At the 50th reunion headquarters in Quincy courtyard, a welcome sign stretches the length of the reception tent. There is a pile straw hats detailed with crimson trim and a large button that says “’62,” which alumni wore throughout the day on Monday as they rediscovered the campus they left 50 years ago.
“I think that, for us, it is just a wonderful experience,” said Robert W. Ashmore ’62.
The 50th reunion brought together alumni from around the world, many of whom have not seen each other in decades.
“I met my freshman roommate, and its been 50 years since I last saw him,” said Robert W. Mitchell ‘62. “It feels like I just saw him last week.”
Some alumni were conspicuously missing from the reunion, but not forgotten.
“Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, was in our class,” said Gary G. Peterson ‘62. “It’s funny. He’s more famous than anyone else in our class.”
Others met students who shared the campus 50 years ago for the first time.
“The reunions are a wonderful time to meet people you knew then, people you’ve known in the interim, and more significantly connect with people you never knew and you now have an opportunity to meet,” said Roberta F. Benjamin ’62.
For women who graduated from Radcliffe, this proves to be the case especially frequently. Although the women took many of the same classes as Harvard men, the two institutions were still very distinct when they graduated.
“You have to recall that when we were undergraduates, in Radcliffe as the women’s component of the undergraduate student body, we were about 22 percent of the student body,” Benjamin said. “It was a very different mentality that formed the undergraduate education.”
Yet many remember Harvard as a place to grow as individuals and mature in their points of view.
“It was a very edifying experience,” said John E. Kurnick ’62. “I think a lot of us came here as either committed extreme left-wing or extreme right-wing and after spending a lot of time in the dorms and at the lunch tables hashing things out, the left-wingers didn’t become right-wingers nor vice versa but we all moderated our position towards something that we could defend more easily.”
But Kurnick fondly recalled the Harvard curriculum and the hours he poured into his academics back in 1958, particularly Expository Writing, which he says was then called “Gen Ed A.”
“I came back to the dorm room and said that the name of Gen Ed A has just been changed to Gen Ed C-,” he joked.
—Staff writer Fatima N. Mirza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.