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Alums remember: summering in New Haven

For most of the years since I graduated from Yale, I’ve been a year-round resident of New Haven. But there was something special about the first summer I spent in New Haven, when I was still a student. With much of the population of Yale gone, I saw both the campus and the city in a new light—and learned my way around a few places outside the Yale bubble where I’d never ventured.

Needless to say, this experience wasn’t unique to me. Earlier this week on our Facebook page, we asked alumni to share their memories of summers spent in New Haven. Most of those memories were rather idyllic. Kristin Krebs-Dick ’93 says she “spent a summer training between my junior and senior year. While there, I waitressed at Favorite's Pizza on Chapel Street. It was a terrific restaurant that served three styles of pizza: California, New York and Chicago. Fantastic memories of the city in summer and of making new friends and enjoying all the resources New Haven had to offer.”

I ‘worked’ summer housing in 1991,” wrote Sammy Redd ’94. “I can't recall having any actual duties. Best summer of my life.”

The joys of the summer sublet figured in the memory of Leslie Sydnor ’88, who wrote that she “worked developing photographs for a researcher at the med school. Had a great backyard in a house on Howe. Lots of dinner parties, lots of wine, lots of fun.”

If anything was not recalled fondly, it was the weather. Arthur Greenwald ’75 suggested that "you can recreate the experience of summer in New Haven by sitting in a steambath while wearing a three-piece suit.”

Greenwald might have been here the same summer as his classmate Marva Evans ’75, who remembers “working on the freshman classbook under the golden dome with Jim Grisolia. Over 100 degrees for a week. So hot the Letraset letters melted on the proof pages. Sleeping in my air-conditioned summer-job office at School of Public Health. Carrying boxes of key-punched cards to the computer center and picking up results the next day!”

The heat was also prominent in the memory of Charles Rhoads ’81, who was “working in the Art & Architecture Library, which had no air conditioning and the large plate glass windows didn't open, so banks of industrial fans were brought in, lined up on one side of the library, turned on every morning, and let run all day long. They roared like an airplane, and you couldn't really sit at any of the study tables on that side. New Haven I recall as being hot and humid. There was a non-Yale repertory cinema house in—was it a barn? a converted garage?—where I saw a double bill of The Howling and An American Werewolf in London.” (It was probably the Lincoln Theater, a barnlike space at the end of Lincoln Street. It’s now a performance space for New Haven’s Educational Center for the Arts.)

And finally, Alyss Dixson ’94 offered a couple of appropriately gothic tales: “Spent a summer living in the Taft and working at SML. The stacks smelled like vanilla ice cream from all the books and I got stuck in the brass cage elevator after closing on a Friday. Screamed my head off with a coworker until security found us because we hadn't punched out. Oh, and a bat flew into my apartment. It was as scared and confused as I was, but at least it could fly.”

Have any Elm City summer stories of your own? Share them in the comments.


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under summer


  • Laura Teller
    Laura Teller, 5:59pm June 27 2014 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Summer of 1976, I stayed on as Acting GM of WYBC-FM, living on Elm Street and walking to work every day to the studio (then in Hendrie Hall). The prior two years, I'd been working in Philadelphia at the Bellevue Hotel, answering room service calls in an un-air conditioned basement festooned with much-populated flypaper and heated by gigantic ovens and huge open grills. I'd been asked back again, but I turned them down for the WYBC gig. The summer of 1976 was when deadly Legionnaires' Disease broke out in the hotel, sickening over 200 and killing more than 30 people, and ultimately forcing the hotel to close that November. Every day, the station's news ticker brought huge headlines, hysteria around this unknown killer, talk of a mass epidemic in the making. I felt like I'd dodged a bullet I never saw coming.

    I was happy not just because I wasn't in Philadelphia. New Haven in the summer was pretty lovely. I loved the drowsy, not-all-there vibe - quiet streets, only a handful of kids, summer air smelling like motor oil and hot dust with a tinge of salt air off the Sound. To cool off, we'd go to the top of East Rock and let the breezes flow over us (spectacular at sunset), or head to the beach somewhere. It was a carefree, happy time, punctuated with great gratitude for my random good luck in being there and not in that hot Philadelphia hotel basement breathing in the enemy.

  • Lynne Ruff
    Lynne Ruff, 4:37pm August 19 2014 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    I lived on Orange St. with two other Yale women in the summer of 1972, after my freshman year. Maybe because I grew up in Philadelphia, I don't remember the heat at all, despite our third-floor apartment lacking air -conditioning. (It did have plenty of cockroaches, which was new to me.) I have fond memories of that summer though. I rode my bike all over town, East Rock, West Rock, even out to Sleeping Giant, as well as to my job at Benhaven School near Whitney Ave. New Haven was so compact that you could get out of the city quickly, and I enjoyed exploring the area.

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