Barbara Anthony

Interviewer: Carrie N. Kline
Date: April 19, 2011
Place: The Home of Reed and Barbara Anthony
Transcriptionist: Carrie N. Kline

Click here for audio. Audio file is in .mp3 format.

Barbara AnthonyCarrie N. Kline: Okay. I believe today is the 19th of April.

Barbara Anthony: Right.

CL: 2011.

BA: Umm hmm.

CL: My name's Carrie Kline, here with my husband Michael Kline, and would you introduce yourself?

BA: My name is Barbara Anthony.

CL: Okay, and your date of birth to put it in perspective?

BA: February 25, 1929.

CL: Okay.

BA: Yeah.

CL: And tell us about your people and where you where raised.

BA: Oh, I was raised in Belmont, which is about halfway between here and Boston. And my father was at the time I was growing up mostly was president of Simmons College, which is a college for women in Boston. And all of my--. You want to know about my people, all of my forebears came in general from the Boston area. I mean my father grew up in Roxbury, and my mother grew up in Roslindale, and so forth. So. I--. My grandmother, my maternal grandmother, grew up in Windsor, Vermont, and that's about as far away as any of my forebears were. So. Does that answer your question all right?

CL: Sure. Talk a little bit about growing up, and your family, siblings, if there were any.

BA: Well, yeah. I had an older brother. And we had a very peaceful, easy childhood, I would say with--. We went to Shady Hill School in Cambridge, which is an independent school, which ended in Ninth Grade. My brother went to Belmont Hill School, and then onto Yale. And I went to Windsor School and then onto Radcliffe. And we spent our--. When I was small, like up to about the age of nine, we spent summers on Cape Cod in Harwichport, where my grandparents had a house. And my mother would take us down for, pretty much for the summer, and my father, who was teaching at a summer school, would come down on the train weekends. And then when I was ten the family changed its summer plans, and we went to my father's childhood summer place in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. And that was, in a house that was grandfather Beatley had built. And so we spent a lot of time in the water and on the water. And I don't think of anything particularly outstanding. We did some, also did some family traveling as--. Again, when I was about ten, we took a trip to California by train through Canada and then down to San Francisco, and back by train past the Grand Canyon and the real circle route. And I think that's about the most exciting, different kind of vacation we had.

CL: 1939.

BA: 1939. We went to the--. It was--. We called it the San Francisco World's Fair, but it was actually the Golden Gate Exposition then, apparently celebrating the building of the Golden Gate Bridge. And from my point of view, the big event was going to a live show of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. So! I think my mother particularly enjoyed an art exhibit that they had there, but she didn't take the rest of us, because she knew we'd be bored. So. We got to do the other kinds of entertainment while she went and took in the art which had been gathered from all around the world and so forth, so.

CL: Talk a little bit about her.

BA: Well, she--. As I say, she grew up in Roslindale. She went to Girls Latin School, which was one of those exam schools in Boston. And then--. And she went to Radcliffe. I always swore I was not going to go to Radcliffe, but I ended up going there anyway. I mean I liked it. I chose it. And she--. Her father had owned a group of clothing stores in various small New England cities, like Brunswick, Maine, and places like that. And she had real Boston, New England-type ties, as did my father. And she really undertook the job of being college president's wife as a real job. I mean it was time consuming. In those days it was expected that a college president's wife would go to teas, and put on teas, and go to faculty parties, and make friends with the women faculty members. And she actually loved, she liked all of that. She--. But that was her undertaking, was to make my father's life as easy as possible. I think she took up friendships with some of the Trustees, women trustees particularly, whom he found kind of a thorn in the side, so my mother would agree to go and, go out to dinner with them or something like that, to take the responsibility from him. So. Do you think that's an accurate description of my mother, Reed?

Reed Anthony: Yes, she was a most remarkable person.

BA: Yeah. Her interests in Belmont were she belonged to several reading groups. And I would say reading was her hobby. And so that gave her contact with the town, as well as these contacts she had at the College.

CL: Umm hmm. Well, what happened after you were ten and came back from this trip? Where did your life go then as her daughter?

