WE DID IT!!! (Now on to our 40th ... just kidding ... sort of!)

Submitted by Lisa Winston on Wednesday, 9/21/2016, at 10:59 AM

The summer has passed in a whirlwind, autumn officially begins (maybe Your Humble Scribe's personal favorite time of year in beautiful Amherst!), and at least some of us are STILL basking in the afterglow of an absolutely unequivocally FANTASTIC 35th REUNION!

Just a few quick (for me, anyway) comments to try to sum up and give, as they say, "the happy recap" to a long weekend that I think everyone who was there will remember for a long time!

For starters, we absolutely DEMOLISHED the record for total number of alumni attendees for an Amherst 35th Reunion!!! With an OFFICIAL tally of 129 attendees (not even counting their 29 guests, and definitely not counting the handful of folks who came at the last minute because they realized they were missing something special or whatever, and we were so glad to have you!), we broke the previous record of 116 alumni attendees set twice before, in 2005 by the Class of 1970 and in 1986 by the Class of 1951.

While we had a bigger graduating class so could not compete in the "percentage of alumni" category (and we probably never will, because some of those classes from the '50s have had nearly 50% attendance figures!!!!) but our 30.4% was still pretty spiffy!

The weather was gorgeous, though shall we say a little warm for Amherst, even in late May (I am not sure it ever got below 90 degrees in daylight hours), but for the most part the rain held off and it was just glorious ... 

The dorms and houses have all been amazingly refurbished since our days there (and we even got to say goodbye to the social dorms, which were not demolished until after reunion ... those new dorms look terrific as well) ... I spent a good chunk of one sunny day wandering the entire campus with a friend, stepping into old haunts, meeting some of the terrific current students who were there helping to keep things going for us old folks (Hi, Pastor!), and my jaw may be permanently unhinged by what the college has managed to do for each and every dorm ... let me just say that those of us who lived in North or South (the latter for me) as a freshman would never believe the difference ... South today is more beautiful than any of the then-froofy new dorms! Wider hallways, gleaming hardwood floors, sunny alcoves with views of the campus and comfy chairs to socialize and study ... (though they did take down the fire escapes from Pratt -- I loved having a "private balcony" as a senior!)

The panel discussions, presentations, tours and alumni games I got to were inspiring, and while I didn't get to see every single one, I will certainly say that the Class of 1981-sponsored events did us proud! (Although now I feel like a total loser for not having pursued all of my dreams and passions post "first stage of life," I'm working on it, I promise ... get back to me at 40th, okay?)

But I think many folks would agree that maybe the best best best part was just our getting to be together ... the set-up at Hitchcock (formerly Alpha Delta Phi and completely unrecognizable except maybe for the stairway to the former tap room) provided us with a huge tented area right outside, looking onto the town quad (where the spring fair was going on!) ... there was always something to nibble on or eat copiously, depending on the time of day, and there was ALWAYS salmon (I think John Moses is the one to thank for that ... and while it became our unofficial mascot of the reunion weekend, I have to say that for me, at least, there is no such thing as too much smoked salmon!)

From the awesome breakfast spreads to the unbelievably amazing cookout dinners, from the music of DJ Stefan Jackson playing all of our favorite songs from our youth to the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys providing fabulous jazz for our final blowout, I think as many new friendships were forged as old friendships rekindled.

While many of us might have initially gone mainly to reconnect with our old friends, what I didn't expect (at least not to this much of a degree) was how many people I never really got to know while I was at Amherst that I now consider friends for life.  AND you all better be there in 2021!!! I'm taking names.

Anyway ... as your newly-elected (and to this point probably really disappointing) Web site editor and social media maven, I'll try to keep you all updated here on the college website with goings-on et cetera, but I also wanted to use this chance to share with you our Facebook page info ...

Before you go running in the other direction ... Hey, I KNOW you are online.  You're here reading this, right? So you cannot claim Luddite qualities.

