BECAUSE no one in my college generation ever dreamed that his country would be in a European war in his time, the gradual entrance of the United States into the struggle against Germany was a disconcerting and disrupting experience. At Phillips Academy we were closer to it than most schools, for Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War under Taft, was a member of the Board of Trustees and brought up General Leonard Wood to speak on "Preparedness" as early as the autumn of 1914. Principal Stearns, with his crusading spirit, saw clearly the moral issues involved; and in the early winter of 1917 an Andover Ambulance Unit went overseas, with two members of the teaching staff in charge. This was, of course, before our formal declaration of a state of war with Germany.
After we had entered the war, every citizen had his duty to consider. When the school opened in the fall of 1917, an academy battalion was formed, and nearly all the physically able undergraduates, together with many of the faculty, went into khaki and drilled on the campus. In the good old Horatio Alger tradition I enlisted in the ranks and worked my way up --- through sheer merit! --- to a captaincy. While I was a buck private, a fat rather slow-witted lad who, however, had once attended a military school, "rode" me properly, taking a sweet revenge for every F I had given him in the classroom. It was all in good fun, and I enjoyed it as much as he. But the drilling was child's play, and as the situation became more critical I had to consider what I should do. I had a wife and small son, but I was only thirty-three and it did seem as if I might be useful somewhere. My well-intentioned efforts met at first with ludicrous results.
General Adolphus W. Greely, of arctic exploration fame, was a friend of my wife's family, and I made a date to see him in Washington at the Cosmos Club. He was a stately figure of a man, tall, with a magnificent white beard, looking like an elderly Jupiter or Neptune. After we had chatted for a while in general terms, he said, "I know just what you ought to be --- a captain in the air corps. Come along up the street." I was certainly startled, realizing that I knew nothing whatever about aviation, but I could hardly desert the old gentleman; so off we went about three blocks away to the headquarters of the air corps, while I tried vainly to protest as I followed in his wake through the door straight to the office of the commanding colonel. General Greely walked up to his desk and said with dignity, "Colonel, here is a young friend of mine whom I should like to have commissioned in the air service." The colonel stared at me politely, taking in my bald head and heavy spectacles, and then drooped his left eye at me with what looked suspiciously like a wink. Seeing that the general was not observing me, I tried to wink back, and a faint smile played across the colonel's face. Then he replied, "That's fine, General Greely. Can you leave me with this young fellow while I examine him briefly, and he'll report to you later." The general retreated saying, "Thank you, I'll just stroll back to the club and wait."
When he had departed, I hastened to explain my predicament, but the colonel understood perfectly. Going over to the opposite wall, he said, "Now, Mr. Fuess, take off your glasses." Then he held up an army manual, printed in small type, and asked, "Can you read this without difficulty?" "Honestly, Colonel," I replied, "I can hardly see the book." He came back, sat down at his desk, and gazing at me with the utmost apparent seriousness, announced, "My dear sir, I regret deeply that because of defective eyesight, you cannot qualify for a commission in the air corps." I replied, "Colonel, I knew perfectly well that I couldn't get a commission. I came here only because General Greely insisted on bringing me." "I know, I know," he responded. "And now we'll try to pacify that grand old man." He scribbled off a few lines on a card and added, "You give this to him, and perhaps he'll forgive me." When I reported the results to General Greely, he burst out, "This damned army has all gone to hell! I never heard of such picayune treatment; you'd make a wonderful officer!" He was finally quieted, and I returned to Andover, with a feeling that my quest was hopeless.
Once more I tried, this time for a commission in the Trench Mortar Service, but was rejected because of an alleged heart murmur. Then in late March, acting on a hint from a friend, I went to Washington to consult Frederick P. Keppel, Assistant Secretary of War, whom I had known at Columbia. I had hardly started to explain my situation when he broke in, "Fuess, you're in luck. You hurry over to the Cosmos Club, and ask for Walter Dill Scott. You'll see some other men there. Don't say too much, but do exactly what you are told." I hurried to the club, and was shown into a big room where a group of perhaps forty men had evidently just finished lunch. I sat down in a vacant chair at the far end of the table just as a tall distinguished-looking gentleman was explaining that a test was about to be given. There were pads and pencils before each place. He called attention to the directions, and the next minute I found myself for the first time in several years taking an examination instead of giving one. I followed orders and did my best, not realizing I was participating in one of the first demonstrations of a test prepared by the famous Committee on Classification of Personnel in the Army and that the presiding officer was an eminent practical psychologist. When he had finished, President Scott said, "These papers will be checked, and the results announced in about two weeks. The top man will have to give a dinner for the crowd."
I returned, somewhat puzzled, to the State, War, and Navy Building, where Secretary Keppel informed me that I was to go to Newport News with a certain Captain Royal Mattice and await further instructions. "Learn all you can," he advised, "it may help you later." At Newport News I spent a dreary rainy ten days, assisting with the embarkation troops. Then one morning came a telegram notifying me to go back to Washington at once and report to Secretary Keppel. He greeted me with a vigorous handshake and the remark, "Congratulations, Fuess --- you made the highest mark on the new tests and that entitles you to the toughest assignment. You must be ready to take the next train for Jacksonville, Florida, for Camp Joseph E. Johnston." He then explained that I had been appointed by the War Department as Civilian Chief of Personnel, with instructions to straighten out a situation which was rapidly becoming intolerable. The commanding officer was incompetent, the camp was without discipline, and I was supposed tactfully but firmly to clean things up. Never was a young English teacher, with no practical experience, more completely "on the spot." Knowing nothing of the army or of military procedure, I must confess that I was terrified. But the incident was typical of what I was to meet during the next ten months --- perhaps the most decisive and assuredly the most dramatic in my strange education.
On a warm morning in late March 1918, I stepped from my Pullman in Jacksonville into an atmosphere of tulips and magnolias, Spanish moss, live oaks, and all the exotic accessories of the semitropics. An orderly was waiting to drive me out to the newly constructed camp on the banks of the St. John's River, and I proceeded without delay to the office of the Camp Commander, Colonel Charles W. Willard. He was sitting with his boots up on the desk, his army hat on his head, chewing tobacco vigorously and spitting with incredible accuracy into a cuspidor. As I was introduced, he glared ferociously and demanded, "What in hell do you want?" Unused to such a greeting, I replied, "Colonel, I bring a communication from the Secretary of War," and handed him my orders. Its contents obviously astonished him, for I was not an impressive figure and I could see that he was considering whether I could be an imposter. He looked up, surveyed me carefully, and remarked, "What God-damned fool thing will they do next?"
This was hardly a query which I was able to answer. I did, however, want to propitiate the Old Man, so I said, "I know, Colonel, that it must seem peculiar to you, and I'll admit that it's funny to me. But we both have to carry through instructions, and I'll bother you as little as I can." That was that! But I learned shortly that Colonel Willard for the moment had only one genuine interest. He thought of himself as doing the assignment of a brigadier general, and he wanted the pay and prerequisites of that rank. Indeed as I observed him, he spent an inordinate amount of time writing to the War Department in the hope of having his status rectified. It now suddenly occurred to him that, as an emissary from Washington, I might have some influence, and appeasement became his policy. He could not assume an amiability which was foreign to his temperament, but he did become moderately cooperative.
My first task was to set up a personnel office on a scale large enough to serve a body of men which at the maximum numbered more than 50,000. Since I was unfamiliar even with routine administrative procedure, I resorted to every legitimate subterfuge to conceal my colossal ignorance. I did, however, find rather quickly three or four young college graduates of high intelligence who helped me build an organization. Soon the blueprint of the personnel office aroused the grudging admiration of even Colonel Willard, and a similar chart appeared on the wall of his headquarters.
In many respects Camp Joseph E. Johnston was unique. In its early stages it was a quartermaster camp, organized to train, equip, and send out what were known as supply companies. There was hardly a professional fighting man in the camp. Schools had been set up to instruct recruits in what might be called the business aspect of war, carried on by carpenters, electricians, telegraphers, butchers, storekeepers, plumbers, and representatives of other trades. We even formed a number of Graves Registration Units, each consisting of one sergeant, one corporal, and two privates, under command of a second lieutenant. In the summer it became also a center for the Motor Transport Corps and at once assumed a more rugged character with the advent of countless truck and taxi drivers.
Under the existing conditions military drill beyond a few necessary formations was not required, and the discipline of the camp, as I had been warned, was unspeakably bad. Nor did Colonel Willard, except by growling and cursing, do anything to improve it. He had issued an order that his own chauffeur-driven automobile, bearing his insignia as commanding officer, should be saluted whether he was in it or not; and on several occasions I was amused by seeing a group of buck privates, after investigating to find whether the Old Man was inside, thumb their noses at the car as it went by.
