YAM Notes: September/October 2011

By Rich Banbury

We can’t live in the past, but we sure as heck can visit it.  From time to time, I like to reflect on some of the highlights, hijinks and happy adventures we experienced during those four years from which a thousand adolescents emerged as young men.  In that vein, a few years back various classmates recalled New Haven haunts where they joined with friends for the late night fourth meal of the day.  A nice injection of nostalgia.  Many of us remember attending hockey games, first at the old New Haven Arena and later at Ingalls Rink.  Our senior year captain Bruce Smith, like many others, continued to lace-up the skates long after his collegiate career.  While living in Paris and later Grenoble, Bruce played club hockey for a team in a European league of their own.  If you’re having trouble imagining Parisians on skates, Bruce recalls that a large number of his teammates were from the French Canadian provinces.  A gifted sculptor, Bruce later created a bronze statue of hockey legend and Princeton stalwart Hobey Baker, which can be found at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.  Bruce now spends his time between Ketchum, Idaho and Santa Fe.

Other classmates who continued playing competitive hockey after Yale include Guy (Robo) Robinson and Jim Trowbridge.  Robo skated for many years with the St. Nicholas club in New York, a team with a long and strong tradition in the world of elite club hockey, including the aforementioned Hobey Baker, who played following his 1914 graduation from Princeton.  The restoration and preservation of the Edith Warton Manse and Gardens in Lennox, Massachusetts was in good part due to the perseverance of Robo as a member of the Board during those critical years.  Ed McGonagle, Tom Crosby and the inimitable Gene Scott were all part of our senior team. The mayor of Long Lake, Minnesota, Tom continues to practice law and, with Ellie, produces first-class maple syrup and tasty cider at their homestead.

Yale has a distinguished history in the world of competitive ice hockey.  The cover story for the July issue of this magazine celebrates that history and Yale’s 2011 team, which was ranked number one in the country for a large part of last season.  Further evidence of Yale’s contribution to the sport is represented by Chris Higgins, a Yale player who was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the 2002 NHL draft, and skated for Vancouver in this year’s finals of the Stanley Cup.

David Wood of Louisville, Kentucky, and Al Puryear of Williamsburg, Virginia have joined the class executive committee.  Dave played a prominent role as co-chair of the Class Gift Committee at the 50th Reunion.  Class treasurer Bob Ackerman projects that our cash balance is $70,544.

Also from Williamsburg, David George Ball has written a memoir entitled A Marked Heart, which traces his early years in wartime England through his academic years at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and as our classmate at Yale.  It was in 1959 that Dave invited a young and energetic minister by the name of Martin Luther King to speak at Woolsey Hall.  Dr. King made an electric presentation to the large audience, presaging the impact which he would later have on our nation.  In addition, Dr. King had a life-changing influence on Dave, who was eventually appointed Assistant Secretary of Labor by President George H.W. Bush where he initiated the framework for the 401(K) retirement program which now benefits more than 70 million Americans.  Classmates interested in acquiring a copy of A Marked Heart can do so through Amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.

Underrated Philadelphia is a fine venue for Saybrook friends and classmates to have their own private reunion. So says Dirk Soutendijk. Bill Idol, Dave Cross and Dirk thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. A behavioral consultant for a number of large companies, Bill spends eight months of the year in New Zealand and the other four in Vermont.  Sounds like Spring and Summer all year round. David hangs his hat in Rumford, Rhode Island and is working on a plan to save the sandy beaches of Long Island’s north shore from continuing erosion.

The return of the ROTC programs to the Yale campus has been well received by several classmates who participated in those programs and served our country as officers in the various military services. Dave Ross has been following this story and celebrates the long-awaited reversal. Perhaps as a direct result of that policy change, a new affiliation known as the Yale Veterans Association held its organization meeting at St. Thomas More in June, as reported by Wilse Keithline, an NROTC classmate.