An interview with Jim Shingle from the Class of 1950.
Interviewer: Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, April 5, 2005
Marlboro College: My name is Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, I’m the president of Marlboro College, and I’m conducting the first “Early Voice of Marlboro” interview, with James Shingle. And why don’t you tell us for the camera where you live, and your address, and what years you attended Marlboro.
Jim: Where I live now, you mean. Well, I live at 3019 [Colocau?] Avenue, which is considered Diamondhead in Honolulu, Hawaii, and … what was the other one?
MC: The years that you attended Marlboro.
Jim: Oh. Let’s see, I must have gone—the war was over in ’45, I got out of the Navy in ’46, I must have gone in ’47. And um, the end of ’46 and ’47, and I was still at Marlboro when I was sent to Europe in 1948. And then I came back and graduated in 1950, but that year was 1949 to 1950.
MC: It was an interim year.
Jim: Yeah, there was one year in between, that’s junior year.
MC: Ah. Let’s go back and talk about—a little bit about your life before you came to Marlboro. What were you doing—and then, how was it that you decided to go to Marlboro? How did you hear about it?
Jim: All right; well, yeah. I’m from here—Honolulu; and during the war, which was, for me 1943, because that’s when our school here closed—t was taken over by the USCD engineers. And we were thrown from house to house and then finally landed at the university for a little while. And most of us went away.
And I was sent to Menlow School where I graduated, and after that I came back and went into the Navy at Pearl Harbor. And I was there for three years, as a yeoman, and …
MC: So you were stationed at Pearl Harbor. Starting in 1943?
Jim: I was stationed here and then got out in 1946. And then I had wanted to go to Europe or someplace to school, I don’t know why, because—I don’t know why, I just wanted to.But I didn’t realize that those schools didn’t start till November, so I got desperate. And well, that was really before Menlow.
But we had this great friend, he was from a family here that my family knew very well, and he was an art teacher—I believe it’s called Avon Old Schools, near Miss Porter’s—and he suggested this new school that was starting. He somehow knew Walter Hendricks from—he was in Chicago I guess and then it sounded like fun.
And so I was old enough to decide and I had saved some money in the Navy, and I plunked it down on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco, on the most beautiful car I’d ever seen, it was a Town & Country.Of course, my mother paid the balance. And we drove across the continent and I had this car. And I just loved it. And it spent most of the winter in a snow bank. I couldn’t get it out. Because they didn’t, you know,plow very often to Marlboro, it wasn’t that important.
MC: So once you decided that Marlboro was the place you took a ship to San Francisco?
Jim: Oh, we flew. We flew. And then we drove across …
MC: You flew. And then you bought the car?
Jim: Bought the car, and we drove across to Canada, and then to New York, and then eventually to Brattleboro.
MC: And what year was this, Jim?
Jim: This would have been in—I don’t know, it wasn’t cold, so I don’t know—the end of ’46, though, I think?
MC: The same year you got out of the Navy?
Jim: Yeah, it must have started by then, and school didn’t really start then—we were busy, repairing the old farmhouse and all of that.
I do remember we had a nice kitchen that we all worked in, and we had a cook, and her husband. But at first there was a cook shack, and I mean a shack, and I mean that’s all it was, a little cabin and Ramona cooked for us.
We were all—I know I had a tent in the apple orchard, with this Schaeffer boy, and he was funny, he just wouldn’t do a thing, he says, “We’re paying big tuition, my mother is, and I don’t see why I have to.”
MC: Why I should work. Well, let’s talk about your impressions, when you drove down South Road, up to this new college: what did you see, what was it like?
Jim: Well, it was just the old church, which hadn’t been used for years. And there was a post office, on the right-hand side, and you came, and there were a few houses in the woods, tucked away, and some of the teachers had it.
And we had a particular friend, she was, I thought, ancient but she was probably in her mid-60s at the time. And she came to Marlboro, she was the only girl there, and her name was Margaret Mead. That sounds like the woman—(Sounds like the anthropologist.) Right, but her name was Mead, anyway. Mary, maybe. Anyway, but she fixed us up, as far as bringing us carpets for our room when the time came, and lent us all sorts of things and she was a great woman, very sweet, and had New England meals, and….
