Bill is originally from Salisbury, NC and later moved to New Windsor to teach English. Bill taught at the New Windsor School teaching 10th grades.
STELLA: Today is October 16, 2008. I’m Stella Fazz, and my guest is William Hiatt. We’re here to participate in the local history project here in Carroll County and we’d like to preserve memories of former students, teachers, people who lived in New Windsor at some point in time. And Mr. Hyatt, before I begin asking any questions, would you like me to call you Mr. Hyatt or Bill or–
BILL HIATT: Bill will be fine.
STELLA: Ok. Um, perhaps you could give us a little background about yourself, how you’re related to New Windsor?
BILL HIATT: Well, I graduated from Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina in June of ’57. And I had friends who lived up in Hanover and they had applied for jobs teaching in Carroll County down in Maryland. So I applied and was told to come for an interview, which I did on Memorial Day. Uh, and then I came in the fall and was assigned to New Windsor School to teach, uh, English.
STELLA: So New Windsor was your very first assignment?
BILL HIATT: Very first assignment, yes, uh huh.
STELLA: Was it, um, grades 1 through 12 at the time?
BILL HIATT: The school was grades 1 through 12. There was a principal for the, uh, junior high and the high school and a principal for the elementary.
STELLA: And you were teaching which grade?
BILL HIATT: I had two classes of 10th grade English, two of 11th, and one of 12th. I had five classes, which was normal way.
STELLA: And were they large classes?
BILL HIATT: No, they were very small.
STELLA: And by small, does that mean 30? 20? Oh, 20.
BILL HIATT: Mostly about 20 people. Mm hmm.
STELLA: Well, since we’re talking about the classes and the class size and whether or not it was manageable and might be a good time to bring up the, uh, subject of behavior. Were your children, uh, during that time frame, paddling took place in the country. But I’m sure you didn’t paddle them.
BILL HIATT: No, they were too big to paddle. But they were very nice. I had very few discipline problems. It was a very small school even with the, uh, 1st through 8th grades being in the school. So there was really no problem. Everybody knew everybody else. And, uh, you know, just little things like talking and jumping around. Things of that nature. But no real problems at all.
STELLA: Well, uh, um, couple people who were interviewed for this project mentioned you in the interview. Um, they were, they were former students of yours. Uh, Daniel Hartsler. Does he ring a bell?
BILL HIATT: Oh, yes. I remember Danny quite well.
BILL HIATT: Yeah.
STELLA: Any memory– fond memories– any little story you can tell us about him?
BILL HIATT: Well, I think at, at the prom that first– second year– he graduated the second year I was in New Windsor, the last year for the school. Um. My date was from Hanover. And coming back, I gave out of gas. Uh, it was around one o’clock in the morning from taking her home. And I was out on the, um, well near the airport. I was in that area. And I got to a house and called to the fire hall in New Windsor where they were having a breakfast for the seniors. And Danny Hartsler came and picked me up and brought me to New Windsor because I had no gas in my car. Which was very nice of him.
STELLA: So besides being a good student, he was also a good–
BILL HIATT: He was a good student, a very fine person. He’s written a lot of books about Carroll County history– about guns– and we have them here in the library.
STELLA: And perhaps your teaching him English influenced his, his desire to go on and be a–
BILL HIATT: I don’t know about that but it’s a nice thought.
STELLA: I think he did say something in his interview that, um, you did shape, your teaching shaped and guided him.
BILL HIATT: Oh, that’s very kind of him, yeah.
STELLA: In his life. And there was also Peggy Fritz.
BILL HIATT: Oh, yes. Yeah, I remember. Uh huh.
STELLA: I think she was an athlete?
BILL HIATT: Yes, I– and she was a very good student too.
STELLA: Mm hmm.
BILL HIATT: I see her around town every now and then.
STELLA: You do?
BILL HIATT: Uh huh.
STELLA: Well, you taught at New Windsor but did you live in New Windsor?
