16 April 2009
A Cake for Peter Gildenhuys
The Center purrs like a well tuned engine. As talks and workshops come and go, all the pieces needed spontaneously coalesce. The tables and chair realign themselves according to how many people are expected and name tags materialize, laid out just in time for everyone to pick them up.
That is how things look to the participants in Center events. But none of it happens spontaneously. It just looks spontaneous by artful design. All these pieces come together perfectly because of the constant efforts of the Center staff (alphabetically): Carol, Karen, Joyce and Peter and our two work study students Arden and Lee.
Today marks the end of a little era. Peter Gildenhuys has been a member of the Center staff for two years. He is now completing the graduate program in the Department of HPS and will leave the Center and Pittsburgh this summer to pursue fame and fortune. We needed to do something to mark the occasion. "Let's get a cake," Joyce declared.
Every two weeks, the Center hosts a lunch for HPS faculty and graduate students and for Visiting Fellows. Today is the last lunch of term. So this is the day. It was all planned. Joyce had contrived to make sure Peter was going to be at the lunch. Then we planned to wait until everyone had their sandwiches and were seated. That is the moment when the carbohydrates hit and relaxation sets it. That was the moment that Joyce arrived in the door carrying the cake.
The duty of a Center Director is to make off the cuff speeches. I did my duty, trying to strike the right balance of celebration, gratitude and levity. The small plastic bag Peter had squirreled away in a drawer in the lounge provided the material for the last of these.
Then Peter cut the cake and we all started taking slices.
Today is also Lee's last day. While the cake was being devoured, I caught him passing by with a sandwich and he posed reluctantly.
John D. Norton