Class of 1958 50th Reunion
July 25-27, 2008
Summary by Jean Verlaney Houston:
I'm going to take a stab here at a summary of the reunion, for those who weren't there. For those who were, please feel free to offer corrections.
First I should say that I wasn't even sure at the outset that I would go to the reunion. And once in the hotel, it took a bit of girding up to go downstairs and start finding people after 50 years. I guess a bit of apprehension is normal! But having said that, I had a great time, and I think others did, too!
We actually started the reunion a little early. I was so intrigued by Roger Dewey's bio and stories that we arranged to meet him and Clare for lunch in Boston before coming to Albany. It was a really enjoyable two hours, and I wish I had that amount of time with each of you. The Deweys have done some great work.
Now I'll list those involved in the reunion. If I've left anyone out, please chime in.
Bill Airey, Mary Lou Bentley, Tom Cantwell, Harold Chambers, Elaine Cohen, Stephanie Condon, Roger Dewey, Nancy Einhorn, Margy Fisher, Cynthia Frommer, John Garman, Doreen Goldberg, Sue Goldman, George Hartman, Bob Killough, Clay Knapp, Larry Kupperberg, Ed Nichols, Carole Rathbun, Diana Reed, Bill Reepmeyer, Adrienne Rosen, Char Sackman, Pat Scoons, Ed Sells (in a cameo role), Brud (Bob) Snyder, Steve Ten Eyck, and Jean Verlaney (and many spouses).
The weather was great, and I thought the hotel was a great choice. I used the health club and saw Harold Chambers in the pool. He had been the first Milnite I encountered in the hotel (after I mistakenly approached a woman of a certain age and asked if she were there for the Milne reunion!). Bill Reepmeyer soon joined us, we three had a good chat, and I was lauched into the reunion! Then I spotted Brud Snyder going into our meeting room to check things out. Soon others started arriving; the sad news that circulated was that Jane Armstrong, due to travel difficulties, wouldn't be coming after all. We enjoyed a buffet dinner of pasta prepared to order, fresh fruit, and a cash bar. Brud announced that Larry Kupperberg had called to say he'd be delayed, and at that moment, right on cue, in walked Larry and his wife. Larry gave us news of Igor.
Brud proved to be a great emcee on all occasions. He presented some trivia questions for us. One was, which faculty member appeared in a photo wearing white socks? The answer was Mr. Howes, the guidance counselor. Another question asked what game was played by Dr. Fossieck and Mr. Howes (I believe); the answer was chess. Harking back to a bizarre Milne practice, Brud posed the question of who the upperclassmen were who gobbed our class. Others raised other questions, such as who were the students who took an advanced math class at State? (Roger Dewey, George Lejnieks, and others.)
Brud called George Hartman in the hospital, holding a microphone up to his cell phone so that George could hear us shout greetings. Bob Killough had received nice notes from Katie Simmons and Abby Perlman, who could not attend, and Abby sent pictures of her family.
The next day, we had a tour of Milne. Brud quickly allayed the anxiety of a woman security guard, who seemed a bit worried about keeping us corraled. Things are largely familiar, mainly due to Milne being used as Rockefeller College, with which Dick Nathan, a Milnite from an earlier Milne class, was associated. It was really evocative to walk through the old halls 50 years later. Brud had made arrangements with a tour guide who couldn't be there but had kindly left a power point presentation and various handouts showing the layout of Milne's classrooms and its history. I had forgotten the up and down staircases. We walked about, identifying this room and that, and on the third floor were amazed to see that some of the classroom doors and at least one drinking fountain seemed to be the ones from 50 years ago. The library murals are lovely, and above them is a handsome frieze. (I'm not sure that I appreciated the neat archictectural elements of Milne when I was there.) Miss Jackman's Desk of Power is no longer there, but we could imagine it. The fact that I had no memory of the Reference Room does not speak well of my earlier research efforts....The home ec room and art room are quite changed, but Page Auditorium looked exactly the same to me. A few of us sang our Alma Mater as best we could, and I remembered the singalongs we had, sitting in our seats in the auditorium. We looked down at the gym from the catwalk, but it's in a state of disrepair. It was still fun to see it.
Lunch was a nice buffet of sandwiches, fruit, cookies, and drinks. Sue Goldman had already developed some of the good pictures she had taken the night before and put them out, saying we could take any one that we were in. Thanks, Sue! Brud told a very funny story of playing basketball against a much taller, richer, and snobbier Albany Academy student. Brud's only recourse, as he told it, was to foul the player as savagely as possible, punching him in the stomach, stepping on his foot, etc. Brud said he received three fouls in the process, but should have fouled out twice....
After lunch, a bunch of us went to see George Hartman at Memorial Hospital. George had had a rough month, but was doing very well when we saw him and was to go home a week ago today. He had things well in hand, having charmed the nurses and being the perfect host to us. I've never had so much fun on a hospital visit. At one point, it was like a cocktail party, with 10 or 12 of us having little conversations, and it was all due to the tone George set, with his good will, humor, and positive attitude. He is sharp as a tack, telling me his grandchildren's ages down to the quarter of a year.
That evening was the banquet at Wolfert's Roost Country Club, with a cash bar and hot hors d'oeuvres before. Sue Goldman took more pictures. The Rev. Clay Knapp gave the benediction and read the names of our departed classmates, with a pause after each name. Diana Reed had visited George Hartman and then went to visit Skip Crane after 50 years. It was good to have news of him. Skip and Diana, sadly, both lost their mothers recently. Ed Sells dropped by the bar and was seen by a few people (Brud, Clay Knapp, and maybe someone else), but not by most. (I would have loved to see you, Ed!) Brud called George again, and we all voiced our greetings and gave him a big round of applause.
The next morning, 20 or more Milnites and spouses took the Aquaducks tour of Albany. This involves an amphibious vehicle which started on land, going through downtown Albany, and then went on the Hudson River. The whole tour lasted about two hours. The staff went all out with a 50s theme: our driver/skipper was dressed as Elvis, with sideburns and cigarettes tucked into his t-shirt sleeve, and the two women were dressed as bobby soxers, one with a poodle skirt and 50s sunglasses. Records hung from the sides of the vehicle. We were issued duck quackers with which to salute the populace as we passed. There were trivia questions about 50s movies and music, and Albany and New York State history (Bob Killough excelled at the latter). Prizes were replica candies from the 50s, etc. Dancing was encouraged toward the end of the cruise, and Char Sackman and Tom Cantwell did a memorable number, climaxing in a kiss involving Char, Tom, and a big pair of false red lips that Char had acquired on the trip. I was glad to see downtown Albany looking in good shape, with its stately buildings, and we passed the site of the Ten Eyck Hotel, where my parents met, and the still-standing First Dutch Reformed Church, where they wed. When our guide mentioned the Tulip Festival and the planting of 200,000 tulip bulbs, we told her with pride of Jane Armstrong being Tulip Queen. Ours was the first group she had encounted who had had a Tulip Queen.
The reunion was over all too soon, and my mind has been working through everything ever since. My husband had told me, based on his college reunions, that it would be an emotional experience, and it was. We all really do have a very special bond based on our exceptional experience at Milne, and it was wonderful to share that bond in person.
Cheers to everyone,
August 4, 2008