P. R. Wolf Cover Sheet
Interviewee:Priscilla Rudd Wolf
Place of Interview;41 Chatfield Drive
Date:July 16, 2013
Summary of talk:Family background, Salisbury School for both parents, dad Director of Athletics plus teaching Latin and science, mother taught English and tutored remedial reading and wrote text book on that subject on word attack skills, Rudd Camp, Indian Mountain School, merger between IMS and Town Hill School, and Whitbeck’s drug store.
Priscilla Wolf Interview:
This is file 54. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Priscilla Rudd Wolf from Lime Rock. She is going to talk about her parents, Hop Rudd and Jo Rudd, her father’s summer camp, Indian Mountain School and her relationship with it and anything else she wants to tell me. Today’s date is July 16, 2013. Here we go.
JM: Priscilla, what is your full name?
PW: Priscilla Rudd Wolf
JM: Where were you born?
PW: Norwalk, Connecticut
JM: May I have your birthdate?
PW: May 20, 1946
JM: May I have your parents’ names?
PW: Roswell Hopkins Rudd and Josephine Bauman Rudd. For those who have been in town, her dad started Bauman what became Bauman and Garrity.
JM: Do you have siblings?
PW: Yes, I do I have Roswell Rudd, an older brother, Bennet Rudd, another older brother, and Eve Rudd Webb, my sister who is also older.
JM: What is you educational background?
PW: I went to the local public schools until I was a sophomore in high school. Then I went away to a prep school called Walnut Hill School in Natick, Mass. After that I went to the University of Pennsylvania. Then I got a Master’s Degree at Central Connecticut some years later.
JM: When you say local schools, you meant Salisbury Central and the Regional #1.
JM: Now I am going to ask you first of all about your father and then about your mother. With your dad will you tell me about his teaching experience at Salisbury School and just in general what the man did?
PW: Both my parents were teachers. They started out at New Canaan country Day School. From there my dad did a few years at Hamilton College where he was the hockey coach. Then they came back to Salisbury School. They had both grown up in the town here. A job came up at Salisbury School. My dad taught Latin and science, but mostly he was Director of Athletics, that was his real love. He coached hockey, football, baseball, and did whatever the Director of Athletics in all these prep schools did, which was quite a bit.
JM: Who was the Headmaster at that time?
PW: George Langdon and then a man named Rev. Edward Ward, a lovely guy.
JM: Can you give me the years that your father taught at Salisbury School?
PW: I believe they were there from 1948 until they retired in 1970.
JM: Would you tell me about your mother at Salisbury School and what she taught?
PW: My mom was the only female teacher at Salisbury when we were there, and she also taught at Hotchkiss. She went back and forth. She was a pioneer in the remedial reading field. She taught English, and she also tutored students in remedial reading. At the same time she was writing a text book so she was incredibly busy. She wrote the text book at night after she had done her prep work. She was a night owl; she would be up until 1 or 2 in the morning and get up at 7 to teach again. She was kind of driven about getting this textbook done. It was very successful back when it came out.
JM: Is it still in print?
PW: Yes, it was on word attack.
JM: I probably used it without even knowing it.
PW: I use it at Indian Mountain which is really quite something for me.
JM: that must be so special.
PW: Yeah because I remember her writing it. She was amazing
JM: Yes and raising children. I would love to bottle the energy. You let me have an article on the camp, Rudd Camp. Tell me how that started.
PW: All I know about Rudd Camp is I remember very well when it was a day camp because that was when I a child. Originally it was a boarding camp and they were at New Canaan country Day School during the school year, and then they came up here in the summers. They brought many students from New Canaan with them who attended the camp. They all bunked up on Belgo at the top of Belgo Hill in what became a beautiful home, but originally it was a camp (144 Belgo Road ED.) Then they would get in the Marmon, my dad’s old car, and they would go down Belgo Road and they would go to what is now known as Holleywood and use that lake front because my dad was born in that house and grew up in that house. It makes sense; his aunt and uncle let him use that lakefront. (See John Fisher tape #50 Ed.)
JM: That was the home of John Rudd and you told me that Emma Sands was John Rudd’s mother. What was the name of John Rudd’s father?
PW: Charles, I believe.
JM: What kind of equipment did they have at this point? Did they have anything other than the Marmon?
PW: My dad had a whole fleet of sort of glued together wooden boats because he was a great one to keep things floating long beyond their life. Every year he would get these boats in the water with help. I remember Jack Fisher was wonderful counselor and used to help him. They used to have 3 or 4 wooden sail boats, and they had canoes. The kids had swimming lessons; they would go canoeing, and sailing lessons, but it was nothing like a camp of today with all the organized programs. It was very informal.
