Category Archives: Archivist’s Bookshelf

Firebrand

by Rick Teller '70, Williston Northampton Archivist
From the Archivist’s Bookshelf

Laurie RebelsIn the half-century prior to the Civil War, antislavery sentiment was strong up and down the Connecticut Valley.  Yet there was an essential conflict between two schools of Abolitionists: the high-minded movement inspired by reformer and The Liberator editor William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), and a number of rabble-rousers who advocated more direct action.

Five of the latter, all residing in Northampton, are treated in a new book by Bruce Laurie, Rebels in Paradise: Sketches of Northampton Abolitionists (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 2015).  Dr. Laurie (Professor Emeritus of History, UMass Amherst) has selected the scholarly Sylvester Judd, African-American Underground Railroad conductor David Ruggles, newspaper editor Henry S. Gere, and preacher-turned-entrepreneur Erastus Hopkins.  Not least among them was Samuel Williston’s brother, manufacturer John Payson Williston.  All were local business, religious, and political leaders; none was especially subtle in advocacy of favorite causes, be they temperance, political reform, or the abolition of slavery.

Like his elder brother Samuel, John Payson Williston (1803-1872) broke with several generations of Williston male tradition by choosing a manufacturing career over the Congregational ministry.  Again similar to Samuel’s experience, the decision was driven by circumstance: neither was able to complete a university education because of poor eyesight.  From there, their paths diverged.  Samuel, largely through prescient investment, became one of Western Massachusetts’ leading industrial barons and philanthropists, but one whose public advocacy of reformist concerns, however passionately he believed in them, was often held in check by a need to protect his Southern business interests and, perhaps, the desire to project a certain patrician reticence. Continue reading

A Brief History of Williston Northampton Basketball

By Douglas Stark '90

This is adapted from an article that originally appeared in the January 1999 Williston Northampton Bulletin.  At that time Doug Stark was Librarian and Archivist at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. Today he is Museum Director at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI.  He is the author of The SPHAS: The Life and Times of Basketball’s Greatest Jewish Team (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2011) and coauthor of Tennis and the Newport Casino (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2011).

From The Willistonian, January 2, 1898.
From The Willistonian, January 2, 1898.

On a cold, wintery northeast night in 1898, a group of five Williston Seminary students “lined up for the first time . . . in a regular game, and defeated their opponents, the Y.M.C.A. of Northampton, by a score of 12-10.”  The Jan. 29, 1898 Willistonian reported that Williston’s first basketball game “excited much interest in the school.  The fellows turned out to a man, also several members of the faculty were present, as well as a representation of townspeople” to witness first hand this “new and intriguing game.”

In 1898, basketball was still in its infancy, having been created just seven years earlier at the School for Christian Workers (now Springfield College) in Springfield, MA.  In the winter of 1891, Dr. James Naismith, a recent graduate of McGill University, enrolled as a student-instructor in a school that trained YMCA general secretaries and physical education instructors.  Asked to create a game to occupy a class of “incorrigibles” between the football and baseball seasons, Naismith invented basketball.  After hanging two peach baskets at both ends of the gymnasium balcony and dividing the 18-man class into two nine-man teams, Naismith put the first ball, a soccer ball, into play.  Legend has it that only one basket was scored in that game.

Almost immediately, the game took off and spread quickly through the YMCAs.  Within a few years, the game was being played in 15 different countries and in colleges from the East to West Coasts.  Due to the rough play associated with the early game and the growing need for more court time, the YMCA banned basketball from its gyms in 1898.  Later that year, basketball was introduced at Williston Seminary, one of the first high schools in the country to embrace the game. Continue reading

Mississippi Mud

by Rick Teller '70, Williston Northampton Archivist
A limited number of copies of Anna's Cookbook are available for a contribution of $10.00. Please contact the Archives.
A limited number of copies of Anna’s Cookbook are available for a contribution of $10.00. Please contact the Archives.

This post originated in a recent exchange on Facebook.  Certain Northampton School for Girls alumnae were reminiscing about favorite ‘Hamp meals — perhaps with an emphasis on ‘Hamp desserts.  Happily, some of these delights were collected in Anna’s Cookbook, compiled by Ruth Jeffers Wellington ’41 in 1967 to honor cook Anna Kowalski on the occasion of her retirement, after 40 years managing Northampton School’s kitchen.

Anna’s assistant, Ceil Desmarais, succeeded her, so the transition was seamless.  And Ceil made the not-entirely-seamless pilgrimage to Easthampton when ‘Hamp and Williston joined forces in 1971.

A personal note.  I was a Williston Academy student with the unique privilege — and privilege it was — of having a parent on the Northampton School for Girls faculty.  Among the perks of being a faculty brat was the ability to show up at the Montgomery House dining room and get fed.  Now I’m not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by suggesting that having lunch with Mom was a major incentive in bicycling six miles after Saturday class.  There were other attractions.  Only one of them was the food.

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How the Grinch Stole Easthampton

By Rick Teller '70 with Dr. Charles D. Cohen

A post-seasonal editorial.

[The opinions expressed here are the author’s own.  Special thanks to Charles D. Cohen and Patrick Brough for their contributions to this post.]

The story has been around for years.  Supposedly the Town (now City) of Easthampton and Mount Tom were Dr. Seuss’s inspiration for Whoville and Mt. Crumpit in the classic children’s book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.   Back in 2009, a surge in the currency of this suburban legend prompted me to ask a friend, Charles D. Cohen, whether there was any legitimacy to the story.  It was not an idle question; Dr. Cohen is Theodor Geisel’s biographer (The Seuss, the Whole Seuss, and Nothing But the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel, Random House, 2004) and possibly the leading authority on All Things Seuss.  Dr. Cohen responded,

The first thing I should point out is that whether you have the Grinch atop Mt. Crumpit, or King Derwin on his mountain looking down into the valley where Bartholomew Cubbins lived, or Yertle sitting on top of a skyscraper of turtles, there are plenty of similar images in Ted Geisel’s work. However, I’m not familiar with the notion that the Grinch story was based on something involving Mt. Tom specifically.

 

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