Writing notes during the Thanksgiving holiday has filled me with an extra sense of poignancy as we find ourselves in a world seemingly more unstable and hateful than we have ever witnessed in our lifetime. Rachel and Mike Balf have been on many classmates’ minds, as well as in my thoughts, since the horror of October 7 in Israel. I am including Mike’s note here in its entirety:
“As you know Rachel and I are living in a war zone. Today (November 20) is the 45th day of war and my guess is that the combat will [still] continue when our classmates are reading this newsletter and possibly the next one as well. We are fine as a family, a kibbutz, and a community. We are not near Gaza nor the Lebanese border—although, if missile attacks from the north become more prolific, we are within range. I will not allow myself to turn this into a political diatribe. On October 7, 1,400 Israeli citizens, the majority civilians, were murdered in cold blood by Hamas fanatics who also kidnapped 250 hostages, many of them children, elderly, and simple civilians. Israel declared war and set out to return all the hostages and eliminate all the military capability of Hamas. Hopefully by the time that you are reading these words in your home the hostages will have been returned (at least the majority) to their homes and their families, though I doubt that the military operations will have ended. Our son, a called-up reservist, is on the outskirts of Gaza with his paratrooper unit. We worry but then there are tens of thousands of parents whose children are also out there defending the lives and livelihoods of our fellow citizens. I am not blind to the fact that there are humanitarian complications and that there are human tragedies on both sides. I have spent part of my adult life working for a two-state solution. I have heard that there are people who say ‘between the river and the sea’—I hope that there will come a day when we can say ‘between the river and the sea, neighbors we can be.’ I hope that wherever you are, you are working to fight antisemitism. We come from a great liberal tradition of defending the rights of all and I hope that can be maintained. We will continue that endeavor, and hopefully there will be an opening for peace down the road.”
Sue Guiney writes that while the world seems to get more and more dangerous and worrying every day, the summer had a real ray of hope—the birth of her first grandchild, Marcos Erix Santillana-Guiney (hoping that he turns out to be a good speller). The grandparent thing seems great. Otherwise, work is well, as Writing Through prepares for its 10th-anniversary celebrations—another ray of hope.
Jay Kilbourn writes after a challenging five years, marked by divorce, COVID, and remarriage, he has landed very happily with Wendy Berg. The Citizens’ Climate Lobby is where Jay is organizing and advocating for a national carbon-pricing policy. They spend time with John Wiliams, Daniel Cantor ’76, Michael Hamburger ’75.
Mark Slitt and freshman roommate Paul Boison continued their annual tradition of attending Homecoming together. The tradition usually includes a loss to whatever Little Three opponent we’re up against. But this year we routed Amherst 34–7.
Bob Glasspiegel and wife Sue moved from Connecticut for Kiawah River, South Carolina (near Charleston). People in their neighborhood are very friendly, much like freshman year when we start making friends from scratch. The big impetus was the warmer weather: year-round outdoor tennis and golf as well as the beauty of the area.
Jim Melloan reports that he’s retired from an editorial career in magazines and test-prep books. He is Living in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and still doing a weekly radio show 50 Years Ago This Week, on the internet radio station Radio Free Brooklyn.
Arnie Alpert and a friend filed suit against the State of New Hampshire for removing a historical marker about the life of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who was born in Concord and achieved notoriety as an effective agitator on behalf of workers. She was also known as a lifelong advocate for women’s equality and defender of civil liberties, especially during the country’s Red Scare. She had joined the Communist Party, for which she was tried and sent to prison under the Smith Act. It was Flynn’s Communist affiliation which drew the ire of the New Hampshire governor, who ordered the marker removed, even though all the proper procedures for establishing Flynn’s historical significance were observed, which is what the markers are supposed to demonstrate. The story has gained international attention. Arnie continues to fight the good fight. While these notes will be read in 2024, I want to send all the best wishes for a year of peace, kindness, and good health for us all. May the New Year be a return to greater civility.
GERRY FRANK | firstname.lastname@example.org