MC: Can you tell us what the campus, or what the buildings looked like?
Jim: There was one building, so far as I remember, and that’s the one we were working on—that’s where we’d all sleep. And there were a couple of new buildings, but they were— I’m sure you’d have the same dining room, wouldn’t you? Because that’s where they had the town meetings, and all— still? (The dining hall, it’s an old barn.) Dining hall. That was there, that had been fixed before we came.
And then … I’m just trying to think who was fixing it, they must—there were a couple of old fellows and I should remember their names, because they also tapped the maples, that was one of our things, you know, I can’t think of their names … shall I shut that? Oh! I’m sitting on this thing … what buildings were then … and I’m trying to think …
MC: The building you were going to live in and then the dining hall. And you said there were some carpenters, helping to fix them up?
Jim: Well, there were people from around there, and they were well known and they worked for Walter and he had his nice house—you know, old-fashioned house there—and that cook shack, I remember that very well, because the dining room wasn’t open, obviously, it didn’t have any appliances or anything else in it …
MC: It was an old shed that was part of the original farm?
Jim: It looked new to me. It looked new because it smelled new, and there were only thirty students if that, so I guess you had to have—well, if you put four in a room, you didn’t have to have many rooms.
MC: How did you—you mentioned that you were expected to work on things, like the buildings and the sugaring—how did you get that expectation?
Jim: Well, I think a lot of it was my friend Sanford Lowell, from Connecticut, who said that that was the thing—he had read a prospectus, or maybe they were sending it out to all the schools. And he said, “if you’re interested,” and I said, “Sure, why not?” I mean, I didn’t do much except burn wood; anybody can do that.
MC: Was that for heating the buildings?
Jim: No, it was just to get rid of all the scraps and stuff. No, heating, that was—we had to get all the stuff together and burn it, and keep the place clean, and that was about it. And you know, it wasn’t earthshaking or strenuous I don’t think, because I don’t remember if there were any that were with us that knew how to—you know, professionally hammer a nail, or anything like that. There might have been a few, but I doubt it.
MC: How did the campus change while you were there?
Jim: Well, let’s see. Ah, just as things got finished, and … it didn’t change much. We did have rooms, where we had classes; Roland Boyden had one and Alan Payne, and … I can’t think of anybody else, maybe that’s all there was. But um, Chibolski. But you could go almost anywhere, and the classes were so very small, because, I mean …
And some of the people of the thirty lived in town, I mean they were married or you know, something, and we had people like Mrs. Eli Culbertson—what do you call it now? She used to come from town and there were others, but all in all I don’t think we were too many more than thirty, if that.
MC: So, there were women students when you were there?
Jim: Mary Miles. Miles, not Mead. She and Margaret Miles and Eli Culbertson’s wife, I can’t think of her name, and she was not—I mean, she must have been studying something that we weren’t, because it would have been a waste of her time, certainly. She was sort of arty, so maybe she was doing that. We didn’t have any Moyse or anybody like that.
MC: Tell us about the classes. What did you study, and what are some of your recollections of your teachers and time in class?
Jim: Well it was all … sociology, that sort of thing. And as I say, there had to be a certain amount of, if not geometry, trigonometry or something like that. To get out of college, you had to just do a minimum of whatever it is.
But Roland Boyden did most of the teaching of the rest of it. And then there was another teacher—I can see him now, suddenly, a great tall one. But it was all more or less the same type of thing, it was liberal arts, I guess, with a bang.
MC: How would you describe their teaching method? What was it like to be in a class?
Jim: Well it wasn’t a free-for-all, there was certainly a lot of discipline. I mean, you know, when you start going to college, and you’re in your twenties, why it’s not that you’re a smart-aleck, but you’re close to it, and they have to keep you down a little bit, and put you on an even keel. So I really— God, that was so long ago! The faces are coming back little by little, but very slowly.
