Reunions held in 2005: Class of 1975
A summary by Gail Loon-Lustig
Gill Ainslie, Letitia Anderson, Nico Basson, Peter Berlyn, Ted Blaine, Francis Bolle, Jean Borgstrom, Pieter Bothma, Walter Braude, Jannie Briers, Mike Brown, Jeff Cloete, Tony Cohn, Joey Cupido, Geoff Friedlander, Peter Gooch, Stephen Hardcastle, Michael Hayden, Julie Jaffer, Asgar Kalla, Jeff Katz, Sophie Kisting, Denise Kotze, Breslau Kruger, Dinky Levitt, Gail Loon-Lustig, Roelof Lourens, Joan Louwrens, Norma n Maharaj, Rose Mason, Nolan McDonald, Cathy Miller, David Milne, Bitty Muller, Fred Oosthuizen, Fred Rank, Tony Rhodes, Shake Seigel, Mike Smit, Les Smith, Norman Smuts, Rabia Sonday, Maureen Stein, Allen Stidworthy, Colin Stokol, Don Wilson, Pete Woods
(Click on the image to see a large version.)
Academic Meeting Programme
There have not been many events in my life which have inspired me sufficiently to actually put pen to paper. The 30th year reunion of the Class of 1975 was definitely one of them.
Being a UCT medical student graduate has always been a source of pride for me and for months I had been feeling a growing sense of excitement at the thought of making the trip to Cape Town in December. The prospect of meeting friends some of whom I hadn't seen for close on 30 years, was thrilling. Spending a few weeks in the city of my birth in Summer was a dream come true. To be perfectly honest, the whole experience became an introspective journey along the "road taken" in all its aspects, just like tumbling down the snake to "start" in a snakes-and-ladder game.
Arriving alone in Cape Town was quietly indulgent. It didn't take me long to realize that the light indicator in my hired car shouldn't be wiping the windows (in Israel we drive on the right-hand side of the road) and it took a good couple of drives to reorientate myself. The drive to the hotel from the airport found me crying when I saw the UCT campus nestled at the foot of the Mountain. I stayed in a hotel opposite the Gardens and within minutes of landing walked across the famous park to see my favourite sculpture in the city which had caused so much controversy when unveiled many years previously, that of General Jan Smuts. It happened to be the International Day of Aids and the path down towards Adderley Street was filled with stands of various organizations appealing for support for their projects. A new reality for me so tuned into other types of problems in the Middle East.
Friday morning came far too quickly. How did I look? Probably changed beyond all recognition. I had planned on arriving with Louise Harris who was due in from Canada but unfortunately cancelled at the last minute. Suddenly alone, I felt a little weak at the knees. Thirty years was a long time.
There were many changes: the hospital had expanded, the reality of the new South Africa was apparent wherever one turned, even Adderley Street seemed shorter than I remembered. A friendly and obviously proud Table Mountain at her best, had summoned the South-Easter wind specially for us and appeared to be heralding the weekend in most majestically.
Finding Anzio Road was a challenge but, surprisingly, driving in Cape Town was far easier than Tel Aviv. Not as much traffic congesting the roads. The pace was so much slower and more relaxed. Very much on my own, I entered the venue on the Medical Campus with a fair measure of trepidation and that is where any anxiety ended.
It took no more than Joan Tuff, the Alumni Officer's smile to put me at ease and then the fun started. Hugs, squeals of recognition, the years peeled away. More and more of the class arrived from all over the globe. The local contingent of graduates was well-represented.
The programme was great. A trip through the old Anatomy building where the smell of formalin aroused nostalgic memories of an overly conscientious me endlessly struggling through the nerves of the brachial plexus.
The visit to the Transplant Museum was enlightening and depending on one's present speciality, raised interest for everyone. For me as a Family Practitioner I found the articles in the local press at the time on Louis Washkansky, the person, fascinating. The anaesthetists in the class got excited by the medical reports post op.
The serious part of the weekend was more of a pleasure than anything else. Listening to various classmates tell about their interests, their work and passions will be remembered more than any formal lecture attended during our studies.
A never talked about or discussed subject was brought up by Sophie Kisting. She reminded us all of the days of Apartheid and the awful injustices that so many of our class were subjected to. Not enough time was dedicated to a discussion on the subject but I am sure that every person present at the reunion took time to think about those days of burying our heads in the sand and the feelings of helplessness that clouded our better judgement.
The cocktail party at Joan Louwrens was a non-stop giggling session. Food was totally unimportant. The main thing was renewing contact and discovering what one had never bothered to ask about one's colleagues all those years ago. And the Mountain knowingly, observing us all on the lawn from a distance.
Saturday night at the Alphen House Hotel was well-attended by class members and their partners. A class photo on the steps outside was followed by non-stop chatting and joking at tables arranged in a marvellous room from the times when homesteads of atmosphere were the order of the day. There were the sad moments when we remembered all the friends who had passed away in tragic and other circumstances and were no longer with us.
It did not matter what we did, we all felt good being together. I don't think that anyone will really remember the culinary aspects of the weekend but those who ventured the walk up Platteklip Gorge wolfed down the picnic lunch faster than any gourmet meal. For me, celebrating a birthday on the top of Table Mountain after climbing it was a bonus to be cherished.
One thing is for sure, the Class of 1975 is as special as ever (somehow then we didn't take time to discover this). The ripple effect of the contact and friendships sealed over one far-too short weekend at the end of 2005 will surely make its way to the far corners of the Earth just as it certainly should be touching even those who couldn't be present.
In the spirit of doing something as a class, Michael Hayden has suggested uniting in a special effort to bring some benefit to the communities living with HIV/AIDS.
One of many possible community-based projects that we could embrace jointly is to build a youth centre promoting healthy lifestyles among young people. The experiences in the Masiphumele township outside Cape Town exposed the compelling need to reach adolescents as the primary means of stemming the tide of HIV/AIDS. The sad truth is that HIV infection among 15-20 year olds is increasing at a rate of 65% per year, affecting almost 25% of the population. This is just one charitable endeavor of many that the Class of '75 could champion. Your thoughts and suggestions are welcomed as we work together in the coming weeks to identify a project that exemplifies the character and spirit of our group.
To support this effort and move our plans forward, a steering committee has been set up. Michael Hayden will chair this committee. A teleconference is currently being arranged with the committee to review the full scope of potential projects. The goal of this initial discussion will be to agree on the direction of our proposed class efforts. We will seek your input throughout this process and will look to finalize our decision in the coming weeks. In addition, Michael has identified an individual, Alexandra Howard, who will work closely with us to support the development of our chosen endeavours.