From Singing Groups to Women’s Crew

We asked for memories of experiences outside the classroom. The responses were a delightful collection of only-at-Yale moments. Our participation on teams, clubs and, especially, musical groups left indelible marks on our Yale experience.
–Wes Bray and Stu Rohrer

Question 8: Tell us about a specific moment in your extracurricular life at Yale that still resonates all these years later.

Moments of Music

Leopold Stokowski

1972 Carnegie Hall concert

Yale Glee Club concerts and tours! The most memorable was performing (in the chorus) Beethoven’s 9th with the American Symphony Orchestra (offsite link) under Leopold Stokowski at Carnegie Hall! Also: Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody with Marilyn Horne and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra…
“Mark” Cramolini [DC]

Yale Women’s Slavic Chorus

On the back of our first album cover of the Slavic Chorus. That’s me, second from the right in Sprague Hall! Photo was taken by Randy Tucker, who sadly has passed away.

Women’s Slavic Chorus was my big discovery at Yale and my favorite extra-curricular as well! Besides singing beautiful songs and being a part of a wonderful group at Yale, the music has had a lasting impact on my life. I have lots of great moments. The group made its first record while I was at Yale and Business Manager. We usually sang in Dwight Hall Chapel, but for this we sang in Battell. We were so proud to have an album. Years later, I was driving my car listening to a local public radio station when they played a tune from the record where I had a solo part! Hearing your name and voice on the radio was a trip! Many songs are amenable to duets.

After Yale, I found partners to sing Slavic music, sometimes at performances or at parties. Nine years ago, the then current group sent out a request to alums for a fall retreat location. I own a farm in Vermont with lots of space, so I invited them north, only with the condition that they sing for my Vermont friends. I invited my neighbors for a concert of Slavic music. Many were dubious as to what it was all about but were true converts after they heard them sing!

Recently, I was watching the film “The Banshees of Inisherin” by Martin McDonagh. The movie opens with Colin Farrell walking along to the tune Polegnala. I nearly fell out of my seat; we sang this in the Slavic Chorus! Why this tune for an Irish tale? I emailed Mr. McDonagh to ask why, and his film agent kindly replied, saying Mr. McDonagh didn’t like Irish jigs, thus he picked this. Strange, but there it is.

This April is our 55th Reunion of the Chorus. Members from all classes gather. We rehearse and give an alumnae concert. We also sit around in a huge circle and share stories of our lives, starting with the elders (me being one!). And at every concert, alums get invited up for the final song Prekhvrukna Ptichka.
Cilla Leavitt [TC]

Light show for Stockhausen’s Anthems in Beinecke Plaza

In 1972 The Yale Symphony Orchestra put on an extraordinary performance of Stockhausen’s Anthems, in Beinecke Plaza: I was part of the crew that provided the light show that accompanied it.
Jonathan Rose [BK]

Joan Hendricks Garvan Carnegie Hall visit with husband Tony and grandchildren

I absolutely loved the singing opportunities, including Glee Club and Yale Chorus. Making music was fun, and the special performance opportunities —- Bernstein’s Mass, Carmina Burana before it was cool —- really made an impact. The most significant by far was being in the chorus for Beethoven’s 9th, Leopold Stokowski conducting, at Carnegie Hall. I almost thought I’d imagined the whole thing until we visited Carnegie Hall last year with the granddaughters’ Suzuki School. I vividly recalled the place I stood, and in the archives, I found the concert. It really did happen! That chorus is permanently my favorite piece of music.
Joan Hendricks Garvan [CC]

At the time, the Yale concert band included graduate students in music as well as undergraduates. I think this has since changed and it’s all undergraduates which has the advantage of more openings for less serious undergraduate musicians, but also honestly would tend to reduce the quality of the band. The band of that time was absolutely crackerjack. For example, half of the trumpet section consisted of graduate students in the music school, and another quarter was undergrads majoring in music/trumpet. I remember two moments particularly: one was when we split into smaller sections for a wind chamber concert in Sprague Hall, and the other was playing outdoors on the Cross Campus with the real wind blowing the music off our stands. I remember playing the overture to Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri overture (so much fun to play), an orchestral piece that lent itself well to being scored for wind band. Keith Wilson, the clarinet instructor at the school of music who trained Richard Stoltzman, was the conductor and always very old school serious about our practices and performances. The best wind instrument group I ever played in.

My first weekend at Yale, I heard the bells in Harkness Tower playing and was immediately enthralled. This was the first of my two special moments. I wanted to learn how to play! I auditioned to join the Guild of Carillonneurs and was accepted. I was lucky enough to have a brilliant teacher who was the President of the Guild, and after much practice, I learned to play a piece by the famous composer of carillon music, Matthias van den Gheyn. My second special moment was playing this piece on the Harkness Tower carillon for the Easter concert.
Margaret Kern Fahnestock [JE]

I played my clarinet in the Yale Precision Marching Band my freshman and sophomore years. It required about an hour’s worth of practice each week before the games played in town. What can I say: it was fun and gave me a chance to watch the team play, which I might not otherwise have done.
Bill Lunn [JE]

Yale Precision Marching Band, with Gary Lucas in foreground

Coming to Yale, I was nervous about the challenge of the academic work, and so I was timid about extracurricular activities. By junior year, though, I felt more confident and comfortable — and tied to these feelings was a sense that I needed to loosen up, spread my wings a little, and try new things. The idea of picking up my trumpet came to me naturally enough. I had played since fourth grade. Though I wasn’t that good, I enjoyed it. And I had really liked my freshman-year music history course at Yale, which delved into this realm in ways that were a discovery to me, offering me glimpses of music’s rich vocabulary, its array of forms and styles, its dauntingly complex theoretical underpinnings, and its ties to everything from religion to the other arts.

