Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Pie In The Face Suggests Doggerel Verse & More

Both Edwin B. Brooks ’32 and Rodham W. Kenner ’32 were seniors and at the top of their class in the fall of 1931 when the pie-in-the-face incident occurred at Cutler Hall (now Ellsworth Hall). Both were from Akron and each had a father who was an executive at a rubber company. Brooks and Kenner remained good friends the rest of their lives.

The pie-throwing incident, witnessed by faculty master Chandler Jones and Headmaster Joel B. Hayden, resulted in the suspension of both boys for a few days. Ed Brooks’ father, who was not given to much levity, wrote the following verse about the incident which Ed said he found astonishing that his father would add this comical note to his misdeed.

Chandler Jones, Faculty Master
Joel B. Hayden, Headmaster
Faculty & Staff Handbook, 1932-1933


Fall, 1931

Said Simple Kenner bet a tenner

I can throw a pie.

Said Simple Eddie when you’re ready

Throw it first at I.

So Simple Kenner bet his tenner

And threw his pie on high.

Simple Eddie wasn’t ready

And caught it in the eye.

Said Master Jones now shiver my bones

That surely gets my nanny

Said honest Joel upon my soul

I think we’d better can he.

Now students all within this hall

Pay heed unto my chatter.

A piece of pie must never fly

So keep it on your platter.

Edwin B. Brooks
Both Ed Brooks and Rid Kenner graduated with the class of 1932. Brooks went on to Dartmouth College, and to serve as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, 1936-1940, and as a Lieutenant in the U. S. Navy Reserve, 1943-1946. He was later CEO of Columbian Carbon, and CEO of Cities Service, after which he retired to Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard. He and his wife Ruth were on their way to Paris in July, 1996, when TWA Flight 800 out of New York exploded and was lost over the waters of Long Island Sound. A memorial service attended by WRA Headmaster Skip Flanagan was held at the Edgartown Whaling Church later that month. Ed Brooks was 81. The trip was to celebrate Ruth’s 80th birthday in Paris.

Rod Kenner spent a year in Germany, 1932-1933 before enrolling at Yale
Rodham W. Kenner
University, where he earned a B.A. and went on to Washington University in St. Louis to earn a law degree. While studying in Germany, he became the only WRA alumnus to witness in person Adolf Hitler at a giant rally in the fall of 1932. Kenner was a Lieutenant in the U. S. Army Air Force during World War II and served with the CIA in this country and abroad from 1946 until 1973. Kenner did not offer much detail about his work for the CIA but we know he was stationed in Dusseldorf, Germany in the mid-1950’s. He died in December, 1995 at age 81. When asked what was his “most vivid memory of WRA”, he replied, “Threw pie in Brooks’ face on bet. Won bet. Did time”. So the incident at Cutler Hall was not forgotten.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Revisiting Ian "Sandy" Frazier's Book, Family (1994)

Book cover
It’s not often a book that was published 25 years ago receives a prominent mention in The Wall
Street Journal's
feature on books, but that is what happened to Ian "Sandy" Frazier’s notable book, Family, in the September 1, 2019, issue of that paper. Mary Norris was asked to list the “Five Best Tear-Jerkers,” and Frazier’s book was selected as one of the five.

It might be just a passing salute for those of us connected with Western Reserve Academy, but this book is about the Frazier family in Hudson, Ohio, and the sad part has to do with the passing of Sandy’s younger brother, Fritz, who was only in his sophomore year at Western Reserve Academy when he died on December 7, 1972. He was just 15 years old and was a victim of cancer.

“To have known Fritz is to have known life in its most animated form,” said Dr. Robert Pryce at the
Frederick Schuler
"Fritz" Frazier, 1971
Chapel memorial service held for him.

“Fritz enjoyed living, and he liked having fun, and meeting with new experiences, and being with a warm and lively family, whom he loved, and who loved him.”

Mary Norris writes in The Wall Street Journal, “I sobbed at the deathbed scene, so piercing in its
evocation of the unbearable.”

