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Memoirs of a Faculty Child or Life at Gilman from Within

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Memoirs of a Faculty Child or Life at Gilman from Within
By LAWRENCE K. PICKETT, M.D. '37

      The invitation to reminisce on Gilman through the eyes of one faculty "child" 70 years from when I arrived at Gilman, is flattering and a great challenge. The faculty member is Herbert E. Pickett, my father, hereafter referred to as HEP. As he was first of all my father, then teacher, coach, extracurricular advisor, and lastly my good friend, you will note that the relationship was very special.

      HEP taught at the school 1913-1940 with two years out during World War I when he was asked to leave by Mr. Pine, then headmaster, because there was no appropriate place for a pregnant woman in the school building. Mother and Father lived on the ground floor of the main building, and my older brother was becoming increasingly obvious. After one year at the Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia and one year at the Pingree School in Elizabeth, New Jersey, HEP returned in 1919 at the request of Mr. Pine.

      The war had decimated the ranks of the faculty. Mr. Pine promised that appropriate quarters would be found for the addition to the Pickett family. This was accomplished in rented apartments. Though born in 1919, I didn't appear on the Gilman scene until 1923 when the school built a faculty dwelling, a duplex, near what is now the old gym. We moved into the east side while Stuart Link, mathematics teacher, and his wife Helen and three children, Helen, John, and Christine, moved into the west side. At that time there were only four other faculty children on campus, Frank, Sarah, Sam, and Jenny Miles, all somewhat older than we were. Wardlaw Miles succeeded Mr. Pine as headmaster and lived in the headmaster's house.

      There was much open space between our house and the Ma & Pa Railroad. Since the gymnasium wasn't built for several years, we had a rural environment right in the middle of Roland Park. The Links had a pony which we helped take care of. We had chickens and rabbits. The woods over towards the Ma & Pa Railroad were tempting for exploration but were forbidden territory as many vagrants camped there.

      The structures around the school changed considerably at this time. When the main building was built in 1910, the gymnasium was in the basement underneath 'A' Study Hall, and the locker rooms were along the basement corridor. As the student body expanded, the gymnasium was taken out of the basement and was replaced by "K" study hall and a mathematics classroom. The school built a barn-like gymnasium, to the south of the football field, as a temporary structure which lasted for about seven years. It contained a wrestling room, basketball courts, locker rooms, and a maintenance garage, but little else. The principal custodian of that building was John Starr, known as "Chief;' a great friend of all the students and certainly of the faculty children. When the gymnasium was replaced in 1928 by the so-called "new gymnasium," the Chief had a much larger domain to oversee. This gymnasium was built to the right of our house, about 50 yards to the east. For three years we were surrounded by construction since the City of Baltimore soon built a public school immediately behind our house. It was the bane of my mother's existence-two little boys and lots of Maryland mud!

      Somewhere around 1930 or '31 the Link family moved to Sewickley, Pennsylvania, where Mr. Link became Headmaster of the Sewickley Academy. Meredith Janvier and his mother lived in Link's side of the house for several years. Edward T. Russell and his wife, Florence, very important people in our life, moved in next door. Ed and my father were long-term friends, teaching together both at Gilman and at Hyde Bay camp.

      In the early days before I went off to the Lower School in 1929, I joined the group of other faculty children to be befriended or tolerated by the maintenance men for the school grounds and building. I followed them around doing their tasks when they were on our part of the campus. They became part of my life. There was Mr. Finley, the superintendent; Charlie, the carpenter and plumber, who also drove the rickety bus to take the five-day boarders to and from the train; and Richard, the groundsman. John did the heavy work, and Parker drove a horse and wagon for trash collection. Parker was very gruff and chased me away so that I wouldn't be hurt or spook the horse. As I recall, the old mare was well past the age when she might be spooked.

      Captain Miles resigned as the headmaster in 1925. When E. Boyd Morrow, long a teacher and assistant headmaster, took over, the Miles moved out to a home in Roland Park. The headmaster's house was renovated for a number of families to live in as Boyd and Eleanor Morrow lived in an apartment on the ground floor of the school building.

      On the top floor of the renovated house lived George B. Moulton, principal of the Lower School, with his wife Mona and son Warner. On the second floor were Palm and Eleanor Oscarson and their two sons David and Donald. Later Al Townsend moved in from his bachelor quarters in the new gym after he married Virginia Stuart, the dietitian for the school as well as house mother for the younger boarding boys. On the bottom floor was Adolay Hausmann with his wife, Joy, and later a daughter, Cynthia. Along with the Links, the group made up a small play school watched over by the mothers.

