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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

 

Alumni Weekend

Following a panel appearance at a day and a half conference in Washington, Amtrak and SEPTA took me to Haverford Station on Friday afternoon for alumni weekend. I hadn't been back in about nine years and was anxious to see the campus again, as well as my friends from the Class of 1971. This being an off-year for me, I had no real obligations and could look forward to a return trip for my own reunion next year. So I kind of enjoyed my walk up College Lane and past the Duck Pond to the new Student Center (at least new to me - it was built some 25 years after my graduation) despite my heavy travel bag and the warm humid day. No matter. The campus was just breathtaking, a conclusion I came to at every beautiful corner I would see all weekend. It is truly a privilege to have the ability to go back now and then.

A warm greeting from the host current students and the happy news that I would be staying in 6th entry Lloyd at the north end of campus, and it was up the hill across the quad to the familiar rectangle where the Haverford extras who played the fictional college students in the first Eddie and the Cruisers movie had cavorted for the Rites of Spring. That was an odd scene to see for those of us who had gone to Haverford, since there have never been Greek Houses on the actual campus. Outside 6th entry, a group of 1971 grads were already lounging in a circle of chairs and tables. One called out that it looked like I could use a beer. I congratulated him on his visual acuity (considering our advanced ages) and said I would be right out after dumping my bags. He offered a critique of my chosen order of priority. but promised beer would still be available when I returned. Thank goodness it was, and I soon joined them. The weekend was off to a great start, and I texted the wife, "arrived at H-Ford, already beering."

After dinner in the dining center, there was a tent set up near the library and I saw a number of friends, including college staff, and even a stray classmate (whose wife was BMC "71). Most of the Class of 71 adjourned to a local classmate's house for a party I did not really plan to crash, so I did what I really wanted to do - walk over past the Quaker Meeting House to Lancaster Avenue and my favorite neighborhood watering hole from those long lost days, The Roache and O'Brien's. It was populated with alumni, mostly younger (who isn't these days?), but somehow quite a bit of conversation ensued. One change I didn't much like - there was no Guinness on tap, only in cans, which made Black and Tans impractical.

Day two was really fun. Somehow I caught the end of breakfast at the dining center in time to see my three roommates from the 71 class emerging. One of the three, Bob Schwartz, had received an honorary degree only the week before for his pioneering work as the founder and ED of the Juvenile Defense Center of Philadelphia, a remarkable non-profit which has become the model for similar centers around the country and even the world. We went to a panel of alumni media experts discussing the future of printed media, and the panel moderator was my old friend Dave Espo, now of the Associated Press (this blog spotlighted his coverage of the ObamaCare passage) who had been managing editor of the Haverford News when I was Sports Editor. We attended the awards ceremony in front of Roberts Hall (where Eddie and the Cruisers had their "concert") and then it was time for lunch in the tent. Sitting with Bob, he told me that after the panel, he and Espo adjourned to the library and reviewed some of the old editions of The News from our era. I decided to do the same later that afternoon. But first it was time for a panel on Quaker Values.

This turned out to be flagrantly false advertising, though the three panelists were all at least members of the Society of Friends. The leader of the panel was Joe Volk, Class of 1961, who for the last 21 years, has been leading something called the Friends Committee on National Legislation. They passed out literature from that group, and a quick perusal made it clear that the only true Quaker value we were going to hear about was pacifism. Otherwise, it was the straight Progressive agenda, tax the rich, environmentalism, debt reduction by starving defense, but no cuts at all for entitlements and preserve all other federal programs. Ugh. There were a lot of questions, but at Haverford, no one really challenges the politically correct line. Anxious to get to the library, I resisted the urge to rain on the parade, and decided to just let it go. Smart move, I think. Life's too short.

Next was the library, and a very happy hour re-reading articles from over 40 years ago, including some of my own and some from Pulitzer prize winner - to - be humorist Dave Barry, "69. I'm afraid Barry's work had me laughing audibly - good thing school was not in session and the library quiet rules went unenforced. Frankly, I could have spent days in there.

