The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with Eleanor Hershey on April 10, 1990. The interview took place in Rockport, Massachusetts, and was conducted by Robert Brown for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. The Archives of American Art has reviewed the transcript and has made corrections and emendations. This transcript has been lightly edited for readability by the Archives of American Art. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: —to build a hotel—
ROBERT BROWN: —with Mrs. Samuel Hershey, at her home in Rockport, Massachusetts. This is April 10, 1990. Bob Brown, the interviewer. To begin with, can you tell a bit about your childhood? You're a native of Rockport.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, I'm very much a native. I was born in Rockport, in the room in which I now sleep. I was born on April 25, 1908. I'm a native insofar as both of my grandmothers on each side were natives, but they married men from away, that is, from over the bridge.
ROBERT BROWN: Over the bridge meaning?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Meaning over the A. Piatt Andrew Bridge, over the Annisquam River, which makes us an island.
ROBERT BROWN: Oh, yes.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: One of them married a man named Frederick Weber, who was a pharmacist in Brooklyn, New York, and whose father was an investment—in investments in New York City. They were out of Dusseldorf, Germany. And why he ever came to Rockport, I will never know, but he did, for the summer perhaps, and met Jenny Tarr, and whisked her away to Brooklyn. Now, whether all her children were born there or not, I don't know, but my father was, and he was always very proud of the fact that he was not a native Rockporter. But his father died when he was very young, and left Grandma Weber with four girls and a boy, and one in the oven. [00:02:11] She came back with her tribe to Eight Pleasant Street, Rockport, where her family lived, her mother and father, and lived on one floor, and they lived on the other.
ROBERT BROWN: And their name was Tarr?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Tarr.
ROBERT BROWN: T-A-R-R?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: T-A-R-R. Her husband was known as Sir Charles.
ROBERT BROWN: Why?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Oh rather, as Sir Tarr.
ROBERT BROWN: Sir Tarr?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Sir Tarr. I don't know why, except it was a hangover from England, I guess. My father used to tell me that when any of the older people left to go to Gloucester, they were going broadies, which I think is very interesting.
ROBERT BROWN: Going broadies?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Going broadies. They used to wear long capes, and wide hats, and they were very colonial. And my mother's family—my mother's mother was a native, Abigail Cleveland Low, and she married Luther Tibbetts, who came here because of the cotton mills. They moved to Millville, up in the area where there were other mills, and then they finally came back to Rockport and settled.
ROBERT BROWN: What did your father do? Your father—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: My father was the only American in the English Cable Company in Rockport. [00:04:00] They were all Englishmen, Britishers, Scotch.
ROBERT BROWN: What did the cable company do?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: The cable was landed down at Land's End in Rockport, and came directly from Dover, England. And I thought it stopped at the Azores, but there's no reason why it should if it came from Dover, I don't suppose. But I remember the cable office very, very well. He was actually a telegrapher. They received messages in international code and transferred them to Marconi. During the First World War, it was very exciting, because they had a detachment of soldiers guiding it day and night. Daddy used to bring them home for dinner Sundays. I remember his selling Liberty Bonds, and my helping out with the Red Cross, winding bandages and picking jute. It was a very exciting time in Rockport.
ROBERT BROWN: People were quite patriotic, were they?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I would say yes. I would say that the town, as a whole, were extremely patriotic, and very well-represented in all of our wars. I recently went to a historic society meeting, and that was a subject. It sounded to me as though—pretty patriotic bunch.
ROBERT BROWN: What was your father like? You say he was well—was he very precise?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: My father, my father was—a lot of English rubbed off on him, because he spent all day, of course, every day, with Englishmen. [00:06:07] He dressed—I can't believe it, but the cable office is only around the corner from here. He would leave the house, every day, in a double-breasted, black overcoat, with a velvet collar, and gloves, and many times, a bowler. What do you call them? Um.
ROBERT BROWN: Derby or bowler?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Derby. Derby hat. He was, um—no, at home, he was quite—he was relaxed, but he picked up a lot of English expressions and terminology that he used. And he was the only American. Because his father died when he was so young, he was unable to go through school, so he had to leave and help support the family. But for some strange reason, whether all members—all the people who worked at the cable office were looked up to and thought to be better off than the average, I don't know, because I've understood later that that was the attitude, I guess, of most of the townspeople.
ROBERT BROWN: Oh, really?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: They were—well, I suppose it's because most of them were—they were all English, except Daddy. I suppose it's the way they dressed, daily, and—I don't know.
ROBERT BROWN: Do you recall their mingling much with the townspeople? They must have had families here, didn't they?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Oh, yes. [00:08:00] Oh, yes, their families were all here, and they mingled. Of course, my father, being a native was—or, for all intents and purposes, a native—was highly thought of. I have found that out since he left us. He was extremely well-liked and loved. He was very kindly and thoughtful. And I don't think he ever thought a bad thought in his life. He wasn't innocuous. But he wasn't insipid.
ROBERT BROWN: And your mother, what was she like, do you recall?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: My mother was—was a—grew up knowing how to embroider, and to paint china, and to trim hats. She also learned how to make candy with someone in Gloucester who taught young ladies how to be useful. But she was never well as I was growing—I was an only child. And as far as I know, and much to the amazement and surprise of my children, I don't know whether my mother had any miscarriages, or—I don't know anything about—I know that she had a hysterectomy. That's all I know. And she was never awfully well after that, and we always had help in the house. Our laundry was done by someone else. I guess all those reasons would tend people to believe that we were loaded, but I don't believe we were. I was raised that you never bought anything unless you could afford—unless you had the money for it. [00:10:04] There was nothing like big charge accounts, or of course there were no credit cards then.
ROBERT BROWN: Was that—do you think, generally, the people around here were pretty frugal and prudent?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Generally speaking, I would say yes, that most, most people lived that way.
ROBERT BROWN: Her family were local, as you've said.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: My mother's family were, I think, fairly well-off. They lived in a house that, was after that, became a drugstore. But they lived in it first. My grandmother's brothers owned a great deal of property in Rockport. So I kind of have a feeling that they were maybe in—well, I don't know. I really don't know, but I know those facts about them, and I know that my Grandmother Weber, who was a Tarr, comes—the genealogy is about that thick, so there were all kinds of branches of the Tarr family, and some of whom did very well, and some of whom didn't do so well. Her father was a builder, I think. He built a lot of the houses in Rockport.
ROBERT BROWN: Was Rockport, as you remember as a very young woman, was it dominated by any particular activity or industry?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: The quarries.
ROBERT BROWN: Oh, the granite quarries.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: The quarries, granite quarries, and the Cape Ann Tool Company. They were preceded—before they became—although maybe the quarries were still active. [00:12:05] There was a big cotton mill on Broadway, which was—of course, Rockport was a very, very prosperous, small town. It had a larger fishing fleet than Gloucester had originally. Not within my recollection, but it did. And it had—of course, they considered, very seriously, turning Rockport Harbor into a commercial venture, because it's supposed to have one of the best harbors along the East Coast, anyway. But that was squelched. They partially built the breakwater, and it never was finished. And I think it's probably because transportation changed, and the cheapness of using sailing vessels was overcome by the trains. All of that was talked about at the meeting the other night. I don't remember dates well enough to tell you, because it was always a train as far as I can remember it. We used to have trolley cars in Rockport. And I can remember the last of the old sailing vessels that took granite as far as Texas, because it was cheaper to take it out of Rockport by ship than it was to use Texas granite and haul it over land. So the quarries were very, very important part of the economy of the Cape, and because of that, the Finns and Swedes were shipped over here by boatload, with tags around their necks, saying—[00:14:02]
ROBERT BROWN: Do you remember that a bit? They'd already [inaudible]—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: No, I really don't remember it, but it may have been going on still.
ROBERT BROWN: Were there simply not enough locals? Is that why they brought in people?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: No, there weren't enough. There weren't enough.
ROBERT BROWN: The Finns and Swedes also, some of them knew the stone trade, did they?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: That's right. Yep. I don't know whether that—when I was growing up, I almost didn't know anything about the other side of the town at all. This area was our bailiwick, and we had enough friends. And I don't know whether you weren't allowed to go, or whether—but for a long time, I don't think I ever—I'd go places with my family. They'd take me to Boston on the train, frequently, to go to B.F. Keith's, and—
ROBERT BROWN: That was the vaudeville?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Oh, yes. That was very exciting. I suppose I saw some people that really made a reputation for themselves. I don't remember who they were, but that used to be a big thing. But as far as wandering around the town, the way kids do today, and have for many years, we didn't do that. We weren't—I don't know that it is because we weren't allowed to do it, but we didn't have to.
ROBERT BROWN: Hmm. But the area we're in here, your house, was sort of, by and large, the nicest section of town?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: It was—except for the parts that we called—where the summer folks lived. Yes, this street used to be an arch of elm trees, all Gothic arch. It's like that picture of Sam's. But now it looks like the Middle West [laughs]. [00:16:00] They have more elms than we do, I think. [Laughs.]
ROBERT BROWN: The summer people, were you very aware of them early on? Were they people you mixed with ever?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: No, we didn't mix with them. The only way—the way we were conscious of them was that they had black help. And when the black girls started to show up in town, walking down Mount Pleasant Street from Marmion Way or from the South End, then we knew that the summer people were here. My cousin, who lived over the street on the left, had the first black man in Rockport as a retainer, and I spent many an hour with him, on his lap, listening to his stories. The house that they built was built after a Southern colonial home. It's a beautiful place. It's just over the street. She was deaf as a post, and walked all over the North Shore with a little sign on her suit saying, "Press." She would go into all of the weddings and funerals and parties, and she just adored that.
ROBERT BROWN: That's your cousin?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: [They laugh.] That was the cousin. She was a great person.
ROBERT BROWN: Well, when you were very young, you went to the local schools?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, I did. I went to a school on Cove Hill. And there were two rooms and four grades, two in each room. [00:18:01] Because the daughter of the superintendent of schools was in my class, we skipped the fourth grade, and went [laughs] from the third into the fifth. The fifth grade, I was down on Broadway, in a school which went from the fifth through the eighth. Then we went up to the high school, which was where the community house is now, on Broadway, and I had to go to the ninth grade, where we started Latin, and we were exposed to French. You could either stay in the high school and go for four years, or, if you were fortunate, and I was, you went to Gloucester High and paid a small tuition. We'd go by bus, and later by train.
ROBERT BROWN: But you say fortunate because it was a much larger—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, it was a better school. It was a better school, with better teachers, and my family wanted me to go on further. So they sent me—I don't know how they did it, on the salary that my father got, but, of course, the dollar went further in those days.
