Reunion roundup

Reunions held in 2011: Class of 1961 reunion

2 - 4 December 2011

By: Brian Robertson and Rae Peisach

1961 class photo

Barry Bass, Emilia Binnewald, Ken Boughton, Selwyn Chapeikin, Margaret Coleman, Fanus du Toit, Peter Folb, Albert Hasson, Ivor Jardine, Pamela Levit, Raphael Melmed, Edmund Michaels, Angus Morton, Elliot Murray, Hardie Oberholster, Arthur Parsons, Rae Peisach, Clarence Petrie, Brian Robertson, Mervyn Shapiro, Ray Shrosbree, Sol Spector, George Stratfold, Wynand van den Berg, Johan van der Spuy, Justine van Selm, Fred Wannenburgh.

There was no mistaking the enthusiasm with which those who attended the 1961 MBChB Class 50 Year Reunion interacted with one another over the weekend of 2-4 December 2011. From the first meeting on Friday there was a buzz that continued unabated until the final 'after-parties' of the week following the reunion. It was possibly the most relaxed and enjoyable of all the reunions of this class: perhaps because of the smaller numbers, or the fact that most members were working less, or because it might be the last reunion.

Although only half of the available class members attended, 27 members plus their partners was a good number for a successful reunion - neither too big nor too small a group. Those of us living locally were grateful to the seven members who contributed more effort and expense to come from overseas, especially as future opportunities for meeting them are limited by distance. We made up a little for this by organising a couple of informal lunch meetings for them in the week following the reunion.

Friday 2 December

The large majority of participants made it to the Friday registration, where mutual recognition did not seem as much of an issue as it had been for some of us at our 40 year reunion. The tour of new facilities at the Medical School lead by Professor Laurie Kellaway (Neurosciences) was well subscribed, and proved to be an excellent innovation to the reunion programme. After a general orientation regarding renovations and changes at the Medical School, and a look at the new Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Laurie showed us the student computer laboratory. Of particular interest was the way in which the computers were secured against theft; how teaching material is made available and assignments submitted; and how plagiarism is monitored. The tour ended with a visit to the dissection rooms where the difficulties of obtaining sufficient cadavers was discussed, leading to an increased tendency for plastination of specifically pro-dissected body parts. Laurie joined us for a lively discussion over lunch at the MAC Club and received many compliments on making the tour so interesting.

The Dean's welcoming cocktail party took place at 18h00 in the all glass foyer of the new Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine. Blown inside by a familiar south-easter gale, class members could enjoy a magnificent view of the mountains decked with swaying trees and scudding clouds. The Dean being on sabbatical, we were entertained with a fine talk by Professor Graham Fieggen, Head of Neurosurgery.

Saturday 3 December

A significant number of brave individuals joined Peter Folb at an early hour for a walk (climb?) up the 'Jeep Track' leading from Constantia Nek to the Table Mountain reservoirs. Peter was prevailed upon to turn back before there were any casualties, so this proved to be a most enjoyable, if strenuous exercise. Recovery took place at the Kirstenbosch Tea Room, where the mountaineers joined other class members who had been engaging in more leisurely exercise.

After the class photograph in Smuts Hall at 19h15, members joined their partners in the dining room for the Gala Dinner, making a total of 41 persons. It proved to be a most enjoyable event. Praise to the caterers for providing such a lavish and seemingly never-ending flow of excellent food, beautifully presented on buffet tables. Brian Robertson was MC for the evening, and wove in a number of jokes between toasts. The story about the psychiatrist and the proctologist proved to be a popular one. Toasts were made to Joan Tuff and all involved in the excellent organisation of this reunion; to the Medical School and all our teachers; and finally to our own class, remembering absent class members, including those who were deceased. The names of the deceased class members were read out and they were duly remembered: Peter Chisholm, Fred Clarke, Lewis Freed, Dick Le Grellier, David Leask, Kathy Leon, Gerald Levine, Ian Murray, Johann Myburgh, Moira Reay, Wynand van Niekerk, Sybil Vinden, Terence Vooght, and Jurie Zietsman.

After dessert class members were encouraged to go to the microphone and share a significant memory from Medical School days or of fellow class members. One of the more hilarious was Clarence Petrie describing David Leask achieving his dream to become a qualified city bus driver. On a more sombre note Ed Michaels shared his painful experiences of racial discrimination at Medical School. What was particularly painful was that, at the time, most white class members were unaware or uninterested. Today it is hard to imagine the ludicrous restrictions placed by apartheid on fellow medical students, and so their disadvantages and pain have never been acknowledged by the class. Following Ed's speech, a public apology was offered on behalf of the class to Ed (and all class members who were discriminated against).

Sunday 4 December

The 25 class members who braved the roadworks to meet for Brunch in Kalk Bay did not regret it. On the contrary, there was no let up in the lively conversation at the two large tables that only came to an end when it was time for last minute swopping of email addresses, plans to meet again, and reluctant good-byes.

Future Plans

There was the usual discussion about meeting again very soon. Given the fact that this was our last official sponsored reunion, there may be some merit in the proposal that we organise an unofficial reunion in 2016. Whether it happens will depend largely on interest and class members' availability.