Category Archives: Mini-Reunions

Williamstown 2021

October, 2021.  Five of the South Rocky HP Group met over the weekend in Williamstown, MA, at the home of Susan Rhodes Brown — their first get-together since the pandemic began in March 2020.  These South Rocky classmates have been meeting every year or so for the past 30 years.  Their first get together was in 1989 in Philadelphia to wish Bon Voyage to Liz Hottel on her way to Scotland to marry Bryan Barrett.  Now the Browns’ house has become their favorite place — with entertainment provided by Williams College, The Clarke Art Institute, and MassMOCA.  It’s always fun and always so good to be together again.

Left to right:  Susan Rhodes Brown, Susan Griffen Meeker, Barbie Sutton, Katherine Kaufman Snelson and Liz Hottel Barrett.  Missing the event this year were Babbie Baldwin Miller, Jenifer Grant Marx, and Jane Shaw Dietrich.  Below is a view from the porch which shows one of the beautiful “Chinese Ball” sculptures by Kenneth Snelson.

2021 New Hampshire Mini-Reunion

From Barb (Freeman Douglass), 8/24/21

Judy Marshall Kennedy hosted seven classmates plus one ’83 and one brave husband for our mini reunion on August 19.  The pouring rain meant a move from our usual outdoor coffee shop, and we thoroughly enjoyed sitting around her dining room table. Dottie Smith Mann, Dee deFerranti Abrahamse with her husband, Barbara Freeman Douglass, Marian Strong Moore, Bobbi Childs Sampson, Liz Hottel  Barrett, Sallie Crittendon with her daughter Lisa Class of ’83, and Judy all joined in updates, laughs, and good conversation. We were delighted when Liz and Dottie led us in the singing of the special grace from our MHC days.  There were memories of Professor Durfee in math class and of baby music; discussion of obnoxious fund raising tactics; refreshing insights from Dee and Lisa.  Dee commented that California has greatly changed for the better since they first lived there, and more diverse demographics have brought this about.  Lisa’s perspective from today’s workplace was that young people are demanding more benefits such as paternity leave and time off instead of putting up with a culture that expects 80 hour weeks. It was fun to talk about accents and whether”collar” and “caller”  sound alike. It was also fascinating to learn about past years of Judy and Dan’s  publishing businesses and move from Boston to North Conway NH..

This tradition of meeting the third Thursday in August has been going on for 11 years.  We missed Carol Sweeny Benson, Diana Diggin and Elsa Anderson van Bergen, who have been frequent members of the group. All classmates are welcome, so think about being in the beautiful White Mountains of NH next August!

Left to right:  Bobbi, Dee, Dottie, Barb, Liz, Marian, Judy, Sallie

2019 New Hampshire

September 23, 2019
On August 22, Judy Kennedy, Carol Benson, Dee Abrahamse,Bobbi Sampson, Diana Diggin, Marian Moore, Barbara Douglass and her daughter Julia ’87 met at a coffee shop in North Conway. 
     Marian requested a fact check on the origin of “uncommon women”.  The Quarterly gave credit to Wendy Wasserstein but we have strong and fond memories of Pres. Gettel coining that phrase at our convocation in 1957, as well as his greeting to us,  “Fellow Freshmen”. Judy was going to follow up.
     Dee also had press coverage for her work in supporting their library.  Kim Kimball Holmquist sent a copy of the article in the Santa Barbara Times which is posted on the ’61 website. Dee located over 134 book groups in Long Beach who have since donated more than $14,000 to the Billy Jean King Library.
     Diana told of a bibliophile who left his annotated collection of books for friends and relatives and how meaningful this memento was.
Marian is very happy in her retirement community and still sings in her choir.
     Carol has retired from Quarryworks, her local theatre, much to the disappointment of the directors.  This prompted a discussion of knowing when to say no, to stop.  We seem to have a fear of staying on too long in a position.
     Bobbie is discouraged with conditions in Port au Prince, Haiti but pleased with the progress the students have made at the school she’s been involved in for many years, scoring well on state examinations. She visited in April and  was gratified that the young people’s sights are on something greater than survival. It was fascinating to learn of her involvement in education in Haiti and the founding of the school on Lagonave Isand. She revisited our theme of  knowing when to stop and has decided it is time to say 60 years is enough and have younger ones continue.
     And then current  political events and the NH primary were discussed.  It was refreshing to hear different views on candidates.
For our 60th reunion, everyone agreed to solicit all ideas, to brainstorm a wide net.  What will entice our classmates to come?  Everyone offered her help to Reunion Chairs Barbara Douglass and Sallie Crittendon to make the reunion a success–wonderful spirit!
We look forward to Diana sharing a Billy Collins poem on forgetfulness
 
