Barry Moser’s Theater Posters

Barry Moser at the press
Barry Moser in 1972, adjusting the second of Williston’s two printing presses. By 1969 the Castalia Press was producing broadsides and other fine printing from its home in the old Easthampton railroad depot.

Some of this is necessarily in the nature of a personal reminiscence.  Barry Moser spoke at Williston Northampton’s Commencement on May 25th.  (Listen here!)  Today he is recognized as an artist of international preeminence; in September 1967, for this writer and about 400 other once-young men, he was a rookie faculty member taking over a visual arts program that was, quite frankly, on life support.  Its transformation was swift and spectacular.  And those of us fortunate to have been in Barry’s classes were transformed as well.  Ever the iconoclast, he challenged every assumption any of us might have had about art, not to mention literature, music, psychology . . . all the while demanding that we see, not just look.  Any student from his 15 years on the faculty will tell you that his were lessons for a lifetime.

In the late sixties the Williston Theatre was entering one of its golden ages under the direction of Ellis Baker and Richard Gregory.  Barry was soon involved as a set designer.  He also began to produce handbills for the plays — visual miracles for which the word “poster” is possibly inadequate.  Often the central images were executed in the intricate and sometimes unforgiving media of woodcut or etching.  Here are a few examples.  (All items are by Barry Moser for Williston Academy or The Williston Northampton School; reproduced with the gracious permission of the artist.)

John Brown’s Body, Spring 1969.  “I tried for something that looked like a wanted poster.”  (Click all images to enlarge.)John Brown's Body Continue reading


The curveball was introduced to baseball in the early 1870s, and changed the face of the game.  Pitchers, for the first time, threw strikes that moved across the plate and down, curving away from right-handed batters, frequently baffling hitters.  But were the first curveballs thrown in a high school game thrown at Williston?

mackIt’s a good story, related by none other than legendary Philadelphia Athletics manager Connie Mack.  In his My 66 Years in the Big Leagues (Philadelphia: Winston, 1950), Mack recalls, “The first man to pitch a curve-ball game was Charles Hammond Avery, Yale 1871-75, popularly called Ham Avery, and the first curve-pitched college game was played between Yale and Harvard at Saratoga, New York, June 14, 1874, the week of the college boat races.  Avery pitched for Yale and won by the score of 4-0, the first shutout ever scored against Harvard.”

Mack cites as his source of information his lifelong friend, Frank Blair, Williston Seminary class of 1876, Amherst 1880.  The two had grown up together in North Brookfield, Mass.  Mack continues, “In his first year at Williston Academy [sic], in 1873, one of Blair’s chums was Charles Francis Carter, a left fielder who went to Yale in 1874, and the following year played on Avery’s famous Yale team.  Stories began to drift back to Williston that Avery was a wonder, for he had introduced something new into baseball—a curve ball that was puzzling batters and was proving very difficult to hit.”

“One day in 1876 Blair was examining the condition of the diamond on the [Williston] campus.  He spied Carter coming up the street from the station.  Carter spotted Blair at the same moment, and vaulting the fence, shouted to him, ‘I can pitch curves!  Avery taught me!'”

“With that, Carter took a baseball from his pocket, laid aside his overcoat, and began to show [Blair] how the mystery was performed.  Carter, having passed on the instructions to Blair, picked up his overcoat and started for the train back to New Haven.  He had seemingly accomplished his mission!  Blair was eager to pass on the secret to the Williston pitcher.  The result?  Williston [Seminary] placed on the diamond the first curve pitcher used in any prep school in the United States.” Continue reading