Monthly Archives: December 2016

Updates of the Lowell Public Schoos in the 1800’s

The Lowell School Department has been on the cusp of modernization since its inception in 1824.  The Dedham Historical Register for April of 1894 cited the activities of Warren Colburn in organizing a teacher’s organization.  Colburn, who had a hall named after him in the 1893 high school building, felt that teachers needed to pass on the best practices.  That is something that many people still try to do today.  It is amazing that Mr. Colburn tried to do it in the 1800’s.

     One of Colburn’s most ambitious projects was to dismantle the large one room schools and make them part of a larger school.  To do this he established primary and grammar schools for the lower grades.  He also formed what became Lowell High School in 1831.  For his efforts I believe he became the first Lowell School Superintendent.  As such, he wrote an arithmetic which was used for over fifty years.
     He appointed the first Headmaster of the high school.  He also appointed the Principals of the primary and grammar schools.  It was a common practice for people to pay Lowell public schools money to come to learn at the high school.  Part of that was due to a dearth of high schools in the region.  Importantly enough, the first student admitted to a profitable Lowell High School was female.  She graduated four years later, and although she was not in the first graduating class, she was in the first class to attend LHS for four years.
     According to the Lowell “Daily Courier” there were thousands of students in Lowell’s school system and a healthy funding base.  For instance, there were 12,552 students ages five to fifteen years old, Those were the Primary and Grammar School, as well as the Junior High School students.  They were in a kind of feeder system, completing 7th. and 8th. grade, and, if they desired, they were accepted into the high school after taking a series of tests to see if they had what it takes to be good high school students.
     According to the “Daily Courier,” there were funds for payment of teachers in the high school, the grammar, and the primary schools.  The personnel costs for the high school teachers was fifteen thousand eight hundred twenty six dollars.  (15,826.00); the grammar schools were higher, sixty one thousand thirty seven dollars and twenty four cents (61037.24);  the primary schools paid their teachers sixty thousand one hundred ninety nine dollars and ninety nine cents (60,190.99); and the cost of building the 1893 building was eighty seven thousand four hundred sixty two dollars and fifty two cents (87,462.52).  This was during the time that the four new large grammar and junior high school buildings were built for $201,451.57.  These schools included the Pawtucket Memorial School, the Butler School, the Bartlett School, and the Green School.
     Teacher certifications took a leap forward.  In the 1870’s, the certification grade, was after the seventh grade.  By 1893, you had to complete up to your Junior year in high school in order to be a certified teacher.  Abraham Lincoln had established public universities and colleges in 1863.  Among the colleges was Lowell Normal School, which became Lowell State College.  Mill owners necessitated the formation of a technical school at a college level.  That became Lowell Technical School, a university level school dedicated to the art of cloth.
     Lowell Normal School could graduate teachers, who now needed four years of college for certification.  Lowell Tech graduates went into mill work.
     I have had a few changes in my writing requirements lately.  In the first place, the ISBN # for this blog is ISBN978-1-5323-2801-5.  Secondly, I have received over 100,000 responses to my many blogs.  Therefore I am working with Google to admit advertising.  If you are interested in advertising to what  is estimated to be over 250,000 sightings per article, send an email to me with your specific needs.  Finally, I intend to write a blog about two of my five sisters projects.  One owns a bed and breakfast in Machias, Maine.  It is in a gorgeous mansion that was totally rebuilt.  In that blog I will submit photographs of the building.  It is incredible.  My other sister lives in Florida and teaches exercise activity to people visiting and living in the state.  So look forward to those blogs.  I am very proud of my little sisters.
     So that is it for this week.  I can be heard on Thursdays at 6PM on a show called Peters’ Principles on WCAP.com.  I can be seen on a number of television shows at LTC.org.  I also have a number of blogs written in the past floating somewhere in the cloud.

A Dickens Story

It is time to recognize Christmas in the United States.  We are divided between parties, we have some major problems to work out, but Christmas brings out the  best in us and I would like to start there.

