Not that you could tell by our clothing. Howard Rheingold, who wore a garish shirt stretched over his nicely rounded tummy, looked like a cross between an R. Crumb cartoon and a psychedelic Tweedle Dee. Jun Kobashigawa resembled a rad snowboard dude in his wide-legged, Japanese construction-worker pants. Joan Golston was the reincarnation of Janis Joplin, draped in layers of fabulous scarves topped by a vintage feather boa. Her natural dreadlocks flew like the proverbial freak flag.
But all of our rebelliousness has never stomped out our innate intellectual curiosity. When we gathered in the rare book room to handle, with white gloves, the famous Diderot Encyclopedia, a reverent hush descended. When Greg Neumann, who maps Mars at the Goddard Space Center, explained why there must have been life on Mars, we probed for proof. When a classmate was overheard theorizing how the historical exclusiveness of guilds has yielded to the democratizing influence of new information technology, the listeners nodded sagely.
Although reunions have a reputation for being competitions over who has achieved most, the class of ’68 views professional achievement not as substance, but as icing on the cake of interesting life experiences. Few of us spoke of our jobs. As in student days, we competed over who could be most witty, provocative, and insightful. We came not to flaunt our successes, but to prove our resilience—that the spark of curiosity lives regardless of what life has dealt us.
As Carol Higgins Hawkins ’69 explained, "The purpose of a liberal arts education is to make you a good conversationalist when you come home from whatever you do for a living."
It took years for some of us to shake the turbulence of the sixties and to settle into amused acceptance of our roles as society's smarty-pants. Some battles were won, some lost, and some, like environmental battles, are ongoing. Arthur Feinstein couldn't make the reunion because, as executive director of the Bay Area's Audubon Society, he was busy celebrating their fought-for restoration of waterfowl habitat from a former industrial wasteland. Fortunately, some of our idealism has stuck.