Unforgettable in Every Way

What memories do we treasure decades later? For some, the shenanigans we got up to are foremost. For others, the endless conversations, the beauty of the campus, the chance to learn from the finest professors, the pizzas, making co-education work, or even finding a partner for life. Read on to enjoy the memories shared here.
–Barbara Borst and Betsy Sullivan

Question 1: Tell us a favorite memory of your time at Yale. What is the story behind it?

Escapades and adventures

Solo streaking through Branford Courtyard during some kind of Fair with snow flurries. Wearing nothing but a balaclava face cover and shod in waffle stompers, I anonymously braved the elements warmed only by Jack Daniels bourbon provided by the equally bibulous Mason Barge. Mason acted as if he were my second in a duel or corner man in boxing, leaving all the shameless exhibitionism to me. I later learned that the people at Wolf’s Head took a dim view of my lack of dignity. Their disapprobation dimmed tap night for me. What priggish weenies! I think the more discreet Mason became a Bones man. Ah, the better part of valor. Well, anyway, that’s how I remember it.
McKim Symington [BR]

Losing it.

Ice skating in the Timothy Dwight courtyard. When the temperature dropped below freezing for a prolonged period, someone — don’t ask, don’t tell — would leave a hose running in the courtyard until there were several inches of ice built up, enough for skating. Then, especially in late afternoons and evenings, those who could skate would skate. (Given the number of hockey players who lived in TD, that was not an insignificant number.) However, there was no competition. Everyone at every level was welcome. I was not a skater. My contribution was to place my stereo speakers in our windows overlooking the courtyard and play music as loud as I could — everything from Strauss to the Supremes. It’s a fond memory of joyous collective misbehavior.

Boot hitching on snowy New Haven streets, probably in February 1972. That meant running out on to Elm Street in a snowstorm, grabbing the bumper of a car, and getting pulled along the snowy street in a crouch. I was gliding along when a New Haven PD car turned on its lights behind me. I held on until the entrance to Calhoun, then released and ran inside and hid. Classmates George and John (last names omitted for obvious reasons) dropped off and waited. Unfortunately, the cop slid into a parked car as he tried to stop, which understandably made him mad, so he called a paddy wagon and arrested the miscreants. There was another person in the paddy wagon, and they were afraid he was a cop. However, when he threw up on his shoes, they figured it was safe to dispose of the joints they had on them. After calls to “Free the New Haven two,” their dean went downtown and bailed them out.
Hal Corbett [ES]

The Ride Board. Remember the Ride Board in the post office? We could look for a ride or vice versa, post a ride to some place. This was before online searches. One weekend my sophomore year I wanted to go to UPenn to visit a friend. I went to the post office and found a person who was driving to Philly, looking for fellow travelers. I will call him Ryan for good reason. I called Ryan, he seemed somewhat reliable (back then we were very trusting), and I agreed to meet him and the others Friday afternoon at the corner of York and Grove Streets. The date arrived and I positioned myself at the appointed spot. A jeep approached, a fancy Wrangler. Good, I thought. Ryan pulled over, and Wow — he did look like Ryan O’Neill, complete with preppy tweed jacket. Love Story! The movie was still hot. How appropriate I had taken Erich Segal’s course. Ryan informed me that the other travelers had fallen through, so we were going to fly instead. Fly?! I hadn’t bargained for paying for an airplane flight. I expressed my hesitation. “No,” he said, “I have a small plane and a pilot’s license. We will fly down together in it.” Double WOW — now this could be an adventure. Again, life was more trusting. So off we went to Tweed and found his Piper aircraft. You had to climb in and pull the top over your head. Was I crazy? I just remember being totally cool and excited. This was life before 9/11, thus we were able to fly low over Manhattan. My family lived on Washington Mews in Greenwich Village, and I was able to spot my street. It was thrilling to see New York from above, and not that far above. Naturally, my travel itinerary impressed my UPenn friend! After returning to Yale, I was the talk of the town with my aviation adventure. Ryan was a Yale Law School student, and he came to our common room to hang out. He was not happy at the law school. One day he announced he was leaving. A business friend asked him to develop this island off the coast of South Carolina. The island was mostly uninhabited but had the potential to become a fancy resort. I asked Ryan the name of the place and he said, “Hilton Head.” I haven’t seen Ryan since, but I’m sure he made out OK.
Cilla Leavitt [TC]

Coffee and conversation

Lux et Veritas et Coffee; courtesy Carolyn Grillo

Meals in the dining hall at TD were among my favorite times. Our conversations were wide ranging, and I loved hearing different opinions and learning what others were studying in their classes. It was a great place to meet new people, connect with friends and soak up the atmosphere. I regret now that I only sat with mixed groups of white, Hispanic, and Asian friends and didn’t have the courage to sit with groups of Black classmates and get to know them better. I recall being insecure as to whether I’d be welcomed. Now I realize they may have felt marginalized at Yale, and I participated in that.
Christine Padesky [TD]

That summer before freshman year when our first Blue Book arrived, I spent countless hours imagining the incredible opportunities, possibilities, and unknowns awaiting us. Once on campus, it was time spent in the dining halls, listening over way-too-many cups of coffee to conversations about so many of those courses I would never take myself, that gave extra dimension and joy to my Yale education. I learned to carry great towers of coffee cups to help keep folks talking. But, someone really should have advised me about the dangers of all that caffeine.

How I learned to drink coffee: Maybe because my mother had a 5-pot-a-day habit, or maybe because I was told it would stunt my growth (!) I got to Yale never having drunk coffee. But then came the JE Dining Room. We would fill our trays, navigate those big trestle tables, and sit and eat and TALK!. We talked at breakfast, we talked at lunch. But we really got going after dinner. As the conversations took flight, my friends (and especially the Juniors and Seniors!) would return again and again to the coffee urns to refill their cups. At first, I would fill half a cup and kind of swirl it around while we talked, just to feel like I was fitting in. Slowly, I learned to take a sip or two. By the end of Sophomore year, I was hooked, mainlining coffee with the best of them. The bonding and learning that we all did in the Dining Rooms was just as important and lasting as what we learned in classes. I learned about travel abroad. I learned about prep schools. I learned about wonderful professors, and the classes to avoid. I made life-long friends. When I arrived on campus, I was a towering 5’1″. During all 4 years, I never got any taller. You could say I had already reached my adult height at 17. But I say it was the coffee.
Carolyn Grillo [JE]

Standing/sitting in the Vanderbilt stairway for hours in a floating crap game of conversation. I’ve used this as a metaphor ever since: the free flow of people and ideas – the original diversity and inclusion – that arises when the right conditions are in place.
Joan Hendricks Garvan [CC]

I loved the Saybrook dining hall at dinner. Inevitably, I would get there on the late side and stay until Mary, the lady at the desk, flashed the lights signaling us to leave (then it was off to CCL for more socializing until the socializing that went on in our room until about one a.m.). One night in the dining hall, Mary was late in flashing the lights and none of us left. This turned into a group discussion of “if Mary never flashed the lights, would we ever know to leave?” We agreed that we wouldn’t, and an Albee-like play was born: “In the Dining Hall”. Who would play Mary? Who would play each of us? What would we talk about forever? Discussion was active and intense. Ted Swett would direct; Jim Feldman would write….And then the lights flashed and that was that! Phew!
Alec Haverstick [SY]

Caught “blue-handed” in Cambridge

Fall of 1972. Yale at Harvard for The Game. Three of us decided to make a bold “Y” statement in Cambridge on Friday night. We drove up with large “Y” stencils and blue spray paint and proceeded to “decorate” Harvard’s campus … The President’s front door, the Dining Hall trucks, numerous signs and brick walls, etc. Unbeknownst to us, we were being tracked by the campus cops. We scattered but eventually we were all caught. The police thought it was hysterical, took our names and let us go. The Yale Dean’s Office wasn’t quite as amused and fined us each 1/5 of the cost to remove the Ys. One fifth? But we were only three. Turns out a few others were boasting they’d been part of it — so the Dean fined them too! We made the front page of the Yale Daily News. And best of all, we won The Game!
Wes Bray [CC]

For a fun memory, how can you beat the February 1972 “murders” in JE, when I was one of two who separately drew the “murder” card. I gleefully dreamed up a slew of imaginative ways to “kill” other JE students by flashing them the murder card without being caught:  sneaking the card into a Vincent Scully slide show (I had confederates there); killing a friend in the shower (I didn’t peek); and borrowing (with my sister Cathy’s help) a freshman football uniform and helmet and a pair of stilts so I could brazenly slay others in the JE courtyard in broad daylight. The Yale Daily News headline blared: “Ten Found Slain in JE; But It’s Only A Game.”
Betsy Sullivan (JE)

Pizza and munchies

Broadway PizzaMy favorite memory is late-night bridge games in Branford with a rolling (and mellow) group of about 8 Branfordians. For all of us, playing cards at 10 p.m. was our reward for hitting the books (remember books?) earlier in the evening. And then, as our reward for finishing 8-10 hands of bridge, was a short trek over to Broadway Pizza (RIP) for a grinder and a soda.
Steve Blum [BR]

An experiment conducted outside Broadway Pizza: is it possible to whistle a madrigal? This was carried out by a research team from Ezra Stiles led by Marc Poirier. Results: no, it’s a muddle. The music makes no sense if you don’t have SABT [Soprano Alto Bass Tenor]. Someone came out of the restaurant and asked us to leave for creating an obnoxious disturbance.
Ariel Miller [ES]

A favorite memory of my time at Yale centers on food. While New Haven had (has) multiple pizzerias, students from different parts of the campus tended to favor different ones, probably based on ease of access. For those of us in Stiles, the preferred option was Broadway Pizza, not far from the Yale Co-op. Evenings tended to follow a certain routine, with the hours after dinner often spent in the Stiles library, doing required reading and preparing for the following day’s classes. Often around 10 or 10:30 pm, with dinner a distant memory, someone would suggest a visit to Broadway Pizza and a group of hungry Stilesians would quickly form. Notwithstanding its name, a preferred option at Broadway Pizza was a “grinder,” available in multiple attractive options, including tuna, eggplant parmigian and meatball. Along with the food, there was a juke box and I recall hearing Elton John’s “Your Song” on more than one occasion. At times, the experience was elevated by the appearance of some musicians who had just finished performances with the Yale Symphony Orchestra. Dressed in formal wear, they added substantial elegance to our somewhat slovenly group. On very special evenings, not feeling completely sated by the grinder, we would top things off with a visit to Mr. Donut, a few doors away. It didn’t meet the high standards of Dunkin’ Donuts, way down near the New Haven Green, but at that point just about any donut would do. This memory recalls the physical vigor of my college years, the company of good friends and the freedom to go out with no need for parental consent. And, of course, the food was pretty good.
Steven Davis [ES]

Saving The Buttery. Ezra Stiles had a college council that managed a small budget. Like many colleges, we had a snack bar. Ours was called The Buttery…often abbreviated. Anyway, besides the $500 funding per semester, it lost more than that. Finally, the loss was too great, and they decided to shut it down. Dan Kostenbauder (’73) and I had other ideas. We offered to pay back the $500, give the council up to an additional $500 and keep the rest of the profit. They agreed. New menu, new food sourcing, and new hours. Previously it was closed on Sunday evenings, which turned out to be the busiest night. Big Hit! And we made some good money. Plus we invented some weird but popular dishes like a sliced hotdog inside a grilled cheese sandwich. Got lots of friends to work shifts to earn some extra bucks. Eli Abbe. Robbie Adams. Stan Silverstein (I think). Fun memories. Anyway, my first foray into helping my college. But definitely not my last. Oh, by the way, I just realized that this memory is MORE than 50 years old. Crazy.
Harvey Kent [ES]

