Mr. Crowley and the Quiet Revolution

1 Feb

The headmaster of my boarding school–what the English would call a “public school” — was a tall, unbending, flinty New Englander who brought to mind a combination Ethan Allen Hawley, the morally-tortured Long Islander in Steinbeck’s “Winter of Our Discontent,” and Edith Wharton’s doomed Ethan Frome. Add a dash of James Cromwell (for height and angularity) and there was my headmaster presiding over the prep school. The man’s unshakable belief in the virtues of history, tradition, and culture only slightly overshadowed his impeccable and improbably-white teeth. The headmaster had held the prestigious post since 1943. One sunny, cold, and sharp Sunday in 1971 while delivering a routine lecture at chapel services, he must have sensed something amiss. Pausing from his text to peer out over his spectacles, he was nonplussed to see that all of us boys were stood up in unison, and were silently filing out. Not sure what else to do, he meekly fell in behind, following as we marched up Middlesex Street. The student ringleaders, seeing the cuspidated, loping figure of the headmaster tagging along behind, sent word to ask if he would like to join them at the front. He complied. The next day’s headline in the local newspaper read: “Headmaster leads students in anti-Vietnam War protest.” To my knowledge, it was the beginning and the end of Mr. Crowley’s career as a political agitator. This mildly humorous episode merely underscored what we all had already known. It was not that the headmaster was a bad man, or uncaring, or hostile to student sentiments: much the contrary. It was simply that, with a mental architecture adjusted to a world which had long since faded, like all of us will, he had become irrelevant.

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2 Responses to “Mr. Crowley and the Quiet Revolution”

  1. Ava Joe 01/02/2011 at 1:47 PM #

    Another stunning contribution to the world of words. You had me at Jasmine.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Mr. Crowley and the Quiet Revolution « (S)wine: ShortLeanCuts -- Topsy.com - 01/02/2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alex M. Pruteanu, nate Innomi. nate Innomi said: RT @lx69: A very, very short story on a very, very short revolution: http://bit.ly/gsUwlN […]

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