ADDENDUM, some of the notes from the website:

Thanks for an entertaining description of your mini-reunion.  It’s fun to hear how we celebrate in different parts of the country.
I also remember that it was President Gettell from whom we first heard ‘uncommon women’.  Google came up with Gettell’s inaugural address on November 9, 1957, titled “A Plea for the Uncommon Woman”.  Haven’t figured out how to see a copy of it but I think we were definitely the first class called uncommon women.  And so we are.
Susan Pogue Krock

I clearly remember Pres. Getter dubbing us “uncommon women.” Wendy Wasserstein used the term for her play but it did not originate with her. 
A year ago a high school friend and her husband, who went to Wesleyan, were visiting us. He saw “uncommon women” on my MHC mug and thought it was insulting. I assured him it was not and that we are proud of it. He didn’t get it at all. 
Barbara Hartt Hise

 I agree.  It was Gettell calling us Uncommon Women.  I can’t fathom why your friend’s husband thought it was insulting!  Did he explain?
Your mini reunion sounded like such fun!  I was intrigued by your discussion about when to decide to stop.  I was having the same argument with myself about singing another Music Club concert (I still sing pretty well for an almost eighty year old but  not like I used to!). I commented to daughter Kirsten that if she would play with me, I’d do it—she hasn’t played her flute in years!  She said No, so I was about to turn down the invitation, when she called and said she’d changed her mind and would start practicing so I am excited to report that we will be performing together for the first time in many years on March 21.  I guess I am postponing my farewell a bit longer!
Cheers, Kim

Your reunion sounded like such fun…wish I lived close enough to come!  Sometime…maybe… I’ll just have to travel there and stay with Judy!  In my recollection,  it was President Gettell who coined the “Uncommon Women”, and we were the first class that he called that!     I, too, am in the process of working to chose to stop some things and take up others…but always keeping in mind that I sure do enjoy my nap time in the early afternoon!     I love Dottie’ s “weighing the value and the cost”!    We just moved to a condo two years ago, so it behooves me to do things closer to home.    I feel very strongly that this next year’s election is super important to our country, so have become active in the League of Women Voters again…tomorrow, am working on registering our young people to vote at a small college close to our new home.   Am also going to be canvassing.   Have just become a Steven Minister at our new church, so am looking forward to hopefully helping some people in need, by pretty much just being there and listening.   I’m also part of a fantastic choir there!     Obviously, as Dottie said also, moving does help!    Best of “choosing time” to everyone!   Betsy

South Rocky in Williamstown 2018

 October, 2018.  What a fabulous weekend.  Six of us were at the home of Susan and Duncan Brown  for a beautiful fall weekend in Williamstown, Mass.  Back:  Liz Hottel Barrett, Barbie Sutton, Babbie Baldwin Miller, Susan Rhodes Brown; and front: Susan Griffen Meeker, and Katherine Kaufman Snelson.  Also there were Liz Kolodny, Ludlow Miller and Bryan Barrett in the care of Duncan Brown, King of Hosts.  Our chef was Susan Griffen Meeker who produced a steady stream of 5-star meals. We ate, sat in front of the fire and chatted, drank, toured a Breuer house nearby, laughed, ate, cried, looked at photos, drank, and simply enjoyed every minute together.  We good friends enjoyed our annual weekend — better every year — lucky us!

NH Mini-Reunion 2018

Barbara Freeman Douglass sent this treasure.  What fun they must have had!  

