Hyde Bay Logo Herbert Pickett's Family History

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Herbert Pickett, Jr. writing:

      As has been mentioned before, Dad was not totally happy with Gilman. There was an element of ambition in him to have his own school, as creative in its own way as Camp. The Knox School for girls used the Otesaga Hotel building. There had been a small middle school, named the Beasley School, situated in three houses across from the Presbyterian Church. It had not functioned for some time. The Clark family wanted a going school. Alfred Corning Clark had been a New York Lawyer who backed Singer against the real inventor, Elias Howe, of the sewing machine. He built a considerable fortune in New York Real Estate, investments, the way wealth gets more wealth. He had four sons, all of whom made Cooperstown their summer home and their personal project. Edward had a farm, now the Farmer's Museum and a home now the New York Historical Association. Robert split with the others and made his home in Williamstown, Mass. Ambrose was mostly into horses. Steven was particularly interested in the development of Cooperstown. The Clark fortune built the Hospital, the Baseball Museum. the community gymnasium, the Otesega and just about everything else in town, and saw that each was properly staffed and operated. Mr. Clark came to Dad and asked him to take over the Beasley property and start a school. Dad was interested but didn't jump into it. He wrestled with it for some time. He visited prep school headmasters to see what they thought of the possibilities. They all suggested the need for a middle school, 7th and 8th grade, prep for their schools, (and not competition.) Finally, he worked out an agreement with Mr. Clark for support, resigned from Gilman, and dove in, the spring of 1940.

      Bob transferred to Governor Dummer Academy. He had struggled at Gilman, and the change was good for him. He was captain and running back of the football team. When they played their final game at Deerfield Academy, we all managed to get there to see him play.

Craig Lynn
"There was a very nice looking, if run down, house up near East Springfield that bore a sign saying, 'Craig Lynn.'"
Photo by Rusty Pickett

      What should they do about living? They would have an apartment in the school, and they would have camp, but what would they do with a house full of furniture at Gilman? There was a very nice looking, if run down, house up near East Springfield that bore a sign saying, "Craig Lynn." Lee Flint, a neighboring farmer, owned it. The first Presbyterian minister in Springfield, a native of Scotland named, Robert Oliver, had built it about 1812. Dad bought it in April 1940, with about 6 acres, I think, for the sum of $1,000. In the correspondence, he noted that he had received the final payment on the farm that winter. It was a complete shell, no facilities at all. The moving van arrived in June, and the furniture installed. He ordered electrical service, water pump in the well, bathroom facilities, oil burner, a new fireplace and chimney in the dining room. He had a two car garage with storage area constructed in the back. The utilities cost $3,700, the garage, $3,800. At last we owned our own home, such as it was. All the work didn't happen all at once, of course. I think Jim and Elizabeth Dresser spent a couple of summers there during camp.

      All this happened in the midst of world events. Germany had attacked Poland and then France the previous summer. Just at the time Dad was announcing his move, France had fallen and the Dunkirk evacuation was under way. The United States had instituted Selective Service, that is, the draft. I was 4-D, (clergy,) and Larry 4-F because of asthma. Bob wasn't 18 so had not registered. The same month Dad announced his adventure, Germany conquered France and surrounded the British troops at Dunkirk in a couple of weeks. The United States was bitterly divided about the war. The President wanted to support Britain, and many thought that the way to go. Many others for a variety of reasons wanted us to keep out of the war, and were called "isolationists." These would include Quakers, America First types, German-American groups. Dad, with his hatred of war and violence, in his letters expressed strong feelings in this direction. I believed he realized the U.S. would get in the war eventually, and that was an argument not to accept Mr. Clark's offer. On the other hand, at the age of 50, it was a last chance.

      Then all he had to do was to get a school going. (I was at Seminary in New York, which closed late in May. I spent another ten days living at Aunt Grace's, promoting a non-existent school. Mrs. James Feminine Cooper IV, (of Cooperstown, naturally,) got me introductions with pediatricians who might have patients who needed such a school, an interesting experience, but fruitless.) He hired George Chandlee and Albert Kerr to do Math and English. The Academy opened in the fall with a real program and eleven students, three of them local boys. The next year there were fourteen, the next, twenty-eight. The three houses had a capacity of thirty. How could he manage a larger student body?

      There was another school in Cooperstown, St.Christina's, which had occupied a large building of English architecture at the corner of Beaver and Susquehanna streets. It was owned by the Susan Fenimore Cooper Foundation, was operated by Episcopal nuns as an institution for "Orphans, half orphans and destitute children." The building was erected in 1928 and was fully equipped as a school. In June 1942, the Foundation voted itself out of existence and the Clark Estates took over the property. Dad would have preferred a simpler facility designed to his own plans, he really didn't have much of a choice. Here was empty school ready to use. The local paper of October 23, 1943 announced the move, which took place over the Christmas holidays.

