previous next

The Medford High School under Lorin L. Dame

Ruth Dame Coolidge

if the history of the Medford High School were a sermon, there could be only one text, and that taken from the words of one of the first committee men of Medford, the Rev. Charles Brooks: ‘As is the teacher, so is the school.’ Founded in 1835, the infant high school struggled for ten years under seven different masters, until it fell upon peaceful days under Mr. Charles Cummings for thirty years. Then followed almost twenty-seven years under Lorin L. Dame,—a phenomenal record of fifty-seven years under two masters.

While Mr. Cummings was still teaching his small flock of less than a hundred pupils, the next master was receiving his education in Lowell and Tufts College, from which he was graduated in 1860 with an almost perfect record of scholarship. In the winter terms he had undertaken the short teaching terms then in fashion, and the old town school reports are still in existence, praising the young student teacher in Dracut and Westford. After his graduation, while studying law, he taught in Braintree and there married one of his most popular pupils. Upon this romance came the war, in which the schoolmaster and law student became lieutenant in the 15th Massachusetts Light Artillery, and after the war, again teaching. With his red-lined army cape over his shoulders, the ex-lieutenant had applied for the principalship of the Lexington High School, and moved perhaps by the appearance of the handsome, ruddy-faced soldier as well as by his qualifications, the Lexington school board had accepted the applicant. And [p. 66] the Lexington school report of 1867 sounds the same note of enthusiastic self-congratulation at the close of the year. From Lexington he was called to Nantucket; next, to Stoneham, and finally, as the report puts it, ‘the Stoneham High School was robbed of its accomplished principal,’ and the quarter-century's work in Medford was begun.

There has been no source of information so valuable as that of the old school committee reports. From them one learns to respect anew the sense of civic responsibility, the sound scholarship and sounder judgment of the members of the old school board or the later school committee. In 1876 Mr. James A. Hervey was secretary and supervisor of schools as well. In his delightful report, full of careful reading and more careful reflection, had entered a problem so well stated that it deserves to be quoted at length, especially as it is equally applicable to Mr. Dame:—

The resignation of Mr. Charles Cummings, after thirty years of distinguished service as principal of this school, marks an era in its history. No man has contributed so much as he to bring the school up from its small beginnings to its present position of usefulness and honor. . . . If, in describing the influence which this excellent teacher has exercised over the youth of this town, we should quote the words of old John Lyly, written three hundred years ago, setting forth the considerations which should govern a parent in the selection of a tutor for his children, all would acknowledge their truth, and their beautiful application to the pure-minded man to whom the town has intrusted, for so many years, the sacred charge of its children. We may be excused for giving them here, as we are confident that their quaintness will in no degree impair their meaning or force:—

It is an old proverbe that if one dwell the next doore to a cripppel, he will learne to hault; that if one be conversant with an hypocrit, he will soone endeavor to dissemble. When a childe shall grow in yeares and be of that ripenesse that he can conceive learning, insomuch that he is to be committed to the tuityon of some tutour, all dillygence is to be had to search for such a one as shall be neither unlearned, neither ill-lyved, neither a lyght person.

A good and discreete schoolemaster should be such an one as Phoenix was, the instructor of Achilles, whom Pelleus (as Homer reporteth) appoynted to that ende that he should be unto Achilles [p. 67] not only a teacher of learning, but an ensamppe of good lyving. But that is most principally to be looked for, and most diligently to be foreseene, that such tutors be sought out for the education of a young childe, whose lyfe hath never been stayned with dishonestie, whose good name hath never bene called into question, whose manners have been irreprehensible before the world. As husbandmen hedge in their trees, so should good schoolemasters with good manners hedge in the wit and disposition of the scholar, whereby the blossoms of learning may the sooner encrease.

