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Priscilla Dole Hatch W'49

Sullivan Museum and History Center, Norwich University


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Priscilla Dole Hatch, Oral History Interview

June 11, 2015

Interviewed by Sarah Yahm

SARAH YAHM: Hmm. Well, we'll keep trying. This may not work. We might need to reschedule but we're going to give it a shot. I've been having some trouble with my equipment. Um, okay, so you've been here for eighty-something years?

PRISCILLA DOLE HATCH: Eighty years actually.

SY: Eighty years. Was this the house you were born in?

PH: No. No. When my family bought this house when I was four years old.

SY: Wow. But you were born in Northfield.

PH: Born in Northfield.

SY: And where was your, what house were you born in? Where was your original house?

PH: The house up on, um, the corner of Stagecoach and Route Twelve.

SY: Wow.

PH: Right across from the library.

SY: Okay. So, you've seen a lot of big changes in your lifetime.

PH: Oh, yes.

SY: Yeah. So, I guess I'm wondering, so your family has a long-standing history with the University. Right? Could you talk about that relationship a little bit?

PH: Okay. Which one? My grandfather?

SY: Both.

PH: Both of them. Okay. My grandfather Dole, Charles Dole, was acting president for two years. It was at a time when Norwich was having financial difficulties. So, he used his own money to pay the instructors. Of course, there were fewer instructors then than there are now but, um, he did that and then he had, four boys went to Norwich, his four sons. And then he had two brothers I believe that went to Norwich, at least one, maybe two. And then, my other grandfather, Ira Holden, he went to Norwich, I think, two years, because he liked to play football. That was the reason. But then he had to go back and work on the farm. So, he only stayed in for two years.

SY: So, I'm wondering, okay, so you were born in Northfield. You grew up here but I'm wondering what your first memory is.

PH: My first memory. I don't know if it's from pictures or really a memory but I remember living on Cross Street. And it was a duplex house. We had a family living beside us. Excuse me. We had a family living beside us and there were two boys in the house. And they were, we all played together and had a good time. And let me tell you what I did. Uh oh. One day, I decided to take a walk and I was three, I think. So, I, my mother discovered that I was gone. And so, she started looking for me and they were digging a cesspool line all the way down Vine Street at that time. Of course, they're pretty deep. So, she went the whole length of the cesspool trying to find me. She thought I was fallen in there. Anyway, in the meantime, I had walked down Vine Street but didn't fall in the sewer, walked down Vine Street and then I went down over the bank, walked the tracks until I got into town, into the depot. And then, I went across the, I went across to, um, East Street. Now, I went to visit my mother's hairdresser. That was my point of travel. So, she, of course, was just about crazy and she went to, she finally got the telephone call from her friend, saying, "I have a little girl down here. She walked in just a little while ago." P.S. then, when I got home, I was put on a rope and I was able to, it was on a run and I could, I could move around that way. But I had to stay on that. The little boy next door, the reason I mention him, the little boy next door came running into the house one day, that day, and he said to my mother, "Don't worry, Mrs. Dole. Don't worry, Mrs. Dole. She's all right. I let her go." (Laughs.)

SY: Uh oh.

PH He thought was, that's pretty much, that's the first big memory I have.

SY: How old were you when that happened?

PH: About three.

SY: About three, oh. So, that was a young memory.

PH: I was young. Yes.

SY: So, what was Northfield like as a kid? What were your favorite places? What did you do? Where'd you go?

PH: Well, we had the, we had the concerts down on the common. We used to go to that in the summer. My father played in the cornet band and as he did at Norwich too. And, oh dear, what else did we do? We didn't have a lot. I mean, we just pretty much played together as kids. My father worked in the post office. And so, he was busy all the time. We didn't have long vacations or anything like that. We pretty much lived at home. And then, I used to go up to my grandmother's, up on Twelve A and they had a farm. And that was when I really had fun, up there too. That was great, great sport.

SY: What would you do?

PH: Well, if you were really good, you were allowed to ride the hay, what do you call it?

SY: Wagon?

PH: Wagon! Thank you. The hay wagon, back from the field, when my grandfather was, you couldn't ride it when there was any hay on it. He was too nervous about that. But you could ride once. You could ride down. And so, we used to do that and in the summer, once in a while, I could take a friend and go up there. Then, in the winter, we used to go up to the sugar house because he made maple syrup. You went up over the tracks there and up on the hill behind the, I don't know how to describe that, um, he had a bridge that went across Dog River there and that he had built himself. And then, because he had to take horses upwards to draw the sap. Anyway, he had the sugar house up there and I was allowed to go up there. We would take an egg, one egg with us and it had to be a raw egg. We took that up. He'd put it in the sap. And then, come lunchtime, we had a hard-boiled egg that was cooked in the sap.

SY: Oh! Did it have a maple-y taste?

PH: Just a tinge. And if it didn't, we thought it did. (Laughs.)

SY: Of course, it doesn't matter if it did for real. Yeah.

PH: Right.

SY: Absolutely. So, I'm wondering what your impressions were of Norwich were as a kid. Did you have much interactions with the cadets? Did you ever get on campus? Do you have any memories?

PH: Oh, yes. Yes. Yes. Of course, they were always around. They had more freedom then. They were off campus more. Once we moved here, I don't know how it always happened but they used to come here and, you know, they'd get sick of campus food and they'd come over and have dinner or something like that. My father was acquainted with quite a few of them. And so, you know, I'm just talking three or four, something like that. But they, this kind of got to be their second home.

