Class of 1952 Mini-Reunion, London
October 3-7, 2001
The London mini-reunion, long in the planning, wasn’t what it was supposed to be. September 11 and a variety of coincidental medical and other situations led about 50 classmates, spouses, family, and friends to miss the long-anticipated event. For them, it was great disappointment, a disaster.
But for those who were in London October 3-7, it was a treat. Some events had to be saved for another time -- the dinner cruise on the Thames, the day trip to Canterbury, and dinner at the Ironmongers’ Hall -- but the micro-mini that remained took advantage of much of the planning by President Roger McLean, Mini-reunion Chair Tom Dosdall, John Clutz, and our advance party in England of Dan Wilkes, George Lambrakis, Sam Van Culin, and Fuzzy and Pamela Neville.
George and Sam were out of London, but Dan and the Nevilles, already in England, were joined by Banks and Nancy Anderson, Fred and Liz Atwood, Bill and Miriam Carson, John and Suzanne McShane, Steve and Kent Rogers, and Hal and Carol Saunders for four days of fun and fellowship.
Highlights of the micro-mini:
-- A guided tour of the magnificent and historic LambethPalace, the London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury since the 13th century, though much added to and modified since.
-- An evening of dinner and theatre. Roger Berlind chose the play and arranged tickets for us to see a political satire called "Feelgood.” It’s a hilarious, cynical, tragicomic account of government spin and manipulation of the press and political forces, with a cutting, tragic conclusion. (We won’t say what happens -- it might come to Broadway.)
-- A wonderful tour of the BritishMuseum guided by an Egyptologist friend of Ben Harer, Dr. George Hart. In the Egyptian funerary gallery, Dr. Hart took us (figuratively) through the various stages in the evolution of embalming, almost a textbook case of (slow motion) technological development. We then went to the Museum’s great collection of Egyptian sculpture, and we concluded at the Parthenon gallery with its "Elgin marbles,” appropriated from the Acropolis just 200 years ago. They were carved in the 5th century B.C.E., and the Greeks want them back, but the Brits have done a fine job of presenting them -- much easier for us to see than if they were still in the Parthenon.
-- A fine visit to Parliament, guided by Dan’s charming and knowledgeable friend Baroness Joan Walmsley, who led us through the chambers of both the House of Lords (where she sits) and the House of Commons. We saw a vast array of statues, monuments, and plaques that show how far our national Capitol has to go. But then, we presumably have been at it only since 1814, when the British burned the uncompleted building. Over coffee at the end of the tour, Baroness Walmsley chatted with us about the policies of the Liberal Democratic Party of which she is a member, her views of the Labor government and the Conservative opposition, and her position as a woman member of the House of Lords.
-- A delightful evening of cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres in the garden of Pamela Neville’s home, where she and Fuzzy introduced us to a number of interesting friends from the local scene.
-- A farewell dinner for most of the group at Rules, a genuine excellent English restaurant (hard to find), where we dined on Scottish salmon, roast beef with creamed horseradish and Yorkshire pudding, and raspberry trifle.
That left time for various members of the group to explore other delights of London:
-- the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, the London Millennium Eye, a 30-minute circular ride that takes passengers to a point 450 feet above the Thames with spectacular views of much of London;
-- Somerset House, to see the extraordinary Gilbert Collection of micromosaics, and gold and silver;
-- the ceremonial side of London: the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and at the Horseguards Parade in Whitehall; and
-- walking the streets and the parks, enjoying other restaurants, and, especially, the company of classmates and their spouses.
London, with the excellent arrangements made for the larger group (the Horseguards Hotel was an inspired choice, pleasant, comfortable, and very much in the center of things), was an excellent site for our first mini-reunion abroad. It’s worth repeating, when circumstances permit a greater representation of the class.
The micro-mini-reuners much appreciated the work of many classmates in making arrangements for the various activities, including Ben Harer (our channel to the British Museum’s George Hart), Roger Berlind (who selected and got us favorable rates for "Feelgood”), Sam Van Culin (connections with Lambeth Palace), Dan Wilkes (for greeting us on our arrival, for the arrangements at Parliament, and for generally guiding us throughout our stay), and, of course, President Roger McLean, Mini-Reunion Chairman Tom Dosdall, and Treasurer John Clutz, for their heroic efforts in putting it all together -- and their unwillingness to take it (quite) all apart.
No more mini-reunions are currently scheduled. See the ExCom meeting minutes for the current thinking on future minis. Do you have ideas of places you would like to go with classmates? Or, better yet, are you in a location that would make a good mini, and are you willing to be part of a host committee? Send your suggestions to Tom Dosdall or Roger McLean.
-- Steve Rogers