Charles E. Markham (Class of 1872)
Mary Hendrix (Class of 1873)
Reminiscences & Valedictory Speech
State Normal School
San Jose, California
copied from somewhere, these reminiscences and those of Mary Hendrix which
follow were handwritten by Grandpa. He used binder paper on both sides,
and the two essays were mixed together. The handwritten version of Markham’s
pages ends quite abruptly, indicating an entire page missing. However,
I later found a typewritten version of Mary’s reminiscences which contained
a page ending with the same words used by Markham in the handwritten copy.
Therefore, I am assuming the page to be Markham’s rather than Mary’s, and
have included it here."
You inform me that I am appointed to speak for the Class of ’72. It is a pleasure to do so, for the task calls up a throng of happy memories.
Perhaps, however, the duty should have fallen to other hands.
Miss Rixon, for instance, would be more finished and picturesque; Miss Terry more artless and pleasing; Miss Wagenseller, more piquant; Mr. Kennedy more strong and original; Mr. Beal, more simple and direct. Miss Stephens could give us detail and delicate satire. Miss Hilton, grace and quiet beauty.
And so also, do the rest of the class come to me in memory, each with some special fitness for the work.
One pleasing feature of the school in the old time was the occasional excursion and half holiday. These were chiefly for the purpose of studying some piece of machinery or some process of manufacture.
We young men, of course, had our literarary and debating society.
Then too, there was our weekly afternoon institute for the discussion of school-room problems. Many visitors attended, and reporters were always present. Dr. Lucky presided and all students joined in the debates.
Many were sallies of wit, many were the blows from wisdom’s logic fist, many were the ludicrous blunders, in that day of budding orators.
Not a few of the students, however, were advanced in years, were even experienced teachers, and could speak to the point, and with precision. And in this connection it is pleasant to remember that several of the class have reached distinction in educational work as in the case of Mr. Thos. E. Kennedy, who is now inspector of the San Francisco Schools.
Another feature of our student life was Dr. Lucky’s morning lecture on teaching. These lectures occupied five months in their delivery.
He began the course by calling attention to the child entering the school for the first time, with its little fears and tremblings, and ended by pointing us to that higher school in heaven where the Father and Mother truth unveil.
Ours was the first class graduated after the removal to San Jose. Dr. Lucky was... [Handwritten version breaks off here and picks up again in the middle of the Huxley quote below.]
Under Dr. Lucky the discipline was strict, yet kindly -- the hand of iron in the glove of velvet. He was a man of impressive dignity, robust head and shoulders, countenance frank and open as the day, bold crag-like brows, and a smile that lighted up the face in a wonderful manner.
Professor Carlton had strong and pleasing traits of character. He chose to cut off the pedagogue and to be a comrade, a fellow student. Nothing pleased him more than to have a pupil bring in matter outside of the text-book -- something that showed independent investigation. To call out the shrill note of personality, to form habits of thought and study, to stir the spiritual forces -- these were his aims. Of nervous temperament, he felt keenly, was terribly earnest.
He was himself impressed, and so he impressed others, with the mystery and pathos of life.
His philosophy was a passionate idealism.
His style of expression was bold and abrupt. His favorite quotation seemed to be that one from Kent: “The tempest and the nights Plutonian shore.”
He could recite The Raven with magical effect. Once he recited it before an assembly of teachers and students. The dim light of the lamps gave to him a half unearthly aspect.
Figure tall and erect, face energetic and pale, hair thin and scattered, he himself seemed an apparition from “the tempest and the nights Plutonian shore.”
Through Miss Houghton we came to know the plants of field and hedgerow. And it was with fine feeling and sympathy that she led us, also, into the high places of literature. Happy were we who went that primrose way. Her presence was inspiring, uplifting. Always painstaking, always insisting on thorough work and accurate expression.
It seems as I remember, that her brain approached to Huxley’s ideal, “a calm, cold, logic engined, trained to spin gossamers, as well as forge the anchors of the mind.”
It has been a pleasure to speak of these old familiar faces. And tho I now lay down my pen, they will not be forgotten. They have an assured place in my heart -- friends of blessed memory.
We prepare for the future
by an affectionate reverence for what is worthy in the past.
The year 1872 brought some important changes in the Normal School.
The beautiful new building, that had cost so much time and money, was near enough completion to admit of its being occupied by the school. One room was furnished for the use of the Senior Class, two for the Junior Class, one for the use of the Principal, and one for the Library.
A large room in the basement was fitted up for general exercises, and another for the Training School, which was established and placed in the charge of Miss Titus.
Up and down the long corridors, and in the unfinished rooms, the pupils could be seen at recess hours, books in hand. Not much time could be wasted.
