Yale '62 - Crackling with Excitement - Honneus on Yale

Honneus on Yale

"Crackling with Excitement"

Yale is looking good. Walking around the campus gives you a very new feeling. Even in the gloomy weather so often endured in New Haven in November, 40 degrees and rain, the overall feeling I got was optimism. Yale feels like it is moving forward. The students still look scruffy but they are smiling. One half of Cross Campus was full of male students playing pick-up soccer and the other half belonged to four female students demonstrating a mastery of Frisbee throwing I never imagined possible! In short, Yale, to me, is crackling with excitement.

Ginny, our son Bill and I were in New Haven on Saturday, November 8, for a Yale Rep production. This was part of our 41st wedding anniversary celebration. Both of us being Theatre majors, we don't take expensive vacations; we go to the theatre and ballet instead. After seeing "Black Dahlia", taken from a James Elroy novel, we have decided we will go see the Rep do classics but not new plays. We have seen two recently and our time could have been much better spent.

We parked the car, walked down York Street and there was Barrie's. Dark, empty, closed and gone. It will be interesting to see what Yale Properties puts in the space. The current YAM article on Barrie's has Director of University Properties David Newton calling Barrie's location "arguably the best corner in that district". Hmmnn?! We'll see. Can Starbucks be waiting in the wings? NEWS FLASH, the manager of Barrie's has made a deal with J.Press and will be opening a Press shoe department in the Spring. They have lined up all of Barrie's suppliers and so no one need be barefoot in New Haven.

After mourning Barrie's for a moment, we had dinner at Mory's. This being a football weekend, there were two sittings. The early sitting was full. Mory's was Mory's. The food was OK, club food being club food but if Mory's could ever get its entrees, salads and vegetables up to the quality of its gazpachos and its desserts, Michelin would award it four stars! The ambiance was unchanged and unchangeable. As the largest private club in the world, Mory's does have its unique place in the Yale world.

But what I really want to convey in this space is that Yale is looking terrific. You can read in the latest YAM an article about President Levin's first decade about the renovation of the colleges, the new Linsley-Chit, the scrubbed Harkness Hall and the new Science buildings but you have to see it to really get it. Saybrook and Branford gleam; Berkely and Sterling Library dance together at the head of Cross Campus.

Now you must realize that I was one of those folks who said clean up the interiors, re-wire the colleges for computers and the internet, fix the broken bathroom fixtures but "please do not clean the exteriors. They are just beginning to look old" You don't hear anyone suggesting that Oxford and Cambridge need to be cleaned do you? And our colleges only date from the 1930's or the '20's for Saybrook and Branford. Of course, New College at Oxford dates from 1304 or something like that.

Was I wrong! The campus not only looks great, it does not feel tired anymore. It hasn't been until very recently that I realized it had looked tired. Seeing it now in its new (old) glory, the contrast is stunning. It kind of feels the way I felt when I had painted our house, when we had a house. (Condo living now. Someone else does the painting.) And the High Street closing between Elm and the Law School (just like Old Library Street between York and High) really adds to the feeling of inclusion.

This is being written on the Sunday after the Annual AYA Assembly that ran Thursday through Saturday and The Game. (The less said about The Game, the better!) I was there for the Thursday and Friday sessions on the Collections at Yale and Alumni group development. (More on that in my formal report to follow in a month or so.)

The Friday night AYA dinner found at one table in Commons yours truly, class secretary Kirk MacDonald, Peter Sipple and his wife, Marshall Hamilton, Payson Whitney and Larry Lipscher and his wife. There was a lone member of '63 there too but he seemed kind of lost. All of us were in attendance in some AYA capacity but it quickly turned into the kind of rollicking discussion you might expect. High on the wall above us was an official portrait of George H. W. Bush (the first). This provoked a quick consensus that the policies of his son (the second) were somewhere between idiocy and dangerous. Kirk, Peter and I talked about the consecration of the openly gay Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire and its ramifications. Nothing was settled but we had a great time.

Those of you reading this that are within relatively easy driving distance from New Haven are hereby urged to plan a visit. While the new Art Gallery is closed for renovations, the old Art Gallery is very much open. The British Art Center is also open and fascinating. The Peabody where I bet you haven't been in years is really worth a visit. Restaurants abound on Chapel Street, theatre and music are flourishing and Sprague Hall at the School of Music is newly renovated and reminds me of a mini Carnegie Hall - not visually but acoustically and in feeling.

Don't wait for our 45th Reunion. Come back and enjoy yourselves. The Honneus family really looks forward to its visits to Yale.

David may be reached at david_honneus@fleet.com.