Fritz has been memorialized on the campus of Western Reserve Academy with trees and a stone bearing a verse from the British poet, John Clare. It is good to be reminded of what a good book Sandy Frazier has written, among the many that he has done over the years. Ian "Sandy" Frazier is an alumnus of WRA, Class of 1969. Family, the book, can be borrowed from many libraries, and an inscribed copy can be found in the Western Reserve Academy's Authors & Artists Collection at the John D. Ong Library.
Description of Fritz Frazier's
memorial at Western Reserve Academy

Monday, December 09, 2019

Bert Szabo, WRA's Last Farm Manager, Turns 99 This Week

Last week, the Akron Beacon Journal's front page carried a story about Bert Szabo, who is celebrating his 99th birthday this week, on Wednesday, Dec. 11. His service at Western Reserve Academy is mentioned in the article, which notes that he was chief naturalist at the Akron Metropolitan Parks starting in the late 1950's, and he was the instigator of the annual Fall Hikes in the Parks which have been going on for fifty years. Bert has hiked most of those years.

They are temporarily naming Sand Run Parkway in Akron Bert Szabo Parkway. A few years ago WRA alumnus Donovan Husat and I filmed a program for Hudson Community Television (HCTV) about Bert Szabo and the former Evamere Farm at WRA, which he ran from 1951-1957. Mr. Husat grew up in a house on Franklin Street near the farm.

We had Bert meet us on location where the interview was taped, then we used the presentation at a Hudson Heritage Association meeting. Bert attended and brought down the house with his answers to questions about the WRA farm. HCTV will rerun the program in honor of Bert and his 99th birthday the week of Dec. 16.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Loomis Observatory in the News

Cleveland's Channel 5 News recently taped a segment about the Loomis Observatory, found on Western Reserve Academy's campus. I was able to provide Channel 5 history about the Observatory and about Elias Loomis.

The Loomis Observatory is the oldest observatory in the country still standing on its original foundation. Read more and watch the video clip by clicking on the link or the picture below.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Owen Brown Descendant Looks at John Brown's Hudson

Marty Ann Brown and Tom Vince in the WRA Archives
photo by Betsy Barry
It was a pleasure for your WRA Archivist & Historian to welcome Marty Ann Brown to Hudson this past week and show her something of her ancestor’s home town, a tour of John Brown’s Hudson. Marty Ann Brown, who lives in Portland, Oregon and is with the Oregon State University Press, was attending a conference in Columbus when she came to Hudson to explore the place that her ancestors called home. Marty is a direct descendant of Owen Brown, who came to Hudson in 1805, of his son John Brown, known as the abolitionist leader who led the raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859, and of Jason Brown, John’s son who was born in 1823 at Old Tannery Farm on the road now called Hines Hill Road.

Allyn Marzulla, photographer, Marty Brown, and
Tom Vince inside the historic house at Old Tannery Farm
photo by Carol Smith
It was in 1818 that John Brown and his step-brother, Levi Blakeslee, came up to the hill on what was then called Chapman Road to start a tannery on the creek. John married Hudson girl Dianthe Lusk in 1820 and almost immediately began to build the house that still stands on that historic property. Their son, Jason Brown, who would live longer than any of John’s 20 children, was born there in 1823. Owner Carole Smith was gracious enough to host Marty Brown and I and photographer Allyn Marzulla on a tour of that house, then we walked around the expansive property to look at Brandywine Creek, the likely location of the old tannery, and the outbuildings that date from the early 20th century.

The garden house in foreground with the main house
at Old Tannery Farm. House John Brown built dates from 1823
photo by Allyn Marzulla
We also took our visitor to Chapel Street Cemetery, where Owen Brown and his wife, Ruth Mills Brown, both ancestors of Marty Brown, are buried. In that cemetery can be found the grave of War of 1812 veteran, Captain Amos Lusk, father of Dianthe Lusk Brown, another of our visitor’s ancestors. It was surprising to our visitor to learn that Owen Brown was a founding trustee of our school in 1826 and that he was one of three trustees who were responsible for erecting some of the buildings that we use today.