We were small in number but great in spirit.  Diana Diggin, Judy Marshall Kennedy, Bobbi Childs Sampson, Carol Sweeney Benson, Dee deFeranti Abrahamse, Barbara Freeman Douglass gathered for conversation and inspiration. Judy had seen Dottie Smith Mann recently and Dottie talked about her “spiritual home” in Rockport MA. Lovely to muse on this topic, with varied answers, past and present locations included.
Newsworthy events were the final sale of Judy’s business and lots of travel planned; Bobbi’s ascent of Katahdin Mountain this summer (wow!); Carol’s role as Nana the dog in Peter Pan.  Dee had book recommendations which I think she has shared.  One of her book groups focuses on non-American writers which helps widen horizons. Best of all was the warm and caring atmosphere as we are ready to support each other as we go on.

Williamstown 2017

In the beginning of May, 2017, the “South Rocky 8” met once again in Williamstown, MA, at the home of Susan and Duncan Brown, a place we know so well and that gives us a wonderful sense of belonging. Susan Meeker was 100% in charge of food and cooking — lucky us! We began meeting regularly in 1989, but this was the first time that all eight of us have been together in a long time. Listed by roommate pairs, we are: Susan Rhodes Brown and Babbie Baldwin Miller; Jenifer Grant Marx and Liz Hottel Barrett (in singles); Jane Shaw Dietrich and Katherine Kaufman Snelson; Barbara Sutton and Susan Griffen Meeker. And for the first time joining us was Liz Kolodny.  What fun we had. We love our morning walks. We never miss a chance to see an exhibit or two at the amazing MassMOCA. If you find yourselves in Western Massachusetts, try to stop and enjoy it. I attach a photo gallery here of our wonderful weekend. Click on a photo and then use your direction arrow to move to the next.

NH Mini 2016

We had a small but warm gathering in North Conway on August 16.  So glad that Fran Hamburger Nickerson could come up from MA;  others were Bobbi Childs Sampson, Sue Wheatley Carr, Marian Strong Moore, Dee deFeranti Abrahamse, and the organizer, Judy Marshall Kennedy.
Our conversation quickly turned to books, picking up on the chat groups Summer Reading thread.  However I can’t find my notes!  From memory, I know When Everthing Changed by Gail Collins was one.Judy recommended Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cummings, The Girl Who Loved Baseball, November 22, 1963, and The Green Mile–all by Steven King. Between the World and Me by Coates was enthusiastically recommended. I hope Sue will add to the list.  (Apologies for lack of italics in titles but computer not co-operating)
We talked about Reunion, with Sue praising the spirit and flexibility of attendees.  This set the tone for a more relaxed time. Bobbi commented that it wasn’t driven, and that there was more emphasis on our “tomorrows” than at the 50th.
Looking ahead to our 60th (!), I think everyone was concerned about the loss of dining halls and thinking about having to schlep to the new Blanchard Center. There may be more mobility issues in the future.    Judy was enthusiastic about doing the skit again (send ideas to Sue)
We also talked about the relationship between the College and the Alumnae Assoc. and about the 3 year appt. of the interim president.
Our time together was too short but still a warm and wonderful get-together, in spite of rainy weather and freeezing air conditioning.
I hope others who were there will add their thoughts.
Next time on the Maine coast??
Barbara (Freeman Douglass)

South Rocky 2015

submitted by Liz Hottel Barrett:

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Six of the eight South Rocky HP Group got together in Williamstown, MA, at the beautiful home of Susan and Duncan Brown, where we’ve been meeting  for many years. Standing in the Browns’ living room are     (l to r) Jane Shaw Dietrich, Susan Griffen Meeker, Buarbie Sutton, Katherine Kaufman Snelson, Susan Rhodes Brown and Liz Hottel Barrett.  Babbie Baldwin Miller and Jenifer Grant Marx couldn’t make it.  Since 1989, this group has gotten together at least every two years, and more recently every year.  We feel so lucky to have each other.