Facebook can be ... well, Facebook-y. But it has its advantages as well, and one of them is the interactive nature ... We've got a PRIVATE Class of 1981 Facebook page, open ONLY to known members of the Class of 1981 (as well as a few of our good friends from '80 and '82 who have asked for entry because they knew our class was much cooler).  There has been fun interaction, a ton of photos (PRIVATE, okay? NO ONE CAN SEE THEM EXCEPT MEMBERS OF THE GROUP), etc. 

It's been a great place for people to share memories but also share what they're doing now ... the talented artists, photographers, etc. have been wowing us just like they did when we were younger ... 

AND, I may add, also impressive and fun has been the chance to also get to see what some of our offspring are doing (yes, we get to share pictures of our kids, our dogs, our cats, our hobbies, our trips ... what have you). 

I'll be uploading a huge photo album from Reunion in the next 24-48 hours and hopefully those of you reading this who are already ON Facebook will enjoy them and feel free to tag yourselves if you want, comment on them, etc. 

And maybe some of you who have felt, ah, nah, Facebook has nothing for me, might consider signing up (you don't have to do ANYTHING else on Facebook ... you can be totally private, you don't have to become friends with your stepmother's aunt's neighbor's kid who wants to snapfacepchatgrab with you ... NOTHING but just be in the Amherst Class of 1981 group ...

Well, okay, you can friend me (I'm there as Lisa Winston Wilentz) and I can add you to the group.

The group is listed as Amherst Class of 1981 and here is the link to help you find it ... https://www.facebook.com/groups/123453904381094/

We also have a much less prevalent presence on Instagram (as 1981Amherst) and Twitter (again, as 1981Amherst) but those were more for sharing during Reunion.  But you can still use it!  And if you have photos you'd like to share on Instagram, PLEASE send them to me (and this e-mail address goes for anything/everything if you'd like to communicate with me!):


See? I love you guys so much I made a whole e-mail account dedicated to our class.

And, by the way, as soon as I get the dates for the 40th Reunion I'll let you all know so you can circle them in your five-year calendar.  That darned Class of 1970 had 132 people for THEIR 40th so we need to get on the stick!

And I think we may be looking for volunteers for Reunion Committee members and a chair or two for that ... okay.  I'll hold off on that until at least 2017 or 2018.



A 35th REUNION Welcome/Planning Letter From Our Intrepid Co-Chairs!

Dear Amherst '81 Classmates,

We hope you're enjoying the fall. With this letter we'd like to update you on our 35th-year Reunion planning activities.

Since our August letter, many of you have volunteered to serve on the various reunion committees and have begun initial planning. Our reunion conference calls and our planning meeting at Homecoming last weekend have truly inspired us. Reconnecting with Amherst friends fills our hearts with memories of the special place and the special relationships we shared many years ago.

It's not too late to join a Reunion committee: program, attendance, souvenirs, headquarters, food and beverage, Saturday banquet, entertainment, recreation and questionnaire. If you're interested, please let us know.

Even if you can't commit to working on a committee, we encourage you to participate in the pre-Reunion activities. For example, Neil Corwin and his questionnaire committee will solicit your responses to an entertaining and interesting survey. Stefan Jackson and Ellen Peck, our entertainment committee co-chairs, will solicit names of your favorite tunes from our college years for a Reunion countdown playlist.

Reunion registration forms will arrive via USPS beginning in January/February. If you need to update your address or any other contact information with the college, please do so by visiting this link. In the meantime, mark your calendars for a fun and memorable 35th-year class Reunion weekend: Thursday, May 26 to Sunday, May 29, 2016!


Sam and Liz DeSimone
Class of '81 Reunion Co-Chairs

404-423-0774 (Sam)
404-987-9028 (Liz)


Yes, you read that right! THREE MORE WEEKS until our 35th Reunion ...

And, for now at least, an even more notable timeline:  DEADLINE TO REGISTER IS MAY 15!!! Just 10 days left to get off that lovely bubble you're sitting on and click a few links and officially become a part of what is sure to be a long weekend to remember ... 

Sure, there will be pictures you can look at afterwards online, or you can follow along from afar on any assortment of social media (more on that below), but it will be so much more fun for you -- and for us, your classmates who will be there -- if you, yes you (fill in the blank), are there! 

