Reed 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.

Reed AnthonyReed Anthony: Two-seat sofas are slightly higher than on that one, and therefore they're more comfortable for me, but--.

Carrie Kline: Well, here we are, having moved across the room here in the Anthony home. Again, I'm Carrie Kline and we're here with the Anthonys and with Michael Kline and it's the Nineteenth of April, 2001 (sic) and would you introduce yourself?

RA: My name is Reed Anthony.

CK: And your date of birth?

RA: Born November 17, 1928.

CK: OK, and tell us about your people and where you were raised.

RA: Well I was born in Boston, and my parents lived in the Charles Sprague Sergeant Estate in Chestnut Hill, Mass, outside of Boston until 1933 when Father was transferred from his work in Boston to the New York office of his firm. And the family moved to Greenwich, Connecticut and lived there through the rest of the—well, until 1942, and then moved to Manhattan. Meanwhile, I went to school at Greenwich Country Day School through Grade Eight and in 1942 went off to boarding school off at Milton Academy, Milton, Mass, where I will shortly have my 65th reunion in May, and was at Milton for four very important years and since to Harvard College from '46 to 1950.

CK: Studying?

RA: My major was English Literature, which wasn't very relevant to what I went on to do, which was to work in the financial industry, first in Boston at a stockbroker's office and transferred after a couple years to a investment counsel firm in Boston and was there for the ensuing 15 years I guess: 1953 to 1968, first as a research analyst on various industries, in particular the railroad industry and the gas utility industry and the electric utility industry. And then after about seven or eight years of that, at my own request, transferred to, within this firm, to working with clients, advising and managing client accounts, investing client accounts, until 1968 when I was recruited to work at Massachusetts Audubon Society in Lincoln as their financial officer, their treasurer. And I worked happily there for from 1968 to 1981 doing a variety of things but basically business management, nothing to do with--. I mean nobody regarded me as an ornithologist or anything, but I was working on financial planning for each of a dozen sanctuaries that the Society then owned that were staffed. The Society has since become much bigger, and it has much more resources now than it did then. Eventually, in the early 1980s, I went back to investment advice, an investment advisory firm, not the one that I'd left but another one in downtown Boston and worked there for a number of years until I was--. I retired at age 62, which would've been 1990 I guess, although I still keep in quite close touch with the people at the last investment advisory firm. I go in there and attend their meetings from time to time, and I've sent them some clients and am a close personal friend of the founder of the firm and have a good deal of respect for him. So that's my occupational history pretty much.

As to my outside activities, as I guess Barb mentioned, I have been close to the Concord Free Public Library for a long time. I was appointed to the Concord Library Committee in 1960 and served two three-year terms on that, the governance of the Library being, of the Concord Library being split between the Committee which is appointed by the Town, the Selectmen and the Town Manager, and the Library Trustees, commonly referred to as the Library Corporation, which own the physical plant and a lot of the book collection, and an endowment which provides the financial resources to take care of the physical plant. And when I finished on the Library Committee I was elected to the Library Corporation. And I served on that for twenty-some years until 1988 I think. So I've had those connections with the Library from the early '60s to the late '80s. And since then I've been a volunteer in the Library for few hours a week for--. In recent times working for Leslie Wilson.

CK: A volunteer?

RA: Yeah, doing unskilled chores generally, sometimes proofreading stuff for Leslie, but keeping files, or straightening out stuff that doesn't require a high amount of background or knowledge or skill. But I enjoy the place and the people who work there.

CK: What drew you to the Library initially?

RA: A fondness for books, I guess [laughing with pleasure].

CK: Or what enticed you to remain all those years?

RA: The people. I've had pleasant relationships with a succession of directors of the Library, one of whom we keep in quite close touch with who retired from twenty-odd years as director and has lived in rural Indiana for the last twenty-five years. We're in frequent contact with her.

CK: Named?

RA: Rose Mary Mitten Stiffler.

CK: Spelled?

RA: Her last name, S-t-i-f-f-l-e-r. Morgantown, Indiana. We've visited her, and she's visited us. She comes back to Concord once or twice a year.

CK: And Mitten spelled like mittens?

RA: Yeah.

CK: Okay. Interesting.

RA: Her successor was Barbara Powell who lives in Concord still who retired two years ago.

CK: Can you almost trace the difference in vision by who was--?