ROBERT BROWN: This exposed you, going to high school in Gloucester, to a whole new group of young people, didn't it?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, it did. I made very good friends, several very good friends. If you look back, you realize that your high school friends aren't quite so important as you think they are, but I had two that remain good friends. I was very active in high school. Editor of the school paper, and very dumb in geography and algebra. [00:20:05] But otherwise, I was—
ROBERT BROWN: Well in Gloucester, did you run into other ethnic groups that you weren't aware of?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Not really.
ROBERT BROWN: Not at that time.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Ethnic groups, to me, meant absolutely nothing. I wouldn't have known what you were talking about. Because, for some strange reason, my family were not conscious of any difference, in any way, in any respect. That's the reason I got to know the artists as well as I did, because they thought that that was of some value, and many of the townspeople didn't approve at all. So I think I was very lucky in my background. I didn't realize it then, but as I look back, I'm amazed, really.
ROBERT BROWN: Your parents were unusually tolerant and open-minded.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: They were open-minded. I never heard—I never remember hearing any comments—I didn't know there was such a thing as a Jew. I mean, I didn't—in a small town like this, why would you? Except that when they did come, they were either very musical, or they were outstanding painters, and so that came first. The fact that they were another nationality didn't seem to—maybe I have a glorified memory, but I certainly have no recollection of hearing any unpleasant remarks, or any remarks, about one's nationality or color. [00:22:06]
ROBERT BROWN: In school, what were your particular activities? Did you think you wanted to go on to be something or other? Were you preparing for it?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: No, not really. I was a fairly good student, except, as I say, in important subjects, like geometry and algebra, and I didn't take chemistry. I was in the first—whatever it was required—the first tenth of your class or something like that, and missed getting into Radcliffe because I had never had algebra. I think it was algebra they required then. Algebra or geometry. I took geometry, but I didn't have a good mark in it—good enough for them. I think I went to Wheelock because a girl across the street went to Wheelock and spoke glowingly of it, and it seemed like a good idea. And it was the first year of the three-year course. Ms. Wheelock ran a finishing school, and she suddenly realized that her little dears needed to know something more about life, and have some ability to earn some money. So she put in some teacher training courses and turned her finishing school into a three-year course, which is what I took, and got a job in a public school, in New York state, where I was given 25 morons, according to their mental testing, which was a new thing then. [00:24:09] They were very proud of the fact that they'd separated the bright from the not-so-bright, and gave me 25 morons, and asked me to pass them with the same material that they fed the X group, the bright kids.
ROBERT BROWN: How did you feel about doing that?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, I did it, but, um, I didn't go—I wasn't invited back, because I wouldn't sleep with the superintendent.
ROBERT BROWN: Oh my.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Which was [inaudible].
ROBERT BROWN: So at Wheelock, your coursework and all was mainly in—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Was private school. It was training for, really, private school work. What I found myself in was the public school system in the state of New York. Passed Regents and all that stuff.
ROBERT BROWN: Did you enjoy—did you board in Boston while you were at Wheelock?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Oh, yes, stayed in the dormitory. Yes. The senior year, we were right on Aspinwall Avenue, right next to the Harvard Medical fraternity. [Laughs.] It was very exciting. [They laugh.]
ROBERT BROWN: Did you enjoy being in the city?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, I loved it, because, you see, it was during the period when artists were beginning to come to Rockport, and a lot of them were exhibiting in Boston. I would get invited to most of their openings, and I would always take along a very good friend, Ruth Draper Mann, from Waltham, who enjoyed the sort of thing I did. We'd go to all the openings on Newbury Street, and the old Copley, and Vose, and Boston Art Club. [00:26:06] Salmagundi and Grace Horne, and [laughs] all the rest of them.
ROBERT BROWN: Do you remember some of those dealers a bit?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, no, actually I don't. I don't remember them.
ROBERT BROWN: How did—you had gotten to know various artists.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes.
ROBERT BROWN: Maybe we can talk about that now. Even before you went to Wheelock, you were meeting them here. That would mainly be in the summer, I suppose.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, that's true. There were a few who—Parker Perkins was—lived right down over the wall. He was a native—oh he wasn't a native, but he had come here at an early age. I think he came from Gardner or somewhere like that.
ROBERT BROWN: He was somebody you got to know?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I knew him very well, yes. Parker.
ROBERT BROWN: Huh. What kind of an artist was he?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He was a marine artist. Mostly, he painted the ocean and waves. He was—we always knew when summer came, because Parker wore his white flannels. [They laugh.] When Parker appeared in his white flannels, summer was here.
ROBERT BROWN: Artists had been drifting in here. This was about the beginning of the first large influx of artists, is that right, or am I—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: The first—they dribbled in. I think Duveneck was among the first, and Charles Kaelin was an early artist. Of course, Lester Stevens was a native-born, and, um—
ROBERT BROWN: He was still around when you were young?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Oh, yes, he and Sam painted together a lot. [00:28:03] Harrison Cady was an early comer.
ROBERT BROWN: Did your parents entertain them now and then, or did you—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: My parents didn't do very much entertaining then, but they came to the house quite often. Howard Smith knew the whole family, and I knew them and knew their family. I think they all knew my father, but let me see. My mother died when I was a freshman in college, and she was ill for quite some time before that, so she really didn't—she didn't mix with him, but would have, and I think is responsible, in great part, for my attitude toward them, because I think, probably, she had an artistic nature, or however you explain that sort of thing. I mean, she had a very open mind about the whole thing. The Leith-Rosses knew us all.
ROBERT BROWN: Oh, that's—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: —Harry Leith-Ross and Emily Slaymaker, whom he later married. That's the first time I was introduced to Rabindranath Tagore. They—when Harry and Emily first came to Rockport, they were, I suppose, according to the natives, living in sin. They weren't married. But they were devoted theosophists.
ROBERT BROWN: Oh. Did they explain that to you?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: They explained it a little bit to me, and of course I was young and naive, and really didn't have much of an idea of what they were talking about. [00:30:05] But they weren't so old either. They were young, quite young. That painting up there is my wedding present, that little one. It's Harry Leith-Ross.
ROBERT BROWN: Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Were these people accepted, generally, in the town? Did they bring a certain [laughs] infusion in money in the summer, so they were welcome by the locals?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I—those artists—the early artists that came to Rockport were not obviously agent-connected or gallery-wise. They were all pretty serious painters, and whether they sold or not was not uppermost in their minds. Of course, Harrison Cady was a commercial artist, really. He did Thornton Burgess books, and probably had his own income, and maybe Melinna did, his wife. Hib came later, but, uh—
ROBERT BROWN: Aldro Hibbard?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes. Lester Hor—Stevens could care less at one point whether he painted or not. I'll tell you, Bob, what these artists did, as I remember it, they painted for exhibitions. [00:32:00] They painted to get into the National Academy. They painted to get into the Corcoran. There was very little talk of the monetary value. Do you know what I mean? They seemed—they seemed to be trying to say something that satisfied them, and they didn't really care, except for the galleries, and, I suppose, the reputation that they would have established by being shown there. It's a very difficult thing for me to explain to you. There was no schlock art in Rockport then. There were no galleries. Sam never exhibited his pictures, except, as I say, in the Corcoran, in the Hoosier Salon, the New Haven Paint and Clay Club.
ROBERT BROWN: And that was done partly to get known and to get criticism?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: That was to get out and get another person's opinion, I guess. I don't know. I don't really know, but I think I'm right in saying—I know, as far as Sam was concerned, he never wanted to sell his pictures. He never—that never seemed to be the reason he painted. But there were some who had wives, who kind of stood in back of them. And Thieme, for instance, was one. He was a very, very good painter, but you can't turn out 10 pictures a week and have them all good.
ROBERT BROWN: And his wife pressured him—[00:34:00]
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: His wife used to say, "Thieme, get to work. We want more pictures." And I think he was really the first one that made me realize that, after all, that's what they all should be doing, but they weren't then. They really weren't. They'd teach. They'd have a summer class and pick up a little bit of extra money.
ROBERT BROWN: Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And you felt they should be making a living?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, I don't think I ever felt, at the time, that they should. Sam always said, "Art is a jealous mistress. I cannot paint and teach. I either have to do one or the other." He found, with a family, that he couldn't make, you know, even a living, because it wasn't in him to—he didn't have an agent. He didn't have a gallery in New York, or even in Boston. And he loved to teach. So I never really felt badly that he went into teaching, because he was fulfilled by teaching. But the mistake he made was to not go back to it when he was retired. And he suddenly didn't. I mean, he just didn't.
ROBERT BROWN: Artists, then—as a very young woman, you got to know a good many of them pretty well. Maybe we can begin with some recollections of what some of them were like and so forth. [00:36:00] I don't know who we can start with. You mentioned, to begin with, Harry Leith-Rogers.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Harry Leith-Ross.
ROBERT BROWN: Ross, right.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Harry Leith-Ross. Hyphenated name. Very British. Very—I'm not sure whether he was British or English—or Canadian. He may have been Canadian. I don't know that. He was a charming man. He was young, and he appealed to the young girl in me. And he was um, had a good sense of humor. And a quiet painter. His painting, you weren't aware of. You were much more aware of him as a person than you were of the fact that he painted. Some—Lester Stevens, for instance, you never saw him without painty fingers and—painting was his life, absolute—his life.
ROBERT BROWN: What was he like? Was he—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He was very rough. He was a very rough—[coughs] totally emerged in the business of painting. They had one son, and when Milton was born—he was conceived in Milton, I believe, and that's why they named him Milton. [They laugh.] Milton Howe Stevens. When he was born, Angie, Lester's wife, was in the Addison Gilbert Hospital, had the baby, and Steve came to below her window, where he knew she was. [00:38:03] She was watching for him, I guess knew what time he was coming, and he had the last painting he'd made, and he said [laughs], "Look what I did!" without asking about the baby at all. I mean, he was completely emerged in his art. He was a heavyset man, and he painted with a heavy stroke. He painted well, but some of his things, I think, are kind of too heavy for the subject. He was a very down-to-earth, earthy person. Harry Leith-Ross was sort of flaky—not flaky, but he was into Rabindranath Tagore, if you know what I mean.
ROBERT BROWN: A bit more abstract.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Entirely different man.
ROBERT BROWN: Was Stevens very talkative, except—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He was verbose. Yes, I would say he was, quite. He smoked a pipe, and he lisped a little bit.
ROBERT BROWN: Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Well he was reasonably successful in his life.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He was very successful. He was a National Acad admission. He was someone for the town to be proud of, and they didn't give him half a write-up when he died, I don't think. Well, Rockport is like that, anyway.