As of this writing, our class registration list was at 99 people (not including non-alumni spouses and guests) ... Reaching the sort-of magic number 100 seems very do-able ... We have an ever-so-outside shot at setting a record for alumni attendees for a 35th reunion of 116 set way back when ... but regardless of the official number, it's going to be a magic one no matter what!

UPDATE: All hail Glenn Blumstein for being magic registrant No. 100! Everyone buy him a free drink at our open bar!

So now, while you're reading this and online and not distracted by everything else, if you are not already registered, go clear out those days on your desk calendar (mine, of course, are bordered in purple sharpie), and go to the registration page and SIGN UP.  We'll wait here for you to get back ...

Okay, you're back? You've registered? You're coming? EXCELLENT.

So, now that that's taken care of, what can you look forward to?

The "official college-wide list" of events are already here on the website (that panel on the left is chock-full of newsy goodness and info) and there is already an amazing and intriguing list of discussions and presentations on the agenda starting as early as Wednesday for those of you who are arriving early.


Your intrepid social media/website geek for the weekend is only sorry that "cloning oneself into several parts for Reunion Weekend" is not on the list of activities, because I am already trying to figure out how I can go watch the Alumni Baseball Game at 1 p.m. on Saturday AND simultaneously be at our Class of '81 discussion about "What's Next ..." for the empty-nesters among us embarking on that next stage in life (because, apparently, moving in with my daughter to provide her a full-time dog-walker and eventual baby-sitter is not an option. Boo.)

But yes, a separate list of panel discussions sponsored by the Class of '81 will be provided very soon ... that said, ALL discussions and events and alumni games and parties and dances on the official "Reunion Events" schedule are open to everyone, regardless of age! (Okay, maybe not the kids carnival.)

However, We The Class Of 1981 have got on tap several events "just for us" ... with much more specific details forthcoming, from the time you arrive in Amherst, be it Wednesday afternoon when doors open (2 p.m. is official "lift off") until after an awesome Sunday farewell brunch (okay, coffee, which is really what we'll all want anyway), our headquarters at Hitchcock (aka Alpha Delta Phi to those of you who remember houses by their old frat names) will be the place to be (well, except when we're at Valentine and the Powerhouse) to mingle with friends old and new (and their offspring and in some cases their offspring's offspring). 

A very general early note for those of us trying to decide where and when we'll eat (and drink) ...

HQ opens for those staying there on Wednesday at 2 p.m. (ditto for those staying in dorms) but there are no official plans for meals or "social events" that day/evening (I'm sure we'll come up with something ... dibs on the Judie's popovers, though since Judie's does not take reservatons I may have to camp outside overnight like I did for Springsteen tickets in Greenfield, Mass., senior year!)

Thursday evening we'll have cocktails and appetizers on site, and our intrepid co-chairpeople, Sam and Liz (I'm already hoisting a large glass to you guys!) have suggested that Thursday would also be a good time for people to maybe organize a group hike (bring hiking shoes), get together a tennis match and/or basketball game (bring tennis and/or basketball shoes) or do anything else for fun and frolic (bring appropriate fun and frolic shoes). 

Friday night and Saturday night will be filled with more fun, more music, food, drinks, and dancing (you know what I'm going to say about shoes here, right?) ... Friday night's playlist will be handled by intrepid DJ Steve Jackson and on Saturday we will be moving to the tunes of a live band.  You may also be entertained by some multimedia slideshows/videos (oh God, were we ever really that young?) as well as special entertainment courtesy of a few of your classmates!

More details to come ... but bring tons of energy, dancing shoes, and maybe a bottle of Aleve (just me? All righty then.)  Oh, and leave those inhibitions at the door! 

I've already rambled on far too much (ya think?) but do want to remind you of the other places you can follow along, both in advance of the event, during the weekend, and afterwards ... 

FACEBOOK:  We have an Amherst Class of 1981 Facebook group that currently has 111 members -- 45 of whom are coming to Reunion!!! -- but it is not strictly limited to reunion-related info.  That just happens to be the hot topic right now.  If you're on Facebook and you haven't joined, please do ... it's a fun group and there are cool pictures!