MC: Did you have to do a lot of writing for the classes?
Jim: Yes, I think we did. Lots of writing, and—I don’t remember typing much, but I think we must’ve—and, yes, we had to present essays and have them graded. The usual thing, I think, it wasn’t anything mind-bending like it is now.
MC: What were some of your impressions of Roland Boyden?
Jim: Well, he was a … I think he was a strong personality. And I don’t recall that he was the type that you know—Hail fellow well-met—he wasn’t a buddy-buddy type. He was a teacher. And although he was friendly enough, well he—you know—kept it at that level. And that was it, that’s all, I can’t remember, but he was a very very smart man, and I think everything sort of revolved around what he was doing, and the rest took all the extras.
MC: Tell us about Walter Hendricks, the founding president of Marlboro. Walter and Flora.
Jim: Well I thought he was a kick, he was about as un-Vermonty as one could get. He was from Chicago! And how they got that property and that whole thing I don’t know.
She was very sweet, and she was a poetess, and she loved flowers, and you know that kind of thing, so—if not talking to the flowers, she was a very gentle lady.
And he was—I thought he was sort of a businessperson but maybe he really wasn’t—because it turned out that he wasn’t. Because he had a lot of fancy directors and the fancier the better. I mean, I’ve met what’s-his-name, Robert Frost, and all that—I don’t think any of them added much except prestige.
MC: Did you meet Robert Frost? (Mm-hm.) Tell us about that.
Jim: Well, that wasn’t much, it was just that … at graduation we only had Hugh and I was what they call a valedictorian, only I didn’t speak. I just led the parade down, and we got on the, up on the dais, and he was there.So I met him, and I mean, he was so bored with the whole thing much less interested in who anybody was.
And so we—I guess my job was to present Hugh with the class present, or something. Don’t even remember what it was, or where we got it; all I know is it was small, and then of course Hugh was very good at public speaking, he did very well.
MC: So Hugh, this is Hugh Mulligan, the first graduate. And he got to speak?
Jim: I believe he did.
MC: And did Robert Frost speak?
Jim: Oh, I’m sure he did. That shows you how impression— you know, what an impression he made. I do remember him being on the dais, and I don’t know if Mrs. Fisher, Cass Fisher, was it? If she was there or not. But she was another one that they were very proud of.
MC: Did Walter Hendricks leave during your time there, Jim? Or were you and he the whole time there, together?
Jim: I think it must have been in my third year that he left. Would that have been around ’49, is that when it happened? I don’t know. And I don’t know what the reason was, or what. But I do remember being very surprised.
And then he came once down here, and he had lunch, and you know … that was about it. It wasn’t for any particular reason other than that I was the oldest living graduate, and … so, I met him.
MC: Town Meeting was part of Marlboro from the very beginning. What are some of your recollections of Town Meeting times?
Jim: Well it was so out of my ken, to tell you the truth. And I think some of them knew what they were doing, but I didn’t get the impression that we really knew what was going on. I really didn’t. And I think I was on the Board or whatever you call it—once or twice—but I don’t know what we were doing. What were we there for? I couldn’t quite figure it. And what are they doing now? Making all the policy?
MC: No, not all, but certainly discussing everything that has to do with community life.
Jim: I see. Well, we must have, but it didn’t make much of an impression, because I don’t think any of us came up with— you know, there weren’t any quiz kids on the Board. All I remember are all those dishes I washed.
MC: Another volunteer job.
Jim: Oh, no volunteer about it. And then I think on certain Sundays—I only knew how to make stew and rice, and so when it was my turn we cooked for everybody, and if they didn’t like stew and rice, well, hitchhike to Brattleboro I guess, I don’t remember, but anyway …
MC: That’s what they had. But what was life like outside of classes? What were some of the—what was social life like? What did you and your fellow students do?
Jim: Well, we studied of course a little bit, and then we had—there was an art teacher, and he and his wife, he was—oh, what was his name? He was very popular. Anyway, he would spend the night with us. We had a little cot in our living room, thanks to Mary Margaret Miles; he would sleep there, and then we’d have our little toddy.