The next step after setting up the office organization was to devise some workable method of assigning men where they belonged. The maladjustments were pathetically numerous. When the glad news spread that my department was trying to put square pegs into square holes, long lines of disgruntled soldiers formed outside ---with the permission of their company officers --- to beg to have their cases investigated. One of the most brilliant classical scholars I ever knew was cutting up meat with a cleaver in the butcher shop. A top-ranking mechanical engineer was doing a cook's job in a small officers' mess. Here and there I came across people with whom I was acquainted --- nearly all of them in jobs for which they were not fitted. How they had been so terribly mishandled I could never find out, except that when an officer wanted a cook he just went out and picked the first man he saw. The most experienced cook in camp, who had been a chef at the Waldorf, had been drafted by the band, because he had put down as one of his minor qualifications, "playing cornet."
It was an incredible muddle, and nothing remained but to set doggedly to work and patiently try to straighten things out, as an angler unravels a tangled fish line. For weeks I was in my office fourteen hours or more a day, and it seemed to me that I had hardly gone to sleep before I was at it again. We brought into use the new Trade Tests recently devised by the CCP; and when a man claimed to be a riveter, we could in a few minutes determine roughly the degree of his proficiency. When the Motor Transport Corps arrived we built the highest hill for miles around by the simple process of excavating with bulldozers and piling up the earth. On this we set up a maze of stakes through which drivers could guide their trucks and thus demonstrate their skill in emergencies. While the tests were far from exact and required constant checking, they did accomplish much in helping us to reach a decision. At least we no longer put former truck drivers into the school for bookkeepers.
Among our more difficult jobs was the commissioning of officers, and week by week we studied the qualification cards, hunting out men with the experience and education which presumably made them officer material. On one occasion in the late summer of 1918, when we had in our judgment exhausted the available candidates, I received a telegram signed simply "Pershing," reading, "Request you commission immediately two hundred Second Lieutenants for duty overseas." Eager in my humble way to maintain standards, I wired, "Impossible to find two hundred qualified men for commissions as requested." Promptly came back what might be regarded as a categorical imperative. "You will commission immediately two hundred men as Second Lieutenants." Not wishing to be court-martialed, I set up a Board of Three and under the moss-dripping live oaks we interviewed one after one the sad possibilities. The criterion of even a high school education had to be disregarded. We virtually accepted anybody who appeared not too stupid and could understand English. Naturally many of them were astounded, never having dreamed that they might become officers. As I saw them later dressed in their brand new uniforms, they looked somewhat better, but I was always glad that the war ended before they were called upon to "do their stuff."
I was impressed in Florida, as I have been since more than once, by the inability of many apparently well set-up young men to meet emergencies or face responsibility. The hospital at Camp Johnston was full of officers with shattered nerves. One morning as I stepped out of my barracks I found the body of a second lieutenant lying under a live oak, his revolver on the ground beside him. He left a note to his wife saying that he just couldn't bear up under the burden which had descended upon him --- the command of a Graves Registration Unit of four men. All over camp were fellows who had managed somehow to get along in civilian life with somebody to tell them what to do but who broke down when that support was lacking. Many of them had been clerks in stores or helpers in gasoline stations, where they had never been obliged to make decisions. This experience taught me to realize that the percentage of potential neurotics in any American community must be very high----and the troops whom I saw were not destined for front line combat.
Colonel Willard was superseded by Major General Duval, commonly known in the army as the "Bear Cat" --- a retired officer who had patriotically offered his services and had been a fine leader, but who in 1918 was old and tired and died at the camp before many weeks had passed. His first order was for a reorganization of the Receiving Camp, in which at that moment were located more than 20,000 inductees, most of them Negroes, who were kept occupied by grubbing palmettos with mattocks. The general order providing that the camp should be reorganized in new units necessitated a vast amount of paper work, with the shuffling and transfer of thousands of cards. I had no sleep for two nights supervising the arrangements. On the morning when the Great Shift was to be executed, I stationed myself with General Duval on a little mound six or eight feet high to watch the proceedings. At eight o'clock a cannon was shot off, and everybody started to move, with his personal belongings, to his new outfit. The result was absolute bedlam, like that described in Milton's "Paradise Lost":
Infernal noise! war seemed a civil game
To this uproar; horrid confusion heaped
Upon confusion rose!
For most of the morning puzzled soldiers wandered here and there, hunting their new positions. That afternoon the unit commanders sent in their reports; and when they had all been checked, more than three hundred men could not be accounted for. It took two weeks to straighten out the mess so that we knew where we were; and even then some of the colored troops were never found, having vanished apparently into the Floridian obscurity. At that period, according to camp gossip, Florida sheriffs were given a reward of fifty dollars for each alleged deserter returned to the service; and it was commonly asserted that many a local official, when hard up for cash, merely went out and picked up a few colored boys and brought them in to the camp.
Some of the incidents at Camp Johnston, like the one just related, hovered between comedy and tragedy. Shortly after the Motor Transport Corps began to use the camp, a certain colonel appeared announcing that he had been given authority to form a corps d'élite, composed of prominent clubmen in New York and Philadelphia, between thirty-five and fortyfive, with incomes of $25,000 or more. To each of these whom he interviewed he promised a commission as major in the Motor Transport Corps. Soon by twos and threes the prospective officers reported to the camp --- usually stout and bald and obviously quite out of condition. At first nobody knew what to do with them, for we had received no instructions from Washington. When the number of recruits had increased to about forty, I called on Colonel Willard and asked him what should be done. The storm of profanity which burst from his lips was even more scorching than usual. "Take the bastards out and drill 'em," he shouted. "Give 'em the works!" I protested that this was cruelty, but succeeded only in rousing him to more violent imprecations. So, under a tough old army sergeant, the group were assembled on the parade ground and put through, on some scorching July days, a full quota of setting-up exercises. The poor fellows dropped to the ground one after another, exhausted and unable to carry on. Some of them objected that they had not been told what was ahead of them, but most did their best, thinking that this was an essential part of army discipline. Nevertheless the havoc was great, and the resentment of the victims mounted from day to day. Very few of the contingent finished the ordeal without disaster, and the fabulous corps d'élite never became a reality.
In the following January, when I was in Washington, I read in the paper that an unknown ruffian had assaulted the imaginative colonel as he was stepping from a. cab and knocked him down. The news item declared that the outrage had been perpetrated by a discharged soldier with a "fancied grudge." I am sure, although I cannot prove it, that this was the revenge of one of the survivors of that unfortunate group.
Camp Johnston was in several respects unique. It was filled with good businessmen who were trying their best to avoid combat duty by joining up with the Service of Supply. Numerous malingerers fell ill when they ascertained through the grapevine that they were about to be assigned to companies destined for France. Sickness at home, family obligations, all the customary excuses were advanced, until we in my office became at times disgusted with the whole human race. On my staff was a first lieutenant whose father-in-law was a local merchant of considerable wealth. When the news reached him that his son-in-law had been selected for overseas duty, the old gentleman came out to call on me and, in the course of our conversation, said, "Mr. Fuess, I just can't have that boy leave this country --- my wife would die!" I explained patiently that no discrimination had been made against the young man, that the order was routine, and that war was war. After much expostulation, he drew from his pocket a little slip, unfolded it, and slid it along to me on the desk, saying, "Would this make any difference?" I looked at it. It was a check for $1000, made out to me. I stood up and without saying a word, pressed a button; but before anybody could answer the ring, the old fellow was out of the room. It is only fair to add that the son-in-law made no protest of his own and was entirely unaware of what his wife's father had done. This was the most flagrant of several instances of attempted bribery in my experience.
In late July I was unexpectedly summoned to Washington and there instructed to settle down in a building on Virginia Avenue and prepare the figures for what was called the "Fourth Phase" operation of the war. I have never known to this day why I was selected, except that I was supposed to be informed on the relative proportion of men required in each branch of the Service of Supply for the effective working of a division in the field. With my associates I functioned in front of a huge blackboard, where we made calculations, aware that we were doing a job of improvization. I have always been thankful that the "Fourth Phase" did not reach Europe, for I was afraid that some blunder on my part might leave a regiment stranded without a cook or a stove. At any rate I did the best I could through the blistering August days, and then returned to my Jacksonville post, much astonished and certainly wiser.
In September, at the insistence of the War Department, I was commissioned as a major in the Quartermaster Corps, still with the understanding that I was to be an unattached rover, under special instructions from the Secretary of War. Meanwhile, through the enervating Florida summer, I had been losing pound after pound and had little appetite for anything but milk and eggs. I was thus an easy victim to the dreaded influenza when it struck the camp in early autumn, 1918. One day I was carried off to the hospital where that night the officer on one side of me died at eleven o'clock and the one on the other side at two. My convalescence was aided by a remarkable Jesuit priest, Father Talmadge, who spent two hours or more each day by my bedside, arguing that Coventry Patmore and Aubrey de Vere, Roman Catholic poets of the nineteenth century, were at least on the same level as the Protestants, Tennyson and Browning. The good Father would quote in extenso from his two favorites and I from mine, until the patients in the adjoining beds would rise up in profane protest. The issue was never satisfactorily settled, but the controversy gave me an interest in continuing to live.
