Winter 1996 Taft Bulletin

Page 1

BULLETIN W I N T E R • 1 9 9 6

Volume 66

Number 2

In this Issue SPOTLIGHT

2 CORDY’S RIDGE By Corydon Wagner ’43

9 Page 2

A DAMN PLACE CALLED BASTOGNE By Steven Dedijer ’30 (Princeton Alumni Weekly)

13 PERSPECTIVES AND PLACES A Profile of the History Department

21 MANY NAMES OF TAFT Armstrong Dining Room, Wade House Page 9

23 TRIBUTE TO MARK POTTER ’48 By Lance R. Odden

DEPARTMENTS 26—NEWS OF THE SCHOOL Weyerhaeuser Alumni Trustee, Stone Award, Cum Laude, Soccer Diplomacy, VanMeter Wins New Englands

Page 21 On the cover: Student Spotters at Field House Post, from the March 1942 Taft Alumni Bulletin




Winter 1996


CORDY’S RIDGE Rediscovered fifty years later By Corydon Wagner ’43


The noise of this incoming Japanese round was unlike any I had heard. During the past two weeks, on the ridge line of the northern outskirts of Naha, our small team of forward observers had become expert in predicting the impact point by the sound of enemy mortar and artillery shells landing in our sector. Over 100 of them a night dropping around our bomb-crater shelter provided the practice that first rubbed our nerves raw then slowly dulled us into insouciant bravado.

View from Cordy’s Ridge

▲From Sugar Loaf Hill and the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Ceremonies: view of Cordy’s Ridge. The Ekka Hotel can be seen over the right shoulder of marine in rear holding Japanese flag. Taft Bulletin



Cordy Wagner’s forward observation team, in foreground, directing artillery fire at last of Japanese-occupied sections of Naha, Okinawa’s capital, in the panoramic view made from a hill (Cordy’s ridge) overlooking the city. Notice the artillery bursts in the town. After the mammoth barrage, the infantry swept into the bitterly-defended capital to mop up enemy snipers. Associated Press Photo. But this round was different. The thundering rumble of its elliptical course changed to a shrieking downward trajectory and in slow motion sound it seemed to beep my name, “Cordy Wagner, Cordy Wagner.” It was a big one, not a slow tumbling 320mm mortar shell, probably a 150mm gun projectile. I just had time to dive into a large Okinawan burial vault before the earsplitting crack, as if lightning had struck against the wall of the tomb. Then, nothing. Exactly 50 years later in June, 1995, I sat with other Marine veterans on the top of Sugar Loaf Hill; Ambassador Walter Mondale, former vice president of the United States, and other dignitaries delivered eulogies and commemorative messages in behalf of the US Marine and Japanese veterans who fifty years ago struggled over a ten-day period to capture Sugar Loaf Hill in a battle to become legendary and the bloodiest to be engaged in by the 6th Marine Division. Important wartime events happened here 4

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at Sugar Loaf and to the east at Shuri, Half Moon, Horseshoe, Wana Ridge, and Draw. My gaze went past the speaker to a ridge about a mile to the southwest forming the northern suburbs above the city of Naha. “Could that possibly be the location of our forward observation post, our bomb crater, and my lifesaving tomb?” I wondered. Though, to my knowledge, nothing of great significance occurred on that ridge to the southwest bordering Naha and the East China Sea, it certainly did for me. I was determined to explore that area after the conclusion of ceremonies, and if the ridge proved to be the location of our forward observation post, in a flight of fancy and vanity I would call

it “Cordy’s Ridge.” The search might be difficult, for while the Peleliu battlefields are now obscured under dense carpets of jungle foliage, the Okinawa battlefields are covered with a jungle of concrete. Not only Naha, but the whole southern region of Okinawa is studded with freeways, highrise apartments, office buildings, and hotels obliterating any memories of war. There was a chance. Since returning to Okinawa, I had noted that the old burial tombs appeared to remain in their original positions surrounded by grass and brush. As hallowed ground, they were undisturbed by the relentless march of Japanese construction. Later, this was confirmed by my Okinawan taxi driver.

I just had time to dive into a large Okinawan burial vault before the earsplitting crack, as if lightning had struck against the wall of the tomb.


I spotted some landmarks on the ridge to use in my search. The tall, blue Ekka Hotel near some low lying concrete buildings would be perfect. I was dismayed that if my ridge position for three weeks was within a mile of Sugar Loaf where we all now sat, why had our F.O. team not been aware of it fifty years ago? The battle waged there was the fiercest single action on Okinawa, costing 2,662 Marine casualties in a seesaw struggle for possession of the hilltop, and it has become the hallmark of courage in the annals of the 6th Marine Division. Nevertheless, this was consistent with the enlisted man’s limited knowledge of a developing battle, its tactics and geography—we were only privy to what was in our view or earshot and seldom to the circumstances.

I vaguely recalled that in early May, 1945, ten to twelve of us forward observers and communications men with the 8th 155mm Gun Battalion were transported south from the Machinato area as far as the truck could go on a makeshift road along the western coastline. At the end of the road, we were split into two forward observation teams. My group hiked south for another mile past dug-in Marine defensive positions and other Marines wandering

about, not quite sure where the front lines were. Much is forgotten in the span of fifty years, but I think the other team headed in a northeasterly direction, which I now realize would have been toward Sugar Loaf Hill. I think we were aware that the main action was occurring at a place called Shuri Castle. Generally the terrain was not difficult to hike except for the rock walls and thickets encircling small farms and landscape pockmarked from aerial bombs

Though, to my knowledge, nothing of great significance occurred on that ridge to the southwest bordering Naha and the East China Sea, it certainly did for me.

View of Naha, capital of Okinawa, and harbor 50 years later from same position on Cordy’s Ridge as the June 1945 Associated Press photo. A modern Japanese-style city arose from the rubble of a war-torn village. Taft Bulletin



As a morbid diversion, at times we would make bets with IOUs (we had no cash) on which incoming shell would explode. Once, to raise the ante, several guys even bet their lives, standing up totally exposed to the impact area in a bizarre game of Russian Roulette. and artillery, mortar and 14" naval shells. We passed a gigantic bomb crater up a slope, and then over the ridge we were awe-struck to see the town of Naha totally leveled by pre-invasion and ongoing bombardment. We had a commanding view of a devastated city below us, the waterway and the territory east and the ridge line beyond Naha to the south. Our young, inexperienced lieutenant (he had joined our outfit on Guadalcanal after we returned from the battle of Peleliu) decided we should set up our forward observation post on the forward slope of the ridge facing Naha. It didn’t take us long to place the B.C. scopes, aiming circles, and communications gear in the ready-made shell holes. Five minutes after the lieutenant left us for the fire-control center back north, a salvo of Japanese artillery shells pummeled our position miraculously leaving us with only a few superficial wounds and some damaged equipment for which we had spares. We had obviously aroused the dragon having so stu-

pidly exposed ourselves just before sundown. The shelling continued, and we made a mad dash for the huge crater on the reverse side of the ridge, which would become our shelter from intensive Japanese artillery and mortar barrages fired mostly during the nights. When the torrential rains came in the later part of May (ten inches fell in the last ten days) some of the Japanese artillery and mortar rounds did not make a hard enough impact in the soggy muck to explode. Other shells did not explode because they had no contact fuses. We reasoned the Japanese soldiers were often drunk; though saki steeled their nerves for war, it was not compatible with the technicalities necessary to wage it. As a morbid diversion, at times we would make bets with IOUs (we had no cash) on which incoming shell would explode. Once, to raise the ante, several guys even bet their lives, standing up totally exposed to the impact area in a bizarre game of Russian Roulette. While the shell did not explode, it was appar-

ent that their minds had, and the ailment was known as “going Asiatic.” The number of enemy rounds suggested we were an important target; however, the illumination flares fired from our naval ships to light up the area at night were as hazardous as the Japanese artillery. Some of us received severe burns from the molten material dropping off flares slowly descending on their parachutes. Under this constant bombardment, the terror of the nights circled through us as we stretched out in a ring for rest under the lip of the crater. Each of us had his different way of dealing with this horror. I talked to my God on several occasions. With June came the end of the rains and the necessity to supply our F.O. team with air drops. Also, as the ground hardened, the shells would explode, but luckily many were coming in without fuses. The Japanese must have been drinking more and enjoying it less as they fortified themselves to return to the Oroku Peninsula and make a final stand there. By now both my forward observation team and our counterparts located near Sugar Loaf Hill had earned their keep by locating and calling fire on enemy positions scattered about the Naha ruins and environs. One afternoon in early June, through the scope of a Springfield 03 bolt-action rifle, I had spotted a Japanese officer in front of a cave, shaving. The rifle was not standard issue except for sniper use. How our team got it, I do not know, as was so often the case with weapons and supplies. The Marines just had a way of “finding” things.