SY: And how did your father know them? Just through the post office or because he was an alum?

PH: No. I think through the Masons. He was a Mason and they were learning to be Masons. So, they'd come over here and study, study the, whatever it is. Then, of course, they'd stay for dinner. I can remember my mother making homemade English muffins. They were so good. They would sit down and have those and coffee after their lessons. And they would come. It was interesting. They just seemed to be glad to have a home atmosphere and feel like they could come over whenever they want. Sit on the porch or what have you. So, I knew quite a few of them that way. Of course, we used to go the football games and the basketball games. Then, when I got older, I knew a few of them. Let's see. What did we do when I was older? I dated some of them.

SY: Yes. So, you did. You dated indecipherable. So, what did that mean? Going to the balls?

PH: I did. Some. Mm hmm. Went to the ball and to the fraternities. They had the fraternities there. We would have parties. One of the boys that I met that I really thought a lot of, after graduation, he came back to visit. On the way back, he was going to grad school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And on the way back, he was on a flight that went down. So, he was killed unfortunately. Great, great, great cadet. Really nice, nice young man. Anyway, uh.

SY: That's very sad.

PH: Pardon me?

SY: That's very sad.

PH: It was terrible.

SY: And how old were you when that happened?

PH: I was, oh, by then, I was, I had dated him so I was, how old was I? I was nineteen, twenty.

SY: And when were you allowed to start dating cadets?

PH: It was interesting because then, if you dated a cadet, the town boys wouldn't date you.

SY: Why was that?

PH: They were jealous, I think. There was a definite demarcation there. You went with one of the other and you didn't go with both. You always had to make a decision.

SY: What, why'd you make the decision that you made? Do you remember your teenage thought process about it?

PH: Actually, until after I got out of school, I did not date any cadets. I did date the town boys. But then, after that, I don't know. I don't know how it happened. A lot of the boys went away. That was '48 and it was getting close to the Korean War. A lot of them went in the service. Then, I met some through them coming here. I met two of them when they came here. And one of them I dated and we went to the ball, the junior, what was it called, junior.

SY: The ring ceremony?

PH: Pardon me?

SY: The ring, uh, I always forget what it's called. The junior weekend.

PH: There was junior weekend but there was a special name for I can't remember what it was. But anyway, it had the king and the queen and the whole nine yards.

SY: Yeah. Yeah.

PH: Yeah.

SY: Would town boys be sort of mean about?

PH: No. They just wouldn't date you. It was kind of a, a hidden thing, you know. Nobody talked about it. Nobody said, "I won't date you if you date." That wasn't even part of it but it just happened. That's the way it was.

SY: That's very interesting. Let's rewind a little bit and let's talk about, because you're a teenager during World War II. Let's talk about what it was like during World War II in town. Do you have any memories of that?

PH: I do. I do.

SY: Could you talk about those?

PH: I do because I had an uncle and two cousins that were in the War. They were Marines. I was, let's see, at that time, I was trying to think the other day how old I was when the Germans marched into Poland. That was '39, so I would have been eight. I can remember lying in bed and this was a direct route for the planes to go over from Portland to, I think, Massachusetts. I used to worry. I'd hear those planes and I think, "Oh. Are they going to?" You didn't know who they were. Whether they were our or theirs. I used to think about that, lying in bed and I used to think about my cousins, worrying about them, where they were and what they were in to and so forth. Plus, other boys that were in town, you know. You worried about them too. It was an interesting time. I can remember when I heard that the Germans had gone into Poland in 1939. I was walking to school and I met up with somebody who had heard it on the radio and they mentioned it. It was a shock. It was a real shock. Because, of course, we didn't have TV and all of that to get instant information. So, it was hard to take.

SY: Yeah. Do you remember deprivation during the War? Do you remember rationing? Do you remember blackout curtains? What was the day to day life like?

PH: We had all the curtains on all the windows were all blacked out.

SY: So, in this house, all of these windows were blacked out curtains.

PH: All the windows were blacked out and, uh, then, they had the civil patrol. What was it called? I think it was called civil patrol. They would go out and canvas the town to see if they could see any light. If they did, they knocked on your door and told you something was leaking somewhere.

SY: And was it your job to pull down the curtains? Whose job was it to pull down the curtains?

PH: Whoever was near them at the time. Not anybody's job really.

SY: Were those blackouts scary?

PH: No. No. You just had them all the time. You pulled them down all the time. No. We got used to it. My mother and father were spotters, up on the hill up here. They would go up. Now, my father and friend went from six to twelve because they were working. My mother and the friend's wife went from twelve to six in the morning. So, they were up there all night.

SY: Looking for planes?

PH: Yes. When a plane went over, they had to notify. If it was going this way, they had to notify if Massachusetts. If it was going that way, they had to notify Portland.

SY: And did they have phones with them? How did they?

PH: Mm hmm. They had phone service up there.

SY: Wow.

PH: Mm hmm.

SY: And they did that every night?

PH: No. Once a week.

SY: Once a week.

PH: They were scheduled. Different people were scheduled once a week.

SY: And it was rotated.

PH: It was rotated. It was constantly covered. Somebody was up there.

SY: Anybody ever see anything?

PH: Just the planes going over, you know. Yeah. No. Nothing happened. Thank goodness

SY: No. Nothing did. Do you remember when all of the Norwich cadets left campus and enlisted? Do you remember that? Could you describe that?

PH: I do. And then, the ASTP came in.