JM: Did somebody actually teach them swimming?
PW: I am sure my dad did.
JM: What did your mother do? She did all sorts of things.
PW: She was the one who did the shopping and the cooking; she organized all that.
JM: Did she play the piano and do musical things?
PW: She probably did; I don’t really remember because I was so small. I remember finding a ration book with all her groceries that she bought and the ration book that she was using. It was still during the war when they had this boarding camp. So it was quite a feat to feed them and organize the cooking. My mom was really big on crafts at that point; she did a lot of crafts with the kids. She knew a ton about wildflowers and gardening because her mom had been a big gardener. So I can imagine that she was busy, I am sure.
JM: When did it become co-educational, do you remember?
PW: I don’t, no. What I remember is when it was a day camp and all boys. That was on our lake property on old CNE Road. My parents bought 4 acres of land on the lake which was doable back in the 1950’s. We had a house that had a big barn attached to it, and we lived in the little ranch house part of it in the summers, and my dad ran the camp. On rainy days the kids would come into the barn and he would play his drums. My dad was a great Dixieland jazz drummer and that was the entertainment when it was raining.
JM: Yes, John fisher gives a memory of putting all of the kids someplace on a rainy day and music.
PW: Yeah on the drums.
JM: Can you be a little more specific as to where on Belgo Road the camp was?
PW: I know that a family named Schlesinger bought the camp. They renovated it and it became a house. (144 Belgo Road Ed.)
JM: It is not the corner of Belgo and Ore Mine Road?
PW: It is way up on the top. That’s my memory of it.
JM: Tell me the Tootsie Roll story.
PW: Just that my dad was such a character and had so much imagination that he didn’t need any fancy equipment. The big thing for the kids was a treasure hunt. He would go down to the 5 and dime and buy a few Tootsie Rolls and put them over across the lake and tell the kids that there was a big treasure. To them it was a big treasure, and they would spend all afternoon on the lake paddling around or sailing around hunting for the candy and having a ball. At that time there were very few people on Lakeville Lake; there were some summer people but really no winter people at that time. We spent a few winters in our house on the lake, and we were the only people there. So the lake was pretty much theirs in the summer. People would go, “Yeah there’s Hop Rudd’s camp.” Nobody cared what they were doing or where they were going. They could roam all over.
JM: It was allowable and it was safe.
JM: Before I move on to another subject, it there anything else about the camp that you would like to add?
PW: Some other things that my dad would come up with were boxing matches; he had these old huge boxing gloves. God knows where he got them, and he would put them on these little tiny kids. They would have these boxing matches which were hysterical because the kids could hardly lift the gloves. The other thing I think I remember that he used to do was blindfold the kid and have Blind man’s Bluff. I don’t know just all these old games because the kids weren’t spoiled at that point; they weren’t used to computer games and the whole thing. They just had a good time. Oh and the other thing about the camp which was so sweet was every morning they raised the American flag and saluted and every afternoon at 4:00 when camp was over, they brought the flag down. Hop had a camp counselor named Larry Lightner who played Taps every afternoon. When Larry left, Hop used to take a snare drum out and he’d roll the snare drum while the flag was lowered. Sometimes he’d just have a bunch of little ankle-biter kids, really tiny kids. It was just very sweet.
JM: A formal ending to the day, and I am assuming that it started at 9:00 in the morning?
PW: Yeah, probably 9 to 4 and the parents would all be there picking their kids up, and watching them. My dad took it very seriously.
JM: How long did the camp last?
PW: It probably became a day camp in the late 1950’s and I think he had it until they retired from Salisbury so probably 1970. There are so many people in town, I can think of a ton of people, who went to that camp who would remember it, practically everybody my age, the guys, went to that camp.
JM: It was the thing to do.
JM: Rather than the Grove which is the thing to do now. It was to go to Hop Rudd’s camp. What a wonderful experience. I am going to move on to your relationship with Indian Mountain School. When did you start and what position did you have?
PW: I was lucky that they needed a tutor in 1991. I started as a part time tutor and then by 1992 I was really lucky because the Director of the Tutoring Department decided to step down and so I became the director.
JM: Who was the Director?
PW: The Director was Liz Belter who is now Liz Stanley. She had been there many years. Right up until now I have been the Director of the tutoring. It is now called Academic Support. About 6 years ago I took over the library as well. So I do both; I don’t tutor as many students obviously because I am doing the library.
JM: Who was Headmaster when you took over the library?