I knew I wasn’t a good enough trumpet player to make the university concert band. I don’t recall whether I even auditioned. Probably not, I would have been laughed off the stage, and I’m sure I would remember the humiliation. But anybody — anybody! — could play in the Yale Marching Band. So it was that I found myself, football weekends, in the Yale Bowl, blasting out “Down the Field,” “Boola Boola,” “Bulldog,” “Bingo,” and “Goodnight, Dear Harvard.” We opened every game by marching down the field, spelling out the word ELI, and I stepped along proudly in my spot partway up the long shaft of the E.

The highlight of that fall, 1972, was Yale’s victory over Dartmouth (the internet tells me that Yale won 45-14). Ecstatic, the band marched all the way back to campus along the streets of New Haven, together with a jubilant crowd of Yalies. We played until our chops gave out. I played with the band only that one year. But the joys of amateur music-making stayed with me. In the years since graduation, I’ve played with groups ranging from municipal bands in France to a community jazz orchestra in Knox County, Ohio. And, for many years, I’ve been a mainstay of the trumpet section in both the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Jazz Ensemble at Kenyon College, where I worked as a writer and editor. The music is great fun. It’s a good way to connect with other people. It engages the mind and spirit in ways unlike anything else. I’m grateful that, all those years ago at Yale, I decided to spread my wings.
Dan Laskin [ES]

Daniel Feller with Leonard Bernstein back stage at Woolsey Hall after Mass premiere

As principal cellist of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, I got to perform in both the New Haven and European premiers of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass. In addition to the cello solos, I also played guitar from the orchestra pit while the Celebrant mimed his performance on stage.
Daniel Feller [PC]

Growing up in the middle of Texas, I didn’t realize that Yale is well-known for its singing groups. Early in freshman year, my roommate, Bob Martin, told me he was joining the Freshman Glee Club, a new singing group created by Bill Harwood. I had sung in the church choir at home, so after some encouragement by Bob, I joined the group. This turned out to be a remarkable experience. In sophomore year, I joined the Collegiate Chorus, also created by Bill Harwood. Although all the performances of both groups were enjoyable, the performance by the Collegiate Chorus of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde in Battell Chapel was to be the highlight.
Robin Lee [SM]

As a first-year Yale student I sang in the Glee Club. We gave concerts in New York State near the end of the first semester, and our first stop was The Yale Club of New York City. I was quite awed to be singing in the main lounge of that beautiful building, as well as to stay there overnight. As at that time the Yale Club did not accept women as members, those of us unfamiliar with such rules were chased out of various rooms by staff who told us that women were not allowed to enter before 5:00 pm, for example. Years later when I received a form letter inviting me to apply for membership in the Yale Club, I simply had to do so. Thereafter, when my son at age four was applying to private school in New York City, my husband and I took him to the Yale Club for dinner and the annual Yale Glee Club concert afterwards. Who should we meet in the elevator but the headmaster of one of the schools to which he was applying. We noted to the headmaster that our son was applying to his school, and we were seated not far from him in the dining room, where he turned a watchful eye towards our son periodically. At the concert, I ended up being seated close to the headmaster’s wife, who enthusiastically engaged in conversation with me. Years later, after my son had graduated from this school. my husband and I were again attending the annual Yale Glee Club concert at the Yale Club. We saw the same headmaster there with a friend of his. He told his friend how he had seen our son there years ago. He conveyed his positive view of our son’s capabilities, and added to his friend, “And once I saw him here, he was a shoo-in.”
Sharon Vaino [SM]

Pat Noonan and Rob Westerman; courtesy Rob Westerman

’74 Whiffenpoofs at Woolsey Hall; courtesy Rob Westerman

’74 Whiffenpoofs at 100th Whiff reunion, 2009; courtesy Rob Westerman

Brian Gorelick of the ’74 Whiffs — Remembering endless red and green cups at Mory’s; courtesy Rob Westerman

Yale was filled with an unbelievable number of formal and informal extracurricular activities that held my interest throughout my college days at Yale. They included attending or participating in some plays, singing in the Yale Glee Club, Yale Alley Cats and 1974 Whiffenpoofs, playing informal handball, baseball, football and learning the art of taking and developing photos for the Yearbook. I also worked with other Yale students in preparing, stocking, selling, and cleaning concessions for all our home football games at the Yale Bowl; serving primarily hotdogs, popcorn and what we workers affectionately called our orange “Bug Juice.” I wouldn’t say that foregoing football games and working at the Yale Bowl was a particularly fun experience, but getting a ride back to campus on a fellow worker’s new motorcycle late one Fall Friday night and nearly crashing into the formidable Yale Bowl wall as the novice driver was popping a wheelie in 3rd gear and having to ditch the bike 30 feet later to avoid slamming into the wall, was certainly memorable.