SY: Yes. Could you describe that and tell that story?

PH: Well, it's all of the sudden they just were, they left and there was no fanfare, not much fanfare anyway. There was more fanfare when ASTP left. They marched to the train and they went that way, as I remember.

SY: Did you see them marching?

PH: I think so. I know I saw the ASTP when they went down.

SY: What does ASTP stand for?

PH: I knew you were going to ask me that.

SY: Ha! Ha!

PH: Army training service? They were soldiers.

SY: Yeah.

PH: They were soldiers that, non-com soldiers, you called them, I think. They were up here to, I think they had different stretches like six weeks, six months, I mean. I don't know. I'm not sure what their schedules were. But they were up here and that was time we still had horses at Norwich. They had to, they had to take care of them. In fact, we had two friends, two of the AST people, their wives came and stayed here. One, she could only get away like weekends. So, she'd come here. And then, the other one, she was, oh God bless her, she was only eighteen years old. She followed her husband up here. What the people did around here, they took them in. And they could live with, we had one that lived with us, the one I mentioned for room and board. And they just worked, you know, did the dishes.

SY: And they weren't associated with Norwich? They were associated with the Guard or something else?

PH: No. They were with ASTP that was up there.

SY: But that was up on campus?

PH: That was on campus. The boys were on campus.

SY: Oh. I see. So, all the Norwich cadets left. And then, the campus was used probably to do some training for the military.

PH: Exactly.

SY: Okay. Now I understand. Okay. And you remember when they left. And you're a little kid, at this point, watching this happen, watching the country mobilize for war. What were you thinking watching all this?

PH: Right. I had to, I don't know. It was just something else that was happening, I think mainly. I don't think, I mean, we knew about it and it was talked about and we were concerned. But we didn't really know what was happening, you know. We couldn't visualize.

SY: Was there part of it, because when you're a little kid, any event is sort of exciting, even if it's scary. It's a little bit like a snow day like, "This is a new thing that's happening!" Do remember being excited by all the fanfare?

PH: It wasn't that much fanfare, really. It really wasn't. Everything just sort of happened, you know. The fanfare was when they left and I can remember going down to the train with the girl that lived here. And, of course, she was weeping because he was going off. He was going to war then and she was going to have to go back home. She was very distraught. I can remember walking with her down to watch them march down, follow them and to get on the train. It was tough. It really was tough.

SY: Was she waving?

PH: Yeah.

SY: Yeah. And crying?

PH: Crying.

SY: That sounds hard.

PH: They all were. All the girls that were here. Many, many people took the girls in so they could be near them. It just, they were friends forever.

SY: Yeah. You stayed in touch with them?

PH: Mm hmm.

SY: Yeah.

PH: Yeah.

SY: Wow. Do you know what happened?

PH: Went to visit them in Florida many, many years afterwards.

SY: Oh. Look at that. So, what about rationing during the War? Were you able, what foods weren't you able to get? How did that, how did daily life change? Did the town feel empty without men?

PH: Well, we didn't, we didn't have much trouble as far as meat was concerned because my grandfather had a farm and he butchered the cows or had them butchered. So, we were all right with that but butter and sugar were the two things that were difficult. And, of course, you had your stamps and your little coins that you use. It was an interesting time. You'd go to the store and, oh, and we'd take our fat, fat that you had that you dried out like if you had bacon, if you were lucky enough to have bacon. If you had bacon, then you'd dry that out and you'd take the fat down and they'd give you maybe two cents.

SY: For the lard.

PH: It was like a donation almost for the lard.

SY: And what would they use it for?

PH: They turned it back in for, they remade something with it in the war effort.

SY: Interesting. Was cloth hard to get? I know that cloth was sometimes rationed.

PH: I, probably, probably it was. I know my mother, my mother made everything. She made all the clothes and everything. I don't know if cloth was hard to get. I really don't.

SY: Okay. So, you remember your little ration book and stamps and going around and getting things. And was cooking different? Did you cook differently than you had before the war?

PH: If you had a pound of bacon, you stretched, I mean a pound of hamburger. You stretched it. You put an egg in it because eggs we could get. You put an egg in it and you'd put some breadcrumbs in it. You really stretched it to make it go.

SY: Do you feel like you kept some of those habits throughout the rest of your life?

PH: Some of them.

SY: Because you also were a Depression baby. You were born during the Depression.

PH: Right.

SY: Yeah. So, did you feel that that influenced you as an adult, those early years?

PH: Oh, it has.

SY: How so?

PH: My children tell me is has. (Laughs.)

SY: Oh, yeah? They're like, "Mom!" So, what types of things?

PH: Oh, dear. Well, I'm frugal. That was one thing that I learned. Make it work. What other things? I don't know. Maybe the way I cook. I think that might have some influence on that. And making food go. When you're first married, you don't have much money no matter where you are. You tend to fall back on those old ideas.

SY: Yeah. So, were there a lot of men missing in the town? Did it feel empty?

PH: Yes. Quite a few. Quite a few of the boys went. Yeah.

SY: And boys you grew up with too.

PH: We lost one. Tom. Tom Mayall. We lost him. He was missing in action, finally declared dead. They had a funeral for him here. His body wasn't brought back. They had a funeral here. And then, about two years later, he came to life. He was not dead. He was prisoner. I think he was a prisoner. And he surfaced.

SY: Do you remember how that news was spread? Tell me that story. That's a great story.

PH: Everybody was excited. Everybody, whether they knew Tom or not, they were excited.