ROBERT BROWN: You mean tends to be very—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, because he was a native, and because his background was very earthy—his father was a gardener. [00:40:00] He had a greenhouse and sold flowers and things. I don't know why they didn't make more of him. But they didn't. Not as much as Sam thought they should. And he was very upset when he went.
ROBERT BROWN: Who are some of the others you knew early on? You mentioned Harrison Cady.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I knew Harrison Cady. Harrison Cady was a very great person, as a person, and terribly competent as an artist, and a very friendly, jolly person. He had stories, which I cannot repeat, but he collected corsets. I can't tell you more than that, because I don't remember.
ROBERT BROWN: What did he do with them? You don't know?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: This was mental. This was up here. He collected corsets belonging to all kinds of famous people. He was very, very amusing. He lived in the old Headland House on Atlantic Avenue with his wife, Melinna, and she was a very regal, important-type person, but delightful, charming, and very, very much a lady. They were great. They were great people. Very great people. John Goss was a friend. Have you ever heard of him?
ROBERT BROWN: Mm-mm [negative].
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I think he was a black-and-white—I think he did etchings, probably, and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design for a while, I remember.
ROBERT BROWN: But did you get to know the Cadys pretty well?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, I knew the Cadys very well. [00:42:00] Melinna brought—I have a wedding present that she brought, by hand, from Atlantic Avenue [laughs] and brought it to the front door. They were very, very pleasant people, very—
ROBERT BROWN: Was Atlantic Avenue an area where summer people were?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Atlantic Avenue was the—the house they lived in belonged to Mrs. Bartles, who ran a boarding house at one time. The cable office backs onto Atlantic Avenue. Atlantic Avenue runs along the harbor, right across from the yacht club. It was a location where [Gilbert] Tucker Margeson had a studio. Later on, Gifford Beal. Harry Leith-Ross had a studio. Reynolds Beal.
ROBERT BROWN: Sure. So it was an area where many of the artists—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: So, it was sort of an artist—yes, on one side of the street, and on the other side were natives. Oh, Harry Vincent lived there, too.
ROBERT BROWN: Did Cady do a lot of his familiar work here during the summers? Was he pretty productive?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, I don't think he did an awful lot in Rockport. The best-known thing he did was a triptych he did of Rockport Harbor, which got reproduced quite frequently. I don't remember, but he may have, because he had a little studio in the yard, and I'm sure he did some work, but I think he was still, then, doing Thornton Burgess, Peter Rabbit.
ROBERT BROWN: He's best known as an illustrator.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, he's best known as an illustrator, but he was competent, and he was serious about his work, which is not common today, I don't think.
ROBERT BROWN: No? You think a lot of people—a lot of artists—[00:44:00]
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I think they're dilettantes, a lot of them. There are a lot of Sunday painters. There are a few, I think, who are still serious, but they're much more agent-conscious and money-conscious. Perforce, perhaps, but I mean, it changed.
ROBERT BROWN: But that, you did not detect most of these artists when you were very young.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: No, a good many—not a good many, but a person like Harrison Cady, for instance, I think he did his work because he loved it, and he did it well, and was able to survive without going after the almighty dollar. Do you know what I mean? And I think the artist's attitude was very different about living. They'd live almost anywhere. They didn't care. As a result, they weren't appreciated by a lot of people who thought they should pay more attention to their appearance or to where they lived and—
ROBERT BROWN: Just as the normal townsmen did, right?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: That's right. That's right. But they had a different sense of value then, as I think everyone does now. I mean, values have changed.
ROBERT BROWN: You felt this, even if they didn't express it?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Definitely. Definitely. Yes.
[END OF TRACK hershe90_1of2_cass_sideAr.]
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, I was thinking of Eric Hudson, for instance.
ROBERT BROWN: Mm-hmm [affirmative] Eric Hudson, yes.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I have a very strong feeling that he didn't—he wasn't a big seller when he was here in Rockport. I have a feeling that he had other means of income. Maybe Mrs. Hudson? I don't know. They did a great deal of traveling. They traveled to Europe. They brought furniture back from Europe. They had an apartment in Bos—in New York. They had their place—the little place in Rockport. They had a place in Monhegan. He wasn't—I don't think he was selling pictures that supported that kind of a life, and I think, for that reason, he was a good painter, and a serious painter, because he wasn't painting for the—he was painting because he had to paint—he—I can remember so well the first time I was conscious of him, even. I guess I told you this. Mother—as a matter of fact, the Hudsons stayed here when I was a little girl. When they first came to Rockport, my mother rented them rooms, because it was quite a big house. I've forgotten—there were quite a few—there were several years before they came, finally, and bought a little house and lived in Rockport in the summer. And I remember mother saying, "Do you ever see Mr. Hudson?" [00:02:03] I said, "Well, no, I don't, as a matter of fact," because he spent a lot of time in Monhegan, I think, when they were here. I said, at this particular time, there was a man doing something with the plumbing, and I said, "I don't quite understand. They call him Eric, and I don't think they would refer to a plumber by his first name." Because you didn't do that in those days. Well, it turned out that it was Eric Hudson fussing around the house, fixing a washer, or doing something. And he looked as though he could have been a plumber. He was probably sort of dirty-faced, and dirty hands, and he had a jacket on. It was in the middle of the summer. And you know, you just—you would never associate him with being an artist. His wife was very matronly—Gertrude—and charming. Came from right outside of Boston, Melrose, I think, or somewhere like that. But there again, she may have had an income. I don't know this. I don't know this.
ROBERT BROWN: They had two daughters that—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: They had two daughters—
ROBERT BROWN: —you got to know pretty well.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: —who I knew very well. George Luks did a wonderful portrait of Jackie. They were very intimate with—they were the Hudson River, weren't they? Luks and—
ROBERT BROWN: George Luks? Ashcan School.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Ashcan School.
ROBERT BROWN: Right. New York, turn of the century.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yeah, that's right, that's right. [00:04:00] John Sloan was one of them. Yeah, well they knew all of those people.
ROBERT BROWN: What were they like as young girls?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Jackie and—
ROBERT BROWN: The Hudson—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yeah. Jackie looks exactly like her father, a lot like her father, and John looks—Jackie and John, yes—looks like her mother. They were—I think you'd call them sort of awkward and ungainly, although Jackie was—I had a photograph of her—I don't have it anymore—that someone in New York had done. She had red hair, and she had it down, and it was the most beautiful—it didn't look like Jackie looked like to me [laughs]. Somebody had caught her in a very unusual pose. But I was—they were big, big people, and a little, um—well, they moved around so much that I think that has an awful lot to do with it. They didn't have the—they weren't relaxed, particularly. They were forced relaxation, if you know what I mean. A little nervous.
ROBERT BROWN: The family was always on the go.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: They were always on the go. They were always leaving for somewhere.
ROBERT BROWN: So they really never—the girls, at least, never really settled down while they were here?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Not a whole lot. I don't remember that they went to school here at any time, and I don't know where they went to school. I don't ever remember any talk about that. I don't know. That I don't know. But I know that Eric spent a great deal of time on Monhegan, and they'd all go to Monhegan, I think in the summer, and they were here in between seasons, sort of fall and spring. [00:06:13] But that was when Monhegan was Monhegan, and very different, I guess, from what it is now.
ROBERT BROWN: Did people like some of those Ashcan painters ever come here? You mentioned Luks.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I don't think so. Not that I know of.
ROBERT BROWN: That you remember.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Not that I know of.
ROBERT BROWN: Did you also know, fairly early on, Stow Wengenroth? Was he someone you got to know?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, I knew Stow, but I never knew Stow Wengenroth very well. I knew his wife extremely well. She played at my wedding. I knew Edith Flack Ackley, and I knew Marjorie Benét, Marjorie Flack Benét, who are all very good friends of Stow's. Ruth Holberg.
ROBERT BROWN: He, like Cady, had an income as an illustrator and so forth elsewhere.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I believe so, yes. Yes. He was a younger—he was either enough younger than Sam, or else it was that we were away a good bit of the time that he was in Rockport, until he married Harriet and sort of settled in. I think we must have been other places during his early coming to Rockport, which is when we would have been friendly.
ROBERT BROWN: Before you were married, though, who were some of the other artists you knew particularly well? You've mentioned—well, you've mentioned, for example, Howard Smith, who was a society leader.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Howard Smith, I knew very well. [00:08:01] And Dick Holberg, and, um—
ROBERT BROWN: Holberg. What sort of an artist was he?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, he was very funny. They came, I think, from the Middle West, out of Norway, probably, originally. He and Ruth Holberg, who was a children's story writer, came to Rockport and lived on Hale Street, which is where we lived then, because Sam and his mother had bought a house there. And Dick Holberg made his reputation, early reputation, I guess, doing Sunday school cards, believe it or not. Cards that you used to get in Sunday school to take home if you were good or had done your lesson or—
ROBERT BROWN: You mean with biblical scenes on them?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Biblical scenes. But then, when he came to Rockport, he started painting. He was never top-hole, but he was a good painter. Let me see. Let me think. Maurice Compris, very, very well.
ROBERT BROWN: Hmm. Now he was Belgian-born.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He was Belgian-born. He and Thieme both were Belgian-born, and they learned to do frescoes. Maurice did frescoes in the lobby of the—well, now Wang, I guess it is.
ROBERT BROWN: Oh, the music—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yeah. It was the Metropolitan Theater at one time.
ROBERT BROWN: In Boston. Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Very large theater.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Maurice also was an extremely good painter. You know, he did—
ROBERT BROWN: And so you knew him quite well?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Knew him very, very well. [00:10:01]
ROBERT BROWN: Even when you were quite young, before—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: When I was very young, because I knew him well enough so that, when he finally married his last wife, he brought her here, brought her to my house, when she came into Rockport, because I guess—well, he was, he was a very gruff individual, and I don't think he had too many friends, local friends. The artists all knew him, and respected him, and loved him, but he was pretty gruff.
ROBERT BROWN: Why would he have settled in Rockport, do you suppose?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, he came here first with a different wife, and lived down on Bearskin Neck, and I suppose was enamored of the place as a run-down fishing village, which is what brought the artists, originally, to Rockport. Not the gardens around the trees, and the gardens in front of the community house.
ROBERT BROWN: And not the quarries, or the—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Not the quarries. But because it was—there was paint off a lot of the houses, they were run-down, they weren't kept up. But it was quaint. It was quaint in the true sense of the word, quaint. And also, they could live here cheaply. They didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for their rent, and there were a lot of young artists and students—Museum School, Grand Central School—who would come here in the summer, attracted by the fact that there had been one or two—Duveneck, and Hudson, and Cady, and Parker Perkins, and Tucker Margeson—who had all, somehow, become known through exhibits. [00:12:03] They attracted the young artists, and they, in turn, attracted what we used to call the bohemians, which were people who tagged onto the artist colony, and then the regular tourists, which Rockport opened itself up for.