BA: From those summers, then we went to Boothbay Harbor. And I think part of the reason for this was that my brother was very interested in sailing and being on the water. And sailing off the southern coast of Cape Cod is pretty dull. There isn't much of anywhere to go. And in the family house in Boothbay Harbor, it was on a hill overlooking Linekin Bay. And you could--. He, and later I, had permission to sail these little cat boats everywhere, as long as we were within sight of the house. And then later, as we got into our teenage, then my brother was allowed to sail around the corner and into Boothbay Harbor. I don't think I ever quite graduated to that, but. But that seemed to my parents a way to, for us to get out and do what we wanted to do and still be safe in their terms.

And in World War Two, my Aunt and Uncle--. This was my father's brother, he and his wife who had no children took a couple of English children who had come with a lot of other English children to get away from the Blitz. And it happened that the ones they took were a boy my brother's age and a girl my age. And that was nice, because up until that point we had no cousins at all. So we ended up with--. My brother taught the girl, Daria, how to sail. There were these two little sailboats, and he taught Daria how to sail in one of them. And John Parrish taught me how to sail in the other one, which worked much better than having a brother and sister arguing, and it was good fun. Each of those boys was about three years older. My brother was three and a half years older than I. And John was about that much older than Daria, so.

CL: Great way to grow up.

BA: Excuse me?

CL: Sounds like a great way to grow up.

BA: Well it was. Yeah, and listening to people talk about the schools that they went to and so forth I realize that these schools that we went to were really good. And we have--. I'm sure my brother did have, and I have very fond memory of teachers, and the schools, and what they did, and so forth. So. That was really nice. So it was genuinely a happy situation.

CL: So you graduated from there?

BA: Graduated from Windsor to go to Radcliffe. Yes. And graduated from Radcliffe and went to Shady Hills School teaching training program, which was a one year program. And, in which you spent the whole academic year in the classroom with, observing a head teach and then learning to, having your chance to teach also. And then I got a job in the Concord public schools, teaching Fourth Grade, and that was how we came to live in Concord, because I had a job--. Reed had a job in Boston, and I had a job in Concord. And we decided that instead of living in some place like Cambridge or Belmont and commuting in two different directions, that we'd live in one place or the other and were lucky to find a place in Concord. And that was in 1951, and we've been here ever since. And this place, this condo is the fourth place that we've lived in Concord. And we started with a, rented an apartment which was actually half one of the Colonial houses on Lexington Road. And then we built, we bought a lot of land out Nut Meadow Crossing and had an architect build a contemporary house there. And that's where our three children all grew up. And that was a great location, because we were within walking distance of the Willard School, and the children all went sort of through the woods and across the street to Willard School through the Sixth Grade. And then when, in about 1975 or so, when the children, some of them had finished high school and moved on, and the other, the younger two were about to finish high school, we bought a house down on Monroe Place. I guess that's right. Which is right sort of tucked in behind the Colonial Inn. And that was good because by then the high school aged children were glad to be downtown where the action was. And they thought being way out in the country was really boring. And then we moved here about four years ago. Is that right?

RA: Five.

BA: Five years ago. Sold that house and moved here, and we have a house in Guilford, Vermont. Reed's great-grandfather had a house in Gilford. And Reed can tell you more about the history of that, but we always enjoyed going up there and visiting Reed's parents. And so when his father died and his mother had moved in to a nursing home, Reed and his brother sort of carved out a few house lots of the acreage and gave the rest to conservation. And we built a house for ourselves on the lot that we had chosen there. So we go there a lot. And I mean now that we're retired, we go there almost every weekend and often, a lot of the time in the summer we'll be in Gilford for the week and come home once a week here to open the mail. So.

CL: Well paint me a picture of this community in 1951, contrasting it with today, if you can.

BA: Well, I think one of the things I remember vividly, because of teaching in the public schools is that at the time I was teaching there were just three schools. There was the high school, and there was the Peter Bulkeley School, where I taught. And that had Concord children through Sixth Grade. And then in the second floor were the Seventh and Eighth Grades from all over town, and so there was something sort of like a Junior High in that building. And then over here in West Concord was the Harvey Wheeler School, which had Kindergarten through Eighth Grade for the--. No, Kindergarten through Sixth Grade for the children in the West Concord area. So there were just those three schools and three school principals. And of course as things grew, the population grew. And now there are, I think three elementary schools that go through Fifth Grade. And there are two middle schools. And there's one enormous high school, which is apparently totally inadequate and we're going to have to build another one! So. But, you know, there's just a tremendous population explosion. Some of the children that I taught back in 1951 through '53, for example had--. They'd been to Waltham, and they'd been to Lowell. But they'd never been to Boston. I mean these are ten year olds, Fourth Graders, nine and ten year-olds. Some of them didn't know that when they went to the beach, that was the Atlantic Ocean. And—because they led a very insular life. I mean their life was based around Concord and--.

