By Thomas J. Bourgeois
When it comes to making predictions about the course of the pandemic whose first signs appeared a little over two years ago, abundant caution is in order. I think we can agree, though, that vaccines, recently augmented by the availability of boosters, have at least helped us get past our well-warranted fear of gathering with family and friends. And so it is that we ’75ers have begun to assemble, by twos and threes and sixes. Let me explain:
On October 22, Ann Toler and I caught up with BK Munguia and Jon Mark at the Mt. Washington (Los Angeles, not New Hampshire) home of their daughter and son-in-law. Homeowners Ramona and Jason were attending bachelorette and bachelor parties in Big Bear Lake, California, and Miami, Florida, respectively, pressing BK and Jon to report for grandparent duty. We passed a most pleasant afternoon, charmed by six-month-old Simon and two-year-old Penny Sue. I didn’t find out the age of their beloved dog Cosmo, but he was quite entertaining, as well. Earlier in their month-long celebration of Jon’s recent birthday, they visited BK’s double classmate (Columbia Law ’81) Charlie Keefe and Lila Locksley in NYC.
On October 28, at their home in Branford, Nancy Young and Paul Ford hosted Pam (’76) and Al Palitz, and Rita Smith and Chris Donnelly. Pam wrote on our ’75 Facebook page, “No surprise, but Nancy and Paul are the consummate hostess and host, and we had a delightful lunch enjoying the autumn colors and the sparkling waters off the Connecticut coast. Chris had taken Albert and me on a fascinating urban tree walk in New Haven in the morning. What a great day!” Chris, you may recall, recently retired from his post as Connecticut’s chief urban forester, so I’m guessing he conducts the ultimately authoritative Elm City arboreal tour.
On November 13, resuming a monthly tradition rudely interrupted by the 2020 shutdown, our Los Angeles contingent had a class lunch at Golden Road Pub on the L.A.-Glendale border. Joining me for an afternoon of lively conversation, convivial company, and a toast to Arthur Greenwald’s memory were Lori Andrews, Matt Fragner, Pennlee Lanselle, Tom Marcus, Seth Walworth, and Honorary ’75er Rebecca Newman ’73. We discussed topics both light (Do you like Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm?) and weighty (What’s the single event that had the most profound effect on your life?). I’d be remiss if I didn’t extend a special shout-out to Matt, who, in addition to introducing our weighty topic, trekked all the way from Palos Verdes Estates. If you know L.A. County geography, you’ll acknowledge that PVE-Glendale officially qualifies as a “far piece.”
Other news from here and there:
Rich Taus writes, “After 50 years of solving crossword puzzles and 40 years of practicing interventional radiology (IR), I decided to construct an IR-themed puzzle. The Journal of Vascular & Interventional Radiology had never published anything light, but they accepted it and asked for a second. A year later my puzzles have become a popular monthly feature in an otherwise serious academic journal.” Rich reports that he continues to practice interventional and diagnostic radiology at Cambridge Health Alliance, “a safety-net system based at Cambridge City Hospital. We’re a Harvard-affiliated community/teaching hospital.” As I write this installment just a few days before The Game, I can only hope Rich’s allegiance is not divided.
Spurred by the recollections of the late Donald Kagan in the last edition of this magazine, John Hoffecker, Fellow Emeritus of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, offers this uniquely personal tribute to the academic titan: “I took Professor Kagan’s ancient Greek history course in the fall of our sophomore year. As others wrote in the alumni magazine, it was an outstanding course, and certainly one of the best I took during my undergraduate years. While memories of most of my classes have faded during the past half century, the recollections of Prof. Kagan’s lectures are vivid, in part because of his style of speaking and flashes of humor.
“Along with Cynthia Farrar ’76, I can state that Prof. Kagan influenced the entire course of my life, although in my case, it was quite unknowingly and inadvertently on his part. While his primary focus was the later periods, during the first weeks he talked about Minoan Crete and Mycenae. This awakened a childhood interest in archaeology, and the next spring I switched my major to archaeology, which was a (rare) option at Yale at the time. I soon shifted from classical archaeology to the Paleolithic and ended up with a PhD from the University of Chicago, and a focus on Eastern Europe and Beringia. Forty-nine years later, I’m still at it.
“Unmentioned in the YAM piece was Prof. Kagan’s controversial address to the Yale Political Union in the fall of 1974. This, too, is a vivid recollection, because I was serving as Speaker at the time and, accordingly, was involved in arranging the meeting and introducing him. He had asked to speak to the PU about freedom of speech on campus. There had been several incidents over the previous years in which invited speakers were prevented from speaking by the crowd. As with his lectures on ancient Greece, my memory of that speech is undimmed by the years.”
Your faithful scribe also took Kagan’s course in the fall of 1972. (Lecture courses being what they are, John and I never met at Yale, and our acquaintance came only via recent email exchanges.) For my part, I can still hear Kagan’s deadpan description, delivered in his gruff Brooklyn accent, of the hapless Greek soldiers who lost their lives tumbling down steep hillsides at the Battle of Thermopylae, culminating in the rhetorical question: “Have you evah tried to wawk down a hill wearing fawty pounds of awmah?”
Theatrical producer Catherine Schreiber sends this update: “After a difficult time for theater, I’m thrilled that Broadway is back! So proud that the new version of A Christmas Carol, directed by the Old Vic’s Matthew Warchus, won five Tonys at this year’s delayed awards. It’s the most awarded production of the season and the only holiday play ever to win an award. Entertainment Weekly writes, ‘You will leave the theater with a heart full of joy and light.’ For those across the country, I’m happy to announce that the show is on tour and will be opening at L.A.’s Ahmanson on November 30, but also has runs in Phoenix, Spokane, Las Vegas, and San Francisco. Check out www.achristmascarolbroadway.com/ for tour dates. Also, I was delighted to receive my third Tony for the magnificent play The Inheritance. Upcoming on Broadway, I am a lead producer on Company, starring Katrina Link and Patti Lupone, and directed by the incomparable Marianne Elliott, and on a new version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe touring the UK. You might also catch me on a TV screen at the airports or in hotels, hosting Broadway and Beyond TV for Reach TV. I’m pleased that Broadway takes COVID very seriously. Audiences need to show proof of vaccination and wear a mask.”
That’s it for now. I hope your holidays were wonderful, and may 2022 bring us together more often!