KenSculpture

Beautiful Chinese sculptured ball by Ken Snelson

Conway Mini-Reunion 2014

Seven gorgeous women enjoy the New Hampshire sunshine.
Left to right: Carol Sweeney Benson, Dee Deferranti Abrahamse, Barbara Freeman Douglass, Judy Marshall Kennedy, Diana Diggin, Sue Wheatley Carr, and Marian Strong Moore.  You’re not getting older;  you’re just getting better!

Conway Group

Classmates- Debbie Holden Franz saw Carol in Come Back Little Sheba at
Quarryworks this summer while visiting her son in Essex, VT. Jean Austen also
visited Carol and they went to King Arthur Flour in Norwich, VT but missed Diana Diggin.  No surprise, her co-workers sang her praises.  Carol also said that
Chris Hollister Hila had reconnected with an old friend and was enjoying his
company.  Carol had a good season at her local theater and is really looking
forward to next summer when she plays the evil Moriarity in Baker Street and
will reprise her Trip to Bountiful.
Reunion- We were lucky to have the two reunion chairs, Sue and Marian,with us.
They asked us to imagine a blank slate and then say what we really want at
reunion.  Spending time with each other, classes and tours/discussions of new
programs, buildings were most important.  There was a lot of discussion about
ways to cut costs and to be sure everyone can come.  One saving could be
costumes, with us bringing more as we did with the shoes at the 50th. Another was to simplify meals, which may not be possible since offerings are pretty much
controlled by the college commissary.  We also discussed whether the booklet is
needed or could be electronic instead of printed.  The consensus was that it was
important. Another suggestion was that we all read the same book before reunion, perhaps with an alumnae connection.
Which is a segue to books: some that were recommended were Gone Girl, Orphan, All the Light You Cannot See, and Hope Against Hope.  Marion’s book group is reading the latter, written by Sara Carr (note last name) and describing success stories of new Orleans schools.  Students at Tulane will have this book as a campus wide read.
Dottie Smith Mann visited Judy earlier this summer and posed an interesting
question: “If you were Obama, what one thing would you try to do?”  Great topic,
with discussion about immigration, gun control, taming special interests, and a
fascinating political maneuver suggested by Maureen Dowd that Obama either resign or accept impeachment after initiating executive action on the programs he cares the most about and allow Joe Biden, the ultimate political maven,to finish the term while Hillary campaigns for 2016.
Other thoughtful questions were how to contribute in retirement?  “How can I
make a difference?” “What would you like to do as your senior years get more
senior?”  “What’s meaningful to you that surprises you?”  “What are things I
dreaded but now welcome and love?”
In answer to the last, some suggested public speaking, finding our voice,
improving listening.  For making a difference, Marion explained her church’s
“Pay It Forward” where an individual is given $50 and then reports how that made a difference.  Carol has her own “Abigail’s sister”, based on her role as a
homeless woman in Open Me Last.  She puts a $5 bill in envelopes, brings them to the food pantry, and tells them to distribute as they see fit.  One recipient
said, Wow, do you know how many bananas I can get now?
I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon, getting energized by this
group of wonderful, active, caring women.  How lucky we are.

Barbara Freeman Douglass  (I apologize that I can’t italicize or underline.  Aargh)

Williamstown Mini-Reunion 2013

South Rocky Eight (minus one, Jane Shaw Dietrich) met in October at the home of Susan Rhodes and Duncan Brown.   We started getting together twenty five years ago to celebrate Liz Hottel Barrett’s engagement to Bryan.  It was so much fun that we continued to do it every two or three years.  Now we do it every year.  Susan and Duncan have the most perfect house and are located near the beautiful Williams campus, The Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute (referred to as “The Clark”), and MASS MoCA.   The 2013 highlight was Xu Bing’s Phoenix (photo to come) at MASS MoCA.  I’ll elaborate more on The Clark’s amazing collection when we meet again next year.  We had a three-day celebration of life:  successes and failures, laughter and tears.  Lucky us!

And even more amazing than us are the photos of Xu Bing’s beautiful tiger-skin rug.  Make sure to click on the photos to see the close up!