I headed off to Princeton in the fall of 1963 with Paul Sisco, Don Horne and Charlie Friedman. I struggled a bit the first year, but thereafter things went much more smoothly. Princeton's beauty and the quality of its faculty constantly inspired me. I had marvelous teachers who instilled a permanent love of history.
Then it was law school. Everyone knew everyone at the very small Yale Law School, and the "community" was quite wonderful, at least until things got ugly in the spring of 1970 with the "May Day Follies" and the Black Panther trial. Some of my classmates put on their National Guard uniforms to go out and tear gas some of my other classmates, who were demonstrating. My class was in fact the very law school class referred to by Robert Bork in Slouching Towards Gomorrah as "angry, intolerant, highly vocal and case-hardened against logical argument." I nevertheless voted for Richard Nixon.
In my second year of law school, I took a course in the graduate school at Yale on Southern history with C. Vann Woodward, America's greatest 20th century historian. That got me hooked, and I eventually worked my way into an LLB-MA program and then the Ph.D. program in history while staying in law school. As part of my further efforts to avoid the real world, I spent a year at St. John's College, Cambridge, studying modern British history. Even by the standards of Princeton and Yale, Cambridge is an extraordinarily beautiful place. I lived right along the River Cam. It would be a remarkable person who would not be filled with wonder at all the physical beauty and the great intellectual traditions at Cambridge. My Anglophilia became permanent and intense.
I returned from England - to get married. On the surface Elizabeth Cohen is the opposite of me in every way - Yankee, Jewish, and very liberal politically. We have remained happily married ever since. I also inherited a small but remarkable family. Her mother, who had marched for Sacco and Vanzetti, was a remarkable woman. Her father was a distinguished psychiatrist specializing in the criminally insane who died when Elizabeth was a child. Her uncle, Nat Nathanson, was a Frankfurter student, one of the last law clerks to Justice Brandeis and a great constitutional scholar. I spent another two years in law school and graduate school at Yale, where contemporaries included Henry (the Fonz) Winkler (who slept on my couch for three months after losing his apartment), Ben Stein of television and the movies, and, of course, the Clintons. I was not, however, an "FOB," i.e., a friend of Bill. I had the great experience of having Vann Woodward as my dissertation advisor. I received my J.D. and M.Phil in 1972. Having finished all my course work and exams for the Ph.D., I came to work for Hunton & Williams in Richmond in January 1974. Fortunately, I had done all my research for my dissertation. Otherwise, it would have taken more than the two years of weekends and vacations to complete it. I finally received the Ph.D. in 1976.
Hunton & Williams, an old and traditional firm established in Richmond in 1901, seemed huge at the time I joined it. It then had 90 lawyers, including Taylor Reveley, CHS '61. It now has almost 900 scattered all over the world. I am proud to be part of it.
For reasons not worth explaining, I became a "bond lawyer," overseeing mostly tax-exempt financings for traditional governmental units, special authorities, hospitals, colleges and schools. It is more interesting than it sounds. Bond work has landed me on various boards and commissions, which have produced a lot of interesting experiences and friends throughout the country.
Paternity, of course, was a big thrill. Our son Justin was born in 1975. I hope that everyone is as happy with their offspring as I have been with mine. He quickly developed from a child into an interesting dinner companion. When he headed off to Princeton in the fall of 1993, we replaced him with Godiva, a Springer Spaniel. Godiva is still with us and still runs with me, although both of us are much slower then we were ten years ago.
Justin graduated summa cum laude from Princeton, where he won the Sachs Fellowship for two years of study at Oxford. This gave Elizabeth and me a chance to indulge our Anglophilia with trips to visit him during his two years studying modern British history and earning an Oxford M.Phil. He is now the business writer for the Boston bureau of the Associated Press, combining e-commerce stories with occasional trips to Fenway Park. He even managed to spend a couple of weeks with the Red Sox in spring training this last March.
I make it back to Memphis occasionally, both because I have a few clients there and because my parents and sister still live there. I try to keep up with my history by doing book reviews for the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Journal of Southern History, and I have done a little teaching at the University of Virginia Law School. I hope that before I am 65, I will be doing more teaching and less law practice.
I agree with the observations made by several of our classmates over the Paul Sisco-email network that students at Central benefited greatly from a number of remarkable women teachers who today undoubtedly would be CEOs, lawyers, doctors or public officials. One of the greatest things about my life has been exposure to extraordinary scholars at three of the world's greatest universities. That experience has made me appreciate all the more some of the remarkable teachers that we had at Central.
Come see us in Richmond.
The BBQ is not as good as Memphis, but it is a very pleasant place.