Descendant Marty Brown and Archivist Tom Vince
at the grave of Owen Brown at Hudson's Chapel Street Cemetery
photo by Allyn Marzulla

We also discussed Charles Storrs Adair of Kansas, a nephew of John Brown who had known him during the fight for a free Kansas. Adair came to Hudson to attend the old Preparatory School in 1860 and stayed for two years before going back home to enlist in the Second Kansas Cavalry, where he distinguished himself. Another stop was at the home and barn of Jeremiah Brown, the brother of John, located on Route 303 near Fox Trace. His house dates to the 1850’s, and it is said that the rifles used at Harpers Ferry were stored in the barn behind the house. Jeremiah later acted as agent for the estate of his brother after 1859. His nephew, Charles Storrs Adair of Kansas Territory, stayed with Jeremiah’s family while he was a student.

Marty Brown and Tom Vince at Jeremiah Brown's barn in
Hudson where the rifles for Harpers Ferry may have been stored
photo by Allyn Marzulla
Our visitor also had a chance to visit the grave of her direct ancestor, Jason Brown (1823-1912) who died in Akron a month before his 90th birthday and is buried at Glendale Cemetery. Like his famous father, Jason traveled much and lived for years in southern California. His son in Akron persuaded Jason to come home to Summit County. Some additional the photos of our recent tour around town are posted below.

Marty Brown signs the guest book at Old Tannery
Farm while owner Carole Smith and Tom Vince look on
photo by Allyn Marzulla

Tom Vince at tombstone of WRA founder
David Hudson at Chapel Street Cemetery
photo by Allyn Marzulla

Marty Brown and Tom Vince at the
Jeremiah Brown House in Hudson
photo by Allyn Marzulla

Friday, March 01, 2019

Pierce House, Home to WRA's Head of School

Oldest known photo of Pierce House, taken in 1881
Since 1931 when the school purchased this historic house at the north end of the campus, Pierce House has been the home of the Head of School and family. The house itself was built in 1855 as a retirement place for the Rev. George E. Pierce, second President of the Western Reserve College. Pierce had served the college with distinction since 1834 but by the early 1850’s the college was heavily in debt. Pierce was replaced as college President, and in lieu of his salary, the college gave Pierce deed to 130 acres of land and he proceeded to build this fine house. He entertained Ralph Waldo Emerson and other visitors to the campus, and in 1860 at the gate of the house, the murder of Michael Stapleton by John Maloney, occurred while Pierce’s housemaid, Ellen Ryan, was a witness. Eventually Maloney was convicted and sent to the Ohio Penitentiary where he served seven years before being pardoned.
Joel B. Hayden in Pierce House study, 1935
President George E. Pierce,
photo by Hudson's John Markillie
Charlotte "Lottie" Pierce Gallup, only daughter of
President Pierce, taken in the 1860's
Meanwhile, Pierce continued to live in the house until his death in 1871 when his daughter, Charlotte, married and moved out to Colorado to join her brothers. The widow Pierce lived on until her death in 1875 when the house was sold to a succession of owners until WRA purchased it from the King family in 1931 to house the newly-appointed Headmaster Joel B. Hayden and his family. The house underwent an extensive renovation at that time, the rear wing was razed, and a more extensive living room, conservatory, kitchen, pantry, library for the Headmaster, and guest rooms were added, bringing the house to its present configuration of 18 rooms. The side patio was added in 1948.
Pierce House, aerial view taken by Jon Bingaman '01,
showing back and yard
Pierce House, Winter
In 1977 the house made history again when it became the setting for the much-loved television film, “The Gathering” which starred Edward Asner and Maureen Stapleton. The house was featured as Ms. Stapleton’s home to which her estranged husband and far-flung family returned for a poignant Christmas reunion. The television crew was in the house for eleven days and used all the rooms on the main floor. Asner and Stapleton gave a memorable assembly in the Chapel for WRA students after the filming was done. Pierce House was selected by the film company for its beautiful architecture, its woodwork, and high ceilings which provided spacious area in which to film. A cameo appearance by a number of WRA faculty and staff is in the scene with carolers (and dog) outside the house. The film won an Emmy in 1978.

When Headmaster Hunter M. Temple left for California in 1982, noted artist Lowell Ellsworth Smith painted a large view of Pierce House as a gift to the Temple family. They returned it to the school a few years ago and it now hangs in the front parlor.

The Burner Family
Pierce House has been the home of Head of School Christopher D. Burner and his family since 2008. The house was featured on the Hudson House and Garden Tour in June, 2018. The new Head of School, Suzanne Walker Buck, and her family are expected to reside here starting in the summer of 2019.