1860 photo taken 4 days after Mr.
Lincoln visited Lincoln, Illinois, for the last time. Info at 3 below.
His town does too.
Link to Lincoln:
Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership
Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of Lincoln, IL
Abraham Lincoln and the Historic Postville
including a William Maxwell connection to the Postville Courthouse
About Henry Ford and the Postville Courthouse,
the Story of the Postville Courthouse Replica,
Tantivy, & the Postville Park
Neighborhood in the
Route 66 Era
The Rise of Abraham Lincoln and His History and
Heritage in His First Namesake Town,
also the founding of Lincoln College, the plot to steal Lincoln's
body, and memories of Lincoln College and the Rustic Tavern-Inn
Introduction to the Social & Economic History of
including poetry by William Childress & commentary by Federal Judge
Bob Goebel & Illinois Appellate Court Judge Jim Knecht
"Social Consciousness in William Maxwell's
Writings Based on Lincoln, Illinois" (an article published in the
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, winter 2005-06)
Peeking Behind the Wizard's Screen: William
Maxwell's Literary Art as Revealed by a Study of the Black Characters in
Billie Dyer and Other Stories
Introduction to the Railroad & Route 66 Heritage
of Lincoln, Illinois
The Living Railroad Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois:
on Track as a Symbol of the "Usable Past"
Route 66 Overview Map of Lincoln with 42 Sites,
Descriptions, & Photos
The Hensons of Business Route 66
The Wilsons of Business
Route 66, including the Wilson Grocery & Shell
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial
(former Chautauqua site),
the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Salt Creek &
the highway bridges, GM&O bridge, Madigan State Park, the old dam (with
photos & Leigh's memoir of "shooting the rapids" over the old dam), &
the Ernie Edwards' Pig-Hip Restaurant Museum in Broadwell
The Historic Logan County Courthouse, Past &
Route 66 Map with 51 Sites in the Business &
Courthouse Square Historic District,
including locations of historical markers
(on the National Register of Historic Places)
Vintage Scenes of the Business & Courthouse Square
The Foley House: A
Monument to Civic Leadership
(on the National Register of
the Route 66 Era
Arts & Entertainment Heritage,
the Lincoln Theatre Roy Rogers' Riders Club of the
Cars, Trucks & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era
Churches, including the hometown
churches of Author William Maxwell & Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
Factories, Past and Present
Food Stores of
the Route 66 Era
Hospitals, Past and Present
Hotels & Restaurants of the Railroad & Route 66
Lincoln Developmental Center
(Lincoln State School & Colony in
the Route 66 era), plus
debunking the myth of
Lincoln, Illinois, choosing the Asylum over the University of Illinois
Mining Coal, Limestone, & Sand & Gravel; Lincoln Lakes; & Utilities
Museums & Parks, including the Lincoln College
Museum and its Abraham Lincoln Collection, plus the Heritage-in-Flight
News Media in the Route 66 Era
The Odd Fellows' Children's Home
Memories of the 1900 Lincoln Community High School,
including Fred Blanford's dramatic account of the lost marble
fountain of youth
A Tribute to the Historians and Advocates of
Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era
The Historic 1953 Centennial Celebration of
The Festive 2003 Sesqui-centennial Celebration of
Lincoln, Illinois, including photos of LCHS Class of 1960
dignitaries & the Blanfords
Why Did the State Police Raid Lincoln, Illinois,
on October 11, 1950?
The Gambling Raids in Lincoln and Logan County,
During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960)
in this section tell about Leigh Henson's Lincoln years, moving away,
revisits, and career:
About Lincoln, Illinois;
This Web Site; & Me
A Tribute to Lincolnite Edward Darold
Henson: World War II U.S. Army Veteran of the Battles for Normandy and
the Hedgerows; Brittany and Brest; and the Ardennes (Battle of the
For Remembrance, Understanding, & Fun: Lincoln
Community High School Mid-20th-Century Alums' Internet Community
(a Web site and
email exchange devoted to collaborative memoir and the sharing of photos
related to Lincoln, Illinois)
Leigh Henson's Pilgrimage to Lincoln, Illinois, on
July 12, 2001
Review of Dr. Burkhardt's William Maxwell Biography
Leigh Henson's Review of Ernie Edwards' biography,
Pig-Hips on Route 66, by William Kaszynski
Leigh Henson's Review of Jan Schumacher's
Glimpses of Lincoln, Illinois
Teach Local Authors: Considering the Literature of
Web Site About
Leigh Henson's Professional Life
in this section are about the writing, memorabilia, and Web sites of
A Tribute to Bill and Phyllis Stigall:
Exemplary Faculty of Lincoln College at Mid-Twentieth Century
A Tribute to the Krotzes of Lincoln, Illinois
A Tribute to Robert Wilson (LCHS '46): Author of
Young in Illinois, Movies Editor of December Magazine,
Friend and Colleague of December Press Publisher Curt Johnson, and
Correspondent with William Maxwell
Brad Dye (LCHS '60): His Lincoln, Illinois, Web
including photos of many churches
Dave Armbrust's Memorabilia of Lincoln, Illinois
Fikuarts of Lincoln, Illinois, including their
connections to the William Maxwell family and three generations of
family fun at Lincoln Lakes
Jerry Gibson (LCHS '60): Lincoln, Illinois,
Memoirs & Other Stories
Dave Johnson (LCHS '56): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1956
Sportswriter David Kindred: Memoir of His
Grandmother Lena & Her West Side Tavern on Sangamon Street in the Route
Judge Jim Knecht
(LCHS '62): Memoir and Short Story, "Other People's Money," Set in
Hickey's Billiards on Chicago Street in the Route 66 Era
William A. "Bill" Krueger (LCHS '52): Information
for His Books About Murders in Lincoln
Norm Schroeder (LCHS '60): Short Stories
Stan Stringer Writes About His Family, Mark
Holland, and Lincoln, Illinois
Thomas Walsh: Anecdotes Relating to This Legendary
Attorney from Lincoln by Attorney Fred Blanford & Judge Jim Knecht
Leon Zeter (LCHS '53): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1953,
including announcements of LCHS class reunions
(Post yours there.)
Highway Sign of
The Route 66
Association of Illinois
State Historical Society
Marquee Lights of the Lincoln Theatre, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois
A Tribute to Bill and Phyllis Stigall:
Exemplary Faculty of Lincoln College at Mid-Twentieth Century
Photos of Bill and Phyllis
Stigall from the 1961 Lincoln College Yearbook, the
The key to effective education is high-quality teaching; and during my
freshman year at Lincoln College in Lincoln, Illinois (1960-61), I had four
teachers who inspired me to continue my education: Mr. James T. Hickey, who
taught a course in the life of Abraham Lincoln; the Reverend John T. Burns,
who taught a survey of world religions; Mrs. Florence Molen, who taught
literature; and Mr. William J. ("Bill") Stigall, Jr., who taught a survey of
fine arts course. Mr. Stigall's wife, Phyllis, was the librarian.