Inspiration in the classroom, and outside it

As one of Yale’s unique 5-person per year archeology majors, I used to spend my Saturday mornings excavating on Lefty Lewis’s property in Farmington. Seeing the question, I had thought the most fun at Yale would have been socializing. Then it occurred to me that these crack-of-dawn digs diminished my weekend partying to near zero. Living off campus but eating on the Yale meal plan, I laughed when I discovered last Saturday’s sandwich bread is next Saturday’s science experiment. I loved my trenches friendships with the other majors and local volunteers. Years later I enjoyed running into one of the Miss Porter’s seniors who shared my trench. How she’d enjoyed “borrowing” my Marlboros and putting them out in our slag heap when her teacher approached to see what we’d found.
Bill Eakins [DC]

Two memories. First, I had a friend who was a member of the Yale Guild of Carillonneurs, who played that rhinoceros of an instrument at the summit of Harkness Tower. One day I climbed up there with him, and he let me play the bell with the lowest note, which required stepping on a pedal with all my might. Second, Professor Victor Brombert’s lecture on “The Tragedy of Madame Bovary” freshman year, made me realize that literature reached the heart like nothing else, an early step on the way to a lifelong trek as a writer.
Zack Rogow [TD]

This will sound geeky, but I was enthralled when I took a year of beginning ancient Greek. My high school Latin teacher had bequeathed me a huge Greek dictionary, and I wanted to use it! It was a thrill to read Homer in the original. Yes, pretty nerdy, I guess, but this class affirmed my love of languages and my desire to become a teacher.
Ruth Anne Martz [JE]

Among the best were Thursday afternoons in Luigi Provasoli’s phycology lab in the Osborne Memorial Laboratories. Luigi transformed a week of exacting research trials into the ecology of diatoms from Atlantic Ocean samples by setting aside a weekly story hour. It was fueled by mandatory consumption of anchovy pizza and voluntary, gently encouraged quaffing of prosecco. Luigi would lead with tales of his colorful life in pre-WWII Italy and stories that illustrated how his work with algae had expanded his appreciation for people from coastal cultures around the globe. He prompted all to join and always was fully engaged with each teller of tales. I learned more about team-building during a senior year of those Thursday afternoons than I have in countless formal workshops in the half-century since.

Tom Weiskel (English Prof, Romantic Poetry) was a beloved mentor for me and some of my fellows over those four years. (I will call him Tom because he was so much younger than I am now, and he died so young.) Sessions with Tom in his tiny office on that walkway from the street to Pierson quad were warm, funny, encouraging. So were visits to Tom’s real home in Western Mass where he and his wife raised chickens most of the week. And I’ve always remembered Tom’s reading, aloud and very slowly, a strange passage (from what must have been WB Yeats’ journal about Yeats’ putting his head below the water for too long – long enough to experience a transporting joy associated with death. Very strange!!! It must have had to do with the numinous.) Tom’s own story ended in major tragedy in late 1974 (after our time in school) but it has left me (and I’m certain the others of us) with rare beauty.
Sarah Siskind [PC]

My Favorite Memory: One of my favorite memories at Yale occurred when I was a sophomore. I was scurrying back to my suite, enraptured by the late night studying I had been doing on a book of existential essays. My poor, unfortunate suitemate was assaulted by a barrage of my thoughts and feelings at the door. But he was good natured enough to listen and even participate in my ramblings. (I chose him as a roommate for good reasons.) It took me at least an hour to feel normal and back on the ground. Looking back, I can cringe at my eager membership in the kingdom of nerds. At the same time, I miss and feel some nostalgia for that time in my life when it was acceptable – sometimes even celebrated – to more freely explore one’s ideas in a more uninhibited way than I did before or would do after Yale. Not everything was “for keeps” and one could experiment with new ways of connecting with others. Although, to be sure, much of college work was drudgery, inevitably there would be moments such as this when understanding and being understood would become an exhilarating experience of feeling a part of and apart from the world.
Irv Leon [TC]

Deep in the stacks

L&B reading room in Sterling; Yale University photo

The Sterling Stacks! The fun!

One thing that so impressed me at the time is not the people, parties, dorms, music, professors, etc., that it has stayed with me. It was the depth of resources in this great institution. I was writing a paper about reggae music, and I was researching Jamaican folklore. I learned of some field notes written by an anthropologist in the early 1900’s that could be useful. When I called up the reference at the library, I was given a box with the actual handwritten notes! Unbelievable.

Favorite memories involve researching for my senior paper in Sterling’s stacks and in Beinecke using the microfiche machine looking for references to the Italian-Ethiopian War in Black newspapers of the time.
Carol Williams [SM]

Early exposure to the possibilities of Yale: Freshman year, using Beinecke library’s archives of L. Frank Baum “Oz” books to explore potential symbiotic wheeled life forms for my Biology paper on evolution. My gene-environment interaction interest persists to this day!
Loring Ingraham [SY]

One of my favorite memories is of studying in the Linonia & Brothers room of Sterling Library. There were cozy small alcoves lined with books and with leaded windows facing the interior courtyard; the radiators would hiss comfortingly, lulling me off to sleep. It was the most comfortable place to read, if not the most efficient place to get anything done! I also loved walking across the old campus and hearing the carillon of Harkness Tower – always a joy!
Jeannie Parker [JE]

I loved reading in Sterling Library’s reading room. It seemed so, well, imperial. It made studying there feel historic. I felt part of something bigger than me. I have never found a place to read as special as this room since.
Beth Rosenthal [BK]

Fall festivities

Fall Saturdays at the Yale Bowl to cheer on the Yale football team are some of my favorite memories. The team was not always the best, but it had some memorable victories, including a 35-0 beat down of Harvard at the Yale Bowl in our Senior year. That year, I also joined a fellow classmate (who had a car) to go to some of the football team’s away games. The spirit shown by Yalies in support of the team made the games a lot of fun.
Matthew Weston-Dawkes [SY]

Bladderball on Old Campus; Yale Archives

Bladderball on Old Campus; Yale Archives

My favorite Yale memory is enjoying the many fall campus activities and events with my Saybrook roommates and other classmates. Memories of crisp and colorful fall days, Bladderball, football in the Yale Bowl, Yale-Harvard Weekend, nights at the Yale Daily News, waterbeds in Saybrook College, weekend parties and concerts and special dinners all come to mind.