RA: A lot of them were families of Irish or Italian extraction.

BA: Yes.

CL: What's that now?

BA: And one--.

CL: Can you say that?

BA: Oh, that many of the children in the public schools were of Irish or Italian background. Particularly in Concord there were, a lot of Italians had come because of the market gardening and so forth. And well I remembered one mother of a child who lived out on Monument Street, Monument street being where the more well-off people lived, saying something to me about, "You know, you must have a terrible time with those little Italian children who live near the Depot." And I said, "On the contrary, they are wonderful. Their mothers scrub them up, and put them together, and send them off and say, ‘You do what the teacher tells you, or I'll let you have it.'" And I said, "The menace is the child from Monument Street or Nashawtuc Hill whose par—who says, ‘My daddy says I don't have to do what you say because you're only a teacher.'" That didn't happen to me very often. But there were kids who said things like that, and they weren't the little Italian kids who lived near the Depot. And--.

CL: Where did the Italian community come from or why? Do you know?

BA: Well, I think they came for financial reasons. And as I say, they were very much attracted by the market gardening. I mean this town was a great source of getting things like, getting the first asparagus in the spring into the Boston market. And some of them came as were hired to be gardeners for some of the people who lived in the bigger houses up on the top of the hill, and then from there acquired their own land and their own farm, and, but they--. I don't know enough about the history or economics of Italy to know why there were so many, but there certainly were and a lot when I was growing up in Belmont. And houses were being built around them, most of the workmen—and they were working with picks and shovels, digging foundations. Most of them were Italian, and so, I don't know, except there was work here, and apparently a better life than they had in Italy.

CL: So that's, to a large degree, who filled your classes then?

BA: No, it was a mix. The thing that was different then from nowadays is in those days there were private schools at all academic levels in Concord. There was--. Brooks School that taught pre-school through about Third Grade,and there was Concord Academy. At that point Concord Academy started, for girls--. It was girls only. Started in the Fourth Grade. And Fenn School for boys was Fourth through Eighth Grade. And then Middlesex School, which was also only for boys then, was through high school years. So a lot of the Yankee families just sort of automatically sent their children to these private schools. And one thing that happened--. And so what was left were, in general, were the middle class to lower class, you might say, people, in the public schools.

And the schools were small enough that, for example, Concord High School in those days, also took pupils from Lincoln and from Bedford. And they always say that the year the Concord High School football team did the best in the League was when it was full of students from Bedford. Anyway. One thing that happened that made it so that people tended to think more about, "Oh, yeah, maybe I don't have to send my kid to private school," is that Concord Academy dropped its Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Grade. So all of a sudden we had a bunch of little girls who were coming out of Brooks School, and they didn't have any place else to go but the public school. And I had some of them in my Fourth Grade class. And the parents were just sort of taken aback. I mean, "Wow. This really works," you know. So. I think as time went by they thought, "This is a good thing. And maybe other members of the family would do this too." And the other thing that happened was that a large piece of land over near Sudbury Road was bought and developed. It's now called Conantum. And it--. A lot of the people who bought houses there were MIT and Harvard professors. And a lot of those people themselves had grown up in a town where you just, you went to public school; that was it. And the greatest thing for the public schools here is that they not only were willing to work for the good public schools, they were willing to pay for it. And they would get themselves on the Finance Committee, or on the School Committee and start talking about, "We need more money, and we need smaller classrooms," and were able to sell this to the Town. So that I think now, I think most people who live in Concord who have children, send them to the public schools. And so there isn't that skimming of the Yankee population. Does that make sense?

CL: It's fascinating.

BA: Yeah. Yeah. So.

RA: Mention your terms on the School Committee.