I was impressed with the range of Mr. Stigall's knowledge, which spanned the
arts of painting, music (symphonies, jazz, and opera), ballet, architecture, and literature. He was also very responsive to
students. For example, I remember he assigned the class to read Hamlet,
but when students complained that it was too hard for them, he simply
replaced it with some other literary work. I had mixed feelings because I
was reading Hamlet and was enjoying Mr. Stigall's discussion of it. A
few years later, as an English major at Illinois State University, I wrote a paper
on Prince Hamlet's soliloquies. (I did well enough on it that I have proudly
As a student at Lincoln
College, I was reticent and did not try to talk to my instructors outside of
class, except occasionally when I was concerned about my grade. Since I earned As in Mr. Stigall's class, I had no special reason to have a conference with him, but
he was someone who, I thought, would be interesting to talk to, although I sensed
that he was an extrovert and I was not. My recollection is that his office
was located on the main floor of University Hall, just one floor up from and
main entrance. Often when I passed his office, it was overflowing with
students, and I thought they were trying to suck up to him. Even had I been
bolder and sought to visit with him, I would have had plenty of competition.
Coincidentally, I also knew that the Stigalls lived on Hudson Street in one
of Lincoln's fine old neighborhoods near Lincoln College. I recall seeing
Mr. Stigall in his front yard when I visited my high school classmate, young
Pete Franz, whose parents lived across the street from the Stigalls. Life in
a small town. . . . As William Maxwell wrote, "what would be the point
of living somewhere you did not know everybody?" (Ancestors, p. 189).
One indication of Mr. Stigall's effectiveness at Lincoln College is that the
students dedicated the 1962 yearbook, the Lynxite, to him with the
following tribute: "Dedication is an appropriate word in describing
William Stigall. During the six years he has taught at Lincoln College, Mr.
Stigall has been a warm friend whose respect for students has in turn gained
him their admiration. He has fulfilled the highest aims of Lincoln College
with his sincere interest in learning, school activities, and--above
all--the student as an individual."
As the years
passed, I knew the Stigalls had left Lincoln, and I often wondered where
they had gone and how they had continued their careers and lives. As I
developed this community history Web site of Lincoln, Illinois, I also
wondered if either of them had published anything or if using the Internet
would allow me to find
anything at all about the Stigalls. Search engines enabled me to
discover Mrs. Stigall's 2004 obituary. I had also learned to search eBay
regularly for mementos of Lincoln, Illinois, because I had found many
picture postcards, Stetson commemorative plates, and books that way,
including Lincoln College Alum Robert Wilson's fine book titled Young in
Illinois. Late in 2005, while searching eBay, I was pleasantly surprised
to see a book for sale that was attributed to Mr. Stigall: I Couldn't Be Better: A
Memoir (135 pages, © Estate of William J. Stigall,
Jr., 2002, entered at the Library of Congress). (To me, this title
reflects the direct, conversational Midwestern dialect--the same kind
of language found in William Maxwell's style and represented by his novel's
So Long, See You Tomorrow.)
Of course, I had to have
Mr. Stigall's autobiography. After I
purchased the book, I was gratified to see that Chapter
Seven is titled "My Eleven Years at Lincoln College, 1955-66." That chapter
gave me the idea of adding this Stigall tribute page to the Lincoln
community history Web site. My thinking was that such a tribute would be appropriate to supplement the brief information I had already included
The State of Illinois granted a charter to Lincoln University (now Lincoln
College) on February 6, 1865, and ground was broken for University Hall on
February 12, 1865--Abraham Lincoln's last living birthday (Lincoln: The
Namesake College). From its beginning, Lincoln College has benefited the
first Lincoln namesake town and Logan County in far-reaching ways.
Some kinds of benefits can be measured. For example, a recent study reported
that Lincoln College is one of Logan County's top 10 employers and made a
13-million-dollar contribution to the local economy in 2005 (LincolnDailyNews.com,
9-25-06). In my view, the greatest contributions of Lincoln College,
however, are even more profound but intangible and cannot easily be measured: these
contributions are made by the productive people who have attended or
graduated from Lincoln College, including countless professional and
business people, for example, such well-known figures as Judge-Historian Lawrence Stringer,
Dr. William "Billie" Dyer (one of this nation's first black physicians), Civic Leader and Philanthropist David H. Harts, Jr., Historian James T. Hickey, Diplomat Armin Meyer,
Congressman Edward Madigan, and Author Robert Wilson. The superior
education that students at Lincoln College earn results from
such talented and dedicated faculty as Mr. Stigall, Mr. Hickey, Rev. Burns,
and Mrs. Molen.
Histories of Lincoln and Logan County, Illinois, have not well explained the
that Lincoln College, its faculty, and its students have made to American society. Mr. Stigall's memoir of his
time at Lincoln College affords a rare primary source for insight into the
values, beliefs, and knowledge of a highly effective teacher; his personal
and family life; his lifestyle; as well as his teaching materials and
methods. Mr. Stigall's autobiography also provides insight into the history
and development of Lincoln College during a crucial period when it would
either survive or perish. Thus, I set about finding someone who might be
able to give me permission to use Mr. Stigall's autobiography in this Web
site for these purposes.
Using Internet search engines, I was happy to
locate Mr. and
Mrs. Stigall's son, Sam Pooley, Ph.D. He is the director of the Pacific
Islands Fisheries Science Center in Honolulu, Hawaii (for more information
about this organization, see links under Works Cited). I wrote Dr. Pooley a
letter telling him of my discovery of his father's autobiography, which
Dr. Pooley and his mother as editors had created from Mr. Stigall's voluminous files. My letter
explained that Mr. Stigall's
writing about his experience while at Lincoln College is remarkable for its
originality and potential to help me complete the cultural history of
Lincoln, and I thus requested to use material of the autobiography to
augment my community history Web site of Lincoln.
In his email reply of
9-13-06, Dr. Pooley graciously approved my request:
Dear Professor Henson -- It was indeed a pleasure, and a surprise, to
receive your letter today. Let me jump right to your question: yes
indeed, I would be pleased if you used the chapter on Lincoln from "I
couldn't be better" by William J. Stigall, Jr. Non-commercially and
with the appropriate copyright recognition, etc., etc. as you suggest in
Ironically I ran across your website while looking for some information
about Lincoln - it is a wealth of information. You have a remarkable
knack for tying together interesting facets of a small town. I always
thought Lincoln wasn't quite like the other small towns I knew because
of Lincoln College, and I noticed your website was a bit thin there, so
if this "fleshes it out", that would be excellent. For a small college,
it did generate some interesting alums who stayed in touch with my dad
throughout his life.
I'm a bit surprised that the book itself came into your hands, since we
only prepared a small number of them, but so be it. And Lincoln was a
good chapter in his quite eventful life (and obviously good for me).
As for my mother's writing, I'm afraid she was indeed a librarian, which
means she catalogued everything but reserved her own writing to
Feel free to follow up if you have any questions, and I look forward to
Best regards, and Aloha -- Sam Pooley
The core of this Stigall tribute page is based on
Mr. Stigall's autobiography, I Couldn't Be Better: A Memoir,
including photos from the autobiography. Besides the chapter on the Stigalls' time at
Lincoln College, I include other selected information from Mr. Stigall's
autobiography because it shows the breadth and depth of his personal and
experiences in graduate study, the theater, the military, teaching, travel, and
public service: for several years Mr. Stigall was on the Board of the Lincoln
Public Library and served as its president for a time. In my
view, the richness of his life is important to help dispel the myth that
college teachers live secluded lives in ivory towers.
(Also, I confess to my own effort to dispel another myth: if you find
something in this Lincoln community history Web site of interest, I am
disproving the misconception/myth that instructors in higher education
produce only "useless knowledge.")
