THE ANGEL'S STORY Chapter 17
Rosemary Hall School
While attending Rosemary Hall, my intent was to head for medical school and all that I imagined that it would be, partly due to a keen interest in Veterinary Medicine with Dr. Wallace Vail who cared for our ponies and the happy hours I had spent with Dr. Robert Riggins the summer of 1957. What happened at Garrison, was put out of my mind as I was too busy to think much about why I had been asked to leave the school. Mummy and Daddy mentioned something about “not being able to afford it.” That seemed to be a satisfactory answer at the time. It was not until I was in my thirties that my Grandmother told me why I had been asked to leave Garrison. I think that Dr. Schlogen must have scared the you- know-what out of my poor parents! Was there any more to this tale? I don’t know of course, because the subject was never again mentioned … by anyone.
So now, September 1958, I am back home once again, and not quite sure of why I was sent to Rosemary Hall. But this is how it was explained to me. It had been recommended to my parents ( I never knew by whom) that twins should never go to the same school and that comparisons would inevitably be drawn between the two and this was to be avoided at all costs. It was thought that in separate schools, there would not be any temptation to compare one twin with the other.
By the end of her tenth grade, my sister’s leg had finally mended and successful therapy had her back in the saddle. Once again she could attend The Greenwich Academy with her class. Amazingly, Instead of repeating the ninth grade, she carried a double load of all her ninth and tenth grade courses at once, so that she could remain with, and graduate with, her class in June of 1960. This must have been an incredibly difficult thing for her to do, but she did it and hung in there to the bitter end. She graduated with her class and went on to attend The Briar Cliff College in Briarcliff Manor, New York and then on to Columbia University where she graduated with a Teaching Degree.
Rosemary Hall turned out to be a wonderful experience too. The workload was awesome but somehow Music Appreciation with Joan Lundy and Art with Julius Delbos were slipped into our schedules anyway. At the end of every school year, the entire student body had the extraordinary privilege of performing in Shakespeare’s Plays in the School’s outdoor amphitheater. These were massive productions. Even now, I can still see my friend Jane Fillastre, strumming her lute by the stream, tripping and falling into the water onto her belly. She never missed a note and kept right on playing and singing while stuck in the muck! In my junior year, because I was a day student, I also had time to take a year of Ballet classes with teacher/choreographer, Felicity Foote at the Greenwich Ballet Work Shop. There, we were trained in the strict, classical traditions of The Russian Ballet. The lessons learned there would become the foundation for my dance sculptures in the coming years.
The last year of high school was tough going. The reality of getting into a college hung over our heads. My summer with Bobby Riggins, still had a powerful influence on me and medical school is where I was headed. I had heard that Columbia School of Physicians and Surgeons in New York had an accelerated program that would let one go directly to medical school from High School and in effect, you would graduate from both The University and Medical School at the same time. I decided that this program was made for me. Of course this route would be tough, but I thought that it could be done. I was determined to try. I called the school in October of my senior year and made an appointment for an interview in New York City. I was feeling very grown up taking a train to the city alone and then a taxi to the interview uptown. I was told, almost as soon as I walked in the door, that “You are quite attractive and will most likely get married and have children, and such candidates are a waste of our time and resources. Go home Miss Kelsey and be a nurse. Here is a brochure for the Hartford School of Surgical Nursing. They will take you down there ....Next!” And that was the end of the interview!
This interview caused my thinking to change course. Maybe music and maybe art? What to do? Now at the same time, both my twin sister and I had been invited to participate in the “ Gladstone” (New Jersey) try outs for U.S. Olympic, Equestrian Jumping Team. We were good riders but not nearly that good. Neither one of us was really qualified but it was nice to have been asked. The Horse option, of course, just added to the confusion of what to do.
I applied to the Peabody School of Music, The Rhode Island School of Design and the Hartford School of Surgical Nursing and was accepted by all three. O’ What to do? Confronted by both parents, I was told to make up my mind, on the spot and stick to my decision for at least two years. What to do? What to do? Well, I did not know what to do. But there was something that I did know and want, and that was, that I liked and wanted boys! Of that, I was certain.
I thought they were terrific and I was absolutely sure, that where ever I was sent, I would flatly refuse to go to another all girls’ school. So that decision immediately crossed out nursing school! The student bodies in nursing schools at that time were comprised of all females. I panicked over music school because I am dyslexic and could not read a note of music and was sure I would fail. That left Art School ….RISD ... I stammered. “ I will go to RISD.”
Thank goodness for Miss Rice’s words about art school and the Rhode Island School of Design because it was RISD that quelled the crisis. If you are accepted at RISD, you are automatically accepted at Brown University and can take whatever courses you want to at Brown as long as you can fit it into your schedule. What was Art School all about? What was I going to do with my life? I didn’t have a clue, but at least there were boys in the neighborhood and Mummy and Daddy were greatly relieved not to have their daughters, globe-trotting about the earth with strange men and their horses!
In the fall of 1959, Hello RISD! I accepted RISD’s early decision offer and absolutely loved the college and college life. RISD accepts you “As you are.” You have only to be yourself. There is no criticism of the individual, only of the work produced. The student body was made up of many different kinds of people, of every race, creed, color and sexual orientation. I was very grateful for my public school education, which allowed both my sister and me to fit into whatever environment we might find ourselves. (In this regard, I think my parents were quite shocked with their success.)
In the first year at RISD you take lots of survey courses and at the end of the year, you select your major course of study. Daddy told me to sign up for Illustration, just in case I might have to support myself one day. (Now that was a thought that never crossed my mind! It was made clear to us children that we were to grow up to be a good marriage partner for our husbands and that no matter what situation you might find yourself in, that you could and would be a strong supporting partner. ) In those days you did what your father told you to do! So dutifully, I signed up for illustration at the end of my freshman year. It was here that the angels intervened... In September, I found myself placed in RISD's sculpture program due to a clerical error. So much for good planning! Anyway, Sculpture stuck like a Band-Aid, and my career as a sculptor was underway.