A Return to Cuba
rhythms of the
A Campaign on the Line
in this issue
The Ageless Adventures of Bob Gries ’47 By Linda Hedman Beyus
Playing Jazz to the Rhythms of the Brain Neurologist John C.M. Brust ’54 By Virginia Hughes
The Long Journey Home A Return to Cuba By Eduardo Mestre ’66
Cutting the Door to Meet the Stone A Campaign on the Line By Willy MacMullen ’78
Departments 2 From the Editor 3 Letters 3 Taft Trivia 4 Alumni Spotlight 10 Around the Pond 19 Sport 42 Tales of a Taftie: Mark Winslow Potter â€™48 43 From the Archives: A Winterâ€™s Day, at War v Martin Luther King Day
speakers Majora Carter and Dan Esty with Director of Environmental Studies and Stewardship Carly Borken at the annual Prayer Breakfast. Robert Falcetti
from the EDITOR When the Olympic Games open in Sochi this year, which should be in full swing by the time you receive this issue, all Taft eyes will be on ice hockey. Max Pacioretty ’07 will be playing for the men’s team—the first Taftie to do so. We caught a preview of the women’s team in November, when Coach Katey Stone ’84 brought the national team to Odden Arena, (page 10). Her former Harvard player and two-time medalist A.J. Mleczko Griswold ’93 will be giving the women’s hockey color commentary for NBC. Both U.S. teams won silver in Vancouver four years ago, but the women have not seen gold since their inaugural games in Nagano in 1998 (A.J. and current Taft coach Gretchen Ulion Silverman were both on that team), and the men have not brought home gold since the 1980 Miracle
on Ice in Lake Placid. Let’s hope the Taft connections are the ticket to gold. The roots of ice hockey are deep at Taft. Although originally called ice polo, it is clear that the sport has been played from the school’s earliest days. Even before climate change became an issue, the threat of a January thaw sending the “boards” downstream whenever the pond would melt prompted the school to build the first artificial ice rink in prep school circles in 1950 (“From the Archives: Mays Rink,” Spring 2012). No matter how the games unfold, the stories of great determination in the face of adversity will likely be as compelling as the moments of gold, silver and bronze. As always we want to hear your stories…. —Julie Reiff
Winter 2014 Volume 84, Number 2
Bulletin Staff Editor-In-Chief: Julie Reiff Managing Editor: Linda Hedman Beyus Design: Good Design LLC www.gooddesignusa.com Mail letters to: Julie Reiff, Editor-in-Chief Taft Bulletin The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 email@example.com
We mistakenly combined Edward Bournes in the In Memoriam tribute to Edward G. Bourne ’54. Edward Gaylord Bourne, the first, was Horace Taft’s roommate at Yale. His son Edward Walter was a member of the Class of 1915, whose three brothers all attended Taft as well. His son, Edward Gaylord Bourne II, was a member of the Class of ’54. Our thanks to his sister Margaret Pedersen for the clarification. Our apologies.
On the Cover v Emerita Taft
Coach Patsy Odden drops the puck for the faceoff between the Taft boys’ varsity squad and the women’s national team, as former Taft national players look on. Phil Dutton
Taft on the Web
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Don’t forget you can shop online at www.taftstore.com 800-995-8238 or 860-945-7736
Send alumni news to: Linda Hedman Beyus Alumni Office The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 firstname.lastname@example.org Deadlines for Alumni Notes: Spring–February 15 Summer–May 15 Fall–August 30 Winter–November 15 Send address corrections to: Katey Geer Alumni Records The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 email@example.com 860-945-7777 www.TaftAlumni.com The Taft Bulletin (ISSN 0148-0855) is published quarterly, in February, May, August and November, by The Taft School, 110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100, and is distributed free of charge to alumni, parents, grandparents and friends of the school. All rights reserved.
The “coeds” shown with the car in front of CPT in the September 1971 picture are, from left, Pam Thomas, Sue Daly, Anne Morse, Holly Williams and me. —Dodie Wood Mazzarella ’74 I believe the Rolls-Royce in the photo on page 36 belonged to an English teacher from England, Rory Stuart! —Bruce Turbow ’73
In Stan Donnelly’s letter (Summer 2013), he referenced the 1997 address by Irwin Miller ’27. I went to your site and pulled it up. It was both fascinating and just as relevant today as it was when it was delivered. Beyond that, I found that there is a treasure trove of information that all your hard work has made available. For that, I am deeply appreciative. As an example, in the article that immediately followed Mr. Miller’s address was a historical retrospective on how
Rockefeller Field came to be. In the article, two of Mrs. Rockefeller’s sons were mentioned. The elder, Sterling Rockefeller ’24, went on to Yale and was part of a successful Olympic rowing effort in Paris, France. When I looked into that event more deeply, I found that they had won the gold medal and that one of the crewmates was none other than Benjamin Spock, MD. From my readings, I find many interesting things—both trivial (the rowing fact) and profound (Mr. Miller’s address)—that remind me that Taft continues to educate me to this day. —Craig Rider ’62
Thank you for the excellent piece on my classmate and friend, Flemming (but no one save his parents called him that during his Taft years) “Nick” Norcott. Nick and I joined the class as mids in a tumultuous time for the school and for the country. I had the great pleasure of sharing his joy for the emerging music of the time, listening
to the big console radio on the second floor of the Annex, sometimes flipping to a broadcast of a game featuring a high school Nick’s “other” friends attended. During football season, I blocked for Nick, “Skins” Ridens and Rod Moorhead; what a backfield we had! At the Kent game, after two consecutive 28 Power Sweeps were whistled dead because Nick had so convincingly faked into the line, allowing Skins to score, Coach Bob Poole ’50 called the officials over and explained what we were doing and how it worked. Back on the field we ran 28 Power Sweep again, and this time, Skins scored in spite of, and because of, Nick’s third convincing fake into the line. Nick and I came from diverse and yet oddly similar places; early on my classmates branded me a “hick from the woods in New Hampshire” even though I grew up in a college town, as did Nick, who haled from New Haven. I was oblivious to the many things that impacted him in ways I…
Love it? Hate it? Read it? Tell us! We’d love to hear what you think about the stories in this Bulletin. We may edit your letters for length, clarity and content, but please write! Julie Reiff, editor Taft Bulletin 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Taft Trivia What is the name of the newest academic department at Taft? Send your guess to email@example.com. The winner, whose name will be chosen at random from all correct entries received, will receive a pair of reusable Taft shopping bags made from 100 percent recycled plastic. Congratulations to Jim Goldsmith ’53, who correctly replied that rubbing Lincoln’s nose is the tradition reputed to bring good luck on exams.
Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 3
By Linda Hedman Beyus
v Jennifer Merritt Swope ’87 in Boston MFA’s textile lab, with a 1890s Mennonite quilt from Pennsylvania that will be in the Quilts and Color exhibition.
Quilts and Color Jennifer Merritt Swope ’87 has been working on an exhibit and catalog of eyepopping American quilts that will open in April at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts called Quilts and Color. These are not your grandmother’s, traditional quilts. The exhibit will feature 60 distinctive quilts with bold designs that echo the work of mid-20th century abstract expressionist and op artists and date from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, made primarily in New England, Pennsylvania, Ohio, 4 Taft Bulletin WInter 2014
Illinois and Missouri. Quilts and Color runs through July 26. “The quilts demonstrate a working knowledge of the basic principles of color theory that seems prescient to 20th-century abstract art,” she says. The collectors, Gerald Roy and his late partner, Paul Pilgrim, whose quilts will be exhibited, were both artists and designers in Oakland, California. “When they began collecting quilts in the late 1960s for their interior design business, they found themselves drawn to quilts
with sophisticated color combinations, or what Joseph Albers would have termed, ‘color activity,’” Swope says. Now, almost a half century later, Roy’s quilt collection numbers nearly 2,000, and the MFA is first art museum to show this collection. In addition to the quilts, works of 20th-century abstract art by Bridget Riley, Joseph Albers and Victor Vasarely (among others) will be exhibited “to make the point that the quilters, mostly unknown, made extraordinary abstract compositions in textiles,” she adds. For the past 10 years, she has been a consultant in the David and Roberta Logie Textile and Fashion Arts Department of the MFA. “I was hired to research American textiles in preparation for the opening of the American Wing and have continued there, working on 18th-century Boston embroidery and, now, quilts.” In addition, she teaches textile courses. “I was always interested in textiles and loved learning how to batik at Taft (something I continued to do in college),” Swope says. She taught batik as a student at Colorado College and was pleased to get back to teaching when she was hired by Boston Architectural College in 2010. “I learn as much from my students as they learn from me,” she says, “because many are from places where people still make textiles, such as China, India, Haiti and Nepal.”
Launching 3D Printing John Camp ’92 is having fun with 3D printers. Camp was involved with designing prototype parts for NASA’s James Webb Telescope at Lockheed Martin as a mechanical engineer. The telescope will be the largest telescope ever launched. Using a MakerBot 3D printer, Camp made working prototypes that allowed his team to practice assembling James Webb’s primary imaging system and used other 3D prints as jigs to form metal parts that will actually fly in space. “One of the things I love about 3D printing is that it enables you to make physical things fast,” he says. 3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object—of virtually any shape—from a digital model, using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. “At Lockheed’s Advanced Technology Center, everybody wants to be an inventor. When we first got our 3D printer, engineers came out of the woodwork,” says Camp. It meant that they could print anything “from whimsical things to actual parts of a spacecraft.”
h John Camp ’92 at his home workbench with his 3D printer creations.
He’s now at Apple as a senior product design engineer, “doing research and development in a group whose specialty is to understand the underlying physics of the cool new products we’re trying to launch,” he says. “Although I guess in this context ‘launch’ means something altogether different. I am having as much fun as I ever had in aerospace.” “I always wanted to make either spacecraft or aircraft,” Camp says. At Taft, he found out that meant engineering school, so he went to Cornell for mechanical and aerospace engineering. “Working for the space program was
always a dream of mine,” says Camp, who worked for Lockheed for almost 16 years doing R&D on many spacecraft and other programs. “As a kid, going to space seemed the most exceptional thing one could do. As I grew, designing and building spacecraft seemed the next best thing (not to mention it’s a heck of a lot safer).” He also experiments with 3D printing at home, “a mix of my own inventions and stuff for the kids (toys, crowns, jewels, animals)”—he has three, ages 5 and 3 (twins). “I love starting a print and going to bed. In the morning it’s finished, as if elves worked all night for me,” he says.
“Torture” Abstracted As part of his visiting research fellowship at the Sydney College of the Arts, Marc Leuthold ’80 created a new body of ceramic forms onsite for the exhibit, Torture, which explores oppression as a chosen behavior in a contemporary and historical context. “This new piece is directly related to the exhibit I had a few years ago in the Potter Gallery,” says Leuthold. “The Taft exhibit was the first time I used ink on paper for my work in a serious way. It was a very positive experience that influenced and altered my work as an artist. Gallery director Loueta
Chickadaunce really was an inspirational influence both for the Taft show and this recent one.” The highly abstracted forms were rendered in response to imagery from the convict period in Australia and from contemporary American wars in response to terrorism, he explains. Some of the forms were partially concealed by an architectural enclosure made of paper, and viewers were invited to cut or slash through paper in order to view them. The figures are glazed porcelain and the paper is Fabriano Artistica, the same paper he used at Taft.
n “Torture,” the centerpiece of Leuthold’s
exhibit at the Sydney College of the Arts.
Leuthold is a professor of art at the State University of New York, Potsdam. The exhibition was on display in the Research Gallery at SCA in November. For more information, visit www.marcleuthold.com.
Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 5
Next Generation Energy Lisa Frantzis ’75 is helping lead the way into the future of energy, and a greener one at that. With more than 30 years of experience in energy consulting and facilitation, she specializes in advanced energy technologies in the power sector—“think solar, smart grid, wind and next-generation energy efficiency options,” she says. “I currently lead forums where I bring together utility CEOs, advanced energy companies and regulators to talk about new business models that are needed to encourage the growth of advanced energy within the power sector,” she says. Frantzis is senior vice president of strategy and corporate development at Advance Energy Economy, an association of businesses working to make the energy system clean, secure and affordable. She was a managing director at Navigant, running their renewable and distributed energy group, and supports them on clean energy initiatives. Other key projects she is leading include an initiative “to help convene companies to develop positioning around the EPA greenhouse gas regulations that President Obama is trying to establish for existing power plants, as well as a
h Lisa Frantzis ’75 reviews a solar installation at Partners In Health Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti.
bioenergy assessment and action plan for the government of Haiti,” she adds. “At Wesleyan, I was thrilled by a course I took in the Science in Society program with a professor who was working with Buckminster Fuller at the time at Earth Metabolic Design,” she says. He convinced Frantzis to do a summer intern project looking at the potential for using methanol in transportation in Connecticut. “He essentially turned my life around,” she says. She became more interested in environmental studies and did her junior year at UC Santa Cruz, “where there was so much happening related to the
environment after the oil crisis in the early ’70s,” she says. “I won a few grants related to appropriate technology and was asked to help teach a class on alternative energy,” says Frantzis. “Everything started to fall into place, and I loved learning about solar energy and renewable energy technologies.” Frantzis also interned at the U.N., helping review alternative energy in developing country markets. “The people I work with in this field are terrific and have the same values as I do, typically. That makes all the difference in a job, so it has been a wonderful ride since the beginning,” she says.
TV for Millennials Grace Scott ’07 was standing in the offices of Pivot, a new TV network, with the president and her co-workers at 3 a.m. on August 1. They were watching the channel launch for the first time. “It is an experience that I will never forget,” she says. Pivot is unique—it focuses on creating entertainment that inspires social change. “We are geared toward a millennial audience that hopes to serve as v Grace Scott ’07 helps launch Pivot TV, geared toward millennials.
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a catalyst for change in the near future,” Scott explains. “It’s been quite the wild ride and one that not very many people my age will ever have because this market is saturated,” she says. “The draw for me is the excitement of working in television, but adding the social action aspect to programming is not only unique, but also inspiring.” Scott works in contract administration as well as with the acquisitions team to find programs and movies that will bring people to the new channel. Pivot is adamant about including the network’s
Art That Pops J.D. Deardourff ’04 describes his art as a rainbow during a sharknado. Each of his screen prints is a bold mélange of color, combining abstract elements with more recognizable images in ways that evoke both the comic books Deardourff grew up on and the iconic psychedelic posters and album covers of the 1960s. “I was interested in comic books before I could read,” Deardourff says. “My sister read them to me the way you might read Dr. Seuss.” And while Deardourff ’s taste in literature has changed, it is clear that comic books remain significant to his art. “I’m interested in their formal vocabulary,” Deardourff explains, “like the use of an energetic black contour line, the artificiality of the colors, the kinds of visual shorthand that happen and the interplay between sequential images.” As a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Deardourff took a collage class with Jim Nutt. Nutt, a founding member of the surrealist movement known as the Chicago Imagists, found his own inspiration in the culture that gave rise to Pop Art. It was in Nutt’s class that Deardourff refined his technique, bringing new focus to his work.
young staff in decision making. “We have an executive team that looks to us for opinions on what millennials watch and if programming will be interesting,” says Scott. “It sounds like a cliché, but when I was younger I always wanted to have a hand in changing the world, and working here has given me an opportunity to pursue that goal even in a small way,” she says. “How do you persuade 20-somethings to look up from their phones long enough to gaze at an
v J.D. Deardourff ’04 screens one of his prints. , Sharktopussy
“I was extracting a lot of positive space imagery from comic book pages, like faces and hands and sound effects, and I realized that the remaining negative space was far more interesting,” Deardourff says. Deardourff begins by making a collage of shapes and panels and pages pulled from comic books, then makes intuitive, aesthetic decisions about color and composition. “I put the collage on a light table and trace the screen print color separations
old-fashioned regular TV?,” asked NPR in a story on Pivot’s debut. “For each of our shows we create campaigns around issues that are important for young people to know about and take action on—it’s a different way of looking at entertainment and also a very interactive platform,” Scott says. “We have had a lot of success making people aware of social issues through media and entertainment.” “People live and breathe our mission at this company, and I’m excited to be a part of it,” she adds.
by hand,” Deardourff explains. “Usually I’ll start with like seven colors, but often end up going back and adding more. I’m always struggling with when enough is enough.” Deardourff scans and prints the separations as stencils to burn onto screens. His unique work has captured the attention of a British record company, for whom he designs album covers, and Burton Snowboards, whose Descendant model features his art. In November, Deardourff ’s work was featured in two different group shows, one at Maryland’s Chevy Chase Club, the other in a “hipster DIY warehouse space” in Washington, D.C., where Deardourff lives and works. On January 4, Deardourff ’s first solo show opened at Hillyer Art Space in Dupont Circle. For more, visit www.deardourff.com —Debra Meyers
Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 7
In Print Romance Is My Day Job Patience Smith Bloom ’86 Haven’t we all wondered why real-life romance isn’t more like fiction? Harlequin editor Patience Bloom certainly did, many times over. As a teen she fell in love with Harlequin novels and imagined her life would turn out just like the heroines on the page: That shy guy she had a crush on wouldn’t just take her out—he’d sweep her off her feet with witty banter, quiet charm and a secret life as a rock star. Not exactly her reality, but Patience kept reading books that fed her dreams. Years later Patience moved to New York City and found her dream job, editing romance novels for Harlequin. Every day, her romantic fantasies came true—on the page. Patience was an expert when it came to fictional love stories; she learned everything she could about the romance business. But her dating life remained uninspired. She nearly gave up on love. Then one day a real-life chance at romance made her wonder if what she’d been editing all those years might somehow be true. A Facebook message from a high school friend, Sam [Bloom ’84], sparked a relationship with more promise than she’d had in years. But Sam lived thousands of miles away—they hadn’t seen each other in more than two decades. Was it worth the risk? Could love and romance conquer all? As with the novels Patience edited for years, readers will have to turn the final page to find out.
Echoes of the Outlaw Roadshow Counting Crows (Adam Duritz ’82) San Francisco rockers Counting Crows capped off their much-anticipated tour with the release of their newest collection of live songs, Echoes of the Outlaw Roadshow. This collection of audio footage was recorded on several dates of their North American tour in 2012 and complements their earlier live recordings. Known for their energy and unique performances—no two shows are ever the same; Adam Duritz constantly rewrites and remixes songs to keep their live performances full of surprises.
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Detecting Deception The Art & Science of Uncovering and Testifying to the Truth Paul S. McCormick ’83 Sometimes the most elusive thing in law enforcement can be the truth. In his book, investigator Paul McCormick shares tools that can help find it. A seasoned, heavily trained “lie detector,” McCormick shares strategies that can peel away layers of deception and reveal the truth. Inside this highly effective, immediately applicable manual McCormick teaches investigators to: • Guide conversations with suspects in a manner that increases their chances of getting honest information from them. • Recognize the critical difference between “profiling” suspects and “discriminating.” • Spot behaviors and responses that can indicate a suspect is not being truthful. • Employ active listening skills that can prove priceless for knowing when to dig deeper into a suspect’s response. • Recognize key phrasing that can clearly flag attempts to hedge responses and deceive them.
Hydrofracking What Everyone Needs to Know Alex Prud’homme ’80 Fracking, as it is known for short, is one of the most promising yet controversial methods of extracting natural gas and oil from the earth. Today, 90 percent of natural gas wells use fracking, which fractures rock with pressurized fluid. Though highly effective, the process has been criticized for polluting land, air and water, and endangering human health. A timely addition to Oxford’s What Everyone Needs to Know series, Hydrofracking explores both sides of the debate and provides a clear guide to the science involved. Alex Prud’homme cuts through the maze of opinions and rhetoric to uncover key points—from the economic and political benefits to the health dangers and negative effects on the environment. Prud’homme offers clear answers to a range of fundamental questions, including: What is fracking fluid? How does it impact water supplies? Who regulates the industry? How much recoverable natural gas exists in the U.S.? What new innovations are on the horizon? He also considers ways to improve methods in the short term, while also exploring the possibility of transitioning to more sustainable resources for the long term. Prud’homme is also the author of The Ripple Effect, My Life in France and The Cell Game.
The Lons Peggy Rambach ’76 One day in 2001, shortly after Fighting Gravity was published, Rambach was working on a writing exercise with a 10-year-old student named Andrew. “We had to describe how it felt to be inside a large piece of fruit, like James in his giant peach,” she explains, “except that my character ended up on the outside of a watermelon that was very, very small. I kind of liked what I wrote. So did Andrew. Later, I read it to my grown daughter, and she urged me to keep at it. I hadn’t had fun writing anything since I was in the third grade. Eventually, my little exercise turned into a little novel.” That little novel, The Lons, tells the story the very strange things growing in Leonard Slinket’s field. Short for watermelons, the lons are as “light and small as Wiffle balls, turn smooth and warm, dark yet luminous, and their vines beat with a pulse.” If Leonard can’t figure out why the lons are here and what they want, he says, “all hell’s gonna break loose.” There is no doubting their power and beauty, their need for each other and the mystery of their existence. In this story of adventure, loyalty, love and connection, we come to find that the lons are not much different than us.
The Promise of Power The Origins of Democracy in India and Autocracy in Pakistan Maya Tudor ’94 Under what conditions are some developing countries able to create stable democracies while others are perpetually prone to instability and authoritarianism? Despite broadly similar historical and political legacies, India’s and Pakistan’s regimes diverged radically after independence. In The Promise of Power, Maya Tudor seeks to explain why this occurred through a comparative historical analysis. Drawing on interviews, colonial records and early government documents, Tudor challenges the prevailing explanations of democratization, which attribute political outcomes directly to low levels of economic development and high levels of inequality. Instead, she suggests that the emergence of a stable democracy in India and an unstable autocracy in Pakistan is best explained by the historically specific interests of the dominant social group, which led each independence movement as well as by the varying strength of the political parties that were created to pursue those interests.
Tudor is university lecturer in government and public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford. Her research investigates the origins of stable, democratic and effective states across the developing world. The Promise of Power was based on her 2010 dissertation, which won the American Political Science Association’s Gabriel Almond Prize for the Best Dissertation in Comparative Politics. A dual citizen of Germany and the U.S., she has worked as a special assistant to Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz at the World Bank, at UNICEF, in the U.S. Senate, and at the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, recently ranked the world’s top NGO.
Dogfight How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution Fred Vogelstein ’80 An in-depth look into the bitter rivalry between Apple and Google—and how it’s reshaping the way we think about technology The rise of smartphones and tablets has altered the business of making computers. At the center are these two companies, whose philosophies, leaders and commercial acumen have steamrolled the competition. In the age of Android and the iPad, their feud will play out not just in the marketplace but also in the courts and on screens around the world. Fred Vogelstein has reported on this rivalry for more than a decade and has rare access to its major players. In Dogfight, he takes us into the offices and boardrooms where company dogma translates into ruthless business; behind outsize personalities like Steve Jobs, Apple’s now-lionized founder, and Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman; and inside the deals, lawsuits and allegations that mold the way we communicate. Dogfight reads like a novel: vivid nonfiction with never-before-heard details. This is more than a story about what devices will replace our phones and laptops. It’s about who will control the content on those devices and where that content will come from—about the future of media in Silicon Valley, New York and Hollywood. Fred Vogelstein is a contributing If you would like a copy of your work editor at Wired, where he writes added to the Hulbert Taft Library’s about the tech and media industries. Alumni Authors Collection and listed He has been a staff writer for Fortune, in this column, please send a copy to: the Wall Street Journal and U.S. News & World Report. His work has also Taft Bulletin appeared in the New York Times The Taft School Magazine, the Los Angeles Times and 110 Woodbury Road the Washington Post. Watertown, CT 06795-2100
For more information on the latest campus happenings, visit www.taftschool.org.
around the Pond
By Julie Reiff
h Women’s Olympic Coach
Katey Stone ’84, right, at center ice in Odden Arena before the women’s national team faced off against the boys’ varsity squad with Taft hockey legends: Patsy Odden, Nicole Uliasz ’00, Tammy Shewchuck Dryden ’96 and current varsity coach Gretchen Silverman. Phil Dutton/PhotoTrophies
USA Hockey The U.S. women’s national team, coached by Katey Stone ’84, faced off against the boys’ varsity squad in November to a packed house in Odden Arena. In a celebration of Taft’s legacy in women’s ice hockey, Stone’s coach and hockey legend Patsy Odden dropped the puck, with many of her former players joining her at center ice before the game: Tammy Shewchuck Dryden ’96 (Gold, Salt Lake); Nicole 10 Taft Bulletin WInter 2014
Uliasz ’00, Taft girls’ varsity coach; Gretchen Silverman (Gold, Nagano; Silver, Salt Lake); and Stone. Former national team players Chanda Gunn ’99 (Bronze, Torino) and A.J. Mleczko Griswold ’93 (Gold, Nagano) could not attend. A.J. and Tammy also played for Stone at Harvard. Members of the girls’ varsity team joined the boys on the ice to present gifts to the honorees and did a pin exchange
with Team U.S.A. Stone spoke earlier with the varsity girls as well. The night was a great collaboration with Watertown Youth Hockey as well, many of whom packed the stands. The U10 girls from Watertown Youth Hockey and the Connecticut Polar Bears put on an exhibition between the first two periods. On to Sochi for the Olympic Games, to cheer on Stone and her team!
