We departed Rhode Island en route to New Haven, Connecticut – the site of Yale University and the place Matt called home for four years. We were absolutely starved when we rolled into town so we made an immediate stop at Pepe’s for their legendary pizza. This place is consistently voted best pizza joint in America and the thin crusted, bath mat sized pizzas did not disappoint. We demolished our first pizza handily but the second one proved to be too much (although Will probably could have picked up our slack). Bellies full, we moved on to set up shop with some of Matt’s old friends.
We entered the swim team’s house where we reunited with our Portland host – the legendary Andrew Heymann. He and his roommate were working on getting the historic three story building into shape with a week before the start of classes. Although the house is rented by swim team boys and has no Greek affiliation, it may as well be a frat house. The scent of stale beer emanates from the floorboards and empty kegs occupy a substantial amount of floor space. We are lead up a tiny, rickety staircase to our second floor accommodations before heading out to explore Yale’s campus.
Matt served as tour guide and snuck us into the Yale gym under the guise of new recruits. The gym has a rich history. It was built through the bequest of a very wealthy, elderly donor. Legend has it that she requested for her donation to go to a church, but the school didn’t need a church and she was quite old. So the building commenced on what appeared to be a giant, Gothic looking church. The entry hall looked very church like and the donor was pleased. However, the rest of the church was no church at all – but a gym. And we toured this gym, home of the squash hall of fame, an indoor pool, rowing gyms, and much more. The building would be the first of many impressive structures on the Yale campus – easily the most beautiful of the Ivy’s that we toured. Our other major stop was at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library which houses a copy of the Gutenberg Bible – the first book printed with movable type. It’s awesome to see how far mankind has come – maybe someday the first Tweet will somehow be archived in a vacuum-sealed glass case.
That evening, we were introduced to Yale’s version of beer pong, known as “caps.” This aggressive game was apparently invented by Yale Swimmers decades ago and explained the empty kegs around the house. Teams of two sit atop empty kegs on either side of a table 22 inches high and 5 feet wide. One full red cup rests in front of each team and players trade turns tossing quarters across the table into the opponents cup. It is a messy, fast-paced, and a all-around great game. The college kids where clearly more adept at consuming the amounts of beer that the rules of the game dictated, and while Malcolm and I started hot, we soon lost our edge. The night was fun and we slept well.
After breakfast the next morning, we set out again in search of millennials willing to talk with strangers. We tried to avoid the campus in search of native New Haven dwellers. For this purpose we went to New Haven Green which boarders the old campus of Yale. New Haven is not known for being a particularly well-off city, and with one of the country’s premier private universities in the middle of it, the dichotomy can be a little striking. Still, as with most areas we’ve seen, New Haven seems to be on the rebound. Will and I spoke with a young interior designer who had moved to the area with her husband and was struggling to find work. She was frustrated with the stigma that interior designers get and feels that the undergraduate work she did in architecture isn’t taken into consideration. It was another enthusiastic and insightful interview. We went out for dinner at a burger joint known as Prime 16 before packing up and heading out of town for the Big Apple.