We had taken so much artillery shelling over those several weeks that the sharp little cracking sounds from rifle bullets seemed innocuous compared to the locomotive sounds of Japanese artillery. We had to remind ourselves that the aimed rifle shots were deadlier than the random shrapnel flight from artillery and mortar shells. 6

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I awoke to another kind of terror—an ethereal one perhaps but I was not in Heaven. Surely, I was in Hell. The squalid atmosphere of the tomb was heavy with pungent fumes… As designated shooter for our team, I judged the distance to be 700 to 800 yards and squeezed off a round. I had fired a high expert score of 316 in boot camp rifle qualification and had some scout and sniper training along with my Peleliu experience. I think my shot was pretty close because the Japanese officer dropped his razor, grabbed his sword and disappeared into the cave. The next two mornings the same thing happened. Would he actually appear the fourth morning? “My God, yes. There he was again.” This time I double-checked the sight for range and windage, took a normal relaxing breath, expelled about half of it and gently, taking up the slack, squeezed the trigger. My rifle cracked menacingly. The Japanese dropped down behind a rock at the cave entrance. I’ll never know if I hit him or not, but he did not appear again. In turn, we received rifle and machine gun fire which crackled around us, more often from our flank facing the Sugar Loaf Hill area than from Naha. We had taken so much artillery shelling over those several weeks that the sharp little cracking sounds from rifle bullets seemed innocuous compared to the locomotive sounds of Japanese artillery. We had to remind ourselves that the aimed rifle shots were deadlier than the random shrapnel flight from artillery and mortar shells.

Another aimed attack on our outpost came in the form of an air strike by three Naval Hellcat fighter planes, a dreadful mistake of targets which, of course, could have been tragic—just another error of war. I don’t think I was ever so shocked and terrified by any battle occasion as I was by their bullets and rockets smashing around our outpost. It all happened so fast that my shaking did not commence until this flight of Hellcats banked out to sea. Nor did I stop shaking until the humor of my friend’s remark sunk in. He allowed that the pilots must have been Navy. The Marines would have surely killed us with their fire or blown us away by the prop wash from their notorious low-level strafing technique. That evening had already been full of action. At sundown a three-boat amphibious landing attempt (it had to be a suicidal mission) by the Japanese hit the beach just below our ridge. We had total advantage firing down the slopes at them with the help of some of the 29th Marines. Seeing we had destroyed most of them, I became concerned that no one was guarding our east flank facing the Sugar Loaf area, so clutching my Thompson machine gun, I took off at high port in that direction. It was then that I dove into the tomb to escape the shell with my name on it. Minutes, maybe a half-hour later, I awoke to another kind of terror—an ethereal one perhaps but I was not in Heaven. Surely, I was in Hell. The squalid atmosphere of the tomb was heavy with pungent fumes; brimstone could it be? Bones and human ashes lay on and about me. All the burial jars were broken. Was the river Styx just beyond the mists of this purgatory? To get my bearings, I lay still. There was a ringing in my ears. I pinched myself and pinched myself some more. I was alive. My God! How lucky I was. As we had no corpsman to check me over, I remained with my team, in a trance-like state that lasted several days. (I had a temporary loss of hearing and a concussion.)

Marine Saw Real Action The day before Thanksgiving, Pfc. George Corydon Wagner, U.S. Marine Corps, arrived at the Gravelly Lake home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Corydon Wagner, after serving 18 months in the Pacific theater of war as a forward observer for the Third corps artillery. The 20-year-old Tacoma boy was one of the 1,900 marine veterans aboard the Troopship Adair that arrived at San Diego on Armistice day. From Nov. 11 to 22, Pfc. Wagner had a chance to start catching up on drinking milk, but like so many returnees, milk still tasted “especially good” to him, even with a fine turkey dinner on Thanksgiving day. This marine saw combat action on Okinawa and Peleiu. He explained that as a forward observer he usually went out with a party of six men and one officer to spot Jap gun positions, so that U.S. artillery fire could be directed accurately on the enemy targets.… Pfc. Wagner entered service in Oct. 1943. He had barely started his schooling at Yale University, and after his discharge he intends to go back to Yale. Tacoma News Tribune November 1945

Taft Bulletin



• • • From the Sugar Loaf Hill Ceremonies, I took a bus to a tall building near the Naha Port where I could look north across the city to my landmark, the Ekka Hotel, and hopefully from there locate the ridge and the tomb, and sharpening memories of fifty years past. I discovered the tall, elegant Loisir Hotel at the waters edge of the port. The Loisir would be perfect to scan the encampment to the north for the Ekka Hotel and possibly for my ridge. I charged briskly through the posh lobby and took the elevator to the top floor which was a restaurant not yet open for dinner. Unfortunately, the windows only faced south. “Ah! The men’s room faced the north,” I noticed, but upon entering, I muttered, “Damn!” There was no window. A curious waitress readying tables for dinner saw my anxiety. Surprisingly, I was able to convey my dilemma in English. “Here,” she said, giving me a key, “go into the ladies room.” In I strode without reservation. It was as if I was closing in on my Holy Grail for there looking to the north was a large view window which displayed the bluecolored Ekka Hotel just over the distant ridge and down that ridge in front of the Ekka were tombs surrounded by brush and grass. Landmarks, memories obscured by time, came into focus. “That has to be it,” I exclaimed, and down the elevator I went, dashed back through the lobby and into the first cab at the entrance. Luckily I could not have chosen a better cab driver than Noble Teruya, who tolerantly listened to my eccentric mission and seemed to relish his part in the adventure. Fortunately, we could understand each other pretty well. Up Freeway 58, we sped through Naha to the Ameku district and turned off an exit to the Ekka Hotel, drove past it and a pachinko parlor to a parking lot behind an institutional building of some sort. Noble confirmed that fact by twirling a forefinger beside his head. As we 8

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fifty- year-old memory. Yes, oh yes, I had found it. There was my Grail. One of those tombs had saved my life and there on this ridge line flashed the faces of those men I had served with for weeks in this outlandish place. I could tell Noble was pleased to be a part of this American’s strange adventure. He understood and was sympathetic. He told me that the turtleback-shaped tombs were the old ones, the houseshaped modern, and the cave tombs the economy models. It was very important to be buried with one’s ancesCordy Wagner’s cab driver and fellow adventurer, Noble Teruya. tors. Bones and ashes of climbed the fence to hike up the brushy the remains are placed in jars and the ridge I thought, “What a perfect replay most important family members’ jars are this incident was to the wonderful movie, positioned on the top shelves of the tomb. King of Hearts, in which during World Chopsticks and fake money are also put War I a group of mental inmates escape in and around the jars. Incense is often from their Belgian hospital as the battle burned in the tomb and fancy food left swirled around them. In turn, they at the openings to waft in for the deceased laughed and then were horrified by the to smell before the food is eaten by their battling troops and as if to say ‘we are living relatives. Noble stood quietly behind me as I the sane, you the insane,’ they scurried meditated and gazed long over this place back to their hospital sanctuary.” Noble said he forgot something, ran collecting more old memories. Noble and I crossed back over the to his cab and came back with his long wooden habu stick. He then lead the way ridge to return to his cab. The fence gate through the brush beating on it as we to the parking lot was open this time and passed by to scare off the poisonous habu, as we passed through, the people in their a pit viper related to the rattlesnake. In white garments smiled at us again. I looked spite of the urbanization of Okinawa, back from whence we came. There was they were still a menace being crowded much to remember and much to forget. Now I could wave good-bye to into much less countryside. I followed Noble uphill through the “Cordy’s Ridge.” brush looking for the old bomb crater shelter which most likely had been obliterated by the hospital parking lot. Reach- This article is an abridged version of “Cory’s ing the ridge top, I looked down on clus- Ridge,” which will appear in a future issue ters of burial tombs surrounded by just of World War II Magazine. Photographs enough natural vegetation to light up a courtesy of Corydon Wagner.


