Hyde Bay Logo Herbert Pickett's Family History
The Pickett's New Home

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Herbert Pickett, Jr. writing:

      Few, if any of our kids have ever seen that house, so I'll try a quick description. It was a three-story brick duplex. We had the left (facing the front) or eastern half. The original plan called for a covered porch at each end, but Dad realized that the original plan did not include any place for the teacher to do his work at home, so half of the porch was made into a study. French doors opened from the living room to the porch.

      The front doors were together at the middle. The common wall was of double thickness so almost no noise passed from one house to the other. As you went in, the stairs to the second floor went up to the right. The living room was to the left. The hall went straight through past the coat closet and door to the cellar to the kitchen. There were four doors there that kept interfering with each other. At the other end of the living room on the sidewall, not the end, was a fireplace. The chimney was on the end wall, so the flue of the fireplace went up about five feet, turned and ran horizontally about ten feet, then up the chimney.  As a result, the draft was terrible, and it almost always smoked. Much grumbling about Este Fisher's stupidity. Built in bookcases and cupboards flanked the fireplace. Comstock's Historical Encyclopedia, much referred to, was on the bottom shelf, two or three shelves up were Dad's collection of Joseph Conrad novels. "Bad Bill" Buckley sent him a new one of these on his birthday. At the back of the house was the dining room. The study was at the left through French doors; a swinging door to the kitchen was to the right. There was a. covered back porch, a pantry next to that in an extension. The pantry had shelves for groceries, and at the back under a window an icebox. Electric refrigerators were not yet in many homes, if even available in 1923. The roof over porch and pantry ran under the windows of the back bedroom of each house, and was on occasion a communication with the Links.

      On the second floor there was a central hall, the bathroom to the left over the front door, a large linen closet to the right. Mother and Dad's bedroom was on the front corner, a bedroom at the back corner for the youngest child. At the back end of the hall was another bedroom, which was Grandpa's until he died, then for the oldest child at home.

      There was a steep stairway up to the third floor, at the head of which was a small bedroom, probably designed for a maid, with a bath to the right. This was my room at the first, then Lawry’s. It was pretty much of a mare's nest, but it was great to have a place of your own at that age.  The hall ran to the left, then back past the attic door to the guestroom, which was fairly large.  The bedrooms and bath looked out dormer windows.

      The basement contained a hand fired coal furnace, one pipe steam system. There was a large coal bin. In the back corner was a workbench, which was Dad's, the place where his baseball game took shape. By the stairs was a closet for canned goods, and to the back were laundry tubs. A two burner gas burner was available to boil clothes. The water heater was gas and had to be lighted when hot water was needed.

      At last, we had a neighborhood of our own.   The other half of the duplex was soon occupied by the Links. Stuart Link taught mathematics at Gilman, perhaps head of the department. He was tall, dark haired and. wore a handsome mustache. I believe his wife's name was Helen. She was a very pleasant person to us kids. I was impressed by the organization of her kitchen. All the cereals were kept in Glass Jars, and that sort of thing. They had three children, Helen Stuart, about my age. She was rather bossy and I don't recall liking her very much. 'Then there were the twins, Johnny and Christine, probably about Larry's age. A year or two later, the twins went in for the routine tonsillectomy that every kid seemed to have to have in those days, and Christine died under the anesthetic. You can imagine the shock and bafflement to us kids.

      The headmaster's house was a couple of hundred feet to the west, looking down a steep bank covered with shrubs to Roland Avenue. They Had three kids, Frank, somewhat older, Sam, a few years older than myself, and Jennie who was our age. The Link kids, Jennie, occasionally Sam (in a teasing role generally), and we three Picketts  were the neighborhood play group. The Links put up swings and a sandbox.

      Mother and Dad got along with the Links okay, but I don't recall that they were very close. The Links had one practice that amazed and intrigued us. To teach the kids how to get along it the world, the family was organized as a corporation. Father was President and Treasurer, Mother Vice President and secretary, the children stockholders and employees. Their allowance was in the form of wages for services performed. Every Saturday morning the company had a business meeting to settle accounts and make plans. Once a year, they had an annual meeting, at which the officers would dress in formal clothes, tux and long gown, the kids in best clothes, they had a special dinner and then had annual reports for the year. It was a very special day and we were warned not to interfere with it.

      They were much closer to Captain and Mrs. Miles, and kept up that relationship until long after he left as headmaster. A word about Captain Miles: Louis Wardlaw Miles, Gilman's headmaster, was quite a person, my image of a real southern gentleman. His mother, who lived with him, was from South Carolina. His father, a physician, was from Virginia or Maryland. He insisted that his son go to the Hopkins and get his M.D. When he got his diploma, he said, "Father, I hope you are satisfied. Now I are going to do what I really want to do," so he went back to Hopkins to get his Ph.D. in English literature. (The quotes are from my memory. Dad told me this was essentially what happened when I asked why Captain Miles had an M. D.)  In World War I, he accepted his military obligation as a good southern gentleman, or in an essay he wrote, from a sense of adventure and of duty. He was a captain of infantry in the 77th Division. He went into combat in the trenches, and while leading his company on patrol or attack, was badly wounded. He had the medics carry him forward on a stretcher to support his men until the mission was accomplished; only then was he evacuated to a hospital.  For this he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He lost a leg as the result, and he always walked with a cane, swinging his wooden leg ahead jauntily and with pride. In all his years at Gilman, he was always referred to as "Captain Miles". About 1927, he resigned as Headmaster and took his proper place as a Professor of English at Johns Hopkins.

