Then as now, annual class letters and magazine class notes help alumni share happy and sad times
“John, Grace, and their two children spent Labor Day at my home in North Reading,” reads the class note from Ralph Kendall. “John attended a World Series game with me. He was full of hopes and plans for the future.”
It’s a pretty typical class note about family and friends. But you won’t find Ralph Kendall’s note in this issue. It was published in a Bates class letter a long time ago, in the winter of 1919, by the Class of 1906.
Red Sox fans reading the note will know immediately that the 1918 World Series that Ralph Kendall and his classmate “John” (Albert Johnson) attended was the last Series won by the Sox. The two friends may even have seen Babe Ruth pitch. Maybe they quaffed a few beers together.
But weeks after their visit, on Oct. 19, Albert Johnson would die, a victim of the worldwide influenza pandemic of 1918 and 1919. Johnson was class president, and to honor his memory, his classmates dedicated a class letter to him. Dozens of remembrances, including Kendall’s account of their Labor Day get-together, fill the 36-page letter.
Then as now, annual class letters and magazine class notes help alumni share happy and sad times. Class secretaries are the unsung heroes of this news-gathering operation, and their efforts demand a talented and empathetic editor at the College.
Longtime class news editor Ruth Rowe Wilson ’36 set the standard for her position. Last fall, Bates welcomed her successor, Christine Terp Madsen ’73, an editor with a journalism and technology background who lives in nearby Freeport.
Chris quickly experienced the bittersweet nature of the work. As members of the Class of 1974 celebrated a number of 50th birthday milestones last year, they were also stunned to lose their beloved one-time president, Bert Andrews, to cancer, and another classmate, Chien Hwa, to a freak highway accident.
Chris wrote their obituaries for this issue, and the opening line of her friend Bert’s obit — “The first thing anyone noticed about Carl Delbert ÔBert’ Andrews was his smile” — drives sadness back and conjures a happy memory for his friends and family.
H. Jay Burns