CLASS OF 1945 | 2021-2022 | WINTER ISSUE

This column marks the beginning of my 99th mortal year, my 32nd year of secretarial jottings, and I’m nesaki (Mohawk word meaning “standing on a high hill, looking backward”). I have climbed and stood, walked, even slept atop numbers of the Rockies, bits of the Alps, all of the gentle old Adirondacks, and several of New England’s White and Green heights. Always, the view, were it at dawn, midday, or sunset, was an inspiration, sometimes an admonition, occasionally a windblast scare; but it never failed to lift the horizon to the level of my vision. And that’s why we go high. My walking the top of the world is years gone and my visions are memories; clear, keen, and colorful memories. The eye of the mind is indeed a treasure.

Returned to the Hill of Class Notes, I look backward to September of 1941, when a generally happy, sometimes boisterous collection of youths were buying affordable textbooks, completing class schedules, visiting fraternity houses, trying out for teams or music groups, and making new friendships that were sure to hold forever, according to the Wesleyan songs. The Depression was fading; Hitler, and occasionally Mussolini, were newsreel interludes at the movies. But that was there, we were here, and the class of 1945 settled into planning four years of the Wesleyan adventure. Seven weeks later the explosions at Pearl Harbor blew the class of 1945 into fragments that scattered graduations all the way through 1949. We went to the war to end all wars, and some of us never returned to Wesleyan—some too damaged, some to other colleges, some already at rest in honored cemeteries, or in unknown places in other parts of the world. We were one class for a brief time, but our fragments have added luster to the entire 40s decade of the Wesleyan adventure. So, from my secretarial hilltop I look out and back, and I see that scattered, tattered class again a whole force, the like of which will not be seen again.

Slán go fóill.

CLASS OF 1945 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

In memory of my 1940s faculty masters Cowie, Millet, Snow, and Spaeth I lament: Why is our English spoken so clearly and correctly by Japanese television personnel, but so carelessly and incorrectly by their U.S. counterparts? Why do Japanese interviewers question and challenge guests without the rude self-serving interruptions so frequent on U.S. TV programs? I am horrified daily, even hourly, at the atrocities being passed off as acceptable English in today’s uncivil and vulgar society. I miss the well-modulated tones of Lowell Thomas, Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and their kin (Lester Holt included).

Language is a powerful tool, a tool more influential than the lung power and muscle power that dominate today. Television’s prominence places it in a position to present programs with a most positive impact: a more literate audience. Failure to use this tool has obvious consequences: witness the generally sorry state of today’s public school education; the shrill-toned or lip-lazy (folksy?) utterings of congressional luminaries; the inept reading and flagrant misuse of and abuse of language by our president. Well, as someone I value once reminded me, “When anything goes, everything goes.” Is anyone in TV Land actually able to bring it back? Alex, Fred, Wilbert, John, you are sorely missed. Slán go fóill.


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