A Damn Place Called


Did the general know his bodyguard was a Communist? By Stevan Dedijer ’30


ver fifty years ago, as a thirtythree-year-old private in the 101st Airborne, I was one of eleven thousand men ordered into action in response to a massive German attack on the Allied front. It was December 18, 1944. The 101st, which had parachuted into Normandy the previous June and had suffered major casualties there and in fighting in the Netherlands, was below strength and awaiting supplies and replaceTaft Bulletin



ments. The possibility of going into battle anytime soon seemed remote, despite a warning the day before from my sergeant. “Keep it to yourself,” he had told me. “Hitler’s started a big offensive up north.” That was all the information any of us had about where we were heading. We piled into trucks at our base at Mourmelon, France, at 4 PM, and it was close to midnight when we pulled into a town and dumped our gear in a barracks. Although I didn’t know it, we’d crossed into Belgium and were at a major crossroads the Germans needed to take if they were to succeed in their last, desperate offensive of the war. With several buddies, I spent the next few hours in a foxhole, smoking cigarettes in the dark. It was chaotic and noisy—cannon shells were bursting nearby, and people were running and yelling—but we stayed in place until a voice told us we were relieved. Back in the barracks, I found my sergeant stretched out next to a lighted candle, smoking a cigarette, and drinking from a bottle of cognac. “Sarge,” I asked, “where the hell are we?” He held up the bottle, offering me a swig. “In a damn place called Bastogne.”

in fighting the Soviet Army pressing from the East. The notion may seem farfetched today, but our alliance with the Soviets was at best uneasy, and many thought that a war between West and East was inevitable. I recall, while in Bastogne, a buddy’s saying, “Let’s finish with the Germans so we can take care of Stalin!” On that same day, I spoke to a captured SS sergeant who arrogantly told me, “You must stop fighting us and start fighting the Communists!” When the Nazi said this, it made me so angry that I struck him. Although few in my unit knew it, I was a committed revolutionary who had been a member of the American Communist Party since the 1930s. How did a Yugoslav-born Communist wind up in an American uniform at Bastogne? I was born in Sarajevo, the son

Hitler had hatched his plan for a counteroffensive three months earlier. It called for smashing the weakest point of the stretched-out Allied front, then wheeling north and taking the strategic port of Antwerp. To accomplish his objective, he secretly massed thirty-eight divisions, comprising 600,000 men, in the Ardennes Forest and hurled them against the unsuspecting American units on December 16. Hitler believed that such a stunning victory would force the Americans and British to negotiate a separate peace and join with the Germans

of a professor of ethnography at the University of Belgrade. Later, I went to a Methodist school in Rome. Mussolini had come to power, and I watched his black-shirts marching in the streets—my first glimpse of fascism. At age eighteen, I arrived in the United States to attend The Taft School for one year on a scholarship. I then went to Princeton, where I studied physics and in my senior year captained the soccer team. The Stock Market had crashed in 1929, and it was during the subsequent worldwide depression that I embraced Marxism as a way


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of understanding how we had gotten into such a mess. During summers, to supplement the scholarship Princeton gave me, I drove a truck and worked in a factory— experiences that further convinced me that only a socialist revolution would solve the world’s problems. After graduating, I worked briefly as a business reporter for Newsweek magazine, then moved to Pittsburgh to edit a weekly Communist paper serving the thousands of Serbian immigrants laboring in the mines and steel mills of western Pennsylvania. By now, I had joined the Party and was living as a worker, drinking heavily and agitating in the cause of Marx and Lenin. I was also involved in some intelligence activities for the NKVD, the Soviet agency that was the forerunner of the KGB. World War II broke out in 1939, and by 1942 the United States had entered the conflict. The Axis powers had invaded Yugoslavia. I desperately wanted to return to my country to join Marshall Tito’s Partisans, Communist guerrillas fighting for

The Stock Market had crashed in 1929, and it was during the subsequent worldwide depression that I embraced Marxism as a way of understanding how we had gotten into such a mess. a new, socialist state. As a way of getting back to Yugoslavia, I signed up with the Office of Strategic Services (the organization that would later become the CIA), but I didn’t last long once my superiors learned of my outspoken sympathies for Tito. I then volunteered for the paratroops, figuring it would at least get me to Europe to fight fascists. On Sunday, September 17, I parachuted into Holland. I was surely the only American paratrooper who as he jumped shouted “Long live Stalin!” The man who jumped immediately before me was Maxwell D. Taylor, the


101st’s commanding general, who would later serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Kennedy Administration. With two of my best buddies, I had been assigned as Taylor’s combat bodyguard. For most of the next four months I would “guard the body” of either Taylor or General Anthony C. McAuliffe, who commanded the 101st during the early part of the siege of Bastogne. No one told us the specific duties of a bodyguard. When I jumped behind Taylor, I kept a close eye on his parachute among the hundreds around us, and on landing I reported immediately to him. He acknowledged me with a nod and proceeded ahead, while I followed. The Germans were shooting at us, and after a couple of minutes of walking toward their lines, Taylor turned to me and said, “You’re supposed to go ahead of me, not behind!” That was the only instruction I ever received about what a bodyguard should do. Later in Holland, we were caught in a mortar attack. I turned and, seeing Taylor on the ground, ran back and picked him up. As I stumbled with him over my shoulder, with shells bursting all around us, I heard him mutter, “Dammit— wounded right in the ass!” The wound sent Taylor back to the States for a while, and his subordinate McAuliffe was commanding the 101st when it received orders on December 17 to head north to Bastogne. McAuliffe re-

Dedijer’s reunion with General Taylor, left, in 1977.

mained in charge until the 27th, when Taylor arrived in the vanguard of Patton’s Third Army, which broke through the German lines, but did not immediately end the siege. During those crucial ten days, McAuliffe deployed his men masterfully in a perimeter defense against the enemy’s panzer attacks. By the 22nd, the Germans had the town completely surrounded and demanded that the Americans surrender. To this ultimatum McAuliffe uttered his famous reply: “Nuts!” It must have been a difficult decision. The division hospital, along with all its doctors and medical supplies, had been captured, and by the 27th, thirteen

hundred gravely wounded men lay on straw in houses throughout Bastogne. McAuliffe visited the wounded once and decided not to do so again, in order to steel his will against the fierce German attacks. Hitler had ordered Bastogne taken at all costs. Ten roads radiated from the town, and if it remained in Allied hands, warned one panzer general, “it will become a cancer on our lines of communication.” The Germans struck at our perimeter again and again, and what was left of the Luftwaffe bombed us mercilessly, but the town never fell. Taft Bulletin



In my own mind at least, my role during the siege was insignificant. As one of McAuliffe’s and then Taylor’s bodyguards, I was seldom more than fifty yards from the commanding general. But I was never on the front lines, and I never shot at any German I could see. The only creature I killed was a dog, which I put out of its misery after it was mortally wounded during a night bombing. Yet the spirit of Bastogne’s defenders affected me deeply. I lost friends in combat and itched to be part of the fighting, but our lieutenant just laughed when I put in for a transfer to a front-line unit: “You’re not the only one in Headquarters with this idea, Steve!” Instead, he suggested I join counterintelligence, a job that involved rooting out German spies among Bastogne’s civilians. Wisely, I took the advice that Al Landy of the Central Committee of the American Communist Party had given me at the time I enlisted. “Steve,” he said, “sure as hell you’ll be offered a job in intelligence. Don’t take it. It’s a nest of vipers!” The German offensive ultimately collapsed, in no small measure to the “battered bastards of Bastogne,” as the men of the 101st had taken to calling themselves. During the siege we lost 4,400 men, compared to 12,000 Germans who were killed, wounded, or captured. On January 20, the 101st pulled out of Bastogne. Several weeks later, an aide to Taylor told me, “Eisenhower had ordered that you be transferred to the Yugoslav Partisan Army. General Taylor has told me to tell you that he won’t let you go.” Evidently, the general thought he was doing me a favor. When I insisted that I wanted to go, the aide shrugged in disbelief. Later, he told me that the gen-

eral wanted to see me. I entered Taylor’s office and saluted, and he handed me a letter and an autographed picture of himself. I treasure them both still. During a good-bye party that night, I showed the letter to a buddy, who said, “Taylor must have been drunk when he wrote this.” Frankly, Taylor’s assessment has always puzzled me. Did he know I was a Communist? Does every soldier leaving a division get such a letter? Most inexplicably, how did Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, get involved in the transfer of a lowly private? Nearly forty years later, I found the answer to the last question when I visited Vlatko Velebit, who during the war had been Tito’s envoy in London. In August 1944, on my arrival in England, I had gone to Velebit and asked for his help in my effort to get assigned to the Partisans. “The first time I visited Eisenhower,” Velebit told me in 1984, “among other matters, I asked that you be released. He asked me ‘Who is the man in question?’ I told him your name and that you were a private first class in the 101st. Eisenhower laughs and said, ‘That’s the first time anyone has asked me to decide about a private.’” I had regarded my actions as a bodyguard at Bastogne as lowly and useless, but my mood changed dramatically when I learned I would be joining the Partisans to fight for the freedom of my native country. On the eve of my departure, my spirits got a further boost from my division supply sergeant when I asked for some extra boots and shirts. To my surprise, he said, “Anything you want, Steve. Everyone knows you did an excellent job in Bastogne.”

