NMH '57 Epilogue


Class of 1957
June 7-10, 2007
(written by Joe Harrington and Marty Johnson)
Thursday, June 7…We return, to see what has become of one another, and of our schools.
Fifty years having elapsed since our graduation, we returned to see what had become of the Northfield School for Girls, the Mount Hermon School for Boys, and their two Classes of 1957. As we passed between the two brick pillars that form the gateway to the campus, a few noticed that the one that is engraved with the words “Mount Hermon School” had been tactfully covered with a banner that welcomed “NMH ALUMNI” to Reunion 2007. It was a hint of things to come.
A little farther up the entrance road came a reminder of something that was seen throughout the American heartland in the Fifties but which many of us had not seen since then: a series of five signs at roughly fifty-foot intervals along the edge of the road. “In days of yore…. the greatest whirl…. was a good blind date…. with a Northfield girl!.... Burma Shave.” This brainstorm of a member of our reunion planning committee helped to put us in the proper frame of reference, but doubtless perplexed, in several ways, some members of the younger reunion classes. (“Look at those signs! What on earth is a blind date?  And what the heck is Burma Shave??”)
Mood enhancement continued in Crossley Lounge, with Patti Page, Elvis, and Bill Haley and the Comets supplying the background music. We checked in, and received a white umbrella as our memento. Happily, it would turn out that these would more often be employed as sunshades than as rain protection throughout the weekend. We got a room, in most cases, though some chose to stay off campus. Those who stayed right there in Crossley were struck by how little had changed. There were the two iron beds, the two desks, the two sets of drawers for clothing and personal things, and the two closets by the door, all arranged in perfect symmetry. Everything pretty much the same as the day we arrived as new students, although the rooms seemed smaller.
We had a running start on the reconnecting process through the publication of our 50th Reunion Yearbook. Herculean efforts by Dave Ewing, Dave Hamilton, Joe Harrington, Peggy Johnston Quinn, Estella Loomis Lauter, Lloyd Mitchell and Ralph Wadleigh had resulted in a marvelous book of memories both individual and collective, captioned “The Way We Were – The Way We Are”. They had significant assistance from Joyce Moore Arthur, Mike Doudoroff, and NMH Archivist Peter Weis ’78. Reading the class histories reminded us of much we had forgotten about our escapades back then. Browsing the individual entries prepared us for the broad range of experiences and achievements that our classmates have been through. 
And suddenly, there they were, jumping off the page and walking through the door, looking absolutely the same as before or totally different, but alive and in person. Almost everyone had an anecdote to tell or a question to ask about those who weren’t there. Everywhere there were groups of people catching up after five, twenty-five, or fifty years. And so began an intensive process of strengthening/ rebuilding our network of relationships begun so long ago.
That night a lobster dinner awaited us in West Hall, which since 2001 has been called Alumni Hall. More evidence of the thought that has gone into integrating the two schools into one: pictures of all the graduating classes—from both sides of the river-- cover the walls.    Your picture is on the wall no matter when you graduated, or from which campus. The flags of all the nations that have sent students to the schools make an impressive and colorful display. The column of white-jacketed waiters marching out of the kitchen with trays held high has long since been consigned to history, however; everything is buffet style, and you bus your own tray after the meal.
We were welcomed by Tom Sturtevant, the very effective and energetic Head of the School. He addressed us as a class informally on Thursday evening, and on several other occasions as well, combining good humor with a strong grasp of the facts and an excellent knowledge of the students. He has, surely, a different sort of presence from that of Barbara Clough and Howard Rubendall, who were leaders well suited to their times. Tom Sturtevant is a leader for these times. When he speaks, you sense that you are hearing from an unabashed supporter of the School and its mission. Evangelism without the hyperbole, one alum called it, and that’s a pretty fair description.
Thursday evening was special, as it was tailored specifically for us. In addition to Tom’s greetings, we were welcomed by our two leaders, Martha Johnson and Chuck Streeter, who headed up the committee(s) that set up the events, and ably emceed this and other get-togethers throughout the weekend. The Fifties mood was called back to life as we were led by Director of Choral Music Sheila Heffernon in timeless numbers like “Charlie on the MTA”, “Rock Around the Clock”, and “Sloop John B”. 
