YAM Notes: July/August 2024

These notes are written in the immediate afterglow of our 65th reunion, as instructed by the magazine’s editors, who are operating under a tight deadline for the summer issue. Just as well, because given time and space I would ramble on and on about three fabulous days of socializing, ruminating and cogitating in the company of 120 or so classmates and their spouses, the whole thing beautifully orchestrated by Don Watson, the reunion chairman, and a handful of confederates — names to follow.

The late-May weather was accommodating, the campus blooming, the setting — Jonathan Edwards’ jewel-like courtyard — perfectly sized, the hotels conveniently close at hand, the food surprisingly good (seven meals total!) and the program rich and varied. Yale offered its usual comprehensive menu of lectures, exhibits and tours, but the best stuff was home grown: two “fireside chats” on Friday by Guido Calabresi and Anne Applebaum, and on Saturday, a spectacular preview in the School of Drama of a new musical review, “About Time,” written and directed by Dick Maltby and David Shire and featuring six singers and three musicians these two talented lads imported for the occasion.

Guido, a revered figure in our memories, taught some of us when he was at Yale Law School, where he later became dean, and for many years served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit — where he remains, at 91, a senior circuit judge. Energetic and without notes, Guido addressed some of the thorny dilemmas faced by judges, for instance, cases where they are required to rule on the basis of laws they do not particularly like. Anne, a journalistic prodigy (she covered the fall of the Berlin Wall only three years after graduating from Yale in 1986) has had a spectacular career, first with the Washington Post and now with the Atlantic. Married to Poland’s foreign minister, she spoke quietly but passionately about America’s obligations to Ukraine and the need to resist Vladimir Putin’s ambitions. Anne’s father, our classmate Harvey, is ill and could not be there, but Anne’s lovely mother was. As for Maltby and Shire, their revue, which deals in part with the joys and surprises of aging, was utterly charming, and, we hope, is Broadway bound. As it happens, a book about their amazing 65-year-plus collaboration is now available on Amazon.

Now the kudos….first to Don, an architect among whose finest works may be the 65th, also to Ed Greenberg, who with Charley Ellis oversaw our reunion gift (close to $50 million over five years), to Randy Ney, who arranged Anne’s Warsaw-Washington-Harford-New Haven journey, to Bill Cutter, our primo rabbi, who presided once again over a moving service of memorial to our lost colleagues, to Dick Lightfoot, who gave a gracious tribute to Steve Adams, one of Yale’s great benefactors whose long struggle with Parkinson’s ended just short of the reunion, to Sandy Wiener, who put together a little booklet with the elegant environmental musings of the late Es Esselstyn, to the Whiffs, robustly melodious as always, to the Yale people from the development and alumni offices who helped at every step — Tony Dini, Janene Castaldi, Jeannie Daniel — to the musicians, to our webmeister, Jean McKillop (yes, the reunion will be on our website!), and, not lastly and certainly not leastly, to our wives and girlfriends, who got us this far and loyally trooped to New Haven for maybe one last blast. As Abigail Adams said to husband John in 1776, “remember the ladies.” How could we not?