BILL HIATT: At first, I lived in Westminster, uh, out, uh, at Fox Sunnybrook Farm. I had a trailer. And then I moved out to New Windsor and had lodgings in an old house right next to the Methodist Church. The house is still standing.
STELLA: And how close was that to the school?
BILL HIATT: About a block. It was wonderful. I could walk to school.
STELLA: So when it snowed, like five feet, you could, like, walk over to the school–
BILL HIATT: If I wanted to.
STELLA: Cuz school never closed, right?
BILL HIATT: Oh, school did close, yes. I remember, uh, in March, uh, we were out a whole week because of a bad storm. And I wasn’t used to that, being from North Carolina. We didn’t have many storms. But that was quite–
STELLA: Was this your first time to see snow here or did you actually see snow–
BILL HIATT: Oh, I’d seen snow before but these great amounts I had not seen before.
STELLA: Um, describe the typical day of teaching at this school. What it was like. Do– were you a whole– hall monitor or did you–
BILL HIATT: Um, I, uh, didn’t have a homeroom. I was a floater. Meaning that I went from room to room, which I hated because you had to pick up everything and run to the next room. But I did that for two years so I, I got used to it. Um, we had, uh, I think we didn’t start til 9 o’clock. We were– we started late in those days and slowly over the years it got earlier and earlier. Uh, and then school would be over about 4:00. Uh, we’d have, you know, homeroom exercises or what have you, the Bible reading, and, um, prayer. And I think sometimes they would sing too. I wasn’t in there but I think I heard them singing. And then we’d have our regular classes. And then lunch was down in the cafeteria.
STELLA: Mm hmm.
BILL HIATT: Uh, which is, is now, um, uh, the office of the people who do, uh, computer work for the library. I rec– when I toured the building, I recognized some of the places that, uh, where things were.
STELLA: So when you walked through there with all the changes with the library’s headquarters there now, could you– did it still take you back to certain memories?
BILL HIATT: Oh yes, yes, yes. Particularly when I got on what they’re calling the third floor was our second floor and they’ve done nothing except gut it up there. And I could see where my little office had been. I had a little office at the head of the stairs, the classrooms, and I knew where friends of mine taught. Now, the– downstairs, uh, the, the gym has become a meeting room. I remember that, uh, when it was a gym. And they saved the floor, which was wonderful.
STELLA: That’s beautiful.
BILL HIATT: Beautiful floor, uh huh.
STELLA: Um, how about recess? For high school students, did they still–
BILL HIATT: Well, I– we didn’t see the elementary people very much. There was a principal for the elementary school and one for the junior high and high school. So we just didn’t see them. They were in one end of the building and we were in the other. They were in what was then called the “new wing.” I think it had been built about ’53.
STELLA: Mm hmm.
BILL HIATT: And the school had been built in ’35.
STELLA: So total students at the time you were teaching was probably, with grades 1 through 12, with class sizes of about 20 or so, perhaps, 600?
BILL HIATT: No more than that. And the senior class was very small. I think there were really, like, maybe 30 people in the senior class, if that many.
STELLA: Wow. Graduating class– 30.
BILL HIATT: And we had graduation right in the school auditorium.
STELLA: Mm hmm. Well, is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t–
BILL HIATT: Well, uh, I did– I was the yearbook sponsor. That was a real trial– advisor, rather. I had never done yearbook in high school or college.
STELLA: Well, what made it a trial?
BILL HIATT: Because I’d never done it before and I didn’t know what I was doing. But–
STELLA: But after the first year–
BILL HIATT: Yeah, after the first year and, um, it was difficult because the kids who were going to be seniors, uh, would be mixed in when we got to Key with kids from another school. They don’t do that anymore. You finish in the school usually where you’re going if you’re, say, in the 10th grade. But these people were all thrown together– Elmer Wolfe and New Windsor and some from Taneytown– in Francis Scott Key for their senior year, which was awkward.