I was seldom more than fifty yards from the commanding general. But I was never on the front lines, and I never shot at any German I could see.


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Stevan Dedijer ’30 at his home in Dubrovnik. The orange tree outside probably saved his life in the shelling last year. Steven Dedijer, a consultant in business intelligence, lives in Dubrovnik, Croatia. At the end of World War II, he joined the new government of Yugoslavia. He eventually grew disillusioned with communism and in 1961 moved to Sweden, where he began a new career at the University of Lund as an analyst of international science and business policies. He returned to the former Yugoslavia last year. This article first appeared in the Princeton Alumni Weekly and is reprinted here with permission. Photographs courtesy of Stevan Dedijer ’30

History Department Profile c {{{{{{{{{{{{


eaching history in the computer age means constant reassessment of both mission and methods. The role of the teacher is no longer primarily to provide historical information, but rather to teach students how to find it, how to evaluate, analyze, organize, and present it. But at the same time, we must be sure that they know “the basics,” and what these are is a debate in itself. Our department also includes other disciplines in the social sciences, such as economics, psychology, and government, and our history courses themselves reflect the influence of those disciplines on recent historical scholarship. Our department is drawn from a wide range of generations and academic backgrounds, and this provides a fertile field for the ongoing discussion of what we hope to accomplish in the history classroom. Here, my colleagues and I share our favorite historical periods or topics to teach. —Emily H. Jones Department Head

{{{{{{{{{{{{ {{{{

Emily Jones Nine years at Taft Harvard University, BA; Yale University, MA History Department Head; currently teaches Approaches to History, World Geography, and Advanced Placement Economics. My favorite topics to teach are those which include cultural collisions of some kind: the Crusades, Columbus and the Conquistadores, the scramble for Africa, the “opening” of Japan. These times illuminate for the students the cultural values which underlie different political and social systems. From this, they can begin to analyze what are the constants in human behavior and what are the variables—to distinguish what we humans all have in common from what we don’t. Taft Bulletin


c History Department Profile {{{{{{{{{{{{ Andy Bisselle Five years at Taft Colgate University, BA; Connecticut College, MAT Currently teaches Atlantic Communities I, World Geography, and Advanced Placement American Government

I have always considered commentary on the Constitutional Convention fascinating and a a reminder of what good can come from dialogue, compromise, and cooperation. The American Constitution laid the groundwork for a government with sufficient strength to promote trade, collect taxes, protect private property, and check radical state legislatures; all powers the government lacked under the Articles of Confederation. Equally important, the Framers provided for a system of checks and balances, separation of powers, and elections to ensure that government would be responsive to the people. When students consider whether or not the Constitution afforded too much power to government at the expense of personal freedom, this promotes valuable class discussion but more significantly can go a long way toward creating a heightened student awareness of the political world around them. This “gateway” into the political world is further broadened when students explore how current issues of the day (gun control, affirmative action, etc.) relate to the principles that Jay, Madison, and Hamilton held in such high regard.

{{{{{{{{{{{{ Fran Bateman Bisselle Four years at Taft Boston College, BA; Wesleyan University, MALS Currently teaches Geography, U.S. History, Approaches to History, and The ’60s and ’70s I believe that geography speaks to the moral side of education more actively than other subjects because it evokes empathy and understanding. Long gone are the days of memorizing state capitals. In the classroom, geography becomes an adventure that addresses the controversies of population, urban development, the power behind national and international organizations, and the responsibilities of developed countries to help with the world economy. Hopefully, this subject will force the student to view his or her world with a more critical, yet compassionate eye. Daily questions are written on the board that will provoke debate. “Why is there world hunger?” “Is migration a right or a privilege?” “How would one design the perfect city?” “Should we force other countries to address women’s rights if it is opposite to their cultural foundations?”


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My hope in asking these questions is that students will be forced to investigate society’s problems while listening to their peers. Geography helps students understand their role in our ever changing world and will hopefully foster the idealism that inspires all the great leaders of our time; one person can and does make a difference.

History Department Profile c {{{{{{{{{{{{ Bob Boothby 29 years at Taft St. Lawrence University, BA; Columbia University, MA Currently teaches Atlantic Communities II, Economics and Money, and American History 1760-1800 in both America and Europe encompassing the American and French Revolutions. This is the period that witnesses the origin of the modern world with the emergence of both democracy and the Industrial Revolution. Both these movements, for the first time in history, involve and depend upon the so-called “common man.”

{{{{{{{{{{{{ Mark Davis

J. Thomas Woelper

14 years at Taft

Seven years at Taft

Yale University, BA

Princeton University, BA; University of Connecticut, MA

Currently teaches The American Nation Through Art; Director of of College Counseling

Currently teaches Approaches to History, American Studies, American Foreign Policy, and Civil War; Dean of Upper Middle Class

{{{{{{{{{{{{ Greece in the 5th and 6th centuries BC. I am particularly interested in the teaching of history through the use of biographies, which we have done with lower mids to a great extent in The Classical World and Approaches to History courses. Having taught Greek history for several years, studied it in graduate work at Wesleyan University, and written several short biographies we use in teaching lower mids (Themistocles, Socrates, Pericles, Demosthenes, and Alexander the Great—in progress), I can safely say that the classical period holds the most interest for me of any history period. Though not an artist, I have found that the students respond well to exploring historical themes and trends through studying art, as we do in The American Nation Through Art. This is not a traditional way of teaching history at Taft, but it works well for many students.

I have enjoyed studying and teaching eras of self-definition in a nation’s history. I am fascinated by the early national and antebellum periods in United States history because it represents a time that was dynamic, searching, and tumultuous, as well as defining. Twentieth century American foreign relations intrigue me because America emerges as a superpower, yet finds it cannot escape the temptations of power. Classical Greece will always remain one of my favorite periods in history because it defines Western Civilization. One must first understand this era before any other will make sense.

Taft Bulletin


c History Department Profile {{{{{{{{{{{{ Rick Davis ’59 31 years at Taft Princeton University, BA; University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MA Currently teaches Advanced Placement American History, United States History, and Chinese History Progressive Era of American History, Early 1900s. This is the era of Theodore Roosevelt, the dawn of the 20th Century, the maturing of the United States as a multi-ethnic, economically self-sufficient, politically stable, internationally respected, and technologically advanced society. This is a fascinating period since so much is happening in every area of American life as the nation makes the transition from the rural agricultural life of the 18th and 19th centuries to the urban industrial bustle of the 20th century. It is an era of larger than life personalities, from Teddy Roosevelt to Susan B. Anthony, from Jack Johnson to Jack London, from Sit-

ting Bull to J.P. Morgan. It is an era of change, excitement, hope, despair, and pragmatic optimism. It is a time of the old and the new existing simultaneously, not just in America but in the whole world. I find it perhaps the most enjoyable period to teach.

{{{{{{{{{{{{ Oliver “Jol” Everett 28 years at Taft Harvard University, BA; Wesleyan University, MALS Currently teaches Advanced Placement European History, Atlantic Communities I and II The period starting with the unification of Germany in the 1860s up to the start of WWI in 1914 is my favorite historical period, and the individual who dominated much of this period, Otto von Bismarck, is my favorite historical individual. Bismarck had the ability, as first the Prussian chancellor and later the German chancellor, to stay several moves ahead of his opponents in the complicated chess game of late-19th century European diplomacy.


Winter 1996

History Department Profile c {{{{{{{{{{{{ Jack Kenerson ’82 Ten years at Taft Colgate University, BA; Dartmouth College, MALS Currently teaches Atlantic Communities, The World at War, and America: New Frontier to Watergate; Admissions Officer Operation Overlord, the combined American, British, and Canadian invasion of Hitler’s “Fortress Europe” just over fifty years ago, continues both to fascinate and to educate at the end of the 20th century. Recent research goes beyond numbers and strategies and explores the individual sacrifices made by both soldiers and their families, and this makes the Normandy invasion an event with a personal side. With many of the odds stacked against the Allied storming parties, it is interesting to understand the successful invasion of Normandy as an example of what people can accomplish when their country faces a crisis. Considering present day crises and comparing them with the Nazi threat to western civilization is interesting. The Nazis were a tremendous threat to our way of life, and the citizens of the free world united to defeat that chal-

lenge. In understanding Operation Overlord, we can appreciate both the combined efforts of the Allies and the sacrifices made by many American families during the Second World War, and through this appreciation of history, we realize today’s crises can be resolved with a combination of firm leadership and the efforts of concerned citizens.