This tribute begins with a biographical sketch of Phyllis Graham Stigall and
continues with a summary of the
life of Bill Stigall, including most of the chapter titled "My Eleven Years at Lincoln College, 1955-66"
(direct link to text below). I also offer selected information relating to
Mr. Stigall's retirement and his World War II published memoir titled A
Shower of Frogs. Supplementary photos and text from various other sources are used
throughout this Web page.
Darold Leigh Henson, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of English
Missouri State University, Springfield
A Biographical Sketch of Phyllis
Phyllis Graham Stigall (1917--2004) was born in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. She graduated from
Stevens College and Northwestern University and received her master's
degree in library sciences from the University of Michigan. She had
worked for the USO and YWCA during World War II.
Phyllis Graham married Richard Patten Pooley in 1943. The Pooleys
moved to Lincoln, Illinois, when Mr. Pooley was hired in the 1947-48
academic year by Lincoln College as its head librarian. At that time,
the College was developing its general education (liberal arts)
curriculum, emphasizing "conventional English, the role of physical
training, and the lure of the Great Books course, sponsored jointly by
the college and the University of Chicago's College" (Lincoln: The
Namesake College, p. 89).
"Special attention was given veterans and their problems, and a group of
dormitories, five war surplus units, were erected to the east of the
gymnasium. . . . Some outstanding young teachers were brought to the
campus, including Dean Richard Pooley, David Stevenson, and Clarence
Sims. Pooley, a graduate of Grinnell College and an Army captain, came
to Lincoln as librarian, but was soon appointed acting dean" (Lincoln:
The Namesake College, p. 89).
Richard Pooley came to Lincoln College at a crucial time in its history. "Postwar
enrollment surged for a while, and the campus sprang back into life with
the enrollment of many World War II veterans. But, by the fall of 1948,
veteran registration had tumbled to thirty-six, and the total enrollment
was only ninety-five. . ." (The Lincoln College Story: 1865--1995,
p. 29). As a military man, Richard Pooley would have been especially
interested in attracting and retaining veterans as students, and they
undoubtedly would have viewed him as a role model.
(Photo from Lincoln:
The Namesake College, p. 90)
Tragically, Richard Pooley succumbed to rheumatic fever in December of
1950. In his short time at Lincoln College, he "had accomplished much.
Under his direction the general education course was largely developed,
the remodeled library devised, the increased personnel services to the
students were brought into being. It was said of him that 'his
affirmative Christian philosophy, touching all his activities and
relationships with students, his colleagues, and his friends in the
community' was his outstanding trait" (Lincoln: The Namesake College,
Mrs. Pooley had given birth to their son, Sam, in 1948; and after her
husband's passing, she left a year or two later for the University of
Michigan to work on her master's. In 1952, Mrs. Pooley returned to
Lincoln College as the head librarian (The Namesake College, p. 101).
Mrs. Pooley first met Bill Stigall when in 1955 he interviewed at
Lincoln College for a position as an instructor of drama and of a course
"that was a descendent of the St. John's Basic Books Course; it was
called Basic Studies" (I Couldn't Be Better, p. 58). Bill
Stigall and Phyllis Pooley became engaged on February 25, 1956;
and they married in New York on August 11, 1956 (pp. 60-61). The Stigalls remained at Lincoln College until 1966, when they moved to
Poughkeepsie, NY, where Bill began his new teaching job at Dutchess
Community College (pp. 70-71).
Mrs. Stigall was "manager of publications and libraries for the IBM
Thomas J. Watson Research Center Yorktown Heights, NY, until her
retirement in 1988. She was an avid reader, writer, and traveler, and
she was a strong supporter of women's rights, including the League of
Women Voters. She wrote several books of genealogy, her own travels, and
professional women" (obituary in the Honolulu Advertiser & Star
Bulletin, December, 2004).
Mr. and Mr. Stigall were generous supporters of the Ossining Public
Library (New York), which paid tribute to her in its January, 2005, newsletter: "At
the library we could always count on Phyllis to cashier at our book
sales. She encouraged her late husband William Stigall to showcase his
wonderful plays at the library: Six Women Remember Wm. Shakespeare
and Emily Bronte. Before moving to Hawaii in June, 2004, to be
near her son Sam, Phyllis left us theater and concert memorabilia--much
of which will be featured in an upcoming library display" ("Remembering
Phyllis Stigall," p. 2).
An Overview of the Life of Bill Stigall
Based on His Autobiography,
I Couldn't Be Better: A Memoir
The subheadings below are based on the table of contents of
Couldn't Be Better. The epigraph,
preface, and prelude are short but important, so they appear in their
entirety. Most of the chapter on Mr. Stigall's eleven years at Lincoln College
has been included, with editorial guidance kindly provided by Sam Pooley. The chapter on
Lincoln College is supplemented with photos from other
Epigraph: William Stigall's
"So great is
my faith in Shakespeare, so great my belief in the people, so sure am I
of the theatre's magic and so confident am I that I could make it a go,
that this is the height of my ambition, the thing I wish some day to
achieve: to have a solid group of young and enthusiastic actors who are
willing to work their talents to the bone and produce in a selected
version the stories of Shakespeare, especially in the comedies (at least
at first) and later the tragedies and show them to the people of the
Middle West. The most witty, beautiful and human literature the world
has ever known is a closed book to millions of people." William J. Stigall
"Before sailing to Southampton on June 12, 2001, Bill gathered together
one hundred folders, programs, journals, and clippings and labeled them
My Autography. He stashed them in closets--top shelves, floors, under
book cases. He expected to put them into the story of his life (him many
New York on July 31st, he went into the hospital with pneumonia. After
his death on September 14th, we decided that we must do this book for
him. We have read through his handwritten beginnings, his typed
versions, his many notes to himself about what to look up or what to
We hope that
we have kept the spirit of Bill Stigall in our editing of his work."
Phyllis G. Stigall, Scarborough
Sam Pooley, Honolulu
September 14, 2002
would be a serious and laughable mistake to think that I wrote this
autobiography for posterity. As it went along I realized that I was
writing it for myself. But I did start out writing it for Phyllis, Mary
and Sam in order for them to know some of the things I did that were
never touched on or so lightly or wrongly touched on. Surely every
autobiography is an ego trip and so is this one. But I hope that Sam,
Mary, and Phyllis, and new Cecelia, Colin and Maria will know me better
(or worse) than they do now."
"Dear Readers, remember that there is an exciting book
Shower of Frogs which deals with my experiences in World War Two and
identifies where I got my Moses complex. There are two other books: one
on the Stigall family and one on the Wellmans. I admit it was fun
researching and writing them."
Stigall at the Seashore,
Leptis Magna, Libya, June 30, 1964
I Couldn't Be Better)
"A few words about the world
into which I was born and any influence on my life and future actions.
The nineteenth century ended at midnight December 31, 1899. Of course.
The twentieth century began. But several aspects of the nineteenth
century carried on into the first decade of the new century."
"America was on the upbeat. Especially the City of Chicago where I was
born in 1911. Some elements of the Romantic Age were visible. My mother,
born in 1883 in Chicago, brought some of those aspects into her family.
My father was born on a farm in southern Illinois, arrived in Chicago in
1904 and found it to be a bustling, energetic city very much a coming
city of the 20th century. In 1893 the great Columbian Exhibition, the
World's Fair, brought Chicago to the world's notice and brought the
world to Chicago in 1893 when my parents were ten years old. They lived
to see much of the new architecture endure and enhance the city's visual
"When Dollie and Will were married in 1909, World War One had not yet
begun, but it would soon influence their lives and mine though I was not
very much aware of it. From 1929 to 1946 the Depression and World War
Two were the earth-shaking events in our lives."
