The Summer of Our
The Summer of Our (Williams '53) Content
Herewith are text and photos of gatherings involving members of the Class of 1953, beginning with the most recent and working back toward the early summer.
Dave Doheny's Day
Thursday, September 8th, a proliferation of purple ties, purple cows, and purple polo shirts gathered in a roadside glen off the main road into the village of Lake George, New York. The mist was still rising at 9 AM when the president of the Warren County Historical Society summoned us to attend to the proceedings. All of you were invited to attend, but only seven members of our class were able to be there: George Ball, John Dighton, Dave Doheny, Bob Howard, Mike Lazor, and Carl Liss. Ted Terry wanted to be there, but his lawyer duties had taken him to a distant corner of the world.
Curiosity impelled me to the occasion. I mean, who is Paul Mellon? What's the Class of 1953 got to do with it? As the events unfolded, and as classmates and college administrative personnel better informed than me provided context, I got my answers:
1. Paul Mellon was the son of the legendary Andrew Mellon, founder of the National Gallery of Art, and himself a very wealthy Pittsburgh financier in whose name a philanthropic estate provides grants for worthy causes. The person managing that estate is our own Ted Terry.
2. Dave Doheny, on a trip awhile ago to Montreal, stopped off in Lake George having heard that there was a memorial to Ephraim Williams, and the Bloody Morning Scout which took his life, somewhere off the main road. Dave went looking. He could have used a machete, so thick was the underbrush. But he persevered and, lo and behold, found the Williams rock on which was perched a very weathered marble obelisk bearing barely decipherable inscriptions, three in English and one in Latin. Loyal son of Williams that Dave is, he decided that something must be done to resurrect the hundred year old memorial, landscape the site, replace the obelisk, and provide signage. Whereas the college was eager to advance all things Williams, there was still the question of how the project could be financed.
3. Ted Terry, who, among his several responsibilities, is also executive director of the Paul Mellon Foundation, heard of Dave's proposal for rehabilitating the site. Quicker than you can say "Gulielmensian," Ted signed on to the funding of the proposal for "dear old Williams."
4. The work began, a landscape architect signed on, a new white marble obelisk, copying the old one with the same engraving, was ordered, three new signs designed and installed, and, after the usual construction delays and governmental approvals, the scene was ready for the 250th anniversary memorial to Col. Ephraim Williams at the site where he was felled by a French bullet.
5. The good colonel's will provided the equivalent of £11,000, mostly in real estate for the founding of a college in western Massachusetts. After thirty-five years and some legal wrangling by members of the Williams family, the will was finally probated, the money made available, and Williams College, "through the generosity of a soldier," was instituted.
Of course, I was well aware of the inscription on the Williams College seal. Our house has prints, plates, and books with that imprimatur. But I (and, I suspect, many of the others present at the memorial) had never heard the story of the young soldier's sudden death near the shores of Lake George; nor had we any insight into the motivation for his gift, a gift which (he certainly never calculated) has made his name a byword for excellence in education not only in New England but around the world.
I thanked Dave for making the day necessary. As he began in typically modest fashion to deflect the praise, I stopped him in mid-sentence with some legalese: "No, Dave, don't mitigate your importance." He smiled and let it go. I suspect he may also have been the person who did the initial translation of the Latin inscription on the monument, before passing it along to the Classics Dept. After all, he was the fellow who went to the Bodlian Library at Oxford, during our class' trip there, and did research in Latin!
The ceremony featured remarks by President Schapiro, who duly noted Dave and Ted's key role in getting the monument restored. Amherst Professor Kevin Sweeney, Williams '72, provided a detailed historical report on the Bloody Morning Scout and the Battle at Lake George. We sang "'Neath the Shadow of the Hills" and "The Mountains." A sixteen gun salute cracked over our heads.
We posed for pictures. We expressed surprise to find each other again at Ephraim Williams' behest. I hadn't seen George Ball for fifty-two years. When he attended a mini-reunion, I didn't. Circumstances like that. Not that we recognized each other at first glance. The years will do that.
A second celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the Battle of Lake George convened lakeside at the site of a statue commemorating Major General William Johnson and King Hendricks, who repulsed the French and allied Indian attack following the Bloody Morning Scout. A bagpiper played "Amazing Grace," a bugler blew Taps, a former NY State Commissioner spoke, a local pastor prayed, and the sun shone brightly on the audience, many in purple clothing.
The Williams contingent for this founder's memorial day gathered for a luncheon at The Lake Side Restaurant. The Class of 1953, living up to their billing as the most congenial class, put five tables together and dined like a family on the veranda overlooking the lake. Professor Sweeney again regaled us with those meager personal details he was able to glean from his research about Colonel Ephraim Williams. Apparently Western Massachusetts was rife with Williamses, many of them christened William (no, that does not include our own Bill Williams, who is but a couple of generations removed from Northern Ireland). No clues as to Eph's love life were found. He apparently kept a library in his home, the only detail hinting at his love of and support for education.
We bade one another farewell, vowed to meet again, maybe in October in Williamstown, and left with thoughts of just how lucky we were by a young colonial officer who bequeathed to us a beautiful corner of the Bay State and a school in which we were prepared for worldly affairs... and how to make the most out of life.
On a warm Thursday evening in early August five Williams Vermonters enjoyed a country meal and an evening at the Howard's summer cabin in Corinth VT watching the logs burn in an open fire framed by a small ledge in front of the "camp." Here are front and back photos of that gathering.
I'm happy to report that everyone was in fine fettle. Granthia had just returned from violin camp. Fred's back problems have eased, thanks to a new medical regime; and he continues his interest in and wisdom for land trusts in New England. Barbara Weedon is preparing for a long auto trip to the far west. Bob and Barbara Howard, after another celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary, an open house for neighbors, will fly off to France in mid-September for a riverboat cruise on the upper Seine.
Tom Belshe sent Email in June to see if he and Mary could visit with us in our Vermont hillside retreat sometime in mid-July. "Why not?" I thought and Barbara concurred. We set the date, Thursday, July 14th, for lunch. I phoned John Pike and invited Polly and him to join with us. They happily accepted the invitation. So there we were, three fraternity rejects: we didn't get into a fraternity the first time around, and, in December, the second session, we banded together, six or eight of us down at the Garfield Club, and decided on the house with the best food. Let the whole Class of 1953 murmur agreement. Tom and Mary's younger daughter was spending the summer at a camp on Lake Champlain, and they had flown east for a mid-summer visit. The three men talked and talked, reminisced and reminisced, until it became too excruciatingly boring for the women. Tom continues to work with Smith Barney, serving a loyal client base. John has retired from Ropes and Gray and provides pro bono legal work on environmental issues, which federal and state agencies have been slow to address.
Ah, we had a great time, good food, good friends, good memories.