RA: Oh, they're quite different people, but they each did a good job as far as I can perceive. But they weren't working for me, because during the period of their tenancy, I was on the Library Trustees, which doesn't have anything to do with the administration of the personnel, the staff. The Committee is supposed to be in charge of the staff, although I don't think that nowadays the director is, as far as I can make out, chosen by the Committee. That seems to to me be done in the Town office by the Town Director of Personnel and the Town Manager and the Selectmen. I don't know.

CK: So that's a shift?

RA: Yeah, but don't take that as Gospel. It's just my impression. Kerry Cronan, the present Director, I'm quite sure, was not--. Oh, I'm sure she was--. In the latter stages of screening, she must have been known to the Committee, but I don't think she was selected by the Library Committee.

Anyhow, I--. The Library has always interested me, and its physical renovation, which has taken place at least twice while I've had any connection with it: at the main building and, more recently, of course, the Loring N. Fowler Branch Library here in West Concord just completed a total modernization, has been of interest, too. I spent a couple of hours there this, at the Fowler Branch this morning, because I needed to get out of the way here of the lady who was cleaning this place. It's a very pleasant, beautifully modernized building.

CK: There must have been some interesting stories involved in the renovations, and who wanted what, and why, and--.

RA: Well they've been fortunate to have a really competent architect. The work done at the Fowler Branch was really an extraordinary job. I mean, the builder--. I've never seen such intricate and exacting work done in such refinement. It's just amazing. You, I guess, won't have any chance to see it, but it's very impressive.

I've also, as was mentioned earlier, at one time or another, been interested in the Concord Art Association, although I'm nothing more than a member now. I was, twenty-five years or so, years ago the treasurer, and director for a while.

CK: Director?

RA: A member of the Directors, I should say.

CK: Board of Directors?

RA: Board of Directors. I'm not at all now.

CK: What's the mission of the organization?

RA: The Art Association was formed in the early 1920s by a woman who owned a elegant, early Nineteen--. Oh. Late Eighteenth Century house on Lexington Road and a lot of pictures, I guess. And she set up a 501C3, or what became a 501C3, non-profit [organization] for the purpose of allowing local artists to exhibit their work. It was really the--. Exhibit and sell their work. It's really an art gallery, properly. It has shows that are borrowed from other organizations, but it also hangs the work of artists who are displaying their work for sale. It's curious to me as really a competitor to a commercial art gallery.

I've also had, for thirty-odd years, a connection with Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, which--. My present status there, almost uniquely, is Trustee Emeritus [laughs] which is--. That organization was formed in the early years of the Twentieth Century by a woman named Clara Endicott Sears who had 210 acres on a hillside facing west toward Mount Wachusett, and an elegant, built an elegant house on Prospect Hill Road. And sort of discovered that down at the foot of the meadow was a farm house which had been occupied for a year in the 1840s by people from Concord.

Barbara Anthony: Bronson Alcott?

RA: Bronson Alcott and a few others who thought they would set up a separate community, which was a spectacular failure. But it has a certain amount of immortality. And she—Ms. Sears—moved from another location in the town of Harvard, a meeting house built by Shakers, by the Shaker community, and she built two other buildings, one to house artifacts of Native Americans, and the other to house the art works of Hudson River landscape artists and portrait artists, American portrait artists. So, Fruitlands Museum consists of all of these enterprises that Ms. Sears set up, fortunately, with an endowment, and for the last 90 or 100 years, has been a seasonally-operated public museum. And as I started by saying, I've spent a certain amount of time as part of the governance of that.

CK: Why?

RA: Because a long-time friend of mine in the 1970s, who was a director, invited me out to look at it and urged me to join in in helping to run it. And I liked it. I've always liked museums, and I like that one.

CK: You say it was "a spectacular failure," Fruitlands was.

RA: The thing that Bronson Alcott set up, which is a fraction of what--the museum Ms. Sears initiated years late--was a failure.

CK: A spectacular failure, in fact.

RA: Well, yes, because he had such ambition for its perpetuity, and it didn't even last—lasted just about eight months, I think.

CK: What happened?

RA: Well some key figures fell into disputes and left in anger. And they ran out of money, didn't they?

BA: Well also--. And they weren't going to use anything from any animals, so they couldn't have any woolen clothes. And they couldn't use cotton because it was harvested by slaves, if you know what I mean by harvested. And also they knew beans about farming, and so they didn't know how to plant things, and they were just going to eat all their own food. And I guess Bronson Alcott almost died, and then finally somebody came and stuck him in a sledge and took him to their house in nearby Still River, but--.

CK: Stuck him in a--?