"My father was a merchant. My mother
worked outside of her home only briefly, at The Fair Store. Dad was a
non-practicing Protestant. Mother, brought up by her Congregational
father and Catholic mother, was a fallen-away Catholic. I was baptized
in a Catholic hospital and confirmed much later in an Episcopal
Church. Later I discovered the great literature of both the Old and New
Testaments. Much later The Twenty-Third Psalm came to be meaningful to
me. I was born white, male, middle-class in a Midwestern city. With no
major obstacles standing in my way, I advanced through grade and high
school. I have a reasonable intelligence combined with considerable
energy and am said to be kinetic by nature."
"My brother Jack was born when I was three years old. When I was a
student at Lindbloom High School I had no idea that I would have the
opportunity to travel so widely. It is a great shame that I was either
basically poor in languages or failed to get the proper motivation when
I needed it. I had one semester of Latin, two years of Spanish in high
school while in college I had one semester of Spanish, one of German and
one of Old English."
"A poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay repeats: "We were very tired, we were
very merry--We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry." ["Recuerdo"
from A Few Figs from Thistles] And William Butler Yeats in 'The Lake
Isle of Innesfree' wrote, 'I will arise and go now, for always night and
day I hear lake waters lapping with low sounds by the shore. . . . I
hear it in the deep heart's core."
"Carl Sandburg's poem "Chicago' 'Hog
Butcher for the World,' referred to the Stockyards. He also said, 'the
fog comes in on little cat's feet.' It is not called The Windy City for
nothing and living in there one could hate the cold, windy winters and
the hot, windy summers. But one could savor the warm springs and the
colorful autumns. The four seasons must have contributed to my
appreciation of variety."
"My mother and her Uncle Duncan were certainly the major influences on
my cultural and academic interests. I have spent my life, except for
those three and a half years in the United States Army, in the world of
the theatre, music, art, books. In my early years I saw and heard the
modern inventions: crystal radio, opera recordings on the Victrola,
followed by Saturday afternoon opera on the radio, and television. I
think instinctively that one part of learning is hearing something read.
Henry Adams wrote: ''all children wander with the truant Time.' Mother
read to us. George Stevens says that children's loss of being read to is
fatal, terrible, a loss of great magnitude. Mother sang the songs of the
day. I was taken early to plays, concerts, opera and musical comedies. I
was, however, outside the influence of any church services including the
music of the church and I did not read the Bible until I was in college.
After WWII Mortimer Adler's Great Books course, which I took in Chicago
with Adler himself lecturing, brought to many of us a world not explored
so deeply in our education.'
"Born, raised, and employed in a city of over two million inhabitants, I
became an urban person, influenced by the economic, social, and
intellectual events of the city."
Chapter 1: The Year 1911; My
Chicago, 1911; On the Farm, Noble, Ill., 1926-29
I offer a well-developed synopsis of this chapter because it describes
the important influences on Mr. Stigall's formative years. Mr. Stigall
began his first chapter with a four-page summary of various events that
represent the world into which he was born in 1911. Bill
clearly did some considerable research for this background because events
cited encompass the history of Chicago, the US, and the world, including
benchmark accomplishments of leading figures in literature and music.
Bill Stigall writes with his characteristic clarity and wit,
"I was born on July 6, 1911, in Chicago, Illinois, at
St. Bernard's Hospital at 6337 South Harvard Avenue. It was not a dark
and stormy night. It was a steaming and sweltering morning. A Jewish
doctor assisted my Catholic mother to deliver her first son. My
Protestant father was standing by. July 6th was a Thursday and
Thursday's Child has far to go. In terms of travel, I have gone far."
The Stigalls lived on the south side of Chicago, where Bill's
father eventually owned three drugstores on Halsted Street:
"Auburn Park was a nice place to live, my father's store was on the
northeast corner of Halsted and 78th Streets. My early years were all
spent on the second floor of a two-flat building. I was up high. I
looked down. I walked to my father's drugstore two blocks down Halsted
Street. Along the way I met people and an occasional dog (one that bit
me); I played with children living next door. I was not isolated. There
were blocks and blocks of flats."
Age Eleven, @1922
"When I was six years old I went to Oglesby Grade School named for the
four-term Governor of Illinois. Years later in Lincoln, Illinois, I knew
a lady named Margery [Marjorie] Oglesby related by marriage to the Governor's
family. My school was a big red brick building, not a one-room
schoolhouse. . . . I joined the Boy Scouts at the local church. . . . In
1921 we were living at 7201 Eberhardt, in our bungalow and going to Park
Manor School, when I came down with diphtheria. In those days the
patient's home was quarantined. . . ."
In the mid 1920s, Bill's father sold his drugstores and went into real
estate sales with his brother-in-law, Robert Clark Duncan (young Bill
referred to him as Uncle Duncan).
Uncle Duncan was a millionaire, lived in a mansion on South Michigan
Avenue, and was generous to young Bill and his younger brother, Jack.
Uncle Duncan's chauffer, Earl Sheehan, helped develop Bill's interest in
[Sheehan] taught me to box. At school both Jack and I
joined the football team; he was at center and I at tackle. On more than
one occasion Ralph Capone, brother of Al Capone, dropped in on the game
and made some suggestions on how to play. At that time we would pass his
mother's house at 77th and Prairie and we saw his brother's bullet-proof
car in front of her house. Of course Earl Sheehan was a part of this and
met the Capones in the pool room and barbershop next to my father's and
Bill says that in 1926 his father had a nervous breakdown and decided
to move to the family farm near his hometown of Noble, Illinois, a
small, rural town 250 miles south of Chicago, in order to recuperate.
This move introduced Bill to animals he had never seen in the city,
including at least one rattlesnake. Farm life challenged Bill, who did not like
it as much as his brother, Jack, did. Bill's father opened a drug store
in Noble, and the family moved into a house on the edge of town. Later,
his father decided to return to Chicago, and Bill's father spent a year
and a half going back and forth from Noble to Chicago looking for a suitable drug store to
buy in Chicago.
Meanwhile Bill began to attend Noble High School, where he played
basketball and ran track. Two of Bill's teacher/coaches became role
models, instilling the importance of physical conditioning, teamwork,
and good sportsmanship.
Eighteen (1929): Member of the
Noble High School Basketball Team
In the spring of 1929, the Stigalls moved back to Chicago, where they
lived at 66th Street at Kedzie Avenue, a half block from their newly
purchased drug store. The rental library in the drug store allowed Bill
to read Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel. Bill was apparently
a life-long fan of Thomas Wolfe. (Curiously, I too was a fan of Wolfe
and wrote part of my master's thesis on Wolfe's black characters.) Bill attended Lindbloom High for his
junior and senior years, graduating in 1931. There, he ran track and
made the varsity basketball team. In the early 1930s, the Stigall family
survived the Depression, a serious car accident, and various robberies
at the drug store.
A couple of passages in Mr. Stigall's first chapter summarize the
influences of his family and Chicago: "I was born
with many advantages: I was a white, male, city child in a middle-class
family. I would know my parents for fifty years. With those gifts I
became an optimistic person. I became a regular Charlie Brown. Apart
from childhood diphtheria I was healthy."
"The magnificent and historic architecture of Chicago and the cultural
life of my city certainly contributed to my lifelong love of art, of the
theatre, of wandering the streets of the world from Birmingham, Alabama,
to New Orleans and New York City, to Istanbul, Tunis, London, and Paris.
