Alumni Notes: January/February 2024

Having recently banged the drums for our forthcoming 65th, I will not do so again this time, except to ask you to be alert for all the stuff that the University and Don Watson’s splendid reunion committee will be sending you, and to urge you to say “yes'” to everything. The next notes will have last-minute details, if necessary, as well as a report on the gathering organized by the Griffiths at their Woodbridge home after the Harvard game in mid-November.

Zoom has been increasingly useful to us. Our most recent Zoom call, arranged by Mark Blackburn, featured James Cartwright, a retired Marine general who served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011 and who, in retirement, has some interesting thoughts about our nuclear forces. He believes we can dispense with (and be safer without) the 400 or so ICBM’s we still maintain in underground launch tubes in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, while maintaining sufficient deterrent capacity with our nuclear-armed bomber and submarines. All this talk of deterrence seems rather quaint until suddenly it isn’t, given Putin’s ambitions and unsteadiness, the Chinese buildup, and unrest seemingly everywhere in the world. A lively and thoughtful discussion,to which a couple dozen of us tuned in.

Zoom has also allowed the surviving members of the 1959 WYBC executive board to keep even more closely in touch, which they have tried to do ever since graduation, in one way or another. There are six, including Charley Ellis, board chairman; Phil Lieberman, program director, Ted Mollegen, tech director, John Tilson, vice chairman, Dave Dworski, PR director, and Paul Horne. business manager. Two other board members, Robert Schaefer and Clark Rutledge, are no longer with us. This group helped turn what began as internal university wiring system (started, oddly enough, by the Yale Daily News in 1941) into a commercial FM station which today is the most listened-to broadcaster in the New Haven area. Paul says the Zoom calls cover the obvious octogenarian issues, health, careers, retirement, grandchildren etc., etc. but also the present-day effects of social media, generative AI, streaming and so on. The best part, Paul tells me in a note, is the continuing camaraderie.

The second novel is what John Lockton hopes will be a trilogy has just been published by Waterside Press. It’s called “The Prisoner of Secrets” and focuses on what John says is the “largely untold story of the American origins of the Holocaust, a shameful gift from America to the world.” His first was “Odyssey’s Child.” John says he has no idea how it happened, but he is getting a bigger kick out of writing than anything else he can remember, possibly because “I never took an English course at Yale,” this being catch-up time.

I recently got a note from Bill Liddle asking, politely, whether I planned to mention a prize he had received for his scholarship on Indonesia. I replied that I thought I had done so in my YAM notes of March/April of 2020. Yes you did, he said, but this is a new one, awarded just last year by the Achmad Bakrie Foundation, which gives out Nobel-type prizes across several fields, from medicine to literature. Bill’s was for a lifetime of scholarship and mentorship on Indonesia, and was the first awarded to a foreigner. The 2020 prize, for his studies on the democratization of Indonesia, was awarded by the Indonesian government. This time his wife Wanda Carter was on hand for what he describes as two hour “Academy-award style in a two hour show broadcast nationally. Bill retired from the Ohio State faculty in 2011, and has co-authored books from the Oxford and Cambridge University presses. If there is anyone in the class who claims to know more than Bill does about Indonesia, shoot me a note, and I will arrange for a coveted speaking slot at the reunion.

Peter Pastreich writes to say that Abraham Bridger, his closest friend at Yale, died in late September. Abe was a multi-talented student of music and a fine tenor who had grown up poor on the Lower East Side, where the first language was Yiddish. After getting his medical degree from Columbia in 1965, he became a successful psychiatrist with practices in Manhattan and Paris. He was an early practitioner of remote psychiatry, meeting patients once or twice and then following up by phone or Zoom. Zoom was hardly his only instrument. Peter says he cured his mother of her heavy smoking habit using hypnosis. Abraham is survived by his wife Gail, daughter Margo (Yale ’87) and two sons.