REPORT by an Old Grad, back from Class Reunion at Alma...

salmagundi

June 09, 1994

REPORT by an Old Grad, back from Class Reunion at Alma Mater:

"Weather was perfect; the campus, after the onslaught of one more academic year, was astonishingly beautiful; the students having lit out for summer scenes, we had the place blessedly to ourselves.

"Carrying our luggage from the carpark into a dorm, I at once crossed paths with a guy I'd seen before, somewhere. He greeted me by name, and kindly told me his. The college's director of development.

"But not one thing did he say about endowment campaign, estate planning or even annual giving. He must actually remember my income bracket. I relaxed.

"That evening, we had a class dinner, the 20 or so of us, mostly times two. It was off-campus, at the home of one guy who still hasn't entered a retirement community. Good stuff, except afterward when we attempted one or two of the college songs. Some of the wives giggled.

"Lunch next day, in the field house, was the big event -- for all the five-year-anniversary classes and any other returning alumni. Many a familiar name: Walter Sondheim, Mac Mathias, Steve Sachs, Ron Reno, Jim Bready, John Watt. But, Walter noted, the farthest back these rallyrounds go is commencement plus 65. The college sponsors no 70th anniversary reunion.

"Anyone still alive and attending would be in his 90s, and perhaps a bit fragile. Sitting there at lunch, though, the half dozen members of '29 looked good; especially, Walter.

"One of our guys had just run a lap around the college's new, all-weather track. And that evening, after the closing dinner, another (the best gymnast, 55 years ago) dazzled us by shedding his jacket and doing a single, perfect headstand. Haverford, and fitness, forever.

"What are small, liberal arts colleges like, now when going there costs $25,000 a year? A story circulated. One way to rate colleges is by student-faculty ratio. The average is about one to 10. A neighboring college, it seems, boasts a ratio of one to five. It also has a sabbatical-leave policy of every fourth year, not the customary seven. Thus it can list scads of professors and instructors -- many of whom simply aren't there, teaching. Trickiness lives.

"We left, enjoining one another to be there in 1999, to stay alive. If we individually are a little bit shorter now than in our vigorous and splendid youth, well, so's five years."

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