Category Archives: remembered

department of co-incidence

During a visit to Vashon Island, a series of unplanned conjunctions took me to the Vashon Bookshop for a half hour of browsing before our reservation at the marvelous May Kitchen and Bar. This book leapt into my arms:

Stephen De Staebler was my 9th grade history teacher (1957-58), and offered a high-energy version of World History to a class of 15 or so engaged and eager students. He also taught a class in stained glass for 5 of us, with lead and solder and glass cutters, the real deal. He was only at the school for a year, but was unforgettable for his contagious enthusiasm. He went on to become a well-known sculptor and teacher at San Francisco State, and died in 2011. His website ( represents his work quite well. I was something between delighted and gobsmacked to discover a gallery of masks that presage my recent work with lithic personalities. At the very least, we draw upon the same mysterious vein of mimetic imagery (“a term used in literary criticism and philosophy that carries a wide range of meanings which include imitatio, imitation, nonsensuous similarity, receptivity, representation, mimicry, the act of expression, the act of resembling, and the presentation of the self” in its Wikipedia rendering). There’s also this quote to consider:

Much of art is play in the serious sense,
like magic, trying to restructure reality
so that we can live with the suffering.

-Stephen De Staebler, 1984

I’m not quite sure what to do with “the suffering” but I’m pleased to consider what he might mean. It’s the sort of responsibility one has toward one’s well-remembered teachers. Alas, there are only a couple of 9th grade classmates left who remember Steve De Staebler, and I wish I’d been able to convey my thanks to him for what he taught and what he Taught.

Remembering David Hutchinson, 1943-2016

I’m in Glastonbury CT for a memorial service for a dear friend.

David Hutchinson and I were friends for 60 years, ever since meeting in Grade 8 at Chadwick School in 1956. Our lives have many parallels, and we’ve shared quite a few enthusiasms over the years. Thinking back over our friendship has been a voyage of gratitude and deepening admiration for a cherished and unique person.

This photograph (taken by Tom Schaefer in Spring 1961) exemplifies the sort of foolishness we happily collaborated in, and it truly seems like it was just yesterday:

Tisket and Tasket

Mrs. Chadwick taught Advanced Placement English to a small group of Senior Boys, and every day would arrive in the classroom with her Basket, containing whatever materials she’d planned to use that day. More than once David and I made a Thing of carrying the Basket for her.

We were Mrs. Chadwick’s fair-haired boys and Prize Puppies, and both of us went Back East (as they say in California) for college, David to Yale and I to Harvard. David visited Cambridge several times, and this version of his smiling self was in 1965, when he visited Betsy and me after we were married:

Hutch 1964

We both developed interests in Southeast Asia, both joined the Peace Corps (David in Thailand, Betsy and I in Sarawak, Malaysia), and were in Hilo Hawaii at the same time for Peace Corps training.

We met up again in California in 1969, but then went our separate ways for 24 years, starting careers in distant places (David in Connecticut, Thailand, India, Zambia; I in Nova Scotia and then Virginia), and reconnecting in 1993. To the surprise of neither of us, we immediately picked up where we had left off, with lots more stories but still the same fundamental curiosities and engagement with the world. Thereafter we visited back and forth several times a year, and (once it was technologically possible) were in frequent Internet contact. A Skype or Google Video call would come in and continue for at least half an hour, full of rich reportage of doings and thinkings.

Over the years since 1993 there were several Reunions of high school friends, in which we all discovered that those 3-4-5 Chadwick years had been remarkably formative for all of us. It has been endlessly fascinating to unpack the remarkable experiences and relationships of that time and place.

Chadwick 1961 in Maine
(Port Clyde ME 2006)

Chadwick 1961 in Maine
(with Betsy and Kate, 2006)

Chadwick 1961 in Maine, September 2013
(Tenants Harbor ME, 2013)

It should surprise nobody that many of the pictures I have from the last 24 years show David in gleeful conjunction with food, in many different places and across a broad swath of the world’s cuisines. Here are a few:

Pia's pad thai
(Pia’s Pad Thai, 2008)

Hutch, Steve and Jim disgracing themselves with fruit pies
(pie buddies, Tenants Harbor ME, 2009)

Hutch is pleased to be at HK
(Home Kitchen Cafe, Rockland ME 2013)

Hutch shares a stickybun
(Home Kitchen Cafe, Rockland ME 2013)

David contemplates oat muffins
(Tenants Harbor ME 2013)

Kate adds several more from her archive:


Hutch and Pia's



Snowstorm aside, we made it to Portland in time to meet Hutch, Pia, and our new friend Nok for a delicious brunch.

and one by Shannon Riley:

High School Buds 3
Tenants Harbor, 2014

a ferry remembered

While hunting for historical photos of Boston’s Financial District, I happened upon the work of Herald-Tribune photographer Leslie Jones, archived at the Boston Public Library, and found this image of the Last Trip of the East Boston Ferry (1952), often called “the Penny Ferry” after the fare for passage.

East Boston Ferry on its last trip

another view

Hearing that the ferry would be ending its service, my father made a point of taking me to Boston to put MY penny in the turnstile slot and make the voyage to East Boston and back. I remember the event very clearly, even to the smell of the waterfront.