We had a very special moment when Nancy Hartman Rodney presented a gift rich in historical connections. Years ago, the residents of Hillside had given a painting of their dorm to their house mother Elizabeth Dorchester. Much later, she returned it to Nancy at a time when she was no longer able to care for as many possessions as before. And after much deliberation, Nancy decided that the moment was finally right to return the picture to the School, and presented it to Tom Sturtevant-- another connection between the Northfield that was and the NMH that is, particularly significant in that Hillside was one of the original Northfield campus buildings.
We closed with the Northfield Benediction, heartened to hear that it is still sung by students today. After dinner, Northfield classmates gathered in one of the cottages for an hour of healing conversation dealing with the loss of the Northfield campus, led by Barbara Tuttle.
Friday, June 8…We learn, we teach, we talk. And we greet a surprising number of “our” faculty.
More friends poured in on Friday, some alone, some with spouses or significant others. In the  “Alumni College” we listened to classmates and others who led courses or discussion groups too numerous to list here. Journal writing, the state of American medicine, Buddhism, admissions to NMH, America and Iraq, environmental sustainability, and much much more were there for the asking. Estella Loomis Lauter presented the work of classmate Nancy Graves (1939-1995), an internationally acclaimed visual artist. Other classmates involved in presentations were Steve Springer, Lynne Anderson Haines, and Steve Bethea. In the afternoon, and from time to time later in the weekend, we toured the Mount Hermon and Northfield campuses, seeking connections with our past as well as an appreciation of what the two schools, now one, have become. 
While we will not go into specifics here, it is worth noting that time has not been kind to all of us. Numerous individuals appeared for the reunion despite health challenges large and small, dealing with quiet courage with whatever has come their way. The staff’s provision of student-piloted golf carts immensely facilitated movement around the campus.
Although Thursday’s boat ride on the Connecticut River had been canceled due to the contractor’s licensing issues, it didn’t really matter much. We didn’t need a boat to do what most of us were there to do. And for those who did want to get out on the “noble river”, the ever resourceful Dave Williams trailered several canoes and kayaks down from his North Woods lair, and Sue Tower did the same from New York, enabling a number of souls to spend a couple of hours on the wide and gentle Connecticut at Turners Falls on Friday afternoon.  The local constabulary read them the riot act for disembarking in a no parking zone—one hopes it was the most serious crime recorded that week in the Turners Falls metropolitan area.
We wound up the day at Ford Cottage where Betsy and Tom Sturtevant formally welcomed us. Dinner was served under a huge tent, with Bruce Johnson and three colleagues entertaining us with barbershop singing. After that, many adjourned to the Chapel for a hymn sing, then joined the group hanging out at Crossley Lounge, or participated in a sharing circle led by Kay Mingolla Wardrope, dealing with Northfield issues. There were numerous events, throughout the weekend, but just talking to classmates, catching up and comparing experiences was what we wanted and needed to do most.
From time to time through the weekend, as the opportunity presented itself, we recognized those of “our” faculty who had also returned. There was a surprising number, surprising until we stopped to think that these teachers of ours, who seemed at the time to be so far ahead of us in life, were in some cases less than ten years our senior. Ten years makes more of a difference when you are 16 years old! In any event, on hand and happy to be recognized and given copies of our yearbook were, in no special order: Sally Curtis, math teacher; Mary Ann Efird Higgins, physical education teacher; Phyllis Ganz Greene and Sam Greene, both math teachers; Rodman Scheffer ’46, English and Bible teacher; David Burnham, also English and Bible, and his spouse Anne Webb Burnham ’44;  Dick Kellom, chemistry and biology teacher; Jeffrey Baker and Barbara Bernache-Baker, both biology teachers; and Walton Congdon, physics and chemistry teacher. (The math and science teachers have done well!)
Our class teachers were Marilyn Zajan Kellom and Fred Torrey, and we were particularly happy that Marilyn and Margot Torrey, Fred’s widow, could join our celebration.
In addition, we heard that Fred Bauer, John Clark, and Jack Williams are living in New Hampshire, unable to join us but in touch with several of our Hermon classmates. The same is true of Wilhelmina Donovan, who at 98 is living in nearby Amherst.  Elizabeth Small and Elizabeth Dorchester live, respectively, in Hartford, CT, and nearby Northfield but were likewise unable to attend.
