Alumni Reflect on College Years
Alumni from the Classes of 1945, 1950, and 1960 have convened on campus to reminisce and reunite.
These graduates, celebrating their 65th, 60th, and 50th reunions, respectively, have been treated to lectures, meals, and entertainment since the celebrations began on Monday.
W. Richard Haddad ’60 said that he is enjoying seminars on topics such as health care policy and staying fit while aging.
“Harvard is the gold standard when it comes to reunions,” he said.
Stanley L. Gordon ’60 said that he was impressed by Monday night’s Classmates Cabaret, at which members of his class performed pieces ranging from bluegrass banjo to Germanic opera.
“I’m very impressed with the accomplishments [of my classmates],” Gordon said, pointing out graduates who have made “really major contributions” in fields ranging from science to politics.
“It’s just nice to refresh and recollect and sense how time passes,” Haddad said. “Reunions are bittersweet.”
“What is surprising is to see all your classmates,” Donald T. Wesling ’60 said. “They were unlined, gorgeous, lithe 18-year-olds. They’re recognizably the same people, but they have changed in their appearances so much.”
Gordon said that in some cases he has not recognized his erstwhile acquaintances. At lunch, he sat next to a man who lived two rooms away from him in Matthews Hall during their freshman year, but neither remembered the other.
“If they don’t have their name tag on, you could be walking by one of your best friends on the street and not recognize him,” he said. “There’s a certain sadness and poignancy to it.”
Others said that they have spent time “memorializing our departed friends,” according to Eric K. Petschek ’45.
Several alumni discussed the changes that have occurred at Harvard over the past half-century or more. Most notably, Harvard and Radcliffe have merged; Gordon said he was struck by this change when he heard University President Drew G. Faust state in a speech to alumni on Monday that some Harvard classes are now more than half female.
Gordon also noted that more Harvard students nowadays hail from public high schools, adding that there seems to be “more stress on athletics” today.
Haddad mentioned the changes to Harvard Square. “I’m sorry to see more chains,” he said. “It seems to have lost some of the character that I remember.”
“When they came in 1940, there were waiters and crystal in the dining halls,” Betty Petschek said about her husband’s class. “That changed when World War II started.”
Petschek—who served in the Navy and returned to finish his degree, like many of his classmates—said that the experience of World War II left a profound impact on his class.
“I think the whole class is very unified. They all had World War II experience,” Betty Petschek said.
The 25th, 35th, and 70th reunions begin today, and alumni celebrating their 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th reunions will join the revelry tomorrow.
—Staff writer Julie M. Zauzmer can be reached at email@example.com.