However, I would have to say that my most memorable moments at Yale involved one singing group or another. Taking trips and singing concerts in Bermuda, Puerto Rico, the Yale Club, 21 Club, World Trade Center, Mets Stadium in NYC and concerts at women’s colleges hold some wonderful memories. Honestly, though, I found that singing on campus in Dwight Hall, Battel Chapel, Woolsey Hall, Sprague Hall, Commons and Morys, as well as other spontaneous and unexpected campus singing forays were the most fun and gratifying. I realize that was because of the great response and enjoyment our fellow classmates, professors, educators, and campus visitors all seemed to have whenever our various groups sang for them. I also loved how the singers supported one another with the brand “New Blues” and singers from other groups showing up at Alley Cat or Whiff concerts, and we at theirs. Yale truly offered magnificent singing experiences for all of us.

I will also always look back at sharing singing dinners and songs with the Alley Cats and Whiffs and Glee Club members around campus as some of the best times I had at Yale with some of the best people I have ever known. Monday night dinner at Morys with the Whiffs every week our Senior year was always special. There were always full tables, baked stuffed shrimp, memorable songs, Red Cups, Green Cups, more memorable songs, more Red Cups, Green Cups, and always much, much laughter. One evening in the Spring of 1974, sitting at the table nearest the Whiffs was President Kingman Brewster sharing the evening and drinks with some friends. I remember the Whiffs surrounding his table at the end of the evening asking him to stand up and sing the Whiffenpoof Song with us. He kindly accepted. As I stood beside him, and he proudly sang and swayed along with all of us (I am referring to the song here) I realized that a brilliant President does not automatically make for a skilled singer. Nor should I say do several Green Cups make for a discreet and respectful tongue. So, I leaned over to him and said: “Kingman. You may be an absolutely great Yale President, but you sing like my roommate Pat Noonan!” (Pat knows of what I speak …) Without missing a beat, President Brewster lifted his glass on high and graciously said: “Well, we all have our priorities now, don’t we?!”. No other gentleman songster could have said it so well! Rob Westerman [SY]

It was an early December evening in 1972 at Sprague Hall, with its wonderful acoustics. I was part of a loose group of friends and music enthusiasts, organized by Jeff Boutwell and Kit Rachlis, who periodically put on concerts at various locations around Yale under the name Nehemiah Blues Folk Society. Bonnie Raitt and Maria Muldaur each did two sets that evening and for an encore they sang a duet of Aretha’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” It was absolutely magical. Eli Abbe ran the sound board and taped the concert. Somehow, back in the 1970s, a copy of the tape escaped Eli’s control and later ended up online as a bootleg, where it can still be found, but he kept the master. Fifty years later Eli gave many of us a thumb drive containing the entire concert. Bonnie and Maria rocked that night and still rock today.
Hal Corbett [ES]

Sporting Moments

Freshman football was a wonderful way to transition into the rarefied Yale experience. Teammates came from diverse backgrounds, academically, geographically, and temperamentally. I recall singing some rock songs before a game — so different from the expected solemnity in high school. I recall assistant coach, Joe Galat, poking fun in the huddle: “Men, you’re not reading your psycho-cybernetics.” Or being greeted by outgoing teammate, Frank Jackson, with a spur-of-the-moment nickname, “Lee-Pav”. I derived great satisfaction from being allowed to train with the quarterbacks, even though I never played the position in high school. It was my conception of the experimentation that Yale fostered. I was 5th-string QB and was gently encouraged to play some defense if I expected to get in a game. I treasure my tiny silver football commemorating “H-Y-P Champs”.
Jim Pavle [BK]

Freshman year, before I settled into the all-consuming rigors of lightweight crew, I went out for the Yale Ski Team. Skiing was a club sport and pretty informal, but we competed against many schools. I quickly learned that my alpine skiing ability was not ready for prime time, but downhill skiing was not the only event; there was also jumping and cross country. My instinct for preserving my life was too strong to seriously consider jumping but I could run, and I could ski, and we were short cross country skiers. And so, we were off to the Swedish American Club to learn how to xc ski. After one day of lessons, we were off to the trails, most often at the Putney School. Our coach would drop us off to ski all day and pick us up late afternoon in his VW Vanagon. He would stop at the Putney General Store and pick up a case of beer and throw it in the back. It was a very important life lesson: beer tastes just as good after a day of cross-country skiing as it does after a day of downhill.

The Yale Ski Club had rented a spartan lodge near Bromley and members of the ski team could stay for free but were obliged to do chores. One of our chores was to take the garbage to the Weston, VT dump. Unfortunately, the dump was closed but there was already a pile outside the gate, and we decided to add our little pile to the big pile fully aware of the potential large fine for doing so. (My “Alice’ s Restaurant” moment.) It was not long before the ski club got a call advising that we could either pay the fine or pick up the garbage … all the garbage outside the dump. And so, we got to visit the dump again.
Dan Rouse [CC]

Springtime volleyball in Saybrook’s elm tree courtyard.