BILL HIATT: So we had to try to do as much as we could to end the New Windsors school.
BILL HIATT: Before we went to another school, you know.
BILL HIATT: It was a consolidation.
STELLA: A consolidation– then all of those students, you’re saying, they were in the yearbook? Or no? I’m a little confused.
BILL HIATT: Oh, I’m sorry. Yeah. Well, what we did with the yearbook the last year– the class of ’59 was the last class that graduated from New Windsor. Uh, we tried to do some history of the school and combine a lot of things. So it was more than just a yearbook of that class. It was sort of the whole school.
STELLA: So after ’59, then, you’re saying the consolidation took place.
BILL HIATT: Yeah. We, we went– most of us went to Francis Scott Key to teach.
STELLA: Mm hmm.
BILL HIATT: And, um, the teachers from Elmer Wolf came. And kids from Elmer Wolf and New Windsor and Taneytown.
STELLA: So you– have you always taught in Carroll County or–
BILL HIATT: No, no. I taught at, uh, New Windsor for two years and at Key for three, and then I went to Baltimore County.
STELLA: And you taught there how long?
BILL HIATT: Uh, let’s see– 25 years.
STELLA: Oh, wow. So that’s enough time to, um, compare, I suppose, your experience as a teacher in Baltimore County to Carroll County in the 50s and 60s–
BILL HIATT: Oh, it was a world of difference.
STELLA: Was it?
BILL HIATT: I was in a very big school, uh, in Baltimore County. I was only in two schools in Baltimore County but they were both large schools.
STELLA: Mm hmm. And having lived in New Windsor and taught there, in a much smaller school in the rural, uh, Carol county as opposed to– had to have been a big, big difference–
BILL HIATT: It was a big change. It was more like what I’d, I’d experienced in high school myself. Cause I went to a very large high school, which was more like a college campus, uh, when I was, uh, in school in, in North Carolina.
STELLA: Well, I, I do want to mention that, um, Dan mentioned that he had a substitute teacher, Dan Hartsler. And I don’t recall that teacher’s name, and, um, he said that that teacher took– he was a coach for the year– and he took his class that one day to swim because it was hot. They took them out to the creek right across the road.
BILL HIATT: Oh, really?
STELLA: Did you ever do anything like that? That was–
BILL HIATT: No, we took theater trips. We– one year we went to the Ford’s Theatre in Baltimore, which has now been torn down, to see Diary of Anne Frank. And then we took a bus trip the next year to see Bells are Ringing in Washington.
STELLA: Uh huh.
BILL HIATT: And, uh, well, oh you said did I have any troubles. Um, in the 12th grade, we studied haiku, that Japanese poetry.
STELLA: Mm hmm.
BILL HIATT: And so I had a Japanese tea party. And we sat on the floor and we put makeup on our eyes. We wore robes, you know, supposedly Japanese. And a teacher, elderly gentleman across the hallway, to a friend of mine and said, what is that young man doing in there? They’re all sitting on the floor drinking something– and this teacher said, oh, he’s just sort of crazy. They’re doing poetry. And then there was a bulletin board outside of my door where my little office was. And I got tired of trying to put things up, so I cut out some pictures of liquor ads and put them up and I got in trouble for doing that. I thought they were colorful.
STELLA: Uh huh. Yeah. It’s all about the color and the aesthetics–
BILL HIATT: But other than that, there was, uh, no great problems.
STELLA: Well, that sounds relatively harmless.
BILL HIATT: And being single and young, I got on every committee their was– with the prom, we had the prom in the school and we put up a false ceiling of crepe paper. And one year it got very damp and the paper started to sink down. And we had to– had to do some last minute alterations and–
STELLA: So this was before the prom actually started and you realized it was coming down.
BILL HIATT: Yes, before it began, yes. And then, uh, somehow or another I had something to do with the Valentine party one– Valentine dance one year– and it snowed. And the kids wanted to go to Baltimore to pick up some decorations and the principal said we couldn’t go. I had a terrible time trying to keep them from going to pick up these decorations.