The retirement of Mr. Cummings imposed a responsibility upon the committee of no ordinary weight. The position is not one easily filled, demanding on the part of the incumbent not only scholarship and professional experience, but qualities of character seldom found combined in the same individual. The principal of the High School has a wide constituency, for the whole town has a direct interest in the school; his duties are always difficult and frequently delicate, and require administrative ability, tact and good sense, without which it would be impossible for him to maintain a permanent hold upon popular confidence. The Committee believe that they entered upon the search for a successor to Mr. Cummings with a sufficiently high sense of the requirements of the position, and it is enough to say that after extensive inquiry, in which the claims of candidates residing both in and out of the state were carefully considered, their unanimous choice fell upon Mr. Lorin L. Dame, who had for the previous seven years been principal of the Stoneham High School.

The Board has every reason to congratulate itself upon its decision. Mr. Dame has shown himself to be master of the situation from the start. The work of the school has been quietly and steadily prosecuted, and whatever uneasiness might have first existed on the part of the pupils of the school (and such uneasiness is inevitable under a change of teachers) has quickly disappeared, as they have gained an insight into the character of their teacher, and have learned to recognize his high sense of duty, his thorough scholarship, his professional ability, and his devotion to his work. The order of the school has never been better, and the recent examination has afforded to the Committee the most satisfactory proofs that the school is in the right hands and is doing its legitimate work.

It was under a school committee of such ability and insight that my father began his uninterrupted labor, and the quotation which Mr. Hervey had selected for Mr. Cummings became true of the Medford High School for more than half a century. [p. 68]

There were at the time of Mr. Dame's entrance upon his duties some nine school buildings of twenty-three rooms in the town. The whole number of pupils in attendance was one thousand two hundred and fifty, an average of forty-four regular attendants for each of the rooms. In the high school there were eighty-seven students, and sixteen in the graduating class, among them being the well-known names of Helen Tilden Wild and William Cushing Wait. There were two assistants, Mr. E. P. Sanborn and Miss E. M. Barr. The year following, Mr. L. J. Manning took the place of Mr. Sanborn and the school report records, ‘Mr. Manning is a graduate of Harvard University; and to sound scholarship and an unusual aptitude for the duties of an instructor he adds the graces of a fine temper and kindly manners.’ No better summary perhaps could be made of Mr. Manning's influence in the school than the early judgment of this sagacious committee, and they struck the keynote almost as well with another teacher dearly loved and appreciated for over a quarter of a century, Miss Caroline E. Swift, who came to Medford in 1878 on the resignation of Miss Barr. ‘Miss Swift came to us with a professional reputation already well established, and she at once took a firm hold on the duties of her new position. The Committee observe with pleasure the interest she has awakened in her classes, her thorough methods of instruction, and the excellent results which have followed her labors.’ No pupil who ‘took English’ under Miss Swift has ever forgotten Macbeth or her reading of ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’ before class in the morning, or best of all, her wonderful reading of Dickens' ‘Christmas Carol’ the morning before the Christmas vacation.

With this famous trio of teachers the high school conducted all its activities for the next four years. And the activities of the high school were by no means inconsiderable. There were two general courses of study, with additions for the college course. Thus the teachers [p. 69] covered in the three years course Latin or French, physical geography, rhetoric, algebra, bookkeeping, geometry, English grammar (review), ancient history, natural philosophy, botany, chemistry, arithmetic (review), English literature, astronomy, and in addition in the four-year course, Greek, English history and ancient geography, while composition, declamation and elocutionary drill continued throughout the courses. It was natural under this program that Greek, Latin and botany should fall especially to the principal, mathematics and chemistry to Mr. Manning, and the English especially to Miss Swift. Botany my father had commenced in Lexington with his pupils, warning them that he thought he should be able to keep a little ahead of the class. It became from that time his favorite avocation. Here his proficiency was such that his book on New England trees is still a recognized authority, and he received the degree of Doctor of Science from Tufts. Of his Greek he was equally fond, rolling the swinging lines of Homer with the zest of a lover, and exacting from his pupils a memorization of various lines which today are not forgotten.