{{{{{{{{{{{{ Mike Maher Ten years at Taft University of Vermont, BA; Wesleyan University, MALS Currently teaches Atlantic Communities I and Approaches to History; Associate Dean of Students; Admissions Officer I am fascinated by the concept of leadership and the role that individuals play in shaping history. Coming to understand how leaders gain power, consolidate it, and use it is of particular interest to me. Individuals can and do make history. There is no doubt that individuals have been able to sway entire societies into action, for better or for worse. Individuals have been responsible for the greatest debacles, the most outrageous crimes, the most horrific suffering. They have also been essential to realizing the most momentous benefits of mankind: individual freedom, social justice, religious freedom, and racial tolerance. A biographical approach to learning history is an exciting way to learn about the individual acts of great men and women and the larger forces that characterize a historical experience. Taft Bulletin


c History Department Profile {{{{{{{{{{{{ Bill Morris ’69 20 years at Taft Bucknell University, BA; University of Connecticut, MA; Columbia University, MA Currently teaches Humanities; Dean of Academic Affairs I love teaching Humanities because I team-teach with Robin [Blackburn] Osborn from the English Department and because the course integrates history, philosophy, literature, art history, and science in an examination of Western culture. We ask students to consider some timeless questions about what it means to be human, and in doing so, the students must look at these questions in their own lives. Why and how do we gather as communities? How do we interact with and view the natural world? How do men and women relate? What is the nature of the divine? How does change and technological advance affect humans? What is the nature of power and war? By starting with ancient Greece and the Old Testament and progressing into the 20th century, students can see how humans have answered these questions at various times in Western culture. The course prepares them for college and for responsible citizenship. We also hope that it introduces them to the life of the mind which they will cherish always.

{{{{{{{{{{{{ {{{{{{{{{{{{ Lance Odden 35 years at Taft Princeton University, BA; University of Wisconsin, MA Headmaster, usually teaches Chinese History, on leave from department to inaugurate the Campaign for Taft Teaching a survey of Chinese history is a delight because it exposes bright students to new ways of understanding humanity from the cultural traditions of China, to the decline of a great civilization, to the development of revolutionary nationalism, to the building of the modern state. The issues are large and complex; they speak to the enduring problems of a complex society. That the setting, culture, and people are so different makes our learning richer and more rewarding.


Winter 1996

History Department Profile c {{{{{{{{{{{{ Mennette DuBose San-Lee ’87 Three years at Taft Brown University, BA Currently teaches Adolescent Psychology; Race, Class, and Gender in American Society; Admissions Officer Race, Class, and Gender in American Society continues to be my favorite class to teach. The course begins by examining how race, class, and gender are defined in the United States and then moves to an understanding of how each of those became “isms” within American Society. We spend a great deal of time looking at the various socio-political movements of the 1960s and 1970s. I find this to be one of the most exciting and challenging periods of U.S. history, when we, as a country, are struggling with a number of moral issues and debated whether we are a “melting pot” or a “mixing bowl.” I find it to be a huge challenge, both for myself and the students, to examine personal stereotypes and to begin to re-read our American history while taking into account the multitude of cultures, ethnicities, and ideologies which have shaped today’s society.

{{{{{{{{{{{{ John Wynne 31 years at Taft Syracuse University, BA; Trinity College, MA Currently teaches Approaches to History; Athletic Director I do not have a favorite period of history. I do like teaching lower mids, and at the moment we are studying the ancient Greek world, which I find fascinating. Over the past several thousand years some things about human behavior just do not change very much. Lower mids get excited about art, plays, history, and philosophy. It does not take much to get them wound up. For many years I enjoyed teaching Atlantic Communities. This course combines United States and European history. Events on both sides of the Atlantic make more sense when studied together. I hope to return to this course in the future. Four years ago, I brought back the Advanced Placement European History course for seniors. The time frame of the course as it is presently designed by the AP committee does not make sense to me. The Taft students were always great in AP European History, but the course design could be improved by starting with the French Revolution instead of the Age of Discovery.

One of the great things about teaching at Taft is the freedom to initiate new courses. Over the years, I have designed a variety of new courses and enjoyed teaching them. Some are still taught in the department; some are distant memories. In either case it is always a challenge to develop courses that appeal to Taft students. Taft Bulletin


c History Department Profile {{{{{{{{{{{{ Course Offerings Adolescent Psychology American Foreign Policy American History The American Nation Through Art American Studies AP American Government AP American History AP Economics AP European History

Beth Wheeler

Maurice Dyson

Chris Ledwick

Williams College, BA

Columbia University, BA

Bowdoin College, BA

History fellow, currently teaches Geography and Approaches to History

Carpenter Fellow, taught U.S. History and World Geography

History fellow, currently teaches Atlantic Community I and World Geography

Approaches to History

One year at Taft One year at Taft One year at Taft {{{{{{{{{{{{ Atlantic Communities I

Colonial America and the Revolution. I am continually fascinated by the founding of our country and why it came about. Was the American Revolution an evolution or a revolution? By understanding the goals and aims of the United States as a new nation, I can better comprehend what our constitution and democratic institution strives to achieve today.


Winter 1996

New Negro Movement (190030). The age of Hubert Harrison, Marcus Garvey, and Cyril Briggs, when the heightened social and political consciousness of Black Americans took root in massive grassroots organization and the formation of the largest Black association in world history—the Universal Negro Improvement Association. The New Negro era became the catalyst for social and economic change which incorporated the everyday American who would become the central subject of several artistic and literary works of the Harlem Renaissance.

14th Century Florentine History. I’ve found the period and events of the Ciompi Revolt to be most interesting, especially the social and religious conditions leading up to the revolt.

Atlantic Communities II Economics and Money The Enigma of Japan The Epic of China From the New Frontier through Watergate Sectional Conflict and the Civil War Women in U.S. History The World at War World Geography Independent Project in History


The Many Names of Taft


eople are the foundation of our school. Daily, as we make our own journey through the school, we are reminded of those who have gone before us—reminded by the names memorialized in so many of Taft’s buildings and rooms. Here we continue our series, proposed by Ted Squires ’28, devoted to those who, in their turn, molded key parts of “our kind firm molder.” It seemed only fitting that in an issue remembering the Second World War, we focus on two “Old Boys” who gave their lives for their country.

WADE HOUSE In Memory of Howard Voyer Wade ’38 News of the sinking of the destroyer Reuben James off Iceland on October 30, 1941, came as a shock to the entire country, but particularly to Taft, for one of the officers who went down with the ship was Ensign Howard “Bud” Wade—the first alumnus to give his life in service to his country during World War II. After Taft, Bud spent two years at Princeton and then enlisted in the Navy before the war broke out. The Wade House was given by his family “to provide a cheerful, comfortable, and friendly meeting place for the seniors of The Taft School.” After the construction of a new Student Union and Jigger Shop, Wade House took on new roles. For a period of time it was the home of faculty member John Small. Today, it houses the school’s day care center. Taft Bulletin



In Grateful Remembrance CAPTAIN JOHN BRADFORD ARMSTRONG ’34 1914-1944 Few places at The Taft School are as central to school life as the Armstrong Dining Room. Not only does the school community gather here three times a day for meals, it is also home for most Saturday night dances, as well as the place many students take their finals exams and College Board tests. The lower dining room was constructed and the upper dining room renovated in 1959 thanks to a bequest from Captain John B. Armstrong, who was killed in the crash of a Flying Fortress while on a routine training flight near Wichita, Kansas, in June 1944. The portrait of John, which hangs on the south wall of the lower dining room, was painted by Deane Keller ’19.


Winter 1996


Mark Winslow Potter ’48 October 27, 1929 — December 9, 1995


t Taft, where Mark Potter spent forty-five of his sixty-six years, he was only known as “Potter,” a term of great endearment. Why only the last name? I think it was our way of recognizing that the essence of the man was the schoolboy within. A boy coursing with creativity, curiosity, and enthusiasm, and physical to his very core. Taft Bulletin



In Potter’s Art Room, teaching.

As enthusiastic on the ice as in the studio, Mark continued to play in alumni hoscky games, often with two of his sons.

