Fri Night Remarks

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Remarks at 2012 Alumni Barbecue by Lanny Jones '62

 

         When the Class of 1962 last gathered here, the Class of 1987 was graduating and it was our 25th Reunion. We were in mid-course. We were mid-career, mid-family, and, god knows, middle-aged. But now we know there are actually three stages of a man's life: youth ... middle-age ... and ... "Hey, you look great!"

         Why do we come back to a class reunion, years later? We come because it's one way we can figure out the story of our lives. Events that may have seemed random and confusing when they happened here, we can re-visit and  re-fashion into a coherent narrative of our whole life. We typically say, If only we'd known then what we know now. But sometimes we'd like to know now what we knew then!

         The school my classmates and I originally entered -- the old Country Day School on Brown Road  -- is now buried beneath runway 30R at the airport. Whenever my plane lands here I wonder if Homeland Security could locate the site of the Old School by using specially trained dogs to sniff out adolescent hormones that may be still festering down there beneath the concrete.

         There was always the sense that some criminal activity must have been going on at Country Day -- committed not by us, but by our teachers. They did not have names; they had aliases -- Spook, Frog, Hobo, Brud, Stick, and, most scary, Rainbow Bob. It sounded like a squad of hit men.

         Well, now we know that we in fact had wonderful teachers. In science class, Mr. Putnam was teaching us the basics of molecular biology just five years after Crick & Watson discovered the structure of DNA. In the first smoke-filled room of my experience, Mr. Durgin inhaled his passion for literature -- along with great clouds of cigarette smoke. How did we ever survive?!

         There were teachable moments outside of the classroom, too. We were defeated in football, by Burroughs, 47-0. Our class would like to take full credit for incentivizing future generations of Country Day teams to revenge this game. In the locker room after the game, though, the question was how to cope with one of the first big disappointments life had handed us. Our coach, Pop Hughes, drew a bunch of Xs and Os on a blackboard and said that, actually, the loss was his fault. It was a bad game plan. Thirty years later, I finally realized that was not the case. Mr. Hughes had made up that story to ease the burden of loss for us. He took responsibility for us.

         Senior year arrived, 45 of us graduated. We looked like peas in a pod -- white, male, suburban kids outfitted in blazers and khaki pants -- thank God we do not dress that way now!

          But while we had been telling dirty jokes in the music listening rooms, our teachers had been doing something interesting: they were giving us the confidence, curiosity and resiliency that became our working capital for the rest of our lives.

           Among their achievements so far, members of the Class of '62 have:

         > Taught in poor high schools and in wealthy colleges

         > Written books on how to fly airplanes, and how to swing dance -- (but not at the same time)

         > Taught blind people how to ski

         > Raced hot-air balloons and Formula One cars

         > Signed Mark McGwire's paychecks, and taken Princess Diana to dinner. And drawn caricatures of both.

         >  Made movies, acted in movies, ministered to people's souls and healed their bodies.

         > Invented the world's first computer dating service

         > We have doctors and lawyers and one Indian chief. (Well, Tom Tureen certainly became an honorary Indian chief when, as a young lawyer, he took the improbable land-claims case of Maine's Indians all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won one of the biggest settlements in American history.)

         Some of the most meaningful contributions were made by 10 classmates no longer with us --a poet, an engineer, a mixer of grass seed, an elementary-school teacher -- all these lives had consequence. We miss them terribly here today.

         In the last month of his life, John Updike wrote some beautiful poems. One was about his high school friends in rural Shillington, Pennsylvania. It might as well have been Country Day.

 

Dear friends of childhood, classmates, thank you,

scant hundred of you, for providing a

sufficiency of human types: beauty,

bully, hanger-on, natural,

twin, and fatso -- all a writer needs,

all there in Shilllington, its trolley cars

and little factories, cornfields, and trees,

leaf fires, snowflakes, pumpkins, valentines.

 

To think of you brings tears less caustic

than those the thought of death brings. Perhaps

we meet our heaven at the start and not

the end of life. Even then there were tears

and fear and struggle, but the town itself

draped in plain glory the passing days.

 

         So thank you, dear friends, and thank you MICDS for all you've given us. We were lucky then, and we know it now. For both we are profoundly grateful.

 

 

        

        

 

 

 

 

        

 

 

 



CDS Class of 1962 50th Reunion