I got a nice email from Tony Gaeta. He is now, as he puts it, “long retired.” He and his partner are living by the water in Southport, North Carolina. Here is some of what he wrote: “On a wonderful trip to the great state of Maine this past summer, my partner and I enjoyed dinner with Ed ‘Big Ed’ Simmons in Freeport, as well as seeing Billy Congleton at Bill’s brother Jake’s (’56) 90th-birthday celebration. As for me, I’ve been long retired from the legal profession and teaching at UNC Law and Campbell Law, sold my farm and horses in Pittsboro, North Carolina, and moved to Southport, North Carolina, to live on the water and be closer to my boat docked here in a nearby marina.”
Tony also wrote that he had hoped to see his Chi Psi friend, Len “Bergy” Bergstein, when he went to San Francisco to see Tony Conte, who was recovering from a bad accident in April 2022. Here is his account: “I was deeply sorry to learn of Lenny ‘Bergy’ Bergstein’s passing. He and I became great friends at The Lodge and I had planned on seeing him last year on a trip to San Francisco, when I visited our other great fraternity brother and friend Tony Conte, as he recovered from a horrific automobile accident where he was literally run over twice on the sidewalk as he returned home from dinner one night in April 2022! He’s recovering nicely and his accident has reunited us.”
When I reached out to Tony Conte, he wrote back with the horrifying details of his accident (elderly driver, driving an old and silent Prius, and, alarmingly, not wearing the glasses she was required to wear). He wrote that “I have shed the wheelchair; I have shed the walker; and I still use a cane for balance and support…. Both Tony Gaeta and Tony Caprio have been fantastically supportive to me from the first minute. They are in part responsible for my recovery. I don’t think I could have made it through the trauma center, the ICU, the two hospitals, and the care facility without their constant contact and encouragement.” And Tony also had this to say: “I am lucky to be alive and savor each day.”
When I saw that there was new info on the JFK assassination, I wrote to Bill Klaber to ask him what he thought. Bill, as those of you who read these class notes assiduously well know, is the coauthor of Shadow Play: The Unsolved Murder of Robert F. Kennedy (originally published in 1998, with an updated paperback edition in 2018)and also the producer of a 14-episode podcast called The MLK Tapes that challenges the official story of how Dr. King was murdered. It won a Webby, which is a big deal in podcast land. Bill said about this: “Of greater satisfaction to us was the request from the American Civil Rights Museum in Memphis for the rights (the legal work now underway) to use portions of The MLK Tapes in their wing of the museum devoted to the murder of Dr. King, which is now closed until Juneteenth 2025 while they ‘rethink’ their exhibits and incorporate evidence that we were able to bring forward in our podcast. If you are ever in Memphis, be sure to visit this stunning museum.”
Here is what he wrote back: “Hey, Richie. Yes, we were freshmen when the president was murdered, and I was in law school when Bobby and Dr. King were killed. I’ve just returned from Dallas where I spoke at a conference marking the 60th anniversary. As far as Peter Landis, the Secret Service agent who recently revealed that he found a bullet in the president’s limo— his account is way more likely than the official story that has the first bullet traveling downward and striking Kennedy’s back before somehow traveling up to exit his throat, then moving over to shatter Governor Connolly’s rib before leaving his chest and destroying Connolly’s wrist, and then striking his leg. This slug, found at the hospital, is called the ‘magic bullet,’ because it not only merrily defies the laws of Newton, but emerges in perfect condition, which is impossible after striking so many bones. Landis says that his bullet was probably pushed out from the wound in Kennedy’s back, in line with the doctor’s assertion that Kennedy’s back wound had no path out of the body and no spent bullet in the wound. But however logical, Landis’ account requires an additional bullet, exceeding the three-bullet limit for a single gunman and proving the official account is a clumsy lie. And it’s not just this bullet, the lies are all over the place, like underwear in a burglarized apartment. I would love to come to Wesleyan and give a talk on these three, rather important, historical events. I’m a graduate of the CSS and have asked them for an invite to speak at their weekly luncheon. So far, no invitation. Still hoping. Bill.”
In early November 2023, my wife, Lisa, and I spent a day with Steve Sellers, my old roomie (from freshman and sophomore years), in Chapel Hill. He and his wife, Martha Julia, were visiting the Tarheel State from their home in Guatemala. It was a rare treat to spend a day together, wandering around Franklin Street, the site of many a raucous scene after various Tarheel athletic victories, and the Chapel Hill Botanical Garden. After earning a PhD in anthropology and teaching for a while, Steve, now retired, worked in what we call artificial intelligence (he was the first person to tell me about “the cloud”). Martha Julia, a developmental psychologist, was in Chapel Hill to organize a conference for Jerome Kagan, her graduate school mentor, who died in 2021.
Ironically, or maybe just interestingly, or maybe just interestingly to me, two weeks earlier my wife and I spent a day with her freshman roomie from Mt. Holyoke. What, I wonder, are the odds of two old (and getting older) married folks at our advanced ages still being in close touch with their freshman year college roomies, and then getting to see them within a two-week period?
RICHIE ZWEIGENHAFT | email@example.com