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Gilman and My Mentor, Miles Marrian

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Gilman and My Mentor, Miles Marrian
By
DAWSON FARBER '35

      I came to Gilman in 1927. My great uncle, Robert B. Ennis, who was the head of the Democratic party in Maryland, had many associates who had sons at Gilman. He had no children, and he arranged for me and my brother Bob '36 to attend. My father was a doctor with Bethlehem Steel at Sparrows Point, and so we became five-day boarders.

      Gilman at the time certainly was a school for the well-to-do. Baetjers (Venable Baetjer), Blacks (A. S. Abell), Garretts (Robert Garrett & Sons), Griswolds (Alex. Brown), Willards (B & O), Leggs (Legg & Co.,which is now Legg Mason), Lanahans (W. W. Lanahan) and on and on. John M. T. Finney, M.D. was president of the Board of Trustees and held the same position at McDonogh. As a student from "across the tracks;' I remember the chauffeur-driven cars dropping off day students-in particular the Baetjers' Pierce Arrow.

      Across the street from Gilman, on the other side of Roland Avenue, was the home of the Lowndes family. In their basement were two bowling alleys, two rifle ranges, and a pool table. Sixth Formers and particularly Sixth Form boarders, had privileges to use these facilities at certain times.

      Headmaster E. Boyd Morrow--"The King"--and Mrs. Morrow lived in an apartment on the ground floor, the space now occupied by the Development Office. The top two floors of Carey Hall were for boarders, with the south end of the top floor divided into cubicles. On the top floor was an infirmary with an apartment for a full-time nurse, Miss Kerr, and an apartment for a "House Mother;' Mrs. John M. Clemmitt, who supervised the cubicles, which were little more than partitions with curtains across the entrances. <Miss Mary Ethel Kerr was the resident nurse at Gilman for 25 years.>

      Boarders all remember Thomas Lee Lipscomb ("T. L."), who had an apartment at the top of the main stairs on the second floor. Here was the true "Virginia Gentleman." Head of the English Department at the time, he was a superb teacher. As a disciplinarian he was tough but fair, and students had great respect for him. Dinner for boarders was in the north wing of Carey Hall. Blue serge suits with stiff white collars were expected to be worn by the younger boys. We took for granted the linen on the table with individual napkin rings and the African-American waiters.

      Then came 1929 and the crash and times were difficult. Enrolled in my class were as many as 63 members over the years. In 1935, 26 graduated: 14 Princeton, two Yale, one Harvard, one MIT, one Hopkins and three to other universities and colleges. Three or four did not attend college.

      During the Depression, most of my classmastes who left Gilman before graduation did so for financial reasons, but if your parents could afford it, college entrance was no real problem. For those students who wished to enter the medical profession from Gilman, acceptance into Princeton and eventually Hopkins Medical School was almost automatic.

      While I boarded from 1927 to 1935, we were conscious of changes brought about by the Depression. There was a large turnover of boys, tablecloths were eliminated at meals, and students began to help with service. However, our beds were still made and rooms cleaned by the maid.

      Relationships with faculty members were very personal. Several in particular had a great influence on my life. Miles Marrian, math teacher, sensed early that I was having an adjustment problem and became a close friend and counseled me on a regular basis. Ed Russell had a great influence on all the boys and constantly urged us to seek higher levels of achievement. Ed Brown was a role model: an excellent teacher, superb coach, and a wonderful human being. The upset victory over Tome School (6-0, 1933) with the famous "Conversation Play" portrays what he was capable of obtaining from his players.

      Boarding at Gilman gave you an opportunity to have closer relationships with the faculty. After dinner there was a one and a half hour supervised study period. There also was extra time in the morning and before dinner to interact with the faculty. I remember long punting duels with Ed Brown and Herb Pickett after football practice and before dinner.

      As we grew older, we moved from the cubicles on the upper south corridor to upper north and then to lower north. Finally, as Fifth & Sixth Formers, we moved to lower south.

      Single masters had small apartments scattered on the two upper floors. Married faculty had houses located on the southern fringe of the Gilman property between Roland Avenue and the gym; at this time Gilman property stretched to Deepdene Road.

      A master was seated at the head of each table for all meals. The headmaster had an oval table of eight to ten seats in an alcove on a raised platform. Grace was said at all meals. Besides morning chapel, there was an evening chapel before study hall.

      In the mornings between 6:00 and 7:00 the MA & PA (Maryland & Pennsylvania) would come through the school property. The track was set on a steep grade and the train wheels would spin and squeal as the engine huffed and puffed. (We boarders sometimes covered the rails with skunk cabbage as far as the supply permitted, thereby increasing the spinning and squeaking.) That, along with the blowing of a whistle for the Belvedere crossing, gave warning to us that wake-up time was near.

