Day 19: Ivy? I’d Rather Not.

13 Jul

Today, Joe and his daughter were living out a scene being played out all over this great nation of ours – a weekend day being totally consumed by children’s athletics! The Tison’s daughter plays lacrosse, and during the summer that means tournaments on Long Island. Apparently Long Island lacrosse is a different breed unto itself. But for this Connecticut family, it means heading out early, taking a ferry, and spending the entire day in the sun, before having to turn back around and ferry home. I would have liked to see her play, but a full day’s tournament so far from home was just too big of a commitment. I do feel bad that Tina stayed back to hang with us, missing the chance to watch her daughter play, but I’m very glad she did, because we had another awesome day!

Today we went to New Haven (you know, of the pizza style fame? Just kidding.) I presume you know why New Haven is so famous. But in case you don’t, it is the home of Yale University. You may have noticed a sub-theme of CMRT this year. It is the pre-college-tours college tour. If you are keeping track, thus far we’ve toured, walked around, or just taken tiny sneak peeks at Rhode Island School of Design, Brown University, Bowdoin, MIT, and, now, Yale. I was expecting to really love Yale. Like push for it if any of my kids wanted to consider an Ivy League school love it. I did not.

Things I liked about Yale:
–> The amazing Gothic architecture of the old buildings. I am an architecture junkie. The old buildings are so beautiful to me. I know Gothic architecture is not everyone’s cup of tea (I’m looking at you, Joe!), but I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the lines, the details, the leaded glass, etc. So, when in the thick of old campus, it was a treat for the eyes.

–> Their blue & white colors – reminds me of another school I know. And their mascot makes for some pretty cute t-shirts for sale in the bookstore. There was a Yale Law shirt showing a sketch of a bulldog wearing a powdered barrister’s wig. Priceless.

–> Learning the reason their school crest has Hebrew on it. Seriously. Have you ever noticed that? I may not have known much about the history of Yale’s founding, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t a Jewish school, so noticing the Hebrew juxtaposed against the Latin intrigued me. Though founded in 1701, the crest was not updated to include Hebrew until the late 1700s. The Reverend Ezra Stiles was President of the College form 1778-1795, and he firmly believed that in order to truly study and analyze Biblical texts, one must be able to read the language it had been written in – Hebrew. Therefore, Hebrew became a required course for all freshmen at Yale as early as the late 1700s. While President, Stiles updated the crest to include the book (representing the Bible) with the Hebrew characters, as well as the Latin phrase, roughly translated to “Light and Truth.”

–> The proximity of many great stores, like LLBean, and wonderful places to eat. That burrito and quesadilla we split were yummy!


Things I didn’t like about Yale:
–> There isn’t really a cohesive campus. Everything seems to be spread out and disjointed.

–> It is far too urban for me. There are many intensely beautiful college campus located right smack dab in the middle of urban centers that I would find perfectly wonderful, but this one bleeds out into the gritty urban center a little too much for my taste. There doesn’t seem to be much, or any, in some cases, separation from the rough-and-tumble of the city. It may seem naive, but I like a little of the protective bubble feel with my college campuses.

–> I really just can’t get over them not having a cohesive campus.


So, I think we can strike that one from the list. I am very glad to have walked around the Yale campus, as it were, but I am over it. Even if Rory Gilmore did go there.

But, what came next was a real treat. We visited theYale Peabody Museum of Natural History. (Okay, I guess this also goes on the “things I like about Yale” list) What a truly delightful little museum! They are currently having a special exhibit called: “Ancient Mesopotamia Speaks – Highlights from the Yale Babylonian Collection.” Now, this is CMRT: US History Edition because I currently teach 8th grade US History. But I started off teaching 6th grade World History, which covered ancient civilizations, including a huge concentration on Mesopotamia. This exhibit was fascinating! And my goodness does Yale have an amazing Babylonian collection! They had so many beautifully preserved cylinder seals exhibited. But perhaps the most impressive to me was a piece of one of the Epics of Gilgamesh. (If only I had packed my Gilgamesh t-shirt!) To me it is transforming when you can see the artifact that you have been teaching about. I was in no way prepared for how tiny the cuneiform characters were! Even though I know the process and I understand the tools used, it just doesn’t seem possible for them to have written so small. No wonder the scribes were one of the highest, and most revered, of all professions! I was also enamored with their replica of the Hammurabi’s Code stele located in the Louvre (Hands off my stele!) I told Avery that this was her turn to get ahead of her classmates, as she was going to have to write a DBQ essay about Hammurabi’s Code next year, and she has already had a chance to actually stand in front of one of Hammurabi’s steles (even if it was just a replica). Another very cool piece was something they were labeling as the world’s oldest known cookbook. They had translated the recipes, and even were showing a video of having made the dishes by following the recipes. Insanely cool to see history come alive! (Nerd alert!)

The rest of the museum is also full of treasures. This is another museum in the throes of preparing for full-scale renovation. Apparently the Yale Peabody will be closing for 3 full years as they undergo a massive project to make it possible to display more of their massive collection. It was funny how outdated many of their exhibits seemed – very 1950s feel to some of them. But even that was not enough to distract from how impressive the museum collection truly is. They even have a replica of the skeleton known as Lucy! But I think my favorite part of the museum was the rocks and gems. They have some truly impressive geological samples; fascinating, otherworldly rocks and gems. I was way nerding out in that room. Tina and I had fun realizing that the majority of the samples had been donated by the same 3 or 4 people. We wondered what these people’s homes looked like if they had donated many samples of their collection to Yale. Would love to see their bookshelves at home!

Another lazy afternoon in the backyard was just the ticket. The kiddos got in the hot tub – though Avery did get out from time to time to “cool off.” I played Harper in a little more corn hole. Turns out she’s the champion now! I did try to lay down for a little afternoon nap, but a child who shall remain nameless felt the need to bang on and shout through my closed bedroom door, waking me up, to tell me that they were going to go lie down. Grrrrrrrrr…..

Dinner was low-key and delicious. And this is also where I got introduced to Fat Henry Tison’s BBQ sauce. It was a transformative encounter. Using a family recipe from his paternal grandfather, Joe mixes up his own sauce and it is delicious! I am feeling very lucky indeed to not only have gotten to eat some with leftover brisket, but I am going home with my own bottle. Now I have to buy that grill and get to grilling, because otherwise I am going to end up eating this stuff straight off the spoon! We rounded out the evening by taking the kids (and puppy, Luna) for some frozen yogurt at 16 Handles, and then took a driving tour of Fairfield University. Now *that* is a beautiful, cohesive campus!

Joe and his daughter didn’t get home until around 10pm – I can’t imagine how exhausted she must have been after playing three lacrosse games in the heat. We let the kids stay up long enough to talk to her about the tournament, but shuffled them off fairly quickly after that. Their son had a baseball game in the morning, and the Willims were going to be rolling out for the final push. Everyone needs their sleep! But we just. can’t. help. ourselves! Full of good-intentioned bluster, we said that even the grown-ups were going to get some sleep. Umm… Do what I say and not what I do? And still I say, worth it every time.


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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim