Neil Scott Interview:
This is file #14, cycle 4. This is Jean McMillen. Today’s date is July 3, 2019. I am interviewing Neil Scott. He is going to talk about his career at Hotchkiss and also his wonderful career at Rotary. First we’ll start with…
JM:What is your name?
JM:How did you come to the area?
NS:From Canada, the Province of Quebec
JM:How did you learn about Hotchkiss?
NS:From the Independent School Bulletin
JM:If I understand it correctly, you wrote letters to the top 6 schools.
JM:You picked Hotchkiss.
NS:They picked me, with the help of the vice President of Aetna Life.
JM:Oh you had some influence, oh that’s good.
NS:I am sure it did because we had had his son in our house when I was teaching at King’s School at Canterbury, England.
JM:You taught for over 40 years, but you did not teach all the time at the same place.
JM:Where did you teach first?
NS:King’s School, Canterbury, England.
JM:How long were you at King’s School?
JM:After that where did you go?
NS:Canada, at Stanstead College in the Province of Quebec.
JM:When did you go to New Zealand?
NS:When I was at Hotchkiss.
JM:You came to Hotchkiss in 1970?2.
JM:You retired in 1993, but in that period of time you went off to New Zealand for a year?
NS:Yes as an exchange with RathKeale College which is on the south end of the North Island.
JM:I didn’t know that Hotchkiss did an exchange program.
NS:I arranged it.
JM:Good for you. Because I had been doing schools in England I assumed you had been an exchange teacher while you were teaching at King’s School.
NS:I went to the Rotary International Convention in 1983 and there I met some New Zealanders. I asked them to put my name around and they did.
JM:That must have been a nifty experience.
NS:It took 3 years to get it set up.
JM:When you were hired at Hotchkiss who was the Head Master?
JM:What did you teach at Hotchkiss?
JM:Chemistry is a big subject.
NS:I taught the General Chemistry and also Advanced Placement Chemistry. While I was there I introduced Organic Chemistry for one semester.
JM:Why did you start that program?
NS:Because pre-med students were flunking out.
JM:That’s a good reason
NS:Yeah the medical students dropped out because they could not pick it up quickly enough. It was only an introduction.
JM:That makes sense. You also introduced something for sports. You had done Crew at Canterbury in England. So what did you start here?
NS:I started a sailing club in about 1971.
JM:Is it still going?3.
NS:Yes very much so.
JM:Your Organic chemistry is still going?
NS:Yes it is.
JM:In the private school life, you have to have dormitory duties.
NS:We were in Van Santvoord.
JM:You also coached something besides sailing.
NS:I coached girls’ field hockey.
JM:The girls came in 1974, didn’t they?
NS:Yes in 1974.
JM:You told me a story about taking the 13 girls to England by yourself.
NS:It was different times then.
JM:But eventually you took your wife along.
NS:Yes she came with me later on.
JM: Here’s a story. We would go to a pub for lunch because it was quick and easy. I would go in first to see if there was room for us-13 of us. The girls walked in and I followed behind. The guy at the bar turned around and said, “I wish I had your job!”
JM:I love it! Oh that is wonderful. (Off the record he told me a few others. 1. One of the girls was standing by the register as Neil paid the tab. “Thanks Dad”, she said.
2. Often the schools they played had a bar in house. He told them one drink during the day and two at night. They never abused the rule! Ed.)
NS:It was very interesting in taking them over. The first year the schools were apprehensive about our girls, assuming them to be loud and brash. They turned around and wanted to play us as my girls were so well behaved. By the third year there were so many schools who wanted to play us that in one game they played one school for the first half and a different school for the second half.
JM:When you were teaching at Hotchkiss what did you like the best?
NS:I think it was the students.
JM:They are fun. You also said that you liked the freedom to teach what you wanted to.
JM:What were some of the changes after the girls came?
NS:I think things went much easier.
JM:A little smoother, maybe
NS:Yes generally moving about seemed less difficult. The rough edges got softened.
JM:What would you like to tell me about Hotchkiss that I haven’t asked about?
NS:I am not sure, nothing really. It just moved along quite happily.
JM:You liked what you were doing and you enjoyed it.
JM:Now when you first joined Rotary, you were in Canada?
NS:I joined in Canada in 1969 yes.
JM:When you came to Hotchkiss, you just transferred.
NS:I transferred to Salisbury in 1970.
JM:You have been in rotary for a long time.
NS: I have been in rotary for 50 years.
JM:That is why I wanted to interview you. Rotary in divided into districts; what is this district called and what area does it cover?
NS:District #1 I think. (#7890 is made up of about 60 clubs ½ in northern Ct. and western Mass Ed.)The district is larger and goes into Massachusetts and right across the state. I am pretty sure it covers part of Massachusetts.
JM:The Salisbury Club included what towns?
NS:It covers Salisbury, Lakeville, Sharon, Canaan, Falls Village, Norfolk and Cornwall.
JM:But not as far as Kent?
NS:Kent is on the border. But we give scholarships to any student who comes from Region #1 which includes Kent as part of the school district.
JM:Norfolk sneaks in a lot.
NS:Well they are on the border of East Canaan. Norfolk kids go to District #7 Regional High School.
JM:You were President of the Salisbury Rotary club in 1982-1983. Was that the only time you were President?
NS:Yes one time only.5.
JM:But you have been on the scholarship committee for…
NS:For thirty years.
JM:When you were on the scholarship committee, who was eligible for the scholarship?
NS:Seniors from Region #1 who were going to college.
JM:Boys and girls?
NS:Oh yes usually more girls applied than boys.
JM:How many scholarships does our club give?
NS:We give at least 10.
JM:How much money in each scholarship?
NS:We give $1,000 per scholarship with a total of $10,000.
JM:You were also District Chairman of the Ambassador Scholarship Committee for a while.
NS:I was chairman for three years before going to New Zealand. I went to New Zealand in 1986.
JM: Who would be eligible for the Ambassador’s scholarship?
NS:Students within the district who were applying to colleges abroad. I think the name has been changed but it is the same program
JM:Rotary is a service organization. Other than the scholarships, I am sure there was money donated to the Albert Schweitzer Hospital through Inge (See Inge Dunham interview).
NS:Yes we did.
JM:The major service that International Rotary sponsors is eradicating Polio.
NS:It is almost eradicated 90 % perhaps except for Pakistan.
JM:What are some of the changes that you have seen in Rotary over the 50 years of your membership?
NS:The first one would be when women joined. The attendance requirement has changed. (It used to be mandatory attendance for the first 15 years of membership. Ed.) It was meant to be one person from each profession, but now it is open to all.
JM:Membership is not as much as it was.
NS:No when I joined we used to have 60 members but now it is down to about 30.Generally it is difficult for a lot of people to make it at lunch time.
JM:Sure. It is a 12 to 1:30 time slot.
NS:It’s when the old people come.
JM:It breaks up their routine and that is hard to do. But everybody shows up at the Christmas party.
NS:We do our best too.
JM:They are good parties. (Widows of Rotarians are often invited to them. Ed.do you have a story about parking cars at the fireworks display?
NS:We park cars and we don’t know how they got out.
JM:It seems to me that you said you were trying to direct people where to park their cars.
NS:They did what they wanted. They would just park anywhere. So we left.
JM:Before we close is there anything that you would like to add about Rotary?
NS;I don’t think so. The fact that it is still going is a plus.
JM:Oh yes and they do a wonderful job with their service organization and their scholarships.
NS:We give to the town in bits and pieces.
JM:We appreciate it. Thank you so much.