Literacy First Taft’s Service Learning course, now in its seventh year, has a new focus…on literacy. “We wanted to improve the quality of our service,” says Jamella Lee, who teaches the class, “so that our service meets a critical and strategic need for our service partners while also a meaningful experience for our students. We know from both the 2007 United Way Needs Assessment and our service partners that literacy is a critical need for elementary students. Only 30 percent of fourth graders passed the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) in reading. This speaks volumes to the importance of the literacy tutoring our service-learning students are providing to kindergarten students.” So part of the coursework this year includes training as a literacy volunteer and studying brain development, along with hands-on experience at Carrington Elementary, one of the Waterbury Public Schools. The partnership with Waterbury Public Schools came about as part of the school’s new Center for Global Leadership and Service (CGLS, see Summer 2013), which was created with
a matching grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation. “Although we have worked with Children’s Community School (CCS) for many years,” adds Lee, “we did not have a partnership with the Waterbury Public School system before CGLS.” Taft students continue to work at CCS, as well as the newly created Brass City Charter School and Watertown Public Schools, through the Volunteer Program “The idea behind the CGLS,” says Lee, “is that we are strengthening and expanding our partnerships. One way we are doing that is by creating a more strategic focus around our work, like the focus on literacy, and also by developing metrics to show the true impact of our work). Another outreach effort under the umbrella of the CGLS is the expanded Sports In Service program, being coordinated by faculty member Ginger O’Shea. In addition to fundraising programs for cancer awareness, teams have also hosted clinics for local youth. Other CGLS programs are in the planning stages and will be rolled out over the next 18 months.
Composting Taft launched a new composting program in November and redirected roughly seven tons from going to the landfill in the first month. By composting food prep waste, wet food leftovers and paper products from the dining hall, the school is also diverting the heaviest waste from the rubbish stream. This ultimately saves the school a substantial amount of money as well on the tonnage expense of dumping conventional waste. Composting now represents 25 percent of the school’s total waste stream. Material is sent to a composting facility in New Milford, and the school pays only the delivery fee. Recycling accounts for another 15 percent and is picked up at no cost. “Our goal was to reach a 50/50 waste diversion (recycling and composting) ratio by the end of the school year,” says Director of Environmental Stewardship Carly Borken, “but we’re on track to exceed that now, given that we’re already at 40 percent. Changes in our community actions are really making all the difference at this point. Kudos to the students, staff and faculty who really make these programs work.”
n Desiree Gonzalez ’16 tutors a local elementary student on Community Service Day. Olivia Paige ’15
Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 11
h Summer reading author David Suzuki meets with students in the Woolworth Faculty Room after his Morning Meeting talk. Peter Frew ’75
An Elder’s Vision David Suzuki is an award-winning scientist, professor, broadcaster and environmentalist. He is a world leader in sustainable ecology and a prolific author; he holds 25 honorary degrees. Now in his 70s, it is his “new” position as an elder in the community of man that compels and inspires him. “Elders have a clarity of vision that is no longer clouded by ambitions for power or money or for fame,” Suzuki told Taft students at a Morning Meeting in November. “I have no hidden agenda. As an elder, I simply speak the truth.” The truth, he says, is that we as a species have veered off course by
distancing ourselves from our agrarian roots and abusing our planet in the name of economic growth. The problems we face as a global community are of our own doing. “We have become a force of nature,” he adds. “Seven billion people leave a very big ecological footprint. It takes a lot of air, water and land just to keep us alive… One species is now changing the physical, chemical and biological properties of our planet on a geological scale.” Those changes are so great that scientists have begun to refer to this time in our history as “the Anthropocene epoch,” a term that denotes a point in
our geologic chronology when human activity has begun to significantly impact the Earth’s ecosystems. “We have to find ways of living in balance,” he says. “We are undermining the very things that keep us alive and well.” And just as the problem begins with the human mind, Suzuki says, so does the solution. He implores us to embrace a philosophy where economic growth and progress are tied into happiness and wellbeing. Citing a “resolution on happiness” adopted by the United Nations in 2011, Suzuki says that we must modify the economy while embracing progress. According to the resolution, gross domestic product (GDP) alone is not an adequate measure of human prosperity; “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach is needed to promote sustainability, eradicate poverty and enhance well-being. “We just have to find the will to see the world through a different lens,” Suzuki concluded, “so that’s over to you.” —Debra Meyers Suzuki’s visit to Taft was made possible by the Paley Family Endowment. His book The Legacy, An Elder’s Vision for Our Sustainable Future was the 2013 all-school read. For more information visit www.davidsuzuki.org
Saving the Ocean Nature and human dignity require each other, says author and conservationist Carl Safina, who spoke at Taft last fall as part of the Paduano Lecture Series in Philosophy and Ethics. The founder of the Blue Ocean Institute asked what our relationship with the natural world should be. And how does it affect our relationships with one another? Our institutions are out of synch with reality, he explained. “It’s OK to use nature. It’s not OK to use it up.” “People seem very confused about the difference between growth and
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development,” he said. “Growth means taking more material and making something bigger. Development means making some things better. You can treat each other better. People seem to think bigger and better are the same thing, but they are sometimes very much at odds with each other.” Still, Safina calls himself hopeful, which he defines as the “ability to see how things can get better.” Among his many honors, Safina has won a Pew Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the John Burroughs Medal, the Rabb Medal from
Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, the James Beard medal, two honorary doctorates and a MacArthur “genius” Prize. He has written six books and hundreds of articles and is also host of Saving the Ocean on PBS. To learn more, visit www.blueocean.org.
Rhino Run Nearly 400 runners from eight local middle schools competed in the 3rd annual Rhino Run at Taft in October. Both boys’ and girls’ winners set new records for the 1.9-mile hilly course: 11:14 by Jacob Finkel-Hozer from Rochambeau, and 12:11 by Ivy Walker,
also of Rochambeau. Competing schools were Rochambeau, Swift, Blessed Sacrament, Memorial, St. John’s, St. Mary Magdalen, Rumsey Hall and Kingswood-Oxford. The race was created in 2011 by Sarah Iannone ’13 and the girls’
cross-country team to bring the local middle school kids to campus to run on our true cross-country course. Her sister, Colleen ’15, has carried on that tradition, and both girls’ and boys’ cross-country teams from Taft managed the race this year.
Guys and Dolls
h Vienna Kaylan ’15 (dancer Adelaide) and Gaines Semler ’15 (gambler Nathan Detroit) star in the fall musical, Guys and Dolls, with a strong cast that included Carey Cannata ’16, Tennant Maxey ’16 and Pat Cassidy ’14, at right. Olivia Paige ’15
Gamblers and showgirls filled the Bingham stage in October for the fall Parents’ Weekend musical, Guys and Dolls, directed by Helena Fifer. “They are a truly talented bunch of singers and dancers,” says Fifer, “and it’s not just the dialogue or songs that are clever or amusing; it’s the actors!” Fifer also complements new dance teacher Sarah Surber on the wonderfully inspired choreography and Susan Aziz and her team on the costumes. “The truly timeless music of the show,” she adds, “was energized by our ever-impressive T.J. Thompson and his band. It was a thoroughly collaborative show.” Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 13
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n Jack Mi ’15, Camila Jiang ’14 and Pond Premtoon ’14 with the first-place trophy at Yale. Taft also brought the trophy home in 2011. n Carter Taft ’16, Caroline Kearns ’15, Ai Bui ’16 and Johnny Morgart ’16 serve dinner at the St. Vincent de Paul Mission. Taft students visit every Friday that school is in session. Patti Taylor
Of Soup and Service For roughly 20 years, faculty and students from Taft have dedicated one night a week to serving a meal at the St. Vincent de Paul Mission in Waterbury. It is a partnership that has been mutually beneficial. The mission chose to honor Taft’s commitment this year with the Father Cascia Service Award. Usually three students and a teacher will load up a school Suburban at the dining hall on Friday nights and drive their cargo to Waterbury to serve it at the homeless shelter. “A visit to the soup kitchen is not something students get credit for,” explains volunteer coordinator Baba Frew. “It’s simply an activity they’ve heard is very rewarding and want to experience.” Students inevitably return to campus impressed with the warmth and gratitude of the shelter’s visitors. They are also able to put a face on a faceless issue. Most students are so struck by their experience that they offer to go again. “In making this award we wish to both commend and thank you for your commitment to the work of St. Vincent de Paul Mission,” wrote Father Joseph Donnelly, chair of the mission’s board of directors, “and in particular to the ministry of our homeless shelter.... That commitment and service has been exemplary.” The award will be presented at a dinner in March. 14 Taft Bulletin WInter 2014
Yale Olympics A team comprised of Camila Jiang ’14, Pond Premtoon ’14 and Jack Mi ’15 took first place in the 13th annual Yale Physics Olympics. Fifty schools from Connecticut send teams of four students (Taft’s fourth student could not compete due to illness) to take part in the competition, which consists of five events. Each event focuses on some aspect of physics and tests the knowledge, creativity and technical skills of the students. In individual events, Taft tied for second place in the Fermi quiz, which use estimation skills to quickly determine the order of magnitude of 15 different physical quantities, but placed first in the “Yiggs” Boson challenge, using scattering data to determine the mass of a hypothetical elementary particle and also won the
“A Salt and Battery” challenge, where they had to build a battery from given materials and maximize the output to a given load. The team placed 13th in the Coefficient of Restitution challenge, in which they had to measure a golf ball and use the info to predict where the ball will land after bouncing off an incline, and 8th in “Vector Sedition,” where team members accurately walk a fixed course, each with a different predetermined speed to ensure total time is closest to the time determined by the organizers. Taft’s total score of 25 (low is better) was head and shoulders above the nearest competitor, giving the team a first place overall ranking. “Camila, Pond and Jack were a great team,” says adviser Jim Mooney. “They really worked well together.”
There’s an App for Taft Want to learn more about the school today? Know a student who is looking at boarding schools? Then check out Taft’s new iPad app. With nine different videos, it’s more than just an interactive viewbook. Check out the high-speed campus tour. Watch founder Horace Taft come alive. And see how easy it is to apply online, too. One of the coolest features of the app is that it takes advantage of the flexibility of the iPad: Turn it horizontally and vertically and see new images and new features. And you don’t have to apply for admission to enjoy it. Download it, free, from the iTunes store: http://tiny.cc/taftapp.