      In the spring of 1941, Sally and I announced our engagement at a party at the Geer's home, "Sunnylea Farm," Washington, Connecticut, and the Picketts and the Geers got acquainted. Again, we had a good camp, with "Chiefie" Chandlee in charge and things going routinely enough so Dad could work on School things as well as camp. I was only half time, as I had a preaching job at Shavertown, a village down in Delaware County. Every morning, I conducted the study hall in the school while I prepared my sermon. Every Sunday, I took off in the Plymouth for my chosen profession.

      On December 7th of that fall, the world fell apart, Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war. George was drafted into the Army, and spent the war as a sergeant in an Army hospital in Miami. Al, I believe, took a Navy commission. Bob would have been 18 that February, and registered in the draft. He applied for and got into a Navy program, V-7, or something, which allowed him to go to Yale in a gob's uniform. I think Larry did get an inactive reserved commission as a Lieutenant in the Army Medical Corps, which kept him in medical school, but gave him no pay or free tuition, no uniform, but got his name on the Cooperstown Honor Roll, to Dad's ironic amusement.

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      The war made both camp and school difficult. He was able to get some older teachers for the school. At camp, he was able to hire an older high school teacher as head councilor, but it took some education to get him to grasp the Hyde Bay camp idea. There were a lot of tutoring boys, not just for deficiencies, but to give them accelerated education before being drafted. Food and fuel were rationed, but Mother found that the wholesale providers they had come to use were very good to established institutions.

      The war years made some changes in our family structure. In the spring of 1942, I graduated from Union Theological Seminary in New York. After the ceremony, Mother, Dad, Larry and Bob and I went back to Brooklyn, 456, for the night. As we were chatting about the occasion, the phone rang and it was news from West Milford, New Jersey that Aunt Lou had died. We stayed over for the funeral and burial in Green Mount Cemetery. The Ames lot was about ten feet square for nine graves three wide, three deep. Grandpa had one wife under him, one over. I don't believe the other six spaces have ever been used.

      On Monday, June 8th, I was ordained to the Christian ministry by the Presbytery of New York in Brick Presbyterian Church, New York City. Guthrie Speers came from Baltimore to preach the sermon. On Saturday of the same week, the 13th, Sally and I were married in the Congregational Church in Washington, Connecticut. The Assistant Pastor at Brown Memorial had moved to his own church, and I was asked to take his place. What a break to serve with the man whose example led me to the ministry! But Guthrie didn't need me until September. I wanted church experience. I was able to get a call to the Oxford County United Parish, to preach at Albany, Maine. . This was about five miles from Bethel. Uncle Kim gave us the use of Aunt Lou's Buick, we went to the Amestead in Bethel for our honeymoon, and then to Albany for the summer. The stipend was $10.00 a week and a house. Fortunately, the Geers visited us at the end of the time and helped pay for our return. In Baltimore, we had a two room apartment in the next block from the church. We soon had to look up an obstetrician, and Mac arrived on April 2nd, 1943.

      Our great aunt Grace had been fighting cancer for some time. She was too sick to come to our wedding in Washington. Finally on February 13, 1943, she died. She left specific instructions that there was to be no funeral or any celebration of her life. Anyway, I took the train up from Baltimore. Just Mother, Dad, Aunt Ruth, Uncle Ralph and Uncle Kim and I and the minister of All Soul's Church gathered in the living room for some Bible reading and prayers. Then a procession of two cars went to the West Pond Road Crematory, where I read the committal. Her ashes were eventually placed in the Ames lot in Bethel.

      In her will, she gave the Amestead, (as the Bethel house was called,) to Uncle Kim, and the rest of the estate divided between the three. They cleared out 456, to sell the house, each taking what they wanted. Mother said she couldn't stand all that beautiful furniture from Uncle Doctor going to the auctioneers, so she had it sent to Craig Lynn, including the ebony pedestals with Uncle Doctor's and Aunt Grace's marble busts. It included the complete dining room set. Each of the chairs had arms with carved lion's heads. I thought it ghastly in Craig Lynn. When Mother auctioned it off, she got a good price for it to be sold in Texas, where the Victorian is popular. The statues she gave to the Hennepin County Historical Society in Minneapolis. When Larry tried to give them a surgical kit of Uncle Doctor's, he found the Society was closed, bankrupt.

