When Rudyard Kipling wrote Stalky & Co he paid tribute to teachers everywhere with the lines:
Let us now praise famous men
Men of little showing
For their work continueth...
Far & wide continueth
Greater than their knowing.
Substituting "women" for "men" throws the meter off a little but perhaps puts an even greater emphasis on those who have given their lives to teaching others at least in our case as Spencerians. We owe the women who taught us a great debt.
Let me give you an example: in my profession as a personal property appraiser great emphasis is put on the concept of "due diligence." I was a little taken aback when I heard the appraisal professor explain this. It really means just doing your very level best to cover all the necessary ground and get things right, not cutting corners and working in a slap-dash fashion. I had been taught this very thing by the staff at Spencer!
I distinctly remember Cherry in Grade IX English encouraging us to probe to the very depths of a poem, play, or essay; to think very carefully about meaning; and to write with clarity and intelligence. Certainly, if the pioneers had erected bell tents in anything but a most professional manner, the Guides would have had a nasty shock of roof falling in or guy ropes snapping. If actors, dancers, and singers
had not done their very best in school performances, these shows would not have received the rave reviews that sometimes appeared in the Daily News or Evening Telegram.
But as Miss Cherrington, Miss Jean Murray, Miss Hilda Brinton, et al, et al encouraged & cajoled & (probably) threatened us that only the very best was good enough so the very best was what they got.
The gift of "the very best" is one that has stood all of us in good stead throughout all our lives.
The ranks of "the staff" are, alas, thinner now (and the ranks of students too) but it is never too late to throw a few bouquets and to say many, many thanks for a job well done.
P.S. My especial thanks to Genevieve (Winter) Richardson and to Daphne (Eden) Brewster who inspired me to the twin pleasures of art & poetry and to Penelope (Goodridge) Crane for her unflappable friendship to our unruly group in Grade VII. I note that Jean Murray, Hilda Brinton, Genevieve Winter, and Penny Goodridge are all Spencer alumnae.
Elizabeth Scammell Reynolds '54
The PRESIDENT'S COLUMN
A happy and wonderful spring to you all!
A few weeks ago I was watching a local TV production, "A Closer Look" and was surprised to learn that the old stair railings from Spencer were now part of the elegant dιcor of the Tower condominium on Queen's Road. (For those of you who live "away", you may not know that several years ago the BIS Hall and Nickel Theatre were redeveloped into luxurious, high-end condominiums.) Seeing the railings again brought me right back to my Spencer days. How many times did I go up and down over those stairs? Up to the morning assemblies, down to the coat racks in the basement, up to the Domestic Science room, down to music. Not to mention going up to the Tower Room and I won't because none of us ever did that! I estimate that in my 10 years from Kindergarten to Grade 9, I probably went up and down those stairs at least 12,000 times. Multiply that by all the girls that attended Spencer over the years and that will give you the sense of history and the memories that those stairs carry with them. These memories, individual and collective, are what unite us. We are bound to each other over the years and generations and through our friendships and memories we honour the history and heritage of our school.
I hope the people who live in that condominium realize, as they climb those stairs day after day, what they have.
Congratulations to the 2004 winners:
1. Allison Brown (continuing) who has additionally won two other scholarships.
2. Emily Martin (entrance)
3. Jessica Montez Sterling award for academic excellence
LETTER from MARY HANN|
I'm a bit behind in my reading so have just seen the letter that you placed in the Downhomer regarding looking for former students who did not receive a copy of the Spencer Letter in 2002, 03, or 04. Well, here is one former student of Spencer who did not. Actually, I didn't know such a letter existed, but I'd love to be on your mailing list. I went to Spencer back in the 50's. There were two students from Port aux Basques who attended the college and I was one of them. The other girl's name was Verena Kettle. Her name is still the same, and somewhere I have her Halifax address, but I can't put my finger on it just now. We both stayed at Bishop Jones' Hostel (Rennie's Mill Road) with several other girls who came from places outside St. John's. I have been back to St. John's and I drove down Rennie's Mill Road, but since I didn't know the exact street number of the Hostel, I was unable to recognize the building. I also tried to find the old Spencer building, but was unsuccessful in that endeavour too. I heard a new Spencer had been built in another location and my informer thinks the old Spencer may have been destroyed or torn down. I would guess, however, that Bishop Jones Hostel is still standing as it was such a grand old sturdy building. If you could include the street number of the hostel, I'd really appreciate it so that I could look for it on a future trip. It would certainly bring back memories some good and some bad, as I was terribly homesick the whole time that I was away from home. There was no highway then, just a train, so I only got home once a year, at Christmas. The teachers were very good at Spencer and I have thought of a couple of them often. The ones I remember were from England, so I would imagine they have returned there for their retirement. Thank you again for placing a letter in the Downhomer. It is a wonderful magazine and it keeps me in touch with Newfoundland which I still call "home".
