Memories of the Bank

“After a storm and a property cleanup you find things lying around that you thought you had lost forever. Not long ago such was the case for me. Instead of a storm it was an asbestos removal project at my Las Vegas townhouse. Once the walls and ceilings with asbestos were removed and replaced by gypsum sheetrock, it was time to move my files back into the home office. As you might suspect moving out was one heck of a lot easier than moving back in.

In the midst of completing the clean-up project I was searching for a letter from my grandfather in one of several file boxes scattered around inside the garage. Instead of grandfather’s letter I came across a file folder with some memorabilia from our 50th Deerfield Reunion, a letter from Tom “Spook” Kellogg ’54 and a long forgotten, mysteriously discarded, and seriously misfiled Marlboro cigarette.

As I sat down in the patio to go over the Deerfield Memorabilia and Tom’s letter, it was Tom’s letter and the lone Marlboro cigarette which reminded me of so many days at Deerfield, from my first evening arrival at John Williams House in 1950 to the last day at the Bank and graduation in 1954. The Marlboro also reminded me of an unlikely lunch time tradition and a June day in 1954, the last full day before graduation at the First Church of Deerfield.

Every day after lunch before afternoon classes, come rain, shine, or snow, a lonely figure would walk out on the upper level past the baseball field and disappear over the edge of the “bank.” My most memorable image was the lonely figure of Tex wrapped up against the cold in a racoon coat struggling through a foot of snow in the middle of winter to get to the bank before he disappeared over the edge.

The bank was where student smoking was tolerated but far from endorsed. For those admonished for the evils of nicotine, to enjoy a puff they were banished to the equivalent of the arctic circle on the upper level. With dreams of athletic glory in my head I did not dare tempt myself with a trip to the bank. Since my earliest school days our school principal Lena Jenkins had instilled in me the fear of smoking. Even when queried about the Camel habits of Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle our school principal assured us that cigarettes were sinful and we would be doomed to the equivalent of a life of sin if we crossed the line and took a puff. That school-boy perception of sinful living and athletic failure was reinforced in high school by the remote presence and sinful perception of the Bank.

Forget the fact that some faculty members enjoyed a puff or two on the dining hall steps before lunch and after dinner as the lonely walker headed to the precipice of the upper level and over the edge of the bank for his daily puff.
On the day before graduation after lunch we gathered on the dining hall steps. I think it was my favorite PG guy Bill Skinner who said “…hey Aggie let’s join Tex and go to the Bank…” Whoever made the announcement is not important. What was important is that a rather large group including, folks like class officers and Stump, PG Walt, Tom, Buzz, and the big brain guys like Lew and Peter all headed to the arctic circle at the upper level and the Bank, to join the Bank leader, Tex.

The banksters already there were more than happy to share their stash of fresh nicotine sticks which were also used as chips in various games of chance. It was a beautiful New England late spring day so we played cards and lingered well into the afternoon. My grandfather and parents were about to make an appearance. I didn’t think a quick exit to say hello accompanied by a fresh breath of nicotine was a good idea. PG Bill and I made a hasty exit from the bank for a little personal cleanup.

Walking back with Bill in the late afternoon sun after my first visit to the Bank, for some unexplained reason and after four years, I felt like I was finally a full-fledged certified member of the Class of ’54. It was thanks to Tex, and the Bank where classmates gathered, to socialize and not to compete for grades or excellence on the field of play. We were there to share friendships formed over the years as classmates, friendships that would linger awhile on this glorious late spring day and then 24-hours later be changed forever as we left Pocumtuck Valley.

The next day was graduation. Instead of gathering at the Bank after the church service we gathered on the steps of the senior dorm and sank one last song. I was standing next to Bobby Shelton and for maybe the first and only time in four years we sang with tears streaming down our faces.

Sitting on the Las Vegas patio with Tom’s letter in hand along with a lonely Marlboro, I was reminded of a memorable young man’s journey, traveling by train 3,000 miles in 1950 from a town of 1,500, located on 1 ½ square miles of rolling hills surrounding a valley just north of San Francisco, to a school of 500 located on 330 acres in an historic New England town of 5,000. Tom’s letter and that lone cigarette reminded me of that day at the Bank before graduation, and what a diverse group we were, from great athletes like Tom, Bill, Walt, Asko, and Doc to great students like Fred, Peter, Lew, Don, and Rex.

In the end that afternoon at the Bank we were all on equal footing as classmates, nobody more superior, nobody more inferior. Tex and others might not have made big headlines in the Scroll, but they were important to complete the fabric of our class. In the Pocumtuck Valley on that last June day in 1954 we were all indispensable classmates as we took one last puff together at the Bank.

In the memory of and to honor Tom and Tex and so many others who joined us over four years in the classroom, on the fields, or at the Bank on that last day in June 1954, I lit up the lone and long discarded cigarette on a patio in Las Vegas surrounded by desert sand and cactus. It was a reminder that unlike the last puff on a nicotine stick, the lone cigarette was stirring up memories of classmates and their headmaster and his school touched by colonial history…and a band of equals about to be separated who were sitting together one last time on a ledge to take in the view…surrounded by fields of green tucked away in a Massachusetts Valley…where memories last forever.” – Peter Bolles ’54

Frequently Asked Questions

Upon graduating from Deerfield, alumni enter a diverse network of former Deerfield students. Deerfield alumni have ventured into almost every area of employment, and many are at the top of their respective fields. The advantages of this vast network are numerous and significant, as every member of the Deerfield family receives the following:

Alumni are also eligible for alumni awards, such as the Ashley Award, Heritage Award, and the Mimi Morsman Award.

There are no membership fees or dues for members of the Deerfield family, but Deerfield does ask for assistance in a few areas. First of all, in order for Deerfield to have the most up-to-date records possible, we encourage members to keep us apprised of their current contact info. Alumni are also urged to direct all concerns and suggestions regarding Deerfield’s operations through the Executive Committee, the governing body of the Alumni Association. The committee acts as the voice of the alumni body, and works closely with the school administration. In order to keep tuition affordable and the quality of a Deerfield education at its highest, the Academy depends upon the continuing support of alumni and their families. This support can take the form of annual or capital gifts, or time spent volunteering on behalf of Deerfield.

There are regional events in many major American cities. Please visit here for more information on regional engagement. 

Of course! Be sure to read the latest issue of From Albany Road in your email’s in-box for current news of what is happening on campus. As we also send out periodic invitations, it’s always best to make sure we have your current physical address. And if you do plan on visiting campus, why not tell us ahead of time?

Contact the Office of Advancement

7 Boyden Lane, PO Box 306
Deerfield, MA 01342