Duane Estes Interview
This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Duane Estes. He is going to talk about coaching at Salisbury School and Hotchkiss School, preaching and doing memorial services, the Rotary Club, and we are doing to end up with Sharon Playhouse. Today’s date is Nov. 23, 2021. This is file #44, cycle 4.
JM:What is your name?
JM:What is your birth date?
DE:Kansas City, Missouri
JM:When did you come to Salisbury?
JM:Tell me a little bit about your educational background. Where did you go to college?
DE:I went to the University of Kansas. I got a degree there in Business Administration. Then I headed to Berkley, California to study religion. I was there for 4 years and got a Master’s Degree.
JM:Where was your first job?
DE:Mt. Herman School in 1962. At that time Mt. Herman was all boys school, 600 boys in western Mass. (Gill, Mass. Ed.) It is just north of Hartford.
JM:It is up Northampton way. Technically it is in the middle of Massachusetts. What did you do there?
DE:I taught religion courses, I was chaplain, and I coached football, basketball and baseball. I lived in a dormitory with 250 boys.
JM:You did everything!
DE:That is why I went there.
JM:That is what you wanted to do because you had no idea what I really wanted to do.
DE:That is why I went there as I had no idea what I wanted to do.
JM:It gave you an opportunity to do a lot of things so you could figure out what you liked to do. When you retired to Salisbury, you were given an opportunity to work half time. Where?
DE:I was given the opportunity to be assistant chaplain, and coach football and baseball at Salisbury School. I taught a course in Human Development at The Hotchkiss School. I worked at both schools.
JM:That is an interesting combination.
DE:Well my step son was Headmaster at Salisbury School (Chiz Chandler See his interview) and my step daughter is Director of Athletics (Robin Chandler) at Hotchkiss.
JM:You had an in!
DE:Yeah Dick Flood was actually the Headmaster at Salisbury at that time.
JM:But Chiz took over.
DE:Chiz took over in 2004 I think.
JM:Who was the Headmaster at Hotchkiss?
JM:What did the course in Human Development include?
DE:It was part of the health education program. It was a course that was required of all sophomores: they call them Lower Mids. Each section had about 15 students and you had 2 seniors who were your PA that worked with you. We called it Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll.
JM:Yeah, I think I did the same thing in 6th grade. It was a good course to teach.
JM:How many years were you at Salisbury?
DE:I am still there. I am still coaching football.
JM:You were telling me about signing the different plays. What were the labels for the plays in your current football coaching?
DE:We used sign language from the side lines. Certain running plays are named after cars. (He motions as if turning a steering wheel Ed.)Like you are driving a car: you signal (again he motions as if using hand signal for a left turn) formations by the direction of your arm. It gets pretty involved.
JM:Yeah, but that is a good idea. Are you still working with Hotchkiss?
JM:Did you coach anything at Hotchkiss?3.
DE:No I didn’t, but I helped out with the baseball team at Hotchkiss a little bit but only on a volunteer basis.
JM:How many hears were you at Hotchkiss?
DE:I think 5.
JM:It is not fair to compare the schools because you were doing 2 different things at the schools.
JM:The only one whom I have interviews who taught at both schools was Kiau Loi who taught math in both places. You received you religious training at Berkley, when you came to Salisbury were you an interim preacher or did you fill in for others? How did you work that?
DE:At the Congregational Church I was a supply minister. I filled in for Dick Tabor (see his interview) every summer while he was there. Actually one of the things that I did that was fun, I wrote dramatic scrips for Martin Luther King Day at Salisbury and I took some of the boys and we did the same thing at the church which was really fun. That was when Diane was there. (Diane Monti-Catania See her interview) I supply preach and I taught confirmation classes there.
JM:Have you had any connection with Rev. Nelson? (See his interview) He has only been there about 3 years.
DE:I have met with him several times and I have filled in for him a couple of times, too.
JM:Do you do memorial services?
JM:You gave me an example that the interim minister did not know the deceased so you filled in for that. Do you fill in for someone that you know or do you just fill in when needed?
DE:No it is usually a friend like Foxy Jones, Bob and Mary Lou Estabrook who weren’t members there.
JM:No they were Unitarians in the same fellowship as my husband.
DE:I have done baptisms, weddings, but I don’t do those services for people in the church when their regular minister is available.
JM: Oh no but if there is an occasion where you are needed, and then you would fill in.
JM:With the Taconic learning Center you taught courses there, haven’t you?
JM:What were some of the courses that you taught there?
DE:I taught Great Religious Leaders which was Buddha, Mohamed and Jesus. I taught Religions in America which was a course where we traced the religion as they came into America starting with the Native Americans to the most recent. I taught History and Fundamentals of Baseball and History and Fundamentals of Football.
JM:I figured you would get that in there somehow. That is great. How long did you teach at TLC?
DE:I want to say maybe 7 or 8 years. I did a different course every year.
JM:Who asked you to become a teacher there? Do you remember?
DE:No, I don’t.
JM:Were you on the board?
JM:I have done some of the board members, but it is better to get the teachers because they are the ones that have to do the work.
DE:Betsy Smith’s husband Peter Reyelt was in my classes. I think Peter was on the Board. So it might have been Peter.
JM:You don’t get paid when you teach at TLC, do you.
JM:You do it as a volunteer.
JM;It is a wonderful organization.
DE:Yes it is.
JM:How about Rotary? Did you join Rotary when you came to town?
DE:No I didn’t. I joined Rotary somewhere around 2005. Rotary has moved all over the place.
JM:Yes, I know. Rotary luncheon was served in the Lakeville Methodist Church because we cooked for the Rotary (See Marion Haeberle’s interview) for 48 years.
