The first time Nancie Fimbel '68 stepped onto campus, she knew she belonged. "This is where I wanted to be," she says. And since that very first moment, she has been engaged in and inspired by the work of Mount Holyoke.
Fimbel's career shaped her understanding of the needs of a modern institution of higher education as well as the personal rewards of philanthropy. During many years working in higher education, including as a professor and administrator at San Jose State University, she watched the changes that technology brought to all aspects of campus life.
"When I was a freshman," she says, "we brought with us a clock and maybe a radio, and electric typewriters were just coming out ... but that was it."
Fimbel notes that today's caliber of students demand greater technological innovation, and she is impressed with the ways Mount Holyoke has responded to the changing needs of the campus population. She cites in particular the College's MEDIAL Project renovations to Pratt Hall that created digital music laboratories where students can explore the nexus between music and technology.
Annual July 4th greetings from Martha & Steve Cutts
This spring we attended a lecture by Stefan Fatsis, author of Word Freak. He spoke about the development of the game of Scrabble in the 1950s and about today's phenomenon of competitive Scrabble. Who knew that there are national - even international - Scrabble championships? This is a pursuit by people with huge memories; not only do these competitors memorize dictionaries full of obscure six and seven letter words, they keep track of all the letters which have been played in a game and calculate which letters are left over to be grabbed and how many points they are potentially worth, like card-counters at a Vegas blackjack table. Anyway . . .
Daunted yet inspired, we came home, found the aging Scrabble box, and started into some hard-nosed competition of our own. We offer play-by-play and commentary of the result.
Martha opened with "TRAIT"- not immensely clever, nor did it generate many points. It has been a trait of ours since the summer of 1987 to send July 4 greetings to friends and family far and wide. There are still some of you on the mailing list who received that first annual letter with a photo of the two of us in red shorts and white t-shirts standing in the snow, an attempt to parody the popular family-on-summer-vacation Christmas card photo.
[ 12 points -- including the Double Letter Score for the "T" at the end and Double Word Score as the first play]
It was the perfect (though unintended) set-up. Steve followed by adding "P", "O", and "R" to "TRAIT". A Washington Latin benefactor wanted to honor Martha's leadership at the school (now three years in the past) by commissioning an oil portrait. A wonderful young woman was selected as the artist, photographs were taken, and Martha emerged from the canvas (standing with her high school Latin book in front of one of the school's many inspirational panels - in this case the all-so apt Frederick Douglass quotation "Once you learn to read, you will forever be free."). Consensus has it that the painter nicely caught Martha's spirit. The finished masterpiece was revealed on March 4. (Martha kept referring morbidly to the afternoon event as "the viewing".)
[ 10 points - Martha 12; Steve 10 ]
Martha built on the "R" of "PORTRAIT" to score (again weakly) with "REUNION". This was the forty-fifth anniversary of Steve's graduation from Wesleyan, so we both headed to Connecticut at the end of May. In particular there was a trio of his classmates that we got to hang out with in Middletown, plus we expanded the fun by seeing (and staying with) along the way a slew of friends from other moments in our lives in New Haven, Ivoryton, and Stonington.
[ Double Letter Scores for the "E" and "O" so 9 points - Martha 21; Steve 10 ]
The "P" in "PORTRAIT" was the perfect thing for Steve to utilize in order to build "OPEN MICS". Having retired twelve months ago, he has returned to his songwriting, investing a lot of energy and time. He just finished up his twelfth new song of that year (with some studio recordings in the works for this summer), and he got back to performing by getting out to some three dozen open mic nights. Unfortunately, most of the venues were way out in the suburbs of D.C. requiring sitting in rush-hour traffic. (Thank goodness it was always easier and quicker on the drive home.) Besides relearning songs, his great challenge was to calm the nerves, an issue even for seasoned performers but especially an issue for Steve as he really had not played in public for about twelve years. The nerves are somewhat calmer.
[ Woo! 28 points (because it included a Double Word Score) plus 50 points ("bingo") for having emptied his tray! -- Martha 21; Steve 88 ]
Martha cleverly used both the "M" in "OPEN MIC" and the "N" in "REUNION" to create "GERMAN". This is the first of several eventual references in this game to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute which has become big in our lives. Martha has taken several semesters of the advanced German course to refresh her language skills. (Well, refresh might be too strong a word. She kept getting 100% on her homework! What a surprise, huh?) Between the two of us we've taken classes this year about, among other things, the intelligence of octopuses (yes! not octopi!), weather forecasting, and the theory of relativity.
[ 9 points ("Not too bad." complimented Steve encouragingly.) - Martha 30; Steve 88 ]
Emboldened by his recent success, Steve extended out from the "S" in "OPEN MICS" with "SELLS," a reminder that Martha continues earning the big bucks selling books at various events for our beloved local independent book store Politics & Prose. From her vantage point of sitting behind the table ready to serve the reading public, she got to hear, among many authors, John Kerry, Scott Kelly, Gary Trudeau, and Sonya Sotomayor.
[ 10 points with the Double Word Score - Martha 30; Steve 98 ]
Martha noticed the "A" in "PORTRAIT" and built the word "BOARD". We told you in last year's letter that the leadership of OLLI spotted Martha right away and recruited her to serve on the organization's board of directors. This is a 1,500-member outfit; even with a full-time staff of five, the "school" requires a lot of volunteer input. Practically even before she could offer herself up for election, the powers-that-be had her penciled in to serve as the vice chair ...
[ 18 points with Triple Letter Scores under the "B" and "D" - Martha 48, Steve 98 ]
. . . and so Steve followed immediately by stealing all those points for "BOARD" by tacking on "CHAIR". Did you see the puffs of white smoke? As of July 1, Martha was elected board chair for the next twelve months.
[ 20 points - Martha 48; Steve 118 ]
Martha capitalized on that "R" at the end of "BOARD CHAIR" to add "FRANNIE" - who, in all truth should be at the center of the Scrabble board! Our Favorite-Dog-In-The-Whole-World turned three this spring. She gets better and better at chasing the ball, is a terrific hiker of Rock Creek Park's trails, and can extricate the stuffing from just about any dog toy ever invented.
[ 33 points (Way to go, Martha!) - Martha 81; Steve 118 ]
It was slim-pickin's for Steve this time. All he could do was to add a "U" to the "A" in "CHAIR". Our version of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is located at nearby American University. Frequently we walk the mile from home to the building that OLLI is housed in for classes or, in Martha's case, for meetings.
[ 2 points (Not a misprint!) -- Martha 81; Steve 120]
Martha was able to play "K", "N", and "I" to form "KNIT" at the end of "PORTRAIT". She has been knitting up a storm: Teddy bears for newborns, afghans, scarves, sweaters, and one oddly-shaped stocking cap. Last month she even co-taught an OLLI course for beginner knitters.
[ 8 points - Martha 89; Steve 120 ]
Steve was struggling, but you knew this acronym had to show up eventually. He got rid of an "O" and two "L"s down in that lower right corner to score big with "OLLI".
[ With a Double Word Score (thank goodness!), 8 points - Martha 89; Steve 128 ]
Then Martha exhaled deeply and pounced by adding to "KNIT" "T", "I", and "G" plus a blank to serve as an "N" to produce "KNITTING".
[ Another Double Word Score, so 26 points - Martha 115; Steve 128 ]
Steve looked at his tray and claimed (maybe truthfully, maybe not) that he really could play absolutely nothing and would use his turn to discard and choose some new letters.
Martha seized the chance to honor the Nationals, her beloved local baseball team (which, she would like to point out, has finally been playing up to its potential in the last several weeks.) She spelled "NATS" to the right of "KNITTING."
[ 6 points with the Triple Letter Score - Martha 121; Steve 128 ]
At this point our aging brains were exhausted, and our competitive spirits had cooled. Steve graciously conceded that the score might as well be tied. Cooperatively, we plucked up another "U" and stuck it in there between the "H" in "BOARDCHAIR" and the "G" in "KNITTING" (OK, not according to Hoyle) to form "HUG" . . . which is what we send to you: a big, joint Fourth of July hug.
We remain nearly apoplectic about the Embarrassment-in-Chief. (Winking and joking with Putin? Really? Tanks on parade on the National Mall? Is that necessary?) One of Steve's most recent songs is titled "Countin' The Days Blues." We are indeed counting the days and fervently hope that in early November of next year the electorate will vote for more political sanity. As well, we remain deeply concerned about the rapid degeneration of Mother Earth.
"Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln . . . " It's summer, the garden is booming with blooming, and we are healthy, so best wishes to all of you!
"MARTHA" = 11 points, "STEVE" = 8 points
If you are at all curious about what Steve is countin' down the days to, feel free to check out a hastily assembled recording of "Countin' The Days Blues" http://theprimecutts.com/countin_the_days_blues/ posted on his The Prime Cutts website. It's financially free and, potentially, emotionally freeing.
Calling all makers - and doers
If the root of maker culture is curiosity, then curiosity is the basic thread running through her life, said Fimbel (right, with Sonya Stephens), a retired college professor and administrator.
"I hope the Fimbel Lab will inspire others to be continuously curious," she said. "To give students even more tools than they've had before. To enable them to feel the joy of making something. Making an idea become tangible. Solving a problem however small. Mastering the world they live in."
The College's new Maker Space is named after Nancie L. Fimbel '68, who made a $1 million anchor donation for the $3.5 million lab.
From Gwyn (Dinny) Ogilvie Sewall
At the end of October I went to Cornwall England, solo. Richard felt too busy. I had feared that we traveled so much to see grandchildren, we were not doing our own travels and would suddenly find ourselves uncomfortable taking off alone. It was an adventure, especially with the driving and some issues with the car. I did feel quite accomplished as well as challenged and despite moments when I thought "What am I doing?", had a wonderful trip. I stayed in a cottage (once a pig sty but quite transformed) near Lands End. The weather was wonderful and the scenery all that Cornwall proclaims it is. I was in places where the PBS series Poldark was filmed and did a lot of walking along rugged cliffs with the sea crashing along the shore below. I also got a good education in tin mining. Women were not allowed in the mines but could, along with children, work outside, year round, using sledge hammers and more to break up the ore and get it into barrows or carts to go to the railroads. They wore wide brimmed bonnets to keep chips from flying into their faces and in the cold winds of winter, wrapped their legs with cloth. Of course, they were in skirts. Inside the mines was much warmer; however, the prospect of being underground for eight hours, plus possibly four hours of getting to and from the work sight, some several hundred feet down and a mile under the ocean, lends a certain appeal to freezing toil above ground.
Abandoned tin mines in Cornwall
Fall 2018: Mini-Reunions
Since our 40th MHC Reunion, our group of 6 classmates has been getting together with our spouses for a mini-reunion once a year for a weekend at one of our houses, from Cape Cod to CT, NYC and Northern Virginia. This fall we gathered at Mobby & Dave Larson's home in Gales Ferry, CT. Five of us met Thursday night at the Florence Griswold Museum where Judy Hayes was honored for her gift of family heirloom watercolors painted by Fidelia Bridges. Connie Cushman joined us for the rest of the weekend during which we shared meals, memories, a hike through Gungywamp Swamp, and lots of conversation! Four of us roomed together freshman year in Buckland; all six of us were dorm-mates junior & senior years.
Pictured are Laurie Trees Rodgers, Nancy Huttemeyer Davis, Judy O'Connor Hayes, Mobby Brown Larson, Linda Graham McElroy
John, Judy, Nancy, our GW Swamp guide Carl, Dwight, Mobby & Connie
October 15, an impromptu mini-reunion in Alexandria, VA: Susan Clark Iverson, Liz Tannenbaum from Brattleboro, VT, Anne Wood Hanley from Fairbanks, AK, and Claire Whipple Stech.
Inauguration Weekend, Sept. 28-29, 2018
President Sonya Stephens Receiving Toni Eisenhower's Painting from Class President Nancie Fimbel, Sept. 28, 2018.
Nov. 4, 2018
Please forgive the delay in writing to express my heartfelt thanks to you and your class mates for the generous and thoughtful gift to mark the occasion of my inauguration.
I was so moved to receive Toni Eisenhauer's painting of Mount Holyoke, and want you all to know that this is now hanging in the President's House where all can enjoy and admire it. It looks just perfect against the deep blue of the wall and is in the sightline of the Field Gate. If only one could see through walls!
Thank you for this lovely gift that honors Toni's work, your class, and Mount Holyoke. I shall always treasure it, and hope to be able to thank the members of the Class of '68 wherever I see them.