Matches made at Yale

Rick Fehling (#84) blocking punt in Colgate game. You can see the ball about a foot above the kicker’s knee. Yale Athletics photo.

The most important 8 seconds in my life. October 1973, we played Colgate, who whooped us the preceding year. At the end of the game, we were losing. We held Colgate on their thirty yard line and they punted. I drilled in from our left side and leaned in against the blocking back, knocking him out of my way. I angled in toward the kicker’s foot and blocked the kick. The ball bounced to the five-yard line where we recovered it, scored on the next play, and won the game. A photo went “across the wire” (no internet then) to the Reading PA newspaper. They printed it on the first page of the sports edition. My wife’s mother liked me more than her present boyfriend and mailed it to Marcia. She and I had previously been boyfriend/girlfriend. Her roommate opened the mail, saw the photo, and got my number from Marcia’s mom, who got it from my mom. Marcia called me. She came up for the Harvard game and we’ve been together ever since then, with a wonderful son and daughter. Most important 8 seconds of my life.
Rick Fehling [MC]

An accidental, hours-long, life-changing conversation in Berkeley library a week before graduation with the person who became the love of my life – two days later we were engaged; two months later, married; 50 years later, still talking.

On Saturday evening, September 23, 1972, I took a break from studying in my Saybrook room. In the courtyard, there were many people standing outside the Common Room and Dining Hall where a mixer was underway with a live, loud band. I spotted a young lady whose long straight deep dark hair was combed back to reveal a very pleasing visage. Other objectively applicable adjectives include lovely, fresh, wholesome, and sensitive. I walked up to this stranger and asked if she wanted to put down the beer she was holding, as a clearly uninterested prop, and join me for a dance. She did and the rest is history. After many 82-mile road trips to her college, Mount Holyoke, and almost 4 years after that chance encounter, we married. Now in our 48th year of gifted married life, this is one of my favorite personal Yale memories. With credit to the show, South Pacific, I’m often reminded that “some enchanted evening you may see a stranger across a crowded room” [courtyard!]

Randy, left in blue shirt, and Rob, far right, at impromptu 1970s party in Saybrook

There are recognizable moments that happen to us that can profoundly or instantly change our lives for the better, like a special job offer or getting married, or possibly creating a great piece of art, song, book, or invention. Then there are those moments that pass right by us without notice, sometimes taking years, or decades, before we see, feel, and understand the enormity of that long-ago moment. In the case of Randy Miller and me, that moment was a touch football game on the Old Campus our first day at Yale. On that gray and rainy afternoon, I knew no one else at Yale as I looked out my Lawrence Hall window at Harkness Tower in the distance. Puddles were forming on bare areas in the grass and there was a commotion going on. It was a group of 7 or 8 students playing football. I loved the game of football and decided to join them. I went outside and asked if they needed another player. The team in the huddle said they needed one, so I joined them. In the huddle, Randy was holding the ball and playing QB. He looked at me and bluntly asked, “Can you catch?” I grinned and asked: “Can you throw?” The ball was hiked: …… Throw …… Catch …… TOUCHDOWN!

We continued to play football that day in the rain and puddles for a good hour. There was a lot of splashing, muddy clothes, and much laughter going on. Afterward, Randy invited me to come to his dorm room in Farnam, right next to Lawrence Hall. We spoke for an hour or so about our homes, families, high schools, sports played and how we happened to get into Yale. In that hour, we learned that we were both from the Midwest. He was from Ohio and I was from Michigan. We both played and loved football in high school. He rooted for the Buckeyes and I was a Wolverine fan, We also found out that we both wrestled in high school and, amazingly, were going to be wrestling together on the Yale wrestling team! That last little irony sealed the deal. We were destined to be friends forever. We have been seeing each other and our families several times a year ever since. Little did we know on that September rainy day in 1970 what God had planned for us. Randy will tell you, as Paul Harvey used to say, ”The rest of the story”…

… That touch football game, where we met the first day I arrived on the Old Campus, was the beginning of a lifelong friendship with Rob Westerman. After graduation, Rob pursued his legal profession in Michigan and I worked in insurance in Ohio. We communicated often and kept our friendship alive and were groomsmen in each other’s wedding. Our families grew to a total of fifteen as Rob and Lori have been blessed with four wonderful children and Kathie and I with seven. The kids grew fond of each other and looked forward to the visits to each other’s homes. One summer, our families went to Mackinac Island together and Rob and Lori’s son, Jon, and our daughter, Kait, found themselves riding around the island on a bicycle built for two. They started falling in love on the Island and eventually married. Jonathan and Kait serve our country, as Jon graduated from the Naval Academy and is a pilot and Commanding Officer in the U.S. Navy, Naval Reserve Center, Akron. On June 20, 2016, their first child, Camille, was born, followed by Harvey and Isla. Now Rob, Lori, Kathie and I are the joint grandparents of the same three beautiful grandchildren. I guess you could say we really did score a wonderful “Touchdown!” that Fall day long ago on the Old Campus.
Rob Westerman [SY]
Randy Miller [DC]

