Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A weekend in the Boston area for two reunions.

Last Thursday my wife and I went to the Boston area for two reunions: mine for the Harvard Law School class of 1970 in Cambridge and my wife for an informal gathering of her classmates from St. Joseph's School in Lynn. We spent our first night as guests of one of her former professors at Emmanuel College, who lives in the close in suburb of Brookline. From our Amtrak train at South Station we bought a Charlie Card, named for this Kingston Trio song, and took the Red Line to Park Street, where we caught a Green Line train (photo) bound for Cleveland Circle which let us off a block and a half from our host's apartment. That evening we were treated to beef Stroganoff, fine wine, and scintillating conversation.
Our hotel was on the Boston side of the Charles River (the "Mighty Chuck", as my wife calls it) and afforded a view of the river, Cambridge, and downtown Boston beyond. A women's rowing team was headed upriver, accompanied by a coach rowing solo.

Martha L. Minow is the twelfth Dean of Harvard Law School, and the second woman to hold that position. The first was her immediate predecessor, Elena Kagan, now a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Dean Minow greeted the alumni--my class of 1970 was joined in Cambridge last weekend by the classes of 1955, '60, '65, '75, and '80--with an informative talk about what is going on at the Law School now, much of which is summarized here. I was impressed by her statement that nearly half of the present first year class did not come to the Law School directly from college, but spent a few years working, either in business, the military, or some volunteer service like Teach for America. In retrospect, I wish I had done that. Dean Minow also stressed the changes in the curriculum since we were students, with more emphasis on practical training and a requirement that students perform pro bono service for indigent clients or public service organizations. Dean Minow is a daughter of Newton Minow, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission under President Kennedy and famous for having characterized television as it was in the early 1960s as a "vast wasteland."
There were several lectures and panel discussions, including one featuring alums who had distinguished themselves in public service. The panelists, left to right, are: my classmate and former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, Navy Secretary and former Mississippi Governor Raymond Mabus, former Congresswoman and fellow Brooklynite Elizabeth Holtzman, and Jack F. Trope, Senior Director of Indian Child Welfare Programs and Casey Family Programs. Part of the discussion focused on the role of money in the political process, with Secretary Mabus marveling that, earlier in his career, he had spent several million dollars to win a job that paid $60,000 a year.
John Harvard surveys the Yard from his chair in front of University Hall, the administration building.
Across the Yard from University Hall is Holden Chapel, one of the oldest, and I think prettiest, in classic Georgian style, buildings on the campus. It has, to say the least, an interesting history, as described in this Crimson story .
Here's another view from our hotel window. In the foreground is the art deco former headquarters of Polaroid; the skyscrapers in the background are 200 Clarendon (formerly the John Hancock Tower; Henry N. Cobb, I.M. Pei and Partners, 1976) (left) and the Prudential Tower (Charles Luckman and Associates, 1964) (right).