Special Report: New York City Class Birthday Party

Special Report on the New York City Mini-Reunion and  70th Birthday Party of October 15-17, 2010

Link to Our Full Collection of 70th Birthday Party Photos

Thanks to the leadership of Kirk McDonald, Bo and Betsy Rodgers, and David Scharff, the Class of 1962’s mini-Reunion, billed as a 70th Birthday Party, held in New York October 15-17, was a  solid success. The anchor social events in the program were a Friday night gourmet dinner (menu by Kirk) in an elegant oak paneled room  at the Knickerbocker Club in midtown, a non-political class  discussion on Saturday morning, and a Saturday dinner cruise around Manhattan.  In addition, a multitude of well planned options awaited the attendees, including art viewing, a tour of Brooklyn Heights led by Betsy Rodgers, a parks tour led by Alex Garvin, and, of course, shopping. The full narrative follows, thanks to David Scharff:

’62 Turns 70 in NYC

About seventy five ’62 Blues and wives, partners and guests gathered in NYC on the weekend of October 15-17 to celebrate our collective 70th birthday. Organized by Kirk MacDonald and Bo Rogers, with my assistance, we enjoyed a mix-‘n-match of events from Friday night through Sunday morning. Friday evening, at the Knickerbocker Club was a gourmet dinner, a room full of meeting and greeting, no speeches except Kirk’s orientation of Saturday events, cheer and finding old friends, roommates, the news from the retired and the fully engaged.

[CorSec’s editorial input: No speeches indeed, but a gracious welcome from Secretary Jim White, who asked Al Chambers, Mike Kane and David Honneus to stand and be recognized for their sins.  David’s  artful narrative overlooks one minor but colorful aspect of Friday night, in which, at CorSec’s request, Gus Hedlund entertained the dinner crowd with an impromptu  scouting report on  the Yale football team.  For anyone paying attention, his insights were validated a month later at the Harvard game, as Yale (again) gave up their lead in the second half, due to poor special teams play.]

Saturday morning at the 70th birthday party

Saturday morning at the 70th birthday party

Saturday morning Kirk chaired as we gathered in the wood paneled library of the Metropolitan Club to discuss such things as how Yale shaped our lives and what we see ourselves doing from now forward. Kirk set our agenda, ruling out politics, inviting comments on just about everything else. He privileged the husbands, although some felt our wives should have more room to speak. There was a roll call of long and intact marriages, several dating back to before or just after graduation from Yale — 48 or more years.

To sample a few commentaries: Ed Goodman posed the question of divergent interests in such marriages: To paraphrase Ed, their marriage has been one of mutual exhaustion, both working hard. Now his wife Lorna is retiring this month and would like to travel 40 weeks a year, while he’d like to keep working 40 weeks a year.  Sam Waterston talked about the luck of having been a steadily working actor all these years. Successful actors, Sam said, spend half their lives looking for a job, and the other half complaining about working conditions. He gave a short bio of his inspiration from his mentor, John Berry, who pushed him to open up and draw from himself early in his career, and of his father who read all his life – and in old age just kept up the reading but with more naps.  Bill McGlashan told of having the good fortune to make enough as an entrepreneur in his early years that he could retire at 39, to take up, with his wife, one cause after another, each lasting 10-15 years. He began with anti-nuclear activities, with, he felt, some considerable success. Now they are in the middle of a project on mindfulness in elementary schools to counter the mindless quality of much experience in emotionally deprived young children.

Bill Weber brought a different life experience: After working for Corning, he’s been in the used car business and in politics in a small upstate New York community. He’s currently in his second run as mayor of his small town. Working in the community and with politicians, it would be unhelpful to show his Yale connection, although he personally values it. He regrets the lack of intellectual stimulation where he lives, and has to come to events like this to get it. He told the story of relating to a state congressman, who asked him where he’d gone to college. “New Haven A & M,” said Bill. “Good place,” said the congressman. Chip Neville echoed this kind of sentiment in telling about his career teaching mathematics in small colleges, where his Yale origins were both envied and held against him.

