Alumni Notes: September / October 2016

Now is one of the best times to send ideas for our 55th reunion - less than nine months away, next June 1-4 - to our cochairs Dan Koenigsberg, Peter Sipple, and Peter Clark. If you're undecided about coming, tell 'em the one activity that would persuade you. Suggest things you'd relish and things you'd shun. (They already know that people will want to gawk at the new colleges and will be looking for fellowship, not fund-raising.) And keep sending your personal news, achievements, and evolutions to your corsecs for this column or our website, www.yale62.org!

Maugre Brexit and terrorism, La France luxe yet survives. For instance, "some of the finest scenery, food, and wine in the world" were the menu for an eight-day driving trip around Bordeaux and the Dordogne which Alex Garvin, as metre and flanneur, confected for his most fortunate frer George and George's partner, Paula Gail Flowers. Trucs (from the electronic carte postale that Alex sent back to friends, complete with his lovely photos): "The finest bread I have ever eaten" (in the "extraordinary" hotel Lion D'Or in Romorantin); less-known Romanesque churches with domes that make them look like the mosques of Istanbul; the towns of Martel ("the dream town of every urban designer. All of you professionals take note") and Saint-Emilion ("it is an understatement to call it exquisite"). It all makes a case - understated, mind you - that "after centuries of conflict (some of it very bloody), the people of the Dordogne River Valley have created a remarkably beautiful landscape and live a remarkably beautiful life, eating remarkable food, drinking remarkable wine, [and] planting remarkably beautiful flowers and trees."

Though less luxe, Israel survives, too. Bob Rogers noted last spring that "though I'm still working about half time, Betsy and I manage to do a fair amount of traveling, and we took a noteworthy, ten-day trip to Israel last fall. It was very enjoyable - good hotels, food, wine, guides, etc. - and it was extremely interesting: thousands of years of important history packed into that small piece of real estate. One can't help but admire the impressive twenty-first-century country that has been created in a brief number of years. Of course, one also can't escape the sad, intractable Israeli-Palestinian issue. While it certainly is tragic for the Palestinians, I also came away with increased sympathy for the Israeli cause and security issue. With the violence and inhumanity of extremism in the Middle East, epitomized by ISIS, scaring us in the US, thousands of miles away, one can imagine how the Israelis feel with this happening right next door. So, while we criticize Mr. Netanyahu, perhaps justifiably, for the settlements policy and the 'uninvited' address to Congress, I think we better not go too far and turn our back on Israel. It seems to me that we need this ally, a stable, modern country subscribing largely to our better values and objectives, located strategically in a destabilized, dangerous, and unpredictable part of the world."

In The Black Calhouns (Atlantic Monthly Press), her new book about her family's active participation in American history from the Civil War to the civil rights era, Gail Lumet-Buckley makes a brief but telling reference to her second husband, Kevin (to whom the book is dedicated). After five years in Saigon from 1968 to 1972 during the Vietnam War, he became a "saintly stepfather" to her two daughters. She writes that in the 1980s, his stepdaughter Amy, daughter of the director Sidney Lumet, affectionately "figured him out: 'Dad is hopelessly late thirties, Mom is hopelessly late fifties - at least Kev is early seventies.'"

In the musical world, Peter Sipple, whom you may recall set a Whitman poem, "The Last Invocation," for four- part voices at our class's 50th reunion memorial service, reports that as an "amateur composer . . . over the past few years I have set most of the psalms assigned by the Revised Common Lectionary for use in Sunday worship. A few churches have used or are using them, including Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr where I served as rector. I started the project while there and am still working on it!" Another choral world premiere, this one dramatizing the hesitation that leaders can have about new assignments, was premiered in late June by the choral group that your co-sec Chris Cory and his wife, Helen, sing with, the Choral Society of the Hamptons. The new piece, commissioned by the chorus from the American composer Victoria Bond, presents the mythical case study of Moses' reluctance to lead the Jews out of Egypt. The local East Hampton Star newspaper termed the piece "highly successful," with "striking and imaginative use of a wide palette of orchestral sound coupled with strong vocal writing." Let me know if whatever chorus you may be in would like to take a look at the music.

At Mory's last spring, Bob Oliver tells us, there was another round of the "annual ol' tyme New Haven-Hamden mini reunion: Swirsky, Killelea, Dunn, Carbone, Koenigsberg, and Oliver plus spouses. Enjoyable evening."

"Reunions are wonderful," Steve Buck reaffirms. He had one in June of a kind that is likely to become rare now that Yale admissions are globally diverse: in his class at Scarsdale High School, three members of the class also became Yale classmates.

Steve writes: "We didn't expect him to come, but despite Parkinson's and cancer, Dan Neary, a fellow Piersonian, showed up. Dan said he gets out to photograph nature in great detail and turns that into large photos. He does this all with film, not digital images. I hope he can digitize some of them to share with the class. He is having a number of one- person shows of his photographs and continues to do movie reviews for various Vermont newspapers. For me, Dan is an inspiration, going after one's passion despite physical limitations."

Bill Stott was the third Y'62er at that Scarsdale reunion, coming "all the way from Chile as part of a summer swing to see children and grandchildren." Bill's news will disappoint many of us: as some of you know, Steve reports that "for years he has been forwarding interesting articles on a great range of subjects to me and many others. His e- mail company recently made this difficult. Hopefully, he can resume." Amen! A penultimate Stott listserv, for example, carried The Economist's vivid preview of the encouraging new Museum of African American History and Culture on the Mall in Washington, DC, and a thoughtful write- up of an exhibition of work by the once-controversial sculptor Robert Mapplethorpe. Bill signed off by quoting the tongue-in-cheek advice that Art Buchwald once gave to the graduating class at USC: "My generation has given you a perfect world. Don't screw it up."

Necrology. A new obituary has been posted on our website for Clay Alderfer.