Math Bash Eleven Taft mathletes journeyed up to Hotchkiss for what is becoming an annual tradition, the Hotchkiss Math Bash. The event is ably and graciously hosted by the Hotchkiss Math Team, says Taft adviser Ted Heavenrich. Contingents from Choate, Deerfield and Kent joined the fun, totaling more than 60 competitors from the five schools. The event is composed of advanced and intermediate categories, and the competition involves an individual test and a team GUTS round (teams of four). “When the dust settled,” reports Heavenrich, “Taft had taken first and second place in the Advanced individual competition (Sonny An and Jack Mi respectively), and Joseph Han took third place on the individual Intermediate test. That two of these students are ninth graders makes the result all the more significant and surprising.” In the team round, Taft’s first advanced team was edged out for second
n The Taft Math Team at MIT for the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament. Courtesy of Bohan Gao ’15
at the buzzer by the top Choate team. (Hotchkiss ran away with first in a dominating performance.) Those competing for Taft: Advanced 1: Sonny An ’17, Bohan Gao ’15, Jack Mi ’15, Kevin Won ’15; Advanced 2: Srinidhi Bharadwaj ’15, Camila Jiang ’14, Pond Premtoon ’14, Jennifer Zeng ’15;
Cum Laude Academic Dean Jon Willson ’82 and Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 with Cum Laude inductees (front, from left) Rozalie Czesana, Rebecca Karabus, Linh Tang, Natalie Tam, Mishel Figueroa, Charlotte Anrig, Aleksa Lambert, Caroline Henebry. Back row, Robert Brown, Dawson Jones, John MacMullen, Bridget Dougherty, Tiffany Li, Gregory Anrig and Carl Sangree. Yee-Fun Yin
Intermediate 1: Joseph Han ’17, Kelvin Xu ’16, Eva Zhang ’16. A larger group of mathletes left Taft before sunrise on Hotchkiss Day and traveled to Boston in order to compete in the prestigious Harvard-MIT Math Tournament, where roughly 115 teams and 620 individuals compete from around the world. “I was hoping for a top-30 finish,” said Heavenrich. “It was a long day for our kids, as they took a 50-minute individual general test, followed by a 50-minute individual themed test, and then, after a short break, a 60-minute team test. We all looked forward to the team GUTS round, which would conclude the day.” The GUTS round is a bit like an 80-minute mathematical relay race, with 12 rounds and live scoring. “It actually is a great spectator sport,” adds Heavenrich. “Near the end the Red Rhinos were vying for a top-10 finish. We finished fifth in the GUTS round and seventh in the sweepstakes (the best measure of overall performance on the day). Jack Mi finished sixth overall on the individual tests, and tied for fourth on the general test. Even though they missed the excitement of Hotchkiss Day, there was some consolation. “We clobbered the Bearcats,” Heavenrich adds.
Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 15
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h For many of her projects, photographer Alison Wright travels to the remotest regions of the globe photographing endangered cultures and people while documenting issues concerning the human condition. Alison Wright
Alison Wright has traveled the world capturing “the universal truths of the human spirit” through the lens of a camera. Wright came to Taft in to share not only her story, but also the images that reflect her search for “compassion in a world of chaos.” “The first time I heard the term “photojournalist” I knew that’s what I wanted to be,” Wright told the Taft audience. What that truly meant first came into focus for her when she found herself a continent away a few months after graduating from college.
“In northern Africa, I got my first glimpse of real poverty—of children and families in refugee camps,” Wright explained. “I knew then that I wanted to create awareness—to help in some way—through my photos and art.” Wright spent the next 20 years documenting the lives of children in Nepal, Tibet and other regions of Asia and the world. Through her art, people across the globe came to understand extreme poverty and issues like child labor; they also became aware of endangered cultures that exist in remote corners of the world.
“I asked myself, ‘How do you get people to care?’” Wright said. “’How do you get people to feel a connection?’ Those are the questions I work to answer through my art.” Her years abroad were marked by great success as a visual anthropologist and tested by the inherent perils of her work: Wright was nearly killed in a bus crash in Laos, held in a military camp in Beirut and afflicted with diseases common in third world countries, like malaria and Dengue fever, often more than once. “Early on I pondered the wisdom of a profession of where you are running toward what everyone else is running from,” said Wright. Over time, that wisdom became clear. “We may all look different, but there are simple, global truths: We all want to love and be loved; we want a little money in our pockets from jobs that are meaningful; we want safety and health for our friends and family, and an education for our children. We make it so much more complicated than it needs to be.” Wright’s photography is represented by the National Geographic Society and has been published in numerous magazines. She is a two-time winner of the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award. For more information, visit www.alisonwright.com. —Debra Meyers
Movember “Movember” is a month dedicated to not shaving for a cause. This year, seniors Eric Macken, Hadley Stone and Angus Viebranz decided to grow mustaches not just for comedic value but also to actively raise money for prostate cancer research. Just as October is dedicated to raising breast cancer awareness,
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Movember is meant to support the facial hair growing endeavors of millions of men across the nation as they grow out their ’staches and try to change the face of men’s health. Often overlooked, prostate cancer is diagnosed in more than 1 out of 6 American men. Together they raised more than $1,700 for the Movember Foundation.
In The Gallery Photography by Taft seniors Samantha Lamy and Elif Korkmaz were featured in the Mark W. Potter ’48 Gallery from November 7 to December 13. Last year Samantha Lamy spent nine months living in Italy through School Year Abroad. “I had never been to Italy before,” says Samantha, “so all I had in my head was a touristy picture of what I thought Italy would be. After just the first day of being there, however, the image had already been altered, and I knew that by the end of the year that picture would be a true representation of Italian culture. Every day I learned something new and the picture in my head continued to change as my views on Italy became more concise.” What struck her most was the way the country’s history was so vividly reflected in its art, architecture and culture. Her gallery show, “Uno Anno in Italia,” transforms those reflections into photographic images that, Samantha says, “communicate the permanent essence of Italy.” As a 16-year old Turkish student, Elif Korkmaz had never seen a 35 mm camera before arriving at Taft. Her journey from wonder-filled student to street artist to powerful photographer has been marked by personal growth, realization and self-reflection. “After spending a summer in London attending a street photography course, I started to see that photography was a way to discover the world around me,” Elif says. “I came to the realization that I was interested in issues and ideas, not just aesthetics…. As I discovered how to use photography as a medium of my inner reflection, I began shooting portraits of familiar people in order to reflect their influence on me.” Elif’s show, “The Women in My Life,” is a culmination of that reflection.
h Untitled by Sam Lamy ’14
Concerts In November, Music for a While presented a Concert Vespers of Remembrance featuring Bach’s Magnificat for chorus, soloists and orchestra with Taft Camerata Singers, Cantus Excelsus and Woodward Chamber Orchestra. In Walker Hall, Castlebay presented Songs of the Irish Poets. Castlebay has been musically weaving together the heritage of New England and the Celtic lands since 1987. Members Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee have loved and researched traditional music for most of their lives and blend history, legend and experience into their personable performance style.
The concert featured poignant ballads sung in Lane’s ethereal soprano and Gosbee’s rich baritone interspersed with joyous dance tunes played on Celtic harp, guitar, fiddle and tin whistle. Castlebay treated the audience to a musical journey through time and across the Atlantic. December brought two treats for the holidays. This year was the 78th annual celebration of Lessons and Carols in Woodward Chapel. Actor/narrator John McDonough also presented An English Christmas, featuring excerpts from seasonal classic literature, such as A Child’s Christmas in Wales, The Wind in the Willows and A Visit from St. Nicholas.
v Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee perform Songs of the Irish Poets in Walker Hall as part of the Music for a While series. www.Castlebay.net
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For the Refugees When Griffin Conner ’15 visited the United Nations High Commission on Refugees in Geneva last summer, he learned about the refugee situation in Jordan, and this motivated him to organize an effort through the UNHCR to collect and distribute sports equipment, both new and used, to the Syrian children in refugee camps in Jordan. “My dad really put the idea out for me, and he did a lot to make it all possible,” says Griffin, who estimates the total number of balls collected at over 100, along with other equipment. Volunteer coordinator Baba Frew sent a letter to Taft parents on his behalf. “Although the project was spearheaded by Griffin and his parents, Jon and Janet Conner, the really cool thing is that other parents quickly joined in,” says Frew. Dan Moffa, father of Ben ’17, read about the drive and provided the boxes and packing materials. Linda Barnett, mother of Livvy ’15,
who works with Global Goods Partners, donated fair-trade soccer balls, made by women in Afghanistan. Saudi Arabian Airlines Cargo generously offered to provide shipping to Jordan for all the equipment they collect. So it turned into a very global project, notes Frew. “I have been fortunate to work with the Community Service program at Taft for 25 years,” she adds, “and one of the most satisfying aspects of my job is helping students with their ideas about how to make the world a better place. Griffin Conner is one of those students.” In October, the U.N. estimated there were nearly than 550,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, many of whom are children. “They have been forced out of their homes, and their lives have been deeply disrupted. We are hoping that the gift of simple sports equipment can make their daily lives in the refugee camps happier,” says Griffin.
“Jon and I left Taft Sunday feeling good about the items collected this past weekend (over 200+), mostly soccer balls,” reports Janet Conner. Griffin assembled the boxes and filled them with goods dropped off over the weekend. A letter written in English and Arabic is included in each box. By the end of Parents’ Weekend, there were 20 boxes and approximately 100 soccer and basketballs collected, along with other assorted equipment, like baseball gloves, baseballs and soccer cleats. “This project has helped raise awareness at Taft,” Jon shared in a thank you letter to the airline, “of the enormous refugee problem the world faces, particularly the acute challenges facing the Syrian refugees in Jordan. We hope this small gesture touches many of the children there.”
Join Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 at one of the receptions for alumni, parents and friends in Florida. March 9
Naples March 11
© 2013 iStockphoto LP. All rights reserved.
To register, or for information on other events, visit www.taftschool.org/alumni/events.
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For more on the fall season, please visit www.taftsports.com.
fall SPORT wrap-up By steve Palmer
they were at Taft. This specific game was the “pink game” for Breast Cancer awareness and over $300 was raised to benefit the Side-Out Foundation. The energetic crowd participated in a serving contest in between sets. It was a terrific evening and one of the season’s highlights as well. Captains Tiffany Li ’14 and Rita Catherine O’Shea ’13 were recognized as N.E. All-Star players, Founders League All-Stars, and both were also the recipients of the Volleyball Award.
h Ezra Siyadhuba ’14 from Zimbabwe in a 5–0 win over Trinity-Pawling. Robert Falcetti
Volleyball 6–11 For only the third time in the last thirteen years, Taft Volleyball did not qualify for the N.E. Tournament. The young team was plagued with injuries and
illnesses, but still pulled off some big wins, including a victory over Hotchkiss in October. Taft also hosted Choate in front of a packed home crowd. The 7:00 p.m. night game brought back many alums who played varsity volleyball while
The Rhinos entered the season with plenty of talent and high expectations, but it was to be a year of adversity on the gridiron for Taft. Opening against the defending N.E. Champions, Salisbury, made for a tough start, but Taft bounced back and nearly upset N.E. Runner-Up Brunswick (48–55), and then rallied at home for a huge win against a talented Choate team (29–19). The mid-season loss of starting quarterback Quentin Harris ’15 was a huge blow, for Harris had accounted for almost 1500 yards and 18 touchdowns in the first four games. In addition, several other key players were lost to injury. Instead of folding, the team came together as a unit and finished with victories over Berkshire (34–12) and Hotchkiss (20–6). Throughout the season, the team was led defensively by co-captains Carty Campbell ’14 (60 tackles) and Petey Colon ’14 (46 tackles, 7 TFL, 3 INT, 1.5 sacks). Will Sipperly ’14, an All Founders-League Selection, ran the ball with power and was a force on the defensive side as well. Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 19
fall SPORT All Housatonic-Conference player Mick Pernell ’14 was a versatile offensive weapon and finished with 314 yards rushing, 445 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns. Bradni Black ’14, a disruptive force at defensive tackle and a stalwart offensive lineman, also received the all-league honor. Finally, Senior Alex Huard (43 catches for 781 yards and 11 TDs) was selected to the All-N.E. Class A team for the second year in a row. In two years as a receiver, Huard had 82 catches for 1680 yards and 23 TDs (191 total points)—one of the most explosive offensive players Taft and the league has ever seen.
Boys’ Soccer 9–3–4 Despite having to overcome countless injuries this fall, Taft compiled an impressive record of 9–3–4, just missing the opportunity to compete in post-season play. Taft turned in exciting wins over Deerfield (2–0) and Salisbury (2–1), and this team never lost a match on the road. Towards the end of the season, Taft earned impressive ties against Loomis (3–3) and Hotchkiss (1–1), conceding the tying goal in the final minutes of each match. The offense was led by Ezra Siyadhuba ’14 (17 goals, 6 assists) and co-captains, Yanni Sitsis ’14 (5 goals, 2 assists) and Troy-Jay Moo Penn ’14 (5 goals, 3 assists). Porus Shroff ’15 contributed 4 goals and 3 assists, while Johnny MacMullen ’14 added 4 assists. Cole Maier ’14 and Dan Quirk ’15 anchored the defense, which allowed less than a goal per game. With the need for several line-up changes, every player on the team made significant contributions. Opponents, parents and fans marveled at this team’s talent, fitness, discipline and spirit, but most important, they commented on how Taft played together as a team.
