YAM Notes: May/June 2015

By Rich Banbury

All right, this is the biggest story of the year! It’s not about one of us or some of us, but rather all of us. Dan Horowitz has been gathering information, attitudes and opinions for a profile of our class over time, which Dan describes as “a micro-history of our years at Yale.” On the Cusp is being published by the University of Massachusetts Press, and should be out this month. Among other themes, Dan has explored the attitudes of our class, as well as the curricula we studied, regarding politics, diversity, and such things as our knowledge of African history and the liberation of several colonies on that continent which became nation states. Related to our class profile, some observers see 1960 as a harbinger of the transition, perhaps metamorphosis, from the old Yale to the new Yale.

Taking a different view on the African continent, Harvey Feinberg, Professor Emeritus of History at Southern Connecticut State University, has published a book on the history of South Africa prior to apartheid. Our Land, Our Life, Our Future: Black South African Challenges to Territorial Segregation, has been published by the University of South Africa Press (2015). Harvey’s extensive research involves the notorious Natives Land Act of 1913, and how indigenous Africans continued to purchase rural farms despite the prohibition carved into the Act. Subsequently, the apartheid government expropriated many of those farms, eventually leading to the current policy debates on the issue of land restitution.

The splendid programs for the May 28th – May 31st on-campus reunion includes classmates and Yale students who have benefited by the Aspin, Heinz, and Branford Fellowships, which should be an informative and gratifying presentation. The total amount from the three Fellowships awarded to 12 Yale students in 2014 was $40,150. Contributions to the Aspen and Heinz endowments will be credited to the 55th Class Reunion gift. The Reunion will also include an opportunity to see and hear our gentlemen songsters off on a spree. Bill Weber has assembled the Singers of ’60. In addition to the Whiffs, there will be representatives from other singing groups, presumably including the Glee Club. There may still be an opportunity to register for the Reunion through www.aya.yale.edu/reunions.

Art Munisteri checks in from South Hadley, Massachusetts, where he and Nancy are now well resettled New Englanders. Art teaches American and English folk dance and music, as well as singing with the Pioneer Valley Symphony and Chorus.

In 1956, the Yale eight oar crew won the Olympic gold medal in Melbourne, Australia. In 1960, our guys lost the venerable four-mile race to Harvard on the Thames River in New London. Emory Clark, the captain of that crew, did not take the loss lightly. In 1964, as a new member of the Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia, Emory worked his way into the fourth seat of the Vesper shell. By tradition and competition at that time, a college boat typically represented the United States at the Olympics, as did Yale in ‘56. At the Olympic trials in 1964, the favorite was powerful Harvard’s unbeaten boat. Seeming out of nowhere, Vesper showed up with its somewhat older improvised eight and surprised the rowing world by taking down Harvard with open water. The redemption for Emory was profound and well deserved. In yet another surprise, the Vesper boat, with Emory and Boyce Budd ’62, won the gold medal in Tokyo. The American crew upset the World Champion German athletes by a length and one-quarter over 1500 meters, with Czechoslovakia owning the Bronze. The Vesper Club rowed a 6:18.23, while the German Ratzberg Club carried a time of 6:23.29. The venue was dark at the time of the final competition, with the last 500 meters illuminated by flares alongside the water. This triumphant story is nicely documented in Emory’s 182-page Olympic Odyssey, which includes an auto-biographical narrative, as well as a vast array of photographs and news articles. This book, perhaps as a gift to our grandsons and grand-daughters, teaches a wonderful lesson of grit and perseverance.