Tiger Tales - From Your Reunion & into Future

Got something to share with the class?  Send it by a click on   Contact Us   or click the link towards bottom of navigation bar on the left.  

Stories here will have staying power.  We hope to continue this page long after the reunion is held.

We may edit your stories as this page can been seen without a password login.

For more immediate news you can roll your own by a click on the
   Message Board   link.

Jan Willem's Video and Text

Jan Willem's Video     Following is the transcript of the video.

Hi, this is Jan Willem Snippe, your AFS –student from the Netherlands.  And it is with sadness that  I’m sending you this as some sort of notice of absence, but still proud to have known so many of you, proud to be part of class’62
I would like to tell a little of what became of me after saying good-bye to all of you in ‘62.  Well 40 years ago I got married to Anita, and still am; we have 2 wonderful daughters; Anita and I live in this house in the village of Zuidhorn. Please feel very welcome to visit!  Zuidhorn is in the North of Holland, close to Groningen – about 15 kilometers, so easily within cycling-distance. Groningen is a very lively, bustling city, with much culture, many, many bars, a large University: you’d love it!

When I got back in Holland in ’62  I studied chemistry at the technical university of Eindhoven, and personnel-management in Groningen, in which field I worked for quite some time. In those years  we returned to the US a number of times , met Drew Strauss a number of times, of course stayed with Calvin Johnson, who, as you see got to be a real Dutch fan, Ed Lowenthal came over to us, and we stayed with him, and recently Neal, the great organizer himself, came over here!  I really feel grateful that in a little way we stayed in touch. We warmly remember being at the wedding-festivities of Calvin’s son, where Anita and I dressed up all in orange.

The last 15 years of my working life  I worked with the Dutch Olympic Committee. Was really a great job. Not for the pay, which was modest to say the least, but such wonderful people to work with, exciting activities to work for – it truly felt like a warm bath.  I went to a number of Olympic Games, and  I worked with, and was partly responsible for most of the top athletes.  One of the most recent maybe you‘d remember from the last Olympics: the gold winner at gymnastics on the high bar, Epke Zonderland, a student in medicine in Groningen.  Also, and actually a good friend as well, Diederik Simon, the stroke of the Holland 8.

As far as activities go, I’d like to mention just a few.  We do quite a lot of sailing – some in the relaxed way as you may see daughter Karen  and  Anita. Sometimes also at sea.  And do some long-distance walking , not always in sunny weather as you see. And some running as well –  actually twice the NY-marathon, but here the last marathon I did in 2007, together with daughter Marjolein, in Beijing.

But a sort of red thread in my life has been the rowing.  Did a lot of it, and Anita too. Here together in an 8 on the Thames in London.  But I’m glad to say, the daughters have taken it up just as well. The last couple of years I was very much involved in a management capacity with the mens crew preparing for the London-Olympics. Fascinating to be somehow part of that process. Seeing the extremely hard work, the sacrifice and endurance is really something, and really unimaginable for outsiders.  These are truly top-elite-athletes.

These days, and already for quite a number of years,  much of my time – too much according to Anita -   is taken up by coaching with my Groningen rowing club Gyas.  And I just love it! It is a large club with many very enthusiastic students, ambitious, full of energy.  Wonderful to be part of that. And in a small way it helps me to slow down the inevitable aging-process.  I coach a very promising women-crew, at the moment of 12 girls, for approximately 3 to 4 hours a day.

Well, that’s my status these days.  And yes how awfully curious I am of what has become of you.

But then… of course we  may have facebook. Or come and visit!

