Sunday, March 22, 2015
In Search Of Lost Time… Then-With 1960s School Days In Mind
Several years ago Sam Lowell, the locally well-known lawyer from the town of Carver about thirty miles south of Boston, wrote some small pieces about the old days in the town, the old (painful) days when he attended the then newly built Myles Standish Junior High School (such places are now almost universally called middle schools) where he and his fellow class- mates were the first to go through. In that piece he mentioned that he was not adverse, hell, he depended on “cribbing” words, phrases and sentences from many sources. One such “crib” was appropriating the title of a six-volume saga by the French writer Marcel Proust for one of those sketches, the title used here In Search of Lost Time as well. He noted that an alternative translation of that work was Remembrances of Things Past which he felt did not do justice to what he, Sam, was trying to get a across. Sam had no problem, no known problem anyway, with remembering things from the past but he thought the idea of a search, of an active scouring of what had gone on in his callow youth (his term) was more appropriate to what he was thinking and feeling.
Prior to writing those pieces he had contacted through the marvels of modern technology, through the Internet, Google and Facebook a number of the surviving members of that Myles Standish Class of 1962 to get their take on what they remembered, what search that might be interested in undertaking to “understand what the hell happened back then and why” (his expression, okay). He got a number of responses from people speaking of where they lived now, what they had done with their lives and so forth who also once Sam brought the matter up wanted to think back to those days. One of those classmates, Melinda Loring, after they had sent some e-mail traffic to each other, sent him via that same method (oh beautiful technology on some things) a copy of a booklet that had been put out by Myles Standish in 1987 commemorating the 25th anniversary of the opening of the school. Sam thoughtfully (his term) looked through the booklet and when he came upon the page shown above where an art class and a music class were pictured he discovered that one of the students in the art class photograph was of him.
That set off a train of memories about how in those days, days by the way when the community freely offered every student a chance to take art in school and outside as well unlike today when he had been informed that due to school budget cuts art is no longer offered to each student but is tied to some cumbersome Saturday morning classes at the out-of-the-way community center, when Mrs. Robert’s encouraged him to become an artist, thought he had talent (later at Carver High Mr. Henry thought the same thing and was prepared to recommend him to his alma mater the Massachusetts School of Art in the Back Bay of Boston).
Art for Sam had always been a way for him to express what he could not put in words, could not easily put in words anyway and he was always crazy to go to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to see some artwork by real professionals, especially the abstract expressionists that he was visually drawn to (and would leave after viewing feeling like he at best would be an inspired amateur). The big reason that he did not pursue that art career had a lot to do with coming up “from hunger,” coming up the hard way and when he broached the subject to his parents, mainly his mother, she vigorously emphasized the hard life of the average artist and told him that a manly profession (her term) was better for a boy who had come up from the dust of society. He wondered about that after seeing the photograph, wondered about the fact that after a lifetime of working the manly profession of the law all he could conclude was that there were a million good lawyers but far fewer good artists and maybe he could have at least had his fifteen minutes of fame in that field. He resolved to search for some old artwork stored he did not know where to see if that path would have made sense.
Sam had had to laugh after looking at the other photograph, the one of the music room, where he spotted his old friend Ralph Morse who went on in the 1960s to some small fame in the Greater Boston area as a member of the rock group The Rockin’ Ramrods. That look too set off a train of memories about how in those days, days by the way when the community freely offered every student a chance to take music in school and outside as well like with art classes unlike today when he had been informed that due to school budget cuts music is no longer offered to each student but is also tied to some cumbersome Saturday morning classes at the out-of-the-way community center. However unlike with his art teachers Mr. Dasher the music teacher often went out of his way to tell Sam to keep his voice down since it was gravelly, and off-key to boot. At the time Sam did not think much about it, did not feel bad about having no musical sense. Later though once he heard folk music, the blues and some other roots music he felt bad that Mister Dasher had put a damper on his musical sensibilities. Not that he would have gone on to some career like Ralph, at least Ralph had his fifteen minutes of fame, but he would have avoided that life-long habit of singing low, singing in the shower, singing up in the isolated third floor where no one would hear him. The search for memory goes on….