Saturday, June 9…We are celebrated, with good reason. We remember those who can never return. And we turn a corner.
On Saturday our class pictures were taken by a photographer balancing near the top of a tippy step-ladder. If we look a little wide-eyed in the picture, that’s the explanation. Everyone was relieved when he clambered down. 
After that we marched into the Alumni Convocation, entering after everyone else, to raucous applause from all, even the classes older than we. We were all ready to knock ‘em dead with a spirited rendition of a class song (“When the Saints Go Marching In” with words crafted for the occasion by Terry Drew Reeves) but with all the racket, we never got it off the ground. To hear the noise, anyone would have thought we had done something special! A short while later it would turn out that indeed we had, as the School thanked us for donating a total of $2,023,051 over the five years leading up to our reunion. That number would increase by another $16,000+ before the close of the fiscal year on June 30.
The cynic will comment that it was all about the money. There is no question that the School’s major motivation for bringing us back together was the encouragement to contribute that a reunion supplies. Reunions are a given in every school, college, and university alumni program. But having the opportunity to come back together, to touch base again with people and places that meant a great deal to us in our formative years, is a great gift that we receive as part of this bargain.
And if more value currently flows from us to the School than in the reverse direction, why not? The reverse was surely true back in our school years, when full cost was $1450, and we paid at most $950, and some paid substantially less. The difference, we were told at the time, was ascribable to the work program, and to the generosity of annual donors, D.L. Moody’s “living endowment”. And now it is our turn to help, according to our current means. It is not a bad bargain, as fundraising chairs Ellie Gross Bullis and Darrell Cooper, and their committee members, often pointed out to us in the months and years leading up to the reunion.
At the Alumni Convocation the thoughtful and energetic support that Steve Springer has devoted to the School over the years were recognized with an Alumni Citation. We were proud to see one of our number among the dozen or so out of the entire alumni body who were called up for special recognition at the Convocation this year.
In separate services led by Steve Springer and by Nancy Hartman Rodney we paused to remember those whose life stories are complete—those who died somewhere along the path from our graduation in June 1957 to the present day. Northfield women heard the names ofBarbara Bates Black, Susan Brooks Franklin, Alison Buck Cook, Catharine Burrowes Gager, Jean Campbell Vaillancourt, Gail Clark Foote, Jean Craig Youmans, Nancy Graves, Elsbeth Hagemann Nesbitt, Elizabeth Holcombe Milliken, Donna Immen Rickelman, Donna Michelini, Karen Parsons Duncker, Elisabeth Patron Bis, Phyllis Prescott Paige Kruger, Phoebe Roberts Reed, Carol Stoneham Shay, Eleanor Taft Valenti, Alice Towle Jesse, and Patricia Wight Campbell. Hermonites paused to remember Robert Allen, David Boyd, David Brown, John Clapp, Oscar Dunn, David Ellis, Timothy Erlandsen, Peter Gezork, David Harrower, Erik Heftye, David Hiller, David Jackson, David Johnston, Douglas Keyt, John Lessard, James Lewis, David Liber, Neil MacMillan, Bruce McLean, Louis Montgomery, Marshall Mott, Tyier Thomton, Donald Uber, Mayer Wantman, and Marshall Whithed.
Then, still in separate meetings, the two classes tackled a matter that symbolized the tough issue that faced us as part of this 50th Reunion. Should we continue to regard ourselves as two separate entities, the 1957 classes of the Northfield School for Girls and the Mount Hermon School for Boys: Good friends, to be sure, but not melded into a single entity because we were not, back then? Many had approached the reunion with the thought in mind of preserving that status quo. The hurt of the divestiture of the Northfield campus was very real to many on the Northfield side, and giving up the Northfield identity seemed another unwelcome step in this direction. The Hermonites did not feel this issue with the same intensity, but could gain at least some appreciation of what the loss must be like by noticing little things they had lost. Their own Mount Hermon referred to as “the Gill campus”. The former school name on the gate covered by an NMH banner. South Crossley a girls’ dorm. It brought the change into focus. We came to see that we all were losing something—not in equal measure, but not entirely one-sidedly, either. The process of change began with the shift to co-education on both campuses in the academic year 1971-72 and culminated with the establishment of NMH on a single campus in 2005-06.