Somehow I recovered from the attack, was discharged from the hospital, and returned to my duties; but in three or four days I felt some disquieting sensations and consulted the camp surgeon. After a cursory examination, he said gravely, "Major Fuess, something is wrong with your ticker, and I am ordering you to take the first train back to Andover. Have your orderly accompany you as far as Washington, and make no more exertion than you can possibly help. I warn you that it's about fifty-fifty whether you reach home alive." This was disturbing news, and it looked as if my education, as yet hardly begun, would shortly terminate with a "Requiescat in Pace" under the elms in the Phillips Academy cemetery.
As things turned out, the journey back was uneventful. In the Washington Union Station I was put into a wheel chair and taken to a compartment in the Boston train; and at the Back Bay station I was met with an ambulance and driven out to the Tucker House, where I was deposited and soon warned by a heart specialist not to move hand or foot any more than I could help. On Armistice Day, while the bells rang out and the Andover students paraded in the early morning through the streets, I still lay inert, incapable of action. Fortunately I had plenty of recuperative power, and rest in bed followed by a gradual increase in exercise accomplished marvelous results. Fifteen or more years later my physician, after giving me my first electric cardiogram, reported that I had what he described as a "heart block," the result of some earlier infection; and after probing into my history, he concluded that it was either congenital or the aftermath of my bout with influenza --- probably the latter. Fortunately I have never since had any similar symptoms.
In early December I was back in Washington, under orders, to write a history of the Quartermaster Corps during the war. Captain Hardin Craig, later Professor of English at Leland Stanford University,' and I were assigned to quarters in the State, War, and Navy Building --- Room 510 I think it was --- and there paced up and down, smoking ounces of tobacco and dictating to stenographers chapters of our masterpiece. So far as I know the mimeographed sheets are still gathering dust on some shelf in the archives. After Craig and I deposited our manuscript with the quartermaster general we never heard again from our production. We felt at times like the unfortunate victim in Conan Doyle's The RedHeaded League, whose daily copying was so futile.
In January 1919, with no further duties to perform, I was honorably discharged and returned to Andover, where for many months my wife had been acting as proctor for the boys in our house. My place as an English instructor had been filled for the year, but within a week I was committed to new enterprises which were almost as strange to me as war and were to teach me almost as much.
Many of the incidents at Camp Johnston are still vivid in my memory after all these years. Every evening after supper a group of us would sit on the bank of the St. John's River, watching the sun go down over the live oaks and the rather sickly looking palm trees and the muddy water, so full of alligators that nobody in the camp was allowed to bathe in it. Just as the sun was sinking, Dr. Robert L. Cooley, of Milwaukee, who had general charge of the Quartermaster Schools, would say in a doleful voice, "Well, boys, one acre of old Wisconsin is worth the whole God-damned state of Florida!" It was a ceremony which we all enjoyed.
Major General Duval was an inveterate kidder who made all his subordinates his victims. He pretended that I was very susceptible to female charms and made up stories to suit his fun. Once as we were driving in his car to Atlantic Beach for a brief respite from our busy life, he said, "Fuess, you ought not to spend so much of your time in those Jacksonville dance halls. Somebody will get wise." This time I was a little nettled and responded, "Well, General, that blonde I saw you with at Keith's last evening was no lily." He was so much astonished that he was almost speechless, but he turned and glared at me and finally ejaculated, "Fuess, sometimes I think you don't realize who I am!" It was a squelch which I did not forget in a hurry. Thereafter I understood that in the army the authority of a superior is unlimited, even in jokes.
Up to the time that I went to Camp Johnston, my life had been parochial in scope, largely academic, and much of it spent among boys. Then fate tossed me into the midst of a confused world of fifty thousand men, a large proportion of them not even high school graduates, but all of them American citizens, with the rights and privileges which belong to that status. Unconsciously I learned a new language, so rough and profane that for months after my return my wife would rebuke me, "Oh, Jack, can't you get rid of that awful army talk?" I had to learn to hold my own with some of the "toughest babies" I have ever seen. I had to play stud poker with a face completely masking my inner emotions. I discovered that in that camp community nothing counted but results. The hard-boiled quartermaster sergeants, now to their astonishment suddenly promoted to be captains, had always been intolerant of weakness.
Some of the lowest aspects of human nature were, as I have indicated, revealed at Camp Johnston. Fat-bellied officers "in the know" carried off government building materials and even constructed houses from them for themselves. Graft was prevalent among the retailers that supplied the camp with provisions. Thefts and assaults were common, and the guardhouse was filled nightly with offenders. But there was also an extraordinary amount of unselfishness and genuine patriotism, even in unexpected quarters; and I can never forget some of the kindnesses extended to us by some of the citizens of Jacksonville.
The administrative heads of the various schools established in the camp were men with academic or collegiate backgrounds, but capable of adjustment without too much difficulty to a new environment. Watching them I reached the conclusion that in wartime, resourcefulness and aggressiveness are supreme virtues. It was necessary for those making decisions to forget tradition and precedent and resort to common sense. What the camp needed was a nucleus of Robinson Crusoes --- and it had a good many.
Watching some of my associates at Camp Johnston, I found many reasons for agreeing with Frederick P. Keppel, when he declared at the fiftieth anniversary of the Columbia Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa that war is "a practical test of scholarship." He added that the scholar must "if he is to serve effectively learn to think and to deal with all sorts of conditions of men; he must bear with their amazing ignorances and profit by their equally amazing knowledge of things of which he is ignorant." All this I can corroborate after working intimately with teachers suddenly projected into an army camp.
The work done at Camp Johnston in trying out the theoretical tests devised by the CCP was to have far-reaching consequences. Laboratory experts in the field of psychology discovered the defects of the earlier tests and gradually improved them. Leaders like Walter Dill Scott, Walter V. Bingham, John J. Coss, Beardsley Ruml, and others made a contribution which was both corrective and constructive. The A-12 and V-i2 examinations used so effectively in World War II were based on the cruder tests which we employed at Camp Johnston.
Furthermore the whole broad theory of fitting the man to the job was, with some fumbling and plenty of mistakes, shown to be practicable in Jacksonville. Even "old-timers" could perceive that it was wasteful to turn an expert plumber into a storekeeper and an electrical engineer into a drummer. Before the spring of 1918 attempts were being made to set newly inducted privates at tasks for which they were equipped. Once the principle was established, the development of details was only a question of time.
We had the satisfaction of experimenting on a large scale with what might be called "universal training." Thousands of young men received instruction in matters of personal hygiene and even learned a trade. I then and there reached the conviction --- which I have never abandoned --- that the educational value of twelve months spent by a young man in making a useful contribution to the state is high. In large areas of the country the public school systems accomplish less than is supposed. Even when military drill is not paramount, there is plenty of work to be done in building bridges, draining swamps, and constructing roads; and I have no doubt that important projects, unhappily too long postponed, could be accomplished by this superabundant manpower. I know that many of the young men at Camp Johnston felt that they were being given a chance for training such as would ordinarily have been denied them. And for me those months were probably the most profitable of my life.
PROFESSOR John J. Coss, of Columbia, an influential member of the Committee on Classification of Personnel in the Army, once said to me after resuming his university duties when the war was over, "Jack, it's hard to return to a milk diet after living on raw meat." I knew exactly what he meant, and I must admit that I had much of the same feeling at first as I took off my uniform and settled down in Andover at the opening of 1919, hoping that there might be enough for me to do and that it would absorb all my energies. There soon was plenty.
To make it clear how my life at Andover widened at this juncture, I must necessarily build a little background. When I accepted the position on the faculty in 1908, I began almost at once to take an interest in the long history and splendid traditions of Phillips Academy. The school had published for some years a little quarterly magazine called the Phillips Bulletin, and in 1913 I was asked by Mr. Stearns to assume its editorship. No invitation could have been more opportune, for I was trying to learn how to write. It was at this time that I formed a close friendship with James C. Sawyer, Treasurer of the Academy. Jim was a born antiquarian, an insatiable lover of the past. He had a passion for old things, especially when they were beautiful, and an amazing memory for facts and dates and incidents. As he caressed with his sensitive fingers the mahogany balustrade of a Bulfinch house, he infected me with his own delight, and I tried to understand what he saw and felt. By mere contact with a gentleman of his aesthetic tastes, I learned much that was to be for me a stimulus and solace through the years.
I have used the term "gentleman" because Jim was about the most perfect specimen of that genus I have ever encountered. He conformed to Newman's famous definition by never willingly inflicting pain, but it was instinctive with him to be gracious, sympathetic, and tactful, and to draw out the best in others. Much of his irresistible personal charm lay in his deepseated cheerfulness and easygoing temperament. His mere presence was an antidote to pessimism, for he had a profound conviction that everything would turn out all right. Fortunately most of his career as treasurer was spent in days when a steadily flowing river of money came in from the school's generous benefactors. When a pressing need arose, he would say, "I'll get the cash somehow" --- and he usually did. During the lean 1930's Jim was unhappy, for he did not relish cheeseparing and counting pennies.
