Sunday, January 7, 2018

Choate Headmaster Seymour St. John, 1960's

Photos by Salt Water New England
What follows are some photographs of Choate Headmaster Seymour St. John taken throughout the 1960s.  In this entry are some of the comments made to me from a handful of old and close mutual friends.

"His birthday was the same as Dad's and they grew up together there on the Choate campus. His father had been headmaster before him.  Seymour married us in the Choate Chapel."

"As you know, he was my cousin and he was the most charming man.”

"Seymour looked like a model...  I never ever saw him the least bit rumpled."

"One of my biggest regrets in my life was turning down his offer to dance..."

"Seymour had an ice skating party every winter and would ask me to skate with him. I can't tell you what that was like."

"Seymour knew the name of every boy."

"I loved Seymour and his Springer Spaniel. Later he had a pet otter who followed him around.  The otter would periodically go missing as the instrument of many a Choate boys' pranks."

"Gram and Seymour's mother were great friends.  Gram called Seymour her 'naughty little boy'.  He would climb up into the bell tower and ring the bells attempting to play Johnny Get Your Gun and wake her sleeping babies.... Gram's house is now part of the campus."

"These photographs catch Seymour perfectly. He looked like that ALL of the time."

From left to right: Then Choate Headmaster Seymour St. John, his father, George St. John (former Head of Choate), Poet Robert Frost, and Philanthropist Paul Mellon ("who probably paid for the whole shebang"). 
Choate Headmaster Seymour St. John (left) greeting Yale President Kingman Brewster (right) 


  1. I remember teachers wearing coat and tie to teach.... When I retired I was the only male faculty in jacket and tie. Even administration was in polo shirts...and we won't discuss the abomination young teachers wear now days.

    1. In my first K-8 school we were required to wear clothes on the formal side of business casual. I completely understand why they would require teachers to dress nicely but I was paid 32,000 a year as a third grade teacher and had a dry cleaning bill that probably equaled that. I spent a lot of time, effort, and money trying to look professional on a salary that didn't really accommodate those requests - business casual clothes don't hold up to the wear and tear of being on the floor and sitting on tiny chairs with thirty eight year olds in today's active learning environments.

      I (like so many others...) left the teaching profession because it simply didn't pay to stay. What a shame teaching is now a "starter career" for so many of us! There are a lot of factors that lead to teachers leaving but the low, low pay is one of them!

      - ER

    2. @GovTeach: Thank you for setting a high standard and example for the youth you taught. Still today, caring about appropriate appearance is the “mark” of a basic respect. There is a time and place for all attire. Knowing them is a part of a well-rounded education.

  2. The B & W photos are often much more evocative of a time and place than color images. It is why, in this digital age and despite the ability to convert images in camera to B & W, I still shoot B & W FILM!

    Yes, film. There are still quite a few varieties and speeds produced and while getting them developed is less convenient than it once was, is still possible. As long as I possess working film cameras and B & W film is manufactured, I will continue to use it.

    Once again Muffy, thank you for posting these photos that because they are in B & W have so eloquently captured time and place.

  3. Margaret (Meg) St JohnJanuary 9, 2018 at 10:34 PM

    Thank you for some vivid memories. This multi-faceted, lively and loving man was my dad. My cousin kindly forwarded the photos and comments.