SY: And had you known him?

PH: I did know him.

SY: Yeah. So, do you remember where you were when you heard that he was alive?

PH: I don't. I don't remember.

SY: Do you remember when he first came back to town? Did he come by train?

PH: I don't remember how he came to town. I remember just having him here and his mother being so excited and, oh, she was so excited. She had other boys that were in the service too.

SY: What a reprieve! Can you imagine? Every mother who loses a son is like, "Maybe it's a mistake." What an incredible thing for it to have actually been a mistake.

PH: Yeah.

SY: Wow. You said your uncle and cousins were in the War and they were okay?

PH: Yes.

SY: Any aftereffects? Things like PTSD? Were they different afterwards?

PH: No.

SY: No. Did they talk about it or did they not talk about it?

PH: They didn't a lot. No. My husband didn't either until shortly before he died. I mean, it wasn't that he wouldn't talk about it. He just didn't talk about it. If you asked him something, he would answer you, but he was not, he just didn't make a big deal out of it. That's the only way I can describe it.

SY: But then, before he died, he felt the need to talk about it.

PH: He did talk about it more. Yes. He was an avid Marine. He was very proud to be a Marine. The other two cousins, actually I had several, my favorite cousin, he was in and his brother and his father was in. And they met over in Okinawa. We have a picture of them where they met, the three of them in Okinawa. Uncle Ray, I think he was a general at that time. He graduated. He's on the flag up there at Norwich. Are they still there, the flags in the chapel?

SY: I think so.

PH: And his two sons. He met his two sons over there. That was kind of nice.

SY: So, he had been a Norwich graduate as well.

PH: Mm hmm.

SY: So how did you meet your husband?

PH: In college.

SY: And where did you go to school?

PH: At Castleton.

SY: You went to Castleton. You met him at Castleton. After the War?

PH: Yes. Oh, yes.

SY: What did you study?

PH: On campus.

SY: No. What did you study?

PH: What did I study? Oh, teaching. I was a teacher too and he was a teacher.

SY: What subject? Or did you teach elementary?

PH: I taught elementary and he taught junior high. Then, another interesting thing that happened to me, I laugh about it now. They had a course. I don't know if you've heard about it. They had a course here in Norwich in aviation, in the summer. You've heard about it? Okay. I can't think of his name, the one that taught. Oh, he was wonderful. All of them were. Anyway, I took that course. One day, it hit me. I said, "I'm the first girl to go to Norwich, to take a course and go to Norwich in our family." It was like, okay, so there was my uncle, my grandfather, and my father and brothers. And then, I had the chance to go.

SY: You might have been one of the first girls ever to take a class at Norwich!

PH: That's right.

SY: So, what year was this and tell me what it was like?

PH: I think it was 1950. Oh, we had a wonderful time. It was all teachers. I used the material a lot afterwards. I wish I could think of the man's name.

SY: And what were you learning? Were you learning to actually fly?

PH: Aviation. Mm hmm. Well, we had an hour, two hours in the simulator, the simulator here. We did a lot with, we learned how they studied air currents and all of that and the principals of flying. Enough so that we could take it back and give the kids an understanding of it. They loved it. I did a unit on it afterwards, the first year afterwards. Oh, it was so much fun because they got so excited to be able to do something so different. We had to make planes. They had to fly. I can't remember how long they had to fly but they did. We had to pass that. That was very important we passed that.

SY: So, you had to make planes, like miniature planes, and they had to fly successfully so that you could demonstrate understanding aerodynamics.

PH: Right. Right.

SY: And you got to be in a flight simulator.

PH: You got to be in the flight simulator. We took a trip to Sikorsky in Connecticut where, you know, they were building, they were building, I think, helicopters. Maybe they're doing that now. I'm not sure. Anyway, yeah. We had to fly. It was just a wonderful course. Nobody could ask for a better course. They were working so hard to make it successful. They really just put their all into it.

SY: And it was other teachers. So, there were other women in that course.

PH: Oh yes.

SY: Lots of other women in that course. I wonder if you guys were technically the first group of women to take a course at Norwich.

PH: I think we were.

SY: Huh. How did that feel?

PH: I was excited because I liked the idea of going there.

SY: And your whole family had gone there. So, it makes sense that you were like, "What about me!?" Yeah.

PH: It was really fun. It was a different experience. I'm trying to think how many were in the class. It must have been, I don't know. There were twenty-five of us, maybe.

SY: I wonder how long they ran that course for.

PH: Only a couple, three years. They dropped it. I never knew why. I always felt bad that they did.

SY: Yeah.

PH: Because it was a wonderful teaching tool.

SY: And it's exciting that they were also attempting to connect to elementary school teachers, right, and create an aviation curriculum. So, it sounds like you worked for most of your adult life.

PH: I taught until I went down to New York. And then, I stopped teaching when I went down there. I substituted. That was all. And then, I decided I wanted to be home when my children came home. So, I stopped working. I didn't stop working. I stopped teaching. (Laughs.)

SY: Yep. Let's not make that mistake.

PH: No.

SY: You were working hard.

PH: But anyway, yes. That was it. We were there twenty-five years. Then, we came back here, retired back to this house. Been here since '82.

SY: I have some more questions. I'm wondering, when you were a little girl, what you wanted to be when you grew up? What were your dreams of what you were going to do with your life?

PH: You're going to laugh. I wanted to be a teacher.

SY: I'm not going to laugh! And why did you want to be a teacher?