Yale 35–Harvard 0
Haskell Peddicord [CC]

In February of 1972, opposing Harvard (for the first time) in the most important varsity fencing meet of my early career, I was losing to Harvard’s captain 2-0 (5 touches wins a bout). Out of the corner of my eye, in the doorway to Yale’s 7th floor fencing room in Payne Whitney, I saw my dad’s silhouette. Himself a veteran of two US Olympic fencing teams and a past world-ranked athlete, my dad had never seen me compete. But there he was: surprising me at just the right time. It was the thrill of my life! I went on to beat Harvard’s Captain 5–2, and, after that, both of my two remaining Harvard opponents (5–1, 5–1). Thanks to the thrill of that moment, in the next 13 years I went on to capture 5 US National (saber team) championships, and (in those years) to a national ranking, and to representing the US in international competition. (In fact, Dad and I shared a national ranking for many of those early years.) That was my signature Yale memory — and it changed my life.
Steve Blum [BR]

Images courtesy Wes Bray

Perhaps a reflection of my “intellectual ambivalence” in those days, I was VERY involved with extracurriculars at Yale. I worked in the dining halls regularly, sold rings and mugs through the student agencies, played softball and basketball intramurally, was Social Chairman of Calhoun (and Chairman of the Joint Council of Social Chairmen), belonged to Deke (the vanishing clubhouse …). But looking back on it, the activity that I most enjoyed and had the greatest impact on my life was being Captain of the Yale Cheerleading Team. We were an eclectic bunch of big guys, athletic women and gymnasts who, as you may recall, did NOT wave pom poms (had I suggested waving pom poms to my female teammates, they would’ve taken my head off) but instead did “events” such as pyramids and the infamous “Y Dive” (picture above). One couldn’t do the Y Dive sober — seriously, I have an arthritic shoulder that attests to that! This was a team that trained hard and played hard. Over the years, the camaraderie of the team stayed with me, as did the “work hard, play hard” ethic. I’ve included images of those days, including my cheerleading megaphone that sits in my office today!
Wes Bray [CC]

My most fun team sport memory was the time I was on some bowling team. At the time, I had only bowled once or twice in my life. I cannot remember how I came to be chosen, but I think it had something to do with the team needing a BAD bowler for handicap purposes. Much to my surprise and delight, my team included John Hersey the novelist and Kai Erikson the sociologist. Further surprise: duck pins! (I think … anyway, the little ones). I was awful. We had a blast. I also swam for my college. I didn’t drown.

Tennis — of course! Varsity carried 10 players and I made it to #10 some weeks and then lost to #11 some weeks. It was hard to make time for a varsity sport and still pass statistics! But D’port hockey — now that was fun! And no pressure! Sam Chauncey coaching and the parties at Harry’s! And it didn’t matter that you could hardly skate! But the best specific moment was meeting and connecting with Aimee Troyen at Bladderball! Maybe it was the craziness of the event; maybe it was the tequila shots; but the idea that I could actually have a girlfriend at Yale — with the male/female ratio at 1,000 to 1 — now that was a moment to remember!
David Mielke [DC]

I was active in the Yale Outing Club from my freshman or sophomore year, and still remember lunch meetings at Branford college dining hall. I saw much of the New England countryside with that club, and was first introduced to rock climbing and cross country skiing. I even led a couple of winter skiing / hiking trips in the Adirondacks. (We all survived with all our fingers and toes).  I met my husband through the outing club  – although we did not date at Yale, we reconnected some years later thanks to the Yale Outing Club Cabin in NW Connecticut.   But that’s another story.
Lucy Loomis [DC]

I have no photos, but the fall and spring of my senior year were greatly enhanced by the ongoing Foursquare game on the Cross Campus sidewalk. I particularly remember completing my last exam and realizing that my Yale academic career was over but that my Yale life was not as I hurried down from Linsly-Chit to join the Foursquare line.
Fred Peters [BK]

John Hanway inspiring teammates to get ready for THE GAME in 1972.

In the fall of 1972, I broke my jaw in preseason football. My mouth was wired together for two months. When I returned to play following Yale’s 48-30 loss to Penn, I decided to contribute by helping my teammates focus on the two remaining games against our biggest rivals, Princeton and Harvard, by dressing up in our opponents’ uniforms. This captured the attention of my teammates and I’d like to think it inspired them. At the very least, it captured the attention of the New Haven Register, which wrote a story about this. Included are two pictures of me being choked by Yale seniors that included captain, Bob Perschel, and former NFL standout, Dick Jauron, and a second picture in my Harvard uniform.
John Hanway [BR]

My favorite extracurricular moment was shooting a goal while playing intramural hockey for Calhoun. I was a poor prospect for ever shooting a goal, having learned to ice-skate only after coming to Yale from Los Angeles. My hockey skates were ones I literally found in a dumpster at Ingalls Rink — amazingly, they fit. Also, unlike most hockey players, I never learned to skate backwards. With this background it isn’t surprising that I spent a lot of game-time on the bench, watching my Calhoun teammates who actually knew how to play hockey. During one game — I don’t recall which college we were playing — I was actually on the ice when the other team drove the puck right in front of our goal. Everyone was clustered in front of the goal, trying either to push the puck into the goal or to block it. I somehow got a clear shot at the puck, so I slapped it as hard as I could to get it away from the goal. I didn’t care that the likely result would be that our team would get a penalty for “icing” — shooting the puck across the rink with no teammate to receive it. However, my shot headed straight for the other goal. The opposing goalie saw it coming from far away, slowly and confidently sidled out to stop it, and incredibly, missed it. It sailed past him into the goal. Everyone’s jaws dropped, then my team cheered, lifted me up, and carried me off the field. That accidental goal may have been one of the longest ones in hockey history.
Jeff Johnson [CC]