      I heard him tell a story once when he and Mrs. Miles were having dinner with us, that he was at the theater and was sitting next to a very restless little boy, whose chatter and squirming ruined his enjoyment of the show. The kid was on the side of his wooden leg, so Capt. Miles took the kids hand and ran his index finger down the leg until it plunged into a hole in the prosthesis. The totally terrified boy never uttered another peep for the rest of the show.

      He called Dad one day to witness his mother's s will. Not long after that the good lady died. Her will was probated in South Carolina and Dad had to go down by train and certify his signature. That was the epic episode of that year. As an indication of the relationship between the two men here are the words he wrote in the flyleaf of Dad's copy of his essays, "The Tender Realist"

According to the way an author looks
A Scholar is a man who reads his books.
And as an author sees it, one who can
Both read and like, he is a Gentleman.
While he who reads and likes and also buys—
That man's a friend in any author's eyes.
But you - before my book - were even then
Already scholar, gentleman and Friend.

                              L. Wardlaw Miles

      Grandpa Pickett was living with us. The question arose: what could he do with his time? Dad got permission from the school and with some rough lumber and chicken wire they built a chicken house in the woods a hundred feet or so to the east of the house. It had an outside run. They bought a couple of dozen pullets, usually Plymouth Rocks, if they could get them, otherwise Rhode Island Reds, and we had fresh eggs and eventually chicken dinners. I remember a surplus to sell to the neighbors. Some were put down in "water glass" in a crock in the cellar. Webster says this is sodium silicate, dissolved in water to form a colorless syrupy liquid, used as a preservative for eggs. These eggs were usually used only for cooking.

      The Links had enough contact with the Janney's of Green Spring Valley to be offered the use of a pony for the winter. I guess their children were getting older so they didn't use him during the winter. The Links thought this would be wonderful for Helen Stuart and for us. So a deal was made for Grandpa to care for the pony and a stable was built next to the hen house. The pony was a spunky Shetland gelding named Toby, not too large, but with a lot of spirit and a mind of his own. He was quite a handful for Helen Stuart, and I don't recall that she actually rode him much. . Larry will have to say how much he rode him, or Johnny Link. I rode him almost every day after school, and a great deal on weekends. I went all over the Gilman grounds. He had a little western stock saddle, but I soon quit bothering with that and rode bare back all the time. The old saying was that you aren't a rood rider until you had been thrown off three times, or ten, or a hundred. I quit counting after 123 more or less involuntary dismounts. He had a habit of cantering along and then planting all four feet solidly, and the rider would go flying. We had him for three winters.

      In some ways, the part I like to remember most is that Grandpa and I took care of him together. He taught me his way of handling a horse with firmness, but with kindness and gentleness, and his needs as to food, water, etc. We grew very close and talked about a lot of things. It is the kind of closeness I hoped my kids might have with their grandfathers. It is all too rare in these days of scattered families.

      One final note on Toby. Grandpa died in August 1927. The adults agreed to take on Toby for another year if I would take care of him. I agreed. We managed pretty well, with two exceptions. There was no running water at the stable, and we either had to carry a pail of water to him or bring him to the tap at the back of the house, two or three times a, day. I was riding one day in the back yard, and he was fractious, refusing to obey orders, trying to go over to the water faucet. Then I realized that the poor beast hadn't had water for I don't know how long. I filled the pail and he drank and drank, and I felt totally guilty.

      After the Links left, two of the bachelor teachers, Meredith Janvier and Richard O’Brien lived in the other side, who taught Physics and French, respectively.  They lived their own life and we had little to do with them.

      Mother's chief recollection of the early years in the Gilman house is MUD. The soil there was a particularly sticky form of yellow clay. We moved into the house in the winter of 1923 and no topsoil or grass could be installed for several months. So we kids tracked mud into the house. By the time that problem was as solved, the City of Baltimore decided to build a new public school right behind our house. The property line came right to our back yard. They graded the entire hillside almost to Deepdene road for a large school and playing field. Until the planting grew, we had more mud.

      When the school was built, there was a small gym under the study hall. The locker rooms were located in that corridor. As the enrollment grew, the gym was turned into a study hall for the 1st and 2nd forms, called "K". The locker rooms became the Chemistry and Physics laboratories . Later, the School built a big wooden barn of a gym for basketball, with locker rooms for outdoor sports.   They started to build a completely new athletic facility with all the fixings.  The steam shovels and the dump wagons came in and graded off the hill on that northerly side, and the concrete mixers and steel rivetters and. bricklayers came again, and Mother had more Mud.

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