Jim once went with Al Stearns on a begging errand to Mr. Piel, of brewery fame, who had had sons in the school. After he had explained for some minutes the need for an endowment, Mr. Piel responded in his strong German accent, "And vot iss diss endowment --- a dormitory?" Undismayed, Jim went on to discuss some of his budgetary difficulties. When he had finished, the old gentleman inquired, "Do I understand that you have been running along for some years mit a deficit?" "Yes, we have," admitted Jim. "Vell," retorted Mr. Piel, "Vy don't you chenge de menagement?" Needless to add, that mission was not successful.
Backed by Mark Stackpole and Jim Sawyer, I commenced gathering notes on the history of the school and writing in the Bulletin short sketches of the former principals. My material accumulated rapidly, and the manuscript of my book was completed late in 1916. An Old New England School was published by Houghton Muffin early in the following spring. Naturally I was excited, for it was my first major publication, and I had put into it a vast amount of research and labor. Some of it was pioneer work, requiring the poring over almost indecipherable records; and I was rather proud of the fact that I had accomplished the writing while carrying on a full schedule of teaching.
Meanwhile I also became Secretary of the Alumni Fund, a job which fitted well into the editorship of the Bulletin and which also gave me a wide acquaintanceship with the graduates. The war came along as a kind of strange interlude, and when I returned the trustees asked me to prepare a volume which was eventually entitled Phillips Academy in the Great War. It was published by Yale University Press in the summer of 1919- one of the quickest pieces of writing I ever did.
It has seemed my destiny to be the local chronicler of persons and events. In 1921 I published a volume called Andover in the World War, dealing with the contribution made by the town. I have already mentioned the Amherst Memorial Volume, which appeared in 1926. Meanwhile I helped to form Andover Post, Number 8, of the American Legion, and in 1923 was elected State Historian of the Legion. In that capacity I wrote and published A History of the American Legion in Massachusetts.
It was my function as alumni secretary to raise what was called the alumni fund, which had been becoming increasingly important in balancing the treasurer's budget. At the close of the war, prices rose, and it was evident that steps should be taken at once to avert financial catastrophe. Furthermore the main Academy building was in such a state that it had to be torn down, which of course made it necessary to replace it with a more modern structure. In the spring of 1919 the trustees were discussing seriously the advisability of starting a campaign to raise money for the new building and for teachers' salaries. Plans were drawn up, methods were discussed, and by the time school opened in the autumn it was settled that I was to be the executive secretary of the project and must for several months abandon my classroom work.
It would be absurd for me to devote space to a purely local money raising campaign if it had not had a wider significance. No independent school had as yet undertaken such a venture. In what was written and spoken we tried to speak for all secondary education. The arguments which we used for raising salaries were applicable anywhere in the United States. The stress which we laid on the dignity of the profession was needed in Texas as well as in Massachusetts. The future not only of Phillips Academy but also of all private secondary schools was at stake. What was done by Andover in 19191920, and for some years afterward, gave courage and hope to many headmasters.
The next few months were very exciting. We didn't know much about organizing a campaign, but as amateurs we learned rapidly by trial and error. Luckily we had among our alumni some leaders who were unaccustomed to failure and who behaved from the beginning as if success were inevitable. We called our project the "Building and Endowment Fund." On September 23 we held a preliminary dinner at the University Club in New York, at which we were able to report an advance gift of $100,000 two others of $50,000 each, and a few of smaller size, making a comfortable reserve of $250,000. I learned as the result of experience that every drive should have a nest egg before it gets underway. Soon we opened an office in Room 1817 of the Forty-second Street Building in New York City, and Dr. Stearns, Mr. Sawyer, and I commuted back and forth between Andover and the metropolis, feeling very busy indeed. The New York spark plug for Andover was George B. Case, a lawyer who dropped in at headquarters every morning on his way to Wall Street. We divided the country into twelve divisions, each with its own chairman. In New York, Frederic C. Walcott, later United States Senator from Connecticut, who had just returned from prolonged war service, took three months off to work for American education and acted as chairman of the important Middle Atlantic division. In the background but always quietly dominant was Thomas Cochran, of J. P. Morgan and Company, who was shortly to make Andover the major interest of his life.
During this, my first experience with top businessmen, I was tremendously impressed with their alertness, audacity, and resourcefulness. Nothing was regarded by them as impossible. They began by giving very generously themselves. Then they went vigorously at the task of soliciting others. Typical of their methods was a small luncheon to which Mr. Cochran invited a wealthy Connecticut alumnus. Except for Dr. Stearns and me, the guests were all millionaires, and the victim, as he cast his eyes around, soon saw what was expected of him. As light dawned, he turned to Mr. Case and said, "I get the point, George. How much is this going to cost me?" "We'll let you off for $20,000," replied Case; and before the prospect was allowed to depart, he had pledged himself for that amount.
Everybody knew that the fund's ace was Dr. Stearns, and even at the risk of wearing him out, a schedule of speaking engagements was arranged which would carry him to every Andover center in the nation. I was deputed to accompany him and talk about the practical details of the drive, while Al furnished the inspiration. Before we set out, George Case cornered me and said, "Now, Jack, it's your main business to take care of Al. You see to it that he always travels in a drawing room, that no expense is spared to make him comfortable, and that he doesn't get too tired. If anything happens to him, we'll blame it on you!" I had reason to feel my responsibility, for the principal never watched out for his own health and was indifferent to deprivations. Left to himself he would have sat in a day coach and eaten nothing but hamburgers.
In his talks, Dr. Stearns took the broad position that in pleading for higher teachers' salaries at Andover, he was enhancing the prestige of all American secondary schools, both public and private. He stressed the point made so frequently today that the spread of Bolshevistic and Communistic doctrines in schools could be blocked mainly by keeping teachers satisfied with their lot under the free enterprise system. Some passages in his formal speech described the difficulties faced by teachers in trying to make both ends meet; and he was so eloquent that I, as a member of the profession, often found the tears coming to my eyes. Occasionally, when Al could not attend a meeting, I used his very words and gestures, although much less effectively. Dallas Lore Sharpe had recently made a stinging and quite illogical attack on American private schools, which Al refuted with the vigor of a revivalist. As a spokesman for American secondary education, Dr. Stearns was in his element. He reminded me in his fervor of President Woodrow Wilson, whose tragic breakdown had occurred just before our campaign opened.
Talking so much on the same subject, Al and I had naturally our favorite stories, which we told and heard again and again. One which seemed very much to the point was the tale of the Dumb Dora, who after being shown around a silver fox farm, said to the proprietor, "All this is perfectly fascinating; and now will you answer me one question --- how many times a year do you skin these foxes?" "Not more than three or four times," replied the manager. "It makes them nervous!" Alumni quickly saw the relevancy of this anecdote and always applauded, with sincere appreciation of its grim humor.
After a few days of expansive hospitality, Stearns and I grew hardened to the ordeal. Fortunately our digestive apparatus survived the endless succession of hurried breakfasts, elaborate luncheons, crowded cocktail parties, and prolonged dinners. I soon learned the trick of holding a highball glass in my hand throughout an afternoon, letting the ice melt and allowing the glass occasionally to be refilled with water. One feature of nearly every dinner was the singing of "Lord Jeffery Amherst" by Al and me, as a conclusion to the festivities --- a remarkable blend of sentiment and cacophony as the Andover alumni joined in the stirring college song.
Our first short trip covered Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee, and then back to New York in early November. It was the period right after the winning of the great war, when the mood of the American people was optimistic and men and women were expansive in their hospitality. Dr. Stearns, furthermore, was at the height of his popularity, and the alumni viewed his career with a natural pride. The sponsorship of the campaign was so distinguished that our leading graduates in every city felt impelled to participate. It was the best psychological moment possible for our enterprise.
On November 2, 1920 an Andover Smoker was held at the Yale Club in New York, with movies of school life shown for the first time. The progress of the drive, indicated on a huge thermometer, showed that more than half a million dollars had already been raised, and it was clear that things were going well. After returning that night to Andover to vote, Stearns and I set out on a longer journey which was to take us to several cities where meetings of Andover alumni had never before been held. We went first to Pittsburgh, then to St. Louis, Kansas City, Omaha, Denver, and Colorado Springs, being entertained lavishly and delightfully wherever we stopped.
For both of us this trip beyond the Mississippi, across the plains, and into the mountains was a fascinating adventure, every minute of which we enjoyed. We reached Denver on November 6, in the midst of a driving snowstorm which covered the ground eight inches deep and made the ranges stern and sombre. Even more unforgettable than Pike's Peak to me was an evening spent with Tyson Dines, a Denver attorney who resembled Daniel Webster. In a darkened room, lighted only by a fire blazing on the hearth, he recited Longfellow's sonnet, "The Cross of Snow," beginning with the lines, "In the long, sleepless watches of the night" and ending:
There is a mountain in the distant West
That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines
Displays a cross of snow upon its side.
Such is the cross Ï wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.
His restrained but vibrant emotion, his deep-lined features in the shadow, made us feel as if we were in the presence of some major prophet.
