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Yale 62

An Inconspicuous Subset, in France

By Philip Stewart

An inconspicuous subset of the Yale class of 1962 were the eleven juniors who spent the year 1960–1961 in France under the auspices of the Sweet Briar Junior Year in France, a venerable program about 90-strong that had begun at the University of Delaware in period between the two World Wars. These men were, if my archives are correct, David Arkush, Jeff Barnouw,1 Roger Craig, Edward Freeman, Joe Graham, Steve Hazlett, Bill Reilly, Tom Sherman, Robert A. Smith, Philip Stewart and Sam Waterston.

One interesting feature of this group was its diversity. Far from being characterized, as one might imagine, by French majors, they were remarkably diverse both in their fields of study (one, for example, majored in Southeast Asian Studies) and eventual profession: several were to became lawyers, at least three professors, and one an actor of some notoriety.

Three of those surviving (Stewart, Barnouw, and Waterston) met with others of their group for a pandemically deferred 60th reunion in Washington, D. C. last October 29 at the gracious invitation of David Rosenbloom (Princeton) and Carla Peterson (Yale PhD). Joan Hinde Stewart, Lynn Waterston, and Ann Craig (widow of Roger Craig and herself an alumna of that 1960-1961 cohort), were also in attendance. Bill Reilly and Tom Sherman, who had planned to come, had last-minute impediments.

What all these, from whatever college (Sweet Briar, Mount Holyoke, and Princeton also had notable contingents) had in common was an indelible memory of that year spent in a vibrant cultural atmosphere immersed in a still-postwar economic situation. We missed one of Yale’s best football seasons of all time and witnessed the 1960 presidential election from afar but saw up close the tensions of a fiercely divided France trying to find a way to end their war in Algeria; Algérie française was indeed detonating occasional plastic bombs in Paris itself.

To many, the experience had some bearing on their career choices, and almost all have returned repeatedly to France over the years, sometimes to visit with the very families that had hosted them or other friends they had made then. (In our own case, the pandemic had interrupted a sequence of at least fifty years, if memory serves, in which we had gone to France at least once, and we had just visited in September 2022 with lifelong friends from the family that had hosted Steve Hazlett and me in the 6e arrondissement.)

It was to experience what we all appreciate about all such reunions, namely the collapse of intervening time, a brief surge of nostalgia that is tonic to aging souls.

 

1Technically Jeff was shifted to the class of 1963, but he went to college with us.

 

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