Bob Steck interviewing Bill Fowle, June 7th, 1990.
BS:Please state your full formal name, some of your background, where you were born and where you grew up.
WF:The name is William Cowper Fowle. Some of the old English pronounce it Cooper, but my grandfather pronounced it Cow-per the way I do. I was born in Chicago in 1910. I was educated out there in local schools. Then I came to college in the east to Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. I graduated from there in 1932. I had a year at law school which wasn’t successful. Then I went into school teaching. I taught at Gov.Dummer Academy in South Byfield, Mass. Then I went back to Williams College and coached the freshmen athletic team and helped with the varsity scouting for 3 years until 1938 when I was married and we came to Lakeville. Tony lived in Williamstown.
BS:Who was Tony?
WF:Tony (Antoinette) Treadway, I was going to tell you. Tony lived in Williamstown. Her father was L.G. Treadway who ran the real New England inn (The Treadway Inn). He was a very well known innkeeper throughout New England, in fact throughout the eastern United States, because he had some inns in Florida. That’s where I met Tony in Williamstown, and then we were married in the summer of 1938. The job at Hotchkiss enabled me to get married. I had only $500 at the time. It gave great promise because we would have a place to live and they would feed us. It was an excellent opportunity.
BS:Is that what brought you here to Lakeville?
BS:What year was that?
WF:1938. Mr. George Van Sanvoord came to be a very good friend, and I had the greatest admiration and respect and love for the man because he was really something. We had talked some time before about school teaching, I would say back in ’32. Apparently he followed my career at school at Williams, and the opportunity came to come down to Hotchkiss to replace O. F. Monahan who was the Physical Director. I was appointed to the position and served at Hotchkiss for 22 1/2 years until Feb. 1st, 1961. I served in several positions; I was Physical Director for 15 years, coached football, basketball, baseball. They didn’t have much basketball at the beginning because Hotchkiss under Mr. Monahan had concentrated on hockey and gymnastics. So they really didn’t know much about basketball, but we put it in. We improved the facilities considerably over those years with a new pool and a new gymnasium because we really needed those facilities. Both of the old ones were outdated. I taught American History at Hotchkiss and Bible. I eventually dropped the athletic work and went into the Admissions Office. I became the Director of Admissions. I also was appointed as Assistant Headmaster by Mr. Chapel, Thomas Chapel who succeeded George Van Sanvoord at Hotchkiss. I served in that position for 5 years or so. I went from there to Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania. Mercersburg, PA is in the center of the state very near the Mason-Dixon Line. It is in the town of Mercersburg. There I served as Headmaster for 11 years. I went down there in the spring of 1961 and left in the summer of 1972. We
came back here, and I was appointed to run the Edward E. Ford Foundation as their Executive Director in 1972. I had served on that foundation for many years because Mr. Ford was a Mercersburg graduate and had asked me to serve on it when we went down to Mercersburg. So I have been a part of it for years. I was Executive Director until 1978 when I finally retired. That’s my background pretty much.
As far as the town of Lakeville is concerned I became part of it right away. We arrived in the summer of 1938, and that winter we had a basketball team here in town, and they asked me to come down. I played with them for several years until the war. We had a lot of fun; I don’t think there was any particular league or record, but we played all the towns around. It was a way of meeting people and becoming part of the town. The Whalen family had 4 sons, and they all played on the team. I remember enjoying them; Brick (Tom), Buck (Joseph) later became Postmaster in Lakeville; his son (Martin) followed him as Postmaster later on. There was Babe and the oldest of the bunch was Turk. Turk worked with the water works, where it is filtered at the end of Walton Street. He was in charge of that. I used to walk down and see him and chat a bit. Doc Barr, one of the local dentists, was on our basketball team, Ed Markey and Pat Hallihan, the Whalens, and a few others whose names escape me. In the summer Lakeville had a very fine baseball team, probably one of the best for a town team in the region. There was a Tri-State League; that included I don’t know how they got a Massachusetts team in there, but they did. It was mostly New York and Connecticut, Amenia, Dover Plains, Litchfield, Thomaston, Canaan, Lakeville and Salisbury, which had a team in those days. There were 2 teams right here. Lakeville had a really very good team. Brick Whalen was one of the pitchers, Hopp Rudd was another. Hopp was a local character and I’ll talk about him in a minute. Dick Gurney was the catcher. Dick taught English at Hotchkiss, and was an excellent catcher. He played for Brown University and was thought of as a possibility as a professional baseball player. So was Brick who had a try-out with the St. Louis Cardinals. Babe, his brother, played third, Buck played second base, Turk was a substitute pitcher, and the Whalens supported the baseball team as well as the basketball team. One of the interesting things about that was that we had a player who came from Torrington; his name was Vic Radsavitch. (Don’t ask me to spell it.) He was a very good ball player; he came and played in Lakeville for nothing. Nobody paid him anything; he just came because it was fun. He said he had never been with such a nice bunch of guy, and he had such a good time he didn’t care if he made any money or not. He could hit the ball; he used to hit it over the tracks. The old diamond is where the present diamond is; the outfield is bounded by the mound that was the right of way for the railroad. If you hit the ball over that, it was a homerun. Dick used to do that pretty regularly. There was another fellow named Pickert who was a catcher; Pickert I think had a try-out with the New York Giants. He could hit the ball very well, but as a catcher he wasn’t up to Gurney who was much better. The team had an excellent record; we won the league it seems to me most of the time. We lost once in a play-off as I recall. I played with them until the war and into the war until about 1943.
BS:Did you coach the team, too.
WF:No, I just played with it. The Manager of the team was Tom O’Loughlin. I think he was connected with the postal service and other things here in Lakeville. He was a well-known local person.
He was the manager who sort of kept us together and got the schedules going. We had lots of twilight games, too, during the summer. We must have played 25 or 30 games. We had a regular schedule and we were able to come out on top most of the time.
I put that in because it means you become part of a town immediately which helped me a great deal when the war came. The war came along, and there was rationing. In a small town like Lakeville rationing is one of those things that people either, if you are a good friend, can wink at or help you with certain coupons. It meant that if we were really hit, Tony and & I, although we ate at Hotchkiss most of the time, for butter or meat which were on stamps, we’d find a way to get those stamps. Gasoline was also rationed; there was help in that way. The war had one fine effect to help bring the town of Lakeville closer together. Hotchkiss and Salisbury are private schools, and they are looked upon by the local people as being elite. That is true to a degree. We were trying to break that down; we are always trying to break that down. All headmasters do, or most of them do. By having people on the town baseball team, faculty members, it is a great help. It brings things together. Arthur White, one of the last headmasters at Hotchkiss, did that extremely well. Those of us who didn’t get into it until a little later, we had an opportunity to work together on a variety of things; the health situation-there was a committee on taking care of people who had been presumably been wounded or might be wounded. We had people watching airplanes; we had people at the communication center in the (old) firehouse, and you took your turn on that. You got to know a whole lot of people because you had to call them up to report on this and that. I thought it had a very positive and beneficial effect on the town. It did for me and I am sure for lots of other people. That was one thing that could be said for the war.
Oh I was going to talk about Hop Rudd. He was an extremely interesting character. Hop I think grew up here; I don’t know his exact background except that he went to Hotchkiss. He was a very well-known athlete there particularly in hockey and baseball. He played both those sports at Yale. He came back here and went to Salisbury School as the coach and Athletic Director. He coached hockey and baseball and was well-known throughout the western part of Connecticut, and throughout all of New England because he played all over the place as a semi-pro baseball player. He was a marvelous individual as he was completely relaxed and completely honest, candid; there was no guile in Hopp, he was just Hopp. He did pretty much as he felt like doing. If he wanted to drive a wretched old car down the street, it didn’t bother min a bit. He ran a summer camp; he’d fill that car with kids and they would go around the town. It was almost a standard sight to see Hopp and his kids. He had this camp over in the corner of the lake, the southwest corner where he had some property. It was a very fine camp for younger kids. Hopp ran it well.
WF:No, just for little boys. He was also talented in music. He was a drummer. If you gave him a few beers, he’d have a jam session. He would start with the drums and pretty soon a saxophone would appear, and a clarinet. You would have a little group, and they were banging it out in Hop’s living room
or wherever they happened to be. Jo, (Josephine Baumann) his wife, a local girl lived through it successfully. I am sure it was a fine union, and they had a lot of fun.
BS:What was Hop’s name? Was it a nickname?