Yale tennis teammates in PA in October, 2016 getting out the vote. From left: Sally West, Lisa Rosenblum, Betsy Auchincloss, Linden Havemeyer Wise, Diane Straus

Because our numbers as Yale women were small and we were scattered in different extracurricular directions, many of us found it difficult to make female friendships at Yale. An exception was friendships made on sports teams, which for me was the women’s tennis team. Yale was slow to recognize our fledgling teams. If there was a specific moment when it began to take our team seriously, it was when we raised the money that we needed in my sophomore year to travel to Florida to train for the season to come. Other resources followed (such as the opening of the indoor Cullman courts), and we responded with a commitment to the sport and a winning record. Most resonant all these years later are the friendships I made on this team, which have been lasting and lifelong. In 2016, we got together outside of Philadelphia to get out the vote for the upcoming Election. This year, with the stakes higher than ever, we will do it again. It will be bittersweet because we have lost two of our teammates, Betsy Auchincloss and Diane Straus. But we see it as a chance to honor their memories and to work together again as a team to accomplish something important.
Linden Wise [DC]

I still hear her voice. I knew nothing about crew the day I was drafted to row in the Ezra Stiles eight-person shell. The invite was disguised by a suggestion that we take a quick run to Yale Bowl. The boathouse & lagoon were on the way. I’d heard war stories. Crew is one of the “most severe forms of pain known to man.” I’d never been near a shell, and now I was introduced to Seat Four, port-oar. Our boat had an urgent space open, and the Stiles crew was expecting a strong season. Don’t step on the floor of the boat (part of the shell) while boarding, I was reminded. It was egg-shell thin and I’d fall through. The rest of the crew had already become a contender, Crew is all about synchronization. There are no stars in a shell, and you get noticed only if you make a mistake. Even a rough oar-in-the-water could stop a boat dead. The only soul facing forward is the coxswain, who also sets the rowing speed. Since the cox has no oar, he or she is lightweight by design. But our cox, Donna Chaet, did not lack a voice. Hers could cut glass, and she used it to advantage, barking out “Power Twenty in Two” in tones sure to rattle an adjacent crew in a tight race. Since leads were counted in seats, it always seemed close. I can still hear the defining ring of Donna’s bark when I need a little quick energy. And I usually smile, since some voice in a competing boat would mutter “what the f**?”

Moments of Theater

Hey everyone! Ozzie Taube here. This one is easy for me…THEATER! Damn, I wish I had a picture! Oh well. Yale, of course, had nationally famous “big league” theater (the Yale Rep, etc.) but a wonderful feature of Yale was its sponsorship of Residential college productions (“little theater”). Two of my credits that come to mind are playing Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” and playing Grandma in Edward Albee’s “The American Dream.” I came close to flunking out of Yale with every production, because the theater really grabs you and swallows you up. I didn’t have to wear a wig to play grandma- the costume person just sprayed my long hair silver! In Broadway productions, the “prop” in Waiting for Godot is a dwarfed, dead tree. We did our production outdoors, in Saybrook’s Courtyard, with a gigantic oak tree. Way cool.
Ozzie Taube [BR]

The Yale Cabaret! Turned me on to a new kind of theater. One of the reasons I moved to Las Vegas in the 1990s. Cabaret everywhere! Second, of course, was the productions at the Yale Drama School. After I got into graduate school, I volunteered to be a walk-on in one of their plays. Guess who was the lead? Meryl Streep!
Beth Rosenthal [BK]

“Oh What A Lovely War” dramat poster

Freshman year, I bought a used rocking chair from a med student – who asked me if I was enjoying Yale. I admitted I really didn’t feel at home, hadn’t made many friends… He gave me what was some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten: “When you figure out what you really like to do, the people you want to be with will be there.” Having always enjoyed theater, I tried out for the Dramat’s production of “Oh, What A Lovely War” — and sure enough, met the core friend group that sustained me over the next 4 years. I’m not convinced anecdotes such as having my toes stepped on during the waltz scene would be all that amusing to all classmates to relate in detail – but this might be: In trying to track down some visual accompaniment to this, I discovered the cheaply produced poster for the show can be bought on-line for $250*!!! [viz attached PNG] *(Note my restraint in not punning with “appreciate”…)
C S Piel [MC]

Playbill for “The Frogs”

Although not strictly an extracurricular activity, I went to an outrageous adaptation of Aristophanes’, “The Frogs,” at The Yale Rep staged at Payne Whitney swimming pool just before graduation in 1974. A musical by Shevelove & Sondheim. To the usual cast of characters, add water, weird acoustics, Frogmen in flippers, and modern (from Shakespeare, and after), dueling playwrights. I remember how steep the seats were and the sensation that I might fall from mine into the pool from hearty laugher. A production that could happen only (I suppose) on a college campus and a good way to lighten up and end the Yale years.
Patricia Sheppard [DC]

Note with red velvet coat

Drama was an extracurricular activity for me all through my Yale years. Senior year I played the role of Eve in the musical version of “The Diary of Adam and Eve” at the Yale Cabaret. Not long after the show finished, I found a large cardboard box outside the door to my room in Vanderbilt (I was a Freshman Counselor that year). In it I discovered a floor-length, red velvet coat with wide lapels and rhinestone buttons, along with a handwritten note that said, “To Eve – Every star needs a red cape. Best of luck, B.” I asked everyone I knew if they had given me that incredible coat, and no one had. And no one knew of anyone who had. To this day, I still do not know who the mysterious “B” is. The coat is long gone, but I still have that note and often wonder if I will ever know who gave me that magnificent gift.
Singie Shepley-Gamble [BK]

