Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Limerick and Two Verses in Honor of Paul Roundy

In the spring of 1957 the Reserve Record published a series of limericks celebrating and poking fun at the faculty. Here's the one about a WRA history teacher who spent many years as the college guidance director:
A middle-aged man with ambitions
Searches yearly for college positions;
A veritable hound he
(His surname is Roundy)
Gains not one but fifty admissions.

Paul C. Roundy (1905-1976), a Vermont native, earned his B.A. at Amherst in 1926, then went to Oxford University where he received a certificate in theology. He taught math at Carlton College in Minnesota and at a college in South Dakota before coming to Ohio, where he joined the WRA faculty in 1932. By attending classes for several summers, he earned a master's in education at Harvard in 1937 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Roundy was director of studies and strongly influenced the WRA curriculum while teaching history and serving as chair of the guidance committee. For many years he coached soccer and several of his teams were league champions. He was known as a champion of high standards and as an original and effective teacher. His wife, Elinor Roundy, also was on the faculty as a member of the English department from 1949 until 1970, when both Roundys retired to their home in Vermont. At the time of his retirement, Paul Roundy was the subject of verses written in tribute to his career and influence.

Kind sir, how many years, how many boys
You gently guided now have gone their separate ways!
Our memory still counts you in its joys
And how, with stirring grace, you read Macaulay's Lays.

You taught us human dignity, that it survives
In times which seem so reckless, lacking plan;
By carrying the fire from noble lives
You gave us Homer's gift: a sense of man.
George Birnbaum '66

Since 1982 WRA has had a Paul and Elinor Roundy Chair in History and Literature which is presently held by history department chair James Bunting. The Paul C. Roundy Scholarship Fund was established in 2000.

Noted Artist of Haciendas Schooled at WRA

It recently came to our attention that a noted artist who spent many years documenting haciendas in Mexico began his schooling at WRA in the 1920s. Paul Alexander Bartlett was born in Missouri in 1909, was a WRA boarder from Indiana, but did not graduate with the Class of 1928. He earned a degree at Oberlin and continued his studies in art at the University of Arizona, the University of Guadalajara, and the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City.

Bartlett lived in Mexico from about 1940 until the 1970s during which time he traveled extensively throughout the country visiting hundreds of haciendas, photographing them, and doing pen-and-ink drawings of the buildings, their chapels, furniture, statuary, farm implements and barns. This effort was Bartlett's life work, culminating in the publication of The Haciendas of Mexico: an artist's record (1990) with a foreward by James Michener. Bartlett also wrote two novels, Adios mi Mexico, and When the Owl Cries (1960). The latter novel is set during the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

Bartlett taught art at various colleges, and for several years was editor of publications at the University of California at Santa Barbara. His papers and drawings are now in the special collections at the University of Houston and at the University of Texas at Austin (in the Benson Latin American Collection). Bartlett died in 1990 at the age of 81.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Emily Dickinson's Grandfather at Western Reserve College

Poet Emily Dickinson's grandfather, Samuel Fowler Dickinson, spent the last two years of his life as treasurer at Western Reserve College in Hudson. Born in 1775, Dickinson was later described as "the embodiment of those qualities and virtues that gave to New England strength and character." He graduated from Dartmouth in 1795, studied law, married and became the father of nine children, served a term in the Massachusetts Senate, and in 1813 built an imposing brick house in Amherst, called the Homestead (pictured here), where Emily was later born and spent part of her childhood.

Samuel was one of the founders of Amherst College and a member of its first board of trustees. In fact, the college became such an important element in his life that it depleted his resources. He was forced to sell his family home in 1833 and seek employment at the Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati. In August of 1836 he came to Hudson to become treasurer of the college and "superintendent of the financial concerns and the workshops." His salary was set at $500 a year. Shortly thereafter, he suffered "depression of spirit" combined with failing health which led to his sudden death in 1838 at the age of 62. One account reported that he died "disillusioned, neglected, and forgotten." Historian Fred Waite noted that Dickinson died "leaving his accounts in a sorry mess." His body was returned to Amherst for burial. His oldest son, Edward Dickinson (Emily's father) was able to repurchase "the old Homestead" in 1855.

It is interesting to note that while Emily's life could be summed up as "born in Amherst, lived in Amherst, died in Amherst," her grandfather traveled widely and lived elsewhere in search of the financial security which eluded him. Unlike his famous granddaughter, Samuel Fowler Dickinson was not a reclusive type.

NOTE: The Emily Dickinson commemorative postage stamp was issued in 1971.