The Class of '73

15 January 1996

Dear fellow members of the class of '73, I'm MAGGIE TOMBACH Sherman, and I'm your new class correspondent. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but here it is. I guess I started toying with the idea in a moment of nostalgic weakness after I missed the 20th reunion a few years ago and, after getting reports from a few of you, thought it might be a fun way to ease back into something like a job. Somehow, when Claire actually asked last month, I wasn't thinking quickly enough to say no. Years of having my resistance broken down by a very persistent only child (and, recently, the even more relentless PTA chairpeople into whose traps my devotion to the aforementioned child has led me) has me out of practice. My father, a reluctant sergeant half a century ago, had always impressed upon me that one ought never to volunteer. These days I don't believe he meant it anymore than the local police officer can possibly have meant it when he told my son's fifth grade class that the best way to avoid substence abuse is never to take a drink. Oh, I understand that most adults figure it's better (anyway, easier) to train a kid to an extreme and then let the lesson of moderation be learned slowly through the years than it is to instruct in the ways of making choices and exercising reasonable restraint. I am not so sure which is the way to go, myself. I just know that now I'm saddled with the responsibility of begging and entreating you all to participate in this new-fangled, online version of our alumnae/I magazine.

My job description is pretty loose, but I figure I'm supposed to fill this electronic column with news, information and insights about how we are all doing twenty-plus years later. My hope is that lots of you have reached a point from which you can look back and come up with a couple of dozen words to share with the rest of us. Look, I'd never even filled out one of those pre-addressed postcards with requests for vital statistics and now I'm going to have to upload enough bytes of stuff to fill this thing all by myself if you don't help out. Why? Why not just let them run an empty box? Too easy. Let's face it, our class notes are a constant... one of life's small pleasures... an odd sort of soap opera starring us. And now we don't even have to wait for the mailman to bring it!

Even though I never wrote in, I've always checked out our class notes. There are some of you of whom, to tell the truth, I have absolutely no recollection from when we were in school, but with whom I have become acquainted through the years thanks to your regular contributions to this column. Please continue, it's been nice getting to know you. And to the rest of you-- those who've never written in-- do it. Why not?

We're the stuff of modern culture. It's no fluke that we're blazing trails by conducting our interaction on the Internet now-- we're a vanguard kinda group. We were the class of '69 in high school. Assuming I'm not the only one who watches too much television, you all must know just how seminal that alone makes us. There was a war fought the decade before we were even born which shaped our parents' and our world which we can remember as clearly as every other black-and-white movie we watched on the rainy afternoons of childhood when there were only a few channels from which to choose. Perhaps less clearly, we remember that other war as... as what? As a shared crisis, if nothing else.

We are infinitely varied in our early middle-age, but, like the far-flung members of an extended, dysfunctional family, we cannot ignore the things we shared because they were so very important to us: a time, a place, an education-- a past. How could we not be riveted by accounts, be they superficial or soul-baring, cheering or heart-rending, from long-lost comrades? As survivors from both sides flocked to Omaha Beach and embraced, old enmities faded, so we seek out each other. It is confirmation of our youth, of our dreams (fulfilled or not), of all the years since. Bottom line for me-- it's nice to know I haven't survived alone.

So share your stories with old friends-- it's so easy now that you don't even have to lick a stamp. And don't worry, you aren't the only one who has mellowed; I suspect we all have learned enough not to be too quick to judge, lest we be judged ourselves.

Another time I'll tell you what's new and old with me, right now I've got a question for you all, something that might induce you to write. Does anyone else have difficulty believing that Bill and Hillary are, for all intents and purposes, our age? Okay, there's a whole group of you who knew them at law school or thereafter, so I guess you can grapple with this. But what about the rest of you? Just plain folks, like me? Seriously, have you ever known anyone our age who seemed Presidential? As capable as FDR? As slick as Jack? As vile as Nixon? And if you knew someone like that, would she or he actually consider the Presidency as a goal? Not to mention the First Spousedom. And this guy has aspired to this since he... since we were teenagers. What would we have thought of such a geek?! If you'd met someone who uttered such an ambition, would you have given him your real phone number? If you married the guy and his/your dream came true, would you let them dress you up like a grown up? A Republican grown-up, at that?! After you'd won the election! Why bother? C'mon, Hillary, somewhere in the back of your closet I know you've still got those jeans and the baseball cap. Just some thoughts.

Now, here's some actual news from/of your classmates thanks to loyal correspondent PAULA SHAEFFER Lederle in Richmond: "The house is now two stories-- we added a master bedroom, beautiful bathroom and a study. Between riding herd on the workmen and organizing the Junior League's annual benefit (theme is Rodeo), the days are filled. Thank goodness Duncan's a licensed driver and can handle carpooling rounds for his younger brother. Speaking of Evan, he's just qualified for State diving in the Under-14 class. My hair is lank from all the hours poolside. JACKIE NICHOLS Sanders and hers are all fine, seemingly as happy as they've ever been now that they're settled in Newton. Peter, in fact, is downright delightful to be with. DANIELLE STERN Caesario and her clan visited here a couple of months ago (en route to sailing in the Caribbean) and they, also, are all thriving. MARLA FRENCH, working in New York, seems to be doing well, too. I hope I've covered all the important stuff. If not, I'll catch up in the next correspondence which will be, I promise, much more regularly paced. Maggie, we are planning to pass through your part of the world in a little over a year-- an Asian adventure to celebrate Duncan's graduation. We'll see you then."

Thanks for the news, Paula, we've room for you all (which is what happens when you plan a house for more than one child and then run into secondary infertility). Good luck to Evan at State. Would he or Duncan be considered a dork if he aspired to government service? It's not an unworthy ambition, I guess, if faithfully performed once achieved. Oh, speaking of MARLA FRENCH- she is, indeed, doing well in New York. She's just been nominated for an Obie Award for her one-woman show, "French Kisses". I've got house seats booked for next month. We are all so proud, Marla. How 'bout a note? How 'bout notes from all of you?! I'll update this as soon as I have the material to do so.
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