Clubs & Societies

I left the Yale campus as little as possible. Many of us wanted to get away from it a lot, but I did not. I did go the 1971 March on Washington; I did go to NY just once and to Boston just once; I did visit classmates’ families in Darien and Northampton; but mostly I wanted to live my life on campus. But I didn’t sing, dance, or act; I was not religious; I was Bartleby to any and all sport; I had good reason to avoid the YPU. So, my chief extra-curricular activity was on campus at the Elizabethan Club. There, the immutable weekly order of sandwiches, the smoky oolong tea, its Board of Governors surmounted by a mystical Board of Incorporators who all lived in NH but met only at the University Club in NY, and the combination of comfort, conversation, and the absurdity of the thing made the pre-dinner hour relaxed, cozy, and full of friends. It was the gym, a singing group, a church, a debate forum all in one for me. Nothing bad could happen to me there. And it was full of wonderful old books.
Bennett Gilbert [SY]

This way to the Halloween party

As a senior I was a member of Berzelius, one of the un-secret, diverse and co-ed senior societies. We met weekly for dinner and “audits” — the sharing of personal biographies — in our Tomb on Whitney Avenue, where we could hang out, shoot pool and play music. For our 1973 Halloween party we invited outside friends, who were told to line up at the imposing wrought-iron front door. One by one we escorted them solemnly up time-worn stairs to a wood-paneled “viewing” room, where a society member lay stretched out in a coffin (smoking a cigarette and winking, as I recall). Suitably “spooked,” our guests were ushered to the vaulted-ceilinged Great Room, fogged for the occasion by dry ice, for loud music and libations. It was the most enchanting party I can remember being a ringleader of, an only-at-Yale thrill, and one of many episodes of personal bonding to a group who became lifelong friends.
Stu Rohrer [CC]

In the spring semester of our freshmen year, I followed a number of “jocks” pledging the DKE fraternity. Part of the reason (I’m embarrassed to admit) was because their breakfast lasted until 9:30 (30 minutes after my other options). On the night of my joining, I saw a branding iron in some hot coals before an upperclassman asked me to kneel and put a hood with very limited visibility on my head. Then he asked if I was ready to receive the mark of DKE?! I hesitated but said yes. He said to stick out my right arm. He left but soon returned and applied something that initially burned my arm. I later learned that it was dry ice. It was not funny to me at the time but has made me smile looking back on it since.
George Hauptfuhrer [MC]

WHETHER TO JOIN A SENIOR SOCIETY & UNSURPRISING SURPRISES. I was under consideration to be tapped into Wolf’s Head. Given that a member of the prior delegation had never participated, the whole delegation was going to decide on one individual. Wolf’s Head was one of the Senior Societies that remained all male. I thought that attitude was ridiculous, given that Yale was implementing co-education. Being somewhat arrogant at the time (privileged Preppie that I was), I was seriously considering telling them that I was not interested. Duke Henning, Saybrook’s Master, took me to lunch one day to explore my interest in being tapped. I told him what I was thinking. He got this look on his face that I could not interpret. “Colly,” he said, “you will break your father’s heart. I assume you are aware that he was also in Wolf’s Head”. I was not so aware. (Not sharing his Wolf’s Head history was typical of my very successful father’s modest and self-effacing nature; and his unwillingness to impose his own history on the lives of his children. Which is something I deeply admired about him.) So, I changed my mind, if tapped I would accept, and so communicated to Duke. I was tapped; but there’s more. On the morning of Tap Day, I had reason to call Duke’s office on some academic matter. After I gave my name to the secretary she said, “Oh Mr Burgwin, has your flight to New Haven arrived; do you need transportation from the airport?” (My father was also called Colly.) She was extremely upset when she realized I was the son and she had given away his surprise presence at my delegation’s induction. During the induction ceremony we were asked to close our eyes as we entered the room and to not turn around till the end. All the current members stood behind the people they had tapped. When I turned around, the person standing behind me was my father. I never revealed to him that I knew he was going to be there.
Colly Burgwin [SY]

Me and Yale, NOT a Love Story — On the subject of my relationship with my Yale experience, I have been indecisive. I am essentially a decisive person; but, my attitudes toward Yale are so complex and antagonistic that I simply had to let time tell.

The Yale experience for me was troubling because I did not seem to fit in with any of the constituencies. I was an athlete majoring in art. I was a boy, for whom, social life with women was a source of enjoyment; yet Yale’s 100–1 ratio made for sustained madness. I was a Midwesterner and frankly did not really understand the Eastern mentality. I was comparatively uneducated to those prep school graduates who could have “quizzed out” of the whole experience. I was an adventurer who suddenly found himself alone, confused, and unhappy.

Recently I read “intellectual growth is heightened by those most unlike oneself.” I think that was true for me ultimately. I fell in with English majors (geniuses); football players (quality friends); and wild men who stormed the bastions of ambition and uncertainty with me.  Competing with, living with, being challenged by so many intellectual heavyweights brought out the competitor in me; and, as I competed I realized how much I really enjoyed understanding “what made the Great great”. Philosophy was my friend throughout, because it taught me how to break-down experience and understand my place in it.

