by Joe Sheppard
With a little help from his friends...
Although Joe officially retired in June 2013, he remains active at LA, continuing as a contributing writer and editor for the Academy Journal. We trust you'll enjoy Shep's Place and check back often to read Joe's habitually witty, often poignant, and always insightful vignettes about life at Lawrence Academy.
September SongThe sweet melancholy of fall has descended on us, bringing with it, as usual, pangs of nostalgia for the summer whose pleasures are already but memories. (I suppose we should be grateful to Facebook et al. for allowing us to enshrine the season’s most “shareable” points, both high and low, though sometimes I wish the app had a “TMI” filter.)
When I was teaching, I dreaded Labor Day, because that was when summer screeched to a halt and we were back at work. Once there, of course, the experience was mostly pleasurable, despite the little twinge I’d feel the first time I said “last summer” instead of “this summer.” For our family, as long as the cottage in New Hampshire was open, it was still “this” summer—until the October day when we had to go back up and turn the water off and bring in the porch furniture. Then we were in the harness for the duration.
Summers on campus were quiet for my first few years at LA, mainly because Arthur Ferguson, to my knowledge, never thought of putting the place to profitable use during July and August. When Ben Williams arrived, he realized that summer programs could benefit the school in many ways, including financially. As I recall, Alan Whipple, creative as always, came up with the idea for a summer school for the arts. Publicity was too little, too late, so it didn’t attract a lot of kids, but it was a start. Elderhostel came along, and for a few summers Sheedy and Spaulding were home to senior citizens who came to choose from a rich assortment of programs and courses, many taught by our own faculty. I remember Whip saying he counted his Elderhostel classes among his all-time favorites.
Nowadays, of course, if you drive onto campus in mid-July it doesn’t look much different from a day in May or September, except that the kids running around are a few years younger than the school-year population. But that’s what schools are for, after all!
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I’d like to expand the scope of Shep’s Place this year, varying the format and including content from you, the readers. It would be fun, for example, to do more videos like last year’s tour of Groton—but not just more of me as a (balding) talking head. We could do interviews with present or former faculty, alumni, or others associated with the school, or perhaps group conversations on topics of interest. I’m not the only one around with a mind full of memories. You might want to share yours, or to chat with current students about what things were like “back in the day” versus life on campus today. The possibilities are myriad.
So, friends, if you have ideas or would like to take part in a video conversation or to contribute to this column in writing, please get in touch with me at LAShepsplace@icloud.com. There’s lots to talk and write about!
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