Category Archives: Alumni & Alumnae

Heroic

by Caren Altchek Pauley '62 and Holly Alderman '67

The truth, looking back now in the mirror of time, now, is that most of the teachers seem heroic in their own ways – all hard working women, very conscientious, and kind.  In current culture, the general kindness of our classrooms seems a profound blessing. — Holly Alderman.

Some weeks ago, as we prepared a special Northampton School for Girls feature in the Williston Bulletin, I asked a few alumnae to name adults whose presence during those formative and formidable ‘Hamp School years had made a difference.  We couldn’t use every response.  But two of them, from Caren Altchek Pauley and Holly Alderman, were special enough to deserve publication.  Here they are, with thanks to the authors for allowing us to share! — RT

Dagmar Abkarian
by Caren Altchek Pauley ’62

Dagmar Abkarian (left), with teacher Viola Hussey and housemother Katherine Weller. (If anyone has a better photo of Ms. Abkarian, please contact the Archives!)
Dagmar Abkarian (left), with teacher Viola Hussey and housemother Katherine Weller. (If anyone has a better photo of Ms. Abkarian, please contact the Archives!)

With a comforting presence, Dagmar Abkarian ruled the  pristine two-room Northampton School for Girls “infirmary,” located on the upper floor of Montgomery House.  During my tenure, 1959-1962, she was a formidable presence, dark, round and with an unusual lumbering gait which seemed to separate her legs when she walked. She wore an immaculate white uniform, nurse’s coif, sensible white shoes, and a name badge.  She was unlike any other teacher or faculty member at the school.  Her coloring was like mine.  It separated her and me from nearly all the other  faculty, staff members and students  who were mostly light eyed blonds and fair skinned.  She was also a bit garrulous and although a mature woman, rather girlish at the same time.

I was a frequent visitor to the infirmary, as every bout of homesickness, math test, science test, and athletic competition caused me to seek consolation in her peaceful domain.  Before school counselors became de rigueur, it was the school nurse on whom we depended for advice on “how to survive”.  She took my temperature, and then usually pronounced me OK, to my utter and complete disappointment.  Then she discussed the challenges of that moment, before nearly squeezing me to death in an affectionate hug.  With her sympathetic endorsement, I knew I could make it through the morning geometry exam and even the afternoon field hockey game, although in my heart of hearts I knew I had little talent for either and thoroughly loathed both. Continue reading

Rogues’ Gallery

by Rick Teller '70, Williston Northampton Archivist
From the top: Doc Phillips. Boardy, Heppy.
Clockwise from left: A. L. Hepworth, Ralph Phillips, Howard Boardman.

We lost James Hamilton, class of 1961, last year.  He was many things — printer, conservationist, history buff, devoted Williston and Dartmouth alumnus — you can read more about him here. His Cohasset, Mass. neighbors and, especially, his Williston classmates will remember him as a perceptive and occasionally wicked cartoonist and caricaturist.

Most of Jim’s work graced the pages of The Log and The Willistonian from 1959 through 1961.  For those who remember his favorite subjects or victims, the drawings are remarkably on target.  They tend to feature several prominent faculty members, and a crewcutted, slightly beefy meathead named Willy, who bore an odd resemblance to Jim himself.

So discovery of new drawings by Jim Hamilton is cause for celebration.  Several weeks ago Laurie Hamilton generously sent a stack of Willistonia to the Archives, and there, tucked into a copy of the yearbook, were several sketches.  Thanks, Laurie!

One of the newly acquired sketches, featuring chemistry teacher Ralph "Doc" Phillips, Dean A. L. Hepworth, and French teacher/drama coach/Alumni Secretary/Ford Hall master Howard G. Boardman.
One of the newly acquired sketches, featuring chemistry teacher Ralph “Doc” Phillips, Dean A. L. Hepworth, and French teacher/drama coach/Alumni Secretary/Ford Hall master Howard G. Boardman.
Models Doc, Heppy, and Boardy.
Favorite targets: models Doc, Heppy, and Boardy.

Continue reading

Worms

by Rick Teller '70, Williston Northampton Archivist
The Archives Acquire a Fascinating Record of Science Teaching
Meticulous renderings of earthworm anatomy, from William T. Mather's biology notebook.  (Click all images to enlarge.)
Meticulous renderings of earthworm anatomy, from William T. Mather’s biology notebook. (Click all images to enlarge.)

It was one of those phone calls that vastly improves one’s week.  “My name is Will Wyatt – I’m a dentist in Texas.  I have what appear to be a notebook from a Williston biology class, dated 1890.  Would you like it for the Archives?  If so, I’d be happy to donate it.”

