YAM Notes: May/June 2010

By Rich Banbury

On a warm day in June of 1960 near a thousand eager young men received their degrees from Yale College and proceeded quite expeditiously to disburse across the country and in some cases to distant shores.  A diaspora of impressive breadth.   Half a century later, it is now time for the 60th to have its 50th.  If ever we were to have a plenary calling of the clans, next month’s return to New Haven will mark that moment.  I can even now hear the sound of bagpipes echoing through the valleys of our disparate homelands.

Our Class Book of 543 pages would certainly be a primary text in any anthropologic study of those 944 males, then still in transition from adolescence to adulthood, as displayed alphabetically from Bob Ackerman to Ben Zitron across 189 pages of photographs, birthdates, and other basic specifications.  Those youthful apparitions, some smiling and others with a solemn pose, give little evidence of today’s countenances sculpted by 50 years of maturation.  Perhaps a future anthropologist would be drawn to the Class Oration, an easy practice round for Bart Giamatti, just warming up for those eight years during which he welcomed and bade farewell to subsequent classes of Yale College.  Bart was not fully satisfied with regard to the values and virtues of his classmates, which he expressed thusly:  Our memory stretches from the Know Thyself of the golden age Greeks to the weak and watery Be Thyself of today.  And wide is the gap.  That anthropologist would have reason to conclude that lux et veritas was an inapt motto for the culture she was studying.  That hypothesis would be corroborated by Al Pergam’s Class History, lamenting Our cherished, inalienable right to apathy, to indifference, to non-think ….  By way of redemption, however, Bart noted that:  It is to be creative and humane men in society that we have come to Yale, and I hope it is with this goal that we leave.  I think it is fair to say that, for the most part, Bart’s wish has been fulfilled.

A reminder that our Reunion tri-chairs, Pete Knudsen, Steve Lasewicz, and John Wilkinson, have coordinated a series of Pre-Reunion events at the Water’s Edge on Long Island Sound, with several distinguished panels discussing China and Africa, as well as a lecture by Professor Lamin Sanneh on the topic of “Religion and the New World in a post-9/11 world”.  Owen Cylke, John Dwyer, and Harvey Fineberg will share their knowledge and insights as members of the Africa panel.  These and other enticing activities bridge a period of three days beginning on June 1st.

Guy Butterworth ’61, has added light and truth to the legend, mentioned in a previous column, that Vanderbilt was mistakenly constructed with the courtyard facing Chapel Street rather than the Old Campus.  Debunking that myth, Guy notes that “President Timothy Dwight the Younger wanted a dorm that would compete with the Gold Coast dwellings on the other side of Chapel Street (and wanted to display an) openness to the community”.  A brother of our deceased classmate Michael Butterworth, Guy remains friends with members of our Class.

A significant behind-the-scenes player and scholar in the world of economics and public policy, Peter Arthur Diamond is a short-list candidate for the Federal Reserve Board.  Peter’s  academic credentials include a full professorship at MIT since 1970 and his service as President of the Econometric Society and also the American Economic Association.  With special interests in government debt, capital accumulation, and taxation, he is particularly recognized for his expertise regarding Social Security.  Peter has a double affiliation with Yale College, having entered with the Class of 1961 and, after a 3-year sprint, graduating as a math major with our class.

There can be no doubt that Bob Sugarman stays in shape.  While recently touring in Israel with a brood of children and grandchildren, Bob participated in the triathlon at the Maccabiah Games, winning a Silver Medal in our age group.  Bob has been participating twice a year in various triathlons, and the Maccabiah competition was based on the Olympic version of a one-mile swim, 24 mile bicycle stretch, and finishing with a 10 kilometer run.  Life is full after an impressive career as a litigator, including several favorable results representing National Geographic magazine in its assertion of crucial intellectual property rights.  Nominally retired, Bob is still battling on that client’s behalf in the last of their IP cases.

Barry Schaller has been working with the Peter Jennings project at the National Constitution Center on the subject of bioethics, one of Barry’s scholarly interests and a subject which he has been teaching on the college level.  Another facet of this interest is represented by Barry’s contribution to a forthcoming book on post-traumatic stress disorder, a project of the Yale Bioethics Center.  Incidentally, a recent magazine article took a look back in recent legal history to the murder trial of Richard Crafts, a commercial airline pilot accused of murdering his wife in a particularly cruel manner.  Barry was the presiding judge in a jury trial which included the testimony of 100 witnesses over a period of 53 days.  After deliberating for 17 days, the jury reported a deadlock with a single juror, the only dissenter, refusing to deliberate further.  A second trial eventually resulted in a guilty verdict.