Thursday, January 31, 2013

Charles Ingham's Introduction to Dummer Academy

     The newest archival display in the Pescosolido Library features former headmaster Charles Ingham.  For many who study the history of the academy, the big three in terms of headmasters includes Moody, Ingham, and Eames.  These three headmasters have a combined tenure of 79 years, or almost 32% of the school's history.  It is not only longevity, however, that accounts for Charles Ingham being included on this list.  Rather, it was his ability to take a school on the brink of closure and bring the academy back to a level of academic excellence that allowed it to continue to the present day.  Ingham includes several great anecdotes from his early days here in his address to the academy at the dedication of Ingham Dormitory.  I hope you enjoy reading them as I have.

       The grass was long and unkempt upon the campus. The boys were gone—not to return. The masters were gone even including the man who was still under salary to interest boys in the school.... In fact, the only link between the past and future was a household manager who having lost a limb through carelessness while in service here, thought she had a life job regardless of performances.

      Most doors were locked and the untagged keys thrown into a bucket for my use and contemplation.
I had been assured that the school was “solvent.” Those who told me believed it to be so but it shortly appeared that we owed some ten thousand dollars in open accounts, and no money in the treasury. And worse was to follow. The College Board’s Examination had been entrusted to the school to be administered well and carefully by the faculty. The boys made it a community project and through their united efforts sent probably the best set of answers ever submitted by the school, the result being that the men who entered college with “Grade A” papers were dropped at midyear....
      We opened with 13 boarding students and scarlet fever. When it was really cold the tank in the attic of Mansion House suddenly dumped its tons of water, converting the kitchen into a skating rink. Then came a lull in troubles so one Sunday morning I tempted the Red gods by remarking as I started for church, “Well, I think everything has happened that can happen.” I returned an hour later to be informed that a girl who had come from Canada two weeks before to work in the kitchen, had just produced an infant which she planned to toss into the Parker River as soon as the dishes were done!