LETTER FROM CHERRY
Printed below is a letter from Cherry! It was posted in St. John's on November 29, 1956 the postage was 2’! The envelope is addressed to:
Miss Shirley Earle,
10 Linscott St., City.
While the text is self-evident, the letter itself has an interesting history: Shirley (Earle) Clarke '54 and her husband Don bought a house in St. John's a few months ago for their retirement. While Don has gone back to Brazil where they've been living for ten years, Shirley stayed to see to some renovations and catch up on old friends and her sister Pat Galbraith '55 who has just moved back from Labrador with her husband Ken. Shirley began unpacking boxes that had been travelling with her since the late 50's and called me excitedly to say she'd found Cherry's letter among some other papers.
To the best of my recollection since leaving MUN in 1958 Shirley & Don have lived on Bell Island; in Labrador City; Eagle Mountain, California; Brazil; St. John's; Montreal; Burlington, Ontario; Vancouver; again in several locations in Brazil; and finally have settled their "stuff" in St. John's before spending another few months in Brazil! We're grateful for her "packratability" that enables us all to share this letter and Cherry's later comments.
By the way, who started the TV fund for her? I remember contributing but that's it. How much did the TV cost? Anyone who knows anything about this, please let us know.
I have had a wonderful Christmas, thanks to you; it astonishes me more and more that after three years, and after you had given me such a generous gift when I retired, that you should have taken the trouble to collect again for this lovely present.
When I read the names of the donors, I can see you so clearly sitting in the classrooms, singing the school hymns at prayers, coming up for prizes, marching so nicely, and reporting to the office when you pretended to be scared to
death, but I don't believe you were.
My two aims at Spencer were to see that the girls were happy and to prepare them for life; judging from your affection and loyalty, I think the College has succeeded pretty well in both these objectives.
Now as to the gift itself; I had been much attracted to TV and wistfully thinking that next year if I became still more immobilized I might manage to buy one; then to my utter amazement, four friends walked in with three mechanics and began installing one. I was so taken aback that Bodie says I did not even say "Thank you"! I think I did, and I hope the donors who were there realized that I was really grateful and very touched by your thoughtful kindness. I am enjoying the programmes very much; now that the snow has come there is not much chance of getting down my ramp, as the boards are icy, although we try to keep the snow swept; so it is a great joy to be able to have a good movie in my sitting room and I can sit in my own armchair in great comfort.
Perhaps some of you do not realize how handicapped I am. I always expected to be able to do something when I retired; some of you may remember I told you to keep all your illnesses for the holidays! That seems to be what I have done, for a combination of diseases is making me quite helpless. However, I have Miss Baudains to look after me, a most comfortable wheeled chair to go about in, and now television to look at, so what more do I want?
Just on more word in the list of donors there are some who have not attended Spencer. I think it is extremely kind of them to take part in this kindly act and I want to say a special word of thanks to them. And I do realize that this collection must have meant a great deal of work for a few very busy people and I am particularly grateful to them.
Wishing you all many happy years,
Yours cordially, Cherry.
Donations to the Scholarship Fund are now being sought. Contributions of any size would be most welcome and are tax deductible. You can send a cheque to the treasurer. For donations of substantial size, please call treasurer Ruby Legge at 709-579-6219. Our scholarships are supporting deserving young women in post-secondary studies.
Fees are now due for 2005.
Your $10.00 fee for membership is due every January. This fee enables us to keep running and to publish the Spencer Letter. Please send it along to treasurer Ruby Legge, 58 Airport Heights Drive, St. John's, NL A1A 4Z7. THANK YOU if you've already done so.
SPRING LUNCHEON & ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING|
TUESDAY, MAY 10th.
Tickets can be paid for at the door (cash, cheque, or VISA).
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ottawa: Sally (Winter) LeFeuvre '59 at 613-741-9483
Toronto: Elizabeth (Wheeler) Gibson '63 at 905-853-9646
England: Elaine (Whitten) Polley '64 at 011-44-189-523-9946
St. John's: Barb (Parsons) Clancy '63 at 739-0981 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org