by Tony Lee
Here's a report from our reunion chair Chris Getman about exciting plans for our 40th to be held June 3-6, 2004:
The Class of 1964 reunion committee met on February 8th at the Yale School
of Forestry and Environmental Studies (SFES). Our host was Dean Gus Speth.
Present in no particular order were: Jon McBride, Will Elting, Butch Hetherington, Terry Holcombe, Jay Huffard, Tony Lavely, Herrick Hunt, Robert Whitby, Gordon Davis, Ward Wickwire, The Reverend Len Baker, Jim Bowers, Chip Brennan, Mike Price, Tony Lee, Ed Massey and Anne Hastings, Don Edwards, Toby Hubbard, Frank Basler, Wayne Batcheler, Steve Klingelhofer, Paul Ruden, Nick Danforth, Neil Hoffmann, Jim Heyworth, Ellen and Bill Galvin, Dean Gus Speth and yours truly. Also present were Jennifer Julier '77, who will be our liaison with the AYA, and Connie Royster '72, who is the coordinator of our '64 Environmental Initiative with SFES.
We started the meeting introducing ourselves and expressing one hope we have for the reunion. The comments were provocative and led to spirited further discussions.
Chip Brennan presented the financials of our class treasury. We are in good shape, and ought to be able to subsidize the reunion to make it affordable for everyone. We decided to leave our suggested dues at their current $95 level. Depending upon decisions made regarding the 40th, we should have ample reserves to produce a truly elegant 50th, which would include a very comprehensive book.
We tried to deal with the fundamental issues first. These include uniform, food, book, music, and attendance, but given the diversity and enthusiasm of everyone it became, as one classmate put it, "a classic example of herding cats."
Tony Lee and I agreed to be the "uniform" committee. There were feelings both pro and con that a shirt, such as the one we had at the last reunion, would be appropriate as it would identify members of our class. We will want something for the spouses as well. Others suggested having windbreakers, hats, vests, or scarves. We could also play off of the Beatles song "When I'm 64."
Serving the food presents interesting problems. We will have three dinners, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There was some discussion about having one dinner at a location other than the college to which we're assigned. There are many attractive venues on campus which might work, costs permitting, and we will investigate them. Some classmates suggested that we have "grazing stations," which would enable classmates to interact more readily than at a sit-down dinner. It was also felt that many classmates will want to use the time to reconnect with a few friends and that they might prefer the sit-down format. We'll investigate the feasibility of a combination of the two.
There is strong sentiment to have a book. and there are several formats to employ. A simple book with names, addresses, and phone/e-mail numbers costs about $11,000. The other end of the extreme is a book with photos and essays, which will run close to $55,000. We also discussed the notion of doing a book online. A committee consisting of Lavely, Dennis DeSilvey, Wickwire, Lee, Sam Francis, Galvin, Batcheler, Price, and Hutchings will decide how we proceed.
Next came the discussion about the music which was surprisingly more harmonious than I anticipated it would be. The consensus seemed to feel that we do not want to engage a band that's too loud. There was also strong sentiment for sixties music. Butch Hetherington observed that he, among others, come back to reunions to reconnect with the past, including its music. Nick Danforth and I will pursue this issue. Suggestions were made to have background music on Thursday and Friday nights and a dance band on Saturday, but this will be fine-tuned by Nick and me seeking input from others. (I hope you guys picked up on the musical puns in that paragraph).
We had a lively discussion about attendance. We want to create an event which will engage as many classmates as possible, particularly those who have never been back, and we want it to appeal to spouses and friends. Everyone agreed to contact 20 classmates as it was felt that a phone call from a friend is a much more effective way to encourage attendance. It is our intention to make sure that everyone is contacted, that the program is enticing, and that cost should not be a deterrent. Along these lines it was suggested that we develop a frequent-flyer pool. All requests for financial assistance will be kept in confidence at the AYA, so no one on the committee will know who has obtained financial aid.
Next, we discussed a proposal from Professor Joseph Soares, a sociologist, who would like to do a survey of our class for a forthcoming book. There were concerns about confidentiality and intellectual bias, but Professor Soares has assured us that any information we convey to him will be strictly confidential, and his previous studies have received scholarly acclaim. A vote was taken, and we will proceed with the survey. You should note that he will give us a stipend of at least $20 for each questionnaire returned, so this could provide a nice cushion for our reunion expenses.
Terry Holcombe briefly mentioned the fund-raising challenge we face. As we have set Yale records in each of our previous seven reunions, we hope to keep that string intact. It looks as if we're well on our way to breaking the current record held by the class of 1959, but the results from 1963 are not yet in.
Finally, with little time left, we discussed the program. Yale has fixed programs for all reunion classes on Friday and Saturday mornings, and our inclination is not to compete with them. This gives us time on Friday and Saturday afternoons to engage classmates or outside speakers on issues relevant to our class. We discussed whether we should "look back" and hear from classmates with interesting stories or "look forward" and try to focus on issues that will affect us in the future. There are strong cases to be made for each, and the program committee has sufficient time to develop a meaningful program.
We closed the meeting with a unanimous censure of Joe Wishcamper, a Mainiac, who called to say that inclement weather had precluded his being at the meeting. Chomp asked for our forgiveness and to be reinstated. A survey was taken and the results were 3-2 with 32 abstentions. Welcome back, Joe; we're over it.
The meeting adjourned to an interesting session with Abhi Sud, our Summer environmental fellow, who helped create an inner-city garden in Bangladore, India. It's a great concept which can add vitality and pride to neighborhoods. The Forestry School sponsors a similar program in New Haven, the Urban Resource Initiative (URI), which has been tremendously successful in helping to restore blighted neighborhoods.
We then had a nice reception where we were joined by many spouses, Jan and Peter Truebner, Judy and Fielding Secor, John Lee and Mary Lou Morong, Pete Hutchings and Martha Wolfgang, and Strachan Donnelley. That was followed by dinner, and then a really exciting hockey game, a 5-4 Eli victory over Clarkson.
We're off to a good start. There are a lot of creative minds on board, and I'm convinced we will offer a weekend which will have universal appeal to all classmates and their guests. Mark your calendars now for June 3-6, 2004.