BA: Oh, yes. After I had--. I finished teaching in June of '54 and took some time off and had some children and started getting, to keep my mind active, I started to get involved with the League of Women Voters. And after a few years, somebody on the League Board said to me that she thought, she and her husband thought I really should run for School Committee. There was a lot of dissatisfaction with some of the members of the School Committee, because it was felt that these people were just sitting at the meetings, and when, if the Superintendent said, "I need this," they'd say, "Oh yes. Sure. You can have that," and nobody ever stopping him and questioning him and so forth. And so I and one other person in Concord, we were talked into running against these people. They were running for re-election. And that was unusual that you would run against somebody for re-election. But we were convinced that there was a protest vote. And apparently there really was, because he and I won, and the other two were no longer on the School Committee.

So I spent two terms, which is two three-year terms, on the School Committee. And that was kind of interesting, because I was then working at a different level with some of the people I had been working with. And I think some of them thought that was good. I mean, really good to have a former teacher on the School Committee. I think some of them hadn't really much admired what I--. Some of them hadn't admired much what I was doing as a teacher, and so they probably didn't think I added much to the scenery. But that--. In general that was a very good, successful, exciting experience.

CL: Talk about it. What were some of the issues that came up for the School Board?

BA: Well, the biggest one was instituting the METCO program. METCO was Metropolitan--… [motor sound]

RA: … furnace.

BA: Oh.

CL: Say it again.

BA: METCO stands for Metropolitan Education something or other. But a group of suburban schools got together to offer a program to inner-city, mostly black children, for them to be bussed to the various towns. And this was Newton, Brookline, Lexington, Concord, Lincoln—

RA: Weston.

BA: Weston? Yeah. The idea being that the Boston public schools, particularly for the black children, were just so unsatisfactory. And this was being offered. They would come tuition-free. The Town would just find them places in the classroom. And this was supposed to be a temporary stopgap until the Boston schools improved, and particularly improved for the black students. And of course the program is still going. But, the issue came up when I was on the School Committee of whether or not to, for Concord to participate in the program. And it created all sorts of furor, and fuss, and I got all sorts of weird phone calls. At the time we didn't have an answering set, but if I did, if I had had, I would've put it on and at least not answered the phone during dinner, which is when people seemed to call. They were afraid that these black children were going to bring various diseases like, what do you call it? Well, I suppose impetigo and things like that, to Concord, until one of the school nurses pointed out that Concord children already had these ailments, and--. Anyway, there were a lot of hearings, and there was a lot of ill-feeling. But there was also, again, there was a lot of pressure from some of the people in town that of course Concord should share what it had. And so we voted it. And I think we all voted unanimously, but we certainly did an awful lot of talking. And as I say, we got--. And some people immediately started pulling their children out, started hunting for a space for their child in one of these independent schools. And, but the program still continues.

RA: Forty years ….

BA: Another issue that was very divisive was family life education. And that was interesting because the—I kept getting these anonymous mailings, things about what, why you shouldn't be teaching the facts of life. I mean we were interested in instituting a program of films and classroom discussions and so forth for various levels. And so I finally opened one of these leaflets I got, and decided I was going to find out why people found this so threatening. So I sat down and read this leaflet. And I came to the conclusion that if you taught children about sex, then they'd try it out, and they'd think it's wonderful, and they had such a good time, that if the Russians came to take us over, we'd just sort of lie back and say, "Fine. Take us over," as if it were like the Fall of the Roman Empire. And, but we had some very upset parents about that too. And we had a nationally known speaker on the subject. And of course I cannot now remember her name. And coming to speak to the parents and whoever. And she was very good. But that upset a lot of citizens. And. But interesting that when it was all over, I think it was the night before we were going to vote on all this, I got a phone call from somebody who had been quite negative on the whole subject. And she called me the night before to say that she'd been thinking it over, and she had decided that this was a good program, and that we should endorse it. And I thought that was nice that she bothered--. I mean she not only called me when she was upset about it, but she called me to say she'd changed her mind.

CL: And why did she change her mind?

BA: I don't know. I couldn't figure out whether she had been reading something, whether she didn't want to be associated with the nastiness that was coming out of some of the opponents. I never knew. I didn't ask her why. I was so grateful to get the phone call. So.

CL: And what were your arguments on the subject?

BA: What were my arg--?

CL: Your arguments on the subject?

BA: Oh, I think. Oh. Well, I think that it's really important. I mean you can say that young people should learn these facts at home, but the fact is that they don't. And I think many of them are not comfortable discussing things like that. But if they're talking with a school nurse and with a group of contemporaries, they could be comfortable. And so I have no reservations at all, ever, about good information well-presented.

CL: And going back to the previous story—

BA: Yeah.

