Happy Thanksgiving and other thoughts ...
Memories abound. Thank you, Terry.
A self-admitted child of middle-class suburbia, I never experienced the prep school life you write about here. But I've taught "A Separate Peace" countless times in my high school classroom, and I've shown the film "School Ties" as a companion piece. "Holdovers" seems to follow suit. I look forward to seeing it, particularly because it stars Paul Giamatti, one of Hollywood's most talented actors. Enjoyable essay, Terry!
I loved reading your impressions of The Holdovers, and can’t wait to see it! As a graduate of Northfield Mt Hermon and a career boarding school teacher, I feel certain that I will be able to relate to the film— and particularly because my parents welcomed a young lady into our family when she was a student at Northfield School for Girls, a holdover, who became an adopted sister to me. She spent all holidays with our family in Northfield, MA for her years at NSFG and beyond. She enriched our lives immensely. Thank you for writing this, Terry, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and Laura.
As a fellow St. Mark's School survivor I applaud this message.
We both knew multiple figures at the mid-1970s version of St. Mark's who might have inspired the Hunham archetype. One in particular has haunted me since seeing the movie: a portly, tart-tongued, apparently depressed faculty member who lived in a high-ceiling studio apartment overlooking the quadrangle. (In the second, black-and-white photograph you posted, it's the large window right above the central clock.) At spring break during my fourth form / 10th grade year, this poor man took his own life by walking out onto thawing ice covering a nearby pond. The school administration was vague and circumspect about what happened, permitting lurid tribal lore to percolate through the community.
The two upshots I recall: how untroubled most students were by the death of a universally known, if not beloved figure (one classmate broke into a gloating smile when told the news)... and how pleased I and three friends were to inherit the man's apartment in our fifth form year. We christened ourselves the Penthouse Four and dwelled for nary a second on the misery and loneliness that must have suffused the place when its previous tenant lived there.
For all St. Mark's' virtues, it did not teach us much in the way of empathy or sensitivity. The Holdovers does a far better job of that.
Happy Thanksgiving, Terry.