PW: It was an interim guy, Tom Addicks. He was there just a year and then Dary Dunham came. Dary was there I believe 14 years.
JM: Who was the librarian from whom you took over?
PW: Robin Ketchum who had been there many years. She retired.
JM: Who is the Headmaster at Indian Mountain now?
PW: Mark Devey
JM: Can you tell me a little bit about the merger between what used to be Town Hill School and Indian Mountain?
PW: That had been talked about for many years and just never happened. Then during Dary’s tenure the board decided that they really wanted to make it happen. It was going to make it a smoother transition for the fourth graders to come up to the 5th grade prior to that they had to go through the whole application process. So they wanted to make it a smoother transition; that was one of the big reasons. They had built that new building; it seemed time that the two campuses be united. I don’t remember the exact year, but I think it has been in effect for at least 10 years now probably.
JM: No, it wasn’t in effect when my husband died in 2005 so it’s been in effect for less than 10 years I believe.
PW: It has been in effect ever since Mark Devey has been there.
JM: Yes, he came after Foster’s death. I gave the McMillen prize in 2006 and that was Dary’s last year so it would be from 2007.
PW: Yeah, well it is almost 10 years.
JM: What is the make-up nationally of the pupils that you have?
PW: We probably have any year 8 Mexican kids, 15 kids from Asia; we are getting more kids from japan which is really exciting, and China. We have always had kids from Korea, South Korea. We have had a few kids from Jamaica. We have a very active Admissions Program, and they travel a lot now which all these schools do now. We are always trying to find kids from different countries.
JM: Are there many from Europe?
PW: Not as many as we’d like; we had a girl from Switzerland I think might be coming this year. That is our market since china has opened up.
JM: What are your enrollment numbers?
PW: It is around 260 at this point, with 60 on the lower campus and 200 on the upper campus, of those about 120 day students and then 70 boarders.
JM: What haven’t I covered that I should have with Indian Mountain? Oh, scholarships!
PW: We started something called the Town Scholar; we are offering merit scholarships to kids from the local schools who qualify. That has been interesting to get those kids. Indian Mountain does not have a huge endowment, but we really try to get as many kids as we can and offer them aid. We offer them programs in Harlem and different parts of New York City who come, great kids who just have had abysmal educational background.
JM: So you try to get all sorts of children in.
PW: We try to be as diverse as we can be.
JM: Do you do any civic activities; do you have any time for civic activities?
PW: Do I personally? Not yet. I hope to do more when I retire. I do residential duty and so I am pretty busy.
JM: I remember doing Michael Brown and talking about dorm duty and all of the things that it involves. Is there anything that you would like to add about Indian Mountain, life in general, or whatever tickles your fancy? Oh, I’ve got one thing. You grew up in town. Could you describe Whitbeck’s store, the drug store?
PW: I loved Whitbeck’s store because it was a real soda fountain. I always say it was Ann, Bam, Sam and Walter; those were the Whitbecks. Sam was the dad with a bald head as I remember; a really nice guy, Bam (Nelson) his son, Anna of course the daughter, and Walt was another brother and Audrey was Bam’s wife. They were just the greatest people; they once put up a sign saying.” Hop Rudd says, ‘Why would you shop in Hartford when you have Whitbeck’s?’” Hop used to go down Christmas Eve and buy his Christmas present at Whitbeck’s. He would buy us all powder, Jean Nate bathwater and all the little odds and ends that you could get at Whitbeck’s. But as a child I would go into Whitbeck’s and sit up on a stool and Walt would bring me a stack of Archie comics, 2 feet high, and I would get a root beer float and I would sit there and read the Archie comics for hours. They would let you do that. Or an ice cream cone and Archie comics. Then my parents would be across the street because LaBonne’s was then Shagroy’s. It was in what is now Peter Beck’ store which was the Village Store then. They would grocery shop and I would sit in Whitbeck’s. Of course it was a small town back then; everybody knew everybody. My memory of my dad driving through town and instead he just had his hand up the whole time because he would just be waving.
JM: He knew everybody.
PW: He knew everybody; he had grown up here. Even though he had gone to Hotchkiss and Yale, he had that kind of education; he never lost touch with the local people. He was a big hunter and trapper; he loved the Moreys. He was always in touch with the people who really built the town.
JM: There was no exclusion.
PW: No, not that I can remember. There was very few middle or upper middle class here. There were many wealthy people and there were sort of the working class.
JM: There wasn’t much middle like there is now. Anything else you would like to add?
PW: Well, I think that’s it.
JM: Thank you so much.
Property of the Oral History Project: The Salisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library, Salisbury, Ct. 06068shee