This was Dr. Lucky’s last year in the Normal School. He was well liked by his pupils. He was a man of dignified appearance, tho he discouraged any display of false dignity. He used to tell us; “The teacher who dares not go out and play with his pupils for fear of losing his dignity has no dignity to lose.” One of our studies we enjoyed most was our mental philosophy. Our teacher in this branch was Professor Carlton. He was a fair, slender, nervous man, whose distinguishing characteristic, as a teacher, was his great earnestness. Whatever his hand found to do he did with his might.
His method of recitation was to require the pupil to give the author’s opinion, then give his own and illustrate it. The discussions which followed were a source of pleasure and profit.
This was Professor Allen’s first year in the school. He seemed to be acquainted with every difficulty that ever beset a teacher in our common schools.
Looking forward as we did to the difficulties ahead of us, poetry could not have interested us more than did what he had to say about the practical school room.
A few weeks before the close of the school, the teachers met in what seemed to us mysterious conclave. We knew at that time it would be decided who would graduate. The pupils were informed privately whether they were successful or not.
The anxiety at this point may be imagined. With what bright faces some left the Principal’s room.
Contrary to usual custom, the valedictorian was selected by the Seniors. Their choice fell on Miss Delia Snow of Salt Lake; so to her essay on “The Child” was added the valedictory address. I do not think anyone was surprised at the choice, except Miss Snow herself. She well represented the class both in her ability, as a valedictorian, and in her success as a teacher. “I was so anxious,” she afterward said, “to try the new methods I learned at the Normal School. I took such an interest in my school.” I have heard her highly commended by the patrons of the district in which she taught.
Miss Belle Merritt was selected to write the class song for the commencement exercises; she was the youngest in the class, but the selection did us justice. We copied the song from the blackboard, Miss Houghton, our teacher in elocution and rhetoric, calling our attention to its beauties.
The choice of class poet was left to the class. Miss Houghton had said anyone in the class could write a poem; so there was no danger of making a mistake. Something was already known of Mr. Chipman’s ability as a poet; so he receved the vote of the class. He gave us a humorous poem on “Thanksgiving Day”.
Now began the drill on commencement exercises. Miss Houghton was an able elocutionist. She seemed to have an ocean of voice at her command. She was appreciative. No beautiful thought well expressed ever escaped her notice.
She was also an unsparing critic. It was of no use for the girls to lose their tempers. A little temper sometimes came in good play when spirited reading was required.
As preceptress Miss Houghton was vigilant. We used to think she understood evereything. She cautioned the girls against expense and display in the selection of dresses for the graduating exercises. A plain dress of good material, she said, was in better taste.
She used to say, “If a girl ever wishes to look pretty, it is when she is married, and if you dress your best now, you cannot do better at your wedding.” Her advice was generally appreciated and followed. The graduating class consisted of four young men and sixteen young ladies -- a combination of fours.
Gay as we felt over our prospects, we could not avoid a solemn feeling as we met for the last time in the basement for morning exercises.
As we looked on the board for the number of the song selected by Professor Allen, a subdued whisper was heard, “How appropriate.” It was:
Our Father, through the coming
We know not what shall be.
But we would leave without a fear,
Its ord’ring all to thee.
1873 — Mary Hendrix at
San Jose State Normal School
Valedictory address delivered by Mary E. Hendrix, State Normal School, San
Jose, California, 29 March, 1873.
HEART IN THE WORK
The difference between the seeming and the real importance of earthly acts and objects is great enough to mislead us often, and lull us to sleep, in the very face of danger. If we could see the faces of the waiting angels, as they hover round earth’s sorrowful scenes, mourning the causes which lead to temptation, crime, prison, and the gallows, one of their saddest looks might be seen bent on the spectacle of a teacher, who enters the school-room wearily; goes through the daily routine, in a mechanical manner, and closes the door in the evening, with a sigh of relief.
Let us not under-rate the importance, the responsibility of our work. In early youth, is laid the foundation of all mental advancement. There is no finished education, though we often hear the expression. Life is not long enough. The true aim of the school, is to give breadth, strength, and direction to the mental powers, in addition to a supply of useful knowledge. This accomplished, youth is prepared, but a well-cultivated mentality, to gather unto himself the wisdom of the world, and go forward into a noble and progressive manhood. How important, then, that the foundation should be well laid!
The furtherance of this work should engage the best culture the age can afford. Who can deny that the upward progress of civilization is due to the better education of our youth, as the world advances? For while a better mental culture throws its light on the science of mental development, this light, in the hands of skillful teacher, will surely work out the realization of a still nobler manhood and womanhood. Thus, it is on our shoulders that the world climbs upward. While parents may be accountable for the sins of the world, we, if we neglect our part in making the intelligence of the world what God would have it, will be called to account for the mistakes, the errors of mankind, and all their outgrowing misery. Ours it is, by our daily guidance of the minds of so many, to fill many pages in the history of the world, that great book, whose million linked ineffaceable accounts will all come up for review, in the Day of Judgment, and on determining the eternal destiny of all mankind.