BA: In Still River is a town next--. And--. But Mrs. Alcott was also not entranced, because apparently this person he [her husband] had set up this community with, decided it should be a celibate community, and according to what I heard, Mrs. Alcott wasn't happy with that idea. And of course they had the four little girls out there, and--. So, you know, I think these people almost starved, among other things.

RA: Yeah. Kind of crazy.

CK: Kind of crazy! Intriguing.

RA: Yeah.

BA: It was a time of other idealistic communities, like Brook Farm, which was set where Roxbury is now. It was another idealistic community where people like Margaret Fuller went to live, and all these fuzz-headed people like Bronson Alcott and Margaret Fuller who—. Their experimental communities didn't work.

RA: Yeah. Yeah. We are also involved one way and another with small, non-profit organizations in Guilford, Vermont, where, as you heard earlier, we spent a major amount of our time. The Guilford Historical Society and Guilford Preservation Incorporated, and Guilford Community Church, and what else? Pleasant ways of relating to the small community of Guilford, which has a population of about 2500 souls, and where my great-grandfather bought a farm in 1868 and started a mineral springs resort with a couple of business partners. And Guilford Mineral Springs Farm, unlike Poland Spring and some others, did not flourish for many years. But fortunately he did not sell the farm. It still is in the family. It's owned by a family trust, or the original farm house is. My brother and I agreed in 1992 that we would lose nothing if we took the major part of the acreage—we got a land use planner--and of the 200 or so, acres we separated out 175 acres and deeded it to Vermont Land Trust and New England Forestry Foundation. The actual physical ownership is New England Forestry Foundation, and Vermont Land Trust has a overriding restriction, conservation restriction. New England Forestry Foundation is a non-profit woodland operator. My parents never wanted to do anything to cut a tree, but I felt, and still feel that unless they're of unique value that a woods should be managed as a working asset. And that's what this so-called Springs Farm is managed--. It has been selectively logged in places under the present ownership.

So, what else do I need to recount as to my pastimes?

BA: I think one of the things that has always interested me about Fruitlands is that Clara Endicott Sears was like several other single Boston Brahman-types who made—I mean almost like Mrs. Gardner of the Gardner Museum, who made a collection and have had a lot of money, and essentially built a museum of one size or another, and endowed it. And I don't know whether that's a typical Boston thing of that era, and I--.

RA: Well like Isabel Stewart Gardner, and--.

BA: Yes.

RA: --who did it more spectacularly than better known [founders] in Boston. The Gardner Museum is internationally known, and her collection of Eighteenth Century European art is almost untouchable.

BA: Yeah.

CK: Well I'm just struck by both of your sense of giving at every level. I mean I'm sitting here wondering what makes some people give so much. You could be sitting home! It doesn't sound like you sit around home very much. You're always going to meetings, you're always giving, you're always thinking about the community. Going out to Town Meeting. I mean where does that come from, and how does it get passed along?

RA: Well, I think to some extent that's inherited. I--. My father took an active interest in--. My father, when he retired, moved. My parents moved to Guilford, Vermont, and Father had a role in the financial governance of this small town for quite a number of years, and your [Barbara's] father, of course, was a member of the elected Town Meeting.

BA: He was an Elected Town Meeting Member in Belmont--

RA: In Belmont.

BA: --which wasn't an open meeting. You had to run to be a Belmont Town Meeting Member. But then that had the responsibility of going to the Town Meeting and studying the issues and following them. But I was also thinking, in terms of giving, and so forth, maybe not so much of time as of money, but your [Reed's] grandmother was certainly very generous in giving an organ to Emmanuel Church in Boston.

RA: That's right. Well her husband, my father's father, died in 1914 at the age of forty-nine. And he'd been a—can't think of the term—a lay leader of Emmanuel Church.

BA: I guess he was Junior Warden.

RA: Junior Warden (chuckling).

BA: So-called. Yeah.

RA: And my--his widow gave, as Barbara just said, a pipe organ which still—I haven't been in Emmanuel Church for many years, but I believe the organ is still there. Certainly the plaque must be, in memory of Silas Reed Anthony.

BA: Umm hmm.

CK: How does that get passed along? I try to imagine, even at something as traditional as the Town Meeting, you know, are we seeing older people? Are we seeing younger people? How is that legacy of contributing passed along to new members of the community? If it is.

RA: Well, I guess-. It is, certainly. Observing the action and behavior of somebody that you think is worth following.