WF:His name was Roswell. Roswell something or other Rudd. (Roswell Hopkins Rudd Ed.) Hop was a nickname; it was not because he could throw a fastball but was given to him for some other reason which he explained once which I have forgotten. He was a curved ball pitcher. He wrote a column in the Lakeville Journal called “Memory Lane” which was terribly humorous. It was all about old baseball background around town. Stories like the one about Juddy Silvernail over in Millerton. The Millerton baseball team was playing Lakeville or someone, it doesn’t matter. Their home field was right by Rt. 22; they didn’t take in enough money at the gate to pay the umpires. So Juddy Silvernail who lived there in Millerton said,”Don’t worry about that boys, I’ll take care of it.” So he went home, brought his badge out which made him a deputy policeman. He went out on Rt. 22 and flagged the first big car he saw that was going probably a little bit over the limit, fined them $25 dollars, took the fine at that point, returned and said, “Here, pay your umpires.” That’s a true story. It is magnificent. That is the sort of thing Hop had in his ‘Memory Lane.” He had loads of them.
BS:Is he still living?
WF:No, Hop died of cancer about 5 years ago. All the Whalens are gone; the big first baseman on the baseball team named Pat Hallihan, he played basketball, too. Pat is still alive; he lives over in Canaan. He used to work for the power company. He was a very nice fellow, just the nicest. I haven’t seen him for some time, but every now and then our paths cross. Donny Parsons played on the baseball team. Donny lives in Lakeville. Dick Bacon was on the squad; he came from Hotchkiss too as a faculty member. There were 3 of us, 4 counting Jim Cutting who was another one who came down. I think that covers the athletic part of it a little bit, although I am quite confident that the local baseball team was better than the general run of town teams. They had too much talent on it not to be good.
BS:You mentioned that you taught history and you also were athletic director?
WF:I coached and I was also Athletic Director; they called it Physical Director in those days. George Van Santvoord, the Headmaster, had that in mind and he always emphasized it, “You are the Physical Director, not the Athletic Director.” That was his little quirk; it really didn’t matter what your title was, you ran the athletics.
WF:No difference at all. I coached football, and then I coached baseball the first year. They didn’t have basketball, but I put it in pretty quickly. We played during the war; you see the war came along in ’41 and we had a very small place to play basketball so we played all our games away. You couldn’t travel during the war except by taxi; you could go round trip 25 miles only. Gasoline was rationed. You
had to find another way, but it was not as much of a problem as we thought it was at the time. What they were doing was conserving it for use if they needed it, and so they restricted the public. You could gas with special coupons, for example, if your wife was sick in the hospital, and you had to go over to see her back and forth. They would give you the coupons. They had the gas but they were very stingy about letting you get it. We went down to Kent to play basketball and baseball. We went on the train; we went over to Falls Village, picked up the New Haven train there, down to Kent, played our game, and got the up train back home. That goes way back in time to the teens, before automobiles came along or a bus. Normally we traveled by bus. The war stopped all that. We were able to go to Berkshire School. I think we measured it at 12 ½ miles so that we could make it a round trip of 25 miles, but that was close enough. We couldn’t play all our regular rivals- Taft and Loomis. They were too far away.
Now let’s see. I taught history, American History, starting in 1941. I was very thrilled to have that opportunity and pleased that George Van Santvoord would let me do it.
BS:Were you doing both?
WF:Oh yes, I was doing everything, just added history to the routine. After the war I added Bible, and that was the way George Van Santvoord worked because he said one day I think it was in the summer close to the opening of school. “You Know John Mulligan who used to teach Bible here and taught at Salisbury School had gone somewhere. He is not going to return, and I need somebody to teach Bible.” Well, that was his way of saying you are elected; you’re it. I said, “Yes, sir” so I taught the New Testament first and then we had a course in the Old Testament also. They were minor courses, but to me they were very important, and I think to the students they weren’t so important.
BS:Did you have an educational background?
WF:None, so I decided that if I was going to teach Bible I had better do something so I spent three summers at Columbia, or at Union Theological Center studying just so that I would know something. After all when he said,” I need a teacher” ; well I had better do something about it. I went down to Union which I enjoyed very much; it was a fascinating experience.
BS:is Hotchkiss of a particular denomination?
WF:No, no denomination although I would say that it obviously came out of the Congregational background rather than the Episcopalian. Salisbury is the Episcopalian school. Hotchkiss has none; I don’t believe they are going to either. I think the new Headmaster only wants to enlarge the chapel so he can get the whole school in it, and I think he will. He says he will, so we can look forward to that. That’s the teaching part.
I finally had to drop the history part of it when I went into Admissions work because I was just too busy. George Milmine, that’s a name that is well-known in Lakeville, lived on the corner of the lake that was closest to Hotchkiss. His family owned the land up above on the bluff which I think was the
ideal place to settle if you have been a pioneer here. I would have picked this place; this is where I’m going to put my house, and they did. His mother and father were still living when we came. George was 10 years older than I am; he was living in his parents’ house and married to Molly. They built a house right next to it which is a brick house, just north of it there. The old house is gone; I don’t think you can even see where it was today. It was right at the head of the creek, Sucker Brook, which runs down into the lake. It is Sucker Brook where the trout come up and spawn; you can see them up there. It is quite interesting. George Van Santvoord was a real naturalist, and he used to take the kids down there and show them things like that. George (Milmine) was a great help to the town, civic minded, active, intelligent, competent in everything he did. He was the man who measured the lake when it froze over and when the ice went out in the spring. He would record that and it would appear in the Journal. That was his job among others. He was also a very important person on the Finance Committee, and held that position for years. He was a fine person, just great. George took me into the Admissions Office and then turned it over to me so I had the Admissions for about 5 or 6 years. I enjoyed that very much and kept very busy, and the public certainly takes advantage of you in every respect. You learn how to deal with the public because they will call you up and want to see the school in the dark of night simply because they are on the way. “We’re going to see Deerfield tomorrow. We’d like to see you now. It’s 5:30 PM and getting dark, but we’d like to see Hotchkiss.” So they use you and you have to learn how to handle them, a good thing to know.
BS:Approximately how many students did you have at that time?
WF:Well, the old joke, Bob, is when asked the president of the college how many students he had, he said,” One and hundred.” We had 350, counting day students 360 or so. We didn’t increase the number; about 90 graduated each year, and about 110 were in the upper middle class, that’s the 11 grade, 100 in the 10thgrade and 9th grade was small.
BS:Where did most of the students come from? What kind of ethnic background were they?
WF:There was no pattern on the background of Hotchkiss students. The people who came to Hotchkiss over the years were among the upper class if you could put it that way, a dreadful thing to say. These people were wealthy, many of them, and important in business and professions and in the world in general. We turned out some excellent people, but to counter that we increased the scholarships. We worked hard. We had 6 local scholarships which would let a boy come to Hotchkiss for nothing. You would have to earn it; you would have to win it so to speak. It was competitive. That was to help bring us together with the town. They had to live in Lakeville. Also the scholarships tended to leaven the thing, and it was good. When you look at the graduates of Hotchkiss and compare them with other schools, Hotchkiss people are very able, they are capable, they do very well in life, and they had a head start.
BS:I read a biography and was surprised about what happened to some of the people, for instance Fred Vickfield, and Ingersoll, the editor of PM, so I suppose that others who went into the business field might also have reached the top?
WF:Oh, Henry Ford, starting with the Edsel, Henry’s top, old Henry-the original Henry-Edsel’s son, Edsel’s three boys; Henry, Benson and Billy all came to Hotchkiss. Henry and Benson had graduated by’38 I guess just before we arrived. Billy came in around ’39 or ’40, and they all went into the Ford Motor company. Henry was President of it for a long time. Oh yes, there are lots of them that went into businesses that became well-known. I should know more just of hand I can’t of anything.
BS:Can you think of others who went into other fields?
WF:Well, Potter Stuart a Supreme Court Justice was a graduate. Bork who was nominated for the Supreme Court and didn’t make it was a Hotchkiss graduate. There were several well-known physicians, many of them went into that, and of course the law attracted a great many. New York firms were just dotted with Hotchkiss people, people like Bill Mc—-. Jim Linen who was famous for Time-Life was a Hotchkiss graduate. Their graduates had done extremely well. They had a head start in the sense that their fathers before them were well entrenched.
BS:Was Hotchkiss always co-ed?
