YAM Notes: November/December 2010

By all accounts, the class mini-reunion in Chicago Sept. 23-26 was a smashing success, just as other such gatherings have been, testimony to their continuing popularity. Great  credit belongs to the two co-chairs, John Moss and Fred VanderKloot, and to our class secretary, Joe Staley, for designing a terrific program and fitting all  moving parts together. Here is a  slightly edited version of Fred’s report which he got to me on deadline:

“A total of 93 classmates, wives and significant others attended the Chicago Mini-reunion….Highlights included the class panel at Chicago’s magnificent Gleicher Center on the Chicago River with Ed Greenberg   moderating a discussion of the economy with panelists Dick Posner, Art Kelley and Charley Ellis, all brilliant, all overtly pessimistic.

“Earlier that morning we toured the university’s beautiful campus and absorbed some of its history–its first two presidents were Yalies. We had cocktails atop the 95th floor of the Hancock Center, at sunset, watching as the city’s lights came on. We then walked across Michigan Boulevard to the class dinner, where Austin Hoyt  gave  a presentation on  the  founding and growth of Chicago based on his award-winning PBS series.

“Tours of Millennium Park and the Art Institute drew rave reviews, but the happiest surprise, at least to some of us,, was the introduction by Randy Ney of four honorary Whiffenpoofs — George Buchanan, Larry Krakoff, Ed Greenberg and Jim Cowperthwaite– who then joined nine of the original ’59 Whiffs in concert..

“All in all, a beautiful city created a wonderful background for a highly successful reunion.”

A much smaller but no less convivial gathering took place at Yale’s opener at the Bowl, an amazing game against a strong Georgetown team won by Yale literally in the last second in another gutsy call by coach Tom Williams, which this time (unlike the Harvard game last year) worked perfectly. Those on hand included Herb Hallas (with son and nephew and friend) ,Bobbi and Charley Griffith , George and Rose Piroumoff and yours truly. George  took  some flattering pictures  , one or two of which are on the website.

The hurried  mention last month of of Dick Rhodes’s fourth and final volume of nuclear history, The Twilight of the Bombs, failed to say much about the book, which covers the two decades since the end of the Cold War and includes insights into our near-miss with North Korea, Bush’s decision to engage in a ground war in Iraq in 2003  , and a discussion about the prospects for a nuclear-free world.  The book closes out Dick’s 30 years of work on the nuclear age, which altogether  produced four volumes, one of which won him a Pulitzer.

He isn’t stopping. In the works are short novel, a play about the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Iceland, a short biography of Hedy Lamarr– who, astoundingly, turns out to have been partly responsible for some of the technology behind Bluetooth , global positioning systems. and other technological breakthroughs,  as well as a book about  the American wilderness.

Two shorter notes further demonstrate our class’s endless creativity. From Littleton, CO., Barton Schmitt reports that The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released KidsDoc, an iPhone App for parents and grandparents that covers and explains the 90 most common symptoms of childhood ailments.  It was created by Bart, a professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital in Denver, who  suggests that grandparents (that’s you guys) give it a test drive.

John Torinus, out in West Bend, WI, ha s  finished a book on taming hyperinflation in health care costs based on his experiences in his family company, Serigraph . He explains how the company managed to maintain a healthy level of benefits with only  two premium increases in seven years — which is fairly astounding to those of us who have seen them rise every year. Too late for the big health care debate, but still instructive, the book will be published this fall by BenBelle Books.