Journey To A Reunion, Carol Levine

    Fifty years of personal growth (daughter, sister, student, wife, mother of three, widow, grandmother of 6 plus aunt to three) and professional growth (non-profit officer and executive director; business consultant; computer analyst, designer and developer; professional photographer and writer) seem like both an eternity and a second at the same time.
    And it all started when my family moved to White Plains from Brooklyn in 1948. The next year I started school at Post Road. Memories  flooded back when I looked at the Post Road Junior High School Yearbook on line. While I couldn’t remember many specifics, Bit and pieces flashed in my mind as I saw the pictures and read the names.
    When we entered high school, now the junior high, I was so excited. I decided one of the first steps I’d take was to remove my glasses. After all, the building seemed to be a perfect square. If I started out from my classroom and walked the halls, I find myself back in the same spot. Without testing this theory on a friend, I decided to do it. With great confidence, I set out on my brief journey.  As the journey became an odyssey, panic set in and I was forced to put on my glasses and ask for directions. Soon after, I got contact lenses.
    There is so much I seem to have forgotten that I sometimes wonder if anything happened during those formative years. In the end, I stopped trying to figure it out and am looking forward to gaining a whole new perspective at the reunion. Hopefully, minds much more agile than mine will spark the memories. Either that or we will all laugh at the senior moments and brain burps that we, of a certain age, are entitled to have.

    Several weeks ago, I was at week-long improv retreat. An amazing experience where memory is NOT a prerequisite. Anyway, the first or second night everyone was required to get up in front of the group (about forty) and improvise, on the spot, a song about themselves accompanied by a rhythm section of guitar, drum and tambourine. I had gotten to the gathering late and was outside the circle. When I realized what they were doing, I did my very best imitation of a curved back wooden chair as I marveled at the range of performance and the enthusiastic applause and whistles.
    When everyone in the circle had gone, one of the directors looked over the crowd to make sure there wasn’t anyone left out. Although I had become one with my chair, she spotted me. The crowd erupted into applause and I had to take the floor. All I can say is that I was off-key the whole time, managed to stay on beat for my refrain but massacred it on the verse, and, I was as loud as I could make it. If I was going to go down, it would be in as big an explosion as I could muster.

    When I was done, I bowed to my grateful audience, sat down and tried not to give in to the nausea that gripped my body.
    As I recounted this experience, I suddenly remembered that I ran for secretary of our freshman class. And, at my mother’s urging, I not only  wrote my speech, but sang it.  Does anyone remember that? Don’t feel bad, I had forgotten too. But still it’s amazing to think that fifty years after that first song about myself, I did it again--an eternity and a second.
    Looking forward to seeing everyone.
       Carol Levine Bluestein

Becoming Mrs. Tractorman, Arlene Gould

When Bruce Flagler Simmons, a tall handsome choral music teacher, proposed to me during my 50th year, I was thrilled with the prospect of sharing a life of music-making and having a built-in accompanist. Now, 17 years later, the sounds that emit from our home are quite different from what I'd imagined.

Perhaps our trip to Vermont that first summer of our relationship should have given me a clue of things to come. When we visited the site of his Grandparents' dairy farm on the banks of Lake Champlain in the tiny hamlet of Shoreham, Bruce excitedly pointed out the barn, the fields, and the beautiful farmhouse. He explained that he'd learned to drive a tractor at age 10 at home in Dutchess County and was happy to be able to use his skill to help his grandfather at the farm during his summers and holidays between the ages of 14 and 17. Plowing, haying and milking cows were fondly remembered as good fun, not just hard work. After his Vermont days, Bruce went to college, became a music teacher, married, became a father and taught music for more than 30 years, including in Saudi Arabia.  He had moved far from farming.

In 1998 Bruce and I moved to Benmarl Winery in Marlboro, NY to be of help to his Mom, Grace, and her third husband, the artist & New York Farm winery pioneer, Mark Miller, as both were nearing their 80's.  It was there on the "farm" that Bruce became reunited with tractors, and the rest, as they say - is history! 

While still teaching, there wasn't much time to get involved in workings of the vineyards. But after Bruce retired in 2000, the transformation from choral music teacher to Tractorman began in earnest.  At first it was so gradual, I barely noticed.

Our dear Mark became more interested in exploring how the computer could help him preserve his old artwork, than in the hard physical work of maintaining the vineyards and making wine. Bruce, meanwhile, happy to be out of the classroom began exploring the tools and equipment in Benmarl's barn and shop located just below our living quarters. There were several aged and neglected tractors at the vineyard and it seems they called out to Bruce. 

