Eddy, Arthur

Interviewer: Jean McMillen
Place of Interview: 41 Chatfield Drive
Date of Interview:
File No: 144A Cycle:
Summary: Hotchkiss 1963-1994, 1974 girls admitted

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Arthur Eddy Oral History Cover Sheet

Interviewee:Arthur Eddy

Narrator:Jean McMillen

Tape #:144A

Place of Interview: 41 Chatfield Drive, Lakeville, Ct. 06039

Date:May 16, 2012

Summary of talk: More Hotchkiss background; family background, education, summer math program which attracted him to Hotchkiss, full time in 1963 and his responsibilities until he retired in 1994, girls admitted in 1974 and the transition from boys to coed, changes in the dining room, chapel, dormitories, women teachers, various remembered colleagues, civic responsibilities; School board, Board of Finance, Board of Tax Review, and what makes a good school in his opinion.


This is Jean McMillen interviewing Arthur Eddy at my home 41 Chatfield Drive, Lakeville, Ct 06039.  The date is May 16, 2012.

JM:       What is your full name?

AE:       Clifton Arthur Eddy, I am known as C. Arthur Eddy however.

JM:       Where were you born?

AE:       I was born in Gardner, Massachusetts.

JM:       What date?

AE:       On May 11, 1932

JM:       What were your parents’ names?

AE:       My father was Clifton Arthur Eddy; my mother was Rebecca Clark Eddy.

JM:       Do you have siblings?

AE:       I have a brother who is 77, David Webster Eddy, and I have a sister who just will turn 69 next month, Lorna Rivers.

JM:       What is your educational background?

AE:       I graduated from Gardner High School in Gardner, Mass. in 1950. I graduated from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, with a Bachelor of Arts in 1954.  I have a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Massachusetts in 1962 I believe.  I have a second Master’s Degree, it says mathematics, but it is really Mathematics Education, from the University of Oregon in 1969, I think.

JM:       What did you do after college?

AE:       I worked for a year in the Colby Admissions Office, waiting to be drafted.  I wasn’t drafted so I enlisted in the Army, spent 2 years, 10 months, and 24 days in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps.  Then I started teaching mathematics at Amherst Regional High School in Amherst, Massachusetts.

JM:       How did you happen to come here?

AE:       I played baseball with Arthur White who worked at Hotchkiss for all of his teaching life, at Colby.  He was Class of 1952, and it was though him that I found out about the math program here at Hotchkiss which was unusual, to say the least.  I wanted to work in it, with it, and so we moved down here in 1963, and have been here ever since.

JM:       What was unusual about the summer math program that attracted you?

AE:       I came down in the summers; he invited me to come down and work for the summer school. That’s how I found out about the program.  The Chairman of the Department at the time, George Stone, believed that the only reason that one studied secondary school mathematics- Algebra, Geometry etc. was to study the Calculus.  He wanted a text book series that would prepare students in grades 9, 10, and 11 for Calculus in the 12th grade, and none of them did that.  All of the series were set up for four year preparation.  He wrote a series of texts that put into each year what he felt was necessary to be successful in Calculus, and so he condensed what was four years of mathematics into three years.  He also threw in a lot of new stuff, the modern stuff at the time.  This was in the late 50’s. It just intrigued me.  I taught with Bill Olsen the first summer I was here; he told me there would be an opening in the fall of ’63. I applied for it and came down in 1963.

JM:       What were your responsibilities at Hotchkiss besides teaching?

AE:       In those days everybody at a place like Hotchkiss was presumed to be a triple threat; you ran a dormitory corridor, you coached, and you taught; there was actually time in the day for each of those things which was for me a nice packet.  It was not the case in Amherst.  Barbara and I and the 3 kids moved onto the second floor of Buehler Dormitory.  I coached soccer, basketball, and baseball that first year; I taught four sections of mathematics, and I guess probably an advisor of a certain number of students, and I became the advisor to the Bridge Club.  I kept busy.

JM:       Whatever they needed.  When did you retire?

AE:       I stopped teaching in 1992. I was given a “golden parachute” for education at least.  I was paid for two years for not teaching.  I continued to coach softball, and then I retired, in the sense that I started taking my retirement in 1994 when I was 62.

JM:       Do you have fond memories of Hotchkiss?

