Peggy Bolmer Interview
This is file 28, cycle 4. Today’s date is October 30, 2019. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Peggy Bolmer who has lived at Hotchkiss for many years. She‘ll also talk about some of the other activities that she did while she was at Hotchkiss. But first we’ll start with…
JM:What is your name?
PB:Peggy Bolmer or Margaret Yates Bolmer.
JM:How did you come to the area?
PB:I married a teacher at Hotchkiss, Stephen Bolmer. (See David Bolmer interview)
JM:When did you come to Hotchkiss?
PB:We came in 1950 and I was a bride.
JM:What did your husband teach?
PB:Math (for 44 years -he retired in 1991. Ed.)
JM:He coached a lot of things.
PB:At that time he was the basketball coach of the varsity team.
JM:Where did you live first?
PB:First we lived in a house, it was not a dorm. It was a single house.
JM:How long did you live in that house?
PB:One year and then we moved in the dormitory, Beuhler.
JM:All of your 3 sons were born while you lived in Beuhler, weren’t they?
PB:Yes they are Tom, Mike and David.
JM:When you were on campus, were the children, as young children allowed to go to dinner?
PB:No, they weren’t. Mostly what we did is we would feed them dinner with the two of us at a little table that we had. Then we would bring in a babysitter to take care of them while I went over with Steve to the dining room.
JM:Did he have a table there?
PB:Yes, the students were assigned a table for a week, maybe two weeks, with the same teacher. Then they would rotate to another teacher’s table.
JM:You lived at Beuhler for 7 years and then you moved to a different dorm?2.
JM:That had just been built. (It was built about 1958. Ed.)
JM:Did you have responsibility for the whole dorm or just one floor?
PB:We were on the second floor at the far end. We had a private apartment, but it opened onto the corridor so Steve could be in charge of the boys on the corridor.
JM:What did he have to do on dorm duty?
PB:He had to see that they behaved themselves, and went to bed when they were supposed to.
JM:How many boys on a corridor?
PB:I don’t remember, maybe 12 to 20?
JM:It was all boys when you came.
PB:It wasn’t until 1974 or 1975 when the girls started coming.
JM:When you were at Hotchkiss, and you were there for all that time, did you notice a difference in the atmosphere between when it was all boys and co-ed?
PB:Not really. Of course I was always in the dormitory which was all boys.
JM: Next you moved to a house of the corner of route 112 and route 41 a large brown house. Now they have a fence in front of it so now you can’t even see it.
PB:When we lived there I had a lovely perennial border. Now the house is white.
JM:Did any of your sons attend Hotchkiss?
PB:Yes Mike and Dave did. Tom went to Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass. All our boys went to Indian Mountain for a short while first, either one or two years.
JM:Did you enjoy living on campus?
PB:It was comfortable, it was pretty. There were nice people around. It was fine.
JM:Did you have a group of friends of the faculty wives?
JM:Because you were a wife of a faculty member, did you have to do any duties as far as Hotchkiss was concerned?
PB:The only thing I did was in the corridor every once in a while we would give feeds to the boys and invite all of the kids. Also after athletic events because Steve was the coach of a school team, there were teas after every game, and I would serve the tea.
JM:Did you have to provide the food?
PB:No I just served. The kitchen did the food. But that went on for the whole time I was there. They don’t do that anymore.
JM:There have been a lot of changes.
JM:While you were living at Hotchkiss you worked outside the home. You did a lot of different things. I probably won’t have there in the right order.
PB:I was a volunteer.
JM:Well volunteers are important. We could not function if we did not have volunteers. You worked at Sharon Clinic.
PB:That was a paid job. I did the insurance for the doctors.
JM:Do you remember when you worked there? Did you work there when Dr. Collins was there? He came to the clinic in 1968. (See Dr. Richard Collins interview)
PB:Yes. I worked there for 2 years and then Steve went on Sabbatical. We went down to Middletown to Wesleyan University. I had to give up my job and when I came back it was taken.
JM:Did you work at Sharon Hospital?
PB:Yes I worked as a volunteer there quite a few years. I did the flower cart, and the book cart but it was mostly magazines. JM:At some point you worked at the Bargain Box. (It was run by the Hospital Auxiliary for years.)
PB:Oh for years as a volunteer.
JM:You told me there were three locations.
PB:The first location was at the top of Hospital Hill and Route 41 where Lambert & Truax is now. Then they moved to Sharon Plaza where Sharon Farm Market is now. There were two different locations in that place. Now it is back of the Sharon Post Office on a short road by itself.
JM:It is behind that blue building that used to be where community classes of different sorts were given.
PB:It’s still there.
JM:The building is still there but it is vacant now. (The Bargain Box is now run by Tri State Communication AKA Marshall Miles. Ed.) What did you do when you worked at the Bargain Box?
PB:I did everything.
JM:How many volunteers at that time did you work with?
PB:There was probably a couple in the back room taking donations and checking them over. Someone did the pricing the clothes. Someone else put them out in the proper locations. Someone worked at the desk to sell them and run the register. I may have worked with 6 people at a time.
JM:Did you work anywhere else in Sharon?
JM:In Salisbury you worked in a nursery school.