We crossed the Rockies by way of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, through the Royal Gorge to Salt Lake City and then down the Feather River Canyon to Oakland and San Francisco, where we were the guests of William H. Crocker and Sam Morse. At that point we had previously agreed to separate, one going south and the other north. But I now had instructions not to allow the principal out of my care, and accordingly we tossed a coin to decide in which direction we should proceed. Fate made the dime come down "heads," and we bought tickets for Portland and Seattle. The warmth with which we were greeted there convinced us that we had made no mistake.
Much good was accomplished by this trip, the first ever undertaken on such a scale by representatives of an independent school. The alumni, many of whom had not been back to the Hill since graduation, were obviously interested in the news about the teachers --- Mac and Pap and Charlie. The amount contributed by the various groups was not great, but their loyalty was stimulated and several of them who had been out of touch with the school began considering Andover for their sons. For Al and me, as we moved from one metropolis to another, the Academy assumed the aspect of a national institution. We never had any doubt that the trip was worth the money and energy that it cost.
We returned east by way of Vancouver, Victoria, the Canadian Rockies, Moose Jaw, and St. Paul, reaching Andover on Thanksgiving morning. During our absence four men --- Oliver G. Jennings, Alfred I. Dupont, Fred T. Murphy, and Thomas Cochran--- had agreed to give $100,000 apiece. The original plan had been to close the New York office on November 22, but it became clear that the time set was too short. By January 9, 1920, the amount reported from headquarters was $1,065,021.17, and it was agreed that the date for the Victory Dinner should be set for January 28. The usual telegrams were sent out in every direction urging each leader to clean up his section. On the morning of January 28 only about $1,265,000 could be added up on the New York records, but in the course of the day many alumni increased their pledges, and the committee had a pleasant surprise up their sleeves in the shape of one new gift of $100,000 and the removal of certain conditions originally attached to three donations of $50,000 each. With such providence, the dinner could not have been a failure, and the announcement was joyfully made that the total sum of $1,531,632.17 had been raised. The drive had succeeded. It is pleasant to record that the benefits from the new fund were immediately felt by the faculty. A flat increase of 10 per cent in salaries, as of January 1, 1920, was made as soon as the success of the campaign was assured, and another raise of the same proportions was voted on April 1. The pledge made to the teachers was thus fulfilled. Furthermore the example set by Phillips Academy had a salutary effect on the policies of many other independent schools. Dr. Stearns spoke at commencement of "the depth and sincerity and length and breadth of the loyalty of old Andover men" and gave thanks that the faculty, with this definite and tangible encouragement, could "continue their work undismayed."
Knowing that one third of the fund had been raised specifically for construction, everybody on the Hill was looking forward to the day when the badly needed school building would be ready. Where should it be located? The conventional choice would have been a site on the west side of Main Street, traditionally occupied by Phillips Academy. At this point, however, George B. Case, with his restless and far-sighted mind, studied possibilities and offered a daring suggestion. He could visualize an extensive and attractive development on the other side of Main Street, on land controlled for a century by Andover Theological Seminary but recently purchased by Phillips Academy. Why not move Pearson Hall (formerly the Seminary's Bartlet Chapel), open up a broad vista, and construct the new main building on the ridge to the east, the highest point on the Hill? It was an audacious conception to shift a brick structure two stories high, tear down its ugly bell tower, and restore its original external design created by the great architect, Charles Bulfinch, in 1818. One morning Case led his fellow trustees to a position on the slope where he could explain his project and show where a new quadrangle could be laid out. Then and there he converted them, and the future expansion of Phillips Academy was assured.
In February 1921, exactly a year after the Victory Celebration, a crucial meeting was held at Andover. Many ideas were proposed and considered, but the opinion had spread that Case was right. Clearly if his plan were followed, other modern buildings must eventually be erected in that area, but that did not disturb him or his friend, Thomas Cochran. The trustees, as if hypnotized by Case and Cochran, found themselves talking in terms which would have frightened them ten years before. It took some time and much debate to reach an agreement on details, but the basic concept was never altered.
From that moment in 1921 events moved rapidly. Confident of the future, the trustees voted to erect a new dormitory, to be called Osgood Johnson Hall, rounding out the quadrangle on the west side of Main Street. Samuel L. Fuller announced his wish to build a Memorial Tower, commemorating the ninety boys and men, alumni of Phillips Academy, who had given their lives in the recent war. He had been stationed for a period in Fiesole, where he could hear the bells of Florence ringing out from the valley below; and in an idealistic mood he decided to give Andover a bell tower- --"something absolutely useless!" The cornerstone was laid in the spring of 1922, on the old training ground ----a spot which fitted perfectly into Case's plan. On the day before the dedication of the Tower I was walking by and lifted the cloth hiding the inscription to find out whether all was well. To my horror I noticed the word DESCENDANT was spelled DESCENDENT. Although the hour was late I called the architect, who immediately ordered a new block of stone to replace the one on which the mistake had been made. The cutter worked all night, and the next morning the new stone was set in place of the old. Not until years later did I tell Mr. Fuller how narrowly we escaped the ridicule of all good spellers!
Mr. Case himself gave to the school, in memory of his son, George Bowen Case, Jr., what was officially known as the Case Memorial Building but is locally called the "Cage," --- a huge, glass-covered structure for indoor athletics but which has also been used for large dinners and for commencement activities. This was dedicated in June 1923. In June 1924, came the formal dedication of the new recitation building called Samuel Phillips Hall, in honor of the founder. With its tall white pillars and imposing façade it dominated the campus scene. The Andover renaissance was well on its way.
Before the movement thus begun was finished, buildings had sprung up on the Andover campus as if under a magician's wand. A chapel and a library, an administration building and an art gallery, a science laboratory and a dining hall---these, and many more, gave new vitality to an old institution. What brought this about? It could not have been done without money, and the 1920's were a period of exceptional prosperity for many people. Ordinary men were becoming well to do. The wealthy were growing wealthier. But the money was made productive by men of vision, who themselves created the spirit of the age, and who had the will and capacity to form plans and carry them out.
It is the fashion nowadays to condemn the Coolidge Era as a time of materialism and social injustice. I can only say that the educational benefactors whom I knew did not waste their substance in riotous living or grind down the working man. Harkness, Morrow, James, Folger, Lamont, Cochran, and many others were thinking constantly of how their money could be put to wise purposes. They felt their responsibility. Many rich men lost everything in the panic of 1929. The philanthropists whom I have mentioned were not wiser than they knew. Rather they were well aware of the consequences of what they were doing. Long after the Great Depression had swept away vast fortunes, the buildings on the campuses of American schools and colleges showed that some men had left good behind them. As these philanthropists looked around they could feel that they still had what they had given.
THOMAS COCHRAN was in many respects the most picturesque figure I ever met. Although he wore the conventional banker's garb, stiff collar and all, his language, his manner, and his thoughts followed no normal pattern. His career in finance had been meteoric, for he had been a poor boy who worked his way through Phillips Academy and Yale; yet by 1917 he had become a partner in J. P. Morgan and Company and during the ensuing period of rapid money making he profited by that inexplicable sixth sense which enables speculative men under favorable conditions to amass fortunes. But he was never interested merely in piling up stocks and bonds. His wife died in 1914, four years after his marriage, leaving him no children to inherit his wealth. His constructive brain sought a sound and lasting use for his money, and he finally decided to invest in young manhood. Even as an Andover undergraduate he had written letters expressing his hope that he might some day do something for his old school. Accordingly, with all the intensity of his dynamic nature, he made himself in the 1920's Phillips Academy's guardian and golden angel. Eventually he widened his philanthropies to include other independent secondary schools of the same general type as Andover. The story is one of almost incredible drama and romance.
During our Building and Endowment Fund campaign of 1919-1920, in which he took an active part, he one day picked up my book, An Old New England School and seemed to be turning its pages rather lazily. A week later he drew me aside and said in his forceful way, "Jack, why haven't we capitalized on our history? I never knew that George Washington and those old fellows like Paul Revere and Oliver Wendell Holmes had anything to do with this place. A school with a background like ours should tell the world about it!" An idea had germinated which was to fructify the remainder of his life. With the elation of an explorer he discovered that Andover had unique traditions, that it was linked in many ways with American history, and he resolved that he would tell others what he had learned. Nearly all of his magnificent generosity stemmed from his desire to make the most of the school's intangible assets. He would do the tangible part himself.
It is not easy to elucidate the exact process through which Tom's conception of education broadened and deepened. He certainly did not rationalize his program until many features of it had been for some time in operation. His early donations to Phillips Academy were casual and unsystematic. He was always governed by his emotions rather than his reason, but intuition had with him all the authority of logic. Ultimately, however, his philosophy took coherent form and fitted a visible design, although even then there were aberrations which puzzled those around him.
To conceive an idea was, with Cochran, to take prompt steps to carry it out. He had the most restless as well as the most persistent mind I have ever watched in action. One project after another raced through his imagination; but when he had once reached a decision or embarked on a program, he could not be diverted from it; and he was intolerant of any delay, no matter how legitimate the explanation. I think of him in the words of James P. Webber's sonnet on Harlan P. Amen, as one who
Wrought with tireless hand through crowded days
Like one who hastened lest the eternal sleep
Should steal upon him ere his work was done.
