It is hard to equal such escapades inside the classroom, but perhaps we’ll tease a few of you there nonetheless. One of our oral historians notes the sad fact that for all the time we spend in class, and all the money parents pay for those hours, the classroom memories abandon us first. Jon Kravetz will never forget how he helped birth a calf in Appalachia and Dale Riehl will never forget the horse that galloped off with him in India. But not even the summa cum-laude types can recall in much detail what transpired around the seminar table after so many decades. Of course, the classroom for Mr. Gaudino meant not only the intimate room in Mather House where he convened his Nocturnal Council but the snack bar too, where he might lead a discussion of the war in Vietnam or of the invisible tennis ball in the movie “Blow Up.” Then there was his living room where townspeople were invited to join faculty and students in evening-long discussions of riots in the cities or the Watergate scandals, and where it might take a while for a newcomer to pick the host out of the crowd sprawled about the floor – yes, the small gentleman with the oversized head whose faint voice you had to lean forward to hear. In his final months, that’s where he taught his classes too, in that living room, with faithful Don Dubendorf or another loving student on a stool at his side.

One apology, though, about the dozens of witnesses who tell our story, especially in the final section, on the Gaudino legacy. We do not want to leave you with the impression that all his students ended up as judges or college presidents or Wall Street Masters of the Universe. Something about him did stir the sharp kids destined for such futures. But it’s our fault if it seems that too many of the memories come from such naturally blessed sorts, for he gave of himself to the regular Joes among us too. Indeed, if you hang on to the end you’ll see that he left his richest bequest to one of those. It was much the same at faculty parties, where the Great Men gathered to discuss the affairs of the world – Robert L. Gaudino would wander off to the kitchen to seek out the opinions of faculty wives, at a time that simply wasn’t done, except by him. As you’ll see if you are patient, it’s one of those women, Hanne Booth, who returns the favor to this day, at his grave.

So please, please, take off your shoes – leave the street in the street and take this journey with us. Meet the man, see what you think. Disagree at your pleasure. Cry with us, if you wish. But experience a life. Rejoice in a life. Enter.

Paul Lieberman
August, 2010


Final Note