I must confess to anger that this Potter was taken from us so early. He seemed eternal. Paradoxically, all of us also looked forward to the next phase of Potter’s life knowing that he would live to be eighty or more. He was to be our marker, showing us how to delight in old age. Instead, he is gone. Taken at the peak of his game, as he would have said, as a husband, father, teacher, and friend to us all. It is impossible to imagine how we will fill that void. John Gardner once wrote that in any era there are only a few people who make you feel better about yourself by being in their presence, by being who they are. Mark Potter was one of those rare individuals. Born into a somewhat Victorian family, Mark was alone a lot early in life. He found himself sledding and skating on the ponds, thriving in the beauty of nature and in his own being. By the time he entered Taft in the fall of 1945, the essence of the boy was emerging. Plunging into all that the school offered, Potter established the patterns that would guide him through Taft and Yale. A class leader, fine student, gifted singer in the Oriocos even as he would be in the Whiffs, gifted athlete, devoted hockey player, beloved by all for his enthusiasms for everything he did and for all with whom he worked, played, and created. After Yale came the CIA, courting Bobbie Baldwin, work-

ing with Gray Mattern, and then heeding Paul Cruikshank’s call to return to Taft, to teach art and to become Woodbury’s resident artist. And so he has been for the past forty-one years. We know many Potters. Potter the family man, delighting in each of his family, glowing in the joy of their presence and quietly proud of their remarkable accomplishments. Potter the outdoors man, loving the land, especially the Adirondaks and “Brandreth,” the Weekeepeemee, dying Connecticut farms and their farmers. Potter, ever struggling to preserve wildlife and nature as it should be, a friend of the bear. Potter the physical being, most at home on the ice with his Yale teammates, with the Senile Six, alone deeking imaginery opponents on Taft’s pond pretending it was the Montreal Forum, or playing with his sons in the alumni game, a feat never to be equalled again. Potter the competitor on the courts, ever improving, ever setting up his opponent with compliments early on, ever certain that this would be his best year ever. Potter, never losing, though sometimes the body let him down, or time ran out. Potter the artist, recording beautiful scenes to inspire us and future generations, capturing the essence of individuals great


Winter 1996


Potter taught art at Taft for so long, and so well, that alumni artists are often referred to as Potter’s Painters. Here, Mark greets David Armstrong ’65 when one of his paintings is given to the school.

Putting up an exhibit of his work in Woodbury.

and small for their families and for generations yet to come. Potter the character, ever yodeling in the halls of Taft, sketching in faculty meetings, asking the headmaster to help him jump-start cars illegally parked on campus, exercising squatters’ rights in the study hall for over two decades, splurging for sixty-nine cents worth of gas to get home. Potter, exhorting kids not to throw stones on the emergent ice of the pond, not to smoke in his art room, not to litter the campus. Potter, invariably loved and respected for who he was. Potter the teacher, finding goodness in those forgotten by others, finding creative impulses in students whose lives had been barren before, teaching us all so much about the power of encouragement and care. Potter the friend, always there, delighting in our triumphs, urging us on, finding joy and strength in us and never expecting anything in return. In his toughest moments this fall, he was always concerned for others first. He delighted in our plans for improving and beautifying our campus. He thrilled at football victories over Hotchkiss. He worried about his protégé David Armstrong’s [’65] own fight against illness, and the very night Mark died, he was triumphant because his grandson had just made a select hockey team.

To the end, Potter lived a unique life. He lived for the moment and for others. In a film just made about the school, Potter was featured, and in it I think he inadvertently declared his philosophy of life. He said, “I am very hands on. I do not sneak up with little tiny details. I like the idea of walloping the picture, of being courageous.” And so Potter was, with paintings and with life. I close with words written by Ken Rush ’67 in the Taft Bulletin just two years ago. “I guess when all is said and done, the reason I teach is because I came into contact with a great teacher when I was a miserable failure of a student. That teacher gave me something that I can now, after twenty years of starts and stops, give back. So why do I teach? Because a teacher, Mark Potter, made so much possible in my life.” And so he did for each of us. We will miss him terribly in the years ahead. There will never be another Potter, and we will never forget. — Lance R. Odden On Alumni Weekend, there will be an alumni show of both Mark’s paintings and those of his students. Those interested in exhibiting their work should contact the headmaster. Taft Bulletin



NEPSAC Distinguished Service Award to

Lawrence Hunter Stone It has been a privilege to have worked as a friend and colleague with Larry Stone since the fall of 1962. In my lifetime, I have met many outstanding leaders, and I consider Larry Stone to rank among the very best. His personal courage was evidenced as his ability to defeat a deadly disease placed him among the very few who have survived. His personal physician told me that it was his individual courage and willpower which enabled him to persevere. That power and strength speak to the essence of the man. Of course, his record speaks for itself. Under his leadership, there has been a five-fold increase in interscholastic competition at The Taft School. Our school teams have done marvelously. Larry’s own have, of course, won innumerable chamLarry Stone shares his moment of glory with his family, from left: Jimmy ’83, Katie ’84, Larry, Lu, Kelly ’76, and Mike ’74


Winter 1996

pionships and nearly seven out of ten contests he coached. Larry Stone has been a leader in our league, in all of western New England and, indeed, throughout the entire region. However, I want to speak of Larry Stone, not just the successful coach and athletic director, but more essentially as a man of principle. Rather than recruit, he preferred to teach. Rather than pander to spoiled athletes and to their parents, Larry challenged every competitor to be better than they imagined and to do so for the team’s good. He fought against the contemporary selfish preoccupation of individual coaches with allstar systems, special tournaments and leagues. He fought for the good of all sports, all teams, and every school. He

resisted the recent development of teambased cabals, avoided politics and prized relationships, and worked to develop honesty between schools and between our coaches and athletes. Many would praise Larry because of the success of Taft teams and his wonderful record as a coach. As I have been proud for each of the past thirty-four years to stand at Larry’s side, I am proud to present the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Distinguished Service Award for “significant contributions to New England private school athletics and physical education through enthusiasm, dedication, leadership, and vision.” —Lance R. Odden


Alumnae Trustee Merrill Weyerhaeuser ’78 At Taft for three years, Merrill lettered in soccer, squash, and tennis. A school monitor and a member of the Disciplinary Committee, she also served as a dorm monitor during her upper-mid and senior years. As part of her independent study program senior year, Merrill interned as a teacher at the Watertown Montessori School. She was an assistant class agent for seven years and is currently the head class agent, as well as an area alumni admissions representative for Taft in Oregon and California. Merrill graduated from Yale University in 1982 with a B. A. degree in psychology. She was the captain of the soccer team and was selected to the All-Ivy team. After graduation, Merrill joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Nepal as an English teacher. Upon returning to the United States, she taught

elementary school in Oregon. In 1992, Merrill received her M.S. degree in clinical psychology from the Oregon Graduate School of Professional Psychology. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in psychology at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA. Her dissertation will explore the problem of homelessness from the perspective of those who are homeless, but are living in subsidized housing. Her research includes volunteer work in community mental health settings and studies of attachment patterns of Afro-American adolescents living in group homes. Merrill lives in Berkeley, where she serves on the Allocations Committee for Vanguard Public Foundation, an organization committed to addressing the needs of disenfranchised populations. In addition, she is a board member of the Weyerhaeuser family foundation.

Eleven Seniors Named to Cum Laude At a school already known for its powerful academics, a few students manage to excel above the norm, even at Taft. In mid November, Lance Odden welcomed eleven members of the Class of ’96 to The Taft School chapter of the Cum Laude Society. Students are selected on the basis of their upper middle year record; another 7

or 8 percent of the class will be recognized at graduation for their senior year performance. By its charter, Taft can admit no more than 20 percent of any class to the society. Typically, Taft reserves the honor for the top 15 to 16 percent of the class. This fall, the following seniors were inducted: Edwin Cheuk, Geoff

Deschenes, Laura Dickman, Benjamin Hanani, Lauren Hickey, Dave Lombino, Anna Pavlova, Ji-Hwan Seol, Shivani Tibrewala, Chris Tucker, and Katharine Wies. Founded in 1908, Cum Laude is the secondary school equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa at colleges and universities. Taft’s chapter is one of the oldest, founded in 1911. Taft Bulletin



Soccer Diplomacy On October 15, Taft’s boys’ varsity soccer team played the Uzbeckistan Junior National Team—that is, the team of their future Olympic and World Cup players. They were over here with an organization called Intersport USA, a group that tries to promote international understanding through soccer. Five years ago, Taft played a team from Hanoi, the first Vietnamese team to play on American soil, also through Intersport. The Uzbeckistan team was amazing. “We lost, of course,” said Taft coach Willy MacMullen ’78, “since their skill level was phenomenal: They play all year and are enrolled in sports schools.” The teams exchanged gifts, played a game, toured the area together, and then had a farewell dinner. “It was a terrific day,” said MacMullen. “A day when soccer was the ambassador, when kids and adults from radically different cultures came together. We spoke through a translator when we

Coach Willy MacMullen ’78 and captain John Jankowski ’96, center, saying farewell to the coaches from Uzbeckistan. could, and when not, we all mimed together in some funny scenes.” Although most Taft players probably won’t go on to play in the World Cup games, the team has been very strong in

recent years, posting five consecutive winning seasons for a total of nearly 50 wins in the same span of time. They also made their appearance at the 1990 and 1994 New England Championships.

