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Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Part of the Truth": School Politics

"Grafton having seven one-room schools, attempts were constantly being made to bring all or at least some of the common school districts into the Berlin Central District.  Mildred Craib, who was superintendent of an area that included Grafton, Berlin, and a couple of other towns, was a woman of enormous patience and persistence, and in the spring of 1941 she began to agitate, as she had done before, for centralization.  Two of Mrs. Craib's children, Pat and Bill, were friends of Steph -- an older son, Rod, was away at college -- and we came to know the Craibs well.  A local committee was formed, of which I was a member, along with Harry Nugent, who was the Republican boss of the town.  Although he kept an eye on public sentiment, as befitted a politician, Harry worked hard, and we attended conferences at the State Education Department and brought speakers to public meetings in Grafton.  In addition to the usual arguments -- "One-room schools were good enough for me," and, "I can't afford to pay any more taxes" -- we had to combat a special prejudice against Berlin -- "Why go any further into the backwoods?  Why not send the kids to Troy?"  But for a while it appeared that we were making progress, and if in the end our campaign came to nothing, at least it broadened my knowledge of the town and gave me material for the novel."

Hicks, Granville. Part of the Truth. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1965.


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