Soon he was figuring how to hook up the plows and mowers and would cheerfully ride out to the vineyards to drive up and down the rows doing whatever was needed for each season. Meanwhile, I was busily helping out with winery tastings, parties and art promotions, and commuting to my part-time job in New Jersey working for The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, fostering humanism in medicine. 

In his quest for parts and repairs, Bruce made new friends with the local tractor dealers and others sharing a passion for old farm machinery. He joined a group associated with an antique farm equipment museum in Orange County. Soon he was getting advice and took on the task of putting Benmarl's old tractors and machines back into working order.

This turn of events greatly pleased Mark who was most impressed with Bruce's ability and his willingness to actually go out into the vineyards and do the often backbreaking work. Before we realized it, Mark had hooked Bruce and me, as he had so many others before us, to become involved in the inner workings of Benmarl. 

Each Fall Bruce borrowed a wagon from a fellow farmer he'd met among the tractor mavens and his tractor driven wagon ride became a must-do activity at Benmarl's annual October harvest festival. As the unofficial festival photographer, I helped people aboard and clicked away. When the vines became dormant in the dead of winter, it was time to begin pruning. The spring required plowing to ready the vines. The most unpleasant of tasks, spraying the vines to keep away nasty critters, had to be conducted before the wind picked up, usually at dawn or dusk.  Spraying involved countless trips back and forth to and from the vineyards. One had to rinse the sprayer after each trip, then mix in a concoction of chemicals, quite a dangerous enterprise that needed full concentration, and to be repeated endlessly. 

Soon Bruce was cultivating nearly nine acres of vines single handedly.  Inevitably some tractor part or other would break and he would have to problem solve and figure out how to finish the job somehow.  He persevered despite lousy weather, pesky insects, bunnies, deer, foxes and gopher holes. There was no shortage of challenges awaiting him while aboard the tractor.

One day Bruce came back from the tractor repair place with a big old red tractor.  It was even named - Earlene!  I wasn't sure whether to be insulted or not!  This 1937 Farmall F20, which reminded him of his Grandfather's tractor, had been restored, but needed some additional work. Thence began what has grown into an impressive collection, a consuming passion (or obsession?) and an adventure.

Bruce found a rare bucket-loader for sale which fit Earlene perfectly and she began to be of good use in the vineyards - and since in removing large amounts of snow from our driveway.  I'm not always sure which one of us is the target of his complaints since both Earlene and Arlene are both getting on in years, though I AM younger!  However, I am a witness to the strength and continuing dependability of Earlene and her heavy lifting bucket loader.

Soon after acquiring Earlene, Bruce told me he'd found out about another really rare tractor. Wondering what he meant, I went with him in 1999 to a jungle-like back lot of a mechanic he'd met. There in the bushes I saw a huge hulk of rust -in his eyes - a prized F30. To my eyes, it was a large dead machine.  "Oh boy," said I, "And what are you going to do with THAT?"  It was then that I realized - I'd married Tractorman.  He was smitten with this machine and had this ugly ancient carcass hauled to Benmarl. 

For about a year it just sat in the grasses behind the barn.  But finally the refurbishing process began.  I took photos of every step and over the course of the next two years that hulk of rust became a true work of art.  What emerged in 2002 was a bright red shiny giant machine we dubbed Cranky, both because it is started with a crank and because sometime it balks.  Cranky really belongs on the prairie and what it is doing up here in the Catskills illustrates the serendipity of life.

This big red tractor continues to command the attention of curious on-lookers whenever Bruce takes it out to an event.  Today Cranky is the largest of a family of, count 'em, SEVEN Farmall tractors.  Each of Bruce's machines has a distinct personality and I must admit I'm always amazed that he can actually get these things to run.  While the large, noisy, old and smelly beasts are definitely not environmentally sensitive, they do embody an important history of food production and have a certain fascination.

(800) 965-9020
Fax: (954) 241-5054
Copyright © ClassQUEST Corp