2017 Class Dinner

Report of the 2017 Class Dinner, October 27, 2017

By Bob Hammond

Back in the day, between the commitments of work and family we couldn’t begin to consider getting to Manhattan, 260 miles away, on a Friday evening. We’d consider ourselves lucky if I got home for dinner.

After we retired in 2013, Bob Popper repeatedly made a pitch for us to join him and Linda in attending the dinner. Last year, still flush with the warmth of the 50th reunion, we accepted Bob’s invitation and signed on for the 2016 class dinner which featured Bob Woodward’s pre-election address. Barb and I had a great evening and decided to re-up for this year’s event, which was held on Oct 27.

We stayed with our son’s family in CT and took a Metro North train to Grand Central, which was very convenient. The Yale Club, if you’re not familiar with midtown Manhattan, is across the street from the terminal. This was the third time I’ve had the chance to visit the Yale Club. The first – and nearly the last – was an intimate bachelor party roommate Mark Lothrop threw for me in 1970, when he was practicing law at Kaye Scholer and I was an intern at Bellevue.

According to wiki the present building on Vanderbilt Ave, designed by Yale alumnus James Gamble Rogers, opened in June 1915, two years after Grand Central Terminal opened across the street in 1913. The 22-story facility is currently shared with the Dartmouth Club, the Virginia Club, and the DKE Club. Unverified legend has it that this is the site where Nathan Hale was hanged. Rogers went on to design the Harkness Memorial Quadrangle (conceived originally as a residence for Yale’s seniors), the Sterling Library and the residential colleges.

The social hour (cash bar) was lively, with lots of handshakes and hugs. Name tags helped jog recognition. Canes and walkers testified to the spirit and determination of ’65. As we worked our way through the crowd I overheard snatches of conversations starting up as people around the room introduced themselves to one another. We reconnected with old friends and enjoyed making some new acquaintances. During cocktails we chatted with Toby Frey, Carl Farrington (my freshman roommate), Helaine and Hugh Marshall accompanied by their lovely daughter, Josh Jensen, Felix von Moschzisker, Sandra Wilmore, and Gary and Trudy Moore. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some.

Our dinner table companions included Gigi and Nick Guthrie, Patricia (Mark) Lothrop, Lois (Henry) Petty, Gracia (David) Barry accompanied by her younger brother, Rockwell Chin (also a YC alum), and Susan and Bruce Smathers. Personal conversations sparked around the periphery of the table with serious cross-table discussion of the recent hurricanes, concern for rising sea levels and the future prospects of coastal properties.

Superb wine for the dinner was provided by Josh Jensen’s Calera Winery, which Josh founded in California in 1975. This summer Josh’s winery merged with Duckhorn Wines. Josh, who graduated with ’66, has reaffiliated with ’65.

The dessert – an artistic fruit tart, by the way – was impressive and delicious.

Bob Leich served ably as master of ceremonies.

Bob Woodward, in a return engagement, spoke from the heart, sharing his assessments of and insights into President Trump’s intellect, personality and volatility, voicing his concerns regarding critical issues facing the nation. One couple whom I did not know became volubly upset during Bob’s presentation and noisily stomped out of the room during his talk with audible displeasure. Bob gave several classmates who had indicated by a show of hands their approval of the President’s performance the opportunity to speak. In general, they applauded his conservative judicial appointments, promotion of conservative agendas, and the reduced role of regulatory agencies as they effect business. During the Q&A, Bob humorously deflected Bruce Smather’s mild overture to an appeal for support of Roy Nelson’s re-election campaign. By the way, Bob announced he is working on a new book about President Trump.

John Pinney’s closing remarks ended the official program.

I barely had a chance to talk with Gigi and Nick during dinner and we promised to remedy the situation by getting together for dinner on one of our upcoming CT visits. Ditto for Doug McPheters, whom we only spoke with for a few moments after dinner.

Following “Bright College Years” and waving the napkins, we left the ballroom, touching base in the process all too briefly with John Pinney, Dave Roscoe, Carol and Zik Rubin, Peter Cummings, Paula and Gerry Doyle, and Karen and Mal Harris.

Barb and I were disappointed and sorry that unforeseen circumstances prevented three couples from attending the evening’s festivities: Linda and Bob Popper, Sharon and Chip Marshall, and Dorothy Armstrong and Dave Ralph, all of whom we had been looking forward to seeing.

The AYA registration list for the dinner, which did not include walk-ins, was 128. Courtesy of Chris Kinney I have a copy of the list that I will be happy to forward to anyone interested. [Ed. note, the list is here.]

A shout out of thanks to Bob Leich, Chris Kinney and everyone else involved in putting together another elegant affair.

An evening among friends always seems to fly by.

As the elevator descended, the doors opened on a lower floor, revealing a vibrant party with a great band at full throttle! Probably the DKE’s.

We caught a late train.

There are benefits to retirement.

If you haven’t had a chance to attend one of these dinners and have the opportunity, “pencil it in” for consideration on your 2018 calendar.