Our 65th birthday celebration gathering is now history, how appropriate for the location we visited, loaded with history of its own-Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. From the conversations I had with our classmates who attended, it was truly a success across the board as well.
-Thursday arrivals-Ed Heald, Dan and Adele Hedges from Texas, Kevin and Brigid O’Donnell from Massachusetts, David and Roberta Gang, also from Massachusetts, Ron and Janet Weiss, also from Massachusetts, Joe Nathan and Lola Wright from Texas and Dave Walden from Georgia;
-Friday arrivals include-Cedric and Betsy Kam from Massachusetts, Jon and Heidi Snellenberg from NYC, Warren and Cathy Cooke from New Jersey, Dennis and Adrienne Drapkin from Texas, Dave Peck from Massachusetts and Bill and Marsha Adler from California.
We had arranged for the group to receive length-of-stay passes to all of the Colonial Williamsburg properties. In addition, we had a guided tour on Friday morning led by a wonderfully knowledgeable Susan Mullin, visiting most of the major buildings on the campus. To say she knew her stuff is an understatement. The guided tour lasted about 2 ½ hours, and ended at Merchants Square, where we were able to choose what we did next for lunch and afternoon activities on our own. We had excellent weather for this walking tour-an early autumn day in the middle Atlantic coast-which added to the enjoyment of the tour.
For Thursday evening, we had a social hour and dinner at the Conference Center at the Williamsburg Lodge, a property that is part of Colonial Williamsburg. This was a casual affair, with a delightful buffet dinner, a nice and relaxing way to begin the weekend. At the dinner table this evening, I posed two questions for each of the two tables to share their comments-the first being, as we look out over the next five years, for each of us, working or not, what do we see ourselves doing-transitioning away from work, developing those interests outside of the work environment that will keep us both mentally and physically active and involved. The second question was to look forward 10 years, as we are sitting around the same table discussing the past 10 years, and asking what would we be most disappointed in not having accomplished during that 10 year period-a 10-year lookback assessment. I found the comments, thoughts and observations varied and fascinating, as we each deal with our own views of what matters to each of us.
Friday evening we had a special treat. We began with a social hour at the Lodge, outside in a courtyard. At the appointed hour, a fife-and-drum escort arrived to lead us from the Lodge to our dining location of the night at the Shield’s Tavern located on the main street of Duke of Glouchester Street. Thus, we were paraded through the center of Colonial Williamsburg to our destination. Along the way, our walking troupe grew from the 23 of us to over 100, as many along the route seemed to enjoy following along regardless of where we were headed. We had our colonial-themed dinner at Shield’s Tavern. During dinner we were treated to a musical accompaniment from a fiddler and guitarist-what a delight they were. Once again, we were blessed with good weather for both the walk to and from the Tavern. Dinner led to wonderful conversations among all of us over the two group tables we occupied-great intercourse, to say the least.
Saturday dawned rainy, and remained showery all day. Today each of us pursued various activities with personal interest with like-minded classmates, as some attended an organ concert on the campus of the College of William & Mary, some enjoyed the Spa and Fitness Center, others hit the museums and the Bruton parish, while the more adventuresome visited the nearby historical locations of Jamestown and Yorktown.
Dinner Saturday was our gala birthday banquet back at the Lodge, a five-course dinner with each course paired with the appropriate wine as accompaniment-this was truly the gourmet highlight of our gathering. During dinner we opened the floor to discussion of two topics:
All of this discussion was for the purpose of gathering information. At the class committee meeting that will be held on Saturday October 1 in Hanover, during our fall mini-reunion, we will be continuing this discussion, as there is potentially significant interest in having the Europe trip next year!
I have asked each of the participants to share their comments about this year’s birthday gathering. Here is what they had to say:
-From Dan Hedges-Many, many thanks for all your efforts which produced a memorable birthday weekend. Your report is fine. I would add the following. One of the wonderful traditions of Williamsburg is to have locals just wandering around town in historical attire playing the rolls of various historical figures. This resulted in the unlikely but enjoyable experience of hearing Dave Walden have an intimate - perhaps too intimate? - conversation with Martha Washington. (Kidding, Dave. It was great.)