WF:No, Hotchkiss was all boys from 1893 when they started-their centennial is coming up-all boys until late1970’s, and then the girls came. I can’t remember the exact year. The girls were introduced, and they did it very well. They simply added them; they did not cut out any boys.
BS:They increased the population.
WF:Exactly, increased the population which presented some problems because the chapel won’t hold them all now, the dining room has been changed into a cafeteria. They built a new auditorium which will hold the whole school, but it meant adding facilities that they didn’t have, or expanding facilities that they did have. It had been done successfully.
Hotchkiss School under George Van Santvoord was a very intellectual place. That was his way of approaching life. He ran the school as a school that was disciplined, active, curious, and busy. He himself would take the boys out into the woods-those who were not athletic, a few of them. They would trim and care for the woods around the school, cutting down dead trees, taking them out, planting and moving things. He was always into that. The boys felt he was close to them; they thought he was a real person. That is the kind of person he was. He was on the Yale board; they call them overseers or trustees, and very influential down there. He was a Democrat by political dimension. When he retired, he went up to live in Bennington, Vermont, where he had a home which was an ancestral home. He ran for the legislature, and he was elected for the legislature and eventually for the state senate. He was a linguist so that he appealed to the French section of Bennington by writing his appeals in French, and speaking to them in French. He was easily elected although he hadn’t lived there for some time. The farm was his, and the people there knew him and the background of his family. He was highly praised for his work in the Vermont Legislature where they needed someone like that. The
people who were elected to the legislature up there recognized him immediately as a man whom we can count on and who knows things and one who will lead us in a sense. He received all kinds of compliments when he finally retired. He was a great help to them, as he would be. George Van Santvoord and Hotchkiss School were well-known throughout the country.
When you asked about pattern of people coming there, we had certain areas throughout the United States which once you have drawn a boy or two, if he is successful; he goes back home and starts to build a little group who are interested in Hotchkiss. He gets another family and another and so forth so it built up that way. All over the country we’d have places like that, some stronger than others; we were always anxious to get somebody from areas that normally we didn’t. We didn’t have any people from Montana or Idaho. When I was in the Admissions Office, I made a point of getting a Navaho Indian. I don’t know how successful it was.
BS:How did you do that?
WF:Tony and I drove out to the West and stopped near Gallup, New Mexico; we crossed into Arizona to Window Rock, we stopped at an Episcopal Mission, a man named Father Given. We talked to him about it; Robert Hawkins who was here, he’s retired now, was on the faculty at the time and he had contact with Father Given and other people out there. We began and worked on it and got them to get us a boy. It was a difficult thing because you know from your Indian knowledge, he was tainted the minute he left Window Rock and came here with all these people. They had all kinds of ceremonies to get him back into the proper shape. It was an experiment, and I left Hotchkiss about the time he graduated so I do not know what happened.
BS:So that he did become integrated into the school?
WF:He did. It took a year to do anything, and I was there two years. I had a problem with the faculty too because some faculty understood it and others didn’t like it. Well, here was a fellow in class who couldn’t speak; he could speak a little English but he couldn’t recite. He couldn’t enter in and some of them were just that narrow minded. I had four of his teachers; two of them were great and two of them were punk.
BS:Did it lead to others coming?
WF:That’s what I don’t know. I don’t think so, but I am not sure. I know that the present master would love it. (A similar experiment was done in the 1970’s with African-Americans from Harlem which was not successful either.Ed.) I think they went further afield, Thailand and the Orient for all sorts of things to get diversity.
BS:Would you say, Bill, that there is a Hotchkiss personality? Or is that too diverse?
WF:I don’t know of anything or anyone I would call a Hotchkiss personality. It is diverse and you find exceptions all along the line. Hotchkiss has done a lot for the town, too; although the town naturally feels a little bit hostile. Hotchkiss has tennis courts and they let people play or else they rented them. Then the question was why does the town have to pay taxes on their tennis courts and you don’t have to pay them on yours, and you can still make money on them? Hotchkiss does it now by letting all the town youngsters skate in that hockey rink. During Christmas vacation it is the busiest place you ever saw. Every little child who has a pair of skates is up there skating on some team: Peewee Squirts, or that ever you want to call them. It is a nice thing to do. They have been very good in that way; they give a lot of employment to the town too.
BS:Hotchkiss had an active program to develop good relations with the town.
Bs;Was there much of an involvement in faculty in Town Hall meetings and things like that?
WF:Some, yes indeed and I am sure the faculty did some things like a book report or a lecture or something like that. Yes, but it wasn’t as large as we wanted.
BS:I recall when we first came here that movies were shown there. Were there any other such activities for the adults at Hotchkiss?
WF:Well, there were certain activities such as music or lectures and the school theatricals that the town people were invited to. It wasn’t until they got this nice new auditorium that they could hold a large number of people. If you could have seen the old auditorium you would know why they did not invite many people because it could not hold very many people. It was too small, the stage was dreadful and no place to dress for the actors. It was awful.
BS:Was there any interplay with Housatonic?
WF:Housatonic Valley Regional High School started, the first regional high school in the country, I think, certainly in New England started about 1937-38 somewhere about there. (1939 Ed.) We did compete with them when the war was on because they were fine competition, but normally we didn’t after the war because we had enough outside. They didn’t particularly want it; they used us as we used them when we were close together. It was good competition. It is hard sometimes to play the local high school; you can get yourself into quite a broil if you are not careful.
BS:Was there any interchange in term of faculty?
WF: No, not that I know of. I don’t recall any at that time; they were just beginning. I think they felt here’s Hotchkiss established as a private school and that line between the private and the public was sharp. They didn’t want to bring it together. In time of course it has, Hotchkiss teachers have taught
there in summer school and things like that. There will always be a feeling between the boarding school, the privileged and those who aren’t. You can’t escape it; there it is. It will pop up somewhere along the line, and then if you get into athletics and have any kind of a brouhaha, it gets to be nasty.
BS:When you were teaching, what were the earnings like and what were the satisfactions and liabilities?
WF:Teaching at Hotchkiss was all positive; your classes were small, you had no problem with discipline; you could teach all the time.
BS:What was the size of a class?
WF:My history classes ran 12, 13, 14, perfect! I consider anything below 10 not a class; it is almost a big tutoring group. You need an interchange and interplay among the students to keep the thing going. If it is too small, you won’t get that. In my Bible classes I got up into the 20’s, maybe 22 because of scheduling. It was a minor course and people looked upon it as a minor course. (Audio stopped on tape.)
Side B (Again audio dropped out for a portion of tape.)
WF:…supervise and then you would go to Chapel at 8:00 or perhaps 8:05, a ten minute chapel which was done by faculty. The Headmaster read a prayer, then a faculty member read from the Bible, a selection which had been set up for him, that was followed by going to class at 8:30, from 8:30 until 1:00 classes, there was no break in the middle. There was no milk and crackers for the students; they went right through. Everybody went until 1:00 actually until 1:10 until lunch was served. It was a long time they used to say between breakfast and lunch. After lunch there was a period of one hour before the athletics could begin; people did various things-study, socialize or whatever. The next period went from approximately 2:15 to 4:30. You finished up so that you could get the boys back to study hall which came at 5:30. Study hall lasted one hour before supper at 6:30. After supper there was another study hall which was supervised by the faculty in rotation you got it once or twice a month or something like that. You supervised study for 2 hours there was a break in the middle. That lasted roughly from 7:30 to 9:30. Then the student had a half hour off, the younger ones were in bed earlier than the older group. Seniors didn’t have to go to study hall; it was mostly for the younger students, fresh, and lower mids and upper mids, not too many upper mids, but those who needed it went to study hall. We had a very fascinating pair of twins, Dick and Guy Hughes who came from St. Louis. When one of them was in study hall, you were never sure which one it was. They took turns. They had the laugh on us because it was hard to tell them apart. They were very nice kids. One of them Dick is now teaching at Hotchkiss. Guy I think teaches at Milton Academy. There’s the day. Many masters lived in the dormitory and had dormitory supervision starting right after supper and running through until bedtime. That would mean depending on their age anywhere from 10 to 11.
BS:What determined whether a master had dormitory service?