The beauty of the campus

Cross Campus in the snow, 1972. Courtesy Barbara Johnstone

Much of what is dearest to me from Yale lies below, or beyond, the memorable. But at that surface the most visible is of three kinds: private, academic, and collective. The private is not one but many: in every snowfall, as I walked – even through the slush abyss I forded when leaving Memorial Rotunda for SSS – I told myself that I must never, never forget the beauty of the campus buildings, like mastodons covered in snow. Sterling Library looked like the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada. A short time before commencement our gang in Saybrook had a BBQ on the beach in Branford. Sitting there I looked at us all and thought: we did accomplish this, didn’t we? And we did it right. Good on us. I still remember the snow-flanked gothic mega-mammals and our happy crew, a half-century later with joy.
Bennett Gilbert [SY]

Hard to pick just one memory but certainly one memory that ranks high on the list is also one of my first memories. It was January 1972 and I had just transferred to Yale from Bryn Mawr. I was delighted to have been assigned to share a second-floor suite near the base of Harkness Tower – to my thinking one of the iconic symbols of Yale –  in Branford College. As a sophomore pre-med student, I was taking organic chemistry and January was the start of the second semester of study. I had just realized, with some consternation, that whereas Bryn Mawr had taught all aliphatic organic chemistry the first semester, (to complete the year with aromatic o.c.), Yale taught according to reaction type, blending aliphatic and aromatic. That meant that I had LOTS of catching up to do. So there I was, sitting up on the window seat one night, looking out on the snow-covered central courtyard with more snow softly falling, golden lights twinkling from the flanking windows and Simon & Garfunkel playing on the stereo, cramming organic chemistry. I looked out and thought “how beautiful” and “how lucky I am to be here.” And I still feel very lucky to have been able to attend the Yale of 50-some years ago.
Julie Gulya [BR]

I remember my freshman year living in the old campus, and the cold winter nights. I remember the beautiful white snow and walking past the old gothic buildings. It created a very existential experience.
Ray Santana [SY]

A favorite memory of my time at Yale is the appearance of the campus. I was very impressed by the beautiful buildings reflecting classical architecture. I appreciated the plantings that were brought to their peak to charm tuition-paying parents in the late spring. The many curious nooks and crannies in the carved stonework were fascinating, and promised treasures to be discovered at this institution.
Sharon Vaino [SM]

I always felt fortunate that I was assigned to be in Jonathan Edwards College. It was the smallest of the residential colleges, so everyone knew each other. At the end of my freshman year, a friend I’d known from high school, Jeff Eskin, asked if he could transfer from Morse College to come to JE. We joined with two other guys, David Ginsburg and Resit Ergener, and hit the jackpot in the room draw. We got a two-bedroom suite with a large wood paneled living area, with a fireplace, and that walked right out onto the JE courtyard, just below Harkness Tower. The setting was truly idyllic. David talked about his biology labs and later became a hematologist. Resit became the national poet of Turkey. Jeff played on the football team and knew everyone. It was a great mix.
Bill Lunn [JE]

Someone or something new

Bingham Hall entryway B boys on the Old Campus in 1971. Front: Hagos Tekeste, Eric Calkins, Edward Kamens, Angus Thuermer, Peter Goldsmith,  Michael Gravitz. Back: Kenneth Maton, Stephen Greene, Walter Carlson, Joseph Montford, Henry Cody, Jonathan Carpenter. Photo courtesy Angus Thuermer

So many to choose from, but one of my earliest memories of the potential Yale afforded to create experiences is that a couple of us as new freshmen decided that we would invite luminaries in the Yale and New Haven community to join us for dinner and conversation in the Branford dining hall (can’t remember if we had to pay for guests or if it was free). Much to our amazement, most of the people we invited actually accepted – including Erich Segal, Carm Cozza and the New Haven police chief. This was an introduction to the fact that we were going to be in for some heady experiences during the next 4 years.

The early days of freshman year on the old campus were such a dramatic and welcome break from high school life in the Midwest. Many classmates, including me, had adopted a more casual look when compared to their photos in the Old Campus booklet (which I still have). The music (and a certain aroma) wafting across the old campus, seemingly at all hours with loud speakers hanging outside of windows. Watching one classmate practice his tai chi movements was particularly memorable. The sheer uninhibited, yet focused movement in that open space was not anything I had seen before.
Jim Pavle [BK]

Coming from western Canada and being assigned roommates from Mississippi, southern California and northern New Jersey. All very different but looking for ways to get to know and relate to each other. Sharing ideas and varying points of view with others was the biggest part of my Yale education.
Gregory Wiber [TD]

I grew up in Southeast Asia, as the daughter of diplomats, loving Asian culture but not knowing how deprived I was of western high culture until I arrived in my overalls in New Haven in the summer of 1970, barely knowing what to do or where I was. The overalls were a back-to-the-earth fashion statement of questionable taste, since I liked them partly because I didn’t need to wash them regularly. The summer was a dive into one kind of western culture, since New Haven was full of radicals who had come for the New Haven Nine trial, and I made friends with many of them. Then the school year finally began, and with it aspects of western high culture I had never dreamed of. My favorite two memories are first, sitting above Rudolph Serkin in the high seats in Woolsey Hall, with my musician friends David Lasker and David Cowen, and walking the lane between Branford and Jonathan Edwards and listening to music tumbling out the windows. I had never known anything like it, and I quickly caught up with the repertoire of western classical and contemporary music which was mostly new to me. I cannot say that it shaped me or led me to a career in music, because it did not, but it re-arranged my mind in a way that was extraordinary for being so unexpected.
Edith Terry [PC]

On strike

Not sure if this is a “favorite” memory or just a strong memory, but … As a scholarship student, I worked in the Timothy Dwight dining hall during freshman year. Around May (1971), when the Yale service workers union was planning to strike, I signed up to work for as many hours as possible, to earn money for my sophomore tuition. I recall coming back to my dorm room in Bingham one day to find a card with the word “Scab” written on it, stuck to my door with a switchblade. I had no idea what the word meant and was happily surprised that someone left a perfectly good switchblade in our door, which I kept. Yale later decided not to have students replace striking workers.