PH: Probably because my mother was. I suspect that was my motivation.

SY: Where did your mother get her teaching degree?

PH: She got it at Montpelier Seminary. There's a seminary down there.

SY: So, that was Vermont College, wasn't it?

PH: And then it was Vermont College. Yes. But she did not want to teach in village schools. She only taught in the country schools. She loved it. She absolutely loved it.

SY: Why not the village schools? Why the country schools?

PH: The children are entirely different, entirely different. They're so appreciative, everything you do. You can't do enough for them. They don't have a lot, you know. They just are super kids.

SY: So, she was never your teacher. You were going to the village school and she was teaching in the country. Or did she stop teaching when you were born?

PH: The way it happened was the superintendent came to her and he wanted her, because right after she got married, she was teaching down in Braintree. After they were married, she came, they came back here. About five years later, I was born. And then, she wanted to stay home with me. I guess I was four at the time because I was going to be five when school started. The superintendent wanted her to teach and she said, "No. I'm not going back in to teaching until Priscilla goes to school." He said, "Well, maybe I can arrange that." He said, "I can't put her in the village school because the cut-off date is six." And I would have been five. He said, "But maybe I could put her up here in the center across from the library, up on the hill." He said, "Maybe I could put her in there and it won't cause a ruckus. Then you could teach." (Laughs.) Who'd do that?

SY: So, is that what happened?

PH: That's exactly what happened. I went to school up there for a year. And then, I came back down and I went to second grade in the village school.

SY: So, you come from a, your mother loved teaching, it sounds like and you love teaching. I guess, where was your first teaching job and what were your joys and failures? I've taught, so I know there are joys and failures.

PH: There are. My first teaching job was right here in Northfield.

SY: Where you'd gone to school.

PH: Yep. And I had what I'd call the best class that ever went through the Northfield school system. 1957, the class of 1957. And they were, oh, they were just wonderful kids. I've kept in touch with them all these years. I go to their reunions. They're just wonderful.

SY: What made them so great? Well, what grade were you teaching?

PH: Then, I was teaching sixth grade. I was teaching in an overflow class, an overflow group, because there were so many, they divided them. So, I only had nineteen. Perfect!

SY: Oh, because this is the baby boom. This is the post-war boom. That was the first year of that. If they were twelve, then.

PH: That's why there was so many and that's why they divided them. I really considered myself lucky. To have such a class. Oh! All just wonderful and they've done very, very well.

SY: What types of stuff did you do with them? Do you remember some of the curriculum you did, some of your projects?

PH: Oh, dear. We had to stick pretty much to the, you know, one time, it was a Friday afternoon and everybody was like this, you know. And so, I said to them, we had to do, it was a literature, world literature. We had a little unit on that. And so, they were working around the Australian area. So, I said, "How would you like to learn to sing Waltzing Matilda?" Well, they thought that was a good idea and I figured it was good for anything else, right. So, the only way that I could do it was by rote, because I had nothing to do it with. I was singing to them and there were two doors on either side. The superintendent could come in. Of course, anybody could come in either door. So, I'm singing away there to them and then, I'd have them do a part of it and then I'd sing some more and then we'd do all of it. I did it that way. I happened to be singing and I didn't have the voice I have now. I happened to be singing and Walt Gallagher was the superintendent and he came around the corner and I looked up and I saw him and I don't know what, there must have been a look on my face or something. He said, "Oh, I won't bother you now. I'll be back later." (Laughs.)

SY: (singing) Waltzing Matilda! Waltzing Matilda!

PH: That's exactly what I was doing. It was fun. I loved it. I did. I loved teaching. That's all I can say is I really enjoyed it.

SY: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It must have been nice to teach in the school that you had gone to. You probably knew the, there were probably just a couple families and you knew all the families.

PH: I knew the families but I also taught with some of the teachers that taught with my dad.

SY: That's a strange experience, huh?

PH: It was very strange. In fact, the eighth-grade teacher, I mean I always called Ms. Lyon, Ms. Lyon, you know. That's what you call her, I mean. She was very strict. When she was the principal, you know, you were scared to death of her. One day, she said, "Priscilla." And then she paused, she said, "Priscilla, call me Vesta. Don't call me Ms. Lyon anymore." Okay. (Laughs.)

SY: Yeah.

PH: And it was the hardest thing for me to do. The others, there were a couple of others there, I didn't have any trouble with. But to call her, it was really wicked. Oh. I was so nervous.

SY: That's hilarious.

PH: I had been afraid of her in school and it sort of carried through.

SY: What was your biggest challenge as a teacher? What was the thing that was hardest for you in the classroom?

PH: What was the what now?

SY: Your biggest challenge as a teacher. What was hardest for you in the classroom?

PH: Discipline.

SY: Yeah. What the expectation then of how you were supposed to discipline kids?