ROBERT BROWN: Huh. Deliberately?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: By advertising. Yes, indeed. Having a Rotary Club that was, you know, gung-ho for the truckloads, or the busloads, that we have now.
ROBERT BROWN: Did that begin even in the 1920s, this deliberate attempt?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Uh, somewhat. I think even more in the early '40s. But it was gradual. It was gradual. There was a long period when Rockport was sleeping and admired by the artists and the people that really wanted to seriously paint and not socialize. Although we did a lot of socializing.
ROBERT BROWN: In fact wasn't the medium—didn't you have parties?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, we did.
ROBERT BROWN: Wasn't that one of the chief ways you got together?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, of course we did. We did that winter and summer. And then they have the big artist balls that became very famous, and all the artists worked like mad on the scenery.
ROBERT BROWN: This was after the founding of the Art Association?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: This was after the founding. The Art Association—I can't give you dates, unfortunately.
ROBERT BROWN: But it was here even when you were a young woman?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: But I was young, and I was very interested in this organization, and went to some of the first meetings. [00:14:00] I remember Joseph Bearen [ph], who has faded. I don't think he ever made a name as an artist, but he was an artist then. He was an older man, and he wasn't the first, but he was among the first presidents. They met then over what is now the mattress shop. It used to be the First National Store.
ROBERT BROWN: So this was a place that provided a place for artists to get together?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Uh-huh [affirmative]. Yes. They also—the early meetings sometimes were held in the Congregational church vestry, and they had some of their early exhibitions there. It was very small, and a very few people worked very hard to make it what it is today, and it isn't today anything like what it used to be.
ROBERT BROWN: Well, what was the intention, then? To have a place for people also to exhibit?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes. We always had a jury, and—to exhibit their work. And I suppose it was legality in there somewhere, where—I mean, whether they were for sale or not was questionable, because I would imagine they would have to pay some sort of a fee or something if things were for sale.
ROBERT BROWN: You said earlier, most of these artists were thinking of exhibitions elsewhere.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, they were. They weren't obviously trying to sell.
ROBERT BROWN: This was partly a social thing, and a chance to—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yeah, and to see each other's work and criticize it seriously, and then show it to the people.
ROBERT BROWN: Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Do you recall the kinds of things they discussed, say, in the '20s, at their meetings?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: No, because I don't think I went to any of the—it was strictly artists then. [00:16:05] It was strictly for the artist. It was not—but we worked. I mean, for instance, in order to raise money for the artists, then the wives or the girlfriends would be included. We ran Saturday night dances, barn dances, and a little gambling in the corners at the dances. Well it's about the way they raised the money, and with the Artists' Balls, and the Artists' Balls were really big occasions, and people from New York would plan their vacations to come to the Rockport Artists' Ball.
ROBERT BROWN: And you were quite involved in—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: We were very much involved in that. Sam ran one, one year. He ran it, and Virgil Batille [ph] ran one, and Hib ran it, and you know. But everybody worked for it.
ROBERT BROWN: Had you gone out with artists before you met and married Sam Hershey?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Don Barton [laughs].
ROBERT BROWN: Oh, yes, who's still alive.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes.
ROBERT BROWN: He was from Fitchburg.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes. He and Sam came originally to Rockport together. I mean, that's how Sam happened to come, because Sam was living in Fitchburg then. No, I knew them. I knew, I knew—but I think when I saw—well, I knew Don very well. I knew him all the time I was in Wheelock, because I used to go up there on the Minuteman. Not many people remember the Minuteman.
ROBERT BROWN: The train to Fitchburg from—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Train to Vermont from Boston went to Fitchburg. [00:18:03] Of the two—they were very close, and Herbie Barnett, I knew Herbie very well, and I guess probably went out with him.
ROBERT BROWN: He was down here summers?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Herbie Barnett, yes. Yeah. Oh, yes. Knew him very well.
ROBERT BROWN: There was at least one of the so-called Boston School painters here, William Paxton, William McGregor Paxton.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, indeed. William Paxton and his wife, Elizabeth.
ROBERT BROWN: They were, of course, older figures.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: They lived in the house that Eric Hudson bought, I think.
ROBERT BROWN: On Atlantic Avenue?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Right on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Mount Pleasant. Bill Paxton. He had a dog named Topper, and when Sam got a dog, he named him Topper.
ROBERT BROWN: Did you get to know the Paxtons pretty well?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, I knew the Paxtons. I knew the Paxtons very well.
ROBERT BROWN: What was he like? Was he different from the younger artists?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, he was another generation, of course. He was a serious painter. Now, I remember her work better than I do his. Isn't that funny? I think she was probably a better painter than Bill Paxton.
ROBERT BROWN: Did they talk much about art, or you mainly saw them on social occasions?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I mainly saw them in social occasions. I don't remember his opinion. I remember him being very Boston. He was all involved in Boston Art Club. I think he was Boston Art Club, along with—was it—Phil Hale.
ROBERT BROWN: Philip Hale?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Sam studied with Phil Hale, but I don't think he's the one that I'm thinking of. Name any Boston artist of that—
ROBERT BROWN: Edmund Tarbell would be another one.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Tarbell. Tarbell, yes. I think Bill Paxton was pretty much a Boston, straight Boston, painter. [00:20:06] But I think Elizabeth Paxton was a better painter. She was a beautiful woman. He was a very nice-looking—he had a little goatee. I remember him. Round. He was sort of round in stature. I don't remember anything else about him very much, except that he had a dog, an Airedale, named Topper.
ROBERT BROWN: Well now, Boston, in the circle of artists, didn't have particular prestige, did it? You've mentioned a lot of these people came, after all, from New York and other places, which were—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, I don't know. They may have had in Boston. I mean, uh—
ROBERT BROWN: But once they got down here?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: But—no, not any particular—no. I think the other people were all probably better painters, too, than anybody who came here. Elmer Greene, for instance, came down from—remember Elmer Greene? He used to take—Jordan Marsh used to have a big exhibition every year, and Elmer would always get one of the prizes. But I don't think he lasted as a painter.
ROBERT BROWN: Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Did you know—I guess you would have known Aldro Hibbard, after—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Knew him very well.
ROBERT BROWN: —from his early years. He came—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He came from Cape Cod to Rockport, and cut quite a figure, because he was a ladies' man par excellence, and made no bones about it. He was here, I think, sometime before he married Jackie—Jackie Hibbard, from El Paso I think she came from. He made quite a reputation for himself.
ROBERT BROWN: Oh, did he?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, he did. [00:22:00] He split the town wide open, and I don't know that this should go on the tape [laughs].
ROBERT BROWN: No, it can.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He was very much a ladies' man, and Howard Smith's wife was French, French-born. Martha. She had been raised very strictly, and as she confided to me, she never was allowed to sit in a room with Howard without her mother being there. Her mother was a chaperone. I knew Madame Rondelle very well, and she apparently was brought up with very strict rules. She came to Rockport—I guess they lived in Salem first. I've forgotten. Because Howard did a lot of society portraits and horses and things. But Martha got involved with Aldro Hibbard. It made the Boston Herald, the front page of the Boston Herald. "Internationally known artist"—something. I don't know. I remember, because I was young enough so that—I knew them both, but I knew the Smiths much better, because they had two girls and a boy, and I knew them very well. And they were very, very social. They used to have big parties where Arthur Fiedler, and Freddy Church, and a lot of people from Boston would come, and people from Hamilton, because they were involved in painting. Freddy Prince and all that.
ROBERT BROWN: The Boston social club. [00:24:00]
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, indeed. But I knew Martha very well, and she was a very nice person. She was in a strange place, too, and didn't know many natives. I don't know why I did—I knew Dot Dummer, and her father was on the Post then, I think. He and Fred King, Fred King, were both illustrators, or cartoonists, or something.
ROBERT BROWN: Dot Dummer was?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Dorothy Dummer was Horace Dummer's daughter. I may have met a lot of the artists through them. She was just at my age. She married somebody from Rockport. I don't know whether that influenced my—but—
ROBERT BROWN: Was Hibbard considered a fairly—did he have a fairly good reputation as a painter?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He had a very good reputation as a painter. He had a big class. He played baseball. Baseball was his love—and the women. He also was an extremely good painter. He was somewhat in a groove, I think. I think an awful lot of his stuff is similar. His early paintings were really—if you ever got to see his early work—and I don't know what's happened to his work, because I think—I know they had to sell one of their houses, their house in Vermont, in Londonderry or wherever it is they lived.
ROBERT BROWN: Near Jamaica.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Jamaica. Because of the income taxes. [00:26:00] So I don't know what happened to his work. Somebody named Curtis, Howard Curtis, in Gloucester, I think, advised or tried to help Jackie, and I don't know right know whether Jackie Hibbard is still alive or not. She was in the local nursing home the last I knew, and didn't recognize anyone. So I don't—because I don't read the papers any longer, so I—unless someone told me, I wouldn't know.
ROBERT BROWN: Hibbard was very active in the Art Association, wasn't he?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He was very, very active. Very, very influential in building the big gallery that they have now. They didn't have that originally. And I remember when it was built. Hib worked like the devil. He worked very hard for the Art Association. It was right up his alley. It was the kind of thing he did and did well.
ROBERT BROWN: You mean he was very—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Managing, and being president, and so on.
ROBERT BROWN: Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Was he liked by the other artists quite a lot?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, he was a very popular person. Very, very well-liked by everyone, I'm sure. And we had many a good time in his studio, and even in his own studio—before he was married, he had a studio down on Main Street in one of the old barns that faced Front Beach, and we used to have wonderful dances and Hib—and he was running a school. He always had a class, big class, in the summertime. Then he bought the house over on Granite Street, and then had the studio built there. I remember when it was built. [00:28:00] He was very, very popular among everybody. Everybody knew him, the townspeople and the artists. Yep. Can't think of any—Tucker Margeson was a char—I mean, not Tucker. Parker Perkins was a character. He was a very good marine painter, and he was—
ROBERT BROWN: How so was he a character? What—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He was—I think his wife died well before I became conscious of his having anybody. I don't think he—he always lived alone, down in the house over the wall, and—with his goldfish. He had one goldfish, and some woman went in to see him one day, or to see his pictures, and said, "Mr. Perkins, you should have a companion for that goldfish." He didn't have any greenery in the bowl or anything. And he said, "Madam, I've had him for 20 years. [They laugh.] He's lived there all"—
ROBERT BROWN: Twenty.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: And then he used to always appear in white flannels when summer was coming. He was a very competent painter.
