Four years at Dartmouth, four years of medical school, eight years of surgical training, and a practice that has included a lot of trauma have prepared me to be Reunion chair. Here's the inside story of the Class of 1981 Reunion, June 14 - 18, 2006.
Rick Silverman '81
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Met Beth Parish '85 in front of Blunt; she said she'd spoken with EJ Kiefer in Conferences and Special Events, and we'd be outside for the Field of Dreams. Walking to Thayer for breakfast, I ran into Susan Wright, who also confirmed good weather, with a small chance of thunderstorms late in the afternoon.
Okay, so we're good for the Field of Dreams. But what about dinner, which also was to be outside?
Leaving Thayer, I ran into Lizzie Eldredge Alexakos '81, who had volunteered her husband to be our Reunion treasurer, and she said George was pretty anxious, had been up all hours, so I headed to the tent to help put out fires.
Wristbands. I'll have nightmares about the wristbands. At the tent, it was all about, where are the extra wristbands? We had 600 people preregistered, we'd ordered wristbands for 5 percent over that number, so 30 extra. But we had more than 30 unannounced arrivals. A call to Lisa Stone in Alumni Relations to negotiate more wristbands helped stem the tide, but only briefly, as we learned that some of the preregistered packets were missing their wristbands. Did Dave get extra wristbands to replace them?
I need a shower.
Field of Dreams was a huge success, except for the people who wished there were more bungee stations for the kids. Not my department, thankfully. And somehow, almost everyone showed up wearing wristbands. We had plenty of food and beverages, and enough threatening clouds to make me feel very relieved after about 2 pm, on the downhill side of the event.
Back in my room. I contemplated doing a few tasks, but opted for a nap instead. What a wise decision that was.
When the alarm went off, I thought I should ignore it and sleep for another week or two, but I got up.
I stopped in at the de-recognized house of Zeta Psi, where my brothers (including about half the '81 pledge class) were discussing the future of the house. Remarkably, 20 of 21 members of my pledge class were attending Reunion. As I walked past Baker Library, I saw that the tables for our class dinner were set up on the lawn. Unfortunately, there were also many clouds gathering overhead.
Back in my room in Andres, I finished preparations for the evening. I wrapped gifts, jotted notes for remarks, called Fernando, panicked that I had no name tags for the professors attending our reception, and finally showered and dressed in four minutes.
I rushed to Baker Library for a calming gin-and-tonic (okay, two) and was relieved to see growing rays of sun coming through the clouds. My four-leaf clover had once again worked its magic.
But other things worried me: the lack of name tags for professors, the heat inside Baker, the noise level when the Aires started to sing, other things.
Despite the heat, despite the missing nametags, and despite the noise, the evening got off to a great start.
And it only got better. As the crowd moved from cocktails to dinner, I cozied up to Rene Russo, wife of classmate Dan Gilroy '81, for a photograph, and she graciously complied. Take note, potential Reunion chairs: membership has its privileges!
President Jim Wright '64a was due to arrive around 8:20 to speak, so I sent Chip to the microphone to start our class meeting during the salad course.
I felt honored beyond words when the entire group stood to thank me for a great weekend. Lump in the throat, but no time for dilly-dallying, so I forged ahead through the bestowing of my thank-you treats.
The Reunion Giving Committee, introduced with some poignant remarks by Dave Edelson '81, impressed us with some very big numbers and passed the big checks to President Wright.
With the lights of Baker tower as a backdrop, John Rassias worked his special magic on the darkening lawn in front of the library. I've heard John speak about a million times, and of course, his daughter, Helene, has heard him at least 10 million times, but as she leaned into me to comment on how incredibly special the moment was, I could see that I wasn't the only one with teary eyes. This was practically the end of my big responsibility, so most of the weight of the world was lifting off my shoulders in that enchanted atmosphere on the lawn.