PB:I did. It was way back when I was first married. Dorothy Warner has a nursery school which she started. I worked in that for a short time before I started to have children.
JM:At a later time you worked at Town Hill.
PB:Yes it was a building on the Hotchkiss Campus. (It was on the corner of Lake St. and Route 112. The building was torn down and a faculty house was built on that site across from the athletic field and gold course. Ed.) I worked in the kindergarten until I got very pregnant with Tom in the early 1950’s. I spend most of my time in the basement throwing up. Finally Judy Smith, who was running it then, told me, “Peggy why don’t you go home?” So I quit.
JM:Did you go back to town Hill after you had your children?
PB:No I did not. My children went to a nursery school which was a volunteer thing. It was in a building down from the old fire station.
JM:Oh that is the Montgomery Lodge building on Rout 41. It may not have been called Little Scholar School which belonged to Jeanne Wardell. I think that is where your children went and somebody owned the business before Jeanne Wardell bought the name. I think that was the location. Did you work there?
PB:Yes but as a volunteer.
JM:When did you go to Salisbury Central to work in second grade with Mrs. Fran McKee?
PB:After I had all my sons. David was the last: he was in 1955. It was maybe in 1960.5.
JM:I don’t remember you working there in 2nd grade and I came in 1967. How long with you work with Fran McKee?
PB:I think for a couple of years. 2 or 3 years and then she retired.
JM:You ran the Fall Festival from St. John’s.
JM:Were you in charge of all of the Festival or just the St. John’s activities?
PB:The first year I was in charge of all of St. John’s Fall Festival. The next year and for the next 10 or 12 years I ran the Attic Treasures at St. John’s.
JM:What was that?
PB:It was a collection of second hand things, donation that we priced and resold. That was quite a job. I did that for quite a few years.
JM:How many helpers did you have?
PB:I had a couple. Louie Franky was a helper. He was a male helper.
JM:I did Pat Gomez who worked the Festival for 38 year for the Methodist Church. If you get someone from the various churches, you get an overall picture of the Festival. The Lime Rock church Trinity had the antique show that went along with the festival for a long time. I have gotten bits and pieces from people who worked at Trinity. If you put the bits and pieces together, you have a nice design of what the Fall Festival was. That has changed again.
JM:Tell me about the Salisbury Garden Club.
PB:I was in that a long time. But I don’t remember the dates.
JM:Did you start with Millbrook Garden Club?
PB:No I did not. I did apply over there, but I didn’t want to join. I decided I wanted to go somewhere where everybody did their own gardening. At Millbrook a lot of the women had hired help. I wanted to be with people who did their own gardens. So I joined the Salisbury Garden Club.
JM:Who asked you to join? (Peggy must have joined in the 1970’s because Jill Scott talked about the garden club in the ‘70’s. Ed.)
PB:Emmeline Corbiere asked me to join.
JM:She was President at the time.
PB:She was. She decided that I was going to be President. She picked me to be President. When she left, I was President. I was President for three years. The time is usually 2 years, but I did it for 2 and then there was a break. They needed somebody to do it again and I did it again.
JM:Whom did you ask to join garden club?
PB:I asked Jill Scott to join.
JM:How many ladies were in the group when you were President?
PB: Somewhere around 30-40 women.
JM:I had interviewed Jill as she was the only one I knew in Garden Club. Ibba Williams had passed. The reason I knew Jill was she and Mrs. Byron Scott came into my fourth grade to work with the children on garden club projects as part of the school program. What kind of garden did you personally have?
PB:I had a large perennial border at Hotchkiss at the brown house on the corner. I had a lot of different plants then. It was a pretty border. I did all the work myself.
JM:I remember the school program and the garden club plant sales at the Fall Festival.
PB:I did the plant sales too.
JM:When you were President was there a schools program or did that come later?
PB:I can remember that: I remember going up there and working.
JM:It probably was part of their focus. Did you do flower shows?
PB:Yes I have a ribbon for First Place.
JM:Did you have them at the Congregational Church?
PB:Yes we had them there and then one time we had it at the Holley-Williams House.
JM:Oh I remember that one. That one was gorgeous.
PB:That one was nice. That is where I got my ribbon.
JM:Oh that is nifty! I remember at the Congregation Church they would have small vials with a single perfect specimen in each. I looked at my plants: I did not have a perfect anything. Have I missed anything that you would like to share?
PB:One thing that I really enjoyed doing Recording for the Blind and Dyslexia.
JM:Oh good tell me about that.7.
PB:It was up at the Lenox Library in Lenox, Mass. They had different things we would read. Steve would read math books. That was his thing. I read all sorts of things, fiction and that kind of thing. There was a recorder there and you just read. It was very entertaining. We did that for several years. (This was probably in the 1990’s after Steve retired. Ed.)
JM:Did you go up with Katherine Chilcoat and George Vincent?
PB:Ye but we also did it after Katherine and George dropped out. Steve and I went up alone for several years after that. It finally got to be a long trip so we stopped. That was fun I enjoyed that.
(Another thing Peggy enjoyed was singing in the church choir and with other singing groups in the area, but I did not cover that. Ed.)
JM:Is there anything else you would like to add?
PB:Not that I can think of right now.
JM:Thank you very much.
PB:You are very welcome.