STELLA: Oh, darn.
BILL HIATT: But it was a, it was a nice, a nice two years, it was a nice beginning for a teaching career.
Mm hmm. And nobody today has three preparations and– see, I had the same kids for three years and you just don’t do that anymore. I had them in 10th grade, 11th, and 12th, you know? So if they didn’t learn any English, it was my fault. There’s no question about it.
STELLA: So you knew you had to do it one year.
BILL HIATT: Yeah, uh huh, because I had them for three years, the same kids, you know. And it was interesting when we got to Key because I knew– my seniors, I’d had them for two years before, you know, and then here were these new people coming in. And I’d forget that these kids may not have had what the kids I had at New Windsor had. And so it was always a question of trying to get everybody on the same level, you know? That type of thing.
STELLA: Which is fairly typical, I would imagine, of teachers today.
BILL HIATT: Yeah. It– because they’re fed, fed in from all different places, yeah. Yeah.
STELLA: So your experiences at New Windsor and the students’ experiences were wonderful in that respect.
BILL HIATT: Yeah, yeah.
STELLA: Because you knew each other. They were small enough that– the classes– that you got to know each other and stayed together for–
BILL HIATT: Yeah, well, that was there– And I lived right on Main Street and the kids would come by and peck of my window.
BILL HIATT: They’d knock on the window. And sometimes they’d say, come out and talk to us. If it were nice weather, we’d sit on the porch and chat.
STELLA: Aww. That’s wonderful.
BILL HIATT: Which was nice too.
STELLA: Well, that concludes our interview unless you’d like to add one more thing? One more memory.
BILL HIATT: Well, I was thinking about this. The thing about teaching– I think this applies to all teachers– you begin to wonder, did you really teach what you should’ve taught? And did you really help the people who needed help? And that, that– I think– when I go back to reunions, I’m invited to a lot of the reunions, and those kids now are in their 60s.
STELLA: Mm hmm.
BILL HIATT: They’re not kids anymore but I still think of them as kids.
STELLA: Kid at heart.
BILL HIATT: You wonder if you really did teach what you– and I always feel I should apologize for not having taught what should have been taught.
STELLA: Oh, you’re too sweet. Well, if you go by what some of these former students are saying, I, I, I believe that you did, did teach them what you needed to teach them and you really had an impact.
BILL HIATT: Well, we tried.
STELLA: I mean, Dan is a published author so–
BILL HIATT: Oh, yeah, he’s a very successful person.
STELLA: And they both spoke very highly of you, so, not to worry. I think you did what you–
BILL HIATT: Oh, we did– they had never had much grammar so we did a lot of grammar and diagramming sentences, which is a no-no now. But just a few years ago, a, a student I had took a course at the community college in composition, writing, that type of thing. And she called me and she said, I was the only one in the class who knew what a predicate nominative was and what this case was and what that cass– and she said it was just wonderful. I was the only one in the class who knew anything, what the teacher was talking– and this was 40 something years later, so, it, that part did stick, I guess.
STELLA: So sort of like a mixed blessing there, you know, it’s a wonderful thing to know that you did what you were attempting to do. But at the same time, those other students who didn’t get that from other teachers, that’s–
BILL HIATT: Yeah. But that, that happens all of the time, yeah.
STELLA: Well, the teachers may have taught it.
BILL HIATT: There wasn’t really much course of study in the county– many courses of study. You sort of went on your own, which, uh, was difficult. And now everything’s prescribed. I don’t think I could teach today because you have to do certain things, you know. You can’t digress very much and I afraid I was a great digresser.
STELLA: And I’m sure the students appreciated that.
BILL HIATT: I think they enjoyed it sometimes, yes.
STELLA: Well, thank you, Bill.
BILL HIATT: Well, thank you very much. You’re very kind.