At this time and for many years the system of admission to the high school was through an examination ‘made as thorough as possible, conducted by the full Board, both by oral and written questions, and occupying the whole of three successive afternoons. It covers the results of the principal studies in the grammar schools, and furnishes, so far as it goes, a pretty thorough test of the acquisitions made by the pupils. The Committee (1878) were gratified with the general appearance of the papers presented by the applicants. A very large proportion of them were neatly, many of them handsomely, prepared, and the text creditably punctuated and spelt. The standard of seventy-five per cent of correct answers is required for admission, and thirty-one of the candidates (fifty-six in all) secured from eighty to ninety-six per cent.’ Only five of the whole were refused admission, [p. 70] though the committee announces, ‘it is the intention of the Committee that no applicant shall be refused admission to the high school who has done the work conscientiously in the grammar schools, and who is intellectually fitted to profit by class instruction.’

Yet under this system, terrifying to the present generation, the numbers increased so rapidly that the school committee were in sore straits as to the number in each class. There were then one hundred and five pupils in the school and ‘the present staff of teachers is being subjected to the severest strain.’ The Committee award unqualified praise to Mr. Dame and his assistants for the ‘zeal and ability with which the affairs have been conducted during the past year, and for the general interest in their studies which is manifested by the pupils.’ The old question as to the value of the classics was being agitated in reference to an all-English course in the high school. Already the four-year courses had been shortened to three to encourage a larger number to proceed with advanced work and in that course, either Latin or French was compulsory. The Committee now conceded the advantage of an all-English course, but maintained this would be impossible without ‘a female assistant, whose salary need not be larger than six hundred dollars,’ and in 1882 Miss Genevieve Sargent appeared. It is pleasant to find, in every school report, year after year, that the work of the four teachers was appreciated by the Committee. ‘The Committee feel that the town is to be congratulated upon being able to retain the present staff of instructors; and any parent can with safety recommend captious critics and doubters of the advantage of the high school to visit this school.’ (Report, 1885.) The standard of college preparation was high, and especial reference is made to the number of students each year entering the higher institutions.

It is interesting in those days of the eighties which we have been accustomed to consider quiet and serene, to hear the voice of the chairman already uplifted against the distractions of the age. ‘We feel obliged,’ says Mr. [p. 71] Gilman Waite (report of 1884), ‘to make a suggestion to the parents of scholars, which is of the same nature as some criticisms made upon courses of study. That is, not to allow their children to try to do too many things at the time they are attending this school. The scholars are at an age when social distractions of various kinds are first beginning to be felt with force. . . . The school requires a force of competent and skilled teachers whose time is valuable. The expense of supporting children at this age is very considerable, and is a burden to many parents that is only justified by their children's benefit. And this cannot be obtained if any considerable number of the children are negligent, inattentive, or pursuing a half-hearted work with strength and spirit enfeebled by other occupations. . . . While your children are in school, let it be their business, and do not give them any other business. . . . They will at least have got an inkling of the cardinal rule for success in the work of life—‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.’’

Whatever may have been the internal changes, there is a long stretch of years in which the school committee ‘has little or nothing to report.’ (1884). ‘The ordinary occurrences of a prosperous school year are like the unnoticed growth of a plant, like the ordinary rising and setting of the sun, or any of the usual occurrences in ordinary life which, continuing invariably and regularly in their customary course, accomplish in due course of time the greatest results with the least perceptible noise and flurry. . . . The high school has continued to do the excellent work which for some years we have learned to expect of it. . . . We are again fortunate in not being obliged to record any change of teachers in the school;’ and again in 1886, ‘The high school continues to merit the esteem in which it has long been held for its stability and thoroughness of instruction. It is a matter for congratulation that for so long a period it has suffered no change in its corps of teachers.’ [p. 72]