But you know, he was—and he would talk about art and things like that, he was—the name will come the minute you finish recording this, but I can’t think of his name now. I can just see him, he was an older fellow and looked very arty too. And I forget his wife but she looked very arty also. And they lived down the road, but he couldn’t get home if he had one of those classes—once a week that he came or something and you were there.
And there wasn’t much to do. I can tell you during the summer, while the place was being built, we took a bath in the pond, I forget the name of it … (South Pond? Down the road?) Is it South Pond? When you go through the woods and down there? And there were a few people that lived there that might have been teachers, I don’t remember. But we would bathe there, and it was colder than charity.
And I don’t know about—I don’t remember things like shaving now, because—I guess we had a bathroom, but it was all very, um, kind of primitive at the start until we opened up the school, opened up the dorm.
MC: Now you mentioned living in a tent. Were you living in the tent in the apple orchard because the dorm wasn’t finished?
Jim: I don’t know; some maybe three or four slept in the cook shack and I don’t know where else … of course Peter could go home—Gore—and John I don’t know, I don’t remember until we all became roommates.
But I slept—and my friend, Ed Schaeffer, slept there too. But he never woke up. You know, he slept all day long while the rest of us were doing our chores … so finally, Walter got himself together and asked if maybe he wasn’t—in the mood, or whatever it was, he was happy to leave. I guess that was halfway through. But he’s there on Hawaii—I mean, on Maui, being very successful. He’s a nice fellow. So I guess you don’t need all that education.
MC: What was winter like?
Jim: Oh, Lord, it was cold. And … of course, nowadays I get cold right here in Honolulu, so I would die if I were there now.
But we were younger and it didn’t—you had lots of clothes on and stuff, so … well, we trudged around, and I think we might have tried to ski down the hill, where they had the graduation, but you know you had to lug everything back up again. It was … and they were really, I don’t remember finding any places to go …
When you get on the Molly Stark trail and you up and on the top there’s a viewpoint, you know? There was a restaurant there, and we used to go there, and if we could get the car out and if it hadn’t frozen and all those kind of things …
MC: Were there any favorite pranks, or jokes, you all used to play on each other or on the teachers?
Jim: Well if there were, I don’t … oh, no, we were old. The teachers weren’t that much older than we were. And I don’t remember any pranks.
Crabbed a lot, and that’s about it, but as I say there was Olaf, who spoke English, but – I guess he was all right. And Jack, and myself. And who did I say, the fourth one, I can see him—Larry Smith? And so we all just palled around together and did things around there …
MC: And at the time, Jim, were you aware that this was a very different kind of college or different place?
Jim: Oh yes, oh I certainly did, because I’d been to a college —one year of college, two, after the war—at Menlow. By the time I got out it was only Menlow College that would accept me. And so I went there for a year and then I transferred to Marlboro. That’s how it worked. It wasn’t straight out of the Navy to Marlboro.
So, anyway yes, I could see that there was something very different, and we had a lot of autonomy and we weren’t treated like little kids, cause we weren’t …
MC: You said you and the teachers were almost the same age—and almost on equal basis?
Jim: Well I’d say they were in their thirties, and I was in my twenties, so there wasn’t too much—the only difference was the intellect. They’d gone through college, they were smart, they’d taken their degrees and they were there to teach us. So there was a big difference in that respect, but—and I don’t remember them hanging around, because Roland and them had their homes, and their families, and Alan Payne too … and the other fellow, I don’t know if he was married or not, I don’t remember.
It had something to do with genetics—I don’t know, we were all giving our fingerprints and stuff like that. I don’t know, unless he worked for the FBI or something, I don’t think so.
MC: Most of your fellow students had also been in the war. (Oh, I think so.) Was that something that you had in common and that you talked about, or were you ready to leave that behind and go to your studies?
Jim: Well, you know, I didn’t have much to talk about, because—aside from December the 7th, when I was sixteen and not in the Service, that was as close as I came to a bomb. And the rest I’m sure, had fought in the Service and probably had memories. I seem to remember them telling me a few things about it, but it was so long ago, and I’ve seen so many movies since then, I can’t remember.
