Each year about this time a little miracle happens; a group of men gathers together together to sing and to rejoice in one another’s company. This past weekend, the Colgate Thirteen members from the 1960’s, now calling ourselves Vintage Thirteen, met once again on the shores of Lake George hosted at the beautiful home of Paul Bradley ’67 and his ever-gracious wife Linda.
Each year we come together to sing the songs we sang as undergraduates and to marvel as our closeness ripens, embracing us all along with our wives and significant others. Seeing us together, an outsider once remarked - ‘men don’t bond this way unless they’ve just killed a deer together’. Well, we’ve learned they can and do.
We stand together, side by side, staggering our breathing so the musical line is unbroken, feeling each other’s warmth, sensing the times when we are completely in tune and the occasional times we need mid-course correction. It’s a magic feeling when the group of us becomes a single singing instrument. It's an out of body experience.
Singing this kind of music, at least doing it well, requires not only the skill to blend but also wholehearted commitment to sing as one. Each of us, whatever the natural timbre of his voice, chooses to soften its edges to intertwine with the others in quality, pitch and volume. We pay attention to our leader, to each other, to our audience and to the story each song tells. To “sell” a song we all have to be together inside its story and to experience the thrill of making it happen right now.
We have come a long way, this group of old friends, now in our 60’s and 70’s. Each of us retains the heart of the person he was in our college years, but we have each been shaped by the nicks and dings of life. Our own edges are softer now. To be sure we are softer physically (alas), but happily our egos are even softer.
These reunion weekends are a miracle of harmony, musically and in terms of fellowship. The afterglow is much like what happens in the Christmas season when we wonder why it can’t always be this way - why we can't always bear deep love in our hearts for our fellows.
Come to think of it we can if all of us the world over will learn to blend, will stand shoulder to shoulder committed to harmony.