Observations About Life

lifeIf you would like to contribute your observations about life, please send them to us at web@yale1959.org.

If you would like to comment on someone’s observations, click the title of a posted observation below and find the comment box at the end.

Personal Observations

A Note from Mike Mitchell (2/09/22)

Three Questions and Two Statements by Sandy Wiener (9/25/15)

….. Response by Kent Hackmann (11/19/15)
….. Response by Sandy Wiener (11/20/15)

Network All The Time: Jack Killion’s new book (1/04/16)

Getting Close to Eighty by Sandy Wiener (2/10/16)

“Bright College Years” by Kirby Westheimer, an updated chronicle not to be missed (6/24/16)

Observations About the World

Local Farms, Young Farmers by Sandy Wiener (9/26/15)

….. Response by Charles Griffith (10/1/15)

Observations about the World – Refugees and Terrorists by Kent Hackmann (11/30/15)

Call for Ways to Launch a High Impact, Integrated, Global Branding and Marketing PR Campaign Against ISIS A conversation begun by Jack Killion and Kent Hackmann – please join in! (2/05/16)

A Remembrance of Walter Sterling, ’59, by John Stickler

The Yale Alumni Magazine reported that Walt passed away on Christmas Eve, 2017.

I didn’t know him well, but our paths crossed freshman year due to our similar abilities in Spanish. Walt was an anomaly, an Anglo from New Hampshire fluent in the language. My skill was not so unusual, being from Tucson, Arizona with proximity to Mexico and four years study in high school.

The details have escaped me over the decades, but Walt and I competed for some Yale recognition in Spanish which he won handily. And deservedly. He was really fluent. The summer of 1956, back in Tucson, I read, perhaps in the YAM, that Walt would be working in Mexico that summer as an advisor to a mining company. His Spanish was great, OK, but what the hell did he know about mining?

Inspired by this intriguing notice, I set out to find him in my parents’ car. All I knew was that he would be in Cananea, an 18th century mining town in the northern part of the Mexican state of Sonora. I had no address or phone for him in the settlement of perhaps 30,000 people. How hard would it be to locate a pale gringo from New Hampshire?

One afternoon in August I crossed the border at Naco, just south of Bisbee, Arizona, and headed south toward Mexico Highway 2. In the desert outside of Naco I was surprised to see a well-dressed fellow by the side of the road with his thumb up. Normally I wouldn’t pick up a hitchhiker, and normally people in Mexico don’t hitchhike, but for some reason I pulled over. It was another surprise to hear him speak American English, asking if I was going to Cananea. What are the odds? I’ve forgotten his story and why he had no car, but when I told him my mission he immediately engaged. “We’ll find him,” he said confidently, apparently feeling that he owed me at least that much in return for giving him a ride.

It was getting dark when we arrived in Cananea and he directed me to stop at a cantina once we were in town. “Shall I come in?” I asked. “No, just wait here,” he said closing the door behind him. He was back in a few minutes, smiling. “I found him,” he said pointing the way.

Walter, it turned out, was working for the Cananea Consolidated Copper Company and living with the mine manager in his company-owned quarters in the heart of the city. My helpful passenger guided me to what appeared to be the entrance of a park and asked me to stop. “I’ll get out here,” he said. “All you do is follow this road up. Your friend is staying in the large house at the top.” I wanted to ask which house, but got the impression that there was only one.

I thanked him for his enthusiastic help and started up the hill. The paved road curved upward as my headlights illuminated acres of lawns dotted with stately trees. At the top was an imposing, 19th century Victorian mansion with a porte-cochere undoubtedly built for fancy buggies pulled by matched stallions. Stone steps led up to the front door.

A butler answered my ring, confirmed that Senor Sterling was at home and invited me in.

Walt was naturally surprised to see me and pleased to have company. The mine manager was away on business and Walt was rattling around alone in this huge place. Alone, that is, except for the servants. He assured me of a room and went to arrange for my supper in the formal dining room.

Walt was a gracious host and after breakfast, mission accomplished, I said farewell and headed back to Tucson. I don’t recall connecting with him during the next three years at Yale.

Rest in peace Walt.

John Stickler, ’59

Jon Russin and Ernie Schoen-René got together for a Yale Russian Chorus Alumni concert along with a Georgian Choir at Bard college

Attending the Men’s Lacrosse Ivy Tournament May 7, Charlie Griffith, Tony De Paul and Hugo Krantz. Yale won against Brown 10-9 in a squeaker!

Thanks to Jim Connors, we have our 1955 copy of “The Old Campus” here online for classmates to view! Click here to see it. (8/11/16)

Sandy Wiener’s news (3/8/16)

Ben Zitron calls for another look at the “Virtual Yale Station.” (2/26/16)

Jack Killion reports on his wife Judy’s impact on aspiring young female entrepreneurs. (2/15/16)

Sandy Wiener invites us to ponder the wise words on getting close to 80 by Oliver Sacks, Donald Hall, Henry Miller and others. (2/10/16)

Also, Kent Hackmann and Jack Killion invite your suggestions on how to launch an effective PR campaign against ISIS. (2/16 and ongoing)

(3/8/16) Sandy Wiener writes in: “Toward the end of February, Sarah and I (and daughters Nell and Eliza) were with Erik Esselstyn and his wife Celina Moore for dinner at their wonderfully restored old tavern house in Plainfield, northern Vermont. Lots of music, including Schubert lieder and indie folk. Erik also read a poem he had written, the verses coming together, he said, as part of a fundraiser for 350.org. Here it is.”


. . . .Listen.

. . . .Listen.

. . . .I am the great Himalayan water spider. For millennia I have crouched atop the thousands of square miles of glaciers in the world’s highest mountains. I feed on layers and layers of miles thick ice. The ice is thinning. My eight legs are wilting.

. . . .I am dying.

. . . .One leg forms the Indus River that winds through Pakistan and empties into the Arabian Sea . Another leg, the Amu Darya , flows through the poppy fields and gardens of Afghanistan. The withering Aral Sea depends on another leg, the Syr Darya.

. . . .The Yellow and the Yangtze wend through China and today may not reach the sea. Ah, my beloved Brahmaputra that skirts the ice fields on the north and winds its way through Bangladesh, slaking the thirst of millions. And my robust Ganges, the endless fount of life for India’s farmers, that sweeps the ashes of the dead to the ocean. Remember, too, the sweet Mekong, thousands of miles of glistening fish and endless rice paddies.

. . . .We are dying.

. . . .My Andean cousins that freshen a thousand western streams and water the fountains of La Paz and Lima are disappearing. As well my Alpine sisters who provide such wondrous skiing and feed Lakes Geneva and Como.

. . . .We are dying.

. . . .Listen.

. . . .Listen.

. . . .Erik Esselstyn
. . . .April 2007

Jack Killion pens a note to Sandy Wiener about his wife Judy’s activities on behalf of budding women entrepreneurs. (2/15/16)

April 30, 2018: John Stickler sends in an amazing account of his experience at the Fifth Annual Asian Advertising Congress in Taipei, Taiwan in November, 1966. His essay originally appeared in Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society — Korea Branch, Volume 87, 2012 edition. Please click to view.

Dick Bentley’s career in urban planning has led him, over time, to live in 14 different neighborhoods in 10 different American cities. His planning activities produced the book “American Cities — Neighborhoods and Networks“, a twitchy version of those slick coffee-table publications like “The Ten Most Beautiful Villages in Tuscany”. He has published 3 books of poetry and fiction, some of which included “wall poetry.” Dick has provided us with some updated “wall poetry” and a bit more information, as well as photos of some of his paintings.

Please click here to read the rest of his note to the class, and to see the artwork he’s sent in.

Dear Ben,

Like virtually all of our classmates at Yale, we and our families were caught up in the drama of WWII, even if we ourselves were too young to fight.

When the war ended most of our fathers came home safely. Mine did not.

The loss of my father had a profound effect on my life, even if after the war my mother would remarry a man who was kind and generous. Thanks to them I’ve been fortunate to lead a rich and happy life.

When my first son was born in 1964, I gave him my father’s two first names: Nathaniel, Minter. Like my father, he was called Minter (my grandmother’s maiden name), a distinctive name if there ever was one. As I was growing up, and even later, I found what little I knew about my father’s short life to be extremely depressing — it frequently led to tears — so I tried to avoid thinking about it too often, sometimes even to the point of suppressing it. On the other hand, my son Minter (Y ’87) knew no such bounds; he has delved deeply into every detail of my father’s life, spending more than twenty years collecting information and reconstructing his life, as well as that of my late mother who died in 1963. This effort has now evolved into a book written by him scheduled for publication this coming fall. The title is The Last Ring Home. He has also produced a 26-minute documentary film with the same name that PBS is planning to air at about the same time. We will donate any profits from this endeavour to Wounded Warriors.

Cooperating closely with Minter over the past few years has enabled me better to come to grips with the mindless cruelty of the Japanese, the suffering of my father and his fellow prisoners, and the horrors of war in general. Perhaps above all, it has brought me as close as it is possible to be to my two Minters.

It occurs to me that some of our classmates may find this story of interest. Minter has built a web site containing relevant information about his project, including a link to a two-minute teaser of the film, and the option of signing up to be notified when the book and the 26-minute film become available. The link is: http://thelastringhome.com

Nathaniel Victor Dial ‘59

Books, poetry, and artwork by Dick Bentley. New in October ’17: information about Dick’s new book! Click to view.

Bright College Years. Kirby Westheimer updated his essay. Click to view.