Sunday, October 21, 2007

At A Dartmouth Reunion, Some Things Not In Sync

Written From Hanover, N.H.--

Some things were the same as Dartmouth College's Class of 1960 met here over the weekend for its mini-reunion. Forty-seven years after graduation, our class members are now approaching 70 years of age. We will meet in Boston next June for several days to celebrate that milestone. But every October the most loyal alumni return to Hanover for the homecoming weekend, the huge bonfire, the parade of classes down Main St., the football game. a class meeting and a class dinner.

This year, as all the others within memory, most of the 70 members of the surviving 700 class members who came to the reunion gathered around the grand piano after the dinner in the venerable old Hanover Inn, next to the Dartmouth Green, to sing the old college songs. Our classmate, Bob Kenerson, a psychiatrist and professor at the Harvard Medical School, played the songs and we all sang lustily (even me, who cannot sing).

But this year, some things were different. For one thing, here we are in late October. When we were students attending Dartmouth, peak fall color here in Northern New England was two weeks earlier, usually the first weekend of the month. This year, the weather has been so balmy, even warm, that peak color is now.

It seems likely that global warming is the cause. The temperature has been in the 70s so often this week that the management at the Hanover Inn has decided to reopen its terrace for outdoor dining. That would have been unheard of in late October when we were students here.

The winter of our Freshman year, one morning the temperature in Hanover 42 degrees below zero, and I raced outside to see whether what Jack London had written was true -- that at that temperature, if you spit, it would freeze before it hit the ground. I found out it was indeed true.

But it appears it never gets as low as 42 degree below any more.

Another thing seems out of sync, and that has to do with the trip I'm about to take across Canada.

When I was a student here, I hitchhiked once up to Quebec City. In those days, and almost all of the years since, the Canadian dollar was worth quite a bit less than the American, sometimes a disparity of 40%. Even if the prices were higher, it seemed and was cheaper for an American there.

Today, when I take the bus to Montreal, I expect to have to give, by a slight margin, more than a dollar American to get a dollar Canadian.

This has proved a boon for the Canadians, needless to say. They now cross the border to find cheaper prices.

Well, of course, other things have changed. Some of my classmates are more recognizable to me than others. Some of the talk about athletic exploits has faded, and now often the talk is about our ailments (although the shortstop on our Dartmouth baseball team is still playing shortstop, this time softball, on a team of men in their60s).

Als0, our class seems more liberal. The talk here this weekend was of the certainty, in many classmates' eyes, of a Democratic victory next year in the presidential election. I'm not quite willing to concede that just yet. My views have changed since 1960 when, in my senior year, I was chairman of Dartmouth Students for John F. Kennedy.

"Where, oh where, are the pea green Freshmen?," we sang last night. Those days seemed very distant. But, of course, there's a new class of Freshmen now. Members of the Class of 2011 ran ceremoniously around the bonfire Friday night, as each new class has for centuries.

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