     I have always loved the Christmas season, even though it takes place in a part of the globe, my part, that is largely dark early in the evening every winter.  I have a recognized and prescribed problem with winter nights.  I am supposed to be sitting in front of a group of flourescent lights designed to imitate the sun.  I have never gotten them to work right, so I stay in the best lit area of the house, my library, and work my way through winter’s darkness.  Christmas is the festival of lights and it is enhanced by gift-giving.  I would much rather give than receive.  That is not the way I was even a decade ago, but it is how I am now.
     I have been reading a Dicken’s book called “Stories for Christmas.”  I am currently reading a short novel on the “Holly Tree.”  In  it, a depressed, and Dicken’s was very good at being depressed in his writing, night before Christmas day.  Dicken’s character is waiting at a tavern with overnight stays, a motel of sorts.  He notices that the holly tree is outside the hostel, and he wants to write about it, so he does.  Many of his observations are  long paragraphs that lament his efforts to get to another town, and his forced, because of the weather, stay at the inn.  He is going to live his Christmas amongst strangers and he is not pleased about it.
     “The Holly Tree was fast reviving within me a sense of loneliness,” he laments.  “I began to feel conscious that my subject would never carry on until I was dug out.  I might be a week here, weeks!”    “Whoever slept in this room…always turned upon the subject of suicide; to which, whatever kind of  man he might be, he was certain to make some reference if he conversed with anyone.”  (Page 141)
     The occupant, he says, would come from that room sure of a dream that did not stick in his mind until morning.  He remembers gentle times fishing in the summer at a wonderful inn.  This would not be one of those times.  The holly tree would keep him sane as he spent the night in a haunted room, but it was not powerful enough to make his night tolerable.  He remembers his first Christmas tree, illuminated by balance candles lit dangerously on the Christmas tree.  He also remembers that the Christmas tree is not indigenous to England.  He calls it a German tree, which is where the first Christmas trees were started.
     I remember seeing a good many pictures of an English-influenced home in the 1880’s, that had plenty of holly but no Christmas tree.  The general public in England in the 1800’s did not have a Christmas tree in thos photos.  They had a great deal of pine boughs and strings of holly, but no trees.  I always wondered what Santa would have to say about such an omission.  He probably was a bit confused but saw the holly and read Dicken’s book about The Holly Tree.
     I love reading Dickens’ at Christmas.  I bought this book used, but I keep it in the Living Room all year.  I like to pick it up and polish off some great writing.  I learned that Dickens visited my town of Lowell in Massachusetts in 1842 and he stayed for a day.  He was pleasantly surprised to see people who seemed to enjoy their work, dressed well for the day’s work, and girls from the mills who were not hard on his eyes.  He did not say the part about being hard on the eyes, but he did say that the millgirls were very pleasant to look at.  When he visited Lowell, it was part of his tour to see how democracies in England and the United States were different.
     Of course, the book has Dickens’ best work, “A Christmas Carol,” in it.  I love some of the quotes in that book.  Who can forget the word, “Humbug,” which is probably a word Dickens made up.  He has other titles in the book, including the largely unknown “Somebody’s Luggage.”  And “Tom Tiddler’s Ground,” which does not seem to be about Christmas but was included.  He writes of Scrooge’s visit with the silent ghost of Christmas yet to occur or yet to come.  He says to the spirit, “You are about to show me the shadows of things that have not happened but will happen in the time before us, Scrooge pursued.  Is that so Spirit.”  He observes a nod from the spirit.  His legs are shaking despite the fact that he had already had time with  two spirits, and was basically, according to the author, used to spirits by this point.  This spirit scares him.  It is implied that he does not want to see his future.
     Of course, we all know the story of Scrooge.  He repents and becomes one who observes Christmas with a hearty belief in it.  In Isaiah 45 God says “I am the LORD, there is no other; I form the light, and create the darkness. (I guess I can take some comfort about winter darkness in that).
Jesus, whose birthday we celebrate so vibrantly, was tested once by two of his disciples and John the Baptist who asks, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”  Jesus was probably a bit miffed because these disciples had seen him give sight back to the blind, cures lepers, and causes the deaf to hear.  But, I try to understand that this person was the One.
     So what is Christmas?  It is little bits of all of these things.  It is about Jesus, it is a time to look to friends and family for comradeship, it is a time to celebrate.  But, I always try to conclude that it is a time to put Christ back in Christmas.  Santa Claus is nice, but the real reason is Christ.