WF:In those days it was where you lived. When you were hired, you were told if you lived in the dormitory, you would have dormitory supervision. Presumably you had one night a week off; I think it was left up to you to arrange to have a substitute if you weren’t there. Therefore you could have more than one night a week, if you could get a substitute. Seems to me it worked out very well. There were no particular problems; you were expected to do dormitory duty and you did. Today they don’t like dormitory duty; faculty when they are brought on, rebel a little bit and it presented a problem to get people to live in the dormitories.
BS:What if you were married?
WF:They had a set of dormitories; most of them had accommodations for married people. When we moved in, we had an apartment in Coy Hall which had a kitchen, dining room, living room, 2 bedrooms and a study. The study opened up on the dormitory corridor; otherwise you were private and it was a very pleasant place.
BS:You arrived there in 1938, what kind of salary did you get at that time?
WF:Salary was $3,500 dollars.
BS:How did that compare with public school or schools across the country?
WF:The salaries I know were comparable to the private schools, and the public schools in those days were lower. That was the impression I got. Remember the salary included the dormitory living and food for me and my wife. So the $3,500 was really more; it was very good. We often think back and hamburg cost maybe 16 cents a pound. We were alright.
BS:What if children came along?
WF:That was a problem. We had the 2 bedrooms; we had 2 children. Steven was born while we were living in the dormitory; Nancy came along after we had moved. We moved to a house; Mr. Van Santvoord had specified that the house which had been built for Mr. Monahan as the Physical Director would go to his successor. Tony and I were unable to furnish it; we couldn’t possibly live in a house so we went into the dormitory for 2 years. Then we moved into the house and lived there from 1940 to 1961, the brick house up on the corner at the Jct. of 112 and 41, a very nice house, very pleasant.
BS:Could you tell me any outstanding experiences for you over your whole period?
WF:There is considerable satisfaction in watching the school grow. I got a great deal of satisfaction out of coaching which I did at the beginning, and found it very interesting. I loved it. We had a great rivalry with the Hill School, but it died because of the war and the travel. We couldn’t keep it up, but we played them 3 years before the war. We had 2 ties and one defeat in football; it was quite exciting and rewarding. Coaching to me at that point was as rewarding as anything as teaching grew later on. Then there was a real feeling of accomplishment with Admissions work. I went into the Admissions work in
the mid 1950’s, and found it very satisfying because I was meeting with people which I liked to do. I enjoyed talking to the candidates and interviewing them. Now I don’t know what I can think of as negative, or disappointing. I suppose there were some, but nothing stands out in my mind. It was all very pleasant. I enjoyed it and I think my family did.
BS:What changes have taken place at Hotchkiss?
WF:Hotchkiss has changed considerably from Mr. Van Santvoord. He ran a very tight ship and had a very intellectual faculty. He was an intellectual himself, and he expected you to do things as he did. If some teacher happened to be sick, he would step in to the class and teach it, probably everything except Russian, or some strange language, but he could do math, science, English, history, anything. That’s the kind of thing of person he was, and he expected you to be up on all the things possible.
When he left, Mr. Chapel came who was an entirely different person. He didn’t take the job as seriously as he should have. Being casual he lost touch with it, and eventually the board removed him. It took them 5 years to do it, and they should have done it sooner. I was in Admissions work then. Mail would come to him which should have been turned over to me, requesting material on Admissions and I wouldn’t get it sometimes for a month. It just wasn’t done; I had to go to his secretary, but she couldn’t do much about it. That is telling tales out of school, but that’s where the school just dropped.
Following Mr. Chapel, Bill Olsen took over; he was an administrator and hard worker. He went right to work and tightened things up. He was there for about 20 years. He did a good job. He was succeeded by a man named Callard, for 2 years.
Mr. Callard arrived and announced that he would not be in his office on Saturday. This was an inheritance from the day school; he came from a day school and he thought Saturday was an off day. Saturday for a boarding school is busy as can be; busier than the other days in the sense that there all kinds of activities, teams going away, teams coming, parents coming. So the fact that he wasn’t going to be there kind of upset things. I think he had to be there; he learned that after a bit. But he never really fit into the picture of what school life is like. School life takes up every bit of your time, every minute night and day. The Headmaster gets telephone calls late at night; he gets all the parents who have to know something about their child. He had those problems plus all the problems of operating a school, kids, and faculty and so on. He really didn’t fit into that.
Mr. Callard was succeeded by an interim who was Mr. Arthur White who was then elected as Headmaster, and was there just about 5 years. Arthur was just really what they needed; he broke down the staid qualities of Hotchkiss to a great degree. Arthur was just Arthur. He came from Maine, and he didn’t change to become a formal Headmaster. He was his own headmaster which was great. I think he improved relations with the town and he endeared the faculty because he was interested in people and did things for people. He was a very warm person. He changed things quite a bit.
Now we have Mr. O’Dene who has just been there a year, and I think he is a perfect person to do the job. He is very intellectual, hard worker, friendly, humorous; all the things you would like. I am sure he will do a very good job, and he says that he wants to stay here, and he probably will. I am glad they got him. They made an effort to get a person who was an intellectual. This is not to denigrate Arthur White; Arthur would tell you he is not an intellectual, in the sense that O’Dene is or that Van Santvoord was. Arthur is a perfectly good teacher, but he just wasn’t the type. Now O’Dene is the kind of person who can name the kind of bugs that are crawling across the water when he is fly fishing. Van Santvoord could do that too; he visited me once in New Hampshire and we went on a walk, and he gave me a lesson on ferns, some of which I have never forgotten. We went along and he named the ferns, and would tell you all about it; it was marvelous. He was very good. The faculty once upon a time way back decided they would try to stump him, and they picked out something that was very difficult, flowers or something. Well, anyway whatever the subject was, when they asked him about it, according to the story, he said, ”Well I am a little rusty since I wrote the article for the Encyclopedia Britannica, but I’ll try to do what I can with it.” That is probably an apocryphal story, but it is a good one.
BS:How much input did the faculty have in the policy decision making?
WF:Oh I forgot to tell you about faculty life in a day. Faculty meetings occurred Monday nights.
BS: Weekly meetings?
WF:Weekly meetings and the faculty had a committee known as the dormitory committee which included the people who lived in the dormitory because there were others who lived outside and not in the dormitory. We had some houses around as they do now. The dormitory committee handles discipline; discipline was handled by reports that came in from faculty members to the dormitory committee. Some boy had thrown a record down a stairwell, a snowball through the window and all that sort of thing. Following the dormitory committee which lasted anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour, the faculty would convene, usually held over in the Headmaster’s house down in the room off the dining room. It has changed a little bit now. In that study there was a large plate glass window that looked right out towards the lake. The faculty meeting would go on and Mr. Van Santvoord ran the faculty meeting, but there was no question that the faculty had a great deal of input. People were called upon and he was willing and listened to what came. When he got stuck, when things didn’t go exactly the way he wanted them to, the faculty meeting went on and on and on until things worked around and all seemed came to his point of view. We stayed sometimes until midnight. Then on faculty meetings we had every marking period, and there were 2 or 3 marking periods a semester, we were on semesters at that time, two a year, and three marking periods each. At the end of each marking period you had a meeting of all the teachers of that class, and then they went over every boy. It was covered completely, and then the report went home, whatever it was. So you had to report because you were an advisor; each faculty member was an advisor for a certain number of boys. That was his job to make sure that he got all those reports together and got them to the Head. At the meeting it was turned
over. The advisor reported and said, “I’ve got this report from Mr. Soandso this boy is not doing his homework” There was a very thorough analysis of each youngster. I was amazed because I had been in a prep school where they didn’t do that.
BS:I note that now there are Asian students, black students. When did that occur?
WF:We got the first black student in 1952; he came from Washington, D.C. His father I think worked in the Postal System- George something or other. He was a good boy and he was very thoroughly researched before so we had no problems. From then on we began to get more, slowly, it grew. I don’t know how many they have now, but they obviously are making an effort to be international. We didn’t make that much of an effort in those days.
BS:Did it bring any negative problems or did it result in positive relationships?
WF:I don’t think there were any negative problems at all; positive relationships it is hard to say. I know I found later when I went down to Mercersburg and had to integrate the Academy, the blacks after a bit, tended to stay together. We had maybe 15 out of 500 and some students. They tended to stay together. We would try to room them all over the place, and room them with white students as well. They tended to come together. I don’t know whether that happened at Hotchkiss or not. They had some black boys and girls who were very nice kids. I have talked to them and met them and watched them in their athletics. I think they are fine. I suppose there are some very good positive answers there. What happened to the first one, I think he is a doctor now, I am sure he came out of it with a tremendous education and an opportunity and potential for the future.