      From age five to nine I attended Mrs. Freye's school in Roland Park. Many of the eight boys in my class went on to Gilman with me and entered the Fourth Grade. Teachers in the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Grades were Mrs. Mary Richardson, Miss Lillian Elliot, Miss Anne Van V lack and, in my first experience with male teachers, Mr. Pryor and Mr. George Murdock. I can remember Mr. Murdock in the important Sixth Grade as being a loud and strict disciplinarian, who used, for the first time in my academic career, the threat which I was to hear often in subsequent years, "Behave yourself or I will tell your father."

      Leaving the Lower School in 1931 and entering the Upper School in '32 was a bit of a shock. Teaching was carried out by subject matter and not by class. All the teachers were male and long-time friends of my father and mother. Before entering the First Form we had always referred to the close friends as Uncle Ed, Uncle Tom, Uncle Al, etc. Upon entering school, it was immediately Mr. Russell, Mr. Lipscomb, Mr. Townsend, all of whom were most frequently addressed as "Sir." The school uniform was suit and tie at all times, occasionally with a sweater under the suit. School began at 8:30 a.m. with chapel in '~' study hall; it included reading of the Bible, singing of hymns and announcements. Classes ended before lunch. There was a formal lunch hour in the dining room with students seated at a table of eight or 10 and supervised by one of the masters. After lunch a 15-llinute recess was followed by study hall in "A;' or extra-curricular activities, unti13;15, at which time we went to athletics.

      From the First Form to the Sixth Form, life took on a different dimension. There was an ever closer awareness of the many roles HEP had in the Upper School. He taught several grades of both ancient and American history. He supervised study halls. He coached the J.V. football team with Ed Russell. He supervised and directed the two debating clubs. He directed the annual school play put on by the Dramatic Association. He was advisor to the Gilman News. Most importantly, he functioned as the dean, there being no assistant headmaster under Boyd Morrow's regime.

      The demerit system, I am sure, is remembered more by some than others, as an unpleasant series of episodes. The infractions, whether major or minor, were reported to the dean on a piece of paper known as a slip. HEP investigated the episode, spoke to the master, confronted the perpetrator, and the matter was closed with a sentence. This generally meant staying after school or coming in on Saturdays, depending on the seriousness of the crime. Time was served more by doing such useless things as copying dictionary entries for perfecting penmanship rather than by doing homework.

      The urge to see how much one could get away with was rather short-lived in my case. I thought the sentence imposed for one infraction represented undue punishment for a most insignificant episode; nevertheless, the time was served. At home the night following the report Father told me, "These men are friends of mine trying to do a job of teaching and you are making life miserable for them." There were some choicer words for major infractions, but it served to make me an infrequent miscreant and to mend my ways.

      Both my brothers and I were made to understand by HEP during early Upper School life that he would always act, whether it was in the classroom, in extracurricular activities, or on the athletic field, so that no one could accuse him of showing favoritism to his sons. I used to consider this the 10 percent rule: 10 percent lower grades, 10 percent more demerits for reported infractions.

      One particular episode which I recall was giving my Sixth Form speech. For reasons unclear to me now I chose the topic "Horace Mann the Great Educator." It could be that I was stupid enough to feel that it might impress the judge and jury embodied in the person of Herbert Pickett. The speech was given and that night at home there was considerable silence at the supper table. I was told to go to the office and wait. I shall shorten this by paraphrasing a most articulate diatribe. I was threatened with being disowned if I ever again stood up before an audience and gave a talk on a subject in which I had no interest and about which I knew very little, or if I ever again spoke in a low monotone without addressing the audience, or if I ever again read from notes while shifting my feet and talking so fast that no one could understand me. What I gained from this experience has stood me in good stead the rest of my life. HEP was an excellent public speaker.

      Lest the reader conclude that my school life was plagued by events such as these, it was not. Our family was a very close one. There were words of approval and praise for a job well done, friendly criticism when it was not so good. HEP was a man of great principle who had concern for all of us.

      My football career was not a distinguished one. Outstanding in my memory is the 105-pound team coached by Tom Lipscomb. The year was capped by a disastrous defeat by the rival, McDonogh. Tom Lipscomb would often reminisce, stating that the only thing missing in that game was any vestige of tackling, blocking, or running with the ball on the part of the Gilman team.