PH: Well, of course you didn't harm. I wouldn't think of hitting them. No way. But, it just, I don't know, I never had that much trouble with it really. I had one incident and he's a graduate of Norwich. No names. He was a challenge personified, really. I knew I was going to get him. The others teachers had so much trouble with him and I determined, right at the beginning, I determined, "I'm going to win this child over." So, he came in. He did a couple of things but he came in one day and, uh, I don't know what he did. Oh. Yes. I had already put his desk down beside mine. I was headed this way and he was headed this way. So, he was sitting there for several things he had done and then, I don't know what he did now. I can't remember. I sat down and I put the children to work. I sat down and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I put it in an envelope. And then, I put his mother's name on it and I put it on the corner of his desk. This is in the morning. He's got to look at this until lunch time. So, I guess you'd call it torture. I don't know. He sat there and looked at it. So, he went home. When he came back, I said, "Did you give your mother the note?" He said, "I threw it on the table as I was leaving." I said to him, "Well, that means you've got to wait all afternoon to find out the result. That's going to make it even worse. Isn't it?" And so, that was that. The next morning, I went in. He's sitting at his desk. Now, I went to school about 7:30. Early. I did my best work with planning in the morning. I went in. There sits Gary. I said, "Did you get locked in last night?" He said, "No." He said, "The janitor let me in this morning." I said, "Why are you here so early?" He said, "I just had to tell you," he said, "I didn't know how much you cared about me." Because in the note, I had written, "It's only because I care so much about so much about, that I really want him to do well. Seventh grade is very important because it will be the start of his really having to buckle down in high school and learn to do well. I know he can do it but he's doing too much extracurricular fooling around." He said, "Nobody's ever liked me in school."

SY: What a success that is! What a success!

PH: It really was. I consider it the biggest success I had in all my teaching. I had written on the bottom to ask his mother to please come in to see me. She came in and we talked about it. She said, "What can I do? What can I do to help this along?" I said, "Well, I don't know." I said, "He's very fond of his football equipment." And so, she took his football equipment away from him and told him he couldn't have it back until I wrote a note saying that it was possible. So, I let him go about six weeks. I was going to win this one. Finally, one day, I sat down and I wrote a note. Put it on his desk. He took it home. The next morning, I came in, same time, there sits Gary, full football uniform on, hat, all this stuff they wear, ball under his arm.

SY: That's very sweet.

PH: Is that a wonderful story? I love it. I just love it.

SY: And how did he end up doing?

PH: All I can say is he now, I think he's the registrar of one of the biggest colleges in the country.

SY: Look at that! He did all right, that kid!

PH: I wish I could tell you his name, but I shouldn't.

SY: No. Oh, you shouldn't. That's a very sweet story.

PH: Oh, it was wonderful. I was so pleased. He was so cute. After I left teaching, he even wrote me. He would write me letters. He was one of the ones, when we had the, when I had the units on aviation, he really got into it. He did so well on that. He really did. He was interested and excited about it. I remember him probably being the most excited than any of them.

SY: It sounds like you were a wonderful teacher.

PH: Oh, I don't know about that. We did have a good time. We had a good time. Hopefully, they learned.

SY: Were you sad when you were moving to New York, to leave teaching at the village school? Did you teach?

PH: I did. I was. Yeah.

SY: Did you have a send-off when you left?

PH: No. Not really. Not really.

SY: So, why and you lived in Northfield your whole life so you must have been sad about leaving Northfield or were you excited about moving somewhere else? What was the, I assume your husband got a job.

PH: I was excited about going down there. I just wanted to do something, you know, outside. I knew I could always come back. I liked New York. I really did. Teaching was different.

SY: How was it different?

PH: I had, I was called in to teach first grade one day and I was pregnant with my youngest son. And so, I kind of hesitated but I said, "Okay." I would go in. I had this little kid who, I had put them all to work and when you go in, you don't have any lesson plans and you've got to figure out something quick. You've taught school. You know. So, I worked on that and then, I was walking up the aisle, between the, of course, the seats were all together. I was walking up the aisle and this little kid stuck his foot out, tripped me and I just barely, just barely held myself up and got out of it. I got home that night. I said to Stanley, "That's it. No more. Not now."

SY: What was, you know what? I'm just realizing your chair is kind of squeaky. I'm wondering if maybe we should switch chairs because the squeak is coming up.

PH: Is it?

SY: Do you think this chair is less squeaky?

PH: Could be.

SY: Let's try. We'll just move my chair over and hope it's a little less squeaky. Trade.

PH: This one's more solid.

SY: That's more solid? Okay. Then let's do that one. There we go. So, what was it like to live in Huntington after having lived in Northfield? How was life different?

PH: We lived in Northport but he taught in Huntington. It was different but I had very nice neighbors. That made it, you know.

SY: And it was suburb then, right?

PH: Yes. We even had some potato fields.

SY: Really?

PH: Yes!

SY: Wow!

PH: Not now.

SY: I was trying to figure out where Huntington is.

PH: North Shore.

SY: North Shore. And where's Levittown?

PH: Levittown is closer to the city.

SY: Closer to the city.

PH: And it's in the middle.

SY: But these were, like, some of the early post-War suburbs, right?

PH: Mm hmm.

SY: Were all the houses kind of alike? Were they designed neighborhoods or were they older than that?

PH: No. You know, Huntington was, Northport especially, they had a lot of cottages out there. People went out there in the summer. A lot of them were converted cottages. Now, they're McMansions.

SY: Of course. Yeah.

PH: It's entirely different. Even the house that we had, it was built in the fifties. When I go by, I can't believe it. They just sold it so I was able to look at the pictures of the inside and they've done some beautiful work in there. Good ideas. No. They're not side by side really. Now, it's condos and big senior units and things like that.

SY: So, how did you like being a mom?

PH: Oh, I loved being a mom.

SY: You did? Some people like staying at home with their kids and some people don't. You liked it.

PH: I did.

SY: You really like kids, it sounds like.

PH: I do.

SY: How many kids do you have?

PH: Pardon me?

SY: How many kids do you have?

PH: Three.