BS:Were faculty integrated at any point? I know there are some Indians in the stage department. I also met one of the Admissions people who is black.
WF:Now the faculty is integrated, but not in that day. I don’t think we had any blacks. I had to do that at Mercersburg, I got a black; the faculty wanted it they told me. It would have come along naturally as time went by. I suppose Olsen did it; I don’t know. What else do you want to know about the school?
BS:Another area is the relationship with the community which you did in terms of sports so tell me about the people involved. Also what the town was like when you first came.
WF:The town was a good example of a small New England town, but one that was, and still is, very civic minded. This town had good people in it who wanted to do things for others. I think it is an unusual town in that way.
Once upon a time the railroad came through here, I don’t know just when it went out, but it was the railroad from Hartford to Millerton. It joined up with the Harlem Valley in Millerton, so you could either go north or south, north up to Pittsfield, or south to New York. There was also in Canaan a
crossroad because the New Haven Railroad came from Pittsfield down the Housatonic to Danbury and New Haven into New York. The Harlem Valley came a little west and down into New York. It seemed a bit unusual to have two paralleling each other so close but there they were. The train that came through Lakeville came from Hartford and I think it was called the Connecticut Central or something. That was gone when we arrived and I don’t know how long it had been gone, but the old station is still there; it is now the Public Health Nursing. There was a viaduct (trestle Ed.) over the road route 41 a big metal viaduct across there and the embankment is on the other side. It is still there, you can see it, and it goes behind the Community Service building, the Community Service door yard. That went right across to Salisbury and then swung over into Canaan and up across Twin Lakes.
BS:You say that viaduct was on 41?
BS:Not in Lakeville?
WF:Right in Lakeville, where 41 comes into 44.
BS:Where it turns off of 44.WF:You know where the station is? The station is this way and it went across.
BS:By where the fire station (old- Ed.) is?
WF:Sort of, it is a little bit south of the fire station, just a yard or 2 or 3 and it went right across there, and you know where the baseball field is? Well, the baseball field has a big embankment out there; that’s the railroad right of way. It went right across there. It was still there, but I don’t know just when it was taken down. Obviously it was taken down and made the town more beautiful. The railroad played a big part. People tell me they used to go to Millerton on the train.
The town was quite different in the sense than you find it today because 41 and 44 came together where they do now, but there was no way of handling the traffic. The road came directly down from Millerton and 41 came in to it and just at that junction on the far side, on the east side stood Dufour’s garage, run by Lee Dufour and his brother Les and the other brother Ray. This was sort of the center of many things in the town. You could get almost anything at Dufour’s, and it was a very friendly attitude and rather casual. I remember I bought some tires there for my car and the bill came twice. I said something to Lee. I said something to Lee, “I paid this.”, “Oh,” he said, “Ma, Mrs. Dufour, his mother, was running the books. Ma made a mistake, just cross it off. Don’t let it bother you.”
BS:Like in the old West where a handshake was enough.
WF:That was all you needed. Just your word and that was it. That garage was really a center in many ways because they would get you taxi rides and whatnot, although there were other taxis and other drivers in town. This was the important one. Just below Dufour’s going south on Rt.41, now it is a
gas station (Patco Ed.) in that area, there were stores. There was a store run by Mr. Barnett who was the local Selectman. He was Selectman probably even longer than Charlotte (Reid Ed.). He had a long and very happy administration. He was liked by both parties, there was no trouble and Bill was just a good man to run it, and he did. There was his store, sort of a general store, and next was the liquor store, and then I think there was a gas station a little farther down, pretty much where Farnam road goes off and Rt.41 goes up the hill.
The people in town were a fascinating group, as good and normal a spread of people as you could find. Bill Raynsford was one of the local builders; his arms were so big he had to cut the sleeves in his shirt in order to get it on. Bill was a character. There was a man who might be called retarded or a half-wit as they used to call them; his name was Hen Day. I think he drank; well now and again a little article would come in the Lakeville Journal that hen Day had seen. These were fascinating and sort of humorous things. A man named Leverty, the boys called him Dr. Leverty, ran a drugstore up just beyond the insurance (Founders Ed.) building which was a bank (Salisbury Bank & Trust Ed.). It was THE bank in those days. Across the street was the Leverty’s Drugstore (in the Holley Block Ed.) where the students always went. He kept magazines around which were covered in chocolate and ice cream and everything the boys spilled on them. He was kind of a gruff old fellow and chewed tobacco. He ran a pretty good drugstore although it began to slow down as he got older. The Whalen family was four brothers Brick, Turk, Buck and Babe; they were very athletic and played on the town teams and were a very lively bunch. The family was one who had been here for some time. One of the doctors in town was old Dr. Peterson. He was just known as Doc Pete. Everybody went to Doc Pete, and he took care of everything; a family doctor of the old tradition; everything it didn’t matter what.
BS:What was his last name?
WF:Peterson, they called him Doc Pete. He was a very friendly nice fellow. There was a dentist Dr. Barr was on the basketball team. I remember doc and I played together. He was a very pleasant fellow and he was the dentist who had his office above the bank.
A very interesting character in town was Hop Rudd. I think I mentioned him before. Hop was just Hop; nothing else, no pretence, no gile and he wrote a column in the paper called “Memory Lane”. He was very popular and well-known in town. He was also a baseball player.
Tom Wagner who was the leading lawyer, although there were lots of lawyers and always have been for some reason or other in Lakeville. Tom was a little different in many ways. I think he suffered from depression; I know he did as a matter of fact, but he was a man who did a great deal of good, most of it without anybody knowing it. He helped people all through the town; he did lots of good things in that way with people who were in trouble. He gave them legal advice for nothing; he was just that kind of a person. He would never admit it. Tom was a very good friend of mine; he lived over where Rt. 41 intersects with Indian Mountain Road on the lake side and down there he had a cabin with a big fireplace. He used to give a party there every year when the fishing season opened. His party started Friday night and went on until Sunday afternoon. I mean that, it never stopped. I went to it but I lived
up at Hotchkiss so I didn’t stay overnight. You could stay down in that cabin of his. It was fascinating and great fun. It had a diverse group who came, all of them fishermen, mainly. There was a good deal of drinking; a good deal of boisterous fun, and it just went on and on. Fran, Tom’s wife, never came down; she stayed up at the house. She was smart enough not to come down there. I wondered how some of them got home, but they managed to. There was never an accident that I know of, and everyone had a good time and it brought everybody together. Tom was sorely missed when he died and that stopped.
The barbers in town were Paul Argall and Chet Thurston. Paul Argall cut the hair of Hotchkiss students. He had a little room in the basement of one of the dorms; no overhead, no problems. He’d do about 5 or 6 an hour and had the ideal situation. The boys signed up and he took them in order; for a barber you couldn’t beat it. Chet was quite different. He was a big man heavy man; he had his barbershop on Rt. 41 toward, beyond Leverty’s .
I would say the George Milmine, George Van Santvoord and Em Quaile, two of the Headmasters of Hotchkiss and Salisbury; George Milmine was the Assistant Head at Hotchkiss at that time. George helped the town in the financial area and was a definite Republican. George Van Santvoord was a Democrat and helped the Democratic Party, and was active in it here. I don’t know what Em Quaile was, but my guess is that he was a Republican. He was a Yale graduate, a very pleasant fellow and an able Headmaster who died tragically about the time of the war from an embolism resulting from an operation on his elbow. He was a tennis player and he had tennis elbow and he wanted to get it fixed. He died of this block.
BS:Now was Mr. Quaile from Salisbury?
WF:Yeah, from Salisbury School.
There was an interesting character named Kent Fulton who lived here, very wealthy. He built a golf course out of the mountainside in Salisbury north of Salisbury about a mile on Rt. 41. (#172-176 Undermountain Road Ed.) It was called Hob Nob Hill, 18 holes a beautiful golf course, just carved out of the mountainside and the woods. You played on it by invitation. He would say,” I am coming down to Hotchkiss” as the athletic man, he would invite us to play. We didn’t play very much because we weren’t golfers, but we did go over. You had to play at least once or you wouldn’t be invited back. This was a fascinating course and quite well-known. At the end of the war and at his death it was sold off; you can see the traces of if you look on the left hand side of the road about a mile north. You can see the caddy house, and the golf house and his house was further up. The golf course went around it and up into the mountainside, a most unusual thing. There are other people. I told you about Mrs. Hall-Newkirk.