Would I like it?  That would have been an understatement.  Among the more important things we collect are examples of academic work: what was studied, and how it was taught, going back to our beginnings 175 years ago.  We actively seek current student work, as well as that from the past.  Consider: all the other things we save and cherish – theater photos, box scores, school newspapers, and dozens of other categories, most of them well-represented in this blog, wouldn’t even exist without the academic program.  It provides a context for everything else in our daily lives at a busy school.  Academics are the most important thing we do at Williston.

Mather's title page.  While much of the notebook is handwritten, some pages were reproduced using a transfer process similar to what we, mid-20th century, called "purple ditto."  The machine used was probably a Hectograph, invented in 1869.  Other documents in the Archives indicate that Williston Seminary had on as early as 1877.
Mather’s title page. While much of the notebook is handwritten, some pages were reproduced using a transfer process similar to what we, mid-20th century, called “purple ditto.” The machine used was probably a Hectograph, invented in 1869. Other documents in the Archives indicate that Williston Seminary had one as early as 1877.

So yes, we were thrilled to accept Dr. Wyatt’s generosity – the more so given the age of the item.  It is relatively easy to lay hands on student papers from 2015.  Anything from the 19th century is another story entirely.  And as shall be seen, this particular item is very special.

The document is a set of teaching notes for an 1890 Williston Seminary biology course taught by William Tyler Mather (1864-1937).  Mather, Williston class of 1882, went on to Amherst College, graduating in 1886.  He taught at Leicester Academy, 1886-1887 then, like many Williston and Amherst alumni, returned to Williston to teach (1887-1893).  During this time he also completed a master’s degree at Amherst (1891).  In 1894 he entered Johns Hopkins University, earning a Ph.D. in physics in 1897.  In 1898 he became Professor of Physics at the University of Texas, Austin, where he remained the rest of his life.  (This would tend to partially explain how a set of teaching notes found their way from Easthampton to “a very eclectic used book store” in San Antonio, where Will Wyatt purchased them in the 1980s.)

Polyps.
Polyps.

Continue reading

Joseph Lynch and Williston Basketball

by Richard Teller '70, Archivist
Joseph Lynch '10 (1910 Log)
Joseph Lynch ’10 (1910 Log)

This is presented as an addendum to Doug Stark’s article on the History of Williston Basketball.  Without question, our first “great” player was Joe Lynch, class of 1910, who was inducted into the Williston Northampton Athletic Hall of Fame on June 7, 2014.  These remarks were delivered at that event.

I’m here to present Joseph Lynch, Williston Seminary class of 1910, for the Athletic Hall of Fame.  Joe was an Irish kid from Holyoke, who attended Holyoke High School before enrolling in the Middle Class — what we would now call the 10th grade — at Williston.  Other than that, we don’t know much about him.  I’d like to say that he presented the prep school ideal of the scholar-athlete, but I’m afraid that his grades don’t bear that out.  The archives actually have a paper that he wrote, about the financier Edward Harriman, that is reasonably literate and shows some insight.  Other than that, there’s not much.  His 1910 classmates elected him “Best Athlete,” as well as “Merriest,” “Biggest Rough-Houser,” and “Biggest Bluffer.”  His yearbook notes that he was “a lover of nature,” and a member of the F. C. Fraternity, about which we know little, and something called the Vigilance Committee, about which our ignorance is probably a blessing.

Joseph Lynch excelled in sports.  He played right guard on an intramural football team, but he was in his element in baseball and basketball.  Joe was the first baseman on the Williston Nine for three reasonably successful years — although interestingly, Holy Cross turned him into a pitcher.  And there is a suggestion that he struck out more often than his friends and teammates might have liked.

But in basketball, Joe Lynch was unstoppable.  Standing six-foot-one, towering over his teammates in an era when kids were simply shorter than today, he was an ideal center.  His long arms and quick feet made him a defensive monster.  And he was a scoring machine.  Over his career, he scored 394 points in 28 games.  Before you exclaim, “but that’s nothing!”, remember that the game of basketball, invented only 17 years before Lynch arrived at Williston, was very different.  Dribbling, for example, was rare; players moved the ball primarily by passing.  Players thus tended to spread out more, playing what we would now call zones.  Most shots came from a distance, so scores were lower — and of course, the three-point shot hadn’t even been dreamt of.  Foul shots were rare, and the free-throw line was 20 feet from the basket.  Even the metal hoop and net, which replaced a bottomless peach basket, had been introduced only as recently as 1906. Continue reading