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Lasell's Founder's Day Memories
November 14, 2011
Happy Founder's Day!
The first class at Lasell was held November 13, 1851. Below are excerpts from a 2009 interview with Dr. Donald Winslow, who wrote the College's history. Winslow, who passed away in 2010, grew up on campus when his father Guy Winslow was Lasell's president.
Q:How did Founder's Day came to be?
Winslow: The actual day was an arbitrary choice. I was compiling all the papers for the archive and I was writing the history of Lasell and I discovered in the catalogs that the very first class was on November 13th, 1851. Since there was no actual day (of acknowledgement) set by Edward Lasell - the founder of the school - we decided that it was appropriate. The first Founder's Day was celebrated November 13th, 1981 - which was the 130th birthday celebration.
Q: What are some of your fondest memories of being at and around Lasell?
Winslow: I had the benefit, from growing up here, of going to the students' shows in Yamawaki (it was then called Carter Hall). There was a little balcony that could hold about four people. My sister and I would go up there to watch the shows. They performed in French and German, there were concerts, organists, visiting performers and lecturers. There was one lecturer I remember, he was an astronomer named William R. Brooks, who was the Director of the Smith Observatory. He discovered 27 comets and told the Lasell students he would name one after the school. On October 21st 1912 he wrote the school on a postcard that he had named a comet after us: the Lasell Brooks Comet. The Lasell News at the time said he had, "hitched our school to a star."
When people would come to speak they would often have dinner with my family. I remember Robert Frost came to speak and had dinner with us. My father showed him a wood log he had been given. The log was very old and when the tree was cut down, inside you could see three ax marks on the inner part of the trunk. My father explained to Frost that the marks meant that it was a witness tree used to mark the boundary of a property. When Frost wrote his next book of poetry, which won a Pulitzer Prize, he named it "The Witness Tree" after the log my father had shown him.
Q: What do you think today's students would be surprised to know about Lasell?
Winslow: Today's students would be surprised by how much the (female) students were controlled back then. Students couldn't have a young man come visit them. If they went downtown, they couldn't go alone. There was a lack of freedom. When my father was head of the school, if a girl was caught smoking, she would have been expelled. Girls had to wear long dresses and they had to learn to swim to graduate. Lasell was the first school to have a swimming pool.