I didn't give much thought to Chicago's influence on me at the time, but
I know it was very strong. . . . I grew up in a peaceful, loving family
home amid a rowdy city which certainly made it easier for me to handle
change and variety in later life."
Chapter 2: University of
Alabama, 1931-33; Kent Law School, 1933; University of Illinois,
1934-37; Gordon Craig
"I studied pre-Law at the University of Alabama,
taking constitutional law, etc., . . . . My years in Tuscaloosa were some
of the happiest of my life, in part because of the kindness of a number
of people. . . . Foremost were the Pearson family. Ruth (then in high
school) and her mother were very nice to me. . . . I was going to be the
next Clarence Darrow of American Law. . . ."
"I went 1 1/2 years plus
summer school to start Kent Law School in Chicago. . . . I failed
totally. . . . I was back in the Stigall household. . . I became a
soda jerk and delivery boy for the Stigall pharmacy, tending the cooking
of chocolate, wrapping boxes, washing the floor and windows. . . . I
decided that I ought to go south and look for work. . . I went as far as
Miami. . . . One night I was sleeping on the beach at Fort Lauderdale
and the police suggested I come to the jail house and sleep on a cot in
the jail. I was happy to oblige. . . . At one time I hopped a freight
and went south to New Orleans, riding in a banana car. The reader should
know that hitchhiking and being a hobo on the trains was a common method
of transportation. Not at all dangerous in those years."
"One of the most important
events in my early life took place in the midst of the Great Depression.
In Chicago in the summer was The Century of Progress. I was stimulated
to think about nations outside the United States. . . . I got a taste of
In 1934, Bill Stigall
entered the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where his cousin
had attended. There he played on the polo team, took ROTC, and
"one day I ventured back stage at the University Theatre and I was
seduced by theatre. . . . After I graduated I stayed on to take a
master's in English literature and became more and more interested in
the theatre and participated in several productions. . . . My thesis was
on Edward Gordon Craig. My object was to discover something of his life
and to study his theories of stage production and to ascertain, if
possible, the influence of his theories on modern methods of stage
"After leaving the
university I entered the Goodman Theatre in 1937 to study acting,
theatre and directing. My father asked, 'When are you going to go to
work, Bill?' So, in the fall of 1939 I took a job as Drama Instructor
for the Park District in two parks, Chase and Hamlin."
The last part of
Chapter Two is a 1 1/2 page summary of the life and work of Edward
Gordon Craig (1872--1966).
Chapter 3: Goodman School of
Drama, 1937-42; Chase-Hamlin Players, 1939-42
In this chapter, Mr. Stigall summarizes the history of the prestigious
Goodman Theatre, founded in 1925 at the Chicago Art Institute from an
endowment by William Goodman and his wife Malvina Sawyer Goodman in
memory of their son, Kenneth Sawyer Goodman. Young Goodman's dream had
been to create a theatre conservatory where actors, directors, designers, and playwrights could learn through classroom instruction
combined with work in a professional company. Bill Stigall had been a
student at the Goodman Theatre for two years and had appeared in several
productions, including Elizabeth and Essex, The Adding Machine,
Bees on the Boat Deck, and Street Scene.
In October of 1939, Mr. Stigall was hired to be the drama instructor at
the Chase and Hamlin Parks. Among the productions directed by Mr.
Stigall were serious drama, comedies, and musicals. Contemporary and
Shakespearean works were performed, including Stage Door,
You Can't Take It with You, The Night of January 16th by Ayn
Rand, A Midsummer Night's Dream (December 1940 and 1941), First Lady, My Heart's
in the Highlands, In the Swing of Things, and Our Town.
A Midsummer Night's Dream was scheduled for December 7, 1941, and Bill
describes the situation: "I do not know when we
told what had happened in the world outside while we were rehearsing
Shakespeare inside the Goodman. Radios were certainly available
backstage. But at some break, or maybe not until the rehearsal was over,
did we know that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. With only radio to give
information and with a certain amount of blackout of news the full
impact of what had happened was not fully realized that evening. In any
case there was a good audience and we put on the show. It was, in spite
of all, a most joyous occasion."
Jeanne Bolan as Puck in A Midsummer Night's
Dream and Director Bill Stigall at the Goodman Theatre,
Mr. Stigall describes the performers he knew through his work as the
drama instructor at the Chase and Hamlin Parks: "Some went on
in drama to become professional actors. Some continued their thespian
activities in groups in Chicago and elsewhere. At the time of the
founding, many players were still in high school, some even in grade
school. Some were in college. Some were working or seeking work. Some
were housewives. Some had never been in a play or associated with plays.
Others brought considerable experience. At that time it was almost
exclusively a pleasure activity or recreation. All of the players I have
spoken to [in later years] say those days were one of the highlights of
our lives. We had a marvelous time."
this chapter, Phyllis Stigall describes a return visit to the Goodman
Theatre that Sam Pooley and she made with Bill in 2000:
"Though Bill Stigall left the Goodman
in 1951, he never stopped following the guidance of those great
teachers, never stopped talking about them. We three went to the Art
Institute in the summer of 2000 and were invited (at Sam's request --
'My Dad was a director here.') to have a look at the theatre, which of
course, no longer has anything to do with the Goodman. The school is now
part of DePaul University and the company is now professional with
splendid newly restored theatres in the Loop. It was a treat to go down
the hall that day with Bill pointing out whose office was where and see
his pleasure at returning to that stage, that place which was so
important to his whole adult life."
Chapter 4: United States
Bill Stigall's time in military service was lengthy and the experiences
challenging: adjusting to military life in basic training, seeing
extensive action as a member of the glider infantry (campaigns in North
Africa, Sicily, Normandy, and Holland), and coping as a prisoner of war
in Munich. US Army medals earned by Bill Stigall include the Bronze
Star, the Purple Heart, the Prisoner of War Medal, the Good Conduct
Medal, the Presidential Unit Emblem, the American Campaign World War II
Victory Medal, and the Combat Infantry Badge. Many years later,
beginning in 1960, he wrote a book about his military experience. Like
many writers, he spent years looking for a publisher. Finally, in 1985
his book titled A Shower of Frogs was copyrighted and self
published. Then, in 2001, A Shower of Frogs was published in
paperback by Vantage Press. He had also written The Children of
Destiny, a heroic poem about his war experiences.
At the end of the war in 1945, Bill wrote a poignant letter to his
parents, and I quote a couple of insightful passages here:
"I have not changed fundamentally. I'm more
silent or perhaps just less communicative than two and half years ago;
but that's largely for want of someone to converse with. I don't move
very rapidly any more. I just take my time that's all. I'm hard on the
surface and coarse and calculating, but only on the surface. The things
you gave me in the days of my youth are very intact. I still have a good
sense of humor although I have not laughed uproariously for many months.
There hasn't been any occasion to do so. I have a gray hair or two (but
not over four), wrinkles and rheumy eyes and the 'crow's feet' (as
actors call those lines running outward from the edge of the eyes) are
somewhat deepened. The eyes -- well, in them lies all that I have seen
and they are radically changed. My teeth are not so good, but I thank
heaven that I never had a single toothache while a prisoner. This and
the danger of an epidemic was all I feared as a prisoner."
". . . While I hope I was throughout the thirty
years your son in America, not unappreciative of the quality of parents
I possessed, yet thousands of miles of travel and seeming hours of
waiting in prison has sharpened that appreciation and deepened the love
I hold for you both. As I watched and listened to the hundreds of men
around me the miracle of my parents' simple, decent and beautiful life
together and the kindness and thoughtfulness which filled the atmosphere
in which I grew up, grew with each day's passing. I began to realize the
rare privilege that had been mine."