Girls’ Soccer 4–10–3 The Rhinos got off to a slow start this year with seven straight losses, but the second half of the season was a different story. 20 Taft Bulletin WInter 2014
h Livvy Barnett ’15
and Dana Biddle ’14 placed first and second in the Kent race, in which both girls achieved personal bests of 19:56 and 20:13. Robert Falcetti
Starting with a 3–3 tie with Hopkins and then a 5–1 win against Porter’s, Taft went 3–1–2 over the last six games. In that stretch, a 3–0 win over Kent and an inspiring 0–0 tie with Westminster were the team’s best games. The squad relied on and were superbly led by their captains Taylor Rado ’14 and Rachel Muskin ’14, who were named WWNEPSSA All-Stars for their performance this season. The defense was led by a force of seniors Katherine Roznik, Mishel Figueroa, Natalie Whiting, Sam Lamy and Isabel Stack. Both Madie Leidt ’16 and Becky Dutton ’16 started games in net for the Big Red and both came up with memorable saves. Leidt received the honor of being named a Boston Globe All-Star for her play. Riley Bragg ’17 and Kyra
Thomas ’17 started every game of their first season for the team and show the future is bright for Taft Soccer.
Girls’ Cross Country 8–3
The team enjoyed one of its best seasons in several years thanks to the excellent leadership of captains Dana Biddle ’14 and Colleen Iannone ’15 and the incredible work ethic of the entire squad. The Rhinos ran to convincing wins over Suffield, Williston and Kent, and also beat Choate for the first time in over seven years with a definitive score of 20–40. In perhaps the strongest team performance in this excellent season, Taft just missed the Founders’ League title, losing by six points to Loomis.
Boys’ Cross Country 6–5
ATHLETIC AWARD WINNERS The John B. Small Award---------------- Zachary A. Lewis ’14, Carl V. Sangree ’14 The Girls’ Cross Country Award----------------------------------- Dana C. Biddle ’14 Colleen M. Iannone ’15 The Field Hockey Award---------------------------------------- Colleen E. Tautkus ’14 The Livingston Carroll Soccer Award------------------------Troy-Jay Moo Penn ’14 Yanni V. Sitsis ’14 The 1976 Girls’ Soccer Award---------- Rachel J. Muskin ’14, Taylor E. Rado ’14 The Black Football Award-------- Semaj Carty Campbell ’14, Pedro Colon Jr. ’14 The Cross Football Award----------------------------------------------John E. Jones ’14 The Volleyball Award-------------------------------------------------------- Tiffany Li ’14 Rita Catherine O’Shea ’14 In that race, four Rhinos earned AllFounders League places: Livvy Barnett ’15 (4th place), Dana Biddle ’14 (8th), Elisabeth Lowe ’16 (12th) and Maggie Swomley ’16 (14th), and Rashi Narayan ’14 (18th) just missed but turned in her best race by far. It was a tremendously
gritty performance for the whole team, and the JV race was no less exciting with freshman Caroline Winicki ’17 placing 2nd overall. At the N.E. championships, Livvy Barnett ran to an All–N.E. 15th place finish, with captain Dana Biddle (16th) right with her. h Rachael Alberti ’15 displays her formidable stick skills in 1–0 victory over Kent, scoring the winning goal in OT. Robert Falcetti
This year’s squad had a good mix of senior leadership and young talent, but lacked power up front to place higher in the big meets. Tyler Dullinger ’16 led the way as Taft’s top runner through most of the season, running a season-best 17:20 for a 5 km course. Close behind were seniors Carl Sangree ’13 (a three-year letter winner) and newcomer Zach Lewis ’14. The loss of three of the top six runners to injury cut into the team’s depth, but not before they defeated Deerfield, Berkshire and Suffield. However, with eight of the top ten runners returning, the Rhinos look to climb back toward the top of the Founders’ League in 2014.
Field Hockey 10–6
With 10 talented seniors, this year’s team battled with the best in the league and N.E. Tri-captains, Audrey Quirk ’13, Laura Feidelson ’13 and Gwen McGee ’13 were the backbone of skill and leadership all season. An early disappointing loss to The Gunnery propelled the Rhinos to two exciting overtime wins against Kent (1–0) and Miss Porter’s (1–0). The battle against Loomis, always one of the most exciting of the season, ended in Taft’s favor with Caroline Queally’s ’13 rocket shot with eight minutes left in the game. In perhaps their best game, Taft gave up a 1–0 lead against Choate with five minutes left on the clock but pressed on and won it on Collins Grant’s goal with 18 seconds left. The season ended with two hard fought losses to rival Hotchkiss, 0–1 and then 0–2 in the first round of the tournament. Caroline Queally and Audrey Quirk were WNEPSFHA All-Stars, while Gwen McGee and goalkeeper Karina Wohlheiter ’13 were our Founder’s AllStars. Audrey Quirk was also a NEPSAC tournament All-Star and named to the Southern N.E. All-Region team. Rachael Alberti ’14 was the team’s leading scorer with 10 goals. Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 21
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back at Taft, Bob Gries ’47 had to take a breather, literally, between moves due to his chronic asthma, despite being a five-letter man in football, track and wrestling. “I had to develop my own style and techniques,” he says, to work around his medical condition. His opponents never knew. Having recently taken his 100th adventure travel trip at 84—this time to hike the Pyrénées—Gries has wandered the globe on foot (in hiking boots, crampons and running shoes) and by bicycle. He’s a true “fitness nut” who transformed a handicap into a motivating factor.
Over many years, he tried tennis and golf, but he didn’t enjoy them and was doing worse, physically. “I was basically doing nothing [physical] in my mid-40s,” Gries says. Then, at 51, “new steroid inhalers came out, and it changed my life.” He started running small races, then marathons and then ultra marathons and multi-day races. At 60, got into what he calls “crazy exotic stuff:” Death Valley to the top of Mount Whitney, a one-week run in the Sahara Desert. And, as if running across deserts wasn’t challenging enough, Gries took up mountain climbing at 62. He’s climbed 23 peaks, including Aconcagua (22,800 feet) in the Andes, as well as the highest peak in Antarctica—at that time, he was the oldest person to have climbed it. At 81, he climbed to 15,000 feet in Tajikistan. He hasn’t spent all his time doing adventure travel, however. “I spent the first 12 years in the retail business with May Department Stores and the next 30 years in the venture capital business,” Gries says. “I was also a minority owner of the Cleveland Browns football team for 34 years.”
Decades of Training
Compelled to train and stay fit, Gries says it’s a key part of his life. In his 70s, he trained three hours a day. In his 80s, he gives himself a present (as he puts it) and trains for “only” two and a half hours. Why? “Two words: staying alive. I have poor genes,” he says. “Three of my grandparents died in their 50s, my parents at 65, and my dad had a heart attack at age 49.” In 2007, he had a serious bicycling accident and worked hard (no surprise) to recover. On a simple Sunday morning ride in Cleveland, his bike hit an oily patch of road and skidded out. The result was a broken clavicle and five ribs, with a lung puncture. “That was the easy part,” Gries says. And, since his foot didn’t release from the pedal, his “whole pelvis was torn up,” he says. Life Flight took him to Cleveland’s Trauma Center, where “it was touch and go for six days,” he says. When the doctors told him it would take a year to recover, Gries, 78, told them, “At this age, I haven’t got a year to waste. I recuperated in six months and was back on the bike,” he adds.
n After running 130 miles from Death Valley to the top of Mount Whitney in 1989, Gries cools off. v His 100th adventure trip at 84, October 2013: hiking in the Pyrénées in France and Spain, often up to six hours a day. Gries was the only one in his group of 18 to do all 11 hikes in six days. Linda Harris
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How It All Started
His first three-mile race was with his son, a high-school half-mile champ. “I almost died,” Gries laughs. He then found out there were no other races that short and 10k races were the standard and more than twice as far. “I was hooked,” he says, and within six months, Gries was doing half-marathons. He, of course, then told his son he was up for a marathon after seven months of running. Choosing “the flattest, driest course I could find,” he raced with his son in Las Vegas. His venues have expanded since: Athens, Greece, New York City, the Marine Corps Marathon, among others. Then this question (printed on a calendar) piqued Gries interest at age 60: “What is the distance from the lowest to the highest point in the U.S.?” The
answer: 146 miles, from Death Valley to the top of Mount Whitney. Death Valley is the hottest place in North America, where it is 90 degrees at night and over 120 degrees in the daytime. With a group of six friends, they ran to the top over several days. He continued to “ramp up” his physical pursuits because he wanted to see what he could do physically with his body. “Until then, I had mostly used my mind. I wanted to see where it would take me,” he says.
The most incredible trip he was ever on, Gries says, was a 1,000-mile bicycle expedition from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City in 1998 and was only his second ride. Known as the Vietnam Challenge, it paired 40 riders from the U.S., including 30 veterans, 20 of whom were disabled, with 15 North Vietnamese riders, mostly disabled. Organized by World T.E.A.M. Sports, the goal was to pair former combatants from both sides of the conflict
, Approaching the final summit of Mount Baker, in Washington’s Cascades, in 1999.
s' 100 Bob Grie
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in Vietnam to help overcome both their disabilities and prior animosities. Gries found out after the ride that his job had been to demonstrate to the veterans, mostly in their 50s, that you could still go on as an older athlete. “You don’t have to stop now,” he said. He was living proof, even if not disabled. Having done five or six events with disabled athletes, Gries says, “They are my heroes. I can stop anytime and the pain goes away. They must fight it all the time.” (An Emmy Award-winning documentary film about the ride, Vietnam Long Time Coming, was aired as an NBC Sports Special on Veterans Day that year.) But the first major ride Gries did, also with World T.E.A.M. Sports, was from Ulan Bator, Mongolia, to Beijing—1,000 miles, and 800 of those on unpaved roads. The ride featured six riders who were riding around the world over eight months in segments, and other riders could join any leg. The trip coordinator had contacted Gries before the ride and proposed the idea. “I told him, the good news is I’m interested, and the bad news is that I don’t ride a bike…but I’m willing to buy one and learn,” Gries said.
tries: n u o c 5 s in 4 e r u t n e v ad
Crazy, Exotic Stuff
In 1990, his son sent him a photo with a runner in Arabian headdress, which intrigued him. With two friends, Gries entered a running race across the Sahara Desert that was six races in one week, over 150 total miles. “You carry all your food and gear on your back,” he says. “It’s ‘only’ 110 degrees in the daytime and 40 degrees at night.” He has run across Panama, “where you can touch your foot in two oceans.” Another five-day race in India started at 7,000 feet and ended at 12,000 the first day, after 20 miles. In Italy, he ran a 100k race from Florence to Firenze over two mountains overnight. Prior to the race, he gave his beautiful wife, Sally, a T-shirt that said, “My next husband will be normal,” which she wore at the start of the race in the public square, “with thousands of Italians staring and wondering what the message meant!” he adds. Gries laughs, “They didn’t stop traffic for the race, and at the finish each runner was greeted by a young lady who placed a wreath around his neck, two kisses on the cheek and two bottles of wine—only in Italy!”
x Biking in Slovenia in 2012.
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Climbing lured him when he met a colleague at work who had planned a climb in Mexico. Gries joined him and later did subsequent 20,000-foot climbs in Ecuador, Bolivia and on Aconcagua. He also did high-altitude hiking in places like Peru (with mountain passes at 16,000 feet), Patagonia, Nepal, Bhutan, Norway and Eastern Europe. “I rarely repeat anything,” says Gries. (Well, except training.) Few would choose to climb the highest peak in Antarctica, Mount Vinson. With friends and a guide he knew from Mount Rainier, Gries, at 65, faced minus
, Bob Gries ’47 and his wife, Sally (who is more of a “horse person” according to Bob), hiking in Iceland.