      On the junior varsity team with Ed Russell and HEP as coaches, I spent an equal amount of time on the bench and the playing field. The post-game discussions at home made me aware of how I could do better. Improvement was hard to discern.

      On the varsity I did a little better with Eddie Brown as coach, assisted by Jim Dresser for the ends, and Jake Slagle for the backs. Friday nights there was a general critique of the teams and individual performances. Football was not one of my strong points.

      The wrestling team was different. It was an individual sport where we had a lot of extracurricular coaching as well as "post mortell" sessions on all our meets and tournaments with Ed Russell over coffee at our house. It is no wonder the three Pickett boys living next door to Ed Russell and 50 yards from the gymnasium ultimately performed well in wrestling at the scholastic, college, and NCAA level. Brother Bob went further than Herb and I when he became coach of the Harvard wrestling team for 20 years following his finishing college at Syracuse in 1950.

      We had access to the Gilman gymnasium seven days a week. Graduates who had been on the wrestling team and had gone on to wrestle in college often stopped by during vacations to see Ed Russell. He would arrange for a workout in the gymnasium with one of the three of us as we spanned the spectrum of weight classes.

      In the spring, coached by Don Hoffman, I worked at the shotput and the discus on the track team. There were no dual meets, but we took part in regional meets and scored modestly well. A Dartmouth graduate, Mr. Hoffman was on a federal pension because of impairment from injuries in the first World War and had a unique position on the faculty as track coach and supervisor of study halls. It was assumed that he had been gassed during the war and had a pulmonary disability. Much to our amusement, he rolled his own cigarettes. We saw a great deal of him as he lived at one of the faculty apartments at the front of the gymnasium, and he introduced us to raising tropical fish. That hobby grew in our house under his coaching for many years.

      The Depression left its mark on the school as it did on many other businesses. Decreasing enrollment was soon followed by decreasing faculty salaries. First cut was 10 percent, followed not too many months later by a second cut of 10 percent. This pattern had an expected effect on the Pickett household, changing our lifestyle somewhat. My mother and father pointed out how lucky we were, #l-to have a job, #2-to have a house to live in, and #3-to have enough to eat. Some boys left school because of the hard times. We did not. HEP took us downtown and showed us the long soup lines. He told of numerous individuals who had had good jobs with excellent incomes but who had to resort to this public dole to survive. It was a very impressive visit and made us realize our good fortune.

      As the economy began to pick up and some of the school salaries were restored, I can remember HEP's amusement at the way restoration of salaries occurred. He pointed out that if a salary was decreased 20 percent and then was restored at 20 percent of the new base, the resultant salary fell far short of the original. Somewhat in jest he pointed out the discrepancy to Mr. Peter Blanchard, the business manager at the school. Mr. B did not appreciate this form of humor.

A synopsis of the Pickett wrestling history:

HERBERT E. PICKETT, JR. Gilman '35, Yale '39, Union Seminary
1933 3rd place Maryland Scholastic Association Meet
1934 3rd place MSA
1935 Heavyweight champion MSA

YALE UNIVERSITY
1936 Freshman numerals
1937 3rd heavyweight Eastern Intercollegiate Tournament
1938 2nd heavyweight Eastern Intercollegiate Tournament
1940-42 Member of the New York Athletic Club wrestling team, champion of AAU wrestling tournament
1944 Member Baltimore YMCA wrestling team

LAWRENCE PICKETT Gilman '37, Yale '41, Yale Medical School
1936 165-pound champion MSA
1937 Unlimited champion MSA

YALE UNIVERSITY
1938 Freshman numerals Undefeated Dual Meets
1939 3rd Eastern Intercollegiate Tournament
1940 2nd heavyweight EIT
1941 Champion heavyweight EIT
1941 2nd heavyweight NCAA Tournament

ROBERT A. PICKETT Gilman '38 to '40, Governor Dummer Academy '41 to '42
1938 155-pound champion MSA
1939 175-pound champion MSA
1940 Heavyweight champion MSA
1941 Heavyweight champion New England Scholastic Tournament
1942 Heavyweight champion New England Scholastic Tournament
1943 Yale wrestling team
1944 U.S. Navy
1945 Far Western AAU Champion 191 pounds, Outstanding Wrestler Award
1946 U.S. Navy
1947 Syracuse University, Eastern Intercollegiate Champion 175 pounds
1948-50 Freshman wrestling coach, Syracuse
1950-68 Head wrestling coach Harvard University
1961-62 President NCAA Wrestling Association
1968-78 Wrestling Official Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association

      A number of faculty members were involved with or ran summer camps. This included Stuart Link in the earlier days, and Jake Slagle, who was affiliated with Camp Wallula, and Ferris Thollsen.