These are the times which older graduates of the high school still consider the halcyon days of school life. They recognized the distinct advantage which was theirs in such close association with their principal. ‘Mr. Dame is remembered by his pupils,’ says an ‘In Memoriam’ published by the Massachusetts Schoolmasters' club, ‘as being patient and considerate, but as accepting only exact and definite answers. He trained them to observe carefully, to answer unhesitatingly, and to stand by their first answers, a course in which he was wont to lead the way. Reproof would be administered when necessary, by a kindly word, often with a humorous turn of thought, but never with sarcasm. Pupils seemed to count him their personal friend.’ He had many ways of holding the attention of his class as taut as a straining cable. He would look at or point at one pupil and call upon another simultaneously, and he drilled with infinite pains of repetition the various declensions and conjugations, and the rules in the Greek and Latin grammars. Older pupils can remember still a ridiculous story of Roland and Diana, a setting for difficult and unusual words which they have never been able to forget. Well as he himself knew his Homer, I am positive that he never went into class without having himself fully reviewed and prepared the lesson for the day and noted the points he wished to emphasize. Countless time was spent in collecting specimens for his botanical classes. But beyond the conscientiousness and technical proficiency of the teacher was the rare charm and force of personality. There are extant countless stories of his justice and his humor, and it is indeed rare for any of his family to go into a public gathering without hearing a new reminiscence from some graduate and admirer of the past. Many a talented man or woman, looking backward, among them two judges and an admiral, have recognized that the future of a lifetime lay in the special help or preparation or encouragement of their high school principal. In later years, when new teachers were on constant [p. 73] trial, it was beyond human nature not to tease and torment these apprentices, but the love and respect which surrounded ‘Papa Dame’ made any student who attempted to deceive him feel contemptible in his own eyes.

In April, 1887, though Mr. Hervey had formerly been superintendent as well as member of the school board, an innovation was made in the introduction of a superintendent of schools, Mr. E. Hunt, who was to give his entire time to the schools, and whose first report on the high school is of interest. In this he urged the addition of another teacher to the force and laid down the opinion that ‘in my judgment it should receive all pupils who can do its work, with pleasure and profit, regardless of percentages of a special examination for admission. At the end of the first quarter those who fail to profit by the course could be allowed to fall out of the race. . . . Therefore I would not test the admission of pupils to this school upon the results of a single competitive examination, but would allow greater force to the grammar master's certificate of the pupil's qualifications for the high school work.’

The effect of this was soon felt. ‘The Medford High School,’ says Miss Caroline E. Swift, in an article on the ‘Public Schools of Medford,’ ‘was among the first of Massachusetts cities to do away with the stereotyped “Examination day” and “ Exhibition day.” It was a grief to the budding orators and the “sweet girl graduates,” and it seemed hard that Medford, deprived of the unworldly advice and the fervent appeals to right and duty delivered yearly from the school rostrum, should be left to struggle unaided through the “journey of life.” But the judgment of the school board prevailed, and since 1895, the high school graduates, with their parents and friends, have listened to addresses delivered by men of ability and experience, “older in practice, abler than themselves to make conditions.” ’ It must be added, however, that since this was written, the school board [p. 74] seems to have reverted to the traditions of their ancestors, and the program is a compromise of the older and younger wisdom.

In 1888 another teacher, Miss Carrie A. Teele, was added as assistant, and the curriculum was broadened by a study of natural history and by experimentation in a working chemical and physical laboratory. These changes mark the rapid growth of the school and the rapidly on-rising tide of modern demand upon our educational system. By 1890, two petitions from the boys and girls of the high school were laid before the school board, for gymnastic exercises or physical training. In response to this request, military drill was introduced. In 1890, Superintendent Hunt voiced the agitation now felt for a new high school building sufficient for four hundred pupils. The old building was recognized to be inadequate, but an attempt at economy was made by doubling the capacity and erecting the annex at the rear. I can well remember that at the time of my attendance at the old high school, these buildings were always referred to by my father as Gog and Magog, or Chang and Eng, the famous Siamese twins. The two great upstairs study halls, where we all had declamation weekly, seemed large and commodious to us at that time.

It did not escape Dr. Hunt that the influence of the principal of the high school was the inspiration of the whole school system, and that as the influence of Thomas Arnold at Rugby wrought a change in the national character of the English, ‘who can estimate the good to be done by the high school of a small community?’ For this reason he urged that the principal be freed as far as possible from the drudgery of school work and use his larger inspiration toward the work of his assistants. In accordance with this growing necessity for supervision and executive management, my father little by little dropped all his class work except his favorite Greek and botany. In some respects this release from class work was a real regret to him, for he loved [p. 75] the pure pleasure of imparting, and recognized that much of his strongest hold lay in his direct relationship with his pupils. Into the training of his teachers, however, went much of that force which had moulded his pupils, and I can recollect, myself, his favorite methods, adopted or adapted by the young teachers who now took our classes.