25-degree temperatures with winds from 60 to 70 miles per hour at the summit and became the oldest climber of Mount Vinson at the time. He also summitted the highest peak in the Arctic, in Greenland. “The plane drops you in and you pull sleds to the mountain,” he says. “Once you do both the Arctic and the Antarctic, you’re bipolar,” Gries quips. He did more high-altitude climbing around the Fitz Roy Massif in South America with a group of six in snow and high winds, fording waist-deep streams and more. Gries enjoys this.
Gries has also traveled to celebrate major milestones in his life. For his 75th birthday, he climbed Mount Rainier with a group of five comprised of two over 70. At 79, he biked in northern Iceland, near the Arctic Circle, where it’s pretty rough terrain, and in the same year climbed Japan’s Mount Fuji. (Readers, are we tired yet?) To mark his 80th year, he biked in Croatia and on Nova Scotia’s Cabot Trail and hiked in Italy’s Dolomites. To further celebrate, “we hiked the Narrows in Zion National Park, often in rivers waist deep,” he says. Last year, Gries also hiked in Iceland and cycled in Slovenia. “When I turn 90,” he says, “I might consider a bike with a motor!” His 100th adventure trip, last fall, was to the Spanish and French Pyrénées. He did 11 hikes in six days and was the only one in their group of 18 to do them all, often hiking up to six hours a day.
“I’m down to four adventure trips a year now,” he says. Gries has quite a scorecard: 18 major runs (marathons or ultra marathons); 24 climbs; more than 30 bike trips; and 20 high-altitude hikes. I don’t imagine he envisioned any of this when trying to find “breathing space” as a young athlete with asthma. j Linda Hedman Beyus is managing editor of the Taft Bulletin.
n Hiking the Virgin River Narrows in Zion National Park to mark his 80th year.
John Brust: Playing jazz to the
rhythms of the brain By Virginia Hughes / Photo by Natalie Keyssar
ne day in the summer of 1977, sitting at a piano in a practice room of the Manhattan School of Music, neurologist John C.M. Brust ’54 carried out a highly unusual neurological examination. His patient that day was Kathy Morris, a student in her early 20s who had abruptly lost her ability to understand music. For some people, that condition, known as amusia, wouldn’t be terribly disabling, and perhaps might never even be noticed. But Morris was a fourth-year voice student at the Manhattan School. Music was her passion. Her troubles had begun a year earlier, when she had surgery to get rid of a lemon-sized tumor from the left side of her brain. The operation did not go well. Her brain mysteriously swelled during surgery, most likely due to a stroke. The resulting tissue damage left her in the hospital for weeks, and for the rest of her life she had trouble speaking, reading and writing. Her musical literacy was similarly impaired: though she still enjoyed listening to music and singing, she could no longer read or write it. Brust first heard of Morris’s condition from an old friend of his who happened to be her neurosurgeon. An avid music lover, Brust was immediately intrigued by what had happened to the woman’s brain, and asked to meet with her for a neurological examination. In that practice room, he carried out a series of homemade tests to probe the extent of Morris’s musical deficits. He knew this investigation was a rare scientific opportunity; only a few hundred neurologists had ever seen a patient with amusia. So over the following year, when he wasn’t busy at his regular job treating patients at Harlem Hospital, Brust worked on a thorough report of Morris’s case, including a deep dive into the scientific literature on amusia. Then an amazing coincidence happened: One day at the hospital, Brust admitted a 42-year-old man for a stroke. Brust discovered that the man, a professional jazz musician, had not only lost his ability to understand speech, but also to understand music. v Neurologist John Brust ’54 in his office at Columbia University Medical Center.
“It’s very unusual for a neurologist to encounter somebody with amusia, and it’s more unusual for a musically literate neurologist to do so.”
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Brust, who has played the alto sax since his days at Taft, understood viscerally what his patients had lost. “It’s very unusual for a neurologist to encounter somebody with amusia, and it’s more unusual for a musically literate neurologist to do so,” Brust recalled last fall from his cozy office at the New York Neurological Institute in upper Manhattan. “I just lucked into these two patients.” In 1980, Brust published a scientific paper in the journal Brain describing these two cases. That one paper made
him a go-to expert on amusia—every few years since, he is asked to give a talk about famous cases of amusia and the various theories about why it happens. Just last year, in fact, Charlie Rose asked him to be a guest on his series about the brain. That amusia paper, though, is just one of dozens that Brust has published in his 40-plus-year career. The vast majority of this work has focused not on music, but on the nervous system’s response to alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. “At Harlem Hospital, we saw all of the epidemics as they spread through the city,” Brust said. In the late 1960s, for example, “John plunged into a nidus of heroin addiction,” says Stephen Shafer, a neurologist who worked closely with Brust for some 40 years at Harlem Hospital. “He literally wrote the book on neurological complications of drug use.” Indeed, Brust’s textbook, titled Neurological Aspects of Substance Abuse, was first published in 1993 and had a second edition in 2004.
“John leads from the front. Years of night call never tired him—in fact, he remarked he wanted to be called when things were rough. Everyone knew he meant that.”
All that jazz:
Brust’s love of music was cultivated by one of his favorite teachers at Taft, Phillip T. Young. Whereas a typical school band might have learned Mozart and Bach, Taft’s band, under Young’s leadership, played jazz. “He taught us how to improvise,” Brust recalled. “Instead of learning why Beethoven is more interesting than Tchaikovsky, we learned why Duke Ellington was more interesting than Harry James.” After Taft, Brust went on to Harvard and continued to play music. He was drawn to the humanities, majoring in English and writing for the well-known humor magazine, the Harvard Lampoon. He was planning to become a doctor, like his father and grandfather before him, but actually had little interest in basic biology. “I had a ghastly biology course at Harvard, where all we did was memorize the names of algae,” he said. It was only after he went to medical school, at Columbia University, that he discovered “there was a more interesting biology out there,” namely concepts like DNA and, of course, the nervous system. “It was very exciting when I figured out that neurologists got to do this stuff,” he said. “Neurology is a very contemplative branch of medicine.” Apart from a two-year stint in the Navy, Brust spent much of his career treating patients at Harlem Hospital. He became the hospital’s director of neurology in 1975 and didn’t step down until 2011. His colleagues remember him as curious, rigorous and tireless. “John leads from the front,” Shafer says. “Years of night call never tired him—in fact, he remarked he wanted to be called when things were rough. Everyone knew he meant that.” Because he graduated from college before the drug-fueled 1960s, Brust didn’t have any personal experience with drugs; all of his education came from his patients. 30 Taft Bulletin WInter 2014
Through them, he saw New York City’s drug waves: heroin in the ’60s, PCP and cocaine in the ’70s, and crack cocaine in the ’80s. “The crack epidemic was long and sustained,” he said. “It was just so plentiful, so easy to make.” He specialized not in the addictions, per se—that was the job of the hospital’s psychiatrists. Instead he treated addicts’ neurological complications, such as seizures, hallucinations, tremors and strokes. Neurological symptoms associated with addiction didn’t get a lot of attention in the medical community. Brust was one of the first doctors to track them rigorously and report major trends in the scientific literature. He and his colleagues showed, for example, that heroin and crack cocaine can sometimes cause strokes, even in young people, and that women who use cocaine during pregnancy are likely to have babies with small heads, tremors and other motor problems. In one of his largest studies, Brust compared alcohol habits in 308 patients with seizures and 294 controls who had never had a seizure. “We found that it doesn’t take all that much daily alcohol to set yourself at risk of seizure,” he said. How much? Just 50 grams of alcohol per day increases risk three-fold, his study found. “At my house, that’d be about two martinis and two glasses of wine,” he said wryly. That report, published in 1988, has since been cited 153 times in the scientific literature.
Amused by amusia:
Brust’s foray into amusia research, though unexpected and brief, was one of the most enjoyable experiences of his career, he said. When he met with his first amusia patient, Kathy Morris, the condition was much less recognized than it is now. So he didn’t quite know how to test her musical deficits. “They have more formal batteries of tests now, but I pretty much made this up as I went along,” he recalled. “I just sat her down at a piano and diddled around.” Brust’s methods may have been unorthodox, but they uncovered interesting patterns. When Brust played two notes, Morris could correctly tell him which had the higher pitch, for example, and she could also match her voice to a given note. When Brust played her recordings of melodies made on various musical instruments, she could act out which instrument made them (her speech troubles made it difficult for her to say them by name). But her musical deficits became obvious when Brust asked her to write the notes of “Happy Birthday” on a sheet of music paper. Though the rhythm of the notes matched the song fairly well, her placement of the notes on the clef was nowhere close to correct. What’s perhaps most interesting about amusia is its variability. Brust’s second amusia patient, the jazz musician, showed a notably different profile of deficits than Morris had. Like Morris, he could tell which of two notes was higher, he recognized well-known melodies, and he could identify musical instruments by sound. But unlike Morris, he couldn’t tap out rhythms. When asked to write “Happy Birthday,” he wrote just three half notes. “One of the messages of my paper was that amusia dissociates in every conceivable way. It’s like no two patients are alike,” Brust said. And that makes sense, he added, because unlike language, which is overwhelmingly processed by the left side of the brain, music is processed all over the brain.
“…amusia dissociates in every conceivable way. It’s like no two patients are alike.” An equally important message from Brust’s paper might be that the brain’s ability to process music is not static; it changes with practice and experience. Ten months after he tested Morris, Brust went to her graduation recital at the Manhattan School, where she sang—beautifully—in five different languages. “Afterwards, she told me she thought she was making some mistakes in German, but I told her I didn’t notice,” he said. Morris went on to be a singer in New York nightclubs, and one evening Brust went to see her. As he wrote in his paper: “Attending a performance, the author was unable to detect errors of either words or music.” Some 60 years after learning to jam in the Taft band, Brust’s own musical appreciation also continues to evolve. He still plays the saxophone, though not as frequently as he’d like to. He sometimes plays with his son, a pianist, or with a few friends in the city. “I’m in a couple of groups, but each one could be called the ‘once-a-year boys’,” he said with a chuckle. j Virginia Hughes is a science journalist based in Brooklyn, New York.
Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 31
The Long Journey Home:
A Return to Cuba By Eduardo Mestre ’66
In March 1960,
The Mestre family in their back garden circa 1955 (Eduardo on far left).
< Eduardo Mestre on Havana’s Obispo Street.
11-year-old Eduardo Mestre and his family fled Cuba. They had no idea they would never return to live and work there. The family’s television and radio station—as well as their other enterprises in food and beverage production, construction, auto retailing, and drug wholesaling and distribution—were then confiscated by the Castro government. They began their lives over in Argentina and America. Fifty-three years later, Mestre, an investment banker, flew to Havana. He will never forget his first thought as he descended the steps from the airplane onto the tarmac. “Cuba was no longer just a memory or an idea,” he writes, “something that you talked or argued about but couldn’t really relate to. There it was, and there I was, and the place really did exist, I could see it, touch it and embrace it.” Mestre was traveling with members of the Cuba Study Group, a nonprofit comprised of Cuban-American business people who wish to encourage the development of civil society in Cuba through engagement and dialogue. The purpose of their trip was to visit a foundation that operates a school for entrepreneurs. There, Mestre was heartened by the stirrings of private enterprise. But Mestre could hardly visit his birthplace after so many years without exploring places of personal significance as well. When he returned to the States, he wrote a long account of his journey, titled Cuba Through the Looking Glass. “I wanted to understand and record the strong cross currents of emotion which I experienced like countless other Cubans have during their first trip back,” he writes. An excerpt from Mestre’s memoir follows. Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 33
Casa Varadero, the Mestres’ vacation home in 1955.
A return to Varadero’s beach in front of his family’s vacation home.
Today I headed to Varadero, the resort 90 miles from Havana where my family had a vacation home on the beach. My driver was a 44-year-old ex-emergency room nurse. Manuel (not his real name) was typically Cuban—neither white nor black, medium height, medium build, short-cropped hair with streaks of grey and neatly dressed in a yellow polo shirt and dark pants that almost looked like a uniform. He was exceedingly polite, respectful and educated. On the Via Blanca, a four-lane coastal highway that leads to all points east of Havana, traffic was light—the opposite of what you might expect on a Sunday heading to the most famed beach resort on the island. We passed the smoke-belching diesel power plant that furnishes much of Havana’s electricity, followed by a scattering of blackened oil pumps, not 100 feet from the shoreline, rhythmically sipping crude from Cuba’s meager reserves of heavy oil.