ROBERT BROWN: Marine painter. You said that Anthony Thieme, another Belgian—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Thieme, yeah.
ROBERT BROWN: —Thieme—became a bit of a potboiler.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, he did, because I remember when we traveled in Europe. Boy, even then—and that was—when Sam was in the service, which was in the '40s, I guess, um, we'd run into Thieme reproductions or, you know, potboilers. He was then—Becky made him—I think Sears Roebuck carried his stuff. [00:30:00] Sam always maintained that he was a very, very competent, good painter, until he started turning out potboilers. He was well-liked by the town. He was very gruff, as was Maurice, but for some reason, Thieme's personality was a little bit lighter at times, because I think he used to spend a lot of time down at one of the local beanery, the thing they called the beanery. I think Thieme used to either play cards or something with townspeople.
ROBERT BROWN: Well, speaking of places you could go, Rockport now, and perhaps for a long time, has had prohibition against sale or serving of—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Still does.
ROBERT BROWN: It did then, too, of course. That was during that national prohibition.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I think the only thing we ever had was 3.2 beer, was it? Or something.
ROBERT BROWN: How did that happen? Just a certain group in town felt there shouldn't be—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, of course, if you go way back in Rockport history, the Hannah Jumper period, when a bunch of women apparently, long before my time, raided a place where the men hung out and drank, I guess. I don't know really what the story is, whether that has carried over. But I think we've always maintained as a town that it was too small to take care of restaurants and bars that would be inclined to sell liquor. It seems to have prospered without it.
ROBERT BROWN: So for your parties, say, in the '20s and '30s—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Our parties used to be wild, because we were the martini-drinkers then. [00:32:01] And Sam—we used to have parties. Sam would mix gallon jugs, and he'd lessen the amount of gin in each jug until he got down to nothing but water, and everybody would have five or six martinis during the evening, and wake up the next morning feeling clear-headed and fine. They wondered why [they laugh] and finally, he would tell them. We had parties, particularly in the summertime, where we would be outdoors a lot, and the police would descend upon us and say we're making too much noise. Some neighbor had complained or something.
ROBERT BROWN: It was always—it is—a small town, right?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes. I remember when Marjorie Flack and Bill Benét came to Rockport. It was at the time when—Sam was an ardent New Yorker fan. We always had the New Yorker. It was our bible, practically. They ran an ad for Billy Baxter's quinine water, so we ordered a case of quinine water, Billy Baxter's. Summer was coming, and Bill Benét came over, and he was so impressed there was somebody in Rockport [laughs] that was drinking Billy Baxter's. Because it, I think, was popular in New York, and he didn't think that it would reach the hinterlands yet. He was a great person.
ROBERT BROWN: Was he? In what way?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He was a real—oh, a real down-to-earth, pleasant man. [00:34:00] I mean, with the reputation that he had then, he could have not been, but he was a great guy. Marjorie was, too, his wife. His first wife was Elinor Wylie, I think.
ROBERT BROWN: How did you get to know, and why did you finally marry, Sam Hershey?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I met him through Don Barton, and I decided—
ROBERT BROWN: Another young artist, right.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: —that this was the man. At least, I was posing for—I remember I was posing for Don at one time when they were—had a studio. They were living together down under the First National, across from where Iver Rose finally landed.
ROBERT BROWN: Iver Rose was another painter.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, he was a peach. Sam wanted to be an irritant, so he did nothing but munch potato chips, in a very thinly partitioned—he was in another room, away from where Don was painting me, and Sam didn't approve, so he [laughs] he munched on potato chips and drove Don almost crazy. No, I just decided that that was the man I—that was when I was in high school, believe it or not. Senior in high school, I believe. Yes. Because—I know I was, because my mother died the summer of my freshman year in Wheelock, and somebody asked me—Dummer asked me—if there was anybody that I would want to see, and I said, "Yes, the only person that I know of is Sam Hershey." Which is very funny. [00:36:00] So it started kind of—but we weren't together, because Sam was then in Grand Central, I think, Art School, and he went to the Pennsylvania Academy.
ROBERT BROWN: So he was away most of the time?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He was away a lot, and he had another whole group of friends. He went to the Museum School. He used to spend a lot of time in Cape Cod, with other people, other friends. But seemed to be—he always came back to Rockport for some reason. He developed a quinsy sore throat, which we now call a strep throat, I think. He was in a little shop we called the Plum Jelly Shop, down on Bearskin Neck, and he had a room for a very small amount of money, and there he developed quinsy sore throat. And I thought that he shouldn't be there, suffering; he should come to my house. So I brought him up here and nursed him back to health, as it were. We were married in '34, and stayed happily married for some time, I should say, and had a perfectly wonderful life, because, for a small-town girl, I saw a lot of the world, a lot of the country.
ROBERT BROWN: Did he talk—or did you all discuss art and so forth?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He had very strong ideas, I think.
ROBERT BROWN: He did then, when you first knew him, too, is that right?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes. [00:38:00] However, he was exploratory. He has tried various styles, shall we say. But I think he was a very honest—his character was extremely honest, and what he put down on canvas is bound to reflect the personality, don't you think? I mean, how can it help it? So that what he painted—he was a very firm believer in the importance of the visual, of being able to see, and of the nuances of light and shade, and that sort of thing. He was very sensitive to that. He did portraits, landscapes, in oil, and then a lot of watercolors. I have always liked his watercolors very much. I think they are wet, and the way the watercolors should be. But that's only my personal opinion.
ROBERT BROWN: After marriage, how did the—did that change life a good deal for you, and [inaudible]?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, it didn't change life for me. I was a very simple—I have decided that I'm a complete—I completely accept whatever is there to be chosen. And I didn't insist that Sam continue his painting, although, in spurts, he did, a little. But he decided that—as I've said, his favorite quote was, "Art is a jealous mistress." [00:40:05] You cannot devote all your time to painting and make money. In other words, that, to him, was two separate things, and he realized he had a family to support, and he loved to teach. He was not unhappy teaching at all.
ROBERT BROWN: Was he teaching—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He loved it.
ROBERT BROWN: —when you got married? Was he teaching then?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Um, no, he was on the WPA when we got married, earning $30 a week.
ROBERT BROWN: Yeah, and he did a project here.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He was very, very fortunate. We knew Henry Atherton Frost very well, who was a professor at Harvard, and also taught at the Cambridge School of Architecture, which later became the Smith College Graduate School of Architecture.
ROBERT BROWN: And it was for girls.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: And it was for girls. Harry Frost saw—we were very active in the local drama groups, whenever anybody came along that wanted to form one. Sam loved acting. As a matter of fact, he almost became a—went to Hollywood. But anyway, um, Harry, I guess, saw him perform, and would hear about him, because he was into everything in Rockport, and offered him a job of teaching at the Cambridge School, and he commuted. And then he went from there to Harvard, to Hunt Hall, with Bremer Pond, about the Gropius entrance into the scene, and Breuer. [00:42:05]
ROBERT BROWN: What did he teach there?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He taught in the GSD, the graduate school. Um, drawing. I don't know that he taught painting or not. He got very much involved in architecture, too, because, you see, he'd gone—he had started out as an architect by going to MIT for a year [laughs], and not liking the professors, and his father died, and his mother needed him, and there was a combination of everything. So he left, but he had enough curiosity, ability, and knowledge so that he could teach some—he might have taught some architectural drawing at Hunt Hall. I don't remember that. But I do remember that he—I've forgotten how long he taught there. Either he taught there until the war broke out and all his students enlisted, and he got a direct—he went in as captain, anyway, and that's because he was at Harvard, I think, and Harvard is too damn influential. But anyway, that's another story. As far as I'm concerned, they are. But anyway, he went with a group of specially chosen people to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis. Jo Mielziner, Owen Schlager [ph], who were stage designers of some import, and was a black‑and‑white man—I've forgotten what his name was. [00:44:01] But anyway, they were all specializing in their fields, and they were supposed to form the camouflage school in Berkeley. By that time, camouflage had—they were going to Langley Field first, I guess. I think it was Langley. I've forgotten. It's all very vague.
ROBERT BROWN: Well, you were here. You didn't go over.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I went to Jefferson Barracks. I joined him in Jefferson Barracks, and we drove in an old car, a Plymouth that he'd bought out there, and tried to pack all our belongings, including my older daughter, who was a two-year-old. We started out to the West Coast, and we had to sell it in Kansas City and get on the train with all our luggage, and went out to San Francisco, where we put up the first night at the—oh, what's the old hotel?
ROBERT BROWN: The St. Francis.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: We didn't know the St. Francis from the Touraine. A lieutenant made the reservations in the St. Francis for us, and we arrived at one o'clock in the morning, and travel-weary after 11 days on a troop train. And in two berths—
[END OF TRACK hershe90_1of2_cass_SideB_r.]
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, anyway, we landed at the St. Francis and stood out on the sidewalk and waited. Of course, bellhops were not a dime a dozen then. They were very rare. Finally, one came and loaded our 16 pieces of luggage onto the thing, and took us in through the lobby, and it was a very plush lobby. At least it looked like it to us, because we'd been on the train for so long, in cramped quarters, and here was this luxurious lobby, with people that, some of whom, Sam recognized, because he had been in the service long enough to—but felt like crawling under the carpet. They took us up to our room. The bellhop opened the door, and here was a great, big room with twin beds. Then he opened another door, and there was a room for Susan, and then he went about a mile across both rooms to the little drawing room that we had, with a fireplace, and the fire going. [Laughs.] And Sam was very much abashed. He tipped him, and then called room service, and said, "I think there's been some mistake, because I'm only captain in the air force, and we have a royal suite." The man said, "Well, we know. We got your telegram, and this is the only room available. We hope it's all right, Captain Hershey." He said, "Would you like room service?" [Laughs.] So they sent up a couple of martinis, and we put Susan to bed, and we stayed there overnight. [00:02:01] We ordered our breakfast, and the breakfast was more expensive than the room. The room cost us six dollars that night. And it was the royal suite, we found out. But we moved on to a motel.
ROBERT BROWN: So that's some of your military experience.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: That's the military experience, yes.
ROBERT BROWN: Had you been—your Mexican trip, when had you done that?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, we did that—
ROBERT BROWN: After the war, or was that before?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: We did that in '38. In '38, we went to Mexico.