By the year 1891, we find the entrance class in one year had jumped from fifty-five to one hundred and ten. The Ling system of gymnastics had been adopted for the girls, though the girls were obliged to beg or raise money for their gymnastics until 1902, when the committee finally appropriated one hundred and fifty dollars for the payment of a teacher for them. In regard to the boys, my father reports ‘Military drill must be considered from the standpoint of utility. Unless it contributes to the general efficiency of school work by promoting health, courtesy, manliness and respect for law, it has no place in the public school. While the results have not been so marked as was anticipated, the experiment has enough of promise to warrant its continuance.’ My father also questioned whether the carrying of the guns was not too heavy a strain on young boys, and insisted upon the need of other gymnastic work to counterbalance any one-sidedness. The most important new development in this direction was the institution of a field day at home, with setting — up exercises, company drills, athletic sports, dinner, battalion drill and dress parade. The sight of the bluecoated cadets in the streets of Medford and their serried ranks and tramping feet at prize drill were familiar and exciting to Medford girls for years to follow. Drill day itself, when officers and privates blossomed in the class room, shed a certain glamour over the ordinary monotony of school life. In connection with military drill the principal's knowledge of soldiering in the Civil War came again to the front, and one associates always the sight of his familiar figure and slouch hat at review of his boys at dress parade. [p. 76] He was always with them when the battalion marched as escort on Memorial Day, and in the school he told and retold to ever newly interested boys and girls the story of Mobile and the camps by Lake Pontchartrain. His sense of humor played about the sleeping camp or the thrill of battle, but his reverence for the men who died in battle or the battle-scarred heroes and the flag itself struck home to the hearts of his pupils with the conviction given by one who had also served. Mr. Dame attended, also, the athletic games, and I remember, many a time after a victory, when the cheering boys lighted red fire before their principal's home and cheered as he congratulated them on a fair-won fight.

When in 1892 Medford became a city, and the school board became the school committee, the enlarged high school with its seven teachers was already overcrowded, and the chairman, Rosewell B. Lawrence, whose deep devotion for his city was already patent, had started an agitation for a more permanent school. The teaching force now grew rapidly larger. Miss Josephine E. Bruce, P. T. Campbell, Walter H. Cushing and Miss Marion Nottage were new members of the force. The work of Mr. Cushing, himself a Medford man, in history, civics and debate was exceptionally fine and well recognized in the universities. In 1892 the high school, in connection with work of the schools of the city, had been awarded a medal for the excellence of the work submitted to the Columbian Exposition at Chicago—‘a very gratifying reward to the principal and to the board. It is a certificate of the high order of work accomplished by the school in that department of which the citizens are already cognizant.’

Meanwhile the persistence of the chairman of the school committee had at last borne fruit. ‘The most important action which Medford ever took in reference to public schools was the appropriation last year (1894) of $150,000 for the erection of a new high school building.’ At this time Mr. Lawrence's demand that a new [p. 77] high school should seat five hundred and have capacity for six hundred or seven hundred pupils was considered so extreme as to be hardly worthy of consideration. Largely, however, owing to his far-sightedness, the city at last purchased the present site on Forest street, and later, after visits of inspection by members of the school committee and architects to Arlington and other new school buildings of adjacent communities, accepted the plans of the older half of the present high school. ‘The school committee regret very much that the estimates which have been obtained are so large, but the plans and specifications have been carefully studied, and it seems to the committee that they provide for only what the city ought to have.’ May 21, 1896, the new building was dedicated, with impressive exercises, and the charge of the building was presented by the mayor back to Mr. Lawrence as chairman of the school committee, and it was singularly appropriate that the building for which Mr. Lawrence had labored indefatigably and over whose erection he had watched with tireless solicitude, should pass again into his care as representative of the citizens of Medford. With no confusion or interruption in school work the pupils turned from the old wooden makeshift to the new perfectly equipped building which has continued to serve the city to the present time, a pride to its citizens, and a monument to the wisdom, good taste and civic spirit of the school committee and city government of that day. The fine dignified building that was thought to be absurdly large in 1896 has been enlarged to almost double its size, and present indications point to another unit in the near future. Still the first building, with its brown sandstone trimmings (a gift from General Lawrence to the city) and its fine pictures and statuary, a gift from its alumni, continues to serve as the headquarters of the school system of Medford.