"I saw all types of men in the best as
well as their most loathsome moments. Nothing can ever hurt me now, not
after what I have known. No deprivation, no hunger, no humiliation can
injure me in the slightest. I have come out as steel from a burning
crucible, better not worse, stronger not weak. All men did so succeed.
All men, nay, only a few so well equipped as I. I hope you realize that
I am not boasting. I am only paying homage to those who gave me life,
intelligence, discipline, vision and a love of this world. I survived
thanks to you. These and other debts impossible for me to repay, these I
owe to you."
Chapter 5: The Goodman,
1945-51; That Summer in Mexico, 1951; New York, 1951-52
At the time of his discharge from the US Army in October, 1945, Bill
Stigall accepted an offer to join the faculty of the Goodman Theatre,
where he would be able to take courses to earn a Master of Fine Arts. At
the Goodman, one of Bill's students was Ada Beth Stevens. He describes
her as "a superb actress with a particularly powerful voice and
excellent diction." They became engaged in the fall of 1945 and were
married June 8, 1946, after they received their degrees from the
Goodman. Also during this period, Bill met and worked with other
talented people, including Shelly Berman, who later gained fame as a
writer, comedian, and actor.
Stigall had aspirations to write and be a director-teacher at
the Goodman, but decided he could not do both. He chose to pursue writing,
so he left the Goodman "in part because of my divorce in 1950 and in
part by directing Golden Boy with the new husband of my former
wife in the cast." In the summer of 1951 he traveled to Mexico City,
where he had enrolled in a writing course at the American University.
The experience at the University was encouraging, but Bill returned to
Chicago after a few weeks.
of Bill Stigall by Florence Patrick, Lake Zurich Playhouse, 1946
In the fall of 1951, Bill Stigall traveled by train to New York City
with the intention of becoming a Broadway director. To support himself, he worked at
menial jobs as a messenger and ticket taker. He met old friends and made
new ones. Finding life in the city pleasant and affordable, he saw
plays, read, walked around the city, and hiked in the Catskills; but he "got no
place as a director of Broadways plays" and returned to Chicago after a
Chapter 6: Chicago and
After leaving the Peninsula Players of Fishcreek, Wisconsin, 1952, Bill
Stigall took a new direction by asking for and getting a job selling at Brentano's
Book Store in Chicago on Wabash Avenue near Adams in the neighborhood
of the Chicago Art Institute. He rented a room near the bookstore and
bought a car, which he called The Green Dragon.
"One day a former student from
the Goodman came by and
wanted me to contact the producer of a show in a suburb. Jack Palance
opened to unfavorable reviews in Dark of the Moon which I had
successfully directed a few years earlier. Would I get in touch with the
producer. Yes. And he invited me to come and see what was wrong with
Palance. I drove out and saw the performance. He was a victim of a
director who stages plays; he does not direct them or explore any of the
actor's ideas. I returned after a conversation with Palance, his wife
who was playing the famous girl, and the producer. I said to Palance,
'What did you want to do here?' Scene after scene he knew what to do,
but was not given the chance. After a day's rehearsal they performed and
he was terrific. Many thanks from Jack. Good crowd scenes with a couple
of my former students. The producer thanked me and paid me $25.00 for
Stigall also describes meeting Martha Graham when she visited the
book store one day. He showed her a new book titled Movement in
Animals, but she declined an interest, saying her movement was with
"After a year and a half I
got bored with the book job and made application for a college teaching
job with two of the college employment agencies. One day a man called
on me at the store; he was Dr. Raymond Dooley, the president of a small
private college in central Illinois. He said they needed a drama
instructor and a teacher of a course that was a descendent of the St.
John's Basic Books Course; it was called Basic Studies. I accepted
his invitation to visit Lincoln College in Lincoln, Illinois. I was
happy to accept the offer, especially after I met the attractive
librarian. I moved to Lincoln in August of 1955. First I rented a room
at Mrs. Alberts' house across the street from the college. Later I moved
to an apartment in Barrett House on Tremont Street which just happened
to be next door to the apartment occupied by the college librarian and
her young son, Phyllis Graham Pooley and Samuel Graham Pooley. We were
married August 11, 1956, at St. Mary the Virgin, W. 46th Street, New
York City. The next ten years would be the most stable, productive and
happy years of my life."
Chapter 7: My Eleven Years
at Lincoln College, 1955-56
To begin this chapter, Mr. Stigall provides a brief description of the
location of Lincoln and Logan County in central Illinois,
describing the Indians native to this region, mentioning that the town
was named for Abraham Lincoln, and citing the Lincoln College charter
date of February 6, 1865. Mr. Stigall's source for this history was
The Namesake Town: A Centennial History of Lincoln, Illinois. Below
I quote Chapter Seven of I Couldn't Be Better verbatim, with my
brief notes in brackets. I supplement Mr. Stigall's text with photos
from other sources, as cited.
"In late August of 1955 I
drove the Green Dragon into Lincoln and took up residence on College
Avenue about twenty-five yards from the entrance to Lincoln College at
Mrs. Alberts' home. I rented a room of the front of her house. I brought
with me what clothes I owned, what books I had collected, a tennis
racket, fifteen volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. I had a contract
to teach Basic Studies, direct plays and teach American Literature.
Basic Studies was a Humanities course beginning with the Greek and going
on. A play was to be produced each of the two semesters of the year.
American Lit began with the beginning of America."
"During my first days at Lincoln College I attended
meetings with the faculty and we discussed plans for the coming year.
This was followed by several days of orientation with the students. Soon
we had a magnificent barbecue, a large hog on a turning spit. It was a
general meeting of the faculty and student body where they met each
"Football was not a sport at
the college. Nor was there any Fall track. Basketball would be the
principal athletic activity. The team started practicing early and games
began in October, continuing until April. There were tennis courts
across the street and I started to play with any chap who volunteered.
In the Spring the baseball team was formed."
"Tryouts for the first play
were announced. It would be Years Ago by Ruth Gordon. Several
town adults tried out and joined the students for the auditions. Soon
they would be a major part of the drama life at the college. Don
Dunkelberg was one of them. Saunders Devine was another."
[According to Lincoln: The Namesake College, David Goldhammer,
business manager at Lincoln College, was also in the Years Ago
production. In 1955, Mr. Stigall also directed Death of a Salesman
and Time Out for Ginger (Lincoln, The Namesake College, p.
Pianist Dorothy Hanger
and Saunders Devine
(Lincoln Evening Courier, 11-28-51)
The caption indicates that Mrs. Hanger
and Mr. Devine were preparing for a production of Carmen by the Lincoln College Community Chorus,
directed by Bill Tagg. Mr. Devine had the lead male role as Don Jose.
(Lincoln Courier, 12-8-54)
The quality of this image is poor because it is adapted from a scan of a
The photo caption cites Mr. Dunkelberg as having the lead role of Tommy
Turner in a production of The Male Animal, performed by the
Lincoln College Community Players.
As Mr. Stigall's chapter on his years at Lincoln College later indicates
below, Don Dunkleberg and he were especially close. That relationship is
understandable because of their common interest in the theater: Mr. Dunkleberg
was deeply involved in drama and had experience on stages in New York
City. Thus, I present an additional image of Dunkleberg below:
Don Dunkleberg (r) with
Lincolnite Jean Goodrich and Gunter Koenig in the Lincoln College Community
Players' 1952 Production of George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man
(Lincoln: The Namesake College, p. 166).