CL: What were your arguments there?

BA: For the METCO?

CL: Yeah, for METCO.

BA: Well, exactly what the, what was being presented by the then--. At that, during that vote, the Acting Superintendent, or the Assistant Superintendent was acting as Superintendent, because the Superintendent was on Sabbatical. And this young man was really one who kind of pushed us.

Michael Kline: Who was th--?

BA: Sayre Uhler.

CL: Sorry?

BA: His name was Sayre Uhler.

CL: Sayre? Spelled?

BA: S-A-Y-R-E U-H-L-E-R. And he had just finished his whatever, Superintendency degree you would call it, from the Harvard School of Education, and young, idealistic. And his feeling, and it was the, the classrooms are there. There's certainly plenty of room for another child here and another child there, and another child somewhere else. And the program provided the money for the bussing. And it wasn't going to cost Concord anything. And why should Concord sit with this great opportunity for young people who, or whose families wanted them to participate. Why should we sit and say, "No"? We can't do that.

CL: And how did that play out? I mean it was really the time of Brown verses the Board of Ed in the South.

BA: Um hmm.

CL: And so--

BA: Yeah.

CL: --it was Concord's integration.

BA: And it was very unpleasant in Boston. Louise Day Hicks was on the Boston School Committee, and she represented South Boston interests. I mean she grew up in South Boston. And those were the people who didn't want to have this happen. And there was a lot of problem about integrating the Boston Schools. And one of the things that I realized when I used to think about the people who objected, why were they objecting, and I think a lot of them were people who had really tried--. They'd saved every cent and bought a house in Concord, moved out from Somerville, or maybe even Arlington, and they just couldn't stand the idea that somebody else was going to get, for nothing, something that they worked so hard to achieve. It just was understandably upsetting, seems to me. But not a valid argument for not joining the program.

CL: So how did it work out in the classroom?

BA: Oh, it worked out very well. And I know that they--. I think that they--. At the beginning they had all of the Boston students in one of the elementary schools. I mean you didn't really want to have one little get off the bus for Ripley School and another one get off the bus for Willard School or whatever. So I think that the idea was that all of these people would, all these students would be placed at each level in just one school. And there was--. There weren't a lot of them. I mean I would've said maybe the program might've begun with, would you think twenty. Twenty kids, or?

RA: I guess so.

BA: Yeah. So.

CL: And did they make friends with the Concord kids? How did that work out?

BA: yeah. It was hard for them, because of course they had to get up really early in the morning, and get bussed out. And then they always had to catch their bus. I mean they couldn't hang around after school or whatever. But we did have a system of host families who--. And we--. Actually our oldest son was in high school. We had a high school boy that we were host family for. And I remember one time he missed the school bus that was going back to Roxbury. So he--. So we had him--. I guess we had to go in and pick him up, in high school. Brought him home, made him call his parents. And his father was really angry with him. And it turned out that Archie really liked hanging around Concord much better than going home on the bus. And, but. And then he arranged for us to take Archie to the train to go into the North Station. And our daughter, who was younger, she was really upset. She said, "Are you going to put Archie all by himself on a train to go to Boston?" And I said, "He probably feels more at home in Boston than he does out in Concord." But she just felt that this was going to be a really scary thing for him. But his father made it rather clear to him that he wasn't going to miss the bus again. And I think he tried it a few more times with a family that lived down near the Depot. And I think finally that family and Archie's father sort of got together and said, "Look, Archie, you can't do this anymore. You really do have to go home on the school bus." And so. But I don't know that great friendships, really close friendships were made. And I think some of it had to do with just the business of the limitations of--. They weren't hanging around Saturdays and Sundays to do things with, so.

CL: Was there not public transit then to come out and do things?

BA: Yeah, they could've. They could've. But I think the other thing--. I think--. I know that with my daughter who--. At that point our daughter was in Middle School. She got quite upset once because she started to make friends with one of the METCO girls. And then the METCO girl just sort of cut her off. And it turned out that these black girls had said to this girl, "You can't make friends with these white guys. You've got to stick with us." I mean they--. And that--. Junior High--. You know, that would be--. You'd have to do what your friends and your really good friends and your neighborhood friends said. So.

