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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Declan Whately Prep p. 12


Marrying Julia was not a choice I made with my heart. I made the decision to marry her because it was rational and it solved problems for both of us. We have made a good team.  Our children reflect the best of us. They have my athletic prowess, my patience and my curiosity about life, while they have Julia’s intelligence, handsome, good looks, and gorgeous smile.  The rest was Russian Roulette with genetics.  The Drs. Dickinson did an excellent job instilling values into Julia.  Her mother, formerly a practicing physician at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, had a vibrant career until her illness struck.  Marshall Dickinson, Ph.D, was dedicated to Whately Prep and the 350 students who spent four years of their lives invested in the place. I have watched the school, almost an organic being, change over the past twenty-five years. The turnover of the classes is not unlike the turnover of cells.  Individuals change, but the entity remains whole.  Quite a phenomenon when it comes right down to it.  I was a member of the class of 1987.  
Being born into the Carter family comes with certain baggage.  Of course, when I was younger, it seemed less like baggage and more like perquisites.  I sensed that I was treated with more deference and more respect than I had earned in my own right. Teachers made exceptions if my papers were late, small transgressions of rudeness were overlooked by friends and I was chosen captain of my basketball team before ever shooting a basket.  Money does that.  Carter Ladders are the number one selling ladder in the U.S. and just shy of number three internationally.  This position of commercial success was the result of the skills of management and ingenuity demonstrated by father and his brothers.  The hope was that I would step into my father’s shoes one day, becoming CEO of Carter Ladders.  My cousins simply did not have the intellectual cachet from which to draw to aspire to such a lofty goal. 
Some of the high points of my student years at Whately Prep included fireworks in Amherst, skiing in Stowe, spring break in Nevis, and a memorable raid of the girls’ dormitory that, for anyone else, would have resulted in suspension.  I pulled out my Visa and offered to plant roses under the windows to deter other amorous invaders.  My cohorts and I spent a warm Saturday morning, digging, planting and fertilizing roses.  They thrive in the sandy soil as long as it is augmented with bone meal when the plants are put into the ground.  I left a kitty to ensure that they were fed rose food over ensuing years.  A secret many gardeners do not share is that the addition of 1/4 cup of Epsom salts (magnesium) increases flower production and the intensity of the color of the blooms. My mother, without ever intending to, passed on much of her knowledge and all of her love for the genus rosa.  The fragrance of a rose, its artfully arranged petals and its simple defensive adaptation of rigid thorns along its stem are part of what appeals to me about the flower. What I like most of all is the brutal cutbacks they can withstand and, instead of surrendering to defeat, they grow back more lush and flower in greater profusion.  Roses may well be the best metaphor for life that I have encountered.  It brings me pleasure to insure the campaign to grow roses on school ground does not let up.  Thus far, I have overseen the introduction of eleven varieties and over 235 rose plants on campus.  

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