Hyde Bay Logo Herbert Pickett's Family History
Entering The 1930s

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Herbert Pickett, Jr. writing:

      A brief word about names. For my brother, Lawrence, I have used the present form of "Larry." Actually in these days, he was always called, "Lawry." Robert, when younger, was "Bobby", later it was "Bob." For myself, there was the confusion of two Herberts, so from birth I was "Sonny." Once I got to Gilman and camp, this seemed a little childish, so it was changed to "Sunny," or "Sunshine," a tribute, I hope, to my cheerful disposition. At school, the teachers always addressed me as "Pickett," or if there was confusion with Larry, "Pickett, H." again in the English Public School fashion. About the time I was a third former, there was a popular movie that had a Polish wrestler in it whose name was "Polaki", who I recall was a brainless, if lovable, hulk. Ed Russell always used this name for me.

      As you may have noticed, At the end of the 20's, our life began to take some new directions. Maybe I felt it more personally. In September 1929, I entered the Upper School at Gilman. Many of the First Form boys were newcomers. Many of the Baltimore parents sent their boys to the Calvert School, which ended at grade six. Wally Lord and Harold Willard were among the newcomers. Our teachers were all men, the senior faculty. In October the Stock Market crashed to bring on the depression. It was also the fall when we became a church going family. We had our first closed car, the Chevrolet sedan. The farm had been sold to a man named Horning, who had several children. It may have been some sort of installment deal, because the Hornings always sent us a big package of farm products at Christmas. One year, it included some homemade sausage that didn't survive the mail. Moving into the thirties involved a lot of changes.

      In politics it was a time of turmoil. Herbert Hoover was president, elected as the "great engineer." Businesses were failing right and left. Unemployment was rampant with no Social Security or much welfare. The unemployed were provided with apples to sell on the street on little stands. War veterans marched on Washington to demand some kind of bonus due them, and the Army chief of staff, Douglas MacArthur ordered them disbursed and put Major Dwight Eisenhower in command. As soon as Franklin Roosevelt was inaugurated, the government closed all the banks for a week, and we weren't sure which ones would open. Dad kept his money in the Bank of Worcester still and that was safe. We kids had savings accounts in the Baltimore National Bank branch in Hamden, sand that went belly-up. I think I did get part of my account refunded many years later.

      Of course this created problems for Gilman, as the wealthy that patronized it were not so wealthy any more. Faculty salaries were cut ten percent and later, another ten percent. Dad found the school more difficult in which to teach. Boyd Morrow, who had become Headmaster in 1926, was totally conservative. The A plan College Boards was the only way to go Although Plan B was offered that was more flexible. Morrow did not appoint an assistant Headmaster. Dad was Dean, which meant that he awarded demerits for misbehavior. Once old Joe Bartlett sent in a green slip on a boy who had asked at dinner, "Please pass me the dead fish." Dad couldn't resist asking Joe, "Was the fish dead?" Joe, of course, retorted, "Of course it was!" I can't remember whether Dad tore up the slip or not. He did institute a modern Social Studies program in the First and Second Forms. He wanted to have some say in the history or social studies program in the Lower School. The new Head there refused and Morrow backed him up.

      Dad talked to me once about this time in his teaching career. I can't quote him verbatim, but it ran sort of this way: "Maybe there were more things I could have done. Many of the masters at Gilman went to Hopkins and got advanced degrees in education or in their subject field. I could have done that, but I didn't. There were headmaster jobs open in other places I might have sought, but I didn't. I guess I was sort of lazy. Much of our life with camp, Brown Memorial, and Baltimore was so good, I just didn't want to move, so I put up with Boyd and did the best I could.

      He made another comment to me that he had taught Ancient and American history so long in the same way, he had just to open the book to the assignment of the day, look at the paragraph headings and know what he would teach that day. He seated the class in order of their grades, the lowest on the front row, (grades were given weekly.) He always felt frustrated by having to drill the boys on the front row and bore those in back. While this seems to indicate his teaching had gotten into a rut, he still managed to stimulate the best students, and Page Smith, Wally Lord, Dave Nes, and others have remembered the stimulus of his teaching. He did read many of the newer books in history. About 1950 Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., published his book, "The Age of Jackson," a Pulitzer Prize winner. Dad read it and shortly thereafter, said to Walter Lord, "If Schlesinger is right, I've been teaching American History all wrong." Wally said, "We've known that all along, Director, but we still love you."

      What else about the early thirties. We got into tropical fish. We had a 30 gallon tank in the living room, and enjoyed the guppies, moons, angel fish, Siamese fighting fish, (one only,) mouth breeders, sword tails, and maybe others. The Siamese fighter ate all the upper and lower fins of the angelfish so they looked like swimming silver quarters.

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