Saint Anthony Hall was really one of my saviors. It was a sane environment, with a sane male–female ratio; with artists and athletes and Midwesterners and Easterners. There were many who represented persona I had never experienced; and there were those who made me feel right at home. It was a society of like-minded, though multi-faceted good people.

By my junior year I had joined up with a group of disparate classmates with whom I shared huge ambition and wild adventurism. We weren’t that confident about what we sought, but we sought it with confidence born from comradeship with the wild and crazy (pre SNL).

By the time I left, I had righted my own ship; but, I really had little idea what direction to pursue. I was clear that I would not seek grim professionalism; but, Yale really offered little in the way of meaningful counselling or alternatives. I hold them accountable for that failure.

Basically, I took my Yale diploma, and leveraged my agricultural professional experience to get accepted to Harvard Business School. Strangely, at HBS, I found: I was pretty good at business; I really liked the Yale guys I met; and, really could not stomach the Harvard grads; I am very proud of my Yale affiliation — and, my son’s 2010 matriculation.
—Steve Kase [MC]

Road Trips

From Sandee Blechman, Susan Winnett, Marilyn Sharpe and Barbara Borst. One marvelous evening in the spring of our senior year, we all went on a road trip. Not that kind. We drove from New Haven to New York City to see Rudolf Nureyev perform in “Sleeping Beauty” at Lincoln Center. Sandee’s father got the tickets — excellent seats a couple of rows back from the stage. Suz’s family lent us a car, her parents’ 1963 Chevy, which she drove. She still has a copy of the program for the performance. Marilyn, Barbara, Sandee, Robin Siegel and Wendy Wolf (’75) all piled in. The ballet was exquisite. Nureyev’s power and grace were spellbinding. Barbara remembers that his leaps were so high and seemingly effortless that it was easy to imagine he could stay aloft as long as he chose. We were enthralled by the show, and shocked when many audience members filed out during the final act, apparently to get ahead of the crowd leaving the parking garage. We were as dressed up as we could manage and felt pretty sophisticated when we stopped for after-ballet refreshments at nearby Monk’s Inn, where Suz remembers seeing John Lennon and Yoko Ono waiting to get in.
Barbara Borst Crary [SY]

Riding freight trains. Not a “group” activity (only one partner in crime) but definitely extracurricular.
Leslie Cockburn [MC]

Spring bus trips South with teammates


Very simply, the wonderful absurdity of Bladderball! As members the Freshman Class of 1970, assigned what was then called Calhoun College, we, the exiles of #1 Hillhouse, and I, as a first generation Yalie, had no idea what to expect when a 5′ air filled ball was released on the hallowed grounds of the Old Campus. Imagine my surprise and delight when I understood that no one else had any idea either. It was a shared moment when the most diverse class ever admitted to Yale came together to do something that didn’t matter except for the lesson that frivolous communal fun was part of the Yale experience.
Rusty Cates [CC]

“Yale Daily News” (Pierson Sun) Special Bladderball Edition front page

I was editor of the Pierson Sun residential college newspaper, and we decided to print and distribute a special issue of the newspaper — disguised as the Yale Daily News — for the Bladderball Game, back when that event was permitted. We distributed hundreds of copies. One Daily News staffer threatened to sue us for copyright infringement!
Dave Nikkel [PC]

And More…

I suppose that appearing in front of the Yale Corporation in 1972, to present the case for a more sex blind admissions policy should be the standout moment. But it isn’t. In fact, I had mostly forgotten about my role in all those proceedings until I was contacted by the author of “Yale Needs Women” whose research had revealed my previously unremarked role. What I think of when I look back tends, instead, to focus on the camaraderie of Saybrook soccer, cheering at the Yale Whale for our underdog hockey teams and the last two Harvard/Yale football games of our undergraduate careers.

But what has been the most fun and interesting extracurricular activity has been my ten years authoring the class notes after a 40-year absence from Yale, hosting the class zooms and the pre-Covid lunches. I have met so many interesting people, engaged in so many surprising discussions and tried to navigate a neutral path through the often-disparate beliefs of classmates who want to express them through the class notes. And, when I have failed in that latter endeavor, been chastised by both ends of the belief/political/social spectrum. It has been true labor of love and a great chance to write. Thanks to all of you who rejected the role so I could have it.
Alec Haverstick [SY]

The moment that still resonates with me from my years working on the Yale Daily News occurred when I wore a dinner jacket to a black tie Yale Daily News Reception. When the day of the event was near, I dashed down Chapel Street to a men’s formal wear shop in downtown New Haven. To my dismay, there were no traditional black tuxedos left to rent. The shop did, however, have many yellow dinner jackets available. Not surprisingly, the eager salesman urged me to rent one. As soon as I entered the formal reception upstairs in Woolsey Hall wearing my rented dinner jacket, I saw the surprised expressions on the faces of many alumni guests and a few of my fellow members of the 1974 Yale Daily News Board. Almost all the men in attendance were wearing traditional black tuxedos. My dinner jacket prompted some provocative and timeless conversations with alumni about the dangers of yellow journalism. One distinguished alumnus came over to me and observed with a smile that I must be the Editorial Editor. Much as I enjoyed and remember the moment, I would never again wear a dinner jacket to a black-tie event.
Chet Cobb [SY]

$3,900: The cost of tuition, room, and board during our freshman year. That might not seem like a lot of money for a year of college now, but it certainly was significant in 1970, when the average income for an American family was less than $10,000. I was fortunate in having parents who were able to cover roughly half the cost while Yale provided loans and scholarships for the other half. But I needed something in addition for necessities—eggplant grinders at Broadway pizza, donuts, etc. Meeting this need required part-time work and I held several jobs during my years at Yale.

