I was cruising along, teaching two courses (one, Personality, the other, The American Upper Class), when, during our spring break in late March, we were informed that all classes were shifting to an online format. Things changed suddenly here and everywhere, and like so many teachers around the country, I finished those two classes online (learning, in the process, new pedagogical lingo, like “synchronous classes” versus “asynchronous classes”—mine were asynchronous). Things are still up in the air for the fall semester, but I have decided it is time to retire. For one thing, I don’t want to end my long and enjoyable teaching career trying to teach online. But also, equally important, Guilford College, where I have taught since 1974, has furloughed 133 people so far and is about to furlough or terminate more, including teaching faculty. I do not want to be teaching and drawing a salary when my younger colleagues are losing their jobs. I am still trying to figure out what this change will mean.
Not a lot of news about our classmates which, given our age and susceptibilities, probably falls in the no news is good news category. Before the coronavirus crisis hit, I did get word of international travel by two classmates. In November, Bill Klaber, a graduate of the College of Social Science (CSS), and the author of a number of books, spoke at the Dublin Festival of Politics about many questions that surround what he calls (in the subtitle of one of his books) “the unsolved murder of Robert F. Kennedy.” He is also doing podcasts and is working on a series that looks at the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. A Wesleyan publication quotes him saying, “People sometimes refer to me as a conspiracy guy, which serves to dismiss my work. I’m an evidence guy.”
Jim Cawse and his wife, Marietta, took the other international trip in January. Here is how he described the origins of the trip in an email to me: “Last May I chanced upon an advertisement for a cruise through the Spice Islands of Indonesia. It caught my eye because 142 years earlier, my great-grandfather, Captain James Cawse, piloted his clipper ship the John R. Worcester carrying a million pounds of tea through that exact region. He was accompanied by my great-grandmother, Emma Browne Cawse, and she kept a diary, which I now hold. It makes for romantic reading as she calls out the exotic names of the islands and talks about an informal race with the famed Cutty Sark. You may remember that I made books out of the diaries and showed them at our 45th Reunion.”
Jim and Marietta were able to visit some of the very same islands described in the diary. They also spent some time in Australia and New Zealand. Then, Jim writes, “We got back Jan. 27, and as we came out from under jetlag, we started reading rumors about some virus…”
I’ll end with a quiz for you guys. I received a letter dated May 11 from Michael Roth ’78 (president of Wes), Donna Morea ’76 (chair of the Board), and Essel Bailey ’66 (trustee). You probably got this letter, too. They wrote, “In mid-January, we learned that Wesleyan will be the recipient of two large bequests totaling $6 million: one from the late Dr. Roger Cyrus ’61, the other from the late Edward McCune ’67.” I don’t remember Edward McCune, so I immediately turned to my ’67 facebook (the original Facebook in my life, published 17 years before Mark Zuckerberg was born), but there was no sign of Edward McCune (it goes straight from Michael McCord, Germantown Friends, to James McEnteer, Culver Military Academy [!]). I then turned to our 50th Reunion book (and its addendum): no sign of McCune. So, somebody clue me in. When did he join our class, and what can you tell me about him?
Take care. Be safe.
Richie Zweigenhaft | firstname.lastname@example.org