      One of the aspects I most thoroughly appreciated about boarding was getting to know boys from allover the country: sons of diplomats in Washington, sons of officials in the State Department and in the military. This diversity was a plus.

      In 1934, I was rooming with Gary Black. We decided one night to sneak out and go to the circus. Everything went well, we thought. Yet, upon our return, we had a welcoming committee led by Mr. Healy, the night watchman and custodian. For this escapade we each received 40 demerits. At the time, a student was allowed 14 demerits for an accumulation of infractions. Over 14, each demerit would need to be worked off at half an hour a crack by running on the track, policing the grounds, or coming back on Saturday.

      It was Miles Marrian who became my ongoing mentor. I met Miles Marrian when I was 10 years old and in the Lower School, which only had three forms then: Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth.

      When I first came to Gilman from Sparrows Point Elementary School, Miles Marrian sensed my anxieties. A coach of football, basketball, and baseball at different levels, he noticed that I had a great interest in athletics but little ability.

      One afternoon he pulled me aside after practice and told me that if I worked hard he would go out of his way to teach me the fundamentals of baseball. When he learned that I was left handed, he began calling me "Lefty;' a nickname that followed me through Gilman and Princeton. Baseball was his first love, as he had been a pitcher at Johns Hopkins. We would work on pitching fundamentals for hours. (I remember his raising the pitching mound to its highest legal limit, which made my style more effective.) He recommended that I play summer baseball, and he and Ed Russell made the arrangements. Pitchers were not supposed to hit, it was said. He did not agree, and with hours of practice I became an above-average hitter. I pitched my first game in Clifton Park with Ed Russell, Miles Marrian, and Al Townsend among the spectators.

      More important than the athletics was Miles Marrian's insisting that any goal in life was obtainable if you were willing to make the sacrifices. This philosophy also came through loud and clear from Ed Russell and Ed Brown. All three were my football coaches at different levels, and when I went out for football at Princeton, the skills of blocking and tackling put me ahead of boys from other schools.

      Miles Marrian was more than a coach; he was a superb math teacher and a tough disciplinarian who allowed no nonsense in the classroom. Classes were small, and we did a lot of our work at the blackboards. Beware if you did anything out of order-a piece of chalk would whiz by your head and be reduced to powder on the board.

      While at Princeton I made the freshman football team and later spent four springs on the Princeton diamond. Marrian was delighted, and I felt that in some degree I had justified all the work he had done with and for me over the years. I was grateful. I still am.

      Dawson Farber Jr. '35--"Lefty"--attended Gilman 1927-35, with his main intellectual interest being history and his favorite teacher/coach Miles Marrian, who taught math and coached Farber in football, basketball and baseball.

      Farber played three years each of varsity football, baseball, and basketball. He was captain of the baseball and basketball teams his senior year. Upon graduation, he was awarded the Alumni Baseball Cup.

      Attending Princeton 1935-39, Farber played two years of football and four years of baseball. He was on the Princeton Baseball Team of 1939, which played Columbia in New York in the first sporting event ever televised.

      Farber spent 1940-45 in the army, retiring as a captain after earning a Silver Star and a Bronze Star. He then worked as vice president of marketing for National Brewing 1945-75, chairman of the board for Carling/National Brewing 1975-79, and president of Carling/ National Brewing Company 1979-82.

      Farber and his wife Patricia, "Patty" have five sons who attended Gilman: Dawson III '65, Peter '66, Michael '70, Mark '73, Jonathan '75. Peter won the Fisher Medallion. Mike was captain of the varsity lacrosse and football teams.

      Dawson Farber, vice president of the Board of Trustees 1975-80, and then a Trustee Emeritus, has accumulated over 30 years of service to Gilman as a Board member. He served on the Home and Grounds Committee 1964-70, Athletic Committee 1973-74, and Priorities Committee 1973-75, and was secretary to the Board 1973-75. He continues to work hard for Gilman. As a sampling, in 1995, he was on the Committee on Trustees, Committee on Human Relations, Committee on Financial Aid, and Committee on Financial Development. Above all, Dawson Farber has directly and generously assisted Gilman students in a variety of ways that affect them the rest of their lives.

      "What has impressed me most over these years," notes Farber, "is that everyone of the Gilman family has striven to improve the quality of the school. I have enjoyed it all, especially working with Reddy Finney. Reddy was a wonderful blend of Henry Callard's 'Heart' and Ludlow Baldwin's directional approach. My personal relationship with Reddy was and is one of the most rewarding of my life."

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