In September 1970, I went to the University office that had student job listings to review the possibilities. Bussing tables at dinner time in the Commons did not particularly appeal so my first paid position was evening work at the Yale Co-Op. I was tasked with opening boxes of books, stamping each one with a price and then moving them to the appropriate place in the store. It wasn’t hard work and occasionally I opened a box with a book that caught my attention and required a quiet perusal.

The next job, starting in sophomore year, was utterly different. A fellow student alerted me that the VA Hospital in West Haven was hiring people to work in one of their labs as night and weekend technicians. The pay was good, well above minimum wage, and the work consisted of analyzing blood drawn from patients to determine the level of various gases, the most important being the patient’s oxygen level. The hours were tough: two nights per week, starting at 11 pm and ending at 7 am the next morning and every third weekend, starting Saturday night at 5 pm and ending Monday morning at 7 am. But when you are 18, you have great stamina and I managed to keep this job through the first semester of senior year.

The final job was probably the most enjoyable. I had heard that students were hired to work as bartenders at Yale functions. The catch was that a course in bartending was the required prerequisite for getting these jobs and the course was offered only once or twice per year and was strictly limited in number. Early our final semester, my good friend Dan Laskin and I somehow learned when the sign up for the class would open and we showed up at the appropriate office quite early, on the order of 6 am, only to find that several other students had arrived even earlier. We were able to take the class and learned some basic bartending skills. The instructor focused on martinis, evidently quite a popular drink at Yale functions. He emphasized a fundamental rule of bartending, namely that the bartender must drink all mistakes, with the clear implication that if you were drunk when an event ended you had clearly made a lot of mistakes. I know I worked at a lot of university functions, but specific details elude me. Perhaps that’s the result of 50 years passing or perhaps I made a lot of mistakes and complied with the bartender’s rule. In any event, bartending was certainly my favorite part-time job.
Steven Davis [ES]

During my time at Yale I spent countless hours at the various film societies on campus, which screened an eclectic mix of Hollywood classics, foreign films and cult movies. I particularly remember attending an all-night screening of classic aviation-themed movies at the Law School auditorium: every time an airplane took off on screen, the audience launched dozens of paper airplanes into the auditorium airspace. The final movie ended shortly after dawn, and the bleary-eyed few of us remaining in the auditorium headed out in search of coffee.
Ken Derby [SM]

Attending some Yale Rep performances or the occasional Political Union event was about the extent of my minimal extracurricular activities. There were few music events, a hockey or football game (and a polo practice) … Well, setting to memory all the Firesign Theatre dialogue has got to count in there somewhere. Wiring our Radio Shack color organ kits and building the three color (bass, midrange, and treble frequency) left and right channel “entertainment” and waist height stereo table might also be tallied as “extracurricular”. But frankly — it was four years of “grim professionalism” — mostly heads down — doing the homework and projects for the Computer Science courses was my main focus (beyond my bursary jobs — working in the Dining Hall and later for the Library Development Department doing documentation and some prototype programming). I did manage to be the occasional “roadie” for the Driving Wheel band — lugging equipment. I guess I just did not have too much bandwidth for the “extra” stuff. I do recall doing a good deal of job applications and interviewing senior year. I was not cut out for the Yale Daily News — and embraced the PDP-10 and DecTapes instead of journalism. Extracurricular was mostly a road not taken.
Thomas Corbi [TC]

Being at Yale was more than life changing. It opened a world I could not imagine from where I started. In my last days on campus, I had another lesson that changed me. One of the speakers at our commencement built his remarks around one of the stone messages that decorate the campus. The opening lines of Rafael Sabatini’s “Scaramouche.” Perhaps because I had spent my childhood where stone graffiti was rare, I had always paid attention to it at Yale but as an undergraduate had no occasion to visit the Hall of Graduate Studies where this message had been left. After the assembly I went to see it. There it was, inside the courtyard and right above the main entrance. “He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” At that moment I understood! The world was indeed mad. I did not need to understand it or the good fortune that brought me there. All I needed was to let there be joy in my heart and live in a world that I did not need to control.
Rusty Cates [CC]

My main extracurricular activities were in choral singing and campus ministry. I even spent sophomore year living in the house at 27 High Street owned by the Lutherans until recently. I would run from the Lutheran service at Dwight Hall (or one year in Branford Chapel!) and over to Battell where I was blown away by the preaching of Bill Coffin. It didn’t occur to me to consider ministry—everything I studied pointed toward childhood education. Besides, barriers to ordaining women had only dropped recently and I didn’t see myself reflected in the male ministers who stood and preached up front. But in 1973-74 when Coffin was on sabbatical, women were included among the preachers. And the Lutheran campus pastor hired a female intern that year. She talked of her course work—including hospital chaplaincy and the thought hit me like a lightbulb: I’d like to do that. So, I went to Harvard Divinity School, mostly for exploration of my beliefs, but got reeled into a career.
Ann Larson [BR]