BA: I think often in Concord people first get interested in the details of Town affairs when they have children in the public schools. And the various issues that come up at Town Meeting affect them quite close to home. And the next thing they know they're really interested in a having good school system. And the next thing they know, someone talks them into being on the PTA or whatever, and so I think that's how the young people get attracted to this activity. It isn't just all the old types who are interested. And of course people also get interested if there's a proposal for a development in their neighborhood, and they don't happen to like it. They can get awfully interested in what the Planning Board is doing and go to a lot of Planning Board meetings. And the next thing they know some one probably puts them on the Planning Board.

RA: Yeah, although in Concord it seems sometimes that there isn't enough of this—I mean there aren't--.There isn't enough competition for elective office it sometimes appears.

BA: Yes, that's true.

RA: Occasionally. (37:58)

CK: What about development? People keep mentioning these McMansions. Has that--. What effect has that had on community relations, if any? Or are the newcomers getting just as involved because they have children in school? Are people integrating as they come in?

BA: I don't happen to know any of them! We don't have any League of Women Voters board members who live in McMansions. So I haven't happened to rub elbows with--. And I don't know. I suppose they get integrated with the people--. If their children go to school with other people, then that's who they get integrated with, I don't know.

RA: I don't know either.

I forgot to mention, did I, the Sudbury Valley Trustees?

BA: Oh yeah, you did forget to mention it.

RA: That's an organization that--. It's a land conservation organization based in Wayland, formed in 1953. And I became interested in it in the late 1950s and became treasurer of it in I think 1960 for a few years. And it owns parcels of undeveloped land acquired either by gift or purchase in fifteen or twenty towns in the Sudbury, Assabet and Concord River--

BA: Basin.

RA: --Basin. In Concord it owns two parcels which, as it happens, I arranged the purchase of many years ago. But in Wayland and Sudbury and a number of other towns, it owns much more land and its total ownership I guess is around four or five thousand acres. And it's been instrumental in the acquisition of a great many thousand acres held by various towns and other organizations.

I should have mentioned it earlier, because I went to a meeting the other day that was a presentation at a retirement community nearby explaining what Sudbury Valley Trustees does. And I have no role in the governance of it at all now, except I try and give it a little money. It has taken a lot of time in my past.

CK: So it's similar to a land trust, or--?

RA: Yeah.

CK: But not exactly?

RA: Well, it's simply a land-holding organization, as opposed to Massachusetts Audubon Society, which not only holds land, but operates educational facilities on the land and conducts all kinds of programs, and so on.

CK: Because we have the Concord Land Trust, as well, is that correct?

RA: Concord Land Conservation Trust is comparable to Sudbury Valley Trustees--

CK:But this has--?

RA: --but within Concord only.

CK: Umm hmm. So talk about the parcels you acquired. That's a feat.

RA: Yeah, well one of them I happened to become aware of because of the demise of the owner.

CK: Sorry?

RA: The demise of the land owner. And it was quite near to where we lived. And I determined that it could be bought for a few thousand dollars, and I arranged for Sudbury Valley Trustees to buy it. It was undeveloped woodland. I then spent quite a lot of time trying to persuade an abutting land owner to add to it, but she assured me that [clears his throat] her land was never going to be developed. It's now one of the largest developments in the Town, of course, but. Her children--.

BA: Many three- and four-car garages.

RA: Yeah, her children developed it after her death. So much for that.

The other piece that I bought for Sudbury Valley Trustees was popularly known as "Thoreau Bog," simply because Thoreau mentions it in some of his writings. It is a bog, and it's off Lexington Road. It's a small strip of rather unusual wetland that belonged to a couple we knew, Salvatori and Helen Muscato. And--.

CK: Oh, help me with that spelling.

RA: M-u-s-c-a-t-o. He drove a truck for a propane distributor, and Helen cleaned houses. They were long-time Italian-American Concord residents. And I persuaded them to sell this part of their land at a--.

Michael Kline: That's all we have time for today.

RA: --Which gave me great satisfaction.

CK: I'd say. Final questions from you, Michael?

MK: No. I'm--. I think it's been thorough and good.

CK: Wonderful.

BA: Yeah.

MK: Not Thoreau and good, but thorough and good

CK: I wasn't sure where you were going with that!

MK: And we need to boogie on back to the Library.

RA: Okay. Well it's been fun.

BA: Yes. Yeah.

MK: Wish you every--.

CK: Thank you both.

Reed Anthony

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Text and image mounted 13 December 2014. Audio mounted 17 December 2014.-- rcwh.