Van Meter wins New Englands

Coach Mike Townsend congratulates New England Champion Caroline VanMeter ’96. 28

Winter 1996

It was only fitting that Taft hosted the New England Cross Country Meet this year, as Taft captain and top runner Caroline VanMeter was poised to take first place. She finished the 3.0-mile course in 19 minutes 10 seconds, a full 36 seconds ahead of any other competitor, completing a near-perfect first-place season (one third place) for Caroline. Coach Mike Townsend describes Caroline as “clearly the most talented and most committed runner I’ve coached at

Taft.” She has dominated the girls’ cross country and track teams since she arrived her mid year. As a mid, Caroline placed second in the Founders League and seventh at the New England Cross Country Championships. In addition to her talent as a runner, Caroline is an honor roll student, corridor monitor, tour guide, and a member of the non-denominational Christian group FOCUS. In the spring, she will be co-captain of the girls’ track team.


Fall Big Red Scoreboard Boys’ Cross Country

Field Hockey

Coach: ....................................................................... Steve Palmer

Coaches: ............................................ Fran Bisselle, Kelley Roberts

Captain: ........................................................ Geoff Deschenes ’96

Captains: ...................................... Laura Field ’96, Molly Hall ’96

Record: .................................................................................... 6-3

Record: ................................ 12-3-1, Founders League Champions

John Small Cross Country Award: ................ Geoff Deschenes ’96

Field Hockey Award: ..................... Laura Field ’96, Molly Hall ’96

Captain-elect: .................................................... Tucker Green ’97

Captains-elect: .................................................. Sarah Banister ’97

Girls’ Cross Country

Boys’ Soccer

Coach: ............................................ Mike Townsend, Karla Palmer

Coaches: ..................................... Willy MacMullen, Tom Woelper

Captains: ..................... Tracey Cahill ’96, Caroline Van Meter ’96

Captain: .......................................................... John Jankowski ’96

Record: ..................................... 7-1, Founders League Champions

Record: ................................................................................. 9-5-2

Girls’ Cross Country Award: ..................... Caroline Van Meter ’96

Carroll Soccer Award: .................................... John Jankowski ’96,

Captains-elect: ........................................... Jennifer Blomberg ’97,

Chad Scarborough ’96

Heather Lambert ’97, Jessica Riggs ’97

Captains-elect: .................. Doug Blanchard ’97, Lee Whitaker ’97


Girls’ Soccer

Coaches: ..................... Steve McCabe, Joe Brogna, Jack Kenerson,

Coaches: ..............................................Rusty Davis, Beth Wheeler

Rico Brogna, Harry Mihalakos, Chris Butler, Ethan Frechette ’90

Captain: ............................................................. Sarah Stopper ’96

Captains: ................................. Jay Quenville ’96, Ryan Raveis ’96

Record: .................................................................................... 4-9

Record: ................................ 5-3, Erickson League Tri-Champions

1976 Girls’ Soccer Award: ............................... Molly Simmons ’96

Black Football Award: ........................................... Ryan Raveis ’96

Captain-elect: ......................................... Katharine Mangione ’97

Cross Football Award: ......................................... Jay Quenville ’96 Captains-elect: .......................Dewey Ames ’97, David Jenkins ’97 Taft Bulletin



Spring Athletic Schedule 1996 This schedule is subject to change, please call the school at 860-274-2516 or 860-274-6661 to verify the time and location of any game. You may also call the Taft Sportsline for a recording of the latest scores at 860-945-6047. Varsity Baseball April 3 6 10 13 14 14 17 20 24 27 May 1 3 8 11 15 18* 22 24

[Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Sun] [Sun] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri]

Salisbury Westminster Deerfield Blair Hun Lawrenceville Loomis Hotchkiss Kent T-P Choate Avon Avon Loomis Hotchkiss Kent T-P Choate

2:30 A 2:30 H 3:45 A 4:00 A 11:00 A 2:00 A 3:00 H 2:30 A 2:30 A 2:45 H 3:00 H 4:00 H 2:30 A 2:45 A 2:30 H 2:30 H 2:45 A 3:30 H

JV Baseball April 10 17 20 24 27 May 1 3 8 11 15 18* 22 24

[Wed] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri]

Deerfield Loomis Hotchkiss Kent T-P Choate Avon Canterbury Loomis Hotchkiss Kent T-P Choate

3:45 H 3:00 A 2:30 H 2:30 H 2:45 A 3:00 H 4:00 A 2:30 H 2:45 H 2:30 A 2:30 A 2:45 H 3:30 A

Crew April 20 [Sat] 24



Berkshire, Litchfield 3:00 H (Bantam Lake) Gunnery, Litchfield, Miss Porter’s 3:00 H

Winter 1996



May 1








Deerfield, Litchfield, Pomfret 3:00 H Choate, Ethel Walker, Litchfield 3:00 H Dupont Cup @ Pomfret 2:00 Berkshire, Gunnery, Ethel Walker, South Kent @ Lake Waramaug 3:00 E.O. Smith HS 3:00 H

Varsity Golf April 10 [Wed] 13


17 20 24 27 May 1

[Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed]

8 11 15

[Wed] [Sat] [Wed]



Hopkins, Salisbury 2:00 H Choate, Mt. Hermon 2:00 @ Choate Canterbury 2:00 H Deerfield 2:30 A Kingswood 2:15 H T-P 2:30 A Hotchkiss, Avon, Westminster @ Hotchkiss 2:00 Loomis 2:00 H Berkshire 2:00 H Kingswood Invitational 11:00 A Hotchkiss, Suffield, Choate 1:30 H

JV Golf April 13 17 20 24 May 1 8 11 15

[Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Wed] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed]

Choate Hotchkiss Deerfield Kingswood Avon Loomis Berkshire Hotchkiss

2:30 A 2:30 A 2:30 A 2:15 H 2:30 A 2:00 H 2:00 H 2:00 H

Varsity Lacrosse—Boys’ April 6 10 13 20 24 27 29 May 1 3 11 15 18* 22 24

[Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Mon] [Wed] [Fri] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri]

Salisbury Cheshire HS Westminster Deerfield Choate Mt. Hermon Canterbury Kent Suffield Loomis Avon Hotchkiss T-P Kingswood

2:30 H 3:30 H 2:30 A 3:00 A 3:00 A 3:00 H 4:00 A 2:30 H 4:00 A 2:30 A 2:30 A 2:30 H 3:00 H 3:30 A

Varsity Lacrosse—Girls’ April 6 10 13 14 17 20 24 27 May 1 3 11 15 18* 22 24

[Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Sun] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri]

Mt. Hermon 2:30 H Berkshire 2:30 A Kingswood 2:30 H Lawrenceville 10:30 H Loomis 2:30 H Deerfield 2:30 A Westminster 3:00 A Rye CD 1:30 H Greenwich Ac. 3:15 A Kent 2:30 H Pomfret 2:30 A Choate 3:00 A Ethel Walker 2:30 H Hopkins 3:00 H Hotchkiss 3:45 A

JV Lacrosse—Boys’ April 6 10 13 18 20

[Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Thu] [Sat]

Salisbury 2:30 H Cheshire HS 3:30 H Westminster 2:30 A Greenwich CD 3:30 H Deerfield 3:00 A


24 26 27 May 1 3 8 11 15 18* 22 24

[Wed] [Fri] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri]

Choate 3:00 A Canterbury 4:00 A Millbrook 2:30 H Kent 2:30 H Suffield 4:00 A Greenwich CD 3:15 A Loomis 2:30 A Avon 2:30 A Hotchkiss 2:30 H T-P 3:00 H Kingswood 3:30 A

JV Lacrosse—Girls’ April 10 13 17 20 24 27 May 1 8 11 15 18* 22 24

[Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri]

Berkshire Kingswood Loomis Deerfield Westminster Rye CD Greenwich Ac. Kent Pomfret Choate Millbrook Hopkins Hotchkiss

4:00 A 4:00 H 4:00 H 3:45 A 4:30 A 2:45 H 4:30 A 4:00 H 3:45 A 4:30 A 2:30 A 4:30 H 3:45 A

Thirds Lacrosse—Boys’ April 13 17 20 24 May 1 8 11 15 18* 22 24

[Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Wed] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri]

[Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Tue] [Sat] [Wed]

[Fri] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri]