Making friends with the head chef at Commons and having private dinners with him and one or two other classmates in the basement of Commons during the worker strikes. We ate amid utensils and caldrons designed to feed hundreds.

On stage

One of my favorite memories was participating in a performance of “The Sea Gull” in Saybrook during my sophomore year. I played the flute for the production, which included Clark Kee and Rusty Hockett as main characters. It was one of those times in which everything was going pretty well, and I felt in a happy state. There was a great sense of community among the cast, which made the whole experience very meaningful and fun.
Steve Bauer [SY]

Leopold Stokowski

1972 Carnegie Hall concert

I am still amazed that this really happened but in April 1972 the Yale Glee Club sang Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Carnegie Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski. From the tenor section, I watched the maestro lead the choral and orchestral forces at age 90, and experienced the power of this masterwork of Western art music up close, since the choir was seated on stage for the entire concert. This stands as one of the formative experiences of my music education which led to my 42-year career as a college choral conductor.
Brian Gorelick [JE]

A toss-up. Singing Beethoven’s 9th with the Glee Club at Carnegie Hall, NYC. Outside the Saturday rehearsal, an anti-Viet Nam war protest was marching up 5th Avenue. My Dad couldn’t get to us (no cell phones to let us know he was only a block away) to get to my best friend’s wedding in NJ. OR being part of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass under the baton of John Mauceri in Woolsey Hall. When we in the “church choir” rebelled and filled the aisles, I was only a few feet from the Maestro himself. I’ve continued choral singing throughout these decades!
Ann Larson [BR]

My peak experience at Yale, not surprisingly for me, had to do with singing. I’m not sure how it developed, but in 1972 the Yale Glee Club traveled to Carnegie Hall for two performances of Beethoven’s 9th with Leopold Stokowski and the American Symphony Orchestra. Stokowski was 90 years old and – I believe I am remembering correctly conducted the entire piece without a score. At our pre-concert rehearsal when we sang the choral movement for him for the first time, he simply looked at us and said, “I think you could sing that better, yes?” And – we did.
Deborah Greenman [BK]

Being asked to join the Duke’s Men of Yale (now the Doox of Yale).
Ted Turk [BR]

I think it was sophomore year, and I was involved in a campus-wide production involving music and acting that took place outdoors. I need some help with the details, classmates! My memory is that I was dressed as an 18th century military type, blowing a whistle constantly and pretending to do crowd control that wasn’t needed. John Mauceri was involved in this, and it was probably the most fun night I had at Yale because it’s the first thing that comes to mind. Does anyone remember what this event was? It was grand in scope! (UPDATE: I’ve since learned this was “Anthems” by Karlheinz Stockhausen, directed by John, thanks to an April 11, 1972, clip sent to me from my beloved Yale Daily News.)
Richard Hall [SM]

Playing the bells in Harkness Tower. I spent long hours late at night on the practice clavier that was not hooked up to the bells. It was such a thrill each time I got to play the bells themselves.
Margaret Kern Fahnestock [JE]

One night after dinner, probably senior year, I was cutting through Woolsey Hall on the way up to the Kline Science Library when I heard the Yale orchestra rehearsing a late Haydn symphony. Fighting my weenie impulse to crack the books, I took a seat at the back of the hall, and proceeded to stay through the entire piece, which they played through. They just nailed it – I have never heard a better performance anywhere. I assume John Mauceri was conducting but I am far from sure of that. It was an enchanting, obviously memorable, and very Yale experience.

My favorite memory of my undergraduate days at Yale was the undergraduate theater scene: both what I worked on as well as the work of others. That work ended up having a huge impact on my future career in the performing arts. It took me to: the Drama School; co-founding a professional Actors Equity theatre in Portland, Oregon; the Theatre, International, and Management Fellowship Programs at the National Endowment for the Arts; an Assistant Professorship in Theatre Management at the University of Miami.

I performed (generally undistinguishedly) in a number of productions: How to Succeed in Business…, Tiger at the Gates, Thus Spake Zarathustra in the Saybrook Freshman One-Acts. (Peter Hart and I were so dreadful that they had to send in Walter Dallas from the Directing program at the Drama School to attempt to salvage our performances. He was not successful.), the AA Milne play that Clark directed in Saybrook, Henry V directed by Clark in Stiles (or was it Morse?)

Other people’s work worth noting (apologies if my aged brain is misremembering): Polly Draper in Miss Julie; Ted Tally in The Lady’s Not for Burning; Amanda Burrell in the Shaw play in Saybrook (whose title is escaping me). I was particularly impressed with her ability to perform marvelously in the challenging circumstance of being seated at a writing table; Mark Peters (Y ’75) as Skelly in The Rimers of Eldritch; Ted Swett as the Duke in Measure for Measure in the Art Gallery Sculpture Garden. (The Deus Ex Machina moment when the Duke slides down the zipline to resolve all the conflicts remains one of the best moments of theatre I have ever seen; and I have seen a lot); Ozzie Taube in Waiting for Godot.