There was problems. I think the biggest problem at the High School was that the girls got entranced with these black boys who were very well dressed, and who loved to dance, and were very sociable. And they started leaving their football player boyfriends and attaching themselves to these black boys. And so there was definitely a white Concordian versus black Roxbury boy problem. And I don't know at all how it was resolved, but I think it's something that the administration at the High School had to be aware of all the time. So.

MK: So did you--? So you related to these METCO kids mostly from the vantage point of the School Committee? You didn't have them in class yourself?

BA: No the program didn't start until after, until I was on the School Committee, which was long after I'd finished teaching, so. I taught for three years in the public school.

CL: So did that--? How did that play out, in terms or fist fights, or--? That high school dynamic?

BA: Oh, I think probably. Yes, I think--. But I--. That's where I don't know, because I wasn't that involved. I mean we were told as School Committee members that this was a problem. But I'm sure that the high school teachers, and the principal, and the so-called house masters were all aware and coped with this as best they could. I--. Certainly nobody was flashing any switch knives or anything like that.

RA: Well clearly it was an overriding success because of the years and years--

BA: Yeah.

RA: --it operated.

BA: Yeah.

CL: Up 'til today you say?

RA: Yeah.

BA: Yeah. It's still going on.

CL: How much has been written about this?

BA: I don't know. I know there was a time when people started demanding some kind of report as to what happened, because they wanted somebody to get up and say, "Well all ones who graduated from the High School, they've all gone to Princeton on full scholarships." Well. But I think that the people who-. There is an organization that runs the whole METCO program as it exists in all these schools. And I think they've been reluctant to keep any statistics. And I definitely had the feeling when the program began that a lot of it, it was really the parents who wanted the children, wanted their children to get a good education. And I don't think any of these little children probably sat down there in Roxbury, thought, "Oh, I wish I could got go school in Concord." As a matter of fact, there was a lot of disappointment with some of the Boston families, because they knew what, about Newton schools and Brookline schools. And when their Concord, or Lexington, you know, "What's that about? I didn't think I wanted my kid to go to school in Concord or Lexington." And of course it's further away. It's--. It would be less desirable than--. The kids had a long bus ride in the morning. And after a while I think for the High School students, they may have arranged for a late METCO bus for people doing after school sports. And we still have people who get up in Town Meeting and say that we wouldn't have to spend so much on the public schools if we just get rid of the METCO program. And yet the same situation is true, that the space is there, and it's not compromising the education of any Concord children.

CL: It's not, although you say the High School is packed?

BA: No.

CL: Oh, you said something about the need for a new high school.

BA: Oh, yeah. Yes. But we--. Some people think--. I guess we probably do. It's not the school population. We need a new high school because the old one isn't very well built and it's fifty years old. But I think the fact is that the school population in general has dropped since our children were there. So, no, you would never have enough METCO children that it would make you build another school.

CL: What kind of numbers are we talking about?

BA: I don't.

CL: I'm sure it's changed.

BA: I don't have any idea. And Reed probably, he has a better mind for numbers than I have.

CL: Well, that's not the important piece.

BA: Right. Yeah.

CL: Well this is fascinating? What--? Any other "biggies" that were going on when you were on the School Board then?

RA: Choice of Superintendents.

BA: Yes, we did. We actually--. The Superintendent who was off on Sabbatical did resign, and so we had a search for a replacement. And we ended up--. This young man Sayre Uhler had meanwhile gone on to work for USAID in Liberia, and we called him back to be Superintendent. And I was trying to remember. So we--. So from the School Committee point of view, choosing a Superintendent involves a certain amount of--. You have to hire somebody to find candidates for you and pre-screen candidates. And I always thought that the person we hired who was a professor at the Harvard School of Education, I think he had some old dogs on his list of people who wanted to be the Superintendent, and so the—there's like six people that he came up with for us to meet and interview. There actually were only two that were valid, could qualify, in our opinion, as Superintendent in Concord. And when we, and when Sayre Uhler resigned, which was just before I got off the School Committee, the—Mike Lombardo, a member of the School Committee, called up our second in line one and asked him if he were still interested, because this--. I don't know. Was Sayre there for three years or something like that? And so--. And I thought, he thought this would save us a lot of money if we didn't have to hire a consultant. We could just call up this guy and say, "Do you want the job now?" Meanwhile that person had found himself another job, but he was really very cordial and pleased to know he hadn't been forgotten! So.

CL: Interesting. What other contributions? You mentioned the League of Women Voters?