ROBERT BROWN: You said that Sam liked to travel, and you did travel quite a bit with him.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: We did travel a lot. We—
ROBERT BROWN: Did you go down there because he wanted to paint down there?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: We went down there because we were invited down there by a very big-hearted Mexican Indian, who Sam had painted his portrait in Rockport. He and his family were here in Rockport, and their names were Echeverria. Carlos Echeverria. We liked them very much and got to know them very well, and so he invited Sam and me down there, to spend the summer on his brother's ranch. Also, his brother had a townhouse, and he said, "You might even bring a class with you, and your class could stay in the townhouse, and you could stay out on the ranch and be quiet, and paint all you wanted to." So we finally decided to go, and we went in our little old station wagon, which was the first station wagon in Rockport. We called them, then, beverly wagons. Isinglass and so on. [00:04:00]
ROBERT BROWN: In '38?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: This was in '38. The Pan-American Highway was not completed. We went to Monterey, where we met Carlos Echeverria, and Carlos had said he would be alone, but instead of being alone, he had a high school teacher and a dental hygienist with him, whom he'd also sold the idea of coming to his brother's place. His brother's place was in San Luis Potosi. He went in his car, ahead of us, and we were to follow. Well, he had made the trip many times, and he knew the way. It was across the desert, using ox cart trails as your, you know, direction you're to travel in. Well, I was so—there's no point in my telling you the whole story, but anyway, we managed to get to San Luis Potosi.
ROBERT BROWN: So this Carlos Echeverria was something of a patron, or he liked artisans?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes. Yes. He was a graduate of MIT, and his love, his work, was, um—I can't remember what you call them. Retrieving things from the ocean. Um, deep.
ROBERT BROWN: Salvaging?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Savag—More or less salvaging, but there's another name for it. That's what he had done. He was an Indian, really an Indian. It turned out that his brother had a very extensive ranch, but that [Saturnino] Cedillo was causing a revolution in that part of Mexico then, and he was anxious to get Carlos Noriega, his name was, his brother—this is Echeverria's brother, named Noriega. [00:06:05] He wanted him to get his workmen and all the people that worked on his ranch. Anyway—and Carlos owed us some money on the picture that Sam had painted, and he said he would hold it in Mexico for us, because it would be useful to us in Mexico, we could change being what it was and so on. But we found out that his brother was in fear of his life most of the time, and packed guns. Sam got—there's no point in my going into the whole story, but anyway, we didn't have any shots, and he developed—whatever.
ROBERT BROWN: Some disease?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Diarrhea or whatever. Dysentery. Dysentery is what he had. And also, the roads—there was no road into San Luis Potosi, we discovered. We just got there by the skin of our teeth, and we had to take the car out on the railroad, and we proceeded to Taxco, because—we hadn't wanted to go to Taxco, because we wanted to avoid art colonies, but Taxco was in an art colony and it looked pretty good to us, after what we'd been through in the interior. So we went down, and I proceeded to get an infected wisdom tooth, and we used the local dentista, who had studied by remote control, I guess, dentistry. Anyway, he had me put heat on the outside, and it drove the infection down into my glands, and my jaw froze, and I was very sick. We went back to Mexico City, and we found an American dentist in the Edificio La Nacional, and he got us hotel rooms and treated my jaw with warm water by squirting it inside. [00:08:12] Finally, I recovered, anyway, and we came home. But we had quite a time.
ROBERT BROWN: That was a pretty exotic experience.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: It was a very exciting experience, and we were young and could take it, and did.
ROBERT BROWN: This whetted your appetite for travel.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: And then we—yes. After, um—you see, we spent two years in Rome, and we spent a year with a family in Paris, after Sam was transferred, and then we spent some time in the Barbados, and quite a few times in Mexico.
ROBERT BROWN: Did Sam paint very much on that first trip down there, or was there—what, with everything else going on—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: In Mexico?
ROBERT BROWN: That first trip, yeah.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Some. Some. Yes, he did. He did some. He's painted a little bit—he painted a little in Ireland, when we were in Ireland.
ROBERT BROWN: After—you didn't go follow him around during the whole war. You were in St. Louis, and you went to San Francisco?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: No. The first time he was called into the service, we spent in St. Louis and California. He was at Hamilton Field, and then we were at March Field, which is near Los Angeles. Then he was recalled and sent to Germany, sent to Wiesbaden.
ROBERT BROWN: Was this after World War II?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: No, this was during the Korean conflict. [00:10:04] He didn't like Germany, and he didn't want us to come over until he could wheedle a transfer. So he finally wheedled a transfer to Paris, and then he sent for me and the children, and we went over, complete with refrigerator. [Laughs.] He had already taken our Ford station wagon over there, and so we were pretty well set. He found a nice house for us in [inaudible] and we lived there. Susan went to French school, and then she went to the American school, because I knew we were coming back, and she was going into high school, and she couldn't conquer algebra in French, but she had a wonderful French accent. She went into classical high school and lost it all, because she had a French-Canadian teacher, and he resented her Parisian accent. Discouraged her.
ROBERT BROWN: After World War II, is that when you went to—Sam got the job at the Rhode Island School of Design?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes. He was—whatever you are—released from the service. He was invited to teach at the University of Georgia, and also had an opportunity to teach at the Rhode Island School of Design, which we'd never heard of.
ROBERT BROWN: Oh, you hadn't, huh? What about the Graduate School of Design at Harvard? There no longer was a job for him there?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Unfortunately, no. He left his job in the hands of his best friend, our best friend, who was then George LeBoutillier, who was no longer living, and somehow the job was not left for him. [00:12:02] So he decided on the School of Design, mostly because it was closer to home. Sam was a little bit of a mother's—his father had died at such a time in his life when he became very close to his mother, and his mother was then living in Rockport. She had come out of Pennsylvania, and I think he wanted to be a little closer than Atlanta. Although we had very good friends. Judy Harris, who was a very good sculptor, by the way, in Atlanta, and—architectural sculptor, I think you call them. People that used to decorate buildings. They don't anymore. So Sam decided to go to the School of Design.
ROBERT BROWN: His mother, did she share and encourage his career as a painter?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Oh, yes, I'm sure she did. I'm sure she did. He had a brother, Bob Hershey, who was one of the vice presidents of DuPont, and he was in MIT. A bright, bright man in that respect. He could have been a professor at MIT or work for DuPont, and his wife wanted him to work for DuPont, so he worked for DuPont, and lived in Wilmington. I think Sam, as a young child, was very sickly, and I think that governed his life a great deal. He was very much loved and taken care of and close to his mother. [00:14:00] He had a black nanny, and, you know, he had to be taken care of very carefully for a long time. Bob, on the other hand, was very vigorous and healthy, and also bright, very bright. Of course, Sam, being the younger brother of someone who could have taught in MIT, and eventually became one of the vice presidents of DuPont, was looked [laughs] down upon sort of. I think that all tended to take him toward his mother more. Psychologically, I would say that was true.
ROBERT BROWN: Mm-hmm [affirmative]. But I know from talking with him that his time before the war at Harvard, he enjoyed. He felt—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He loved.
ROBERT BROWN: —he felt satisfied there. He was accomplishing something.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He loved it. He loved it. But—
ROBERT BROWN: It was very innovative.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: —the thing—oh, yes, and he was allowed a great deal of freedom, and he got involved in some sort of argument that appeared in Time. I've forgotten what it was. Something about architecture. I think he loved it. But I think he felt, as I do very strongly, that Harvard, as well as Mass General, they have an undue influence. I remember Sam saying, when he was offered the job at the University of Georgia, Atlanta, that, um—who was—Bush—Bush-Brown? [00:16:03] Bush—does that mean anything? The wife of Conant, who was president, was she a Bush-Brown?
ROBERT BROWN: May have been. I don't know.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I think so. Anyway, he said that they could have influenced it so that he got the job or didn't get the job, and he felt then that Harvard was much too—had much too much power. And I think they do still. I don't think as much, because I think there are lots of universities that have an equal amount, but—
ROBERT BROWN: But then.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: —for a long time they did have it, and Sam was amused, terribly, when he went to Berkeley, for instance. He was asked to come to Berkeley, and that's a pretty large institution. And he was not actually acknowledged until the chancellor found out that he had taught at Harvard, without a degree [laughs]. But anyway, he always felt that Harvard's influence was a little too big. The name "Harvard" counted for so much.
ROBERT BROWN: Too much. Too much, he felt.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Too much. Too much.
ROBERT BROWN: Well, did you adjust, and he, too, to going to the Rhode Island School of Design?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes.
ROBERT BROWN: Did you thrive there?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I think I was probably happier in Cambridge than I was in Providence. I think Providence is—was, during that period, much more Boston than Boston. I didn't have the interest, nor the desire, nor the ability, to crack Providence so-called society, despite the fact that we lived on the hill, on the top of the hill. [00:18:14] The Metcalf House, and Mrs. Danforth was right next to us when she was the mother superior of the School of Design.
ROBERT BROWN: Mrs. Murray Danforth?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, Mrs. Murray Danforth. A lovelier woman never existed than she. She was—I loved her very much, and Murray and his wife. But the rest of Providence society felt even above the School of Design, I'm sure.
ROBERT BROWN: Mm-hmm [affirmative]. So it was difficult for a young mother.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: It really wasn't difficult for me, because we spent every weekend in Rockport. [Laughs.]
ROBERT BROWN: Oh. [Inaudible.]
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Susan went to Lincoln—first, we had to live in Taunton, Mass. We had to buy a house in Taunton, because there was no room at the inn. The school wanted us to live in a school, uh—
ROBERT BROWN: Building?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: —building, house, and there wasn't room. So we had to buy a house in Taunton, and Sam had to commute. Susan had to go to a country school, which could have been a great experience, but in Taunton then, it was 100 percent Catholic, and the country schools were not taken care of. So we put her in—took her to Lincoln, put her in a Lincoln school, in Providence. And when Harry Truman was running for president, or re-running—I don't remember what he did—Susan was the only one who voted for Truman in the whole school. [They laugh.] [00:20:00] She wasn't very popular.
ROBERT BROWN: That's an indicator of Providence society at that time.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: But that's Providence. That's Providence. It was interesting to me, because I didn't feel in need of it, and I never have felt the need of that anyway.
ROBERT BROWN: Social acceptance?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: No, I've never felt—I've never—I'm just not—it's not born in me, I guess.
ROBERT BROWN: But you also were developing a new set of friends among the teachers and artists there.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I did indeed. I did indeed. My very best friend called me just the other day, and that was Anne La Farge, who was—
ROBERT BROWN: Edward La Farge's—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Ed LaFarge's widow.
ROBERT BROWN: Mm-hmm [affirmative] And you got to know him especially well?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I know them very—I knew them both very, very, very well.