During the years when the new school was in the building, Mr. Charles H. Morss began his wide and farsighted work for the city as superintendent, while in the school Miss Sara A. Clapp, the dean of the high school, [p. 78] took the place of Miss Genevieve Sargent and continued the fine tradition of Medford teachers in long devoted service to the city. In 1896 the ninth grade was also installed in the new high school, to relieve the pressure in the fast-growing city.

With the removal of the pupils to the new school, the work of my father became more and more that of an executive. His relation with Mr. Morss was exceptionally happy, and the co-operation between the two men was productive of many results for good in the city. There was a continuous stream of changes in courses, of extension of Latin into the ninth grade, of history outlines in the lower grades, elaborated by Mr. Cushing, of a welding together of the whole school system. The principal devised an ingenious system of organization so that he knew at once where each of his six hundred pupils might be at any moment. Further co-operation with the lower grades, with the parents by means of evening receptions, special oversight of each grade by one teacher appointed as grade master, all developed under this executive freedom. The teachers now comprised a force of twenty, and the range of subjects taught grew broader with every year. I cannot say that my father was in entire sympathy with this broadening of elective system. He felt that deepening, rather than broadening, the channel was conducive of more power to the stream of human energy, and he used to declare that the teaching of the three R's was all that really mattered. This was, of course, a humorous exaggeration, but it was based on a conviction that the removal of teaching from the home and the concentration of all education in the school was difficult for both home and school. His pride in the school, however, and especially in the new school building, compensated in some degree for his regret in the loss of his actual teaching. He loved to show visitors over the school and to teach the pupils themselves the significance of the works of art which surrounded them. [p. 79]

The character of the whole city was rapidly changing. In 1899 the school committee summarize the changes made recently as follows: ‘The erection of the Lincoln (1894), Hillside (1895), High (1896) and Brooks (1898) schoolhouses, the enlargement of the Tufts (1898), and the improvements in sanitation and ventilation of the Centre, Cradock, Everett, Swan and James (1896), while they have cost us money, have in six years changed Medford from a town with a lot of small, old, unsanitary, ill-ventilated and badly crowded schoolhouses to a city with creditable, substantial, commodious and healthful buildings.’ As the culmination of this new modernized public school system stood the high school, setting the standard for the entire city. As rapidly as accommodation in the various grammar grades of the city permitted, the members of the ninth grade were removed from the high school building. The work of the teachers was still, however, heavy, with large classes and too small a force of teachers, and it remained the anxious ambition of the school committee that the high school should have the proper ratio of pupils to the teacher, so that it should be enabled to continue the high traditions of the past. In the tide of teachers which now flowed annually through the high school, only a few of the longerlived ones will be mentioned here, teachers whose influence has perceptibly affected the life of the city. Next in length of service to Miss Clapp are Miss Laura P. Patten and Mr. Frank S. Gilkey, who were elected by the school committee in 1897, and whose devotion to the school is still reflected in the daily work of its pupils.