While he was waiting for one of his dreams to take shape, he kept pressing builders and secretaries to hasten. Meanwhile he infected others with his own mood of hurry, until those in his vicinity were running around like ants in all directions. His favorite sentence was, "We've got to get things done!" After he was elected a trustee of the Academy in 1923, he had a good excuse for coming to Andover and could, of course, speak with more authority.
For some years Guy Lowell, of Boston --- the school's very competent architect --- had been erecting on the campus buildings which were faithful to the Georgian-Colonial tradition. But Tom did not like Samuel Phillips Hall, and when a new science building was contemplated, he was dissatisfied with Lowell's drawings. One evening at the principal's house, Miss Grace Clemons spoke of Charles Platt as a brilliant architect recognized as a specialist on the American Colonial Period. With his usual speed Tom called Mr. Platt by telephone the next morning and soon brought him to Andover as a consultant. Fortunately Mr. Platt was not only an architect but an artist and a landscape gardener, peculiarly suited to Tom's expansive temperament. Platt's imagination knew no bounds, and his adventurous spirit surmounted every obstacle. Cochran persuaded his colleagues on the Board that Platt had just the genius they needed. Platt cared nothing about costs, and neither did Cochran.
Walking with Cochran under the stately elms and studying the inimitable rust color of the brick in the Bulfinch buildings, Platt convinced him that beauty should be more stressed in the education of boys. "Why not surround them with the very best in architecture and nature and the fine arts?" asked Mr. Platt. "Why not a bird sanctuary, a really fine library, a topnotch art gallery, a good Colonial church with an organ? Why not a few, broad vistas, some lawns and terraces, even some notable lectures and concerts --- all the instruments of culture? I'd just like to try my hand at it." All this sounds a little bombastic as I report it, but Platt made it seem inevitable. Phase by phase under Platt's constant tutelage the conception seemed more and more practicable. Tom was converted and with his own enthusiasm enkindled the hearts of even the more conservative trustees until they were ready to support him in his noble madness. At his own expense and with Platt's co-operation Cochran had a model made of the campus, showing every major tree and every existing building, together with tiny reproductions of each proposed change and addition, so that the trustees and alumni could visualize his concept. The miracle was that before he died nearly all his projects had been carried out. The Andover campus will always be Platt's enduring monument.
A stroke of good fortune brought four members of the class of 1890 at Phillips Academy --- Case, Cochran, Sawyer, and Stearns --- working together for the lasting good of their school. Case, although more practical and realistic than the others, had plenty of vision; Cochran, in addition to his money, thought in large terms; Sawyer was a man of excellent, indeed almost infallible taste, with a feeling for what was appropriate; and Stearns, although himself not artistic, often served as a corrective when Platt wanted to uproot everything. Cochran was unquestionably obstinate and at times irritating to a traditionalist like Stearns. One leading member of the Board, a professor at Harvard, consistently opposed Platt's plans for a new brick chapel. Tom said not at the moment; but shortly he invited the professor to New York for a week, entertained him lavishly, and introduced him to a flock of distinguished people. "I'll have that fellow eating out of my hand," he said once to Stearns and me. And he did! When the matter was brought up before the Board, the professor upheld the Platt design, and Al, who had simpler tastes and did not altogether like the drawings, was obliged to give way.
The impulsiveness with which Tom reached and announced his decisions was startling to more pedestrian souls. I was living at that period in the Tucker House --- a glaring specimen of what used to be called "New Jersey Renaissance" --- located on the corner of Main and Phillips Streets. Platt and Cochran were standing one morning on the steps of Samuel Phillips Hall looking towards the west where my house was blocking the view. "That monstrosity is in the way," remarked Platt. "Very well," responded Cochran, with an imperial wave of the hand, "we'll have it moved at once!" The next morning I was notified that my house was to be transferred to a less conspicuous position. Sure enough, within a few days the three-story residence was on rollers and was shifted, crockery, furniture, books, and all, to a new site back in the fields --- all at a cost of more than $20,000.
Nothing daunted Mr. Platt. A large brick dormitory, three stories in height, was moved from its site on Phillips Street, turned around, and faced in the opposite direction on a spot at least three hundred yards away. Elms two centuries old were uprooted and carted to new locations, where in a few years they looked as if they had stood forever. The Phillips Inn, constructed of heavy stone, was actually transferred to a spot down the street, and a new Inn, of brick, rose on the old site. The principal's house, a fine wooden mansion built in 1829, occupied the ground which Cochran wanted for his chapel. In this case Stearns was really annoyed at what he considered a kind of desecration, but his protests had little effect. Cochran was so persistent that Al, unwilling to start a violent controversy, yielded and allowed his house to be moved. Even the most loyal reverer of the past, looking at the Cochran Chapel today, is forced to admit that Platt was right.
Of Cochran's major building projects on Andover Hill ---all of them designed by Mr. Platt --- the most important were George Washington Hall (1926), the administrative center, in the lobby of which hangs the Gilbert Stuart portrait of Washington purchased by Cochran for $40,000; Paul Revere Hall (1929), a magnificent new dormitory for seniors; the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (1929), given in the name of his sister and brothers; the Addison Gallery of American Art (1931), dedicated to a friend, Mrs. Keturah Addison Cobb; and the Cochran Chapel (1932). Cochran also contributed sums of considerable size towards the erection of Samuel F. B. Morse Hall (1928), the science building; the dining hall (1930) ; the Andover Inn (1930); and the heating plant, an unromantic but very essential feature of the school equipment. In naming these structures Tom deliberately aimed to bring out the relationship between the school and the nation. Washington sent to Phillips Academy his nephew and eight grand-nephews; Paul Revere designed the school seal; Morse and Holmes were graduates. Cochran wished to name one building for John Hancock, who signed the Academy's Act of Incorporation, but in this instance was blocked by Professor Ropes, of Harvard, who pointed out that Hancock had embezzled the funds of that institution and was therefore not worthy of commemoration. After Professor Ropes's denunciation, a copy of a portrait of Hancock which Cochran had procured for the new building was quietly relegated to my office, where it hung for years behind the door in a place where Ropes would presumably not see it. The incident explains why Phillips Academy has no Hancock Hall.
Bliss Perry, in his autobiography, And Gladly Teach, refers to the "grandiose new buildings" of Phillips Academy which have "destroyed the charm of the once quiet hilltop." With this adjective I cannot agree. Here Charles Platt did the most comprehensive and brilliant work of his career, and the buildings, displaying variety and unity, have a noble relevance and an intimate relationship to one another which every visitor is bound to notice. Platt did not make the hilltop less quiet. That was done before him by the trolley car and later by the automobile. The charm is different from what it was in the 1880's, but it still exists, enhanced by the architect's genius.
Cochran did his best to restore the peace of former days by getting the Commonwealth to construct a bypass which would reduce the extensive traffic on Main Street through the heart of the modern school. Mr. Henry S. Hopper, then comptroller and an indispensable authority on local detail, informed Cochran that Governor Frank G. Allen was a personal friend of Mr. Philip L. Reed, a member of the Andover Board of Trustees. Hopper suggested, however, that before further steps were taken some preliminary plans be prepared, and Cochran sent him $2500 for that purpose. Engineers proceeded then to make drawings showing a possible route for the new road. When these were ready, Reed arranged for a conference between the Governor and the State Commissioner of Public Works on the one hand and Phillips Academy representatives on the other. The group met at the State House, lunched at the Parker House, and then motored out in a caravan to inspect the proposed route for the new highway. It was a very cold day in January, and everybody was glad to get back to George Washington Hall, where the discussion was resumed under less frigid conditions.
Commissioner Lyman finally agreed to build the road if the Andover Trustees conveyed to the Commonwealth a 100 foot right of way, approximately five miles in length, and would also pay the cost of construction of one mile of road.
It was a fine bargain for the Commonwealth but very expensive for Tom Cochran. Hopper was the skillful intermediary in the acquisition of the land, which involved 56 separate deeds and a total of 400 acres. Tom was constantly pressing for more speedy action, but Hopper measured up to all the demands, and the legal transfers were accomplished in a surprisingly short time. When the job was over, Cochran invited Hopper and several other coadjutors to be his guests on a trip to Europe in April, 1930, to celebrate a feat which was, I think, unprecedented in the annals of the Commonwealth. Today, as I drive along the broad bypass, I never fail to think of the perseverance with which Cochran achieved his purposes.
Equally illustrative of his impetuosity and pertinacity is the story of the Cochran Wild Life Sanctuary. Jack Miner and Fred Walcott had talked with Tom more than once about waterfowl; and one evening when Cochran and his satellites were sitting on the terrace at the Andover Inn, Walcott suggested that Rabbit Pond might well be developed into a stopping place for migrating birds. John Stewart, the witty proprietor of the Inn and a favorite of Tom's, acted on the hint and induced a local sportsman named Dick Hoyer to draft a possible program. As a consequence Stewart was promptly instructed to build a duck house on the shore of the pond and buy a number of species. There was so much good-natured "jollying" that Stewart, who enjoyed practical jokes as much as Tom did, started off for Stamford, Connecticut, where he purchased a considerable number of ducks and geese at Cochran's expense. On the road back some of the cages fell apart, with the result that when Stewart drove up to the Inn, his car was incredibly filthy. Tom happened to be on hand to watch the subsequent proceedings and found plenty of amusement in them.