BS:We didn’t get that on tape, though.
WF:Mrs. Hall’s husband taught at Hotchkiss, known as “Peanuts Hall”. He taught American History. He was Charlotte Reid’s father. He died before we got here. Mrs. Hall was then living on the house on Elm Street, the big house. She was quite ill one winter with pneumonia or something. Mr. Newkirk, the local funeral director, thought it would be a very lucrative funeral if she died and so he decided not to go to Florida that winter. It looked as if she might die so he stayed home. She recovered nicely, and being a good person, she enjoyed the whole thing very much because she felt that she had fooled Mr. Newkirk by living on. I don’t know how much longer she lived afterwards, but she did for quite a while.
There was a shoe man down where there is a little boutique shop there just where 44 and 41 come together. His name was Danny LaFredo. Everybody knew Danny; I’m sure you have heard of him. Danny was a good friend of mine; I often went into his shop when I had an office in Lakeville. I would stop in, “Buon giorno” we’d go through a little Italian, and I didn’t know anything, just a word or two. He was a little fellow and the nicest, friendliest fellow and he had his machine in back of the counter. He would step on something and the wheels would begin to turn; he would have it all set up. He was just a lovely person; really everybody liked Danny. You couldn’t help it.
BS:he was a skilled craftsman.
WF:Yes, he was. He was definitely a skilled craftsman.
Across the street was a place called the Jigger Shop (corner of Rt. 41 and Ethan Allen St. now the Black Rabbit Ed.). That was just below the viaduct on the street that goes up past the market now and the Brothers’ pizza place (now Mizza’s Ed.). It was a shop right on the corner; I think it was where the Laundromat was. The Hotchkiss students went in to eat and enjoy themselves.
As I mentioned before the configuration of the roads –they came together in a V (41 & 44), now you have an entirely different situation. I mean this road coming down from Millerton you went right into Dufour’s if you kept on going and didn’t make the turn. Now they have it so it is cut this way and this road cuts down into a… (He is drawing a map to show bob where things are located.)
BS:It goes by that community store…
WF:This road comes down and there is a cut here, and you come here, this road comes and you can go this way or you can come this way and there is a blinker light. It is very complicated and we always thought that the person who laid it out thought it was flat. It would be fine for a flat place instead of the hill.
BS:You say there was a blinker light?
WF:No there was nothing; there is now. There is a blinker light and it is new I think. It is red one way so it stops you. For instance if you are coming down here, the blink stops you; there is a stop sign too, but I think there is a blinker there now. Anyhow it is a stop street, but it changed the whole thing
and everybody fussed about it. Now everyone’s used to it and there’s no problem. That was the argument that it should have been on a flat surface instead of a hillside. It makes it difficult to turn here and go up this hill. I know there is a blinker there to keep you from going across the right of way. It is one way.
The post office is about where it was on Porter Street. There was a clique up there that came across, I’ve forgotten the name. Warner lived up there. The bank was on this corner in those days (Founders’ Insurance Ed.). Leverty’s and this is the Factory Pond. There was an inn up here called the Gateway Inn. It is gone long since, but we went there for a banquet the first year for the pitcher on the baseball team, Brick Whalen, who won 14 games and lost one. One of the old timers in town told me that when he was a kid they used to go up to the Gateway and all were dirt roads. They would get their skis and ski down from the Gateway all the way across to the Factory Pond and have a whale of a time. I guess they may even have used toboggans, but it was a good hill and this was a place to gather. I understand from what he told me, I know he drank a good deal; he was Danny Ashman and his own worst enemy. He was the one who told me about how much fun they had up there, but some of it may have been a spree.
They also used to take ice out of the lake. Hotchkiss had an ice house. The man who was in charge of the grounds at Hotchkiss was named john Cardoza. He was about as rugged an individual as I have ever known. It is said that he climbed to the top of the Hotchkiss flagpole in order to put the rope up through the pulley; no one else would go up there I am sure. He must have been in his 50’s when he did it, an incredible man. He had one finger that was short one section because he had done the ice, and two chunks of ice down there had come together when he was getting them out of the lake. John ran his crew with an iron hand. George Van Santvoord, the Headmaster, trusted John completely; they were two very strong characters and personalities. I don’t know if they would have gotten along if he hadn’t done this, and John admired and respected “the duke” and so they worked it out.
WF:Oh yes, George Van Santvoord was called “the duke”. There is a story about the Duke of Wellington and the battle of Waterloo. Apparently Wellington came riding up at a crucial time when the French were really pounding his lines, and someone in the British line said,” Stand front, here comes the Duke.” So I have used that and I did it once when he was with me and I am so glad. That is exactly the way with George Van Santvoord. You stood front when George Van Santvoord was with you. He made you be your best. His presence did that.
William Fowle: Part C.(Question at beginning of tape not recorded.) 20.
WF:I think he owned the building at that time in 1978. Rodney Aller, as a lawyer, had an office in it, and I did. Part of it was unfinished; then as time went along, Rodney moved out and Shipman & Goodwin, the law firm, I think Frank Dooley, his firm moved in eventually associated with Shipman & Goodwin.(I think the building is on Porter Street where the town garage once stood. Shipman & Goodwin is still located there Ed.) Yes, I enjoyed that very much for about 6 years. I used to come down from Town Hill; occasionally I’d walk all the way in, it’s about 3 miles. Most of the way tony would drive me part way and I would walk the rest of the way, but it was fun to be in town and see the people. I enjoyed the people in the post office, almost always the same people at the same time.
I had a very good Labrador retriever named Jubal; he was a brown dog.
WF:Yes, it is a Biblical name, although he was named after Gen. Jubal A. Early of the Confederacy. He was pretty well known around town because he, you are supposed to have leashes, but he was too good to put on a leash. He was just perfect. He used to sit on the doorstep of the post office when I was in, and wait for me. Now and again I would get a telephone call about he’d gone into somebody’s yard, and something had happened. He was part of it.
We enjoyed the years there very much. I liked that. I wish I had an office in town all the time, but obviously I don’t. I couldn’t afford it and there is no reason to now. Yes, so I had that office right behind the post office.
BS:Let’s take a look at your interest in the Civil War.
WF:Well my interest in the Civil War started when I went to Hotchkiss. I read the biography of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, known as Stonewall, by a British author named Henderson. This was a very appealing, exciting biography. It moved me so that I said I’d like to go down and see where he operated, just for fun. I’d read about these places, the Valley campaign. My wife had a roommate or a classmate who lived in Richmond. It made an opportunity to go down and visit her friend and vacation. That gave me a chance to go over to the battlefields to start, particularly around Richmond, and then on the way back we came up through the valley. Down around Richmond the Southern phase took place in June or July 1862. There were no government parks then; some places were marked, but this would be in 1939. I was able to wander through the fields, and I found my first bullet down at Cold Harbor. Then I got into patches of farmers’ tomatoes, corn and things. You found bullets all over the place; it was just great. So I got excited about that. I read some more, and it began to blossom. I decided that I had better have a look at some of the other battlefields, so I went to Gettysburg. I went as far away as Shiloh. My father wanted to go down and see a covered bridge somewhere down near Bardstown, Kentucky. So I said, “I’ll drive you down, and we’ll go over to Shiloh from there. You’ll see your bridge and I’ll see the battlefield.” We did and had a wonderful time. The battlefields in Virginia and in the east were pretty
accessible, and I went all the way down to Florida, as far down as Olustee where some of the Connecticut regiments fought. That was in northern Florida, a campaign where they decided to go from Jacksonville across the top of the peninsula over toward the capitol. They were driven out by the confederates. The Connecticut regiment was supposed to have broken and run, disgracefully. The fun came in being able to find artifacts- shells, bullets of all kinds. I’ve got a piece of a soldier’s pipe, clay pipe. It is on my desk; it came from Shiloh. I went out during the war; I was stationed in Washington for several months, and I couldn’t get a place for my family to live. They were living in Williamstown at that time. Every Sunday I would go out and stand beside the road which went out to Bull Run and the Manassas Junction. There was no trick at all to get a ride because all military people got a ride without even raising your thumb. I’d get a ride out and a ride back. I would spend the day out there; I think I must have had 3-4 hundred bullets from Bull Run.
BS:You found some artifacts in this area from the Indians, right?