Mestre’s Cuban driver at Varadero.
A giant Varadero sign appeared, and I leaned forward in my seat seeking landmarks to help me locate my childhood summer paradise. Varadero is a long narrow isthmus with an inland waterway on one side and miles of blindingly white-sand beach lining mottled turquoise waters on the other. We turned left over the first bridge and then left again for a few blocks, looking for my house. But Varadero had changed. Our neighbors’ houses were gone, replaced by sketchy motels, apartment buildings and souvenir shops. When we reached the canal that connects the inland waterway to the open sea, I knew we had gone too far. As we turned around, a sentry came over to help. As a kid I used to spend my afternoons fishing for mojarritas from the banks of the canal. “There are no more fish here,” the guard said. “Everything was fished out during the Período Especial after the collapse of the Soviet Union and people were starving.” I had heard the same thing in Havana,
We kept driving through nondescript neighborhoods, low slung buildings lining both sides of the two-way road, moderate traffic flowing at a respectable Saturday morning pace. We could have been in Honduras or Guatemala, but one more turn and there we were driving along the Malecón, surf pounding and spraying, once magnificent rundown buildings staring out into a strangely lonely sea, not a boat in sight. In most countries the sea transports you mentally over the horizon; in Cuba it is the barrier that imprisons you.
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Beyond the Postcards
On the way back to the hotel we went off the beaten path, and the other Havana revealed itself. This could have been Aleppo or Bosnia with the sounds of mambo and cha cha cha instead of gunfire. Buildings that should have been condemned and torn down were teeming with humanity, men in Depressionera undershirts leaning out of crumbling balconies whiling away the balmy afternoon. Clothes set out to dry were tended everywhere against a backdrop of unpainted, pockmarked walls missing corners, edges and entire sections. Here and there lumber had been substituted for columns and beams, allowing entire structures to lean perilously. It is widely known but never reported that every day some building in Cuba collapses, burying and killing whoever happened to be there at the time. A group of young boys played in the rubble of an empty lot next to the rusted hulk of a merry-go-round, oblivious to the devastation around them. There was not a white face or an air conditioner anywhere in sight. At no time did we feel unsafe, and no one paid any attention to us.
except that people there ate the cats, which explains why there are no cats in Havana. Going back the way we came, we stopped at a cluster of three mustard-colored houses, where I stepped out to get my bearings. I hesitated in front of the middle house before recognizing two of its distinguishing features—a flat roof and a wooden staircase from the second floor onto the terrace. Yes, this was my old house—now dilapidated, with crumbling masonry and peeling paint. The living room where we used to listen to the record of the Broadway musical The Pajama Game was walled over, and the garden level terrace perched above the sea was overgrown with vines and covered in sand. But the house was still in use, having been subdivided into rooms for let as part of a hotel down the road. My uncle and cousins had lived in the house on the left. One of those cousins would later marry Valeriano Lopez, who lived on the right and was Varadero’s only barefoot water skier. All of us were accomplished water skiers—I learned at the age of six. My father kept a bulletin board with a golden star next to each of our names for every milestone—getting up on two skis, learning to cross the wake, slaloming, learning to ski backwards. One Christmas card picture featured our family of six being towed simultaneously and aligned in order of height. Standing on the beach I went back in time, remembering every grain of sand and feeling memories wash over me—the women in floppy straw hats gossiping for hours on end, the leathery-skinned pirulero ferrying his tray of colored candies up and down the beach, the sweet taste of mamoncillo dipped in sea water. I could almost see myself donning fins and a face mask and venturing into the water with my spear gun in search
of ocean prey. I told Manuel that we would walk down those wooden steps after our naps and look for the telltale fins of toninas (porpoises) slicing through the sea. Manuel said he had never seen a tonina in the wild, only in a local aquarium where you could pet them in a tank. Heading back to Havana, we pulled into El Rancho, which advertised itself as the best meal in Varadero, with wooden tables neatly arranged under a thatched roof, bohío style, and anchored in the center by an enormous pyramid of wine bottles. I invited Manuel to sit with me, which he did hesitantly. The only items on the menu were full main courses. I opted for the fish, Manuel for the half chicken. We ate in semi-silence. As I was paying the bill, Manuel said, “I am not used to eating half a chicken; usually it’s only just a leg or half a breast. I ate like a savage.”—Comi como un salvaje, a quintessentially Cuban expression that I had not heard in a long, long time. I get sleepy in cars, especially following meals. Who knows how many minutes later I stirred, signaling I was awake. Manuel broke the silence. He clearly had been deep in thought and spoke slowly and deliberately. “You know, I am 44 years old, and I know nothing about the world,” he said. We talked about how much rented cars cost in the U.S. I explained that the average daily rental price was $40 to $50, a fraction of what it was today in Cuba, which could be as high as $250 a day for a late-model car. The rate in the U.S., however, varied by market, day of the week and season, and was heavily influenced by supply and demand. I also explained it was illegal for the rental companies to collude in setting prices, and that it was competition that kept prices low. These were concepts that were completely new to Manuel, but he seemed to grasp them. Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 35
A vew of the square fronting the Cathedral in Havana.
Lolling at Parque Central
At the Parque Central I sought a shaded marble park bench from where I could observe some of Havana’s most notable colonial edifices, all of them resplendently restored—the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (the old Centro Asturiano), the Hotel Inglaterra, the Gran Teatro de la Habana and, diagonally across, the Capitolio Nacional. Just as interesting, however, was the group of half a dozen men gathered next to me, some seated, some standing, all of them speaking animatedly at once, gesticulating as only Cubans can, undoubtedly recounting wildly exaggerated stories and expressing their opinions about anything and everything with Catholic conviction. I could only catch the occasional word and I dared not inch any closer, but the moment spoke eloquently through those voices which I could comprehend without understanding, men enjoying each other in full disregard of their hopeless circumstances. I was later told that the Parque Central is famous for the baseball discussions that occur there every day, mostly about the Cuban league but also the U.S. major league and its roster of Cuban players.
36 Taft Bulletin WInter 2014
A wedding couple celebrates in style on the streets of Havana.
I had always been curious about the Comités de Defensa de la Revolución (CDR)–the local neighborhood committees established in the early days of the revolution, ostensibly to ensure public safety, health and sanitation and act as public ombudsman. In reality, these were set up to spy on neighbors, weed out contra revolucionarios and maintain party discipline. Manuel explained that the CDRs had lost much of their relevance, since their enforcement mechanism was denial of access to jobs with state-run enterprises, which not long ago was all there was, and to the schools which prepared you for those jobs. But those jobs were either nonexistent or undesirable. Manuel knew the woman who was the head of his neighborhood CDR, but she had lost her revolutionary fervor once she had secured what she really wanted—better housing for herself and her family. At the last meeting, she had urged all to come forth with their grievances, assuring them that there was nothing to fear in doing so. A few grumbled about the butcher shortchanging them or the periodic blackouts. Manuel raised his hand. “I want to talk about the extraordinary mismanagement of this country,” he said. There was an audible gasp from his neighbors, but he continued: “I am a driver now, but I was a trained nurse, and I want to know why we are exporting medical assistance to places like Bolivia and Peru when the hospitals in this country are an embarrassment and a threat to the health of their patients. For example, the hospital where I worked was filthy, there is excrement in the hallways and the men in charge of cleaning are never to be found.” That meeting had meant a great deal to him. All too soon we were back in Havana, and it was time to say goodbye. During my trip I had discovered an unexpected
Dinner one night was at La Guarida, Cuba’s most famous paladar (independent, home-style restaurant). Located on the third floor of a lugubrious, ruined mansion, La Guarida occupies but one corner of what is otherwise a voyeur’s window into modern day Cuban apartment living. As we worked our way up the staircase to the restaurant, we could observe a color TV playing what appeared to be a foreign program atop a frail wooden table in a kitchen devoid of any appliances except an ancient stove. Bare lightbulbs hung from the ceiling and tangled wires snaked around yellowed PVC pipes. Walls and doors were missing everywhere, vandalized or fallen and never replaced. The lives of building dwellers and restaurant goers briefly intersected in derelict hallways where we could see and ignore each other, separated by unbridgeable circumstances. The meal and the paladar did not disappoint—excellent in every respect, but truly memorable for the incongruity of its surroundings and the poignancy of its social context. A crowd engaged in midday reveling at Cuba’s best known bar, La Bodeguita del Medio.
connectedness to Cuba and its people, who have not lost their humor or hope for a changed future. Why did I wait 53 years to return? I don’t have a good answer. I have had a long, successful career, and I was either too busy working or took vacations elsewhere. It also takes a special effort to travel to Cuba legally. Without relatives in Cuba, I needed to find some other permitted travel category to avoid running afoul of U.S. travel restrictions. Some Cubans have not returned for political reasons—or not wanting to spoil a memory of what Cuba used to be. This never was my case. My attitude is that travel to Cuba and engagement with Cubans are stimulants for democratic change that will brighten the lives of the most affected victims
of the Cuban revolution. I also hope to inspire some Cubans who have been reluctant to return. My trip was not a political statement but a personal journey of rediscovery—intimate and entirely mine. j Eduardo Mestre ’66 is an investment banker, and since 2004, he has been at Evercore, an independent mergers and acquistions advisory firm. He also serves on the boards of Comcast and Avis Budget. He and wife Gillian Shepherd have three children, Eduardo, Cristina and Laura ’98, and two grandsons. Photos courtesy of Andres Moreno and Eduardo Mestre.
The Family Home
The most anticipated visit of my trip was lunch at my childhood home, now the residence of the Portuguese ambassador to Cuba. My overwhelming impression was one of sameness, of how little had changed, and of unreality at actually being there, transported to a place that could not possibly still exist. A sofa lay where my mother’s desk used to be, the place she sat to tally the household’s bills on a mechanical adding machine with a protruding lever that needed to be pulled to record each computation on a two-inch roll of white paper. The recess where the library sofa used to be, and on which I used to sit observing my mother, was now empty. However, the hidden door built into the bookshelves was still there, and it could still be opened with a gentle push and a click, revealing behind it a closet lined with still more bookshelves. The house’s layout had been preserved, and so all the rooms were familiar and recognizable. My parents’ bedroom looked awfully small. I recalled watching television in the sitting area or browsing through pages of Life magazine documenting in black-and-white photos the 1956 Hungarian revolution. The back garden was in some respects our home’s signature space, with its luscious vegetation, giant ficus tree and lit path winding its way to the swimming pool at the far end. Beyond the pool house stood the chain link fences and gates connecting us to my two uncles’ homes, one now the residence of the Bulgarian ambassador and the other, one of many confiscated residences, which used to occasionally be occupied by Fidel Castro himself.
Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 37
Cutting the Door to Meet the Stone
A Campaign on the Line By Willy MacMullen ’78
As we publically announce the launch of a capital campaign that will set the course of this school, it’s a moment to celebrate and one I am tremendously excited about. But to get there, I want
to talk about the past and the future, and how a great school must place itself where those two meet. Those of you who know me well won’t be surprised that I’ll explain all this through a metaphor I shared with the faculty recently, and through a story of a great teacher. We find the metaphor with Don Oscarson ’47, our great Latin teacher who died in 2004 after serving the school for four decades. Oscie was legendary for his work with students, and also for his golden retrievers, a succession of dog pound-adoptees that he spoiled and fattened, sneaking them Charcoal Chef cheeseburgers under the table every night, such that they lived short and happy lives. This matters because one of his dogs serves as the background to this little story, about how a great school, and even a successful capital campaign, must always locate themselves at the place where the past and the future merge. For years I had wanted to replace the front doors at the entrance to Main Hall: they were old, battered and leaky. But while Oscie was alive, there was no point, as Caesar, perhaps the most irritable of all of his dogs, announced he wanted to come in by clawing, grizzly bear style, at the door. So the front door of one of the great schools in the nation was an eyesore: splitting, peeling and gouged. A year or so after Oscie died, we contacted the best millwork firm in the state about fixing the doorway, and the owner told me that the stone threshold was so cupped and worn that he would have to put in a new one in order for the seal to be tight. I knew we needed to keep that stone. “Can’t you cut the door to meet the stone?” I asked. And he did just that, as you can see if you look down at your feet when you come in, the wood curving gently to kiss the stone in a marriage of past and future. That line is where a school should live: where that which is granite and fixed and traditional joins that which is shaped and innovative and improving.