When the ducks and geese became too numerous to be cared for at Rabbit Pond, Tom asked Olmsted Brothers to plan two small artificial ponds in the area to the east. At the same time he requested Hopper to obtain options on land in the immediate vicinity. Fourteen property owners were concerned, and when the news was whispered around that Mr. Cochran was buying more land, the price quickly mounted. Fortunately Hopper had already acquired most of what was necessary for the project. A wire fence ten feet above ground and six feet below ---to keep out dogs and rodents ---was set up around the area, and it was then planted extensively with pines, laurel, and rhododendron. Some years later it was further improved by the addition of the "Bobby Thompson Swimming Pool," donated by Mr. and Mrs. Charles D. Thompson in memory of their son, the first Andover graduate to lose his life in the Second World War. The pines are now tall; the laurel and rhododendron offer a colorful display when they are in flower; and several charming stone memorials have been set up here and there through the woods. Although the breeding of birds has been abandoned, many varieties, especially of gay-plumaged pheasants, may be detected in the underbrush. It is a place of peace, of recreation for large numbers of boys and of delight for visitors. It may even be more enduring than towers and porticoes.
One morning Tom called me to the treasurer's office, which he made his Andover headquarters, and said, "Jack, we don't make enough of our distinguished alumni. I want you to scout around and find as many portraits as possible of graduates and then have Alec James copy them. I'll pay him $1000 apiece, and then maybe he can take that trip abroad that he's wanted to have so long." "How many shall I try to get?" I asked. "Oh, hell, make it a couple of dozen, if you can find good ones," he answered. In that offhand but characteristic fashion I was despatched on missions which carried me all over the East. Alec, who was a portrait painter of distinction, rather enjoyed the prospect of such an informal, although wholesale, adventure. We heard that in a Boston suburb was a fine portrait of an eminent abolitionist who had been a student at Phillips Academy in the 1820's. Alec and I, with two companions, started out one afternoon in my open Dodge car, having taken the precaution of insuring the valuable work of art for $10,000. It turned out that the picture was actually a very poor chromo of a handsome but much bewhiskered gentleman. As we drove back, Alec remarked: "This is really a great chance for me. I'll make him a combination of William Cullen Bryant and Walt Whitman." At one point in the proceedings we wired the subject's niece about his eyes, and were told that they were "steelgray." I must admit that Alec took some liberties with the rather crude original, but the completed copy revealed a countenance almost obscured by hair. When the niece later visited Andover, she stood in front of Alec's copy for a long time and then said, with appreciation, "That's uncle to the life!"
The portraits ordered in this impetuous fashion were one by one completed and hung on the walls and along the corridors of the buildings, to their manifest improvement. John Phillips and Josiah Quincy, Nathaniel P. Willis and John Thornton Kirkland, Robert Rantoul and William H. Moody, Ray Palmer and William A. Stearns --- these and many other leading Americans looked down on the boys of a later generation. In the same spirit Tom employed Stuart Travis to draft a pictorial map of the school grounds, with little inserts showing picturesque incidents in its history. Among these were depicted the visits of Washington and Lafayette and Webster to Andover. When Thomas W. Lamont examined the map and found there a picture of the "Godlike Dan'l" in his tall beaver hat, he said to his partner, "Tom, I knew that you were unscrupulous in what you did for Andover, but honestly I never dreamed that you would steal one of our Exeter graduates and put him in an Andover group."
The hour arrived when Cochran's interest spread beyond brick and granite and canvas to the very fundamentals of education, as presented in the teacher. Here Al Stearns's influence was paramount, for he knew through experience that the faculty is the energizing factor in any school. Suddenly it occurred to Cochran, after listening to a speech by the principal, that although a fine equipment and first-class tools are important, they are so only when utilized by well-informed, wise, and inspiring instructors. Again with him to think was to act. "We must," he declared oracularly, "be able to attract to Phillips Academy any teacher in the United States---if we want him badly enough." To this end he made several of his gifts contingent upon the establishment of ten teaching foundations of $160,000 each, providing annual salaries of $8000; and he harassed some of his opulent friends, particularly Edward S. Harkness, until in sheer self-defense they contributed to his scheme. He had begun by wishing to have the finest buildings possible. Now with these he must have the best available teachers.
In the prosperous summer of 1929, just preceding the catastrophic slump in the stock market, Tom's energies reached their peak. He had publicly declared to reporters that prices were not too high and evidently saw no reason why the golden flow should not continue indefinitely. In a letter dated June 20 and addressed to his "Dear Fellow Laborers" ---who included not only Stearns, Sawyer, and Hopper, but also Augustus P. Thompson, an Andover and Yale friend whom Tom in his whimsical way had created "Warden of the Sanctuary" ---he listed twenty-nine different projects, some significant and some trivial, which were on his docket. They ranged from the demolition of Brechin Hall (an architectural atrocity which had been the library of Andover Theological Seminary) to the procurement of a huge armillary sphere, or glorified sundial designed by Paul Manship and the purchase of a stuffed Great Auk (which had cost him $3000 at a London auction).
During this gorgeous period, Cochran taught those around him --- of whom I, in a very subordinate way, was one --- to think in terms of millions. Nothing seemed impossible! If he had decided to build a replica of King's College Chapel on the campus, nobody would have been much astonished. His every visit to Andover was followed by some change in the location of buildings, the digging of cellar holes for new structures, and the appearance of more steam shovels and bulldozers. From the moment that he appeared things moved faster. He played a practical joke on Gus Thompson; he humorously berated Mr. Hopper for some entirely imaginary delinquency; he approved of a proposal for a series of motion pictures of undergraduate life; he criticized the make-up of the catalogue and made suggestions to the headmaster for its revision; he strode about the grounds with Charles Platt and listened to the latter's recommendations; he even insisted, against Dr. Stearns's protest, on changing his title from "principal" to headmaster; and during the intervals between these bits of business he was sitting in the treasurer's office joking with anybody who came along, including clerks and janitors.
Tom Cochran had a highly individual personality. His language at times was, as I have intimated, shockingly picturesque. He would refer to some of his more conservative colleagues on the Board of Trustees as "old dodoes" and describe his closest friends in epithets which would have been insulting if not accompanied by his expansive smile. His favorite verb when he was aroused was to "bastardize." When thwarted in any way he would storm about in an apparent burst of uncontrollable rage, saying, "I'll bastardize the son-of-a-bitch!" and then the sunshine would follow the storm and he would beam genially at those around him. He was also one of the most thoughtful of men, continually making presents and doing kind deeds. Jim Sawyer found outside his house one Christmas morning a brand-new automobile registered in his name --- a gift from Tom. To another friend he sent a set of rare books on his birthday. At heart he was a sentimentalist, but how he did hate to have his secret weaknesses revealed!
The one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Phillips Academy, occurring opportunely in 1928, gave Mr. Cochran precisely the excuse he wanted for focusing public attention on American independent schools. If it hadn't been for Tom the occasion would doubtless have been just another local celebration. He gave it almost national significance. Two years before the event he began talking and planning. "Of course we must have the President of the United States," he announced, "and I'll see to it that he comes." It is indicative of our respect for Tom that no one who heard that quiet assertion doubted that the promise would be fulfilled.
I was drafted to be the active manager of the affair, and for many months my teaching suffered, in quantity if not in quality, for I was never sure when I would be summoned to New York to discuss some detail or assigned a mission which would absorb my time for a week. I had to take charge of the publicity, arrange the details of the program, attend to countless routine items, always trying to anticipate what I felt would be Tom's wishes. I even published another book, Men of Andover, containing short biographies of certain Andover celebrities. It is a wonder that I survived, for following in Tom's wake was at best an exhausting experience.
After consulting meteorological records over a long period, we finally selected May 18 and 19 as the dates most likely to guarantee good weather, and then prayed hopefully that all might be well. As the great day drew near, even President Coolidge's private secretaries denied reports that he was to take a trip to New England. Tom, however, smiled blandly and authorized me to have the invitations and programs printed, and I went ahead, convinced that nothing could go wrong. Sure enough, the word arrived through Ted Clark, the President's secretary, that Mr. Coolidge was working on his speech. Then the news came that he would be arriving by special train, with Mrs. Coolidge; and shortly Colonel Starling, of the Secret Service, descended upon us to check on the route for the parade and the other arrangements. He stayed at my house for two days and regaled my family with some of the thrilling tales later published in his book, Starling of the White House.
