I had a unique opportunity last June; I got a preview of our 501h Reunion! Charley Barkwill asked me to plan some class programs for 2003, and since I was a delegate to the Democratic State Convention in Worcester the week of the 2002 reunion, I decided to travel out the Mass. Pike a few days early and hang out at Amherst to scout some venues and ideas.
I can't tell you what the feeling was like to just stroll across the campus on a glorious Spring Day. The first thing that struck me was how beautifully-designed the new and renovated buildings are. They're clean and efficient yet warm and tasteful; particularly the renovated Alumni Gym. Kirby Theatre looks just about the same but has been completely modernized backstage. (Watch for Coy, Carington, and Caswell at Kirby in an ambitious production we're putting together for our 50th!)
The second thing that struck me was how little anything had really changed. I know that was the plan, and more's the credit to the planners. But just imagine-freshmen today are soaking up virtually the same environment we all remember! The trees are taller, and the Frost Library is a new and impressive anchor at the North end of the quadrangle. (I do miss Walker Hall's exquisite ugliness.) But so much feels the same. I swear I even recognized some of the beat-up squirrels chattering and scattering toward the War memorial. Deja vu doesn't begin to describe it. I was 17 again, although my stiff joints reminded me that those numbers were in fact reversed!
And hallelujah! Class of '52's Ralph Engelsman and Jack MacKenzie and Gordie Hall all looked much as I remembered them. I recall observing 50-year-class alums during previous reunions and noting how ancient they appeared. But the eye does play tricks and the brain has mysterious filters, so I know you're all going to look terrific in June. I hope your filters return the favor.
On the personal history front, I've been a most fortunate guy. As an unfocussed undergraduate, I had careened from English and Music to Dramatic Arts to, finally, American Studies, all the while writing, writing, writing. Even though I wrote advertising for thirty years, winding up as a Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi in New York, and winning a decent share of advertising awards, I had always secretly wanted to write a book and perhaps a musical. Then I got to do both.
The musical actually came first, and I'm afraid I bored some of you with a presentation on its creation and production last reunion. It has been performed twice since, but never on the scale I'd like. (I do have another one in the works, about three crazy years during which I ran a summer theatre, so we'll see if the second time is the charm.)
The book has been a bit more successful. "The Art of Cause Marketing: How to Use Advertising to Change Personal Behavior and Public Policy" is now in a second (Paperback) edition, $13.95 on Amazon.com (shameless plug!) As our more prolific authors Pete Schrag and Bosh Pritchard would probably tell you, you don't get rich from a book unless it's a best seller. But if you're fortunate, you can do nicely on some of the residual opportunities. The book has sold all over the world, and has become, I'm told, something of a definitive text on "Social Marketing" (the pedantic term for public service advertising.) I know it's assigned a Jot in college marketing classes. It's also a bit of a memoir.
As a result, I get requests for consulting and lectures from around the globe, and there are enough that I can pick and choose the interesting ones. The work is enjoyable and deeply satisfying, and I think, helps keep me young. It's neat being an "expert." You don't have to work so hard to get people to listen. I set up a modest web site (www.causemarketer.com) and buried it in the last chapter. The site "hits" just keep coming, from all over. I still get a thrill receiving an e-mail inquiry from Singapore or Capetown or Milan. What a remarkably interconnected world we're living in.
I remain devotedly married to Pat Kane Earle (Mt. Holyoke '57) who is still the smartest, cutest, most charming woman I ever met. What she continues to see in me, I can't imagine. She, too, has been writing. Her Dance Drama "Made in Folly Cove" had its third performance in October. We live in a winterized renovation of the weekend home we maintained for many years in Gloucester, MA, a town of unparalleled scenic beauty. We have two daughters. The older, Melissa, Skidmore '84, and an about-to-be PhD from Hunter in New York, is a clinical therapist, specializing in recovering drug users, child abuse victims, and post-traumatic stress syndrome. She's currently setting up programs in New York City for the families of 9/11. She unfortunately married the wrong man. They are divorced and these days she is married to her very demanding work.
The younger, Carol, is happily married, to a Brit named Hugo Burnham who, while an undergraduate at Leeds University formed a band called "The Gang of Four" and was briefly a punk rock icon (ask your kids!) Carol majored in dance at Bennington and SUNY Purchase and after a stint working with her husband in music publicity and publishing in LA, returned East with him, settled in Gloucester, produced a grandchild, and returned to dance and choreography. She is co-director of the Windhover Performing Arts Center in Rockport MA with her mentor, Graham/Humphrey dancer Ina Hahn. She also teaches dance at several local colleges. Hugo has pretty much given up the rock and roll life (although he still manages a band or two) and teaches English at a Boston area college. The tattoos give him great cachet in the classroom. Tessie, the two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter is a wonder. All that unconditional love! I know those who have experienced grandparenthood earlier and more often will say "of course!"
It's astonishing to rediscover the miracle of early development, watching that cute little "sponge" soak up all the influences around her, and store them so logically in her memory banks. Fortunately, she has the family love of books, and given the choice between TV and reading will usually pick the latter. She loves to sing and dance and (I swear) bang out primitive tunes on the piano (see photo). When she tires of Sesame Street's "Elmo's Song" she makes one up! What a thrill I get from that.
Politically, despite Winston Churchill's wonderful quote ("a young conservative has no heart; an old liberal has no head") I remain unapologetically a liberal Democrat. That cadre of testosterone-challenged saber-rattlers lurking behind our shallow prep-boy prez scares the hell out of me. Not that Bubba or Stiff AI stirred my heart much either, but I think our civil liberties would stand a better chance of surviving had the voting rolls not been cooked in Florida. So where the hell are the LEADERS that we so desperately need today? There, I feel better now.
My health has been remarkably good. I do have what I know must be a common frustration for most of you. While the chips in my right brain (write brain?) seem to work nicely-I'm convinced that I continue to write better and better- the short-term memory thing drives me nuts! Car keys and glasses vanish with the same regularity as the names of old and good friends.
So wear your name-tag prominently (so I won't call you Algernon or Felix,) and let's catch up in June! I look forward to seeing you all. Even the Republicans.