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Sunday, September 9, 2012

THE STANFORD CLASS OF '62


I just yesterday received all 400 pages of my 50th Reunion Class Book, published on 30% recycled post-consumer paper, whatever that is.  Makes you wonder why not 100%.  The effort was co-edited by Anne Lusignan Butler and James Malott.  I fondly remember Anne.

We are the Class of '62, 1368 starting freshmen in 1958, and now actually have a class page.  Not sure what the acceptance rate was back then, but the class of 2016 had the lowest ever, at 6.6% (Harvard's was 5.9%).  This means that only a little more than 25% of our class bothered to respond with information, some barely hand-written.  Malott himself, for example, did not submit anything.   Well, let me be more grammatically accurate:  he submitted nothing.

As the engineer I am (yes, that's me as a freshman), I carefully answered those questions posed in six boxes, one which sought, MOST VALUABLE THINGS I LEARNED AT STANFORD:

Upon graduation I observed tht my high school classmates were better engineers from their education at the University of Hawaii.  However, I was able to communicate at a higher level--better appreciated music, art and culture in general--had a more worldly view of things--and, most important of all, had the confidence to be innovative and enterprising.


I sent in the above photo of my blog.

I could not find anything from my six closest classmate friends living in the Bay Area.  None of us will be on the Farm from October 4-7 for this reunion.  I would have joined if anyone showed any initiative to participate, but like them, I have this general hesitancy, if not phobia.  I was actually chairman of my McKinley High School 10th year reunion, but today, I find them almost excruciating.   Anyway our group already had a 50th reunion, four years ago, when we visited Wilbur Hall and tried to find any restaurant we then frequented.

It's possible that the billionaires and other famous people did not deign to engage, for there is no noteworthy person in this book recognized by the world.  I would not be particularly surprised if 77% of them are millionaires, for there are a whole lot of lawyers, doctors and professors, with wonderful stories about their families.  But no pre-eminently outstanding individual.  No Sandra Day O'Conner (Supreme Court), John Steinback (author), Condoleeza Rice (Secretary of State), Andrew Luck (football player), Sigourney Weaver (actress), Eileen Collins (astronaut) and Herbert Hoover (President and the photo, 1895 pioneering class with a degree in geology--).  Nothing!

On the other hand, Stanford is more famous now because of Silicon Valley, which in my days on campus was mostly cherry and plum orchards.  Mind you, there was already Hewlett-Packard, and David Packard, Jr., who was on the same, but adjacent, freshman floor of Wilbur Hall, hawking stocks, which had just became available that year.  Wonder what happened to him?

Mind you, I spent less than an hour scanning those pages, but the most interesting graduate I could find was Leslie Kenton:

I've raised four children by four different men on my own choice...never was the marrying kind...  

She was way ahead of her time.  You can visit with Leslie at curaroman.com, an online guidance program to lose weight and look great.  Made a quick search and found a review of her book entitled, Love Affair, only published two years ago.  She is the daughter of American jazz great, Stan Kenton, and the book dealt with incest, as detailed in The Wall Street Journal.  What a life!  It is, thus, entirely possible that quite a number more of us have lived truly extraordinary lives, but chose not to share these details.

Me?  I know I spent less time studying during my four years there than three years of high school.  I recall my first physics professor, Wolfgang Panofsky, because a couple of decades ago I sat next to him on a flight from San Francisco to D.C., and, over a few martinis, he shared with me the details of what he would be discussing with his Soviet counterpart to ship nuclear material from their warheads to be re-processed into fuel.  

No doubt Stanford had an influence on me, for at least I'm trying to save Planet Earth (The Venus Syndrome) and Humanity (10% Simple Solution for Peace).  Haven't succeeded thus far, but it has been a heck of a great life.

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