On Friday afternoon, May 18, in the Great Quadrangle recently completed, the exercises were opened with addresses by college presidents. But alas, President Angell, of Yale, had finished and President Hibben, of Princeton, had hardly begun before the threatening rain really descended, and the audience had to move indoors to the auditorium of George Washington Hall. The weather prophets had all gone wrong.
On the next morning, however, the skies were brighter, and everybody was on edge with excitement. Dr. Stearns, Mr. Cochran, and others of the committee were at the station, together with a detachment of very amateurish cavalry officers, two of whom fell off their mounts as the locomotive steamed in. The Governor of the Commonwealth, Alvan T. Fuller, with his wife, was at the headmaster's house to greet the President and Mrs. Coolidge, to whom Dr. Stearns presented two gold medals designed especially for the occasion. At eleven o'clock, following the academic procession, the President, from a platform in front of Samuel Phillips Hall, addressed a throng of twenty thousand people in one of his best oratorical efforts.
Among the passages which attracted attention in Mr. Coolidge's speech was the following:
The world will have little use for those who are right only part of the time. Whatever may be the standards of the classroom, practical life will require more than 60 per cent or 70 per cent for a passing mark. The standards of the world are not like those set by the faculty, but more closely resemble those set by the student body themselves. They are not at all concerned with a member of the musical organizations who can strike only 90 per cent of the notes. They do not tolerate the man on the diamond who catches only 80 per cent of the balls. The standards which the student body set are high. They want accuracy that is well-nigh complete.
On the Monday morning following this address the boys in my senior English class were discussing recent events, and one of the brighter pupils, referring to this paragraph, said, "The President didn't say anything about batting averages, did he? And I wonder what proportion of his decisions since he entered public office have been right?" I could only say, "Bill, all I know is that any executive who is right in his decisions three fourths of the time is a first-rate administrator." This judgment has been confirmed by many businessmen whom I have consulted on the subject.
Being in some degree responsible for the success of an occasion which meant so much to the school and to Tom Cochran, I was in a mood of constant excitement until the last guest had departed; but some humorous incidents relieved the tension. When the procession reached the platform, a little confusion arose, as a consequence of which the Honorable James J. Davis, Secretary of Labor, and another gentleman occupied the seats intended for Governor and Mrs. Fuller. While I was walking about to see that everything was in order, I noticed the President's index finger crooking at me as though summoning me to his presence. Hastening to him, I leaned down, and he whispered in my ear, "Governor of Commonwealth belongs in front row." Mr. Coolidge was a stickler for protocol. He had himself been governor, and he was absolutely right. Fortunately the situation was easy to explain to Mr. Davis, and the Governor and his wife were soon in their proper places. I may add that Mr. Fuller, with characteristic tact, did all in his power to soften my embarrassment.
My friend, Dr. Alfred V. Kidder, the eminent archaeologist, was standing on the outskirts of the crowd and reached into his hip pocket for his pipe, only to have his hand enclosed by another as large as a ham. Then came the ominous words, "Don't make a move!" It was the redoubtable Colonel Starling himself, who led Kidder aside, quietly "frisked" him for concealed weapons, and warned him to be careful not to commit any overt act. The colonel obviously stood for no nonsense, even from the best-dressed spectators.
In the headmaster's office, where he retired for a few moments before joining the procession, Mr. Coolidge smoked one of his favorite "little cigars." When he left, a hero-worshipping secretary placed the butt in a glass test tube and put it in the office safe, with an appropriate inscription. And there it was, when last I knew anything about it, preserved for an admiring posterity!
The President's speech was excellent, but the two best addresses of that loquacious celebration were made by schoolmen --- Lewis Perry, of Exeter, who was never happier in his remarks, and Frederic B. Malim, the Master of Wellington College, in England. Mr. Malim closed his talk with some verses from the Psalms, adapted to the occasion, beginning, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord," and ending, "Yea, for the sake of the house of the Lord our God, we will seek to do thee good." His speech was simple, sincere, and very moving ---an appropriate conclusion for the greetings of the guests of the day.
At the luncheon in the Case Memorial Building on Saturday Dr. Stearns, as was fitting, was to say the last word. As he sat there at the head table, Tom Cochran, obviously under a strain, kept tossing little scribbled slips of paper with suggestions for Al to use in his concluding remarks. As a pile of these notes accumulated in front of the principal, I could see him gazing at them in perplexity. He had prepared his speech carefully in advance. It had been distributed to the press. Now Cochran was disrupting all his plans. When Al rose, he did his best to incorporate the new material, but no one could possibly have digested the miscellaneous ideas which Tom had placed before him.
The Phillips Academy Sesquicentennial was unquestionably the most important event up to that date in American private secondary education. No school had ever attempted a celebration on such a large scale. A distinguished group of college presidents representing Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Princeton, Cornell, and Amherst put themselves on record in praise of the independent school and its place in our society. The presence of the President of the United States gave the affair prestige. I regretted myself that we did not invite some of the leaders in public secondary education, but the committee decided that the list should be restricted. At any rate the publicity for the independent schools was beneficial to all of them. They gained in confidence, in self-respect, and in dignity. Many people, often for the first time, understood how much these institutions had contributed to American life and character.
For Phillips Academy the sesquicentennial was a climax, but for Cochran it was only a dramatic beginning. Soon he gave anonymously a capital fund of one million dollars, the income of which was to be used in perpetuity to beautify the grounds. At commencement in 1929, it was announced that the gifts to the Academy for the year amounted to nearly five million dollars, most of it from Mr. Cochran. During the same period, in a mood of frank optimism, he made several new commitments. Then in October began the succession of crashes in the stock market. Some of Andover's wealthiest alumni found themselves in positions of financial embarrassment. But although Tom must have lost plenty, he never faltered in carrying through his projects. "I still have a little currency left," was all he said, and he met every obligation. The Addison Gallery was opened with a simple ceremony on May 16, 1931. The Cochran Chapel, the last and perhaps the noblest of his benefactions, was dedicated on Sunday, May 8, 1932.
The total amount of Tom's gifts to Phillips Academy has been estimated as rather more than eleven million dollars. Although the Depression had to some extent altered his plans, he had actually achieved his primary purpose of transforming Andover into a place of beauty. He had provided the school with everything but a new gymnasium and a new infirmary---and the latter had been promised by one of the trustees. Very few philanthropists have been able to watch and direct their projects over so many years. Having furnished Andover with what it needed, he now intended to broaden his generosity to include other independent schools, particularly Deerfield Academy. But this the state of his health would not allow.
Henry Adams said of Theodore Roosevelt, "His restless and combative energy was more than abnormal," and added, "He was pure act." The same could have been said of Thomas Cochran. For some years Tom had suffered from intermittent attacks of mental disturbance, and his excitability was well known to his friends at Andover. Even while afflicted with his moods of extreme melancholia, however, he continued to think in terms of the future. In 1932 came a more serious breakdown, and he was condemned to be an invalid, isolated by a physician's decree from his associates and tragically aware that his active days were over. A little while before his death in the autumn of 1936 he sent in his check for five dollars to the Alumni Fund, writing me in longhand that it was all he could afford. He died believing that he was impoverished. He did, however, leave approximately three million dollars, of which one quarter was allotted to fulfill a pledge to the Addison Gallery. Almost his last words were, "All I want is rest and peace."
Tom Cochran was the ideal benefactor. As a money raiser he could cajole and bully a victim with compelling persistence. As a donor he was far-sighted, discriminating, and tactful, with occasional whimsical lapses. In a playful mood he established a capital fund of $10,000 to provide for an annual concert named for his friend, Jim Sawyer, who disliked music. When a trustee inadvertently remarked that Al Stearns hadn't been commemorated in any such fashion, Cochran replied, "Well, Al doesn't like lectures --- I'll give another $10,000 for a Stearns Lecture." The school has been having Sawyer Concerts and Stearns Lectures ever since.
Tom was extraordinarily sensitive to criticism. When a self-important member of the faculty was heard declaring that he didn't like the location of the Armillary Sphere, Cochran gave orders the next morning to have it shifted to another spot on the campus. When Mr. Platt casually remarked that the two dormitories, Bartlet and Foxcroft, would be better proportioned if they were only three stories high instead of four, Tom broke out, "Look here ---you take off the top story, and do it damned quick!" Except for his teaching foundations, he left no dead hand to trouble posterity. He had his prejudices, but they did not control his decisions.
He placed very few restrictions on his gifts, and these have seldom been annoying.
Without our being aware of it, the dedication of the Cochran Chapel in 1932 marked the end of an era. Mr. Cochran never came back to the Hill again. In December 1931, Dr. Stearns suddenly collapsed in a faculty meeting, was carried to the hospital, and underwent a serious kidney operation. During his enforced absence Professor Forbes, the very efficient head of the Latin Department, was appointed acting headmaster. On January i, 1933, Dr. Stearns, then in Italy, sent home a letter of resignation. A few weeks later Professor James Hardy Ropes, President of the Board of Trustees, died; and on March 12, Professor Forbes had a fatal heart attack. It did indeed look as if everything and everybody were collapsing at once. Under such inauspicious conditions I became Headmaster of Phillips Academy.