-From Ron Weiss, Class president-Here is my comment for your report, which seems perfect. Thank you for doing such a great job organizing the weekend. It was great fun to see old friends and get to know new people. Colonial Williamsburg was quite a pleasant surprise—I would have enjoyed several more days there. Ed Heald, who always does a masterful job of organizing gatherings, did a wonderful job organizing our 65th birthday celebration.
-From Cedric Kam-Thank you for your planning and devotion to ensuring that everyone reconnected with classmates and enjoyed the area’s attractions. For Betsy and me, these reunions are wonderful opportunities to meet new people and reacquaint ourselves with others. We’re just sorry we didn’t arrive on Thursday to have had more time to socialize with everyone. As I mentioned, these class events are helping me check off my “bucket list.” Five years ago, we drove the Pacific Coast Highway after Napa, and I have wanted to visit Colonial Williamsburg for 44 years, ever since driving past it during spring vacation of junior year. I was not disappointed. The weekend was altogether fantastic. One observation from a cultural anthropology major: Of the 13 classmate attending, 6 came from MA (46%) and 3 from TX (23%), accounting for 69% of the total. What do MA and TX have in common? Dartmouth, of course!
-From Dave Peck-Very nice overview. To which I'd add a note about the optional Sunday tour Dave Walden, Joe Nathan and Lola Wright and I took to a couple Civil War locations: we met at the National Park Service Visitor Center at Cold Harbor, where we enjoyed almost an hour lively discussion with the resident Ranger, Mike Gorman. From there, with Dave Walden and a quirky GPS lady giving odd advice, we made a large circle to find lunch at Awful Arthur's (an odd name for a restaurant, but good food). After that, a direct route to Gaines' Mill battlefield, where we took a walking tour listening to a wonderful podcast Dave W had downloaded onto his phone. I needed to head to DC to visit with family, but the intrepid trio were to head on to Richmond (Dave and Joe could add more)
I'd also add a more personal note: It was great to get together, in a location that offers about as wide a set of attractions as possible: history, architecture, archeology (at Jamestown), museum, good food and drink, not even counting Busch Gardens which would appeal to families with kids (or grandkids). With that rich offering, it allowed our group both unlimited individual or couple activity as well as congenial gathering for our social times and collective birthday. I would note I volunteered to sing Happy Birthday to the group, if asked, but Ed politely declined my offer. And offered a toast to all of us on our collective 65th birthday.
-From Dennis Drapkin-Thank you again for organizing the weekend. Your hard work provided a unique opportunity for our class. The location and the companionship were ideal. Whether renewing old acquaintances or beginning new ones, the gathering was a pleasant reminder of the significance of Dartmouth in our lives. I look forward to the next event, whether a barge trip in France, a return to Napa, or some other delightful venue.
-From Kevin O’Donnell-A very thorough recounting of a great weekend. You are to be commended for all your hard work. Your inciteful questions set us all to thinking about where we've been and where we're going - something we all should be doing at this stage of our lives. The most enjoyable part of it all was renewing old acquaintances and making new ones with those we knew little or not at all in Hanover. Brigid and I had a great time and are looking forward to the next class celebration. Thanks again for your efforts.
-From Warren Cooke-Thank you for your summary of the Williamsburg gathering. Cathy and I greatly enjoyed it. We felt that the weekend was above all comfortable - it was very enjoyable being with classmates (whether I had previously known them well or not), there was a good mix of personal time and Class events, the events themselves were structured without being formal - we felt that you put this together extremely well. Many thank yous from me and Cathy.
PS next time you should have Dave Peck sing!
At gatherings like this, friendships are renewed or initiated, ideas and experiences are shared and an appreciation for being together grows each day. Personally I thank each of you who joined together, and extend a welcome for all future gatherings to all of you reading this to be part of this the next time. We have an amazing collection of classmates and spouses. How lucky we are!