With my warmest thanks and my very best wishes to you all,
Linda Cadigan, President Stephens, and Nancie Fimbel at the inauguration dinner
May 2018: 50th Reunion
Renewing friendships. Discovering new relationships. Testing memories of beloved places against their actual states of being. Walking in the shoes of who we were 50 years ago. Learning what some of our classmates have made of those 50 years. Marveling at what a great party our classmates could throw to celebrate this anniversary. It was a weekend!
To help you to savor our 50th Reunion just a little longer--or help you envision it if you missed it--go to our Class Website at http://www.mhc1968.com for pictures. I'll add more over time if you send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On our Website you will also find the list of our class award winners. Susan Rieger was presented with the Alumnae Achievement Award and Elizabeth (Liz) Tannenbaum was awarded the Elizabeth Topham Kennan Award. Both of these are given to women who have achieved outstanding accomplishments in their lives. Congratulations to both on this recognition!
Honored, too, were those who have voluntarily served Mt. Holyoke especially generously. Loyalty Awards were presented to Paula Braga Leidich, Carolyn E. Dorais, Susan Graham Simpson, and Karen Kelly Taggart. Thank you for your devotion to our Alma Mater!
Attached here are a couple of documents you might find fun: a list of children's books, compiled at reunion, that we loved, and the Commencement speech that David Riesman gave when we graduated. You will recall that Riesman was a noted sociologist, co-author of The Lonely Crowd (1950) and The Academic Revolution (1968).
Maybe more important is the third attachment, an invitation from Leslie Fields, MHC's Head of Archives and Special Collections, for us to contribute to the Archives.
Huge thanks to Nancy Huttemeyer Davis, one of the Co-Chairs for our 55th Reunion, who tracked down this information. It will be on our Website in case you misplace this email.
One more time: Linda Renasco Cadigan and Debbie Dunn Rottenberg, you made it happen for us, and we applaud you!
Susan Rieger's book The Heirs
Susan Rieger's book The Heirs is in the New York Times Book Review section. It is one of the six new paperbacks named in Paperback Row.
Mini-Reunion of '68ers Sypher, Cale, and Knight
Eileen Sypher, Jody Hall Cale and Ann Knight got together in Early November at Jody's miraculously intact Santa Rosa CA home (Jody's spouse Ed and Eileen's John hung out part of the time). We had such a great time we hope to repeat it regularly! Eileen had a hard lesson though: she is no longer 20. Her shoulder met an unforgiving slab in Jody's living room. Healing, and it is hoped more wisdom, promised by reunion.
Penny Schneider Calf's induction ceremony to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association - Hall of Fame:
Here are pictures of Penny Schneider Calf's induction ceremony to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association - Hall of Fame. (Top) Penny is at head table with her friends and four former students who are now coaches, following her example. (Middle) Penny is with her Hilton Head friends (left to right) Rica, Suki, Penny, and Melissa, a special golf foursome. (Lower right) Penny is accepting her award. (Lower left) Her Mount Holyoke roommate, Class President Paula Braga Leidich, applauds.
Classmate Ann Chinn writes:
This is my first time submitting for the Quarterly.
In 2011 I founded the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP) with the mission of encouraging ancestral remembrance ceremonies and historic marker installations at the 50 documented Middle Passage arrival locations in the United States. These sites range from Maine to Texas and cover a period of more than 350 years (1526-1860) where captive Africans were enslaved after crossing the Atlantic. The Project honors the 2 million who died during the ocean voyage known as the Middle Passage and the 500,000 who disembarked on the North American mainland. Each place marks the beginning of a critical phase of American society influenced by Africans. Unknown and forgotten for the most part, these enslaved people and their descendants contributed greatly to the creation of this nation's culture, economy and overall development with little commemoration or acknowledgement. To date, ceremonies and markers have been completed at 25 of the 50 with approximately 8 marker installations pending for 2018.
We are a team of 5 on the Executive Board and have divided the country into regions. For most arrival sites we form a state committee that does the historical research, determines the marker text, location, and design. We try to make it as broad a representation of the community as possible (academics, activists, churches, schools, Native American representatives, etc.). It usually takes from 12-18 months from beginning to end. Connecticut has two arrival sites: New London and Middletown, and it has been a challenge to get off the ground after two years of trying. We simply keep on pushing until something clicks.
I have applied for a 2018 MHC Fellowship to support this important work.
For more information visit: www.middlepassageproject.org or
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