"In a few days I met my classes, got acquainted with the librarian and
the other teacher of Basic Studies. We ate lunch in the college dining
room. The psychologist Dr. Madrigale McKeever was at the table two or
three days a week. I met my advisees, had an office assigned to me in
the University Hall. Soon I became adviser to the Veterans' Club. I
discovered various restaurants. The Tropics, and a Greek restaurant
[probably the Gem Lunch Room on Pulaski St.] where one day I was boning
up on The Iliad and the young man waiting on me noticed
Harry Gianacopoulis, brought to Lincoln by Greek native Pete Andrews,
owner of the Gem Lunch Room]
that I was reading a Greek book. We chatted about
that. As time went on we met several times and talked about World War
Two and Greece. Mr. and Mrs. Tibbs ran a restaurant on the main street
[Broadway] and served great hamburgers."
Mr. Stigall (front, 3rd
from right) with Veterans' Club
(Lincoln: The Namesake College, p. 159)
"Out in the fields the corn was
ripening and the librarian was heavily afflicted with hay fever, but she
accepted my invitation to see the great sunset that Autumn provided. One
trip was enough for the hay fever sufferer. . . ."
"I got myself back to
Lincoln for the end of the first semester and beginning of the second.
Little did I know what an important and busy Spring that semester would
be. On January 14th of 1956 Phyllis and I went to the University of
Illinois to see a production of King Lear. Then, back for
auditions for Death of a Salesman and regular classes."
"In those first few months
Sam's and my relationship was largely verbal. Only later did we toss
baseballs, shoot baskets, etc. At some time he said to his mother, 'Why
don't you marry Bill?' She said, 'he hasn't proposed.' I cannot say if
there was any movement on Sam's part to further my interest in his
mother. We did have delightful dinners together at his mother's table,
we four. I imagine there was joking and conversation on all matters."
"We watched rehearsals for Dear
Ruth. Maybe that convinced Sam that I might fit in. I had visited my
parents during that Christmas and told them about the Pooleys. But, of
course, not about any engagement since I had not proposed yet. The usual
late bloomer, Stigall."
"On February 25, 1956,
Phyllis and I went to the Golddiggers' Fling, a dance at the college. I
proposed to Phyllis and she accepted. (Apparently Sam had pressed her on
this matter. Good kid, that young man.)"
"On March 13th, in the
middle of the production of Death of a Salesman, my mother died.
I left Lincoln to attend the funeral on March 15th. My classes and
rehearsals continued in my absence of about three days."
[Note: Willie Loman was played by Don Dunkelberg, Linda by Phyllis Koyn,
Happy by Edwin Ross, Biff by Robert Fitzsimmons, and Bernard by William
"The next few weeks were
full of plans for the Graham family's upcoming trip to Europe and plans
for the wedding in New York City, the wedding of Phyllis, Sam, and me,
with Father William Berger in charge. Pre-wedding formalities included
my Confirmation at Trinity Episcopal Church and other gatherings. The
wedding would be in August after the Queen Mary landed in New York."
"Classes came to an end,
faculty and administration went their separate ways. On June 24th I saw
my future wife and son off on the G.M.&O. train to Chicago where they
would board the Broadway Limited for New York to sail on the
for Liverpool. After they left I went back to Barrett House and I took
up residence, my third different address since I arrived a few months
before, next door to 409 Tremont Street and started writing letters to
the Pooleys Two as they toured Europe."
"While they were away I
spent some time in the Lincoln Public Library, studied more about the
Basic Studies and thought about my plays for the next season. They would
be The Winslow Boy and Time Out for Ginger. I must have
given some thought to my new situation. Marriage with wife and son, one
fell swoop. But knowing me, I doubt that I spent much time thinking
about how to handle it all. I just enjoyed the idea and went about
getting ready to go to the wedding. I invited Virginia (ex-Goodman) and
Joe (newspaperman) Harrow to our wedding."
"I drove Phyllis' Ford to
New York and stayed with my friends Virginia and Joe Harrow in their
apartment waiting for the return of the travelers. Joe, newspaperman,
had a newspaper printed for me with the Headline, SAM POOLEY ARRIVES
TODAY ON THE QUEEN MARY, to show when I met them at the pier on August
"Virginia and Joe invited me
to go with them to Fire Island for a weekend. I saw that well-known
summer resort and some of the people who chose to live there.
Interesting. My best man, Don Dunkelberg, was in New York acting in a
production of The Crucible."
Bill Stigall and Phyllis Pooley were married, Bill writes,
"I was 45, Phyllis was 39, and Sam was
7. Father Berger was a very lovely man,
full of common sense, kindness, and no nonsense. Father Berger
officiated, with Sam Pooley as acolyte, Mary Graham as best lady and Don
Dunkelberg as best man, and the wedding went off with Ellen Lawrie and
Jim Moncrieff, Bruce Davis, Martha and Bud Siegmund, Virginia and Joe
Harrow, Bob and Ricky Wilbur as guests. Father Bill completed the
ceremony with his usual splendid dispatch. Some pictures were taken,
especially good ones of the married couple on the steps of the Church,
St. Mary the Virgin on West 46th Street"
Mr. and Mrs. William J.
Stigall, Jr., on Their Wedding Day, August 11, 1956
sun shone that day, in all senses of sunshine. The guests departed, Sam
went to New Jersey with Martha and Bud, my bride and I went to the St.
Moritz Hotel overlooking Central Park. On the 16th of August we drove to
New Jersey to pick up Sam and headed for Fort Wayne. The Grahams had
driven home after the wedding and planned a big reception for us. We
stopped at Valley Forge and Pittsburg on the way west. On the 18th of
August we celebrated the Grahams' 47th wedding anniversary and our own
wedding. On the 23rd we arrived at 409 Tremont Street and life for the
three of us got underway."
"Shortly after our
arrival we attended our first faculty meeting as the newly married
couple. Soon school started. Sam was in the second grade. My second year
at Lincoln College. Phyllis' eighth (including the two in Ann Arbor).
Everyone on Tremont Street was getting used to again having three
permanent people at 409. Miss Everson had been a third before, but now
there was a second male about. A husband, a father. Golly."
"I taught Basic, a great
course, again. And American Lit, and started getting ready for the third
play. Sam came home for lunch and some times to college to eat with the
faculty. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were for the three of us. As soon
as rehearsals began I was out some evenings. Sometimes Phyllis and Sam
watched rehearsals. We three went to basketball games at the college."
"We had no television in the
Fall of 1956. We read The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The New
York Times (by mail), The Lincoln Evening Courier, and
listened to Chicago's WBBM radio and read books. Considering all that, I
felt that I had to be home evenings to talk about it with my family.
Thanksgiving came, our first together. Phyllis cooked us a turkey. Then
Christmas and Santa Claus. Then we returned to the library and classes
Note: the following is information about his
teaching that Mr. Stigall inserted into his narrative at this point.
"The Lincoln College Catalog
'Basic studies include
materials usually taught in unrelated courses in history, the
humanities, and the social sciences. It is hoped that the materials
included will lead the student to exchange whatever thoughtlessly formed
attitudes he may have for a more sound and constructive adjustment to
the environment. Three problems presented are:
1. What degree of freedom should be granted the
individual in a democracy?
