Difficult as it is for us to believe, it has come to our attention that the CCS Class of 1965 is in the throes of planning for their 50th reunion which will be held in September next year. And while they have contact information for many of the classmates, they are still lacking a few. 

Therefore, they would be most grateful for any information on the following classmates: Sarah Anne Butler. Priscilla Elizabeth Austin, William G. Crain, Frederick A. Partlow, Polly Ann Rathbun, Charles A. Rentrop, Claudia B. Smith, John F. Tabor, Phyllis Ann Thomas, Mark V. Wright and Ellen June Young now perhaps Eavener. We would greatly appreciate it if anyone with information about any of these classmates would contact us.

With all the somewhat distressing news of late, we almost hate to open the newspaper for fear of what we might read. Thus we were most surprised and delighted when we were directed to a recent article in the Kenyon Collegian. Of course, we must admit we may be slightly prejudiced about the article, written by Lauren Katz, and entitled, “Go behind the scenes with alumnus Christopher Ellsworth,” but we were quite taken with it when we read it.

“Alumni of the Kenyon Drama department have often returned to the Hill as professors and directors, but Christopher Ellsworth ‘96 returned to work behind the scenes ... As a student, Ellsworth found the scene shop and became hooked. He became a drama major ... ‘I had a horrible senior year,’ Ellsworth said. ‘It wasn’t fun and I swore upon graduating I was never doing theater again’ ... Ellsworth kept to his promise to renounce theater for awhile. He took a three-year detour, but he found his way back to theater while living in Philadelphia ... In 2002, a job opportunity opened up at Kenyon, and Ellsworth became the new technical director, a job he has loved from the beginning. Previously he had been the assistant technical director at McCarter Theater in New Jersey, but he found himself bored in this position.

“They have an operating budget of $10 million a year, so when they ran into a problem, they buy the solution, and I thought that was really dull,” Ellsworth said. “What I like about [Kenyon] is that we have smaller budgets but have to do some really cool stuff.”

Ellsworth loves a challenge, and ... has passed his enthusiasm for creative problem-solving on to his students. Molly McCleary ‘14, for example, described Noises Off [as], “The most challenging but also most rewarding project that I did with Chris. ... There were a lot of demands, but we had an absolute blast, and we were working on it right up until we put up the show.

“Ellsworth loved working for (Tim) Pryer (the then technical director at Kenyon) as a student and remembers him fondly. However, the memory has also created a complicated perspective.  ‘I remember thinking that Tim was wise and worldly and old,’ Ellsworth said. ‘Now looking back, I don’t see myself as being wise and old and worldly.’

“Ellsworth’s students said that he was not only wise, but also an excellent teacher.

“Every time I have had a question for the past four years, Chris has almost immediately known the answer,” Matt Super ‘15 said.

“One of the best qualities about Ellsworth, according to his students, is that his devotion to them extends outside the scene shop.

“‘He is important to the college because of his job, but also because of the support that he offers to students he interacts with,’ McCleary said.

“‘There are so many times when I will just pop into the set shop to borrow pliers, and I accidentally end up spending 30 minutes chatting with him,’” Cheyenne Davis ‘15 said. “‘He is a sweetheart, so genuine.’

“Ellsworth sees the scene shop volunteers not only as students, but also as friends.

“‘Chris Ellsworth is the reason I did drama in my life ever,’” McCleary said. “‘Chris is one of my best friends. I would come in and talk to him about anything, and he just really wants everyone to have the best Kenyon experience they possibly can.’

“Ellsworth has gone full circle. He currently holds the job that his mentor [Pryer] had when Ellsworth was a student, and he could not be happier. He only hopes his students can find the same satisfaction, and he even has some advice...have fun. You have to have fun in theater. It’s too much work not to have fun.”

As we read the article, we could not help but note how much the feeling of the students at Kenyon for Christopher are like the feelings that students in another time and another place had for Christopher’s late father, Jerry. We found the similarity to be most touching.

Of course, the article about Christopher is not the only recent family related item that we have found to be of interest. Our sister, Ellen, who turned six years old on a family trip to California in 1960, recently had the opportunity to recreate that rather unusual sixth birthday. At the time we were camping in Yellowstone National Park and thus her celebration was outside. A picture of Ellen with her cake and presents tastefully displayed on the beach towel was taken at the campground.

This past month, in celebration of her 60th birthday, Ellen took a trip with friends to Yellowstone. We suggested, since the beach towel from 1960 still resides at the Lake Michigan cottage, that she take the towel with her and recreate her sixth birthday. She did, complete with the Yellowstone setting, the beach towel and a cake similar to the 1960 cake complete with chocolate icing, not to mention six candles. And we have copies of the pictures from 1960 and 2014 to prove it, making us think that we might well be the only family in possession of a beach towel that has traveled twice to Yellowstone from Michigan. We can’t decided whether this particular piece of information should be in the “Guinness Book of World Records” or “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.”  

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, N.Y., 13326, by telephone at 547-8124 or by e-mail at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com.

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