TWITTER:  The Class of 1981 now has a Twitter presence (it's almost worth checking it out just to see our "profile picture" ... it's at 1981Amherst and will be an outlet for anyone who tweets (I'm sorry, I cannot get used to that as a verb even having been on The Twitterz since 2009). (And yes, I just used The Twitterz ironically). Just use the hashtag #1981Amherst for anything you'd like picked up!

INSTAGRAM:  As with Twitter, our "Instagram presence" will be at 1981Amherst and using the hashtag #1981Amherst.  If you think you would like to be part of our Instagram "team" at Reunion, sharing photos for everyone, just let intrepid social media person know (my e-mail is LisaAmherst1981@gmail ... stop laughing) and I will give you the password so you too can post AS 1981Amherst.  

I think that's all for now ... (did anyone actually make it this far?)

ANY questions you may have, please send them along ... again, that addy: LisaAmherst1981@gmail.com ... if I don't know the answer, I'll know who to ask and that's half the battle!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FROM FEBRUARY:  Happy Valentine's Day to all ... and while the name may evoke for most people chocolates, flowers and listening to cheesy love songs, I can't be the only one who hears "Valentine" and thinks of the hundreds (thousands?) of meals eaten there over four amazing years (please note: I did not write "amazing meals eaten there over four years"), looking forward to finding out what the special ice cream of the week would be, calling the hotline to listen to Bob Follette tell us that week's menu ... and, of course, looking forward to the inevitable chance to socialize and chat and occasionally flirt in whatever "our" dining room was ... the Garden, "Veggie," East (where most freshmen started their journeys IIRC) and ... was the fourth one West? A few years ago I would have remembered. I can picture it. I know you'll all help me out on that one.

I also seem to recall that the Valentine lobby served as the voting spot for the 1980 presidential election -- the first time I voted! Does anyone else remember that or am I misremembering again?

As your intrepid (if forgetful) social media person, I look forward to seeing all of you who will be attending our 35th Reunion and look forward to seeing how much Valentine has changed (and how much, if anything, HASN'T changed).

But for now, just sharing an update to all regarding our 35th Reunion and where things stand as we count down ... just over three months away!

By now, you all should have gotten your yellow registration forms, in the snail mail and/or online, and hopefully have circled the dates of May 25-29 (or any dates therein) on your desk calendars, pocket calendars, wall calendars and anywhere else you may use (yeah, I overdo it but .., again, that memory thing!)

Registrations have started to come in, slowly but surely, and while you have some time (deadline is May 15th), PLEASE don't hesitate to send in your registration forms and let us know you'll be joining us!

This Amherst College site (you know where it is, since you're reading this!) has added a great link, if you haven't already found it ...

If you look on the left, you'll see the dropdown menu for "Quick Links" ... and if you click on "Reunion," it will take you to the page which not only has every single piece of information you will need for the big event, but also a link for "Who's Coming" ... this will keep us all updated on who has registered! God, I love the internet.

The Program Committee has been hard at work batting around ideas for programs, discussions and even experiential activities that can be sponsored by the Class of 1981 (either solely or in conjunction with another Reunion class) ... We hope to have the ideas formalized and locked in by the next newsletter.

Other committees are also hard at work (okay, hard at fun) sharing ideas and sometimes lively debate about entertainment, music, food, recreational activities, and the like. Safe to say, attendees are going to have a GREAT time during Reunion Weekend.

As mentioned before, our headquarters for the weekend will be Hitchcock, which was better known as Alpha Delta Phi when we were at Amherst. it's been fully renovated and now consists of 70 or 71 single rooms and one double (accessible). I believe alternative on-campus housing is available in some of the dorms if you're coming with significant others or kids (I remember staying in the social dorms at my last reunion), and, of course, there are hotels in the area but those are probably filling up pretty quickly. No word on whether the basement tap is still functional there.

So, a few items of social media-related reunion business!