Northfield women back for the first time were uncertain and reluctant and curious. However, they, particularly the early comers, did their work.  They visited the Northfield campus several times in groups of two or three, they spoke of their feelings of loss  with each other in the evening  meetings, and they walked the Gill campus seeking to "create space" for themselves.  Ultimately, they acknowledged that while the sadness may never leave, a willingness to move on had significantly emerged for most attendees, particularly as they learned about and felt the tone of the present school, its current headmaster, extraordinary students, and beautiful landscape.
And so with some reluctance and some misgivings, ultimately both groups concluded that it was time to accept the reality of what had happened, and share a single campus and a school called Northfield Mount Hermon. And as a symbol of this, both classes determined that we would henceforth regard ourselves as a single entity, the NMH Class of 1957, although there will definitely be some separate events for Northfield and Mount Hermon graduates at future reunions.
For those who have been in close touch with the School in recent years in various alumni support roles, this was an obvious thing to do. “High time,” they must have thought. For those who came back to the School for the first time in years, it took a little longer, but by the time of the Saturday meetings, it had at least started to feel right for a majority. To classmates who were not there and who read this and wonder, we can only say, trust us—and come back for our 55th with an open mind, and experience it yourself. 
Architecture and landscape are undeniably important. They form indelible bonds and memories. But surely our experience was more than that. The friends and faculty, the shared experiences, and the learning have been the forces that truly changed our lives—not the buildings. Only a very few of us can go back and walk through the door of the home or homes in which we were reared as children before coming to Northfield and Mount Hermon. That does not invalidate the lessons we learned and the upbringing we experienced there, nor make it less real in our memories. 
And all is not entirely lost. The aura of Roundtop and the places associated with D. L. Moody are different from anything on the Gill campus, and the committee in charge of the future of the Northfield campus has recognized this by requesting that any buyer agree to an easement allowing access to these.
The afternoon events ended with a joint Northfield and Mount Hermon workshop on retirement led by Joyce Moore Arthur and Steve Bethea, a harbinger of good things to come from our new partnership.
At a Saturday evening banquet, again at Ford Cottage, we enjoyed another great evening of fellowship with past and current faculty and staff, and each other. We heard the results of the survey put together by Dave Hamilton--hampered/helped by a well-meaning group of volunteers who contributed more ideas and opinions than he could possibly have wanted about how best to approach the more ticklish areas. See the appendix for those results. We are an interesting bunch!
Light rain showers, off and on, simply gave us an excuse to stay a little longer before wending our way back to our respective abodes, or to the dances and concerts in full swing around the campus, sponsored by younger, more energetic classes.
Sunday, June 10…Leavetaking. A brief look at how the reunion came to be, and who attended.
Sunday morning found us gathered in Memorial Chapel for a final worship service. While it was meant for, and attended by, all reunion participants, our class took the lead. Chuck Streeter and Joyce Moore Arthur read the Scripture lessons, and Gail Minault and Dave Williams preached the sermon(s). An alumni choir with strong ’57 participation presented an anthem, “Once to Every Man and Nation” in the less-commonly-heard David Stanley York arrangement. Those with long memories, or well-preserved collections of LP’s, will recall that the 1956 Sacred Concert closed with all students, choirs, and the orchestra singing this stirring piece. “Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, ‘Twixt the choice of truth or falsehood, for the good or evil side.” It simply says it all in terms of expressing the School’s spirit of commitment and service. There was scarcely a dry eye in the house.
Reluctant to part, we went back to Alumni Hall for one last repast, where again we had our own space set aside. Expressions of thanks and promises to write, e-mail, and visit were exchanged. The contact information in the yearbook will come in handy.
Somewhere, surely, the exhausted staff sat down to collect itself, express relief that it was finally over, and start to take stock of how things had gone. They could take considerable pride. While there were minor glitches here and there, some quite beyond their control, for the most part they had facilitated and enabled a memorable four days. 
The reunion was definitely more than a School production; it was our very own, in every detail. The reunion planning committee had begun its work over three years earlier, and worked in the early days against the backdrop of the startling and dismaying news that the Northfield campus was passing into history. Reactions to this varied from deep feelings of anger and rejection to disturbed and questioning reactions to disconnection. While some were able to be supportive of the decision, others took years to accept it enough to resume conversation. 