SY: Three. Okay. Are they still living out on the island or are they scattered?

PH: They are. They're all down there.

SY: That's good. So, you can spend winters down there with them.

PH: Right. I said, "We left and they didn't."

SY: Yep. What made you and your husband decide to retire back up here?

PH: After my mother passed away, father passed in '60, after my mother passed away in '75, the house was ours. We'd come every summer, just doing the work that had to be done to keep it up. Other than that, we closed it. He was from Vermont. He was from Calais and I was from Northfield. It was just a given to do this. Get back to where it's quieter and less expensive to live. Right now, it's horrendous to live down there. Awful.

SY: Were any of your old friends still around when you came back? Did you still feel like you knew people?

PH: Oh, yeah.

SY: So, it was easy to slip right back in.

PH: Right. Oh, yes. No problem. Between relatives and friends, it was easy.

SY: Yeah.

PH: That's why I say I have the best of both worlds because I go down there for six months and I see all my friends down there and then I come up here and I have all my friends up here.

SY: So, of course, Northfield has changed over the course of your life but I bet there's also ways in which its stayed the same. I'm wondering your thoughts about that, ways it's different and ways it's similar.

PH: Well, if you take this street, for instance, every house on this street, except for the one's that painted purple, every house is the same as it was. Off this here, we now have another street off it. That wasn't there. It wasn't spruces. It was grove up there of fir trees. It was gorgeous. They took them down.

SY: Oh, that's sad.

PH: It is. The Common, the Common down there has changed. And, of course, Norwich has changed. That's what we watched.

SY: How have you seen Norwich change?

PH: Oh, my goodness! As the buildings go up, it's just amazing. And all we ever had was the, you know, Plumley.

SY: The armory.

PH: Couldn't think of it. Yes. Plumley. But now they have Kreitzberg. It's just amazing. It's amazing what they've done. And that's all been since, except for the building up on the Quad, all these other new buildings have all been built since the '50s.

SY: Yeah. Do you remember how you felt when you heard that girls were going to be allowed to come to Norwich?

PH: Oh, that was great! Yeah. I thought it was great. Nothing wrong with that. And I was so glad when we had a girl cadet colonel. I was excited. Didn't know her but I was excited.

SY: Yeah. What about it excited you?

PH: Oh, I just thought it was wonderful. She did so well that she could do that.

SY: Yeah.

PH: She had to go over some hard bumps probably to get there.

SY: I would imagine. For sure. Yeah.

PH: That's, you know, the Common and Norwich, that's basically the changes that have been made around here. Not too many.

SY: No. I guess not too many. And, I guess, the house hasn't changed that much. No.

PH: No. We haven't changed it. I had the kitchen redid. We made the kitchen larger. There was a sunporch out there and a little pantry. We put that window in which was just like this window. Did that when we first came back. Other than that, no. We haven't changed it much. I like a kitchen where people can sit when you're cooking and you can talk to them.

SY: Who doesn't? That's what a kitchen is for.

PH: That's right.

SY: That's what a kitchen's for. I wonder if you have any last thoughts or reflections about Northfield, about Norwich, about I don't know, last thoughts. You're at this point where you're probably looking back on your life and thinking about it in some ways and, I don't know, what are you proudest of? Are there things that you regret?

PH: Hmm.

SY: That's a hard one.

PH: That's a hard one. Yeah. That's a hard one. I probably do but I can't think of.

SY: But mostly, it sounds like you feel pretty good.

PH: Oh, I do. I do.

SY: Yeah.

PH: I don't have much to, I don't have anything to be upset about or sorry. Just getting older.

SY: Yeah.

PH: I said, "I don't mind." My son's going to be 60. I said, "Gee, I didn't mind when I was 60. That was a good age." I said, "70 wasn't bad either but 80 has been--" (Laughs.)

SY: Yeah. It's been hard. Yeah.

PH: Awful.

SY: Really?

PH: Yeah.

SY: Yeah.

PH: But oh well. It's all a part of it.

SY: It's part of the process.

PH: It's part of the process.

SY: Yeah. Exactly.

PH: Nothing you can do about it.

SY: No. There's nothing you can do about it.

PH: I have such a marvelous support group here.

SY: Yeah? Tell me about it.

PH: Oh. I'm so lucky. I mean, everybody looks out for me. When I go away, of course, you see my one cat has been roaming around. Got a couple of those, another one, I mean. I have a cat sitter who comes in and lives here. He's very good. He just looks out for the cats. They like him I think better than they do me now. (Laughs.) That's what I tell him. He looks out for me. I get phone calls. "Anything you need at the store?" I am going to have a woman that I go to the store with because I don't have the stamina now to lift everything and put it in and do all of that so. She'll help me with that. At the end of the street, I have Bill Lyon, who, anything goes wrong, he's right here, fixes it. I had a leak in the basement down here along the edge. I have a friend that, her husband's an engineer and she said, "Oh, he should look at that. He can tell you what to do." So, he came down and looked at it. He said, "It's really bad. It's going to cost about $3,000 to fix that." And I go, "Okay." I'm thinking, "Oh, gosh!" Then, Bill said, "Let me take a look at it." He takes a look at it. The next thing I know, the next morning, I wake up and I hear pound, pound, pound. What is that? I go around and I look and he's down there. He's working on it. He's fixing it. He fixed it! All fixed.

SY: They're taking good care of you.

PH: Yeah.

SY: Yeah. I know another question I have -- town/gown relations. How have you seen the relationship between Norwich and the town change over time?