      Larry, in the meantime, had graduated from Yale in 1941, and was admitted to the Yale Medical School. As to housing, he took a job as a Freshman Counselor, where he had a room in a freshman dormitory, to look after the kids new to college. He moved up to become the Head Counselor, which meant he had to check in regularly at the office of the Dean of Freshman Year. He got to know, and to like, a secretary there, Pauline Ferguson, generally called "Polly," whose home was in Loveland, Colorado. They had an engagement party at the apartment of Steve Buck, a classmate and friend of Dad's, Professor of Economics, and Master of Branford College. On December 17th, 1943, they were married in Dwight Memorial Chapel at Yale, in which service I assisted. (Sally had to buy a maternity evening dress for the occasion, as Emily joined our family on March 30th, 1944.)

      After Larry graduated from Medical School, he had surgical residencies at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and the Boston Children's Hospital for six years or so. Lawrence, Jr. arrived in this period, March 30,1946. He moved to private practice in Syracuse. Two months later, he was drafted into the Army, having the choice of being forced in as a sergeant or accepting a commission as Captain. He put in his two years, mostly in Augsburg, Germany.

      As I have already mentioned, Bob was at Yale in a Navy program. For the war period, they eliminated the freshman rule, and he was an immediate candidate for the football team as a running back. John Ferguson, Polly's brother, was also a back and they more or less alternated at the position. I don't recall much about his wrestling career. I can imagine that the Eastern Intercollegiates were suspended for the war. Yale played Navy in the Baltimore Stadium, and Sally and I went to see the game. In football or wrestling, he pinched a nerve in his left shoulder so that his arm was less and less useable and atrophied. At the same time, the academic program at Yale was intensified and accelerated and it was more than he could handle. The Navy took him out of Yale and sent him to the to the St. Alban Naval Hospital in Queens, New York City for physical therapy and rehabilitation. Fortunately, it was a fairly long process, since the red haired nurse in charge of his ward was Lt. (jg) Elizabeth Ryan. When he was finally cured, they were very good friends.

      He applied for and was accepted in the physical education program of the Navy with the petty officer rating of "Specialist A." After intensive training in this at Bainbridge Naval Training Station, located on the former campus of Tome School in Maryland, he was stationed at the Treasure Island Naval Station, in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Later he went to the St. Mary's Preflight school, which had a national reputation for athletics. He coached football and wrestling, and maybe participated in that. Anyway, he and Betty Ryan kept on touch. She had been transferred to the Naval Hospital on Key West. He got some leave, and they decided to get married there. He told me later in life that his trip was a little uncertain as he hitchhiked on Naval or Army aircraft. Betty's father and mother were there to make proper arrangements. George Chandlee came down from Miami to represent the Picketts. The Presbyterian Church was engaged, and Bob and Betty exchanged their vows. Except this was more difficult than it seems, since the date was August 16,1945, two days after V-J Day, and there was hardly a sober person on the island.

      The war was over; Bob and Betty were soon civilians again. He got an athletic scholarship at Syracuse University. The Syracuse football coach was from Michigan and didn't believe any easterner could play football, and brought three teams of Midwesterners with him. Bob didn't have much of a chance. In wrestling, he was undefeated and for the Eastern Intercollegiate Tournament, he sweated down to 175 pounds and won the gold. . The old shoulder injury cropped up again, and he had to give up competition. He graduated from the University with a degree in Physical Education, and enough extra courses to qualify as a school principal. (Dad told me that when he gave up the Academy, he couldn't qualify for a principal's job while Bob could.) In this period, Robbie and Rusty were born in the Cooperstown Hospital and Sandy in Boston, Mass. He was appointed Varsity Wrestling Coach at Harvard. Of course, Dad was delighted to have him back at camp, and with George as head again, they had great years.

      Each marriage has a way of eliminating that person from the family history as a new family history begins. From 1945, we are back again to the origin of this tale, the story of Herbert and Emily Pickett. As sons, we did intersect occasionally as visitors, and Bob in camp was particularly involved. However, there was one last family occasion that needs to be recorded. In June 1947, Larry, Bob and I all managed a week's vacation at Hyde Bay, with spouses. Bob and Betty had been using a tent at camp, and it was time to build them a house of their own. It was going to be a return to the good old days of working together on a building project. Bob and Dad designed a cabin, different from the others. Materials were on hand. We set to work. The result was chaos. I was used to running things as the minister of a church. Larry was used to total management of the hospital operating room. Bob had been a Specialist A in the Navy, the only petty officer who had the power to give an order to a commissioned officer in athletic activity, and was preparing for a career as a coach. It was his house after all. And Dad had always been the Director, the boss of everything. The project was one continual argument. All chiefs, no Indians. The wives sat back, took care of the kids, and enjoyed the show. Kids were there, Mac 4, Emily 3, Lawry, 1, Alice 9 months, and Robbie arrived a week or two later.

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