January 27, 1903, my father finished his long term of service. He was in his office the day previous to the stroke which brought his death within twelve hours. For the first time in twenty-six years his desk was closed. It was as he would wish to have died,—a soldier in the harness. It would be too long to quote here the tributes of teachers, friends, the various classes and the individual scholars, present and past. Three testimonials there [p. 80] were which revealed the love and appreciation in which the teacher of so many years was held. The first was one which happily came in his life time, a reception tendered him on his twenty-fifth anniversary, June 19, 1901. It was held in the beautiful assembly hall of the high school, elaborately decorated with ferns and foliage plants, and there were present some five hundred of his pupils, past and present. My father, always modest and even diffident about his influence, realized for the first time the love which surrounded him. It was one of the milestones of his life, a convincing proof that his choice of a life work had been justified. It may be added that his pupils had presented him with a bunch of twenty-five roses in the morning, and that the following winter a postponed banquet was also tendered him by the teachers. The second was the splendid portrait of him after a photograph, subscribed by the graduates and friends and now hung in the principal's office. The third was the naming of the Lorin L. Dame school, a formal recognition by the city of its debt to a faithful servant. During his long term of office over three thousand, five hundred pupils had entered the high school, and through them the influence of one quiet, unassuming man reached beyond the school and school days. Under his guidance the school had grown from a small institution of eighty-seven pupils, with three teachers, to one of five hundred and forty-two, with eighteen teachers.

Outside the school the life of the man had been as full as that of the teacher. ‘L. L. Dame’ was known as a botanist of the highest class, and his knowledge of all branches of natural science from shells and seaweed to stones and stars was astonishingly broad. His family life was exceptionally happy, full of humor, innocent fun and united interests. Yet the Medford High School was his life work, and to his devotion, unflagging labor and deep, abiding sympathy the city has paid a debt of honor. Still, the greatest memorial to a great teacher is the unmeasured and immeasurable power for good which he has exerted over the lives of his pupils,—the men [p. 81] and women who are themselves the city of Medford. If, on the one hand, the city of Medford will always be in debt to the services and sacrifices of my father, still is it true that in my father's case the labor was itself a great and lasting reward. It is perhaps the highest test of a man's usefulness and the measure of his service that he should be able to say, as did my father, that he would willingly live his whole life over again.

One more impartial report from the school report of 1903 will summarize perhaps all that has been said.

The one event uppermost in the minds of all of us in relation to this school is the great loss we have just met with in the sudden death on January 27, 1903, of the headmaster, Lorin L. Dame, who for twenty-six and one-half years of vigorous service has devoted himself to the interests of the young people of Medford with exceptional zeal and fidelity. His broad scholarship, rare tact and whole-souled devotion to duty has placed our school in the foremost rank among the secondary educational institutions of the state. Sufficiently conservative not to be carried away by every educational breeze that brought some new phase of school activity to the front, by his keen insight and mature judgment he was able to make use of what tended to the best interests of the school and to keep the whole work in sympathy with the progress of the times. Mr. Dame's whole career as a teacher and headmaster has fully justified the good opinion of the School Committee, expressed in their report for the year 1876, when he first began his work here.

Our word of tribute can only confirm these expressions of confidence of an earlier date. Mr. Dame's work was so earnest in advancing our educational interests that Medford may well honor the memory of the man who for more than a quarter of a century has been the guide and friend of her children. No one who came into close relations with him could fail to be impressed with his devotion, his lofty purpose, his noble character and his lovable personality which made us all, both pupils and teachers, feel that he was our personal friend, and we all as individuals mourn his death as a great personal loss. It was this quality of friendliness and his great trust in the good of every one that endeared him to the hearts and minds of his pupils; all felt that he believed in them, that he trusted them, and no one could fail to be better for having known him.

note.—It has been a difficult task for a daughter who idolized her father and to whom his memory is still green after more than twenty years to attain in this short sketch anything like moderation. If I have not said all I would, it is because the register has previously published a biography and personal appreciation of my father. I have attempted in this sketch to confine myself to the history of the school.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1896 AD (4)
January 27th, 1903 AD (2)
1898 AD (2)
1895 AD (2)
1894 AD (2)
1892 AD (2)
1890 AD (2)
1884 AD (2)
1878 AD (2)
1876 AD (2)
1903 AD (1)
1902 AD (1)
June 19th, 1901 AD (1)
1899 AD (1)
1897 AD (1)
May 21st, 1896 AD (1)
1891 AD (1)
1888 AD (1)
April, 1887 AD (1)
1886 AD (1)
1885 AD (1)
1882 AD (1)
1867 AD (1)
1860 AD (1)
1835 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: