Hyde Bay Logo Herbert Pickett's Family History
Hyde Bay Camp in the Late 1930s

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Herbert Pickett, Jr. writing:

      In September 1935, Harold Willard and I boarded the train in the Pennsylvania Station heading for Yale. For myself, I felt like Martin Luther King did many ears later, "Free at last! Free at last!" I looked at my parents, and Dad's face was very solemn, almost sad. I didn't much care then, but now I think I understand that serious look. There was uncertainty about my choosing Harold as roommate. Dad thought him a rather harem sacrum type, a sort of adventurer. Added to that, there was an inherent suspicion or antagonism or fear of the aristocracy, which has cropped up in my relationship with him more than once. Harold was the grandson of Daniel Willard, President of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Harold's father and mother had died in the flu epidemic of 1918 and he had been raised by his grandfather and great aunt. So there were mixed feelings in him that made him solemn. I believe he did think I had the ability manage Yale, yet there might have been an uncertainty there, too. Who knows?

      This also means I won't see the Baltimore part of the life of Herbert and Emily through the lens of personal experience. I'll have to report more from hearsay or distant observation, which may be all to the good for you who have read this so far. Never again would I spend more than a few nights a year in that Gilman house. I would be at camp for six more years, of course. Let us look at the Baltimore side of life for the next half decade, granted that life doesn't always fall into the neat categories we might like.

      At Brown Memorial, Dad was taking more responsibility. He was Superintendent of the Sunday School. He felt that Sunday School was too often the ignorant trying to teach the indifferent. He asked, why not get experienced teachers to do a good professional job. So he, or the church, went to the State Teacher's College in Towson and advertised for paid teachers. Each three year group had a supervisor. This system quite unique in church life was still in effect when I became Assistant Minister there.

      Mother got into her prime in the Women's Civic League and other community activities. Once when I was home, I went with her on her daily trip down town. At breakfast, she was the usual loving mother and wife. After all had gone to school and the chores done, she came down stairs in her best clothes. We hopped into the car and down to the Civic League office, then to the YWCA, and I don't know where else. It was a Mother I hadn't known, strong, knowledgeable, efficient, respected by every one, the person in charge. It made me realize later that she had to give up a lot to go to Cooperstown, where there were no ways for her to use her great gifts.

      Here is an example of her influence. There was in Baltimore a very powerful lady named Mrs. Marie Bauernschmidt. She had great influence on politics and city problems. The week before every election, she bought a half hour on one of the local radio stations, and gave her honest opinion on all candidates and issues. During that half hour, every one in Baltimore of any influence stopped to listen. She invited Mother and Dad to dinner one night. The table discussion was about all kinds of issues. At that time, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Colonial Dames, the American Legion and such right wing groups were trying to get as law passed in the state that every public school teacher had to sign a pledge of allegiance to the nation, the flag and the constitution or else be fired. To Dad and others, it was humiliating, stupid and useless. They discussed this at dinner. Dad said, "I know how we can put an end to this." Marie asked, "How, Mr. Pickett?" Dad said, "It would be very simple. Pass another law requiring that any officer of any group sponsoring laws in the legislature be required to pass an eighth grade examination in American History." Mrs. B. cried, "Marvelous! Marvelous! I know a member of the Assembly who will be glad to do it for us. Totally unconstitutional, of course, but it might do the trick." About a week later that bill was introduced in the Assembly, and the newspapers tipped off. They had a ball with it, interviewing the officers of the DAR, and others, asking them history questions, and they all were ridiculous. The allegiance bill was laughed out of court, but was passed at the next session. It was an illustration of Mother's place in the city.

      For Dad, of course, the school continued to be frustrating, Boyd Morrow's fundamentalism and rigidity grating on Dad's liberalism, searching mind, openness to ideas. His creative energies went into camp. There was a program in Baltimore once a month on a Sunday afternoon in one of the theaters called, "The Open Forum." They brought in nationally qualified speakers on a number of important topics. It was run by Elizabeth Gilman, daughter of Daniel Coit Gilman, first President of Johns Hopkins University, for whom the school was named. She was also the head of the Socialist Party of Maryland, and one of the forums was always the annual meeting of that Socialist party, and the speaker, Norman Thomas, their presidential candidate. I went to one of those meetings. Dad was a dedicated Republican for the most part. During the thirties, he always voted for Thomas, saying, "He's the only candidate smart enough to write his own speeches." He didn't like Roosevelt or the idiots the Republicans put up against him. When I was in Seminary, Norman Thomas spoke at a meeting where I introduced him, and used Dad's quotation. His reply was, "I wasn't smart, I just didn't have the money to hire a writer." His brother, Ralph, was President of the Baltimore Power and Light, an elder at Brown Memorial. With his wife, Rebecca, they were friends of Mother and Dad. They had a son, Ralph, who came to camp.

      In September 1937, Larry went off to Yale, so Bob had the family to himself. Why haven't I mentioned him in this composition? I guess he was just the kid brother nearly six years younger, which made it difficult to relate to my life. He would have come into the third form, qualified for varsity sports, in '37 or '38. He soon made the football team as a running back. It was a power game with little passing. Bob was full back smashing into the center of the line. Dad was most elated at this. Larry and I spent our football lives grubbing on the line when not on the bench. Now he had a son who was a potential star.

      In one game, in October 1939, he was knocked out, but recovered. The next day Mother, Dad and Bob went to a Naval Academy game in the Baltimore Memorial Stadium. At the half, the Gilman team doctor happened to be a couple of rows back and asked Bob to come over. He asked how he felt, and Bob said he was still a little groggy. The doctor took his pulse and found it to be 40. "Go home at once, and I'll call you later." He had to go to the hospital for diagnosis, and was kept there for quite a while. There seemed to be some form of fluid pressure on his brain. Dad mentioned in a letter almost three weeks later that a skull puncture was contemplated. He thought our Florida trip might be canceled. Apparently he recovered, and we did go to Florida. Mother always called him "my hard luck kid."

      Another athletic incident occurred in January 1938. The Gilman wrestling team came to New Haven for a meet with the Yale Freshmen. Bob was on the Gilman team, Larry on the freshmen, and I was Varsity heavyweight in a meet with Cornell the same day. The only time in history when all three Picketts were wrestling in the same program! Mom and Dad hadn't thought about it and didn't come. They really regretted missing that.

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