The joint reunion committee met for the first time in October 2003, with Dave Williams, ably and solely, representing the Mount Hermon side.  At our second formal meeting in May 2004 at Sacred Concert, both sides were well represented. We had just received definitive news of the commitment to one school on the Hermon campus.  Dave, along with Chuck Streeter and Darrell Cooper, having tapped in to their "if it had happened to us" feelings, were very vocal and supportive of the women who found themselves in grief and shock. For a number of the members this meeting served as a kind of bonding experience.
Discussions of the decision, and what it meant for us and our reunion, continued at retreats in Maine in 2005 and 2006 hosted by Judy and Darrell Cooper, and the School. Hope emerged that time would eventually heal, and the group focused on how best to use its time together in the interest of pulling off a grand gathering in 2007.
Untold e-mails and phone calls ensued. Major efforts were devoted to the Web site, and to the Reunion yearbook. And as we worked through all of this, because we definitely wanted to see one another again and at least celebrate what was, if not what is, a number of us began to come around. 
The actual creation of the reunion program took place on two work weekends in September 2006 and February 2007. Fund-raising ran in parallel with the work on the reunion events throughout the years leading up to the actual event.  It all came together, finally, on the reunion weekend. The two class meetings climaxed the process of healing and got us started down a new path. 
The group that pulled all this off was led by 50th Reunion Chairs Chuck Streeter and Martha Johnson, along with 50th Reunion Gift Chairs Darrell Cooper and Eleanor Gross Bullis. The 50th Reunion Planning Committee consisted of Carolyn Anderson Haines, Anne Burr Czepiel, Walton Butterworth, Deborah Chater Richman, Cynthia Chutter Kahn, Bradley Cook, Michael Doudoroff, Sarah Drew Reeves, Jean Erickson McGilvray, David Ewing, Robin Foster Spaulding, Joy Goddard Knightly, Joseph Harrington, Nancy Hartman Rodney, Lee Holcombe Milliken, Garda Jensen Meyer, Margaret Johnston Quinn, Estella Loomis Lauter, Robert Mansfield, Kay Mingolla Wardrope, Lloyd Mitchell, Walter Mockett, Joyce Moore Arthur, G. Edwin Olsen, Malcolm Peck, Paul Reyes, Robert Rodney, Virginia Roe Lang, Denise Rowe Huestis, Stephen Springer, Richard Tolsdorf, Elizabeth Vaughan O'Gorman, Ralph Wadleigh, Judith Wagner McKernon, and David Williams.
On Sunday afternoon, as car after car made its way down the exit road and out through the gates, quiet began to settle over that beautiful place. With commencement and reunion done, the campus was slipping into its summer mood. Fluffy white clouds floated in the summer sky above the familiar hazy green valley. Birdsong, not celebration and reminiscing, became the dominant sound. 
And the campus seemed to be settling down to wait. To wait for another set of students to appear in the fall. Some new ones, like us as new students, not knowing entirely what to expect, but hopeful or fearful as the case might be. Some others, returning after prior years at NMH, with a clearer idea of what lies ahead, and with a sense of great anticipation. And a year hence, and five years hence, will come another reunion, when some of us, and others, will return. And so the cycle continues, with generation after generation of students leaving and returning first as students and then as alumni, to meet with friends they’ve known for life, and to meet with others with whom they share an affection and a respect for this school that is so special in its spirit.
And one alum, reluctant to leave, parked under a maple tree, looked out across the Connecticut River valley and thought about what we had here back in the Fifties, and what we’d had in the past four days, and started to try to get some of it down on paper. Others went over to Northfield to reflect one more time before heading home. It would take months, and the input and assistance of a great many, but this latest chapter in our history is the result. 