With the above comparative performances in mind, I finally realized I SUCKED as an actor. But I loved the biz and began working behind the scenes stage managing, light designing, set building, producing, and occasional collaborative writing, mostly with Clark Kee and Bob Martin. All in the Residential Colleges, not the Dramat.
Colly Burgwin [SY]

Women’s crew Fall 1972; courtesy Betsy Sullivan (third from left)

On the water

Double sessions rowing at Derby during spring break in 1972. The varsity lightweight crew coach was Jimmy Joy and he believed in serious mileage. For 2 weeks nearly every day we rowed 18 miles in the morning and another 18 in the afternoon. This presented a number of challenges: difficult to keep skin on one’s hands, impossible to eat enough to avoid losing weight and shattering of any delusion that one could use the break to catch up on one’s studies. It is said that rowing is perfect training for working hard in obscurity and nothing at Yale prepared me better.
Dan Rouse [CC]

Having done nothing much athletic in high school, I was intrigued by the letter from the Freshman crew coach, Buzz Congram, apparently sent to everyone over six feet tall. It seemed like a hundred of us responded to a film highlighting the history of crew at Yale. About fifty showed up for the first workout on the lagoon near the Bowl. Eight showed up for the second, and rowing became part of my life (apart from a detour to star as Captain Jim in Little Mary Sunshine, returning the Dramat to its musical comedy roots). It has been a thrill seeing Yale Crew return to dominance in recent years, and seeing Boys in the Boat brought it all back.
Joseph Truhe [TC]

The Yale Corinthian Yacht Club (a fancy name for a place that was mostly sheds and garages sheltering very small boats) was a pretty big part of my experience at Yale. One of the greatest things about it was that it was student-run. We were in charge of organizing the (club) team, coaching each other, running regattas, repairing the boats, hitch-hiking to competitions on the polluted Charles River in Boston, creating one of the first co-ed teams. Just us – students in old sweatshirts and beat-up boat shoes. Our faculty adviser and supportive alumni were in the background. No “grown-ups” on the scene. And somehow, although we dented many bows, lost a couple of paddles, tore a few sails, and scooped capsized crew from the frigid waters of Long Island Sound, we didn’t lose any people (or boats). We did it!
Barbara Borst [SY]


Sophomore year in Trumbull — making Yale history with the first coed floor … We had four signs to suggest guidelines for use of our shared bathroom: “Male”, “Female”, “Anyone”, “No One”. We were on the third floor — above the Master’s and Dean’s offices. The male suite had three water beds — and Trumbull’s solid construction prevailed with no noticeable complaints. Luckily, at the end of sophomore year, as we were moving out for the summer — the hose that we threw out the window to the Potty Court to drain one of the water beds did not curl into the open window of the Master’s office below.
Thomas Corbi [TC]

Vanderbilt Hall

Vanderbilt Hall

Don’t know if this was my favorite, but all of the Freshman girls lived in Vanderbilt. We were protected by our top-notch safety system, our experienced guards. I am quite sure most of these elderly protectors enjoyed a nip or two of their favorite whiskey both on and off the job. I also think I saw the weekend racing sheet from the New York race tracks on the desk. In the first few months we would get a call announcing our male guest. A very reliable, fail-proof security setup. Over time our trusty guards would wave them on up. The question now, on reflection, is… Were these gentleman callers still welcome in our rooms or were they past boyfriends? We will never know. Thank you, Mr. Vitale and crew, for making sure we were free from harm or risk.

This question is a personal challenge because I have so many terrific memories of my time at Yale. One of my most memorable experiences as a Class Rep was being asked to attend a meeting with some older alumni and administrators about how to improve the coeducation experience for female students. I remember feeling very intimidated meeting with these senior people in a dark wood-paneled room. Eventually I found the courage to bring up issues as varied as the need for salad bars in the dining halls, relocating the women’s bathrooms so they weren’t always so far away, and explaining (when asked!) that female students could also be called by their names, and not ma’am or miss, just like male students. It may sound quaint now but at the time it was really empowering and exhilarating. Maybe my next favorite memory is of attending an immersive Tavistock group weekend on campus. I think it was an assignment for a psychology class? A bunch of strangers gathered in pre-assigned, small, unstructured leaderless groups to “process” the experience of being together in a small room 9 to 5. It was very intense in a fun but other worldly way. It might have been one of my only times being gathered for a class with no idea what to do. It was scary and liberating at the same time. Looking back at that time now, it’s no surprise I became a psychologist.
Susan Klebanoff [DC]

An Old Man Like Me? One of my most vivid memories is also my first. After pulling into Vanderbilt on move in day, my father stepped from our car and, noticing the line of male students being prevented from entering Vanderbilt by the security guards, turned to them and demanded, “Do you boys expect an old man like me (he was 41) to carry my daughter’s baggage upstairs?” Volunteers stepped forward and my father handed each of them a suitcase or a box and convinced the guards to permit his “gun bearers” to enter. I later caught sight of these “porters” in the staircases and entering student rooms until, clutching lists of names and numbers they were shooed out by our RA. I have subsequently wondered if my father, a bit of a rogue in his youth, hadn’t anticipated the result.
Anne Riney [JE]

Off-campus habitats

“El Fataco” crew on Elm Street; by Eric Yopes

“El Fataco” crew on Elm Street; by Eric Yopes

Senior year I lived in a funky off-campus apartment with two fellow Berkeley women. I remember sitting over coffee at the dining table with one of them, J., after dinner or a weekend breakfast. We’d talk and talk, sometimes for hours, about politics, world news, our courses, our plans, really anything. It was the most concentrated and delightful intellectual challenge of my whole Yale experience.
Barbara Johnstone [BK]

Max Becker, Gordon McMahon (now deceased, RIP) and I lived at “Cozy” Beach in East Haven, CT, our Junior and Senior years. A number of other classmates also lived there. The house we lived in our Senior year was directly on the beach and had a permanent volleyball court set up right in our front yard. Our good friend Gary Rinck lived at the Yale Sailing Club in nearby Branford, and occasionally motored over in a Boston Whaler which we tried to ski behind (not too successfully because the boat was propelled by an outboard 35HP and also because the water was mighty cold during the school year). Getting into New Haven for classes was sometimes a challenge (and not because of traffic).
Brent Costello [DC]

Living at Cosey (aka Scuzzy) Beach in East Haven junior year with three other housemates. We had a kitchen, living room and a bedroom with desk for each of us … and one common bathroom. We gathered in the evening, listened to music, dined together taking turns cooking, watched moon rises and espied freighters going by. We avoided scheduling early morning classes and learned how to jam the parking meters around campus so that we could park for free all day.