BA: Yes, I joined the League of Women Voters in 1954 and very shortly was invited to be a member of the Board of Directors. In those days, of course almost nobody of my age bracket, no women, had jobs. I mean we were all full time women, full time wives and mothers, and so forth and so on, which meant that there was this tremendous supply of really interesting people looking for challenging volunteer things to do. And so, I mean to show a contrast from now, in those days, if we had an issue to discuss, which would be perhaps the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades, which was coming up in the Senate, we would have neighborhood meetings, about six different meetings in various houses in the neighborhood, small meetings of maybe fifteen people. These were called unit meetings. And we would discuss the issue and have one of our members who was informed on the issue filling in and so forth. And at least once a month we had what we called Open Meetings where we would have a speaker and then whole lots of people would come, at some meeting place like the Elks Hall or whatever. And the--. Now, after I finished working in an office at Harvard at the end of my employment career, I went back to being on the League Board, which I still am. And now we have some very active, lively people, but you could no more come up with five or six neighborhood meetings of people, because practically all these people have a job. And so what we do is much more likely to be things by email or a big meeting. We do have all membership-type meetings, but, and it still is a wonderful, active organization, but it's really interesting the difference. And I was thinking this morning that some of the people who, some of the older people who probably were all of in their fifties or sixties, when they had a meeting at their house, many of these people had their own maids. And so we'd go in and sit down in their living room, and then the maid would come around with coffee, and hot rolls, and homemade muffins. And of course nowadays none of that. And when we have a League Board Meeting, we all gather in somebody's kitchen where she's laid out the hot water, and the tea bags, and the coffee pot, and after we get a plate full of food we go in and sit down and do whatever the business of the occasion is, but don't have any maids passing us hot muffins anymore.

CL: Were they African American, or white, or Irish, or--?

BA: No. I think--.They were white. I suppose they were Irish, originally.

CL: Interesting! . . .

BA: So.

CL: That's an important change, really.

BA: Oh yes, Yeah. Yes, because when I was growing up, and we certainly were not in the upper, upper, upper echelons in any way, but we and all of our neighbors had at least, had one live-in maid. And on Sunday there was a bus that would take the maids to church, and bring them back.

CL: And those, again, were probably Irish?

BA: Irish, yes. I think almost all. Yeah.

CL: Interesting. You wonder where all those people landed!

BA: I don't know. Of course a lot of the people--. Like the last maid that we had was the beginning of World War Two. I think she went to work in a factory or something. I mean there were wonderful jobs for women in the War industry. And I think a lot of them did. I think that was really the end of these, just assuming that you'd have live-in help, so.

CL: Well this is amazing. What a contributor. Any other arenas? Arts? Literature? Where else—

BA: Well I think--.

CL: --has your energy gone?

BA: Well, we've always been interested in the welfare and performances of the Concord Orchestra. I spent a couple of years on the Board of Directors of the Concord Orchestra. And it's really a wonderful organization. They have concerts four times a year, at the local, 51 Walden performance hall--. And it's a mostly non-professional--. I mean there are a few people who are paid salaries. Obviously the conductor is paid a salary, and what do you call the woman who plays the first violin? Concert Mistress. The Concert Mistress gets paid whatever union rates are I guess. But I mean here are these really accomplished musicians, many of whom teach and so forth, but they come together from all over and put on these great--.

RA: Same conductor for forty years.

BA: yes, that's right. We've had the same conductor for forty years, Richard Pittman.

CL: Who?

BA: Richard Pittman. Right. And, so. And I don't know--. I don't have experience with the Concord Art Association, because it seems to me that you have had more experience with the Art Association than I.

CL: I'll be crossing the room [to where Reed Anthony was sitting] in a few minutes.

BA: So!

RA: I'm disappointed you haven't talked more about your aunts and uncle.

BA: Oh, but that's not--. I mean that's just sort of generic New England families. I don't think-. I don't--. I don't think that--. That's not really germain to Concord. I was trying to think of things about Concord.

RA: They were all educators.

BA: Yeah. Yeah. Right.

CL: What's that?

BA: So. And I can't think--. Well one of the things that we have always done is to follow the Town affairs closely, and Concord has an open Town Meeting, which means everybody who's a voter gets to go. And not everybody does, but. So we have--. I think we've been to Town Meeting--. I don't think we've missed a year that we haven't at least gone to the first two nights of Concord Town Meeting. And, but this--.What this involves is going to the hearings, the Finance Committee hearings and on the various subjects and the various other Planning Board hearings, following the things that are in the Warrant and--.

