Letters

Clear Pool Camp

This morning, on my way to work, I thought about a group of people whom I haven't seen nor heard from in many years. They were part of one of the best times of my life and my family's life and they were mostly Indiana grads. To be more accurate, they were undergrads.

Back in the late Fifties and early Sixties, my mother, Margaret “Peggy” Davis, was the nurse at a camp in Carmel, N.Y., that was run by the Boys’ Club of New York. It was called Clear Pool Camp. The director, William Elrod Petty, had a vision of turning the summer camp for underprivileged boys into an educational camp where they might learn the trades, sort of a vocational school. He spent most of his free time trying to further that dream.

One of his initial efforts was to upgrade the quality of the summer camp counselors by recruiting college students to replace the “city kids” who once ruled the roost. For several years, most of those counselors came from Indiana State Teachers College. They were a wonderful bunch of young men who became like family to us Davises. My mother kept in touch with some of them for a few years but eventually lost track.

For me and my two younger brothers, Glenn and Wayne, Clear Pool was such a part of our lives that our wives are tired of hearing “camp” stories. The years we spent there were full of very warm memories, many involving Indiana students. One year, the camp held a big competition between the “Collegiates” and the “Blivits.” Most of the Collegiates were Indiana guys or from California, Pennsylvania. The Blivits were the “old” school counselors and staff. The kids watched and cheered for their favorite teams while they played softball or volleyball or whatever.

This morning, some stream of consciousness got me to thinking about them and where they might all be now. I'm sure many are close to retiring from long careers in education. I know my mother would love to hear about or from some of them.

Bruce Davis
Scotch Plains, N.J.
BDavis@TinnermanPalnut.com

Seeing Is Believing

Congratulations on a great article and subject (Summer, 2004). The work done by the Millwards and Beth Palilla using the art of Robert Griffing along with original relics is outstanding and to be highly commended, as are you for printing it. For years I’ve wanted to submit an article to a professional magazine on the use of primary source material such as artifacts and relics in classes, but never got around to it. Now I am retired and can spend more time doing things I’ve always wanted to do, so I'm working on two articles for magazines and a book on collecting relics, as well as speaking for groups on historical topics.

Ever since my earliest days at ISC/IUP, I have pushed teachers to understand that it takes more than just knowledge of the subject, and to put forth a bit more effort, and also some bucks in order to improve their students’ classroom experience. As an undergrad, I had Miss Jane Mervine for a class on teaching and we had to come up with a sample lesson. I brought in a Confederate coat, wooden-soled shoes, and some other Civil War relics and talked about how much more students could learn about the war and those who fought it if only they could see such things. Miss Mervine was very excited about it and later, as my visiting or critic teacher when I was student teaching at Punxsutawney Junior High, she concurred with my supervising instructor, Mr. Frank Shaw, that I should get the first A he had ever given to a student teacher. Interestingly enough, the man who followed me the next semester was also a collector, and he got the second.

Throughout my thirty-five years of teaching, and also in the Army, I used these items to boost interest and motivate my students. Yes, it required the investment of some extra time and money to learn about such relics and buy them, as well as to travel to historic sites to take slides or photos and procure bulletin board materials to provide a backdrop for the relic displays, but it was well worth it. Now I have realized considerable appreciation on the value, and still use these things in presenting programs for my historical society, as well as schools, clubs, churches, and social groups. It also helps to be a little crazy and act out some of the things you’re talking about. To further illustrate my point, one day the announcements came on and reminded the teachers that the next day would be an Act 80 Day. One of my students asked me what we did on those days. I replied that we worked on ways to improve teaching our students. He came back instantly with, “Why don’t you try to get some of the teachers a personality?” Then he added, “and interest in their subject.” I think that says a lot. We’ve got to do something to improve the teaching in our schools in all subjects, but especially in the (shudder...I hate the term) Social Studies. There is a perception that these subjects, and especially history, are the most boring subjects in school, but this is true only if the teacher is boring and not overly interested as well. I think I proved that abundantly at Neshannock, where I taught.

Many of my students became so interested in history that they went into teaching it themselves, and several told me to urge my students to keep their notebooks for use in college because, as one put it, “We didn’t go nearly as deeply into the Revolutionary or Civil Wars as we did in your class, and we could impress the professors with the information you gave us.” One of these students, Dana Shoaf, is now the editor of America’s Civil War magazine, and another, Michael Kraus, is an historical sculptor, having done the statue of Colonel Strong Vincent in Erie, and has been military advisor on the films Gettysburg and Cold Mountain, and I am quite proud of them both. Mike also has produced several Civil War tapes/DVDs titled Civil War Minutes I and Civil War Minutes II—Confederate, in which some of my collection is featured, and I also had the pleasure of narrating it. I think we can make a very significant impact on our students if only we put forth a little more effort.

Charles (Chuck) King ’61, M’69
New Castle, Pa.

More Teaching Tools

As an educator I was fascinated to read about Bob and Kathleen Millward’s efforts to teach history through artwork (Summer, 2004). This is a wonderful way to make the French and Indian War come to life for the students. I would like to extend the opportunity to the Millwards, and all educators, to enhance and update their teaching tools by using the site www.armyheritage.org to further extend the meaningful learning experience. There they will find links to the Virtual Museum, which contains three exhibits focusing on different wars in our nation’s history.

Of particular interest is the contribution by Willard Dominick ’46, WWII veteran and IUP alumnus from the Class of 1946 (currently available only on CD-ROM, as the site is still under construction). His paintings, sketches, journal entries, and a video interview provide an intimate portrait of life as a soldier in the South Pacific. Mr. Dominick was featured in the Summer 2001 issue of IUP Magazine in the “More Special People” section. He has donated his collection of artifacts, letters, journals, and artwork to the U.S. Army Military History Institute at the War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Much of this contribution can be viewed (along with sound bites) on the previously mentioned website and serves as firsthand documentation of WWII. Willard Dominick continues to create paintings on a wide range of subjects, and he exhibits his work throughout the nation. One painting, Broomrakes, is on display in the office suite of IUP’s vice president for Institutional Advancement, 301 John Sutton Hall.

Susan Dominick Mussoline ’71
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.