Six alumni and one alumni parent recently returned to Williams as guests of Mr. Emanuel's 6th grade Local History class.
Each guest sat with two students to enjoy lunch together and reminisce about their time at the Williams School and discuss how it compares to life at Williams for students today.
Mary Ellen Hanrahan '54 spoke with Helen Godshall and Brendan Li about how Williams helped to instill in her a lifelong love of learning, which she says stuck with her throughout college, while receiving her Masters, and when she became a teacher. “You never stop learning,” she explained. She also talked about her favorite hang-out place downtown, the Holly House, and how movies cost only 75 cents back in the day. “Life was simpler back then.”
Barbara Nutall Bates '47 spoke with Annika Shah and Thayer Childs about the transition from WMI to Williams. While reminiscing about attending the school’s chapel in the mornings, how meeting Natalie Swift changed her life, and talking about her love of US History, she opined that the inclusion of boys, having more sports to play, and the technology improvements have all made education very different here. "Progress is wonderful," she said, reflectively.
Jane Manley '37 spoke with Isabella Casillas and Beatrice Palmer about her time working at Electric Boat during WWII. Jane was part of the design process of the Nautilus, the first nuclear powered submarine. She retired from EB after 41 years as a top senior designer of submarines. When Jane started at WMI, there were only two buildings, but by the time she graduated there were three. She also fondly spoke of her time as a member of the only all-girls band in the country that travelled all over New England. When asked about her favorite part of WMI, she said, “I loved it all, and we had some wonderful teachers.”
Naomi Jaivin '47 spoke with Ayla Drinkwater and Dylan Acheychek about her favorite memories and the routines of her school day. “WMI was a very good school and we were expected to do well, but I can see here that you have some wonderful opportunities that we did not have,” she told her interviewers. She also reflected on her experience with rationing during WWII and about her mother's role as an airplane spotter during that time.
Spencer Lancaster P '77 spoke with Aarav Patel and Ethan Ciaciura about his late daughter Pamela Lancaster Pettinari '77, who was a student at Williams and later returned to teach physical education. “Pam was the first African-America teacher to teach here,” he shared. Pamela is remembered as a businesswoman, athlete, humanitarian, educator, and courageous fighter of cancer. Mr. Lancaster, who was born and raised in New London, was later interviewed by Asaada Craig '18 for her History of the '60s course as well. “We had a good time growing up in New London.”
Jean Rowley '46 spoke with Ella Adin-Atherton and Charlie Bergendahl about how inexpensive food was at the time, and regaled them with the fact that she could buy a full lunch for only 20 cents! “Today I live in the same house [that my father built and] that I lived in when I attended WMI. My experience at WMI was wonderful, and that is why I am so interested in hearing about your school. We had wonderful teachers.”
Louise Fabrykiewicz '47 spoke with Farrah Scott and Scarlet Kane “The faculty we had were wonderful. They let us be ourselves, and always accepting of who we are and encouraged us,” she told the girls. She spoke about the close connections she formed with her classmates and about how much of an impact one particular civics teacher had on her, by teaching her about how great America was. "I think of her every time I go to vote," she shared.
Gloria Berkowitz '48 spoke with Zaela Crespo and Bryce Benhoff about what Ocean Beach Park was like before and just after the Hurricane of '38. “My favorite memories were of the time as a member of the orchestra. And my music teacher Gertrude Miller was my favorite teacher. We stayed in touch after I graduated.” She also shared memories of Ocean Beach back when it was a popular resort that had water ballet performances, and talked about the famous band leaders that would show up in New London.