Meanderings

Former slave, Frederick Douglas, wrote in a speech given 1880, “The colored people (African Americans – language was a little different in 1880) have no reason to despair.  The fact (is) that we have endured wrongs and hardships that would have destroyed any other race, and have increased in numbers and public consideration, ought to strengthen our faith in ourselves and our future.  The forces against us are passion and prejudice, which are transient and those for us are principles, self-acting, self-sustaining, and permanent.”  {Life and Times of Frederick Douglas – an Autobiography – Crown Publishers}

     What is the point?  It is simple.  The African-American is an integral part of our history and the Obamas are not the only African Americans who will occupy the White House.  It was disappointing to see fewer African-Americans voting than did for Mr. Obama in 2012.  But they are a powerful bastion of voters who will eventually foment change in the electoral system in a permanent and different way.
     European-Americans, or, if that sounds too White, then let’s just call ourselves White, but we did nothing to help ourselves by electing Donald Trump.  It is a temporary fix.  We voted in incredible numbers to use an antiquated system of electing the President, which is called the Electoral College, and we lost the power of the popular vote.  The reason the Fathers voted in the Electoral College was because they thought the average man was too uneducated to elect the U.S. Senators or the President and Vice President.  The Senators they gave to the State Houses of Representatives while the President and Vice President were to be decided by the Electoral College.
     In the Constitution, the Senators were changed to public election in the 17th. Amendment.  The Electoral College has never changed constitutionally.  The Liberal Establishment, of which I count the Press as a unit, decried the voting of the non-college educated voters as being indicative of an inability to vote wisely.  That is what I believe they were saying in certain stations on the television, the radio, and in certain newspapers.  The reason Hillary Clinton lost was because  a plethora of uneducated white voters  voted for Trump.  That is what the Press was saying the night of the election.  This despite his inability to endear himself to women as seen or heard in his ramblings on the bus with Mr. Bush.  Women still voted for him, and the television stations made sure that you knew where they were coming from, which seemed to be from the less educated whites in America.
     I was not rooting for Hillary Clinton.  Our first pick for President should have been a woman with less personal baggage.  Hilllary Clinton did, however, win the popular vote by a large amount, over two million voters according to the press.  Hillary Clinton showed her true stripes fighting against Senator Bernie Sanders.  Now, in all fairness, Clinton should have acquiesed and allowed Sanders to address his hundreds of delegates and allowed him to give them a congratulatory speech.  She did not allow that courtesy and it really showed her real self.  Sanders had won impressive victories over many of our United States.  He deserved the right to speak to his friends.  In retrospect, I wish I had voted for Mr. Sanders.  If I had known that she would lose to a person like Trump, I would have cast the vote, even if it was spitting in the wind.
     The Democratic Party is in no worse shape than the Republican Party eight years ago, when the President and both Houses went Democratic.  We will rectify the situation and right our ship.  It is just a matter of time.  As President Obama said about the Obamacare bill, if Trump is as successful as he says he will be with the bill, Obama will be right there with the rest of us cheering.  But, he does not feel that will actually happen.  And, with the person Trump forwarded for Secretary of Health and Human Services, I doubt there will be much to cheer about.
     Back to Frederick Douglas, Mark Twain has a wonderful story about a former slave who was freed in the Civil War.  It is called “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It.”  It is a slave’s story.  It starts out, “We were sitting on the porch of the farmhouse, on the summit of the hill, and “Aunt Rachel” was sitting  respectfully below our level, on the steps-for she was our servant and colored…she was sixty years old, but her eye was undimmed and her strength unabated.” {The Unabridged Mark Twain;” Running Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania}  It goes on to describe her remembrances of being a slave and how she handled her duties and responsibilities.  At one point she says, “I knows all ’bout slavery ‘case I ben one of ’em my own self.”  She then describes, with Mark Twain emphasizing her accent, what it was like to raise seven children with a good husband, but, of course, he could not be her actual husband, and her seven children were property of the master.  So her life was considerably more difficult than a non-slaves.’
     There is no excuse for the institution of slavery.  Frederick Douglas and “Aunt Rachel” did not deserve to deal with it, be born into it, or be a part of it.  Frederick Douglas went on to become a famous man, while “Aunt Rachel” did to, somewhat because one of her young audience was to become the greatest satirist in  American history.  But neither of them actually needed to take that horrendous step back in our early history.  A friend of mine, really a good person, says of “Black Lives Matter,” “Why don’t white lives matter?”  I try to explain that black lives like Trayvon Martin’s, matter because more black men are being killed by law enforcement from a percentage standpoint than the percentage of white lives.  I would love to say that that line of reasoning works but it does not appear to.
     So, I do not know what works.  I know what I believe and I believe that racism is going to dictate matters of policy in this admnistration.  I am hoping that the basic strengths that Frederick Douglas espouses are true.  I lived for three years in a mixed town, racially.  I live now in a city that is 25% Asian.  I have always wanted the best for my friends, white, African-American, or Asian.  I like to think that I am fair, but, by virtue of my choice of topics tonight, maybe I am not.  Who knows?

     It is important to remember the 13th. Amendment which abolished slavery, and the 15th. Amendment which states that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”     That is a good place to stop.