After much thoughtful and creative input, WE HAVE A HASHTAG for the event ... ready? It's #1981Amherst . 

But, you ask, why do we need a hashtag? Well, we will have an Instagram account with which we can share photos from the weekend, as well as for those who may want to share photos of the weekend on other social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter), this way we can all "find" each other ... just add the #1981Amherst hashtag and voila! 

The Instagram account is at 1981Amherst ... there's nothing there yet but feel free to follow it ... and more information to come at a later date on how we can all share photos there!

This way, even for those who can't be there in body, we can all be there in spirit thanks to the wonders of the internet.

I'll wrap things up for now ... but if you have any ideas, want to share any messages or shoutouts to folks, have any questions, have photos you'd like me to upload to the Instagram account, or just want to send along a list of songs you think should be on the Class of 1981 Playlist as background music (more on that in the next update letter!), PLEASE feel free to e-mail me at:

LisaAmherst1981@gmail.com (yes, I created a dedicated e-mail address JUST for the big event!).

Looking forward to seeing everyone in May!


 * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FROM OCTOBER:  We just passed the seven-month countdown (shorter than most pregnancies, so that's something!) ...

Planning continues in its early stages to make the Class of 1981's 35th Reunion a "dontcha dare miss" (as 16 Magazine editor Gloria Stavers used to say ... what?  I'm the only person here who used to religiously read 16?  All righty then).

If you haven't read the post-Homecoming letter from our amazing co-chairs, Sam and Liz DeSimone, that should have popped up in your e-mail box, we've also pasted it here on the class webpage so be sure to check it out ... it's got lots of tidbits of info as well as some updates on our committees ...

Again, we welcome and invite anyone who'd like to be an active part of the planning (or even a slightly passive part of it) to step up and volunteer ... it will not be all work and sweat, but rather fun, rewarding, and an additional way to get in touch with your classmates to make this a truly memorable long weekend!

If you're a Facebook person (or would like to be), please come join the interactive fun on our Class Page there (just hit "request to join" and one of the admins -- Kim Hedberg, Liz Andersen or website editor Lisa Winston -- will add you! (And keep the spammers out -- seriously, we've had more than a few people try to join. So if you're using a totally new and unrecognizable name, please let us know who you are!)

Also, if you REALLY love social media, we invite you to submit an awesome and unique hashtag that we can use for our social media accounts (Facebook! Twitter! Instagram!) for the event itself.

SO, to recap, class:  Reunion! Volunteers! Join the fun! Save the dates (May 26-29, 2016)! Updates here! Join Facebook Group http://tinyurl.com/Amherst35th ...


Sam DeSimone and Liz Hartzell DeSimone -- SRDeSimone@earthlink.net


David Bailin

Becky Ballard DiLoreto (Co-Chair)

Tom Bak

Jerome de Bontin

Emily Rubin Jennewein

John Torpey (Co-Chair)

Michele Crames Zenkel


Les Boney

Becky Ballard DiLoreto

Chris Hall

Kim Hedberg -- BoulderKim2007@yahoo.com

Cam Hutchins

Peter Putnam

Don Strait

Lisa Winston (Website Editor) -- LisaWinstonBaseball@gmail.com 


Amy Stevenson (Chair)

HEADQUARTERS COMMITTEE: (Our HQ will be Hitchcock, aka AD)

Lisa Halbert (Local Representative)

Stuart Warner (Chair)


John Moses (Chair)

Brendan Patterson


Stefan Jackson (Co-Chair)

Ellen Peck (Co-Chair)


David Bailin (Co-Chair)

Noah Gotbaum (Co-Chair)


TBA (Think wiffle ball, scavenger hunt, cornhole, etc.!)


Kim Hedberg (Chair)


Neil Corwin (Chair)

Michele Crames Zenkel

Cam Hutchins

Lisa Winston 

And a whole bevy of folks who prefer to remain anonymous for now, at least!

* * * * * 

There will be so much more information coming soon, but for now we hope many of you will circle the dates (or at least SOME of them) and plan to join us for what is sure to be a great and memorable few days!