YAM Notes: November/December 2005

By Rich Banbury

I write these notes in the recent aftermath of Katrina and the diaspora of countless citizens from the coastal counties of Louisiana and Mississippi.  My attempts to reach Michael MacKenzie of New Orleans and Donn Byrne of Biloxi have been unsuccessful, with landline telephone communications no longer available.  Mike and Donn are the only two known members of the Class residing within the penumbra of Katrina’s grievous assault.  Originally a member of the Class of 1958, Mike is the owner of Petroleum Geology on Common Street in New Orleans.  Donn lives on Veterans Boulevard in Biloxi.  If anyone has news with respect to these two classmates, please pass it along to me as noted above.

The Chairman of the Political Science Department at Heidelberg College does not lack for opportunities to explore the globe.  Temporarily forsaking his classroom in Tiffin, Ohio, John Bing signed on as an English teacher at Tianjin Normal University in China this past summer.  The campus of Tianjin Normal is not what you would consider traditional.  The entire university, consisting of twenty-five buildings up to nine stories high, was constructed in twelve months with 10,000 workers committed to three 8-hour shifts seven days a week.  An interesting illustration of a muscular economic engine which clearly does not suffer from a labor shortage.  During a side trip, John wandered into a meeting of the Yale Club of Beijing, where 27 Eli undergraduates were being recognized for their summer internships.  Po-Wen Huang, as the President of the Yale Club of Beijing, presided over the ceremony.  The Bulldogs in Beijing initiative is a modern version of the venerable Yale in China programs familiar to us a few decades past.

While on the subject of Bulldogs, Dave Jeffery of Saint Michaels, Maryland forwarded a wonderful video of an athletic Bulldog skateboarding.  This not-so-handsome Dan is quite the clever canine, pushing off, accelerating, turning and stopping a skateboard like a professional biped.

Steve Lasewicz is the reigning honcho for the irrepressible band of gallivanting golfers who have become something of an institution within our Class.  I gather this is not an exclusive club, as new names and faces regularly appear on the roster.  About fifteen fellows have signed up for the November assault on the legendary courses of Kiawah Island off South Carolina.  Hopefully, Lazz will report back with respect to the highlights of this latest linksmen adventure.

Have gavel, will travel.  That is the theme for Judge Barry Schaller, who continues to ride circuit during the Connecticut mini-triathlon season.  Barry regularly finishes first in the over 55 age grouping, but candidly confesses that he is usually competing against himself as the only entrant in that exalted grouping.  Not to say that Barry doesn’t also outpace numerous younger competitors, frequently because someone takes a wrong turn on the bicycle leg, with others in hot pursuit, and then they all have to double back to find the finish line!

Retiring in Big Sky country, Dave Dominick is renovating a 280-acre ranch on the Greybull River upstream from “the cowtown” of Meeteetse, Wyoming.  He’s getting some help from a pair of quarter horses and a mule while he builds barns, corrals, and a cabin.  Just downstream from the famous Pitchfork Ranch, and with a population of 356, Meeteetse is a gateway town for campers, hunters, and outdoor adventurers.  A stalwart on the state and national boards of the Audubon Society, Dave credits the recently elected Democratic governor, whom he actively supported, as implementing a “more responsible thoughtfulness for conservation values”.

It was great to see Mike Griffin at the Reunion in New Haven last May.  In addition to being Chairman of Money-Media, Inc., appropriately located on Broadway, Mike is also a longstanding member of the Honorary Ushers of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

For a former Army guy, Paul Capron has turned into quite the sailor.  A few years back, Paul and Joan found the ideal retirement spread at Hilton Head, which is now Paul’s homeport for racing a 14¢ Laser and enjoying recreational sailing on his 30ft Trimaran.  During his 27 years at IBM, Paul was responsible for installing first generation customer service systems for ConEd and other utilities in the Metropolitan area.  In recognition of Paul’s contributions, he and Joan were awarded a five-year assignment in Japan.  After retiring in 1990, Paul did some consulting work and could also be found racing American Beauty, which he describes as “a gorgeous Alden 44 sailboat”.  Migrating temporarily to the Eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay, he became heavily involved in the Bermuda Races and also developed a satellite tracking system, which provides high quality television reception for sailors at sea.

Congratulations to John Levin, Jim Ottaway, and John Wilkinson, who raised $22,308,121 for our 45th Reunion Gift, establishing a new record by more than $2.6 million.  This was truly an extraordinary effort by the tri-chairs, the Reunion Gift Committee and Class Agents led by Tim Ritchie, as well as the 62% of the Class who contributed to the cause.

Memory Lane:  During the Fall of our senior year, the cumulative score after the first five games of the football season was a surprising 95 to 0.  The continuing purity of the Bulldog endzone after 20 quarters of competition caught the attention of the national press and resulted in an AP ranking of 13th in the country.  In the mud and rain of the sixth Saturday, however, both streaks ended with a tough 12-8 loss to Dartmouth in the Bowl.  An impressive win over Princeton highlighted the remainder of the season and presaged the undefeated campaign of 1960.  But for the first five Saturdays of our senior season, the gods of football had blessed our team with an immaculate performance.


Class Notes

We saw Cinderella Man yesterday and highly recommend it to classmates. It’s the story of Jimmy Braddock, the Irish pugilist from New Jersey who became a national figure four years before most of us were born. Braddock has a compelling personal story to go along with his unlikely boxing triumphs. Relevant to the Class of 1960, Paul Giamatti turns in a near-perfect performance as Jimmy’s erstwhile manager/trainer, Joe Gould. A man with some ambivalent character traits, Joe’s intuitive nature is a necessary element of Jimmy’s surprising success. Paul’s interpretation of the character is nuanced and nicely underplayed. A real step up from Sideways. Bart would be proud. Russell Crowe’s performance as Braddock is Oscar-worthy, which will be no surprise to Peter Wells, our new class CEO, who struck up a casual acquaintance with Crowe during the filming of A Beautiful Mind, in which Peter plays a Princeton professor of all things!