ROBERT BROWN: What was he like then?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Ed La Farge—I could talk about him forever. He was unbelievable. He was unbelievable to us, because we didn't really know them until we moved to Providence and became very good friends. But Ed's, um, reference to Kermit Roosevelt and, you know, people that were never in our realm of life, society—he was secretary to Kermit Roosevelt at one time. He had traveled pretty much all over the world, and of course he came from an extremely learned, talented family. But Ed was not—he was not that bright. He was not as bright as—he was a wonderful teacher, and he accomplished a lot, and Sam was very, very pleased with him, and loved him very much. [00:22:01] But he—ordinarily, when people would meet him, they would say, "Oh, La Farge. John La Farge? Christopher La Farge?" You know, "Oliver La Farge?" Well, Eddie never reached that. I mean, he was awfully good in what he did, but he never had the ability, I guess, nor desire. And he had Anne, and when you have Anne, you have quite a lot. [Laughs.]
ROBERT BROWN: Meaning—what do you mean?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: His wife.
ROBERT BROWN: Yeah, but what do you mean by that?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, I mean Anne Woolsey.
ROBERT BROWN: Yes. Distinguished New Haven, Yale family.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: That's right. That's right. I don't think Eddie, you know, felt the necessity, and Sam has always maintained that's why he was such a good teacher, because he didn't have to teach. But he loved it, and he had the ability. I can remember, when I first met him in Sam's office, I said—I was very happy to meet him. I said, "Are you by any chance related to Bancel La Farge?" Well, he was so delighted, because Bancel was an architect, but not awfully well-known. I didn't say Christopher or Oliver [laughs], or John, and he appreciated it, I think. I think he began to feel a little bit, you know, the weight of all these people, and then brother John LaFarge, who was a very big-shot in the Catholic Church.
ROBERT BROWN: Right, a great Jesuit—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes. Eddie and Anne, and Sam, and I spent a lot of time together, and Anne comes and visits me. [00:24:00]
ROBERT BROWN: What was Sam's position? I forgot to ask you. What was he brought in to do?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He was brought in—now, my memory is a little cloudy on this, whether he created the freshman foundation, or whether it had been in existence before he went. But he went in to run the freshman foundation, which was the first year.
ROBERT BROWN: The first year, and they call it the foundation.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: They called it the foundation. And he had awfully good teachers, and he got more good teachers, like Ed, and Garabed DerHohannesian. Then I don't know whether Sam was influential in getting Carol Fulkerson and Simonson—they were both at Harvard—down there or not, or whether they came under their own steam. This, I don't know. But Sam built up the freshman foundation terrifically, and because he did such a good—he taught. He taught drawing, I guess, in freshman year. And because he did such a good job, they made him dean of faculty, which made him very unhappy, really, because he was—he liked man-to-man teaching. He liked—and he liked what he was doing in the freshman foundation.
ROBERT BROWN: He didn't like having to make decisions and be superior?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, he didn't like being dean of the faculty at all. I mean, he could make decisions for his own freshman foundation, and for half the school, as far as that was concerned, but he didn't like the position of dean of faculty especially. [00:26:09]
ROBERT BROWN: But otherwise, he—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He never complained, but—
ROBERT BROWN: —he was reasonably happy with his teaching?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I think he was. Whether he was or not, I don't really know, but he didn't express, in any way, the fact that he wasn't, and he didn't—but he did always say, and I keep repeating it, that art is a jealous mistress, and you can't teach well and paint well. You have to do either one or the other. And he chose the—and when he was retired, he should have gone back to painting, because he hadn't completely left it. I mean, he occasionally painted. But unfortunately, his illnesses were too much, too much for him.
ROBERT BROWN: You've mentioned LaFarge. There were others of his staff that you got to know—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Charlie Dunn.
ROBERT BROWN: Charlie Dunn, what did he teach?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, I don't know. I've forgotten just what his position was. He wasn't an artist.
ROBERT BROWN: Gilbert Franklin, who taught sculpture. Did you get to know him very well?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Gilbert Franklin was a sculptor. Very well, yes. We knew Gil and his wife.
ROBERT BROWN: What was he like then?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He was great. He was great. He was very relaxed. I think he probably thought that, oh the sand spit Cape Cod was the greatest place on earth. We used to argue nicely about Cape Cod and Cape Ann.
ROBERT BROWN: He liked to be out unto himself, in a rather remote place?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes. [00:28:00] Yes. He was a good man, good sculptor. I think Sam felt that he was very good. And Bob Hamilton was also—
ROBERT BROWN: A painter.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: —there.
ROBERT BROWN: How about Gordon Pierce?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Gordon Pierce, of course, we knew very well, because he and his wife were in Rome one of the years we were there.
ROBERT BROWN: I see. Now, you were in Rome in conjunction with the School of Design scholarship program?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Sam developed—Sam—senior year abroad. Senior year. Senior year—
ROBERT BROWN: And Sam developed that?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, Sam and a psychiatrist—it was a psychologist—whose name I can't remember. He was kind of batty. Isn't that awful?
ROBERT BROWN: But this program worked out pretty well?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: It's still running, I understand. Sam was very proud, before he died, to know that it was still running. We had two years in Rome, on the Janiculum, and enjoyed it thoroughly, without learning the language. [Laughs.] Unfortunately. I could speak—I could shop. I could, you know, live—we lived on the economy, of course. I could shop, but not well. But I loved Rome.
ROBERT BROWN: Throughout a number of those years you were at School of Design, John Frazier was the, I think, head of the school, wasn't he, much of that time?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: John Frazier was, and Max Sullivan. Max Sullivan was the—
ROBERT BROWN: —first.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: First.
ROBERT BROWN: What was he like? Did you get to know him?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Max? Oh Max spent a great deal of time here. Yes. Max was fine. [00:30:00] He's the one that hired Sam, I think. He was a good president, a very good president. Unfortunately, he had a few, um, weaknesses. In the other jobs, he had—he was somehow fired, I think, from the School of Design, because some nasty stories went around, and I don't remember exactly what they were. I almost think they involved Mrs. Danforth. I would rather not—because I'm not sure.
ROBERT BROWN: But otherwise, he was a very effective president?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: But he was a great—he was a very good president. But he lost his jobs after that, for various reasons, and he divorced his wife and ran away with his secretary and that kind of thing, and is still down in Fort Worth, I guess. We used to get all that literature, but we haven't gotten it for a long time.
ROBERT BROWN: What about John Frazier? Did you get to know him pretty—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: John Frazier was great. Knew John and Mary, yes, very well. Good guy. Wonderful, earthy, down-to-earth. Good painter, very good painter. I'm not sure he was a great president. You know, how can you be when you're an artist?
ROBERT BROWN: You mean, you're not sure he was—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Think of Hitler. [Laughs.]
ROBERT BROWN: You're not sure he provided enough leadership, I guess [laughs]?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, you know, his love was painting, I think, and I think it makes a little difference. [00:32:01] I think we need businessmen at the head of our institutions now. Although I will admit that the professor from Yale—or did he go to Brown? No, it wasn't Yale.
ROBERT BROWN: Who was that?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Who was the guy that went to Brown? He made a very good president.
ROBERT BROWN: The man from Penn, and then from New York Public Library? You mean that—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, yes, yes, that's who I mean. But all in all, I think including our country, we need a businessman now. Things have gotten so big and so complicated. Sam felt that he was retired not too early. I think he was retired too early. But there got to be more difference between the student and the professor than there used to be. They used to be a lot closer.
ROBERT BROWN: He retired when from the School of Design? The late '60s?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yeah, I would say so.
ROBERT BROWN: And by then, he felt there was a little estrangement, or distance?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I think he felt that way. I think he felt that he was too old and the students were too young. You know, that kind of thing. There wasn't—the beginning of the lack of respect had started, I think. For instance, when he went to Berkeley—
ROBERT BROWN: Which was just after he retired.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: —which was right after he was retired, he had mace thrown at him, you know, by students. That relationship never existed before that period of time. [00:34:04] People looked up to their—rightly or wrongly. I mean, I'm not saying that this should always have been true, any more than respect for parents is always earned. But it existed, and for some reason, right or wrong, I think it was better than what we have today, and I think that Sam sensed that when he was teaching, that he couldn't get at the kind of closeness that student and professor used to have, particularly in the arts, I think. I think that was probably truer in the arts than—and yet, as I look back on our lives, I'm not sure he was that way with his own children, so it may have been a special thing. Because I don't think he was as close to his kids as he could have been, or should have been. Whether that was an age thing or not, I don't know. It's hard to say.
ROBERT BROWN: After his retirement, you more and more stayed here in Rockport.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: We stayed—we came to Rockport, and would go away for a period every year. We went to St. Croix, we went to Barbados, we went to Mexico several times, we went to Portugal, went to England, we went to Ireland. You know, we just never—
ROBERT BROWN: But did you find, as between—you mentioned a little earlier that you felt that now there's a lot of—you call it shlock art—here in Rockport. [00:36:04]
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I know there is.
ROBERT BROWN: When did you see that change come about? Was it already starting by the 1930s, or is it something that's more recent?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I think it's probably a little more recent than 1930s, although I can't date it.
ROBERT BROWN: Is this because there were so many artists who were here just to make money, or are there just a good many mediocre people who have come here?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: A lot of mediocre people have come here. I believe that the town killed the goose that laid the golden egg. I mean, I believe thoroughly that the prettying up of Rockport—which certainly has occurred. If you are here in the summer, you could—or in the spring—they've even gone so far as to plant bulbs along Nugent Stretch, that stretch—straight stretch before you come up the hill and come into Rockport. They've made gardens around all the trees, and people, water. Garden clubs do it. They shouldn't do that, with the shortage of water. It's the most ridiculous thing in the world. Little nooks and crannies along the harbor, they're trying to pretty up so that the tourists can leave their Coke bottles and lily cups. People have prettied up their houses, and the quality of the art has gone down, down, down. No.
ROBERT BROWN: Do you think that a serious artist would not find this a very compatible place to live in anymore?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I don't think he would, because I think—I don't think it's a matter of being compatible. [00:38:00] In the first place—
ROBERT BROWN: Or comfortable.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: —there was a time when either the artist, with some kind of an income—either his wife had money, or what—but he was still a serious artist—could come and stay at an inn, or rent a studio, and he worked quietly, and nobody bothered him. Now, everything is focused on what they call art, which isn't art. I mean, there are lots of little stores that have paintings in the window, and people have studios they rent on Main Street to sell their wares. Then there are a couple of, as you say, shlock art, from the city, who have come in and rented places, and sell us $35 and up or whatever. It makes my hair stand on end. I don't—I disassociate myself entirely with the village in the summer.