AE:       Oh yes, it was a wonderful place to teach.  I had tremendous freedom in the classroom; the students were, if not all brilliant, certainly motivated, hardworking.  It was a great place to raise the kids.  My children remember me as always being around because if I didn’t have a class, I could go home especially when they were little.  I loved the coaching, and it was truly a great place to teach.  We, as did the public schools, essentially had 180 days of school a year, except that we did it with at a six day a week clip. That meant that we had 20 weeks’ vacation throughout the year which was huge.  I loved teaching here, and I don’t regret having left the public sector, but I have never believed in the system.  I think kids at high school age, by and large, should be home with their families, but I did enjoy teaching and living at Hotchkiss.  My wife, Barbara, was able to become very involved with the community.  I think it turned out quite differently for both of us than we had anticipated.

JM:       When you first came, was it all boys?

AE:       Yes, the school admitted their first female students in 1974 which was the year my first born Sarah entered the ninth grade.  So she came to Hotchkiss as a ninth grader which was a perfect school for her.  At one time we had Sarah at Hotchkiss, Joanna at the high school, Clark at Oliver Wolcott Technical School, and Josh our youngest at the elementary school.

JM:       That covers the system fairly well.

AE:       It does.

JM;       With the advent of girls, what were some of the changes that Hotchkiss had to adjust to?

AE:       Certainly the bathrooms had to change.  I am among those who felt that Hotchkiss in some difficult to define way became more human.  It became a little bit more normal to have girls around.  On many ways it became friendlier.  Certainly the dining room there was a significant change because of the increase in size of the school.  When they admitted women, the trustees promised not to reduce the number of boys, and so the school was predetermined to become bigger.  The dining room would not hold everybody at sit down meals, so it moved into a cafeteria situation which significantly improved the food.  I would assume it would save money because food that heretofore, if it didn’t fit into a stew or a soup, had to be chucked. With cafeteria style you could put it into the refrigerator and have another option the next day.  The whole dining room became a social scene; it really wasn’t a social scene in the old days where everybody marched in, sat down, inhaled their food, and then left.  Another big change that came about was the chapel arrangements because everybody couldn’t fit in chapel.  It no longer was daily chapel; there was chapel, I’m not sure how long it took to get to this but, two days a week.  Half of the school went on one day and the other half of the school went the other day.

JM:       Physically the school did a lot of building, dormitories.

AE:       Initially what happened was that they renovated one of the first buildings in the school, the yellow building (Bissell Hall) that became a women’s dormitory.  While still there when I arrived in 1963, it consisted of a large study hall in which final exams were also held and then rooms in which people who worked in the dining room lived.  In those days if they needed workers for the dining room, they would make a trip down to New York City and bring up guys looking for work.  They might be her a week, or two weeks until a lot of them got enough money to have another binge. It was quite different than it is now and has been for many years where they have an organization that they leased the business to.  The food in the dining I thought is outstanding; it was all you could eat.  In the old days they could only cook so much because they knew if it didn’t get consumed, it would be thrown away.  In the old days, if you had ice cream for dessert, 13 scoops of ice cream would be put in a big bowl and be served as an amalgamated mass.  Now you have ice cream machines.  The dining was a huge thing.

JM:       Who are some of your colleagues that you remember?

AE:       Oh gracious!  When I arrived, Dick Gurney was a force, an English teacher; Tom Stearn, ex-Marine, history teacher –tough old gentleman.  Peter Beaumont was a French teacher; Gil Smith was another French teacher.  Some of the younger guys who were younger than I was a guy named Al Hass who taught math, Ed Dakin whose son is a lawyer here in town still;(Chris Dakin see tape #141A and his mother Agnes Dakin see tape #80) he was a Latin and Greek teacher as I recall.  Dick Bacon, he got my daughter through Latin, bless his soul. George Stone was around, shortly after I arrived, guys like Walter Crane came.  People who have now retired came in as kids when I was here.  I came down here when I was 31 years old with some experience.

Another big change that came about because of the co-educational move was that we had women teachers.  Most boarding schools are all boys and don’t have women teachers.  The only woman teacher at Deerfield back in those days was the Headmaster’s wife.  Hotchkiss had no women teachers’ there weren’t many at the beginning, but now I would estimate half the faculty are women.  That was a big change.

JM:       What are some of the civic responsibilities that you have taken on?

