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Fall 2005

Classes

Class of 1945W Celebrates its 60th in Print

by Stanley Flink '45W & John Ledes '45W

 

Click above to read John Ledes' history of the Class of 1945W

 

The Class of 1945W produced two books in conjunction with its 60th reunion in the spring of 2005. One of these was edited by William (Mac) Walker and published by John Ledes '45W, who wrote a short essay on the formation of the class – the first to graduate from Yale on an accelerated basis – and compiled a directory of names and addresses illustrated by all manner of classmate photos. The second book, Sequels and Second Acts: The Metamorphosis of Yale 1945W, was published by the Aurelian Honor Society and edited by its member, Stanley E. Flink '45W, and features essays by classmates organized by such topics as politics, medicine, academe, the environment, and religion. Here are the comments of both gentlemen on their efforts, beginning with John Ledes:

A publication should be as creative as a concert by Chopin or Mozart. Unfortunately, most people cannot look at a one-time effort like a reunion directory to come up with a concert. My first thought was getting facts, color and images together in a way that would be memorable.

For facts, I went to the AYA's database, which was emailed to us. We wrote a computer program to sort out the data in a format that had the type in a readable and viable layout. We went to members of the Class of 1945W for photographs, in color, which we could reproduce graphically.

The format size of 8 " x 11" was needed so that we could produce the 60th 45W Directory in 64 pages with a cover. For editorial, I raided my personal files, went to Yale's Library for memorabilia and resorted to recollections of those incredible years.

It was 2005 technology in graphics, which made the 1945W 60th Directory possible. My devoted staff and the wonderful AYA ladies, who helped, made up the human force that made the 60th Directory happen. Two charities have asked us to create such a directory for them. Should 1945W charge a royalty?

Stanley Flink writes: Over the last decade…I have seen and talked to a large enough number of classmates to have gathered that much was going on in their worlds. It struck me that a collection of their retirement experiences would be interesting to read…. I have been particularly impressed by the energy and determination of so many classmates in what can surely be called an active life. My evidence, of course, anecdotal, but the depth and variety of interests I encountered in casual conversations suggested a pattern well worth exploring. Rather than looking back from a remove of more than half a century, I believe the narrative of looking forward in the twilight of our lives is compelling….

Why do we find so many old and new interests in our seventh and eighth decades? I am reminded of an English lady I knew who said, 'I have nothing to live for except macaroni and memorial services.' If I had to explain the adaptation to new interests, I would suggest that time has sharpened our sensibilities. Our seniority can provide us with greater freedom. We can and do travel, widely and exotically. We also volunteer for public service without too much sanctimony, and we follow out intellectual curiosity down many corridors.

Jefferson recommended a democracy of opportunity and an aristocracy of talent. The 115 members (including nine widows) of 1945W, who wrote to me regarding their so-called retirement years, described unexpected opportunities and a talent for persistence. If there is some connective tissue in these accounts, it is the defiance of time. That translates into personal concerns. Family is always in the forefront, but so too, and quite frequently, are the less fortunate or most deserving in our various communities. There is no lack of generosity. Small wonders and large ideas seem to follow. What we try to do in our senior years is limited only by physical well being. After all, imagination is always young.

Perhaps some of you will wonder, as I have, in putting these pieces together and in speaking to so many of the participants by phone, whether youth is wasted on the young. Clearly, many of us appear to have learned more since we left New Haven then what we were able to gather while we were there. One, or both, has put us in charge of our own denouements which is the essence of this collection. As to F. Scott Fitzgerald's mistaken presumption that 'there are no second acts in American lives' – read on, read on."

Excerpts from Sequels and Second Acts

" There is no question that the student experience – that is, becoming a trainer of a dog that will then go on to become extremely important in the life of a disabled person – can become very emotional. Having an Assistance Dog doesn't make like simpler automatically. It requires a period of adjustment. When student trainers realize how much they have to learn or how hard they're going to work, they tend to pull together as a group…. Sometimes, friendships develop between trainers that are not unlike the friendship that develops between the dog and a disabled person."

"My chief passion…is now music. A completely unforeseen, irresistible urge to compose came to me one fine day about two years before I retired…. I enrolled as a freshman at UCSB, where I had taught for 33 years, and was awarded by new B.A. in Music…. I have been furiously setting notes to paper ever since…. In retrospect, I now realize that I was unconsciously preparing for this all my life – that even those qualities of French poetry and fiction that most intrigued me were, in large part, qualities that literature shares with music. I am presently working on a setting for a short excerpt from Emile Zola's preliminary notes for L'Oeuvre…. I am almost eighty as I write this. I may never live to see this piece and many of my other compositions performed, but the active creation can itself be a source of great pleasure."

"Writing [a historical novel] turned out to be quite different from what I had imagined. My first attempts were rather feeble. The problem was not the proverbial writer's block, but rather that I began to realize that good novels are about feelings, and I have never been good at expressing feelings. But very gradually, partly thanks to my teachers, partly by struggling, I began to learn to open up. What followed was an unexpected and interesting (to me, anyway) voyage of self-discovery."

We welcome reader's submissions and comments. Please contact Jennifer Julier, Assistant Director for Yale College Classes, Association of Yale Alumni, 232 York Street New Haven, CT 06520 aya@yale.edu (203) 432-2586