ROBERT BROWN: Is the Art Association doing anything to rectify that?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, it's not doing what I think it ought to do. Its art exhibitions, I see when I go to the chamber music series, its pictures on the wall are not, are not good, Bob. They really aren't. They don't have the paintings to draw from. They don't have the people to draw from. My little friend Billy James—do you know Billy? You ever hear of him?
ROBERT BROWN: Yeah, I've heard of him.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He has a better collection. [00:40:00] He has a wonderful collection of Cape Ann painters. Marvelous collection. And his brother does, too, Bob James.
ROBERT BROWN: But they're an exception.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: But other than that, I don't think there's anything like that being done. I think Ann Fisk is an excellent president for the kind of association, or organization, it developed into. I think it became almost a social club there for a while. And I think she's pulled it up and out of that, and I think they're more serious about their art, but what they display on the walls is not good.
ROBERT BROWN: Well, she's a bit of a link to the past, because she's the daughter of Tod Lindenmuth.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Tod Lindenmuth. Yeah, and her mother was a painter, too. I wish I could remember her name, what she painted under. Oh, God, it's—I was trying to think of that the other day. I'll have to ask Anne Sell [ph].
ROBERT BROWN: But you're a link, of course, to the past.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: [Laughs.] I guess.
ROBERT BROWN: And you're a local person, so you've chosen to be here. I can think of only a son of Gifford Beal—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Billy.
ROBERT BROWN: —Billy Beal—he's here.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, he is here.
ROBERT BROWN: Presumably because he'd always been here.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Have you interviewed Billy?
ROBERT BROWN: I talked to him.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Lately?
ROBERT BROWN: No.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: How is he?
ROBERT BROWN: I don't know. I've talked to him on the phone, that's all.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Oh. Because I haven't seen him out for a long time, and it worries me a little bit. I bet he isn't well. His wife, of course, isn't. She was Edith Flack Ackley's wife—um, daughter.
ROBERT BROWN: Edith Flack Ackley was—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: She was a marionette artist, and her sister, Marjorie, was Bill Benét's second wife. [00:42:00] He was her second husband. She was married to Carl Larsson [ph], who was also a painter, and I knew them both, and I knew Jon Corbino before he married his widow.
ROBERT BROWN: Was he more of a—quite a Modernist, wasn't he, fairly early on?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, I guess. You'd hardly call him a Jackson Pollock.
ROBERT BROWN: No, that's true.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Gee. I heard some music the other day that reminded me of Jackson Pollock. I don't know why. It was horrible. [Laughs.] Left me cold. I go to the Friday series of the Boston Symphony, and we get everything. It's great fun. I wish I could think of some of the other old—Charles Kaelin—they were going to have an exhibit of his, but I haven't heard anything more about it.
ROBERT BROWN: You've mentioned a few other names to me, like Stanley Woodward.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Stanley Woodward.
ROBERT BROWN: Who was a marine painter, and taught painting. Taught some of that here.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He did good—yeah, he was a good, serious painter. Um. We knew him very well. He was one of a twin, pair of twins. His twin used to be at the Vose Galleries, I think.
ROBERT BROWN: Yeah, Sidney Woodward.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Sidney Woodward. Yeah.
ROBERT BROWN: You mentioned that you also knew a professor Alfred Vance Churchill—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, I knew him.
ROBERT BROWN: —of Smith College.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I knew him and his wife. They lived over near Dick Recchia, who was a sculptor. He was a real character, Mr. Churchill.
ROBERT BROWN: Was he?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Professor Churchill. Yes, he—
ROBERT BROWN: Just give me just a second. [00:44:00]
[END OF TRACK hershe90_2of2_cass_SideA_r.]
ROBERT BROWN: —art historian, or—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I believe that's what he was. I think you're right. I think he taught art history, and he was an impressive figure, really.
ROBERT BROWN: In what way?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, he was a large, heavyset man, and very serious-looking, and not one that you would go up and carry on a light conversation with. He seemed a little heavy to me, and his wife was—they both were. He may have had a lighter side, but I didn't know it. I didn't know—I really didn't know him well enough, except that he was practically a neighbor, and I knew Kitty and Dick Recchia very well.
ROBERT BROWN: You did? What were they like?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Particularly Kitty. Uh, Dick was—I hesitate to say it. He was a bit of a bore. He went around with his pockets full of vitamins [laughs] trying to get everybody to take a vitamin. He had sparkle. He was Italian, and he had a light side of him. He had a beautiful daughter, Felicia, who died while in prep school in Maine, of—what was that—used to get from underdone pork?
ROBERT BROWN: Oh, trichinosis.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Trichinosis. And he also had a son, who I think was a disappointment to him.
ROBERT BROWN: Did you admire his work?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I liked his work. I don't think it was great. [00:02:00] I think Charles Grafly was our greatest sculptor on cape.
ROBERT BROWN: Did you meet him before he died?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I did meet him before he died, but I didn't know him. I only met him because I knew Walker Hancock.
ROBERT BROWN: You still—so you got to know Walker fairly well?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I knew Walker. I knew Walker, and I knew his wife.
ROBERT BROWN: Yeah. Did Walker have much to do with Rockport, however? He lived over in Lanesville.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: No. No, no, no. He didn't have much to do with anybody but the Finns. [Laughs.] No, that's true. He had, um—
ROBERT BROWN: His wife was a local—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: —Finnish. And—Simon Addy. No, Walker had a sign up, "Welcome," in Finnish, in front of his studio, his complex, and "Keep off" in English. He didn't mix. He didn't mix very much with the natives, even in Folly Cove. He knew my friend Margaret Taylor, who lived across the street, and whose family were pretty much like mine. They let her mix with these bohemians and strange people.
ROBERT BROWN: Another sculptor lived here, George Demetrios. Did you know him?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: George Demetrios lived down the street from Walker, yes. I didn't know him well. I perhaps knew his wife, Virginia Lee Burton, better than I knew George. I think George was here during—I think we were in Providence, maybe, most of the time, even though we came here weekends. [00:04:00] Aris, one of his sons, was in San Francisco when we went to Berkeley, and I can't remember whether we looked him up or not.
ROBERT BROWN: You mentioned another fellow, still alive, Henryk Twardzik, who was Polish-born, and had worked with [Charles Jay] Connick, the stained glass designer.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes, he had.
ROBERT BROWN: Is he someone who was also down here at one time or another?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Yes. Oh, yes. He lived in Rockport for many summers, he and his wife and his son, who was an aspiring and very good pianist, who also had polio. This is Henryk's son. He died a tragic death in Paris. He got hooked up with some band, some group who went to Paris, and he was found dead in his room, I guess drugged, or he went into drugs.
ROBERT BROWN: But Twardzik was a craftsman.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Henryk was a craftsman. He also tried to paint, but he wasn't very good at painting. He painted one canvas where he showed the lobsters red in the net. [They laugh.]
ROBERT BROWN: As a craftsman, there weren't particularly many craftsman here in Rockport.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: No, no, there were not. We did not have—we had the pewter shop, where Lew[is] Whitney was a craftsman in pewter, a very good one, but times changed, and the quality of the pewter got worse and worse, and it got easier to buy it from other people, and he sort of faded. But uh—no, there weren't, now that you mention it. [00:06:00] There were not. [Nicola] D'Ascenzo was a stained glass man.
ROBERT BROWN: Oh, and he summered here?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: He was in Folly Cove.
ROBERT BROWN: Mm-hmm [affirmative]. From Philadelphia?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: From Philadelphia.
ROBERT BROWN: After the Second World War, I know you mostly just weekended here, but were there new groups of younger artists of talent coming in, or not particularly?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Not as many. Not as many. That's when we noticed that the—
ROBERT BROWN: I've heard that, for example, a lot of younger artists, at that time, began going to Provincetown rather than here, or rather than Ogunquit, Maine.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, I would have said, I would have said that they moved up rather than back to Provincetown, because Provincetown was loaded before Rockport was. Provincetown was the center. Then some of them came to Rockport from Provincetown. For what reason, I'm not sure that I know. Then I think they moved from here up—well, they scattered, really. Ogunquit, probably, and Kennebunk, and various places along the Maine coast, and the Maine coast is pretty big, so they had plenty of room to scatter.
ROBERT BROWN: Do you think, as an art colony, do you think Rockport might revive, might return to some of its—
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: There's always a possibility, but right now, I would say no. Right now, I think one of the best painters we have in Rockport is Taralie [ph], and he also sells. He's a modern—per force. Has to. Has an agent and a gallery in New York. [00:08:01] But the only person who did that kind of thing here, that I can remember, in the early, early days, was Jon Corbino, and he had an agent, in Chicago, I think. But the rest of the people just painted. I mean, they either starved or somebody gave them a handout once in a while.
ROBERT BROWN: Or they had a job.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Or they had a job.
ROBERT BROWN: As your husband did.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Sam decided to teach.
ROBERT BROWN: Yeah. You're glad he did.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: I'm glad he did. In a way, I feel a little bit guilty that he didn't, um—when he had his exhibition, his one exhibition—or second exhibition, because Paul Silver [ph] gave him one down at the Framery—
ROBERT BROWN: Here in Rockport.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: —before he died. Then Anman Goldman [ph], who's worked with and for Paul Silver, he went to Judi Rotenberg Gallery on Newbury Street.
ROBERT BROWN: In Boston.
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: And he prevailed upon Sam, with great pleasure, to have an exhibit up there, and he did. Actually, he really enjoyed it. It's the first time he'd seen his work [laughs], really, together, and they chose very carefully and well, and took Sam's opinion. Because Sam was very hesitant to show anything that he didn't think was worthy of showing, and I think rightfully so, because it gave him himself—I think it gave him a lot of self-reliance and self-confidence that he didn't expose the public to stuff that he didn't think was good enough. [00:10:22]
ROBERT BROWN: Do you think you might show some of his work? Do you have an arrangement?
ELEANOR W. HERSHEY: Well, I don't have very much left, tell the truth. I have very little left, as a matter of fact. I have those pictures over there, and what I have hung in the house. I don't know exactly what the procedure is, what I should do, whether I should give them to the children before I go or what. I don't know. I'll have to discuss that with my god, my trustee. [They laugh.] He's very good. But I don't know what you do. I know Jackie Hibbard, I guess, had an awful time when Hib went. She had a hard time with the paintings. But I'm still alive, and it's my house. I mean, it's my home. So I can't really think about [inaudible]. I don't think I'd bother with another exhibition. That one was very successful, and got good reviews, and I think it did more—it did a lot for Sam to see them hung out of his home. They tried to, they tried to [laughs] they tried to make it a homemade— [00:12:00]
[END OF TRACK hershe90_2of2_cass_SideB_r.]
[END OF INTERVIEW.]