But I often wonder—for instance, there was a boy, and I don’t know if he’s shown up in your thing. He was my best man, and his name was Luis Drake. Does that ring a bell? No. Well, he’s – it was spelled Drake, but they pronounced it something else, he was—his mother lived in New York, and he had put me up when we went to New York, you know. And he was a nice, nice guy. And I’ve always wondered what happened—I look in memos, and, you know in the things you send out, but there’s never any mention of him. Luis Drake. And all the rest, I guess—many have gone topside …
MC: Was there a story about a Brattleboro policeman who liked to write tickets, or cars from license plates of different states? Somebody told me that he was anxious because you had a Hawaii license plate, that he was anxious to give you a ticket.
Jim: Oh I don’t remember, he never did, I guess my car never worked. But yeah—finally, what happened to that car—I went to Martha’s Vineyard, and this same fellow who sent me to Marlboro, his family had a place there, and so I sold it so I could buy a car when I went to France. That was the last—it was a nice car.
MC: Now, you took a year abroad, or a year off from Marlboro?
Jim: No, no, Marlboro sent us. And they accepted our credits —Peter and I went first to Grenoble, and then—you know, it was right after the war, it was grim. And it was cold as anything, and our food was lousy, and the pensione we were in was very minimal—you take a bath at three in the morning because there might be some more hot water.
And I don’t know, I met these friends—I met quite a few people—and they were all moving to Paris. So I went along. And I was sick—I had the flu. So they were driving my little car. It was a [Cacheveaux Renaud]—small, but it was the first year it was out, and it was very popular.
And as we were coming into Paris, it was very very foggy, and —I was asleep—but there was a cattle truck stalled on the road, and we went under it. And it hit the top and the whole top of the car, you know the—screwed on the middle I guess —it came off with our luggage, and the two guys in the front were quite badly hurt, so got out and tried to stop anybody that would go by at three o’clock in the morning.
And there was one car, with lots of people, and they were scared to death because the—Marquis, you know the Marquis, in the woods, you know from the war left over, and they had been the good guys, and now they’re turned into the bad guys, and they were robbing people? And they took us to a clinic which was there, and then the next day they all went by ambulance to the hospital and I went by train to the hospital.
And then I found us a place and when they got let out, each one—I got over my flu in a hurry; we moved into this place. And oh God, one guy had this broken leg, and a broken arm, and broken collarbone—oh, everything. And we only had six floors to walk up, but we got him up there; and oh, we had a fine time, we really did, and I was the only one that went to the Sorbonne, they never made it. But we took a lot of trips—like you know, driving trips; the car’d been repaired, and tulip time, and all that kind of stuff.
MC: So, the whole year, based in France. (Oh, yeah.) And you were studying in French.
Jim: Oh yeah. Class in Grenoble was studying mostly French, so we could understand what was going on; but the rest of it was again, all the great thoughts of the French and things, so …
All I know is about Marlboro, from what I’ve seen since then, and I’ve only seen them acted a play when I was living in Stowe for three months and they brought a play there, so I went, and there were a couple of Boydens in it, but they were all very erudite types. They were actors all right, but they— the school itself, I mean unless you could play music, or knew mathematics or something—I wouldn’t get to first base.
All the, you know, where you get your B.A. from, what was I saying before, you know, the kind of schooling, it was – great books and all that kind of stuff. I think it had been supplanted by a great deal of science and things like that, that you had to be pretty special to get. I figured well, boy, lucky I went when I did, I’d never make it.
MC: Do you think the school has changed a lot over time, Jim?
Jim: I think it has, I’m sure it has. It’s got to have! You’ve got a big enrollment now, and—where do you put them all up, do you have dorms, and stuff?
MC: There are more dorms, yes. It’s still very small though.
MC: Yup. What were—talk a little bit about—what did you hope—what did you want to get out of your Marlboro education, and were your expectations fulfilled?