CL: In the Warrant?

BA: --and …listing.

CL: The Warrant?

BA: The list of items that will be discussed at Town Meeting.

MK: How is it pronounced?

BA: W-A-R-R-A-N-T.

MK: Warrant.

BA: Yeah. Some towns call it a Warning. And it lists all of the issues that are going to be discussed.

MK: Like an agenda, you mean?

BA: Yes. This--. And, but you know if you're going to be a decent citizen you should not only pay attention to those things, and go and listen and vote intelligently and so forth, but also when it comes to Town Office, to go and listen to the candidates who are going to be running for School Committee. Actually, one thing that occurs to me that's happened since we moved to Concord. In 1951, shortly after we moved here, like in 1952 or '3, the Town voted for a so-called Selectman Manager form of government. Prior to that, the Town, the first few Town elections we went to, we voted for Fence Viewer, and head of the Board of Health.

CL: What was the first?

BA: Fence Viewer. They're the ones who go around the boundaries of the town, usually with the people of the abutting town. The Selectmen go together and the Fence Viewers, and make sure that the town bounds are accurate according to the way they're-. Yeah, and I think we used to vote for the Dog Officer, who would be the one you'd get hold of if some dog was running around loose and being a nuisance. And but so I don't know what you would've called the previous form of Town Meeting. But then there were I think just three Selectmen and five School Committee members. But anyway, the Town actually voted for just a whole lot of these positions. But there was a group of people putting forth this Selectmen Manager form of government where you would hire a Town Manager, and you would just vote for Selectmen, School Committee, Moderator, and then there are some positions in a so-called Housing Authority that have to be voted by the townspeople. But these other jobs were all, would then be appointed by various committees. So that was a big change. And it finally went through. It involved changing the Town Charter. And about 1954 ended up with this new form of government. And then--. But still there are enough candidates for Town Office that it's really important to know who's running and choose which ones you think are best, and then to follow again on the Warrant, to know what issues are coming up and pay some good attention to so-called Schedule A, which is the Town Manager's budget for the year. And you don't have to just go to Town Meeting and vote yes on everything. And as a matter of fact, they often sometimes don't vote yes on things. I mean it is an open Town Meeting.

One of the famous issues in Concord one year was they were going to have a new flagpole in the center of town. You may've seen the Rotary with the flagpole. And there was a difference of opinion on how high the flagpole ought to be, the new one should be. And some people said we should have one higher than was recommended, because Concord's flagpole should be at least as tall as Lexington's flagpole. There's always a rivalry between Concord and Lexington because of where was the first shot of the battle. North Bridge. Where was it really fought? Lexington or Concord? So--. And it was a lot back and forth. And some people said we didn't need a really tall flagpole. And other people said we did. There were a lot of veterans who thought that we had to have Old Glory really right up there where you could really see it. And what really won the case was Dorothea Harrison, who was a landscape architect and a real Yankee type, with sort of stringy hair falling in front of her face, and her tweed suit, and her hand-knit sweater or whatever, and certainly never one to want to spend money that didn't need spending. But she got up and talked about the sightlines in Concord and the fact that Concord Center's very low, and there are hills all around, and that it was very important to have the flag this taller height. And so she really sold the day.

RA: Yeah.

BA: That we needed that tall, tall flagpole. But that must've involved an hour and half of discussion at Town Meeting, just that one article.

RA: She also did the landscaping around the Concord Public Library.

CL: Hmm. Well, I don't feel like we're nearly finished—

BA: Yeah.

CL: But I also want to make sure that—

RA: Right.

CL: Reed has his say. So if there's time we'll return.

BA: Fine.

CL: But meanwhile I just want to thank you--

BA: . . .

CL: --not only for this interview, but for having this sense of being a contributor and such an active citizen.

BA: Oh, well, thank you. It certainly is a great place to live. And anybody who doesn't know what to do with their time, I recommend the League of Women Voters.

CL: [Laughs] Good parting words!

BA: Yeah! Right!

BA: [Laughs]


Barbara Anthony

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Text and image mounted 13 December 2014; audio mounted 17 December 2014-- rcwh.