But I wanted to walk through the "Doug" and time was all too short. The new Douglas Gardner Center is Haverford's spectacular athletic facility, and it lived up to everything I had heard. I was green with envy as I walked around the basketball court, looked in on the huge exercise room with all its new equipment, saw the new squash courts, and all the different hallways honoring Haverford legends. I had taken a peak at the old field house, with its newly resurfaced track where Tom Donnelly's teams dominate Division 3 all winter as the cross country and track teams do outdoors in the fall and spring. The old basketball court has been resurfaced for indoor tennis. Not bad.

Doug Gardner was one of three Haverford alumni who perished in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Why so many from a school that has only about 10,000 living alumni at any given time, if that? Because Howard Lutnick, CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald is an alumnus, and the campus networking system had placed people in his employ. By pure luck, Lutnick was on a family errand when the catastrophe happened and he survived. His money largely funded the Doug, and it was his idea to name it for Gardner. Fittingly, there are remembrances of all three who perished in the building.

After my tour, I went to the bookstore, which is in the student center next door and bought a couple of tee shirts. Next was a walk to Bryn Mawr for the pre-dinner cocktail hour at Goodhart's music room with the Class of 71. Instead, we were treated to a recital by 1971 grads from both schools - cello and piano that took up the whole hour, leaving precious little (i.e. no) time for cocktails. I got a ride back to campus with Espo and we all made our way back to the Doug for dinner, where in addition to very good food, there was ample wine and beer. Highlight of the dinner was a short speech by Jack Coleman, President of the College during our era, now 90 and barely audible, but still a fountain of simple wisdom. He advised that it was not too late for us to do new and great things, a good pep talk for folks seeing retirement just over the horizon. He has certainly provided a great example. Since leaving the College, Coleman has run a bed - and - breakfast and a local newspaper. He allowed that he had not been necessarily the best economics teacher - I was in his class and would agree - but that he was proud of bringing coeducation to Haverford and loved the place like no other. On that, he had company in that room.

I spent some after dinner time with my former roommates and then it was time to go to the old Ryan Gymnasium, scene of many an intramural basketball game, to hear Dingo, the band from our era made up of classmates from 1971 and 1972. They were pretty rusty in the early sets, but hit their stride later on, and had everyone dancing to those good old songs by Steve Miller, the Stones and Spirit. From there it was back to the Roache for a very pleasant few hours of wind - down, ultimately closing the place.

Sunday morning, I somehow got up early enough to make it to the Meeting House for some real Quaker values. The hour went by quickly, mostly in silence as I prefer. There was a large house fly buzzing about, and I remember thinking that no fly in the world was safer than he; no Quaker would ever lift a hand to one of God's creatures, especially during their time of silent devotion.

Returning to the Dining Center for a farewell brunch, I said goodbye to Espo and promised to contact him when in D.C. He wound up driving me and my bags to the train station and I was on my way home, already looking forward to my next visit. As students, we always agreed that the place would be so great if it weren't for the classes, exams and papers. And now, that's how it is!

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On May 20, we bought 400 shares of Great Lakes Dock and Dredging (GLDD) for the IRA at 6.34. The same day, we sold 100 shares of TMO for 65.55 that we bought on 1/10/02for 23.29. On 5/23, we bought 100 shares of IDT for 26.35 as we continued to build a position in that stock. On 5/25, we bought 20 shares of TIP, our inflation protected Treasury ETF for the IRA at 110.85. On 5/26, we bought 300 shares of Marine Max (HZO), a value buy at 7.99. Then on 5/31, we sold 300 more shares of Newpark Resources (NR) at 9.47. The purchase price for these had been 5.40 on 12/29/04. Yesterday, we sold 100 shares of Worthington (WOR) on the opening, a good time to sell as it turned out. We got 21.73 compared to a purchase price of 14.27 on
5/19/03. A tribute to patience as much as anything ewlse.

As we get new readers, I must repeat our disclaimer a bit more often. Redwavemusings and its author are not investment advisors, and none of the securities or strategies discussed here should be considered recommendations. Investment ideas here are likely to be unsuitable for other individuals. In fact, they may well be unsuitable for me.

Comments:
One of your better posts. Well written, an enjoyable sojourn from economics and politics.
Peter
 
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