Jim: Well, I wanted to get a college degree. It wasn’t particularly in anything since I didn’t have any specific knowledge or specific desire to learn anything, just a general education. And I suppose I got that, I can’t say I’ve been a great success, but what you see is what you get …
MC: How did being at Marlboro those years affect you, or change your life?
Jim: Well, I just have romanticized it and I think everybody that had gone there in those days, I mean, we’ve forgotten all the whims and waddles. We just remember: “sure it was cold, and sure it was this and that and all,” but—I thought we all got along very well, I really do. And, I don’t know, went a lot to Boston, went a lot to New York, and you know, did things like that, and it was fun, really great fun.
And then also, as I say, for that first year, we had three months off, so I came home and went to work for my brother-in-law who had a clothing store and I ended up owing him hundreds of dollars, I bought all kinds of new outfits. So, I couldn’t write much of an essay on it because it didn’t tax my brain in the least, but, let me see—that’s about all I can remember …
MC: And—you were doing that because they’d closed the school during the coldest part of the winter?
Jim: And we had to go and work. We had to get a job, and then write about it. And I didn’t know where to get a job, or who could hire me, except my sister and her husband, and they had to.
And so—my brother also was there, he was a part owner, so I was there. I didn’t know much about clothes, or how to sell it, so—oh, well. All work is boring as you could be, but then I wrote the essay, and got whatever it was, and that was that.
And I figured that I was doing them a favor, too, because they had to close up. I never thought of any other school closing—I didn’t think that Putney would close, or anything like that, about the closest school there. And it was just strictly—they didn’t have the money to keep it going. But then we had the rest of the year when we came back, and it was great, and we had the graduation, and all took off.
MC: What was your graduation like?
Jim: My graduation—let me think. Hmm … I didn’t stay for it. I got my diploma and—we were having a baby already, and so we drove across the continent. I had another car, and we drove across the continent. And Alice couldn’t go by plane, we had to go by boat, so I had to put the car on the boat, and get her on the boat, and come home, and then life started, so …
MC: So you were married as a student. When was that, do you know?
Jim: I was married as a student. That was in the end of 1949, I think, November, sometime, at the little church around the corner. And, you know, if you want flowers and music, that’s 45 dollars more.They were very nice, they used to send me a card every year, till I think the old guy died. But it was fine, and we had a little reception at the new Whetstone, and we drove home to my apartment that I had, in West Brattleboro. And that was our honeymoon. Oh dear. Anyway.
MC: So you lived in West Brattleboro as a married student.
Jim: Yeah, and then we had a house, too, and I’m trying to think where it was; it was near where—of course, by then Ramona had gotten married, to a fellow named Bennett, and she lived somewhere not too far away—of course, she lived right in Brattleboro, too, because they used to come and see us.
And it was very cold, and Alice was feeling lousy and, you know, that was really miserable. But then I went every day, she drove me, and then the snowplow would get her out, and she’d get home. Then she’d have to come and get me, at whatever hour it was, there was no way of getting out, back to Brattleboro—I wasn’t going to walk all the way up and then hitch a ride. So it was interesting; it was just something that you did, and I’ve never seen so much snow in my life.
MC: Coming from Hawaii, that must have made a huge impression on you.
Jim: Coming from Hawaii. Mm-hm ….
MC: Jim, what advice would you give a Marlboro College student today?
Jim: I don’t think I’m qualified to give advice to what you’re teaching now. I think they’re so much smarter than the ones I went to school with. You know, we were very lucky to get out as far as I’m concerned, and I think they must have made some—to get us out, they must have done something.
I don’t know, but with a French degree, can you believe it? And I don’t know what ever happened to my thesis in French —it must have been just miserable. Stan Tribulsky accepted it, and said it was alright, and that was that, but—I’ve been to France a number of times and stayed there with my family, but the language comes back mighty slowly, and I certainly – well, what I talk like certainly isn’t like a Frenchman.
