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Stan Heuisler '60

April 2022

“Speech after long silence; it is right…

That we descant and yet again descant,

Upon the supreme theme of Art and Song”

William Butler Yeats

Our iconic English teacher and drama director A. J. “Jerry” Downs, age 97 and a half, is here in another section of the Roland Park Place retirement community where I live, and we visit. Beyond the same street address we share the same June 21 birthday!

When we talk, we more than pick up right where we had left off. It feels as though we never left off. He knew me well back then, and it is therefore regenerative how well he still knows me. And boy, he puts a lump in my throat when he puts his head back and recites Yeats’s poetry.

I am also blessed by another sense of timelessness through Gilman because I see Timmy Baker often. He has for two decades been the impresario of our community’s remarkable Iliad lecture series on eclectic subjects to an audience who live here and, widely, elsewhere. Iliad’s events are energizing in the moment but may be far more valuable in follow-up readings, discussions, and ongoing learning engagement. Bravo, Downs and Baker.

Another recurring connection to Gilman is in memories of the five years my late wife, Betsey, spent heading the art department and where, as John Schmick told the Sun, “she really revolutionized the school.” And as I mounted a show here of my paintings of the five-year work/travel trip around the world Betsey and I took on the “hippie trail” in the early 1970s, I remembered Jack Garver’s studio art class at Gilman. Trying to get us into abstraction Mr. Garver asked the class to contemplate a “big simple shape.” Someone in the class quickly piped up that the class “already had a big simple shape: Heuisler.”

Enough epiphanies.

I am here enjoying accomplished men and women and, in almost all cases, their politics. My two children and their children flourish. Kate and her husband, overseas development experts, are ending seven years in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and evaluate options on a next posting. Their two daughters, 13 and 9, attend an International School with 51 nationalities. Naomi, the oldest daughter, recently delighted her Cambodian school with her thoughts on the rhythm and relevance of Langston Hughes’s jazz poetry. My son, Alec, is lead brewer at Peabody Heights Cooperative, and his wife is graduate admissions counselor for the Maryland Institute of Art. Their son Niko, 6, just started Roland Park’s public school and their daughter, 3, is right behind him. Niko, starting in little league baseball, “plays terrific,” as Earl Weaver used to put it.

And, as we have had a summer home in Rehoboth Beach for almost three decades, our overseas and local families enjoy our beach time, awash in family recipes and games that stay the same while tastes, skills, and chatter improves. Is the beach all about rituals offering us measuring sticks? And I tell my grandchildren about growing up with comfortable ’50s assumptions until the next decade allowed us to challenge and change a lot of them. This hopefully will give me a chance to get their skinny on the seemingly flawed things we are handing them and how they plan to recalibrate. This chatter all happens as watermelons stay crunchy, tomatoes ripen, white peaches soften, and corn turns its starch to sugar.

Research of family relationships has now established that I am a direct descendent of Leonard Calvert, Lord Baltimore. A Heuisler cousin recently died in New York, and one of her children and a friend, both California lawyers, were really into genealogy and traced it back. The line goes back through my grandmother and her Gardiner family from Southern Maryland. There had previously been rumors about the Calvert lineage but the two lawyers nailed it with wills and deeds and gravesites. For real. Through the Gardiners of Southern Maryland, my grandmother’s on my father’s side of the family.


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