Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

The College Pump

So Long for a Time

Baez, Dylan, and more vignettes from Harvard’s class of 1964

January-February 2015

See you. A much-admired pair of legs and shoes disappear into a window above the shops on Haight Street, San Francisco. The Reichardts have seen it all.

See you. A much-admired pair of legs and shoes disappear into a window above the shops on Haight Street, San Francisco. The Reichardts have seen it all.

Photograph by Oversnap/istock

As college harvardians are aware, every five years each class produces a reunion report in which members of the class may tell what they’ve been up to and what’s on their minds, for the presumed benefit of their classmates, the passing sociologist, and the nosy. Christopher S. Johnson ’64, A.M. ’65, a contributing editor of this magazine, has read each of his class’s reports across the decades cover to cover, and has kindly passed highlights along to Primus, who is inquisitive but skips over the occasional sad part. Now it’s time to put the Harvard and Radcliffe Class of 1964 Fiftieth Anniversary Report on the shelf, all 1,077 pages of it, for the class of ’65 is approaching. We’ll see this mob again in five years. But before we go:

Keith Cushman, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, preserves a bit of the Sixties in what Johnson calls “the amber of memory.” “On a beautiful spring afternoon in 1964, my Wellesley girlfriend and I were self-consciously sunning ourselves on a blanket beside the Charles along with a dozen or so other couples. Two motorcycles roared up. Joan Baez was on the back of one of them, Bob Dylan on the back of the other. Baez and Dylan dismounted, and—while all of us acted as if nothing extraordinary were happening—Joan Baez picked up her guitar and sang ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand.’ Then she handed the guitar to Bob Dylan, who, seated cross-legged on the ground and hunched over, sang ‘Mr. Tambourine Man.’ Then they climbed back onto the motorcycles and roared off. I remember this as if it happened yesterday. Such, such were the joys.”

Louis French Reichardt, who has a home in New York City and does scientific research at the Simons Foundation and the University of California, San Francisco, reports that he and his wife, Katherine, Ed.M. ’75, did this exercise: “In preparation for our fortieth wedding anniversary, we spent a year walking every street in San Francisco, totaling approximately 1,900 miles in distance and seven Mount Everests in elevation gain. There is no better way to get to know a city and its people than walking its streets.…The experience was one of the richest of our lives.”

Gordon Peacock Harper, M.D. ’69, of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, writes that he has had experience abroad, especially in the developing world, on behalf of an international child mental-health organization. “Humbling, gratifying, and challenging. Even more humbling is to appreciate, as the details of molecular and cellular physiology emerge, through what an unimaginably chancy chain of genetic accident, differential survival, and selection the life that we take for granted has arisen. On the precarious top of which our collective cultures are perched. I feel like Keats’s imagined Cortez and his men, seeing something vast and amazing, ‘...staring....and looking at each other with a wild surmise—silent upon a peak.’ ”

“I owe my second husband, and the love of my life, to Harvard,” writes Cynthia Johnson MacKay, an eye surgeon from Brooklyn. “After 39 years of marriage, when I was 60, my first husband, Malcolm MacKay, left me for a younger, thinner, blonder woman. I read Warren Joseph Keegan’s [personals] ad in Harvard Magazine and called him up. We have been together 10 years, married for six, and it gets better every day. Warren is a graduate of Harvard Business School (M.B.A. ’61, D.B.A. ’67). He is downstairs as I write this, pounding out his thirty-first book, the eighth edition of one of his textbooks, Global Marketing Management.…

“There was a dark side for a woman student at Harvard in the 1960s. The men were celebrated; the women, tolerated. I never felt I had a place there. I did not have one woman teacher during the four years I was there. There was not one portrait of a woman on those dark mahogany walls, where ranks of accomplished men looked down with confident, self-satisfied expressions. I left Harvard with less self-confidence than when I arrived. Hooray for Drew Gilpin Faust, and good riddance to the old days.”

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