I’m still kind of in a glow about our Class Notes Live in June. So nice to see you all. Make sure you watch it if you haven’t or you missed it. We somehow have to turn to each other during what for most of us has been the difficult year of turning 60—hard enough on top of all else, pandemic and political. And if you are out here in California, like Laura Fraser and me, apocalyptic.
Kathryn Benjamin agrees. “The Class Notes Live to celebrate our 60th birthdays was a great idea and I’m glad I joined in. Other than that, as is everyone, we’re hunkering down and getting through the pandemic. I put in an 8’x4’ raised garden bed this spring and have enjoyed fresh picked tomatoes, zucchinis and butternut squashes! Already planning what to plant next year.” I feel calmer already, Kathryn.
But still apocalyptic, too, for Lavinia Ross, who writes, “My area was placed on evacuation Level 1 status for a little over a week. The Holiday Farm fire to the south was up moving this way, and was the closest threat. I’ve been out here in rural western Oregon for almost 17 years now, and never had fire that close before, or smoke so thick and poisonous, a toxic brew of formerly living and non-living materials, including plastics, metal, construction materials, and chemicals. A fine layer of ash coated everything. We were lucky this time, we never had to evacuate, firefighters made some progress containing the blaze, and the rains finally came. It’s clear and sunny out here today, and the air is clear. Life doesn’t get much better than that.”
Even from the apocalypse, some sweet news from Rachael Adler, who happened to (literally) write to us through the haze of the fires: “Got married to a man I adore, whom I dated twice 28 years ago and finally “grew into”—a COVID-19 wedding . . . After decades as an acting coach, I am retiring the acting conservatory and theatre in Berkeley I founded years ago. Woke up this morning with a voice inside telling me that despite all this insanity going on around us that ‘everything’s going to be ok’.” Nice thoughts.
Some other 60th birthday notes: Jackie Roberts writes, “Rachel Hines and I met the first day on the top floor of Foss 10 and celebrated our 60th birthdays together on safari in Kruger National Park.”
Mark Sirotta is reminiscing about Joe Barrett’s 60th in Chicago in Fall 2019, and the pandemic dashed plans for another get-together this year, but they reconnected during some virtual cocktail parties with Anthony Pahigian, John Brautigam, Bob Russo, Mike Levine, Tom Davis, Mike Greenstein, and Steve Davies ’83. “Reconnecting with old friends was a high point in a rough year.”
Various and sundry:
Jeannie Gagne’s mother died in June (at 94) and she held her memorial on Zoom, including live music. Jeannie, sorry for your loss (there’s a lot of that going around), but I’m sure it was beautiful.
Larry Seltzer is “Still working for The Conservation Fund. Focused right now on conserving large forests nationwide and buying land to prevent the Pebble Mine in Alaska. We had two of our three kids home for a while during the early days of the pandemic, but all are back on their own now. We are in line for an outdoor patio heater so we can continue to have outdoor dinners through the fall and into the winter.”
John Brautigam writes, “I’m living in Falmouth, Maine, driving distance to the cosmopolitan attractions of Portland and Boston, but also close enough to the ocean, mountains and forest of northern New England.” His oldest son is working on a political campaign in Maine while his younger son is starting his sophomore year in college. “My legal practice focuses on elections and the mechanics of democracy, and it has been an eventful and challenging year work-wise. Overall, the awfulness of 2020 has not diminished the joys of family, friends, and community.”
Really, this is an up note from Patty Smith (who will always be P to me): “I’m teaching American Lit and creative writing remotely, via Zoom (I teach at a public high school for the arts in Petersburg, Virginia). So far, classes seem to be going ok . . . I spend a lot of time on Zoom—including a Wesleyan-oriented book club with Stephanie Rosenfeld, Terry Cowdrey, and Laura Warren, when we met with Jan Eliasberg ’74, P’19 and discussed her terrific debut novel Hannah’s War.”
And even more up, with some next generation stuff from Ellen (Friedman) Bender and Sam Bender, who dropped off their daughter, Eliza ’24, at Wesleyan in late August. “Because of Wesleyan’s COVID-19 restrictions, we weren’t able to enter her dorm (Butt C), let alone her room, but that didn’t stop us from pointing out Sam’s freshman hall, the window of the room that Fred Pelzman lived in freshman year, or the Butterfield courtyard where we used to go to dance parties. Looking forward to the time when we can drive up to Middletown to take her out to brunch at one of the many restaurants that have opened up in recent years.”
We’re all looking forward to better times, Ellen. It’s really important, though, that we be present with the time we do have.
Laura Fraser | firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Ostacher | email@example.com