DE:I spoke to Rotary on Baseball one time and I think they were meeting at the Congregational Church then.
JM:Yeah they did.5.
DE:They also met at the inn on route 41 the Wake Robin, We were at the Boathouse. Now we are at Noble Horizons.
JM:Oh you are back from Noble. I think both times I spoke to Rotary it was at Geer. They have nice Christmas parties. They invite the widows of former Rotarians. I enjoy those.
DE:I escorted Alice Gustafson to those a couple of times.
JM:Oh good. She’s fun. Do you remember who asked you to join Rotary?
DE:It was Rick DelPrete. (See his interview)
JM:Nice guy. You coached at Salisbury School at the same time as that Rick coached at Hotchkiss?
DE:Yeah I coached against Rick in football when I was at Loomis Chaffee for 25 years. I didn’t coach baseball. The Delprete’s were friends of Mimi. If fact they attended our wedding.
JM:When you were coaching at Salisbury, was there any rivalry between the schools? (Salisbury vs Hotchkiss) Yes, I know there was sports rivalry, but was it an aggressive angry rivalry? Or was it all fun?
DE:It depends on who you talk to.
JM:That is a good answer.
DE:There were some people that were one way or the other. I was always caught in the middle by having Robin at Hotchkiss and of course Chiz went to Hotchkiss.
JM:It varies. It would. Are you on any committee at Rotary?
DE:I am on the Foundation Board which is our non-profit board. Money that goes to the Foundation is money that we allocate to charitable organizations or causes. The recent earthquake in Haiti we donated to their assistance.
JM:You have been on that for 7 or 8 years.
DE:No actually I was on it before and then off for a while, but I recently came back on.
JM:You are a recycled one.
DE:Yes I have been recycled.
JM:The funds that you get, are they donations?
DE: Yeah we earn the money through fundraisers like the fireworks, Kentucky Derby Day as well as donations. We send out appeal letters so people can donate. We oversee that.
JM:You mentioned that money is given to charities or worthy causes. We have several rehabilitation centers in this area. We’ve got Mountainside; they are for alcoholics are they not?
DE:Yes it is treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction.
JM:Is Trinity Glenn also for those addictions? Is that strictly women?
DE:Yes that is for women.
JM:And it is for both drugs and alcohol?
JM:How about High Watch in Kent?
DE:It is co-ed and the same type of rehabilitation for drugs and alcohol. One of the things you learn is that people are cross addicted. If you are addicted to one thing, you are addicted everything, including gambling.
JM:People would ask me and I would say the only thing I was addicted to was kids and work. After these people recover a lot of them stay in the area. How do they find employment?
DE:Well they are really fortunate that there are people in the area who will hire them. These people want to stay here: they live in sober houses most of which are in Canaan. A sober house is sort of a half-way house. They are employed by Stop & Shop: they are at all of the restaurants both as cooks and waiters. The fellow at the White Hart has really been great with those young people.
JM:Then they work in the kitchen like Provisions?
JM:How about the Boathouse?
DE:Yeah they work at the Boathouse, the Millerton Inn, the Woodland and the Stadium in Canaan. The thing that is interesting about it is that the businesses provide employment and these workers are needed.
DE:They are one pool of young people who are needed. Many of them are in their 20s, but some are older. I just had lunch yesterday with a friend of mine. Some of them are college graduates but they are not just ready to use that degree in a more professional realm. Lots of them start back at school at Northwestern Community College in Winsted. Some also went to Western Connecticut down in Danbury. They sort of ease their way back into the mainstream.
JM:Isn’t it wonderful that they here to get over their addiction and the community support them in their urge to get back into the real world.
JM:This is the essence of Salisbury and this area: we help people. That is so important.
DE:It is a safe place to be, rather than going back to wherever they came from. They are not going back to their old buddies wherever they may be. It is a mutual win-win. Even when they are out of the sober houses and living independently here in an apartment or rented room, they have support system. They have sponsors. Most of their sponsors are full time residents of Salisbury or Sharon.
JM:They have someone to help them who are there for them all the time.
DE:Every recovery person has a sponsor.
JM:It is something like the girls and boys clubs where you have someone that is with you for whatever is needed.
JM:Now we are going to get to the fun part-Sharon Playhouse.
JM:How did you get involved with that?
DE:Actually it was through John Roberts and his wife Rona. Do you know them?
DE:Rona was a friend of Mimi’s. John was one of the originators of the Woodstock Festival when he was 26 years old. He was a wonderful guy and a venture capitalist. They lived up on Britton Hill Road. They were very supportive of the theater. It was through John that I got involved.
JM:When did you get involved?
DE:About 2001, I think.
JM:How many shows have you been in?
DE:I think 15.
JM:I remember you as Sitting Bull in “Crazy for You!” (2019) you were in “Pajama Game”. You were Jacob in “Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat”. You were the Hungarian student of Prof. Higgins in
“My Fair Lady”. I didn’t see “Rent” so I don’t know what you did there. “In a Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” you kept going around in circles.
JM:You had lost your children: you had a boy and a girl and there was a specific ring that each of them wore. You were looking for your children. It is the part that Buster Keaton played.
DE:That’s right I think the name was something like Erroneous. That was a fun part. The most recent thing I was in was “Crazy for You!” That was just 2 years ago.
JM:Yes that was the last time they actually had live plays due to the pandemic. Before we close is there anything else you would like to add?
DE:I just want to say that it is a wonderful place to be. I never dreamed that I would find so many things to do. I am 86 now and I am still coaching, still in Rotary. Hopefully at the Playhouse I might get a part to play again. It has been a wonderful community to be involved in. I have been really fortunate that the schools have hired me as well as the volunteer opportunities like Taconic Learning Center or whatever. It has just been a great life out here.