      Herbert Pickett and Ed Russell formed a partnership and started Hyde Bay Camp, near Cooperstown, New York, in 1927. Ed dropped out of the partnership after the first year but remained with the tutoring school. From 1928 on, the camp, located on Otsego Lake, was run by HEP and family.

      In the early years, most of the counselors, as well as the teachers, came from Gilman, thereby continuing the Gilman association for some boys throughout the entire year. Boys could attend the tutoring school to make up courses in which they had performed poorly or failed. Some took courses to lighten the load for the following year.

      I graduated from Gilman in 1937 and went on to Yale. My life on the school grounds came to an abrupt end except for very brief vacations. Even at the time of my graduation I could sense a growing feeling of unrest on the part of HEP, by this time dean of faculty. He spent one week in June each year grading the College Board examinations in New York, carrying on a long-time friendship with a number of teachers from other schools. Through this association and reading and talking to others in the profession, he felt that Gilman should update the curriculum and take on a more progressive role in education. This was directly in conflict with E. Boyd Morrow's conservatism. Motivated by this rift and an assumption that Boyd Morrow would remain headmaster for years to come, as well as by a long suppressed desire to run his own school, HEP resigned from Gilman in 1940. My younger brother, Bob, went off to prep school at Governor Dummer Academy in South Byefield, Massachusetts. Mother and Father packed up and went to Cooperstown, where, after many negotiations, the Cooperstown Academy was resurrected from years of inactivity. Two Gilman teachers, George Chandlee and Al Kerr, joined the new effort; a small school of Fourth through Eighth Graders. <After four years of teaching and coaching in Gilman's Lower School, George Chandlee went with Pickett to Cooperstown Academy, where he taught for two years before enlisting in the Army. Upon the completion of his military tour in 1946, Chandlee rejoined the Gilman faculty as an Upper School teacher of mathematics and lacrosse coach. His first team won the 1947 Maryland Scholastic Association championship, ending the fabled St. Paul's winning streak at 74 games. Over 23 years, Chandlee's teams compiled an amazing .800 winning percentage.> With these two teachers and the continuation of the Hyde Bay Camp for several years, we kept our contacts with Gilman.

      In retrospect, I realize what a fortunate life I have had. I attended an excellent preparatory school for nine years, enjoyed superb athletic facilities, associated with a number of excellent teachers and friends, and lived in a very nice home with all maintenance taken care of by the school. Although the salary income from Gilman was most moderate, the fringes of our home and tuition more than made up for it. The experience of being a student at Gilman offered a unique opportunity to have close contact with my father. He was a remarkable person. He had great humanity and wisdom mixed with humor. After the period covered by this memoir, Cooperstown Academy-a noble experiment from which many boys profited-closed in 1950, and HEP continued to live a full life, running a home for the retired and becoming District Governor of the Rotary. Life with him was a joy until his death in 1962.

      Gilman has grown in many ways in the past half century. I still keep in touch with many classmates and surviving faculty.

      <In preparation for the writing of this memoir, Larry Pickett had several conversations with both of his brothers, Bob and Herb. He would like to note that the details and insights they provided were invaluable to him.>

      Lawrence K. Pickett, M.D. attended Gilman 1928-37 with his main intellectual interests being math and science, and his favorite coach, Ed Russell. In his senior year he was co-editor-in-chief of the News, Associate editor of the Cynosure, a member of the Literary Club and the Pnyx Debating Society. And he wrestled: MSA Champion of 1936 and 1937. He also was a member of the varsity football and track teams. As a pre-med student at Yale, Pickett majored in biology. He wrestled all four years, was captain of the 1941 team, Eastern Collegiate Heavyweight Champion, and finished second as a NCAA heavyweight. He continued at Yale Medical School, specializing in pediatric surgery.

      Pickett was in private practice as a pediatric surgeon 1950-64, professor of surgery and pediatrics at Yale Medical School 1964-84, chief of staff of Yale New Haven Hospital 1972-84, and associate dean of Yale Medical School 1972-82. He became Emeritus Professor in 1983 and has since worked as a medical consultant, supervising new products and marketing as well as an employee health and wellness program for a medical instrument company.

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