WF:Yes, I also found some artifacts in this area where the foundry was, and where they built the cannon.
BS:That was where the Lakeville Journal office was at one time?
WF:No, the foundry I am talking about is over on the Housatonic. (Ames iron Works Ed.) There he built this large coastal gun really. It was 7 inch diameter, the shell, and it was purchased for a $1 a pound, and each one weighed 19,000 pounds. This man set it up, and then the war stopped. The government said, “We’re sorry but all the orders are cancelled.” He was busted because he had put his money into getting this ready. There are some pictures of him, very old pictures, standing beside his gun.
BS:Was this during the Civil War?
WF:Yes, very definitely during the Civil War. They said that he had a proving ground so I fussed around. This would have been in 1940-41. I fussed around to find out where the proving ground was because that where he fired into the hillside. The story was that they did fire into the hillside and occasionally something bounced over. Now that would mean that something would come into Salisbury because it was just on the other side. It is just on the River Road on the west bank.
BS:Oh is that Dugway Road that goes by Trinity Church and up that way along the river?
WF:Yes, but you go beyond the church and along the river to where they cross the river and then you swing left and go up.
BS:Oh where the dam is?
WF:Yes, where the dam is.
BS:Well they just rebuilt that road. I forgot the name of it. (Housatonic River Rd. Ed.)
WF:You can see where the old foundry was; you can see the places.
BS:I’ll have to take a look at that.
WF:I rustled around and found what I thought was the proving ground north of this area about a few hundred yards. It was a very flat place, leveled off and still clear, and it went across into the mountainside. So I went over there and found lying pieces of lead and iron. I pieced together a shell, the base of a shell. These obviously were not exploding in the sense that you were trying to blow up a building; they were just firing it to see how often it would fire before it burst, or it got too hot to use. How many times could you fire it? I pieced this together, and it was about 6-7 inches. I had a box full of this. Mr. Van Sandvoort came over with me. He was that kind of a person; when I told him about this, his ears pricked right up and over he came, and his wife too. We had a fine time. I can see him taking off his coat and putting all these pieces of shell in it and carrying it. The rather romantic conclusion is that we…When I took this metal, when we got into the war in 1941, I turned it into the scrap collection, so it was completely recycled from the Civil War right to World War II, skipping World War I. I think there was an article in the Journal about it. When I came back here after being at Mercersburg, somebody came from the Journal and we had a long talk about it, and I think there was an article about it.
BS:Let’s try to identify the site.
WF:You know Sugar Hill Road? Well, you go the road (to the right) that goes by the river and you keep going past some old stone foundations which were the foundations of the foundry where they had the machinery. You go up maybe a quarter of a mile, not very far, on the left you’ll see a hillside that is now a little bit overgrown at the bottom, but it has still been cut and mowed. I’ll take you there if you want to go.
BS:Let’s start from 112; take a left turn going past Trinity Church on Dugway Road, past Brinton Hill.
BS:Is it before you get to the dam or is it, or do you still continue going?
WF:You still continue going.
BS:When you get to the bridge that goes toward Falls Village, you go left.
BS:Then you go along the river road there.
WF:You go left and the road jags left and then go up the river. You go up the river. You go along there and the road will go this way and then it will make a swing to the left, not a very sharp one. Right on that corner was where the, it’s gone now. You can’t see it; trees have grown up. That flat place that I
found is all gone. Trees are in it, and on top of that, across into where they fired, that area has all grown up. I took Carol Wagner’s metal detector and I borrowed that and I couldn’t find anything now. I am sure there is stuff in there, but I can’t find anything. What I am most interested in now is trying to find out where the proving ground was in Sharon for the Hotchkiss gun. I have made inquiries, but no body knows. It isn’t in their historical material.
BS: Are you acquainted with the history of the furnace in Lime Rock, presumably being used for the building of the Monitor?
WF:I really don’t know. No, I am not acquainted with it; I know about the furnace over there. I didn’t know that they made some of the plates for the Monitor?
BS:So I have been told in interviews, but I have not established that.
WF:Over here in our foundry they made cannon balls and links for the chain. There is an interesting book out called “Chaining the Hudson”. You might enjoy reading it. I’ve got it and I’ll lend it to you.
BS:Oh good, I’d like that.
WF:It is quite a thing. I didn’t realize but they describe it rather well. They describe the Hudson as a fjord. If you go over there and see the fjords, you realize what it is like. There is no falls, no drop; the Hudson goes right up all the way beyond Albany up to Saratoga and all the way to Lake George. You can sail up there; so the British had an idea and it wasn’t a bad one. They, with their control of the water, the idea (of the American rebels) was to put a chain across and they did a lot of funny things. They put in sort of a bathos surround, and they sunk things here and there, and none of them really worked, although the chain itself was good enough. The point was that that was at West Point. They lost the original, or misplaced it, and they had some copies. There are some false links around and it is pretty difficult to, according to the book, they’ve got it pinned down now, but for a while it was rather difficult to find an original link and the real thing. So you know people say, ”Look, I’ve got it here, and I’ll sell you this one.” This is a typical antique dealer idea. It’s a good book; you’d like it.
BS:Yes, I would.
WF:Now the Civil War, that’s the background there. I found that the fun was to be able to pick up the stuff and come home and to be on the exact position where you read about Hazel Grove and the Battle of Chancellorsville. What an important position it was and how the north gave it up, and the Confederates took it over. You can see where the enfilading fire went through to the main road. It is a fascinating thing to do. I really enjoyed it.
At Bull Run, during the war, I got out there, and I got to know the man who ran the government museum there. The government owns much of the land; the farmers farm it but only at the pleasure of the government. I didn’t want to get caught because they arrest you for trespass if you are some of these. So I got to know Major Hanson; we got to be fast friends, and I made a deal with him. If I found
anything unusual, I would give it to him for his museum, but if I found the ordinary bullets of which he had hundreds and thousands, then I’d keep it. So we had a fine working arrangement.
There were families along the roads that I got to know. It was a very pleasant experience to go out, and they were so kind, they would invite me for Sunday lunch. The flies would come in the window from the manure pile and land on my tomatoes. I can see it now. They had little children who were fascinating. I remember two little boys who had a football; they were absolutely flabbergasted when I took the football and kicked it over the barn which wasn’t much of a feat. For them it was just out of this world so I was their friend forever after. They would do anything; they would get bullets for me, and all the rest of it. I liked to find them myself. They let me go through all their fields; that was the first thing I wanted to make sure. The outhouse at one of the places had a nice little half-moon in the door the way they do in all the cartoons. I remember sitting there one day and the man, I think his name was Caldwell, he had been drinking and these people often did; they made their own stuff. They got a little applejack and a slug of it here. Somebody came over and they got into an argument; I was afraid to come out. They got into a honey of an argument. They were going to have all kinds of a fight about it; anyway that was the way life was. “Now” he said, “I want to show you the Jackson Monument.” That’s from the 2nd Bull Run, and it is up on the railroad cut which is the furthest one northwest on the battlefield. So we started off through the woods. It is so overgrown now that you can’t really tell much about the terrain. We went along looking for it; I can see the ticks falling off the tree on him and crawling up the back of his neck. I kept thinking to myself that they didn’t know in those days about the mountain disease, but they were still pretty bad news. I kept thinking that if the ticks took a drink out of his blood, they would just roll over and die. He was loaded with alcohol, and I had a feeling that they wouldn’t like it. They were nice, kindly people. He said that when he was a kid they used to rake up the bullets in his front yard just like acorns. That sort of thing is what makes the Civil War interesting. I stopped at a place down on the 7 Days down near Glendale, and a farmer near Malvern Hill 2. I said to this farmer I remember I said, “Do you find any bullets?” “Oh yes, I find bullets; I use them for sinkers on my fishing line.” To me it was a treasure, and to him it was just a commonplace thing.
BS:How old now is David Ward’s Civil War Round table? Do you know?
WF:Oh a little over a year.
BS:Oh it is just recent.
WF:Just recent. Maybe 2 years. It is very recent. Do you want to come; you were there once.
BS:Oh no I have been there; I missed the last 2 times. I missed the dinner too. We had some friends up and I missed the time before that. No I have been there otherwise.
WF:That’s good because I think he does a very good job. I am sorry to miss this winter. I’m going away, and he’s got somebody good, Robertson, or somebody.
BS:Oh he’s had wonderful people.
