In 1962 I was in the entering class at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall. There were 250 of us and we were divided into 3 classes sorted alphabetically. By the end of the year I knew almost everyone A-H.
Like all social organisms we also sorted ourselves - mostly by age and experience. When you're 25, three or four years can seem significant. That year I made friends with Dick Duane. Dick had spent a couple of years as a Naval officer and I was coming off a 4 year stint as a Marine Corps pilot. He was a swimmer and water polo player at Cal, so we often went down to the pool at Pauley Pavilion to swim laps. Dick did 3 to every 1 of mine.
When I think back on those years I don't remember spending much off-campus time with him - maybe an occasional beer at Larry Blake's or down College Avenue at McNally's, but he had his friends - and Kit, the girl he married - and I had another group that lived in a big house on Scenic Ave and drank beer and played music on the weekends. I think Dick was more serious than I was. As it turns out, he was also a better musician but I didn't find that out until years later. He was pretty quiet when it came to talking about himself.
For 3 years we continued our lunchtime swims and casual conversations. Those were heady days in Berkeley. During the summer of 1964 Dick went to rural Georgia to work on a civil rights project and that fall the Free Speech Movement took over the campus.
After graduation I went to Europe, then to Los Angeles where I found out that practicing law was not for me, and then on to New York when I took a job with Pan Am. Dick stayed in Berkeley. 45 years later he's still there.
Law school was formative, and I remember this incident clearly: Sometime in our first year Professor Jackson, a humorless straight-arrow Contracts teacher, gave us a piece of homespun advice. He told us that there was great satisfaction to be had in being a small town general practioner. Picture Abe Lincoln. We all thought he was demented. Everything in a major law school points to the large corporate law firm as the highest and best career path. I can tell you that for me life at Loeb & Loeb in LA was a mind-numbing experience. So much so that I never tried Professor Jackson's formula. Dick, however, did take that path. He's been handling small to medium size cases across a variety of disciplines for 45 years. He's still doing it, although his son Dan is getting tired of hearing that "This one is my last case."
Dick and I have stayed friends and in touch over all those years, even though we have never lived in the same place and made different choices. Dick continued his practice, married Kit, had two children, became a rock climber (climbed El Capitan when he was 60) and developed a taste for vacations in France. Kit became an accomplished book editor and last year edited Karl Marlantes Vietnam war novel, Matterhorn , which Sebastian Junger says "may be the best novel of the Vietnam war - or any war for that matter." In short, they have led interesting and productive lives.
Dick and I talk on the phone every couple of months and Marilynn and I have had the good fortune to see them on visits when I have to work in Oakland. They've been married almost 50 years. They live in a small Berkeleyesque house on the unglamorous flats below Shattuck. They've been there 30 years. Their son, Dan, is an accomplished novelist and magazine writer and daughter Kelly is an award winning documentary film maker. Dick and Kit are great friends - and my heroes. They are perfectly ordinary in many ways and perfectly exceptional in many others. They are accomplished professionals at their work, they have two accomplished children who alternately love and hate them, they love their friends and go to the mat to celebrate each other's accomplishments.
Everyone has a story. I like theirs.