Famous people

Ken Kesey was invited to speak by the Political Union. They put him up in a guest suite in Pierson. He decided to throw a party with a tank of nitrous oxide. The master of the college and his wife attended. I won’t report on what went on and what was said. Those who know know. But I actually had more fun quizzing Kesey’s old Merry Prankster buddy Ken Babbs about the acid tests, Neal Cassady, and the Furthur bus trip at breakfast the next day.
Steven Kimball [MC]

One of my favorite memories involves a couple I babysat for: Robin and Tappy Wilder. Tappy was a resident fellow in Saybrook. One evening I went to their apartment to watch the kids while they went out to dinner. When I arrived, the place was a shambles, and they weren’t dressed yet. Tappy told me his aunt and uncle were due any minute and I would have to entertain them while he and Robin showered and dressed. His uncle was elderly, fascinating, and very kind. He expressed a great deal of interest in my opinions and asked for a list of my favorite playwrights when he heard that I was a French major. He also gave a fascinating explanation of the visceral power of “Le Chien Andalou.” We talked for about a half-hour. A couple of weeks later, I was talking to a faculty wife who was a good friend of Robin’s. She said, “I heard you had an interesting conversation with Thornton Wilder.” I said, “What are you talking about? How would I come to have a conversation with Thornton Wilder?” She replied, “Tappy’s uncle.” I stammered, “You mean, when Tappy said ‘this is my uncle, Mr. Wilder,’ that was Thornton Wilder?” She nodded. I was in a state of shock – and very embarrassed that I hadn’t included him on my list of favorite playwrights. After I thought about it for a while, I decided that it was a good thing that I didn’t know who he was when we were together. I expect I would have been too afraid to say anything if I had known. When he died a couple of years later, I read several tributes written by some of his former Exeter students. They all said that he always made them feel that he learned as much from them as they from him. I knew exactly what they meant. There aren’t a lot of places where a babysitting gig is going to lead to an encounter with someone like Thornton Wilder. Thank you, Yale.
Cheryl Stein [TC]

It was freshman year, I think, and I was struggling with a paper in one of the sterile cubicles of the Cross Campus Library, where the fluorescent lights and the surreal feeling of being underground somehow deepened my sense of inadequacy. I needed to escape. I needed to procrastinate. I had heard that Jane Goodall was speaking in the Law School auditorium, so I wandered over, finding the hall packed. What followed — and what continued during her subsequent lectures over the next two evenings — was utterly mesmerizing. And, for me, wonderfully cathartic. The captivating stories of the chimpanzees that she was studying (and befriending), the human character of those stories, and Goodall’s own humaneness — her astuteness, her sensitivity, her precision and sympathy, her cultivated, soothing voice: in some way it reassured me, it made me feel that I belonged. I must have finished my paper, although I don’t remember what it was about. What I do remember is the feeling of admiration and wonder, and the sense of possibility.
Dan Laskin [ES]

BB King visits Bill Ferris music class; Jeff Johnson photo

B.B. King visits Bill Ferris’s music class; Jeff Johnson photo

During my senior year I took Prof. William “Bill” Ferris’s course on the History of African American music. B.B. King, the famous blues guitarist, was coming to New Haven for a concert. Prof. Ferris apparently knew King and invited him to speak to our class. King accepted. In advance of King’s visit, Prof Ferris gave a lecture providing historical context for King’s music. He told us that King’s music follows the African tradition of “call and response”, in which a lead singer sings a phrase, a chorus answers, and the song continues with that alternation. Prof Ferris noted that in B.B. King’s music, he sings a phrase, answers with a guitar phrase, throughout the song. When B.B. King spoke to the class, a student asked him if he intentionally follows the African tradition of call and response. King answered, “Heck no. I just can’t sing and play at the same time.” An extra twist to the story is that King then noted that there was a piano in the room, and asked if anyone could play any of his songs. Student William Oppenheimer ’75 timidly raised his hand, and King invited him up to join him on stage. It turned out that Oppenheimer knew King’s music quite well and did such a great job accompanying King on several songs that King invited Oppenheimer to play with him later that week.
Jeff Johnson [CC]

Junior year I entered a campus talent contest with an a cappella trio from Calhoun. Two seniors — Dave Knapp and Kurt Fretthold — and I dressed in bad-ass Jersey Boy leather jackets and shades to sing a morbid pop song from the ’60s called “Teen Angel.” We liked the harmonies and the high school tragedy vibe.

We won a wild ovation from fellow ’Hounies in the preliminary round and were dispatched to the campus-wide finals at Woolsey Hall. Our early success inspired a grand plot for our Woolsey act. Our ’Hounie fans, dressed as “gang members,” would take positions near the stage. After our song, we would storm the stage, eject the MC and claim the prize.

We hadn’t counted on the MC being the Rev. Dr. William Sloane Coffin, the campus legend. I had heard him preach in Battell Chapel and was truly inspired, but I was oblivious to his civil disobedience arrests, anti-draft protests and other confrontations with authority.

When our “Teen Angel” moment in the program arrived, Dr. Coffin introduced us and we took the stage in our leather jackets.  I don’t remember singing, but will never forget the mock-takeover afterwards. Our gang attempted to hustle Dr. Coffin off the stage. I grabbed his elbow but he was steely strong and shook me off easily. Sizing up our school-boy scheme, he stood his ground. “Keep your hands off me,” he protested sternly. “I’ll go, but under my own power.”

He left the stage but our scheme was deflated.
Stu Rohrer [CC]