Mid-Winter Reunion Class of 1953, SuperBowl Weekend 2004 (January 31 and February 1)
It may be the a tune from the wrong musical, but it properly describes the day Seth Schapiro designed for his classmates for Saturday, January 31st: "New York, New York, it's a wonderful town." The date of our annual soiree is set to coincide with the Williams Alumni Fund Telethon at the Williams Club, in the hope, I suspect, of encouraging laggards like me to phone and chat up a couple of friends in the class who are recalcitrant contributors.
To tell the whole truth, I was more of a hindrance than a help in this endeavor. I managed to swap stories with Seth for the better part of an hour in the war room. But, hey, we're past our 50th, Agent Sterling and his minions had already put $105,000 in the Alumni Fund bank, and I was intent on telling Seth just how sharp he was in the fall of 1951 in the opening class of Psych 3. Ask him the next time you see him.
Barbara and I, along with Tim Beard, took a taxi to the Al Hirschfield Theatre on 45th Street off 8th Avenue, for a matinee of the revival of the Leonard Bernstein/Betty Comden/Adolph Green musical, "Wonderful Town." Originally produced in the year of our graduation from Williams College, the show was as bright and brash and wonderful as we thought we were at our graduation. Seth always picks a winner for us; and from our seats in the orchestra, a couple of rows from the front, we agreed that he had done it again.
Some walked, others rode, but we all (except for Lucy Fetterolf, with severe laryngitis, and Steve and Joanne Klein) returned to the Williams Club for cocktails and good conversation. Here's a listing of those who made the scene: John and Susan Beard, Tim Beard, George and Barbara Bryant, Dorothy Calkins, Pete and Lucy Fetterolf, Walt and Joy Flaherty, Bob and Barbara Howard, Boine Johnson and Kathleen Piagessi, Steve and Joanne Klein, Art Murray and Judy Conway, Hank and Peggy Norwood, Bob and Liz Ouchterloney, Fred and Granthia Preston, Seth Schapiro and Jill Robbin, Hank and Sally Schreier, and Pete Sterling.
Dinner followed at Stella del Mare Restaurant a block and a half east of the Williams Club. Seth happily reported an unsolicited refund from the theatre agent, $36 per ticket. I did my thing, that is, led a prayer, after which Pete Sterling commented, "Okay, Howard, now you can take Sunday off," which, to my way of thinking, was high praise indeed. Judge for yourself whether or not it was warranted:
God of our days, whose Psalmist tells us that some by reason of strength attain seventy years of life on earth, we thank you that we, most of us anyway, are among that number; but, more, we thank you for the splendid ways in which those years have been filled: with good times; happy associations; sufficient prosperity; the affection of family and friends; sweet memories, plenty of them, and not a few associated with the days long ago at Williams, plus the many, many occasions that affiliation has provided to reune and reminisce. And we thank you that tonight we have yet another such occasion. You have been very good to the Class of 1953; we can only hope that with the strength provided for seventy plus years, you will think we have been good for you and the communities in which we have lived. Bless these old men... and young women. With the feasting and the laughter and the high spirits, let the gladness rise for the life we have had and the plentiful days yet ahead of us. Amen.
We lingered over pasta, salmon, trout, and chicken marsala, red and white wine, tiramisu, and cappuccino into the big hours of the evening, as much as seventy year old vitalities could tolerate. Most of us found our way to a hotel or a city friend's apartment, while Seth settled with the proprietor of the restaurant for an even $1,766, tips included.
What a wonderful day in a wonderful town!
It wasn't over for the Howards, who stayed at the Williams Club that night, went to church on Park Avenue the following morning (you can read about it elsewhere on this website, if you are interested), took in the "chick" movie, "The Girl with the Pearl Earring," and caught a late train back to Hartford, managing to miss the entire SuperBowl game (an adventure about which you may also read elsewhere on this website).