Tag Archives: Hawken School

Once a Hawk

Hawken School Class of 1972 Reunion

library, Upper School, Hawken School

This past weekend I went to my forty-fifth high school reunion, for the Class of ’72. I have been to every single five year Class of ’72 Hawken School (Gates Mills, Ohio,) reunion. The first one was in 1977. I was living in Middlebury Vermont at the time.

This year the hallowed men’s circle that uniquely characterizes the class’s fraternal ritual was at an Upper School (grades 9-12) transformed by a luxurious new 21st century series of connected school buildings. As you can see, some of us took the tour. Almost nothing of our own experience ‘back in the day’ naturally translates to the new surroundings; and, I note as much while also regarding the addition of women to the upper school classes starting in 1974. The buck buck tree is still there. Several of the old building’s wings, with their fifties utilitarian cinder blocks, have remained connected to the new campus.

Each reunion presents a mini seminar in men, masculinity, adult development, families, and, the second law of thermodynamics. It’s a lovely group.

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this. (Henry David Thoreau)

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The Quintessential and ‘Reunitive’ Hawk Tech Men of Seventy-Two

Hawken Men

Some hardly random notes about the 40th reunion of The Hawken School class of 1972. The frame to keep in mind is that I’ve been privileged to attend every five year reunion, and the reunions obviously commenced in 1977.

I ran cross country as a junior and senior. The 1972 team lost their first meet and then won twelve in a row to finish 12-1. My fraternal twin brother Tim, deceased in 1993, competed with a handful of strong willed young men to lead this team, the most successful team in 1972. The stress here has to be on willful competition between a few men because the guys in the team’s leading group all wanted to win the race at hand. There was nothing tactical about this approach. Every race seemed mythic in its consequence.

My own role was aptly noted in the yearbook: “Stephen Calhoun ran well until he got smart and broke his ankle.” This past weekend every one of this senior five strong cross country group, aside from my late brother, was at the reunion: Getanah, Jay, Steve, and Elliot.
Jay Jamie Tim
Jay Morrison, Jamie Cohen, Tim Calhoun – taken in Spring of 1971, track season

For three straight years Mr. Carter awarded me a D in Spanish. This doomed my grade point average. The funny thing is that he gave me a D despite the fact that I never learned a lick of Spanish. I didn’t enjoy school very much, but I really liked to read. I did my homework and was gregarious in class. Yet, my terrible positioning at the end of my formal educational career not only was entirely my own fault, it also has made it impossible to rate my Hawken experience highly. This has zero to do with the school itself, and everything to do with my own deficits and failure at the time to look forward more than, say, a day or two.

This would be different than the many many classmates who smartly leveraged the opportunity in high school. My class is awesomely, in the main, and decades down the track, accomplished. However, other than the moments in which guys lauded the school, (and by implication I was reminded at those moments how the school amplified a purposeful approach,) most of the reunion was taken up by catching up and clueing in to the state of our stories, rather than to the state of our stature.

For this kind of goal I am, ironically, well prepared and purposeful.

This process (of reuniting) is much about grasping the different ways each of us has come to grips with our own adult life. I am tempted, in recognizing how this remains a striking feature of our coming together, to coin a term, reunitive. Somehow, we seem to do this ritual re-bonding easily and so I reckon we are, as a group, evidently reunitive.

jay

Jay Morrison, (picture provided by Getty Ambau.) Jay and Getty, were two fellow cross-country runners; although anytime we ran together–forty years ago–what I saw of them was their speeding off into the distance ahead of me.

Old men.

We aren’t that old –

Wise men.

Yet, we haven’t all survived –

Humble men.

Our middle late middle age wanes –

Truthful Men

S.Calhoun

Terminus

It is time to be old,
To take in sail:–
The gods of bounds,
Who sets to seas a shore,
Came to me in his fatal rounds,
And said: ‘No more!
No farther shoot
Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root.
Fancy departs: no more invent;
Contract thy firmament
To compass of a tent.
There’s not enough for this and that,
Make thy option which of two;
Economize the failing river,
Not the less revere the Giver,
Leave the many and hold the few.
Timely wise accept the terms,
Soften the fall with wary foot;
A little while
Still plan and smile,
And,–fault of novel germs,–
Mature the unfallen fruit.
Curse, if thou wilt, thy sires,
Bad husbands of their fires,
Who, when they gave thee breath,
Failed to bequeath
The needful sinew stark as once,
The Baresark marrow to thy bones,
But left a legacy of ebbing veins,
Inconstant heat and nerveless reins,–
Amid the Muses, left thee deaf and dumb,
Amid the gladiators, halt and numb.’

As the bird trims her to the gale,
I trim myself to the storm of time,
I man the rudder, reef the sail,
Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:
‘Lowly faithful, banish fear,
Right onward drive unharmed;
The port, well worth the cruise, is near,
And every wave is charmed.’

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE

I went to my 35th high school reunion this weekend. I graduated in 1972 from Hawken School, having entered as a 10th grader. At the time Hawken,a private ‘prep school,’ was an all-male academy. Two years after my class graduated, women were admitted. Everything, apparently, changed!

1972 was a year in a storied era: Nixon, Nam, psychedelia, hippiedom, and callow questioning of authority are just a few of the features of its context. Over the years, my own questioning has become rigorous rather than callow, but, as I mentioned to my balding classmates, the traces of the olden experience have been sustained and etched.

We get together every five years and, for me, the reunion always provides an intriguing moment of socio-anthropological research into the developmental flow of male life. Way back when: I entered a school full of tribes with the core tribe being the sons of Cleveland’s east side professional and legacy elites. Still, the flux was such that the sorting process landed me among the artistic and long haired!

35 years later, the sorting comes undone as we’re all well into the common vicissitudes visited upon late middle agers be they burdens of health, relationships, family, career, or finances. Those ancient tribes unravel and the loosening and retying makes reunion time uniquely interesting and, dare I suggest, honest and reparative.

Somebody asked me whether I thought people actually change much over the years. As we recollect and recover together memories of misty high school days, it’s a natural question to ask. Are we conversing together as slightly altered versions of our teenage selves, or, doing so without bothering to reconcile great changes, or something else?

It is more than my prejudice to suggest the factors of nature and nurture aren’t easily separated, then to be held apart. But all I said when asked was, “I think life changes us alot.”

Of course, it’s a fascinating question for we know that the oak of personality does grow from the acorn of personality. However, it is also understood that a 5 year old’s self-report and somewhat unmediated self-presentation are categorically different than what they will be decades down the pike of life. Also, just to differentiate factors in a 5 year old is problem enough. Nature? Nurture? It’s a bit of both; but the homo sapiens sapiens is the beast able to recall and reflect and review and rehearse and. . .adapt. Learn. Change.

Jamie&David

Jamie aka Dynamo Man, Hambone, and David “Hillsee;” two of my closest friends for over 36 years sitting on the couch in my abode. My soul brothers…

I suggested to my classmates that they consider the opportunity for relationship between us–nowadays–as being predicated on deeper processes of knowing and learning. And these are about what each of us has come to, is about, is.

Whether people basically are developing some given-by-biology template, or are growing from not much more than early developmental blueprints, or are engaged in personal evolution of a more complex and entangled, and even mysterious nature, it seems patently obvious that how one goes about knowing is subject to great enhancing movements and enrichments and maturation.

We come together every five years and sort of work on that kind of knowing. We’re no longer very inexperienced in many respects. Men tend to deprecate their relationship skills, yet there is no better test ground, for men, for the foray into interpersonal knowing than the extention of charitable intimacy to another male friend.

Tis very special.

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