Since, then, this is true, what manner of persons ought we to be? Is it sufficient that we be well informed, methodical, just, virtuous, religious: There is no error more common than the supposition that any well-educated person may teach, and that it is the easiest work in the world -- for one who is not easily annoyed by children. If to teach is only to speak what we know, or listen to recitations, verbatim, from the text-book, anybody can teach, and there is no work about it. But the plan of hearing recitations with text-book in one hand, and ferule in the other, is not teaching; and the teacher who depends on such a method, is but an instrument of examination and coercion, to compel the pupil to teach himself. Our own knowledge may be so presented as to amount to nothing, for what we repeat may fall on dull ears, or take shallow roots in duller brains. Even physical force, highly as it is esteemed by some, as an aid to instruction, has been know to fail as a brain-maker. The teacher, if he would fulfill his mission as an educator of mankind, must be adapted to his work. But how? I would not under-rate the necessity of well-defined method, and of professional culture, but were it not for the fact that one can hardly go through a course of professional training without falling in love with the work, even this would fall short of the requirement. I have known the most skillful teachers to fail with some, for want of that magnetic principle that speaks from eye to eye and from mind to mind, instructing, and at the same time, winning confidence.
There is a mistaken notion that to win confidence, one has only to show himself worthy of it. Justice, it is thought, will sustain itself, shining in its own clear light. Certainly this grand principle cannot be hidden under a bushel; but as long as humanity is tainted with the evils of the fall of man, we can never be taken for just what we are. That distortion of reason called "human nature," pervades, to a greater or less extent, all classes; particularly children. This is not strange. To "see ourselves as others see us," is not a possibility; though there are those who claim to do so. It is only by a long and severe argument with self, only by close persistent reasoning, that we can make any approach to correct comparison between our own acts, and those of others. It is not a matter of culture. Our eyes were made to look outward only. Only those things that stand opposite, are pictured on the retina. Those things that stand nearest, look largest. So it is with the mental vision. Those things only, which fairly face the vision, are clearly seen; and those things that affect us the most nearly, appear of the greatest importance. To get the correct view of others, we must know those things that are known only to those whom we would judge. To get a correct view of ourselves, we must disregard all natural impressions, and search inwardly, impartially, and diligently, measuring our motives, as well as our deeds by the Supreme Standard of right and wrong. Seldom can a cultivated man or woman do this completely; a child, never. If now, a teacher has a neutral stand-point, dispenses justice between two, each of whom thinks himself in the right, the fact will not be apparent to both.
Thus justice, pure and indispensable as it is, will fail at times to hold the confidence of children in the teacher. Some other element must be brought in to make the mind, to win the interest, and to inspire confidence in the ability and integrity of the teacher. The complement will be found in exercise of the New Commandment, and its accompanying devotion to the interests of the school. There is no lesson recited through the day, but may be made interesting and thereby profitable; but it takes the whole soul of the teacher. Let but the wish to be free from the monotony of the school-room, enter the heart of the teacher, and note the answering dullness in the faces of the children! A bright active interest, on the part of the teacher, is a necessity, and will not fail to find itself reflected by the children. Enthusiasm, though often condemned as exaggeration of the realities of life, in the school-room at least, finds its complete justification in its manifest results. Moreover, it is a duty we cannot avoid, if we would acquit ourselves with justice to our charge, loyalty to our country, and fidelity to our God.
The teacher should be, as
nearly as possible, the embodiment of all that is wise. Intelligence should
be the light around him. Method, which must not be under-valued, should
be his chart; Discernment of Character, his compass; Justice his measurement,
and Religion his Star in the North. But love for his charge, and interest
in his work, should be the force that moves, directs, and drives home his
work. We know not when the time will come, that will bring to an end all
human endeavors. It may be far, it may be near; but it is certain. And
then will come, for us Examination Day -- a time when, in the presence
of Him, before whose face the heavens and earth shall flee away, we must
stand, and face the issue of our work, of all wanderings, of all our mistakes,
of all our acts, right or wrong, with all their consequences, and multiplication
of consequences, downward through the course of time. People of all trades
and professions must appear at the reckoning; And we, who have voluntarily
taken up this work, step forward to our account with the infallible judge,
whose work will be the first to win the plaudit "Well done, good and faithful
servant"? It will not be the work of him who has been content with being
well-informed, methodical, and just; but of him, who, in the sincerity
of his love to God, has entered his heart on the work that God has committed
to his hands.
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Photographs courtesy Sue Nickum
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