The conversation moved to the relative merits of an Ivy education, some pointing out that a disproportionate number of national leaders still come from the Ivies, and specifically from Yale. This lead to the question of whether we tend to disparage other schools and other beginnings. Are we elitist? And do we use our origins to rationalize our opinions and tastes. But many felt that what Yale had given them had lasting value, and that to speak for that gift did not brand them as being elitist.

Sam Waterston told of studying Supreme Court history, to discover that, through the years, it has been composed of intelligent men who found reasons and precedents often to decide what they had come to the court already believing.

Ed Goodman rounded up the conversation in saying: “Kirk said, ‘No politics.’ But politics is everything. And surely we can’t be totally relativistic: We can’t countenance terrorism, anti-evolutionism or the no-nothing quality of attacks on government.”

Highlights from Saturday afternoon:

Two tours that we chose from:

Alex Garvin gets kudos for his discussion on Parks and walking tour of Central Park. This was timely in that Alex has currently in publication a major book on Public Parks. This book is a big deal and we hope Mike Kane will be able to wrest something from Alex for the class notes about the book in more detail.

Betsy Rodgers, Bo’s wife, conducted a walking tour over the Brooklyn Bridge, down under the Bridge into the currently hot neighborhood of DUMBO, through the new Brooklyn Bridge Park, and up into Brooklyn Heights, where the Rodgers have lived since 1965. Bo and Tony Dean, also a long time resident of Brooklyn Heights, helped to shepherd the group on the Subway down to Southern Manhattan and then over the Bridge and on to the rest of the tour. By all accounts, they only lost one couple, Charley and Nina McKee, but we were glad to see the McKees on the Boat that evening and learn that they were able to navigate, on their own, the Bridge and most of the rest of the planned tour. A number of people noted the similarity between Brooklyn Heights, with its historic town houses, and Georgetown, visited several years ago as part of a “62 Mini.

Saturday Night

On the cruise, 70th Birthday Party, New York City

On the cruise, 70th Birthday Party, New York City

The highpoint of the weekend was the boat tour on the “Bateaux” which left from the Chelsea Pier to cruise up and down the river to the accompaniment of fine food and danceable music, with a long pause alongside the Statue of Liberty. The evening was mild, the views of New York glowed through the glass widows and roof. Many of us paused dinner long enough to go outside to view the Grand Old Lady of the harbor. The band brought not a few of us to the dance floor, where we did our best to keep pace with memories from 50 years ago.

Enjoying the cruise at the party!

Enjoying the cruise at the party!

It was a nostalgic warm up for the 50th reunion less than two years from now.  See you there, if not before!

Attending the event, not in order of importance, were classmates:  Jim White, Jonathan Ater, Mitch Benedict, John Blouch,Bill Boyer, Steve Buck, Tony Carbone, Tom Chapman, Al Chambers, Chris Cory,Doug Charles, Tony Dean, Dwight Ellis, John Fisher, Michael Flicker, Jim Gardner, Alex Garvin, Tony Giamei, Ed Goodman, Gus Hedlund, Joe Holmes, Dennis Jackson, Mike Kane, Michael LeVine, Lance Liebman, Larry Lipsher, Charles McKee, Ford Maurer, Bill McGlashan, Jim Magee, Peter McDougall, Charley Mills, Chip Neville, Bill Nye, Robert Oliver, Jack Pirozzolo, Herm Pettegrove, Larry Prince, Ross Rudolph, David Scharff, Gerry Swirsky, Roman Weil, Willard Taylor, Bill Weber, William Williams, Joe Young and Sam Waterston.

Related news from your garrulous CorSec: En route to the 70th party,  CorSec stopped in New Haven and toured the refurbished  and going concern Mory’s.  Very nicely done, and I especially liked seeing the $100 patio brick with my name and class on it.  Didn’t have time to check for  bricks ordered by other classmates, if any.  While there, I checked the wine list and encouraged them to add something from our vintner classmate John Livingston.  Also noted while in town that the notorious undergrad dive known as Rudi’s is  expanding to newer and bigger quarters, in the same upscale west-of Pierson/Davenport neighborhood.

Yale '62

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