That line is where a school should live: where that which is granite and fixed and traditional joins that which is shaped and innovative and improving.
Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 39
j j j
What will the campaign do? The campaign hopes to raise $175 million so that the school can achieve five essential goals: h To find, recruit and retain
the best teachers—and it is a competitive niche—we must offer competitive salaries, professional growth and support, superior benefits and high-quality housing. h To provide sufficient financial
aid in order to enroll the ideal student body. h To provide academic and
co-curricular programs that prepare graduates to be thoughtful, informed global citizens. h To steward a campus so lovely
our obligation to it is not only practical but also moral. h And finally, we must also
maintain our commitment to annual giving, for this is how we are able to operate each year.
The campaign’s message—Ever Taft, Even Stronger—tells you what it is about. It is about preserving the great historic elements of this institution—that’s the “Ever Taft”—while also indicating that we also know we must innovate and evolve. That’s the “Even Stronger.” It’s an insistence in equal measure of the need to honor what we have always been while we also shape what we might yet be. So we set out to do something very special: a campaign to raise $175 million— $150 million in capital and $25 million in annual giving. In simple terms, our goal is to sustain excellence in the future—in our faculty, students, campus, programs and giving. As of today, and reaching back the five years of our quiet phase, we have raised gifts and pledges totaling $128 million ($137 million as of December 13, 2013). It’s a fine start, but we have work to do. I see ahead of us great challenge and even greater opportunity. Now, you should know the case. Here it is, and it is not complicated: As a school, we offer an excellent education even as we are, in relative terms, underendowed compared to our peer schools. Our endowment stands at just over $200 million, while our closest peers have endowments more than double that figure. We achieve excellence through crystal clarity of mission, great fiscal discipline, incredible commitment in our faculty and staff, and the wonderful generosity of alumni and parents. We are, you might say, a low-cost provider. Having a smaller endowment than your competitor schools means that there are constraints on faculty and staff compensation and benefits, on financial aid, on capital expenditures on our campus, and on expansion of our academic and extracurricular offerings. A school or college in this position can excel for a while, but not forever; over the long term, you end up making tactical and not strategic decisions. One day you wake up and realize you are no longer an aspiration; you are a compromise. We won’t let that happen. There is no question that we are in an extraordinarily strong position today, but excellence has a cost. The campaign is simple: we want to increase the endowment in order that Taft remains one of the preeminent middle-sized boarding schools in the nation. Endowment equals destiny. In a real way, the campaign will help us preserve the fundamental qualities, values and beliefs that are so essential to our identity and critical to our work that I cannot believe there would ever be a time we would not cleave to them. There’s a granite step, as it were, and this campaign will ensure it is cemented into our work.
Endowment: Faculty................................................................................................................................ $55,000,000 Student............................................................................................................................... $55,000,000 Programs............................................................................................................................. $8,500,000 $118,500,000 Facilities: HDT renovations (Funded).................................................................................... $21,500,000 Plant renewal..................................................................................................................$10,000,000 $31,500,000 Annual Fund:...................................................................................................................$25,000,000 Total:................................................................................................................................... $175,000,000
40 Taft Bulletin WInter 2014
What are these?
Taft already has more than $200 million in endowment. Why does the school need more?
h The first, of course, is our mission: the education of the whole student, at once
The endowment acts like a savings account that helps the school weather difficult economic times. Interest from the endowment also helps ease the school’s dependence on tuition and allows us to compete with the very best schools in the nation.
intellectual, moral, physical, spiritual and aesthetic. That’s where we always should begin. The fact that lots of schools say something similar does not make it any less true for us here. What matters is how consistently, rigorously, creatively and passionately the school lives out that mission.
h Second, we have always seen the classroom as the most important thing we do. Even as
we commit to the whole student, we are first and foremost a school with a reputation for academic excellence and rigor that prepares graduates for college and life.
h Third, we relentlessly seek excellence in all facets of school life. We do not brook
complacency, we impose impossibly high standards on ourselves as teachers and students, and we are always seeking to get better.
h Fourth, we believe that our campus makes possible our mission: we cannot separate the
work we do, the close relationships we enjoy, the teaching moments that appear, the communal spirit we feel, from this lovely collection of buildings, hallways and quads.
The campus is already beautiful. What else needs to be done? The Taft campus is uniquely beautiful, thanks to the generosity of generations of Tafties. We have an obligation to care for these historic structures and to provide the best facilities for the next generation of students.
Can I specify what I would like my gift to support?
h Fifth, we are a school that is consciously a community built on timeless foundation-
Yes, you can direct your donation to help endow any number of priorities, including scholarships, programming and faculty support.
Think of those five as the granite step we all tread. A school better have a granite step, it better be really visible, and its faculty, trustees and parents better believe in it. The campaign is about providing the means by which we can preserve this step.
How much has the school raised so far?
al values. Some are etched in stone, wood and glass, and all are part of our every day vernacular: service, honor, respect, rigor, kindness, humor, hard work.
j j j
But to be entirely granite is to condemn a school to some Stone Age, and there is something attractively restless, striving, reaching about Taft. We also have to be that door, a school that is perpetually reshaping itself, finding edges in a changing landscape. This also is the campaign. It is about getting better, about perfecting ourselves. One of my favorite writers, Henry Thoreau, said this: “In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and the future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.” I like the urgency and hope there, the faith that when we are fully in the present, bravely standing at the junction of past and future, we can actually improve our existence. That’s the sentiment behind our campaign, and it’s how we might greet every day: muscular in conviction that our past must be preserved, and incandescent with faith that we can shape our future. That line—where the granite step and wooden door meet—is where you will find our capital campaign, and it’s a great place to be, even as it requires a good bit of courage and commitment. It’s where we do our best work. j
The school launched the “quiet” phase of the campaign in 2008 and has raised $137 million to date in capital gifts and Annual Fund support.
Where can I learn more? Visit www.taftschool.org/campaign.
This article is excerpted from the Headmaster’s Parents’ Day Address, delivered on October 26, 2013.
Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 41
tales of a TAFTIE
x Hauling the Boat, watercolor on paper, 1993.
By Julie Reiff
Mark Winslow Potter, Class of 1948 Artist and teacher
Mark Potter is well known for his brilliantly lit landscapes and scenes of rural life in New England and the Adirondacks, where he spent summers even since childhood. He received a B.A. from Yale University in 1952, studying under Josef Albers. He later studied with George Grosz and Bernard Klonis at the Art Students League in New York City. Works by Potter are featured in several corporate and public collections, including Yale University and the Doris Duke Memorial Collection. His first one-man show, which took place in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, in 1962, was arranged by Andrew Wyeth. His solo and group shows include ones at the Wadsworth Atheneum, the National Academy of Design, the American Watercolor Society, the Academy of Fine Arts and the Adirondack Museum. His portrait of Malcolm Baldrige, former secretary of commerce, now hangs in the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Potter returned to Taft in 1956 to teach art and art history, achieving an almost legendary status among the faculty. He used to tell stories at the lunch table about his work for the CIA after college, supposedly designing disguises. Littering drove him crazy. Once, or perhaps more than once, he stood on stage at Jobs Assembly and dumped out a gym bag full of trash he’d collected on his walk over from the library. He liked the visual impact it had on students. Potter stories are legendary. There was the summer he moved into the old study hall and claimed it for his art room. He would draw on class comments to accompany his often brief, handwritten remarks. He would sketch everywhere—on menus, tablecloths, in church, faculty meetings, on bus and plane and subway rides. He “was always inventive and resourceful,” says his wife, Bobbie, like the time he traded a ballpoint pen for the toll into NYC when he was out of cash. Independent and unconcerned about many rules, he brought students on penalty crew to his home in Woodbury to help prepare for the holidays. “Then we would feed them, let them romp outdoors,” says Bobbie, “before he would give a tour of his studio, complete with art lecture, and take them back.”
“The essence of the man was the schoolboy within,” wrote Headmaster Emeritus Lance Odden after Potter’s death in 1995. “A boy coursing with creativity, curiosity, and enthusiasm and physical to his very core.” Potter loved the outdoors, especially the Adirondacks and the family’s summer camp—Brandreth. Connecticut farms were always a favorite subject of his paintings. Potter loved sports—especially hockey and tennis. He was renowned for testing the ice on the pond at the earliest opportunity. He once convinced a member of the grounds crew that the ice was strong enough to plow the snow off, only to have the tractor fall in. And woe to the student who tried to test its strength by throwing sticks or stones lest he get a lecture from Potter about ruining the ice. He played on the faculty Senile Six team and skated out in the annual Alumni Hockey Game well into his 50s. He thought himself young and strong forever. He told his daughter, Barbie ’79, that she could never beat him in tennis. She owned him at 12, played number 1 on the boys’ varsity as a lowermid and went on to become 8th in the world and was named to the Tennis Hall of Fame. All five of their children came to Taft (Mark ’72, Steve ’73, Andrew ’75, Barbie and Jeff ’80). His father, Eugene W. Potter, was a member of the Class of 1917. Teaching was always an important part of his life, and long after he might have retired to the studio, he continued to teach. It was his teaching that kept his painting free and alive, says Bobbie. His need to paint was nourished by his testing it and sharing it with his students. He spent 45 of his 66 years at Taft. The school’s gallery, and the pond, are named in his memory. “The reason I teach,” wrote Ken Rush ’67 in the Bulletin while Potter was still on the faculty, “is because I came into contact with a great teacher when I was a miserable failure of a student. That teacher gave me something that I can now, after years of starts and stops, give back. So why do I teach? Because a What successful Taftie, teacher, Mark Potter, made so much no longer living, would possible in my life.” you like to see profiled in this space? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
from the ARCHIVES
A Winter’s Day, at War With the U.S. entry into World War II in December 1941, it was clear that most Taft students faced conscription. A few months later, Headmaster Paul Cruikshank declared, “The school’s first job is to produce men fitted to help win the war.” New courses were offered in military mathematics, radio, navigation and cartography. The Accelerated Program made early graduation possible for volunteers and draftees. Several staff and teachers also joined up, and students had to step into their roles where they could. In Sunday Vespers the school community would listen to the headmaster read the names of Taft boys who had been reported wounded, missing or dead. By January 1945, when he wrote the accompanying letter, 32 Taft boys had been killed in action, and 27 more would die before the end of the war that December. We can only imagine what it was like for Mr. Cruikshank to preside over the school community at a time like that. From 1942 to the end of the war, he wrote a regular column in this publication addressing those serving abroad. Here is his quietly moving message from January 1945. —Alison Gilchrist, The Leslie D. Manning Archives
As I sit at my desk this Sunday afternoon it is snowing hard outside. Already six or eight inches of snow have piled up on the ledge outside my office window. The boys on the hockey squad are out on the pond shoveling—and losing ground to the storm. Mr. Pennell and some of the Penalty Crew boys are out shoveling the walks to the Infirmary and to the Annex. (Most of you do not know of the penalty crew, a group of unfortunates who did their jobs poorly this morning and so have to put in some extra work this afternoon…a wartime institution.) Many of the boys are out on the golf course, up by the Field House, on skis for the first time this winter. Somewhere over my head on the Upper Middle corridor there’s a roughhouse that I ought to go up and stop. The Lower Middle Committee has just been in to see me about the informal tea dance they are having next Saturday with some Westover girls. At tonight’s Vespers, the seniors will choose the hymns, and I can almost guess in advance which ones they will choose. We shall close with “Now the Day is Over.” After Vespers, Mrs. Cruikshank and I are having seniors in for supper, and we’ll sit around the fireplace for a while afterward. Then a meeting with the monitors, then to bed. There is really no point to this letter, except that I’ve been thinking about you scattered all over the world—in France, in Belgium, in New Guinea, the Philippines, China, Africa—and I thought you’d like to remember a Sunday at Taft. It hasn’t changed much. —Paul Cruikshank
Taft Bulletin Winter 2014 43
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