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An Episcopal, co-educational 100% boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12

Letters Home
Liz Torrey

Excerpts from the correspondence of Jim Thomas ’58

Jim Thomas ’58 shared with us a collection of letters he wrote home to his parents during his five years at St. Andrew’s (back when we offered a II Form/8th grade year) from 1953 to 1958. Below are a selection of excerpts; we have retained Jim’s charming spelling and punctuation choices throughout. 

II Form Year

September 26, 1953 
I am feeling great, well, fine and happy. You don’t have to send any food, I’m getting enough to eat. But shucks if you insist, well, I imagine it could be eaten quite fast…. When meal time comes around everybody’s starved including me. The food really flows. There are lots of rules but if you just go naturally you don’t mind it…. Here is what a waiter does. 5 min. before dinner he goes into the kitchen and gets all of the plates and dishes for the meal and dessert, not including glasses and silverware because they are already on the table, salt and pepper also are. He... goes back to the kitchen and [gets] things like butter, milk, bread, and salad if any, comes back to his table [and] puts these things on the table. Bell rings, everyone comes into the dining room, grace is said and the waiter brings in the main course. He usually has to go back to the kitchen during the meal to get more. He clears the table of dishes and puts on the dessert dishes and gets dessert. The meal is finished. He clears the table and wipes it off, takes the dishes out in the kitchen. He is then through. 

III Form Year

September 26, 1954 
Things are going well and I am fine. Wed. we ate dinner and were occupied until lights. Thurs. up at 7:00 breakfast at 7:20. We get up a whole 15 minutes earlier this year and half to wear coats and ties all of the time. That’s really bad, isn’t it? … Sat. football game with Sidwell Friends of Wash., D.C. They beat us 24-14. Movie that night. Sun. after lunch worked in Lib. office… then went to advisors meeting where were served as follows: ice cream, cake, cookies, pepsi cola, and newspapers. 

February 20, 1955 
The weeks are flying by, it seems. In S.S. we are in the New Testament. We… are using a workbook that cost $1.35 called My Own Life of Crist. In English we are still reading David Copperfield while we do grammar work.... We are working on gerunds and particpals under part of speech. In Latin we are reading Julius Ceasar, not as whole, but only some of his campaigns. Mr. Voorhees draws pictures of the battles on the board from time to time to keep us straight. He also has what he calls “the happy question hour”, in which the class asks him questions about to translate Latin. I think his is taking a sabaticle next year and I shall miss his roaring classes. His classes are very funny.

IV Form Year

September 25, 1955 
I am well and feeling great. Football is going great. I feel more at home this year. I know the score. Bio is going to be fun. I have signed up for acolyte this week, something new. He is the boy [who] lights the candles. P.S. I ripped my gaberdine [sic] pants hacking in the dorm. 

February 13, 1956
Your tie you sent me arrived Friday after confirmation or at least that’s when I found out I had a package. Thank you. It is a great tie. I wore [it] to the afternoon dance Saturday. The girls arrive Friday afternoon to watch wrestling win and basketball lose. The speciality of the weekend was the square dance Saturday night. It was real hillbilly style. The only trouble was that the stags couldn’t break in much. After the girls left Sunday, Charles Knight and I went walking down Appoquinimink Creek. We saw many mallards, herring, gulls, several hawks... great blue heron, black ducks, and blackbirds by the million. We looked up and saw a turkey vulture, no, America’s national bird, the Bald Eagle. It was soaring over the trees and without a doubt one could see the white [head] and flat wings… I always get a thrill out of seeing this majestic bird. 

VI Form Year

September 29, 1957
Today I spent collecting mud for my project. Larry Harris and I went over to Noxontown Dam by Mrs. Ellison’s Mill and dredged a bit of mud from the bottom of Appoquinimink Creek. I wanted to get mud with a higher salinity and maybe find some different animals in it. My project is called a comparative study of the bottom muds of Nox. Pond, Silver Lake, and Appoq. Creek. I now have six jars of mud and must get more as soon as I can because the time for collecting will be past in a couple of weeks, so Mr. Amos says. Most of my work will be microscopic but I hope to find some large stuff. Mr. Amos is talking about going down to Lewis [Lewes, Delaware] and collecting some specimens there. 

February 26, 1958
Monday, our VI Form holiday, Mr. Schmolze called me into his office and showed me my acceptance from the Univ. of N.C. So it looks as if I get my grades back up you will have the accomplishment of getting all three sons into college. Looks like I am fortunate to get my first choice. Zoo is coming fine still… project is progressing. I now have six cores. Went out Sunday and chopped five holes in the ice at 20 foot intervals across [Pell’s] cove. Ice was 4” thick with 3” of frozen snow on top. I now have to study different layers. There are about ten, maybe more. Mr. Amos suggests that I send an article to some magazine when [I] get farther long in [my study of] cores.