WF:He’s extremely good. That’s the Civil War and what clicked with me after the war was the metal detector. I can see the man now, it was at Antietam, and I was walking along. He looked down his nose at me with his metal detector in hand and said, “You’re a surface hunter.” I said, “Yeah,” That’s too bad because they just ran me out. At Mercersburg I would take off and go down to Antietam or down to where Lee crossed the Potomac at Williamsport. They had quite a fight there first. I had a field where I picked up stuff almost every time. It was a good cornfield, and I knew it was good. One day I went down there and there were all these little holes. This guy with his metal detector had taken his little shovel and scooped it out, sifted it, and gotten his bullet. That was the end of me. I haven’t followed it so much lately, and I haven’t found anything for years because I haven’t been able to get down, and I know that I am defeated if I do.
BS:About three years ago I read a book about Shay’s Rebellion at Hotchkiss.
WF:Oh yes, there’s a monument. Have you seen it?
BS:The one near Gt. Barrington?
BS: Yes, now I interviewed a woman (Lois Sherwood Paine Ed.), but her husband is presumably a descendant of Tom Paine. I don’t know if that is true or not. Apparently there was some involvement from this community. I wondered did you run across any information.
WF:Never ran across that, nope. I would be interested, but I never did. I went up to look at the monument, but it doesn’t signify much because it is all grown up and changed. I have hunted Revolutionary battlefields, mainly Saratoga; all I got was poison ivy up there.
BS:Anderson did a column for the “Lakeville Journal” that I haven’t looked up yet. I happened to run across a reference to that, and I ran across a reference to his having done something on Shay’s Rebellion so I dropped him a note. He is now on Long Island; he referred me to an article; I haven’t looked it up yet.
BS:The one who used to write a column for the Audubon Society in the “Lakeville Journal”.
WF:Oh I see.
BS: You have referred a number of times to Tony your wife; just to put it into perspective and into the record, her name is…
WF:Antoinette Treadway Fowle, she was the daughter of the man who really initiated the Treadway Inns, real New England inns.
BS:Yeah, we’ve eaten there.
WF:Yeah, they are good.26.
BS:Very good. Is there anything that you want to add?
WF:Oh, I don’t think so. I probably have not done justice to all the people.
BS:Oh Bill, don’t say that. You were very good; that was very comprehensive. I want to conclude the interview with what advice would you give to current Hotchkiss students. What would you transmit as educational philosophy, as well as to what do you think would help the town grow in the right way?
WF:I think it is important for this town to grow in the direction of getting young people to come back here and live; therefore you have to offer them some sort of employment. Something to attract them and housing which is has been done. Ben Belcher was very much interested in that and did a lot for it. He was a very civic minded fellow. He did that with Sarum Village. I would advise kids today to be curious, active and diverse in their pursuits. There are a great many things which you can pursue of interest whether it be history or the future. The thing they have to do is get at it; one of the things that always impressed me about Hotchkiss students as compared to kids I’ve known in other schools, no necessarily private schools but public schools, too, was that they were intelligently curious. They would go after things, and as a result, even though they had a head start in the sense that they came from families with some background, they would improve on it. That is a great thing, and everybody ought to do that with whatever they like. I may have been rather modest in the sense of the background which could be improvement. That is what I would push them to do. It is too bad that there is too much apathy; and we have all kinds of problems, drugs. As one man told me, he was a doctor, “I’d rather have my son dead than on drugs, and that’s the way I feel about it.” I tried when I was in the school world. The kids used to tell me, and I would have some very frank talks with some of them because that is the only way you can find out what’s going on. They’d say, “You get all het about it.’ I said, “You bet I do; you don’t know what you are doing. You just can’t play with this.” It has gotten worse. I told them this happened, and I just hope it didn’t happen to them. You could see it and typical with the kids, they’d say, “Well, I’ll try it.” Apparently crack is something you can’t try. If you try it, you are in. That depends really on the temperament of the youngster, and some of them are that way. “I’ll show you, I can try it, and I can handle it.” Pretty bad, but I would hope that we could keep people here, and get them back. If we could keep it going that way, it would save, for instance young black kids, I always wanted them to go back after they had finished their education at a preparatory school and go on to college, to go back to their community and help the black people there. Get them stirred up to come out because today we hear it over and over again, they just get into the ghetto and stay there. They sort of live on the principles of street life. I am sorry for then; we need to get them out. So these kids who are really privileged don’t use it; it’s noblesse oblige. If they don’t really use it; it’s a shame that they have wasted it.
BS:Do you think that people in this community are respectful of education, desirable of education because we do now have 20% or 25% of the population who are illiterate?
WF:In our own community it is pretty good. I work with the Bauer Foundation here in town, and we give money to kids to go to college, not much, it is just a pittance, but it helps. We get a lot of
applications; I think there will be 70 pretty soon. These kids are all sorts; some of them are faculty children from the schools like Salisbury and Hotchkiss where they have salaries sufficient to do college today. It costs $20,000 to go to Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and it is way out of reach.
BS:Tell me about that Bauer Foundation.
WF:Bauer, now that was left by a woman, and she has two. One is called the Bauer Fund; that was left and she said the income is about $15,000 a year. It will go to a student who goes to Wellesley or Cornell. Around here nobody knew about it or used it; it just lay fallow. We advertised it sufficiently so now people are coming. There you could pick up $7,000 to go to Cornell or Wellesley. It would be all yours from the scholarship and you wouldn’t have to fight for it. Now it is more competitive, the other one is the Bauer Foundation which was created to help local kids go to school and it dipped down as far as Indian Mountain, then it went into the secondary level, but didn’t do much for the college sum. Styvie Bearns is the lawyer for Shipman & Goodwin who is the trustee now. Campbell Becket was a trustee for a long time. Cam got to the point where he was a little too casual. Then he began to slip a little and somebody would come up to him on the street and say, “Sir, I’d like to get a scholarship.” He would say, “You’re a nice kid. Don’t worry about it; I’ll take care of it.” We didn’t think that was quite the way to handle it. She is the High Sherriff of Litchfield County, Caroline Wakefield, used to be in the high school. Caroline and I are the 2 members of the board and Styvie. There is a secretary, Joan Wilkinson. We operate the thing; we made out a form which you have to fill out. We have set the perimeters and the rules so that they have to come from this school district, the northwest corner. They have to go to college and we’re going to help them in the college area. We have stuck to that; we’ve dropped the elementary and high school because we haven’t got enough money. We give away $20,000a year. We do it in segment of $500 which is just a pittance. I am embarrassed, but anyway I keep fighting to give bigger ones and fewer. Caroline doesn’t like that so much; she worked with the high school, and she’s marvelous because she is in touch with all the high school. There are lots of little places to give money; it is amazing what goes on. They know them all; so I learned quite a bit. It’s very good and typical of the town. There’s still another one linked to Jerry Bowen, but that is even less money. For that we give out 6 or 7 scholarships. It’s the Wildes Fund. That fund supports the Dial-a-Ride. They started it I think, Fran Wagner and somebody-got it started. They support it, $1,500 a year and that darn near does it because the car comes from Millerton Garage. The drivers are all volunteers. That’s what I do at the desk. If anything is going on…
BS:You’re a participant in a number of things, and you volunteer.
BS:That is characteristic of the community.
WF:I think so too. This community is just great. They have some very wealthy people in it too like Reese Harris, and Arnold Whitridge who do things quietly for the town. The Belchers have done a lot. To me it is very real humane human beings who are interested in other human beings. It is good.
BS:So that spells good for the town.28.
WF:Yes, it does, and I think it is going to go on. The thing I do not want to see is to have it disappear because people go away.
BS:I think you are so right about the young people.
WF:Somebody complained about the Fall Festival; it brings people to town here. They get interested in it, and we are just going to be swamped with it. Well the Fall Festival has all sorts of facets to it. Yes, it does bring some people in, but it doesn’t mean that they are going to come and settle and ruin the place. It pulls things together; I told you during the war that the counsel that we had which met in the firehouse and took care of all the functions of the town. We watched for airplanes and things of that nature. We had various health functions so if we had a raid, people could…We had actual trials where we had somebody with an arm broken, shoulder pulled apart, and you had to get them to the hospital and handle all the things. The doctors had to be there; so that did a lot for the town. The one good thing out of the war was that it links you with the town and brings people together. You get to know each other, and you find that they are darn good people. You never knew them, that’s all. It’s awfully good for everybody.
BS:Very good Bill. This was certainly…