But, the whole experience, of those two years and the year in between, were I would say wonderful. I just loved it and so Marlboro’s always been very close in my affections, very close. Although I probably couldn’t, what’s the word—you can’t make a connection now, because I don’t think the kids there would—I would even know how to speak to them, other than just in English. But I mean, I think they all know so much more than I do, at my advanced age now. It seemed to me that was a thing, the music, and the science, and the this and that, and—I’m lost. So I think it’s wonderful that it’s developed, and—how many students do you graduate a year?
MC: I think we’re going to set a record this year, 77.
Jim: Gee, how great.
MC: And, do you remember how many were in your graduating class?
Jim: Well, I think the second year, which was Jack Kohler, and mine—oh gosh, five or six? That’s why there was no hardship in giving me my diploma—I didn’t want to have to wait, because we had to get going, and the baby was born end of August, so—you know, it was a nine month and two weeks type of gestation, so we had to get home. Anyway …
MC: Well we’re almost out of time—are there any other memories, or reflections, that you’d like to leave us with?
Jim: Yes … there’s one thing I want— well, I want it to jog Hugh’s memory, because he’s writing—what is it he’s writing?
MC: His memoirs.
Jim: His memoirs, of all things. Anyway, so he was marrying Bridget. Bridget came from Ireland, that was fine. And at the same time, Pete and I were going up to Lavalle. To study for the summer, so we would not be so absolutely stupid when we got to France. To study French.
MC: And it was you and Peter …
Jim: Gore. Because he went. A few of us went. And it was snowing. And it was cold. And my old fancy car just—it had snow tires and everything, but—because it had snow tires, I couldn’t get the chains on.
And so, we went, and suddenly we started to slip, and these two were in the backseat, spooning, and so—they’d just been married a day or so, and—we went over this hill and we went into a stream. So the front of the car was in the stream. And these two didn’t even know it.
So Pete and I got out, and went up, and somehow flagged a car, and then they came, and eventually—and pulled it out, these two were still in the back. And that’s old Hugh. That was his honeymoon. Funny. Well, that was the beginning of the honeymoon. But they’ve certainly lasted forever, haven’t they? I think it’s wonderful. That’s perfect.
MC: Thank you so much for today, and for all your wonderful recollections. I think Marlboro is still the special and idiosyncratic place that you remember.
Jim: Well, I hope so—I mean, it can’t stay the way it was, because there were so many different people. And you know, trying to make a meld out of that is not easy, whereas now I think—you know, they knowthey want music, or they know they want science, and we didn’t know what we wanted, we just knew we wanted to get an education, and get out of the war and all that, that was all.
MC: I think that you might have more in common with today’s Marlboro students from that perspective than you might think.
Jim: Probably. Probably.
MC: Thank you, Jim.
Jim: Well, thank you! I’m very flattered.
MC: I think we came—what, within a minute of the end of the tape? Nope!
Jim: Do you know, it was—now that I think of it, I met some really good friends who’ve stayed good friends all our lives; of course they’re all gone topside too, but … And, well I don’t know, it’s just, it was—a pretty Communist type place, they don’t like Americans, but then, they don’t like Americans now, so what else has changed?
MC: [Ça change!]?
Jim: Absolutely. But …
MC: And—did you ever—when you think back on your Marlboro education and all the things that you’ve done and accomplished in your life, do you feel like you drew from that time, in some ways?
Jim: Oh, I think so; I really, it was just the idea of living there. And I—oh, I’ve got to tell you this one thing—this was so typical of Marlboro.
What’s her name, Ramona, arranged a Christmas hayride. Oh, snow like nobody’s business. So we all got in, and we were going to sing, and serenade the people in Marlboro. There were about two families, that’s all. And we got down to the first family, and we all started to croon, or whatever— carols, you know or something we were singing—and they all turned the lights off! And we went to the second family, and they did the same thing! Oh, I just howled. I mean, talk about inhospitable.
But … and that’s why we went to classes in Brattleboro. They had classes there. And we all went.
MC: Really? In downtown, in Brattleboro?