PH: Very good question. Very good question, because there's always been, the only word I can use is jealousy, a bit of jealousy of Norwich. I always say, "If it wasn't for Norwich, Northfield would be Bethel." You know Bethel? Northfield would be Bethel! I said, "I don't know how you can say that because, I mean, yes, they've taken a lot of the houses over here, down." They've done things that are maybe not to everybody's liking but the good they do. Helping with the EMTs. There's just so many things that they are responsible for, helping with the police department, the money they give for that. Sure, granted, they use them. I think people resent the fact that there's no tax and nothing coming in to the tax indecipherable, but it's a college.

SY: Did the cadets also have a reputation for being kind of wild at different points in time?

PH: Yes.

SY: Carousing in town.

PH: But it depends who you ask, you know. It really does. They were boys! (Laughs.) They would do some things some times. I don't know if you ever notice the centennial stairs had chips on them. Those chips were made, if I can remember, those chips were made, I believe, I'm going to say 1950 but give it a couple years either way. They did things like that. They rolled a cannonball down those stairs.

SY: Oh my.

PH: That was bad.

SY: Wow.

PH: It was bad but it's kind of funny now.

SY: Do you remember when all the horses, during the War, all the horses left at one point, didn't they? Do you remember that? Visually, what was it like? How did the leave?

PH: They must have put them on a train. Must have.

SY: You didn't see it?

PH: I didn't see that. That was right after the ASTP left, about that same time, '40s that they left. Oh, I know what I wanted to show you.

SY: Okay. I'm ready. I won't go anywhere. I'll stay right here.

PH: Oh. I'm sorry. Are we still working?

SY: No. No. Is it something that should be on tape or not on tape?

PH: Not on tape. I don't think so. It's about the drum.

SY: Oh.

PH: I mentioned the drum.

SY: And where does the drum come from again?

PH: Will that be all right?

SY: Yeah. Okay. So, tell me again about William Holden.

PH: He was in Gettysburg. He came back here to Northfield. He was a very active man. It will tell you some of this in there. No. Maybe it won't. He ended up having a farm up on 12A. He was in the slate business with my other grandfather that lived on Dole Hill. That's where that comes from. I forgot how hold he was when he went into the Corp. Anyway, he was there for the duration of that. Then, he came back. He did a lot of things but he was a great part of the town business, things that went on. I believe he was also in the legislature. He just kind of had his hand in every pot.

SY: Did you hear stories about him growing up?

PH: Let's see. I was pretty young when he died. I can just barely remember him.

SY: This is Holden or Dole?

PH: Holden.

SY: Holden. So, your grandfather you remember?

PH: Yes.

SY: Yes.

PH: Well, not very well. Grandfather Dole, no not very well because died in, actually I can't remember him. He died in '29 and I was born in '31.

SY: Okay. So, you never met him.

PH: Never met him.

SY: Yeah.

PH: No. I just know stories about him. Change the subject here, there's a book. There are two journals, big fat books like this. You know them. I think they go from 1885 to --

SY: This is Norwich history?

PH: Yeah.

SY: The Ellis? Ellis? Yeah.

PH: Okay? All right. It tells you about Dole.

SY: About Dole? Yeah. I actually wonder about your father too. Do you know what his experiences were like at Norwich as a cadet and did he enter the service afterwards?

PH: I could tell you a story.

SY: Yeah. Tell me a story.

PH: When he was at Norwich, he used to go home on the weekend. You could go home on the weekend. His mother made all sorts of goodies, little pies, cakes, and everything. He'd come down and he'd sell them to the cadets. There's stories about him coming back with great big boxes of goodies. They'd all be waiting for him when he got there.

SY: He was a little entrepreneur.

PH: Yes. He was.

SY: Do you also remember, after the War, when married Norwich students were living in this sort of family housing? Do you remember that?

PH: Mm hmm.

SY: And it was, I guess it was over by the intersection with Route -

PH: It's on 12A.

SY: Yeah. Do you remember that?

PH: Mm hmm.

SY: What was that like?

PH: They were little duplex houses. There was one bedroom, one living room, sort of a dining room, and the kitchen was off that. That's what they were, pretty crude, but livable. That's where, they lived there. A lot of professors lived there too.

SY: Yeah.

PH: For housing.

SY: For housing. People were desperate for housing after the War. Well, I don't think I have any other questions. That was great. Then, this article about the drum, where was this from? What newspaper?

PH: Okay. I don't know. See, my grandmother, great-grandmother, W.W.'s wife, so that's in the late 1800s, she would take anything that was happening in the paper about them. See, even down here, there's something, I think. Isn't there?

SY: Yeah.

PH: Right here. Were they celebrating a --

SY: Yeah.

PH: She had a book, a medical book and I wish I had it downstairs. She would paste articles in it. So, I don't know whether that came from a Vermont paper or, doesn't look like a Northfield paper.

SY: No. It doesn't. I don't know. Well, I'll hand it over and we'll see if we can figure it out.

PH: I figured it's documentation. As you read it, you'll see, because they never had anything to know.

SY: Anything about the drum.

PH: Anything about the drum.

SY: Your family donated it but they don't know anything about it.

PH: W.W. donated it.

SY: I'll go find out what the deal is with it.

PH: I'd love to know when you find out.

SY: I will.

PH: Because I've never known. I mentioned it once when I was up there and they didn't have a clue.

SY: There's a new registrar. He's very conscientious.

End of Recording