Westover Kent Rye CD Choate Kingswood Hopkins Hotchkiss

4:00 H 2:30 H 2:30 A 3:00 A 2:30 A 3:00 H 3:45 A

2:30 A 3:00 A 2:30 H 3:00 H 2:30 A 3:00 H 2:30 A 3:00 H 2:30 H 3:00 H 3:30 H

Mt. Hermon Berkshire Canterbury Westminster Ethel Walker Miss Porter’s Loomis Deerfield

2:30 H 2:30 A 2:30 H 2:30 A 2:30 A 4:15 H 2:30 H 3:45 A

8 11 15 18* 22 24

[Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri]

Hotchkiss T-P Hopkins Choate Canterbury Kent

2:30 A 2:30 A 2:30 H 2:30 H 2:00 H 4:00 H

JV Tennis —Girls’ Varsity Tennis—Boys’ April 10 13 17 20 24 27 29 May 1 3 8 9 10 11 13 15 18* 22

[Wed] Hotchiss 2:30 H [Sat] Deerfield 3:00 A [Wed] Salisbury 2:30 H [Sat] Kingswood 2:30 A [Wed] Gunnery 2:30 H [Sat] Loomis 2:30 A [Mon] Kent 4:00 A [Wed] Berkshire 2:30 A [Fri] Westminster 3:30 H [Wed] Canterbury 2:00 H [Thu] Avon 3:15 A [Fri] Cheshire 3:00 H [Sat] T-P 2:30 A [Mon] Choate 3:30 H [Wed] Suffield 2:30 A [Sat] New England Tournament [Wed] Hopkins 2:30 A

Varsity Tennis—Girls’

Hotchkiss Westminster Canterbury Choate Kent Loomis Salisbury Kent Avon T-P Salisbury

Varsity Softball April 6 10 13 17 20 23 27 May 1

3 8 11 15 18* 22 24

April 10 13 17 20 24 May 1 3 8 9 11 15 18* 22

[Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Wed] [Fri] [Wed] [Thu] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed]

Berkshire 2:30 A Deerfield 2:00 H Loomis 2:30 H Ethel Walker 2:30 A Westminster 2:30 A Greenwich Ac. 3:15 H Westover 4:00 A Kent 2:30 H Kingswood 4:15 A Hotchkiss 2:30 H Choate 3:00 A Kent Tournament 9:00 Hopkins 2:30 A

JV Tennis—Boys’ April 13 17 20 24 27 May 1

[Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed]

Deerfield Berkshire Kingswood Westminster Loomis Avon

3:00 A 2:30 H 2:30 H 2:30 A 2:30 A 2:30 A

April 10 13 17 20 24 May 1 3 8 11 15 18* 22

[Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Wed] [Fri] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed]

Berkshire Deerfield Millbrook Loomis Westminster Greenwich Ac. Westover Kent Hotchkiss Choate Kingswood Hopkins

2:30 A 2:00 H 2:30 A 2:30 A 2:30 H 3:15 H 4:00 H 2:30 H 2:30 H 3:00 H 2:30 A 2:30 A

Thirds Tennis—Boys’ April 17 20 27 May 1 8 15 18* 22 24

[Wed] [Sat] [Sat] [Wed] [Wed] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri]

Rumsey Hopkins Westminster Berkshire Hotchkiss Kent Choate Indian Mtn. Kent

3:00 A 2:30 H 2:30 H 2:30 A 2:30 A 4:00 A 2:30 A 3:00 H 4:00 H

Track April 13 [Sat] 17 20 24 27 May 1 3

[Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Fri]

8 11 15 18*

[Wed] [Sat] [Wed] [Sat]

Andover, Deerfield 2:00 A T-P (boys) 2:30 A Deerfield Relays 1:00 Westminster 2:30 A Kingswood 2:30 H Berkshire 2:30 H Choate, Avon (boys) 3:30 H Suffield 2 :30 H Hotchkiss 2:30 A Loomis 2:30 A New England Meet @ Hotchkiss

* Alumni Day

Taft Bulletin









The War Years By Paul Cruikshank Headmaster 1936–1963


he war years were extremely

in the frightful conflict. At times our

difficult and worrisome

Memorial Services were being held with

ones for us at Taft as they

appalling frequency. Quite understand-

were, of course, for all

ably these occasions had a saddening and

schools and for everybody. Although we

sobering effect on us all.

had many problems to harass us, the chief

One of the cheering by-products of

burden we had to bear was the death of so

having our “old boys” in service was the

many of our “old boys” in service. Fifty-

abundant correspondence which took

seven alumni gave their lives

place between them and Mrs. Cruikshank and me.

…the chief burden we had to bear was the death of so many of our “old boys” in service. Fifty-seven alumni gave their lives in the frightful conflict.

It was very apparent that being in service quick-

Early in the war, I consulted with

ened the boys’ interest

the commanding officer of our Army

in their school and

Corps area in regard to curriculum

served to draw the

changes which might better equip our

bonds tighter be-

boys for military service. His advice was,

tween them and us—

“Teach them to read and write and to do

who were “back

arithmetic.” It was a relief and reassuring

home.” This per-

to us to have the army in agreement with

sonal correspon-

our judgment in this matter. We fol-

dence we had

lowed the authoritative advice and main-

with hundreds

tained our usual curriculum. We did,

of “old boys”

however, give every boy a course in Trigo-

was a rich com-

nometry. That additional mathematics

pensation in

experience was of great value to many a

those painful

boy. We were also advised by the army


not to have the boys spend time on marching and close order drill but, rather,

Postcard sent to Headmaster Cruikshank by Frank A. Driscoll ’44 from Paris during the war.

to give them a sound physical training program. This we did. We continued Taft Bulletin









with our comprehensive athletic pro-

tion. This we did—but with great reluc-

tests. Since I managed to pass these, all

gram but in addition required every boy

tance. We managed to stave off disaster

was going swimmingly for me. It all was

to undergo a daily strenuous calisthenic

and survive the crisis, but it was surely a

quite stimulating and exciting. Two days

and commando program.

most anxious period. Fortunately, the

after my return to school from New

From our hundreds of alumni who

next year our enrollment made a splendid

York, I received a notice from the Draft

went into the armed forces I never heard

recovery and we were at once back again

Board that Selective Service had changed

of a single one who had any trouble

in strong financial condition.

its mind and that I was not to be drafted.

adjusting emotionally to the service experience. It is my judgment that this fact was due to their quality of person but also, in a large measure, to their

One by one our younger men were taken from us. It seemed to me that barely a month passed without our losing one of our important and key men.

Equally worri-

What powers had moved to effect this

some through the

change, I never knew. It was quite appar-

whole war period

ent, though that some one in authority

was the faculty

somewhere thought it best that I con-

problem. One by

tinue to be a civilian. Once again I had

one our younger

no choice but to accept my lot. I knew

men were taken

well where my duty lay.

from us. It seemed

The ending of the war presented its

to me that barely a

problems, too. The chief one concerned



the faculty. Where did the school’s obli-

without our losing

gation lie? With the former faculty mem-

one of our impor-

bers who had been in service or with their

tant and key men.

replacements who “kept the school go-

reaction I cite above was not peculiar to The task of replacement was nothing short

ing” during the war years? After much

Taft but was characteristic of all boys

agonizing I decided that our first obliga-

boarding school experience. They had learned to stand on their own two feet. I am sure that the

who had had the benefit of an indepen-

of a nightmare.... When I reached my forty-

tion was to the former members who had

fourth birthday I, too, received a draft

been in service. It was a pleasant assign-

The two most worrisome problems

notice. Although it was my conviction

ment to inform nine men that they would

created for us by the war were in the areas

that I could serve the country better by

not be re-engaged for the next year. At

of finance and faculty. A decline in enroll-

operating The Taft School, I, of course,

one fell swoop—to put it mildly—I lost

ment the second year of the war resulted in

had no choice but to obey my summons.

nine friends....

an operating deficit. Since we still had a

To be honest, I must confess that in view

We managed to survive that crisis,

sizable debt and had no endowment funds

of the problems we were struggling with,

and the next year the school, strengthened

which we could draw upon, our situation

the idea of going into service had consid-

and stimulated by the return of several

was an extremely critical one, for which

erable appeal for me. Believing I could

young men who had been in service,

there seemed no solution. In those days a

serve more effectively as an officer than

experienced one of “its finest years.”

school couldn’t solve such a problem by

as a private, I applied for a commission.

simply raising tuition. We had no choice

I went to the famous 90 Church Street,

The excerpts above are from Chapter V of

but to resort to a more economical opera-

where I took my mental and physical

Paul Cruikshank’s unpublished memoirs.

dent boarding school experience.


Winter 1996

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