The countdown to our big 50th Reunion is measured now in months rather than years. May 19. Be there!!
To add to tales of prolific class authors, Art Vanderbilt just had a website go online, arthurvanderbilt.com, which chronicles what he’s been doing since writing weekly papers at the CSS! Let me particularly recommend Fortune’s Children, an eminently readable and entertaining history of the Commodore and the other slightly more famous members of Art’s family.
Our wonderful Class Agent Bob (“I Love Wesleyan”) White has been writing about the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis for some years now, and his work appears to be nearing fruition. He had a letter to the editor of the Washington Post published last July urging Black Americans not to shun vaccines because of the Tuskegee study (letter). He is working on two other manuscripts, one of which has been accepted and the other one is in peer review (“This one should be a paradigm breakthrough,” he writes). “And there is a third manuscript that I am finishing up and tweaking. This manuscript may be exposing some shenanigans in the field. I have no idea what to call what I stumbled on (it must be because of all those math and science courses I took at Wes Tech, i.e., 25–27 courses). But what I can say is that now I may be getting that CSS experience that I couldn’t fit in.”
Bob Purvis sends some good news from Vermont. Three years have passed since his lung surgery and chemo and he is still cancer free. If his August scan is negative he’ll go to annual checkups. Bob is still working full time as director of the Turning Point Center of Central Vermont, a peer addiction recovery center, the longest he’s been in any job in his life “and certainly the most rewarding.” He plans to stay in this work for another couple of years, at least, in order to finish a few major things he’s started, such as moving into a new facility that doesn’t reflect the pervasive social stigma of their origins. But the day is coming when he will need to step aside for someone younger who has new vision to carry the programs forward in this evolving field. Bob claims to be enjoying his brief elevation to the solid middle class, with Social Security added to my salary. “My best to all in our class who are still with us,” he adds, “and I look forward to seeing folks at our 50th next year.”
Geoff Rips’s second novel, Personal Geography, will be out in September of this year. In the course of contacting classmates for Reunion, Geoff learned that the Wesleyan agriculture curriculum has really paid off. After retiring from his medical practice, Burt Feuerstein is now a gentleman farmer in Arizona, growing apricots and peaches. Jim Trump (no relation) is one of the largest macadamia producers in Hawaii. Burt says that he’ll come to Reunion if he can find someone to take care of the fruit.
Charlie Smith is a true polymath. He has just finished his third year of “official” retirement from Western Kentucky University but has been keeping active through various writing projects, including his eighth and ninth books: 2019’s An Alfred Russel Wallace Companion (University of Chicago Press), and a novel, Many Miles Away (named after a line in an old Malvina Reynolds song, “Morningtown Ride,” a big hit in England for The Seekers in 1966. The novel is about an alien being and his family who suddenly show up one day in upstate New York (with no memory of their former circumstances, nor having a stated mission), and his following Earthly reception. A bit of “unfantastical” science fiction/paranormal, but more particularly, social criticism “(an allegory, as well—note the link at its beginning to a nearly perfect cover of the Reynolds song by the Australian classical crossover singer Mirusia: I don’t think we’ve quite reached our destination . . .).” Charlie also continues to write shorter analyses, especially on Wallace (but also some actual science, and musicology). Beyond that, from 2018 to 2020, he did a genealogy project on his ancestral lines in this country and found out some interesting things; including that of all the sum of about 15,000 first-generation settlers of 17th-century New England, close to 10 percent were nth generation great-grandparents of his! This turns out to be not that strange or even rare. A couple of years back Charlie was a featured speaker at a Sherlock Holmes conference (he says there is a strong connection between Wallace and Doyle, beyond the fact they are both usually known by three names!). Charlie adds that he will come to Reunion IF one of our many class screenwriters will turn his novel into a screenplay.
Bruce Hearey reports that Robbie Brewster and Bruce Throne, within a few months of each other acquired one new ankle and two new hips among them. They jointly offer a toast to joint replacements!
Bonnie Krueger has finally retired after 41 years of teaching at Hamilton College. She is now Burgess Professor of French Emerita. Various publication projects will keep her busy for the next few years. She is finally hoping to get together with her far-flung children and grandchild, whom she has not seen since January 2020.
The Class of ’72 achieves another milestone: We will be the first 50th Reunion Class to meet face-to-face after 2019. Keeping in stride with innovation, our Reunion will run from Thursday to Sunday, May 19–22. That means, fellow alums, to plan your travel accordingly.
Events include an exclusive wine tasting on Thursday evening, a Friday dinner hosted by President Roth, the Alumni Parade, our traditional festive Reunion Celebration on Saturday, and a Sunday brunch. Commencement follows on Sunday, as well. For those of us who arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday, tours to revisit the campus and see the new buildings will be available. Throughout Reunion several Wes alum seminars will be offered, ranging from the Music of Our Time to Life-Altering Events of the ‘70s.