AE:       When I arrived, I am not sure that there was a lot of that which did take place.  Hotchkiss was a pretty tight little community.  There were no walls, but you had the sense that there were walls.  You would go downtown to do your grocery shopping, and you would do this or you would do that, but I am not sure when it really began.  Steve Bohlmer in the late 1960’s was elected to the school board.  He is one of the first people that I know for sure got involved with town stuff.  Gradually people began to get involved with town boards.  I took Steve’s place on the (Salisbury Central) School Board when he went on sabbatical.  After he came back and finished his term, I stood for the school board and was elected.  A lot of us have served on a variety of town boards now, elected positions, appointed positions.  I think people have always been involved with the churches, but certainly since if I have to pick a time I would say the early to mid1970’s people began to get more involved with the town, partly because more families came in.  Again in the old days most of the teaching staff were bachelors.  I know when I was traveling for the Colby Admissions Office, I visited Deerfield Academy.  I never got used to the fact that the private schools had lunch at 1:00; so I would eat at 11 and show up at noon time, figuring they would be just through lunch, and I would be gone.  So I showed up at Deerfield and the Headmaster said,” We are just going to lunch.” So he invited me to his house for lunch, and that is how I met his wife, who in subsequent years I got to know because she was a math and chemistry teacher there.  When I taught in Amherst, I would see her at conferences.  We had a wonderful chat; Papa Boynton as he was known was an “iron fist” at Deerfield.  I mean he was the admissions guy. If Papa Boynton though you should go to Brown and you wanted to go to Harvard, guess where you went!  After our marvelous conversation, he said, “Now we’ll go back and I shall let you meet some people.  By the way when you get out of the Army, if you would be interested, write me a letter, if you are still single.”  This was 1955-56.  So that was another thing I think just made the school more human, made it more community friendly –the Hotchkiss adults.

JM:       Were you ever on the Board of Finance?

AE:       Yes, I am proud of the fact that as a Democrat, I beat Republicans; I clearly beat the best candidate because she had just moved to town, and hardly anybody knew her.  I was petrified; I didn’t know anything.  I think the assumption in the town was that if you’re a math teacher, you’d be good on the Board of Finance because Carl Williams for years was on the Board of Finance.  He WAS the Board of Finance.   Before him was Keith Bond, a math teacher at the high school, was on for years.  I was fairly well known, but Barbara was better known; I was Barbara Eddy’s husband because she was Lakeville Journal.  So I wound up…I didn’t have a clue about what was going on.  Fortunately we moved to the Cape so I had to resign.  I also served on the Board of Tax Review.  School board and then I was on the Board of Tax Review for a while as elected offices.  Then I was asked to run for the Board of Finance, and I really had no idea about what it was like.

JM:       You handled it well.

AE:       I nodded a lot.

JM:       Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you would like to add to this interview?

AE:       My comment earlier about not believing in the system; we felt that Sarah, although Sarah was at Hotchkiss for 4 years and it was a perfect place for her, she was a day student.  We didn’t see a lot of her as a day student. She would go off at 7 in the morning and come home at 10 at night.  In spite of feeling as I do about the system itself because I think kids that age ought to be home, to me a school is a great school for a child.  People ask me, “What do you think about Housatonic?”  “I have children at Housatonic, and I think it is a great school because there are people there like Keith Bond, like Ellery Sinclair, like David Bayersdorfer, the principal who just died recently-Jack Mahoney who if a kid is fortunate enough to have someone like that, they’ll talk about them four years from now. To me that’s what a good school is.  If there is somebody whom the student has as a teacher or a coach that 40 years later they’ll say, “That person really had an impact on me.” It is a good school for the kid, and I think a tremendous advantage that a Hotchkiss has is the supremely superb quality of people that the Headmaster can hire, because the Headmaster literally has no requirements that have to be met.  If the Headmaster is impressed by a Walter Crane because of ABCD, he will hire Walter Crane.  Because of the boarding aspect, that aspect that I pretty much object to, the child will have people in the dormitory, will have contact with people on the athletic field, will have contact with people as an advisor, in a club and obviously in the classroom that the chances of a child having one, or two if they are really lucky, people that meet that goal 40 years later.  Bob Hawkins made my career; he taught me how to write.  It’s better, it’s greater.  That is not to say the public school, there are great public schools; there are crappy private schools.  Because of the nature of the beast of a private school that tremendously critical part of one’s schooling is more apt to be met at a Hotchkiss.  I was very lucky I had a high school math teacher, I had a high school history teacher, I had 2 or 3 teachers in college, but I am a teacher.  I am a teacher partly because of them and therefore because of that I can say I had a lot of people; I am very fortunate.

JM:       That is a wonderful commentary on education.

AE:       I have felt that strongly for a while.  I worshipped the ground that my high school math teacher walked on.

JM:       Then you learned.

AE:       We remained friends until the day she no longer knew who I was.  I taught 5 years at Amherst and then I came down here, and I never left.  I sometimes think well I am really limited; I have limited my experiences, but I did and I didn’t.

JM:       Thank you very much.

AE:       You are welcome.







Property of the Oral History Project, The Salisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library, Salisbury, Ct. 6068