For the record, those who attended were:   Edward A. Abbot Jr. and Maureen Abbot, Peter Aizupitis and Rebecca Shane Aizupitis, Terry F. Allen and Deborah Allen, Marlene Alpert Tein, Carolyn Anderson Haines and Charles Haines, Diane Baker Neyland and Peter Neyland, Guy Barnhart and Wynne Barnhart, A. William Bertsch, Stephen Bethea, Marilyn Blom Evans and Tom Evans, Sally Bogle Gable, Lynn Bonnemort Jellison and Marcia Bonnemort Luetzelschwab '60, Anne Boothby Dickens, Allan Breed, Anne Burr Czepiel, Mary Casey Williams, Shorey Chapman, Deborah Chater Richman and Peter Richman, Cynthia Chutter Kahn, Victor Cino, Bradley R. Cook, Darrell Cooper and Judy Cooper, Joyce Cutler Shayne and Richard B. Shayne, Michael Doudoroff and Gay Doudoroff, Cynthia Doxsee Borghesani, David Dooner Doyle and Madelaine Doyle, Victoria Dudley Hirsch, James Dunne and Joanna Dunne, Jean Erickson McGilvray and John Bruce McGilvray, David Ewing and EIria Ewing, Robin Foster Spaulding, Nicolette Friedrich Brown and Ed Brown, Susan Gadsby Eisdorfer, Paul Gahn and Arlene Gahn, Wilhelm Gauster and Norma Gauster, Joy Goddard Knightly, Martha Goldstone, Ruth Goodchlld Paige, Ellie Gross Bullis and Bill Pendleton, Louise Grummon Bryant and Ward Bryant, Grace Grybko, David Hamilton and Carolyn Hamilton, Joseph Hamngton and Diethild Harrington, Nancy Hartman Rodney and Robert Rodney ’57, Elizabeth Heller, H. Aaron Henschel and Dorothy Henschel, Aldace Howard, Elizabeth Howlett, Wendy Hsu Lee, Susan Jaquith Pickhardt, Bruce Johnson and Marsha Johnson, Lucinda Johnson Pratt, Martha Johnson, Peggy Johnston Quinn and Van Quinn, Estella Loomis Lauter and Charles Lauter, Jean Luce Eaton and Fred Eaton, Robert Mansfield and Judi Mansfield, Priscilla Mathews Young, Laurence McEwen and Kathy McEwen, Alice K. Miller, Gall Minault, Kay-Frances Mingolla Wardrope, Lloyd Mitchell and Sarah Mitchell, Walter Mockett, Joyce Moore Arthur and Robert Arthur, Arthur Moss and Nancy Moss, Wallace Nichols and Sheila Nichols, G. Edwin Olsen and Susan Olsen, John H. Parker and Marcia W. Parker, Raymond Parris, Robert A. Pease and Nancy Pease, Malcolm C. Peck and Aida Ravelo Peck, Cynthia Perrine Wilcox, Paul Reyes and Pat Reyes, Jane Rilance Keefer and Richard Keefer, Robert M. Rodney and Nancy Hartman Rodney ‘57, Virginia Roe Lang and John Lang, Denise Rowe Huestis, Jeanne Schwartz Magmer, Marianne Severance Parris and Charlie Parris, William Shaw, Linda Shemwick Lindquist, Diana Shu Mann, Judith Spencer Burbank, Stephen M. Springer and Barbara Springer, Jonathan Staley and Chitra Staley, Cynthia Stevens Brabson and Ben Brabson, Peter D. Stone, Charles Streeter, Richard Tolsdorf, Susan Tower Hollis, Barbara Tuttle, Gordon E. Valentine and Lois Valentine, Elizabeth Vaughan O’Gorman, William Veale and Chisleine Abreu, Thalia Verros, Ralph Wadleigh and Judy Wadleigh, Judith Wagner McKernon, Henry Walter, Steven Webster, David C. Williams and Patricia Williams, Ada Wilson Taylor, Donna Woodward Hawes, Diana Worthington, Oliver Woshinsky and Patricia Garrett, Susanne J. Wright, Judith Wyman Bruce, and Martha Young Hansen and Charles Hansen.
A Look Ahead to June 2012
We hope that all of the above and many others of our class will return again in 5 years, at our 55th. Robin Foster Spaulding, Paul Reyes, Rob Rodney, and Barbara Tuttle have agreed to organize that affair, and there are few among the attendees of the 50th who will not make an effort to be there. We hope that the event will be enriched by an equal number of attendees drawn from those who couldn’t make the 2007 celebration! In the meantime, many mini-reunions will take place in all parts of the country, facilitated by the contact information in the yearbook. If you don’t have one, there are a few remaining copies, along with a small supply of 1957 Sacred Concert CD’s, that may be purchased from Martha Johnson. (413-532-2579, or mjggdi@comcast.net.) 
Once you’ve sampled the reunion experience, you will find yourself looking forward to the next one. We promise.