Letters to Class of 1963 Reunion Books
Amherst Class of 1963 Twenty-fifth Reunion
February 1, 1988
Dr. Frank Bragg
267 Forest Ave
Bangor, ME 04401
It was great to talk to you on the phone today – it brought back good memories – you seemed much the same – maybe mellower – and I’d bet a success at your interest in the human side of medicine. (Would Pritchard, or better yet, DeMott, approve of this writing style – is there yet another B-evaluation of my soul in this effort?)
At any rate, the phone call probably provided the final push to sit down and write – and it seemed easier to write to you rather than some sort of faceless entity (Gentlemen:? Classmates:? To Whom it May Concern:?) And I suppose our joking around about “midlife crisis” is part of it too – taking the opportunity to look briefly at the past in the context of wrestling with the number of years left for the hard physical activities I enjoy – manual farm labor on our small ranch, hunting in the mountains of Montana, fly-fishing, while continuing to hold down a relatively fast paced job pressured by self-generated pressure.
So – to the reflections, perhaps some history. (Does Amherst come first in this? Where are you, Ben, when I need you?) At any rate, it never fails to amaze me that when I think about Amherst, my first reaction is always what being there did for me personally, rather than intellectually. When I went there, I think I was in what I’d call “social shock.” I had grown up on farms in Vermont and in the backwoods of Maine (much further back than Bangor) and then gone to Andover for my junior and senior years. Fairly or not, the value system there seemed to be all rich, clothes, cool and spend enough money to get accepted to an Ivy League school. I hardly “fit.” I always believe that the Dean at Andover and Bill Wilson (they were fishing buddies) conspired to get me into a small school where I might survive.
Amherst made a tremendous difference – by and large a group of people who accepted you for who you were, didn’t evaluate people by how much money they had or what brand of clothes they wore, etc. and who were primarily interested in learning something. Whatever – that environment of students, faculty and administration (as well as a small college athletic program that could accommodate someone of my level of coordination) allowed me to develop some self-confidence and sort of “get on with things.”
When I think of Amherst from the viewpoint of its intellectual contribution, I still believe the only appropriate word is “respect.” The demands and the standards I still feel are responsible for whatever levels of intellectual curiosity, creativity and love of reading that I have developed. They’ve stood me in good stead. And finally – I just had a really good time there.
Since June of 1963, time has accelerated – as you might expect. Four months at Newsweek, 6 months in the Marine Corps reserve (John Sabetta and I were supposed to go to Europe – in September I received a draft notice). Two years at Stanford Business School (they were hungry for liberal arts graduates to go with their engineers in those days), Atlanta, Georgia for a year, back to San Francisco for six years. Those were my “driving fancy cars and smoking big cigars” days – large corporate clients, money, pressure and travel – lots of it.
In 1970, married Karen Marion (we met back in Atlanta – remind me to tell you the story) and had our first daughter, Shannon in 1972. By 1973, it became pretty clear that I needed to make a choice between pressure/travel demands and divorce. We opted out, and moved to San Joaquin Valley of California – with a large broiler company. While we periodically move from the country to town and back, we’ve been here ever since. Our second daughter, Amber, was born in 1976. Since you seem to be ahead of me, I will look to you for advice in June on raising teenage daughters. During the moving and family raising Karen slugged it out in school and received her PhD in psychology last July. I have realized a 15 year ambition to now be introduced as Dr. and Mr. Bryant.
I’m looking forward to seeing you.
/s/ Steve Bryant