Jim: Mm-hm. Downtown. And I can’t tell you what they were, I know what’s her name, I keep talking about her because she was our one celebrity, Mrs. Eli Culbertson, went there too with us.
But there might have been two classes that we had there, and oh, it was mainly to get to know the people. It was public relations—we had to learn something while we were there, but we also couldn’t insult the people, we had to be awfully nice. That’s what Walter wanted, so we did our best. I don’t know, what is the feelings now? Are you a hundred percent accepted there?
MC: No, I would say I’m still working pretty hard on community relations. It’s a big part of what I’ve been trying to pay attention to.
Jim: Are there really dyed-in-the-wool Vermonters still, or are they all from New York?
MC: You know, the state has changed a lot. There are … there’s still that group of native Vermonters, of course, all over the state, but Windham County especially has become a place where people – really from all over the world have settled. And there’s quite an international community there, in part because of the school for International Training.
And also, a number of retired State Department, CIA, you know, people who were diplomats. And there’s even something called the Windham County World Affairs Council. So, yeah, it’s changed a lot.
Jim: Well, I’ll be damned. Well, there’s several people from here who’ve moved there, and—I mean, part-time, not all the time, but have been able to find lovely places and stuff, and I don’t know ….
As I say, I did go back, I didn’t go to Brattleboro, but I did go to—my boy was in Burlington, at the University of Vermont. And so I rented a chalet or whatever you call it in Stowe and stayed for three or four months … my daughter was in, um, Ethel Walker’s, wherever that is, Windsor, and she’d come up with her schoolmates, and we had a great time. Great time. So that, you know …
MC: So you were – you came back to Vermont, to northern Vermont, but you haven’t been back to Marlboro since you drove away that day with your pregnant wife?
Jim: Not really … no, I did come back with my son, once, to show him, and that was—we didn’t see anybody, and we didn’t talk to anybody, and we just came and looked, and then went out for lunch somewhere, and drove back to New York.
MC: So he saw where Dad went to college.
Jim: I was threatening him. But anyway—yes, but I do like Vermont, but nothing—I think Jack would tell you that we’ve got memories of Vermont; probably not like it actually was, it’s been romanticized, sort of; bound to be, after all these years.
MC: But it was such a formative time in your life. It’s no wonder that the memories are so vivid.
Jim: Yeah. Yeah. Well, Elsie had a brother, who was in my class. Elsie, uh—(That’s right.) And gosh, I can see his face right now. Anyway, we used to go and—did he have a girlfriend? Anyway, we’d all go swimming in that lake, and everything, and I guess that was just at the very beginning, too, cause you couldn’t put your foot in, anytime—the snow started to fall, even it got really cold, this must have been in midsummer. Ted Haverness, that was his name.
MC: That’s right, she mentioned him to me.
Jim: He’s in Florida. He’s been here, with his wife, new wife, to see me …
MC: Well, it’s wonderful that you still are close to Jack Kohler, one of your old friends.
Jim: Yeah! Well, it’s amazing, because—I forget how it turned out. I think he phoned, and he was on another island, where my daughter lives, so I was going up to see her anyway, and she and I went to see he and Elsie.
Well, from three hundred feet, I could tell Elsie because she hasn’t changed, she has that little sort of baby face and everything. When one old man stood up, and then, he looked at me and I mean it is something, after fifty-five years, I mean not only are you old, but you don’t look the same, and well—it was a kick.
So I’ve seen them quite a bit when they’ve come down, and they have this son with all his kids and they go and visit, and … they don’t come here very much, but if they go to Hawaii then I try to see them, and I’ve seen them in San ‘Cisco, they come to the plays and stuff like that. So that’s good, and that’s about the only one I see, I don’t know anybody …
MC: That’s—pretty amazing, to go back that long with somebody.
Jim: Oh gosh, everybody I know here I went to kindergarten with!
MC: Right, because you grew up here.
Jim: Yeah, so I still see them. I still see them, and we’re all turning the same age this year. I’ve already had my birthday, but one of my best friends, she will turn 80 in May, this month …
MC: That’s a big one.
Jim: That’s the big one.
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