2. Is nationalism outmoded in an atomic age?
3. Do we, in our society, stress materialistic values
at the expense of spiritual values?
Within this framework, the course encourages the
student to learn to deal objectively with evidence, to know enough of
the facts of the past of our civilization to have an understanding of
the problems of the present, and to appreciate and enjoy literature and
the major arts."
A single sheet, perhaps handed out to students
as they decided on their course says:
Basic Studies is a course
designed to fulfill, as an alternate, the graduation requirements of six
hours of History and six hours of Literature. By completing two years of
Basic Studies, the student may fulfill this requirement. Three hours
credit are given each semester.'
'After a few introductory
lectures and the use of a selected work to serve as a kind of stimulus
for the coming material, one year may begin with Wind, Sand and Stars
and the other with The Family of Man.'
'The problem for reading of
The Iliad is:
'What are the Constants in
the society of The Iliad? By Constants is meant those things
which are constant in all Societies, for example: What is the economic
base of these people (piracy, mainly); what is their religion
(polytheistic and anthropomorphic); what degree of freedom do the people
have; have are they ruled? The Constants in our Society are discussed.'
Once the Problem has been
stated and discussed we turn to the history behind The Iliad. We then
turn to reading the entire work.
The Second Problem is then
presented: Man versus the State. The reading will be Plato's The
Apology, Crito, and Phaedo.
And so it goes throughout
the year: The Problem, The History, The literature of the Period.
Other works read are:
Antigone, Oedipus Rex, Genesis, Exodus, St.
Luke, St. Matthew, Shaw's St. Joan, The Prince,
The Merchant of Venice, Dr. Faustus, The Bishop Orders
"The prospectus for A SURVEY OF FINE
'Purpose of the Course: To
give the student the equipment with which to further his enjoyment of
the Arts: terminology; basic premise upon which the art form is founded;
the part of the spectator is to play in the enjoyment of the arts; the
feeling that the appreciation of art is essentially a joyous experience;
and that most art is an expression of love.
The End to be achieved: How
to approach or come to terms with or how to open the doorway to a work
of art or an art form.
Schedule: One hour per week
plus a two-hour session each.
Outline of the Course
1. Three hours of general introduction meant to
completely disarm the student so that he believes that this will be
pleasant, even fun; points will be made concerning the relation of the
artist to the audience; the function of the arts; the purposes and
methods to be used in this course. 2. What is a painting? 3. What
is sculpture? 4. What is architecture? 5. What is a play? 6. What is
producing a play? 7. What is the experience of play-going? 8. What is a
ballet? 9. What is modern dance? 10. What is a musical comedy? 11. What
is a movie? 12. What is opera? 13. What is a symphony? 14. What is a
concerto? a sonata? 15. What is pantomime? A documentary film? 16. What is
Each subject will constitute a week's application in
the following manner:
First hour: 10 minutes of history; 20 minutes of
terminology; 10 minutes of technique (the artist's tools); 10 minutes of
summary and what to expect from this art form.
Second and third hours: Demonstration using film,
slides, recorded music and voice, whenever possible personal example.
For example, a student who has some training and talent in ballet of
What is an Opera? With libretto in hand, pictures of
the sets for La Boheme, for example, and the complete recording.
How Italian opera differs from German. The order of selection might be
based on the chronology by which man discovered their uses. However, the
purpose of this course is not History, but Enjoyment, Enrichment, and
The experience of art: The artist creates. An
observer observes. They communicate. One gives and the other takes.'
[Note: the narrative resumes.]
"Toward the end of the
Spring semester of 1957 I asked to be relieved of my duties in the
theatre in order to spend more evenings with my new family. I was not
thrilled with the idea of putting on plays on the small stage of the
college. I have always loved directing, but some of my background was
suggesting something else. At any rate, I did stop directing and
persuaded President Dooley to allow me to introduce a new course to be
called Survey of Fine Arts. It was an opportunity for many students to
become better acquainted with many arts. It would be an appreciation
course and an introduction to all the arts. There would be lectures by me
and others, films, demonstrations, an hour at the barre of a local
ballet studio, and some excursions to other cities, mainly St. Louis and
Chicago. I began the course in the Fall of 1957-58. I continued the
13th President of Lincoln College
(Photo from Lincoln:
The Namesake College, p. 94)
Special Assistant to
the President of Lincoln College
(Photo from 1961 Lynxite)
"We saw many movies, including Anastasia and The King and I.
We watched many basketball games at the college. We drove down to Pere
Marquette State Park. We went to the mound at Cahokia. We took some not
very good 8-millimeter films, but one pretty good shot of Sam Pooley,
"On April 16, 1957, a major mass exit of the faculty was announced. The
reason given: 'Abrupt changes to the more authoritative in the school's
philosophy concerning administration-faculty relationship.' This was the
signed cause of the six friends who left. It is not clear yet exactly
what that means. But it was a generally sad affair."
"In April we were offered the house at 209 Hudson. It was a major event.
Phyllis set plans in motion for us to move in the summer. On June 7th we
moved. The Grahams came for a brief visit to warm the house. We went to
Chicago to see my father."
"The white-painted frame two-story house, had nine rooms, two bathrooms,
a screened-in front porch, a back porch with an ancient pump. There were
a two-story barn/garage with basketball hoop, front and back yards and a whole vacant lot on the side. It was on a corner. We planted bushes,
trees, vegetables, and bulbs. On that side lot Sam and I played catch
and shot missiles into the air powered by 'fire.' The first floor of the
house had a 'sitting room,' a living room, a large study for the
parents, pantry, kitchen with space for breakfast and for laundry and a
bathroom. The second floor had one large and one small bedroom on the
front for the parents and two big rooms on the back for Sam for
sleeping, reading, and running his electric train and another bathroom."
"Jack [Bill's brother] and Billie
drove down from Chicago and dumped a bunch of books on us so we
inherited a small library to add to our own. They also brought some
records. Billie had no use for books or records. They also brought my
father. It was probably the only time our family, new and old, was in
one house at the same time."
"The single most important event at Lincoln College that year was the
arrival of Norman Kaye to be the Athletic Director and Coach [of
basketball]. He also became my best friend and good friend of the
family. We two Chicago Boys enjoyed each other's company. On the other
hand, a new dean of the faculty arrived. Month by month, year by year he
ruined the creative, scholarly life of Lincoln College. A fuller
description of his presence can be done separately. At the same time, he
and his wife were gracious hosts in their own home."
"In order to live with him, Phyllis and I set about
devising means of keeping our interest and admiration for Lincoln
College and what it represented alive as well as our own private lives."
[Note: It is a credit to both Mr. Stigall and Mr. Kaye that they were
friends despite Mr. Stigall's academic job and Mr. Kaye's coaching job.
Mr. Stigall and Mr. Kaye clearly had common home city and basketball
(from the 1960-61 Lynxite)
"In July 27, 1957, Sam, Phyllis and I set out for Stratford, Ontario, to
the Shakespeare Festival. We saw Hamlet with William Hurt
and other splendid performances. . . . The construction of the first new building in many years,
Olin-Sang, a dormitory for men, was completed and would open in the
Postcard Image of Olin-Sang Hall
"Now, years later, it occurs to me to wonder why I never taught a course
in acting at Lincoln. It would have helped both me and the
students if I had conducted it for credit or non-credit. The actors that
came from the community were either previously trained or had sufficient
experience on stage to do very creditable work in many plays. I did have
enough work to keep me busy, but during the second year I should have
thought of having some classes in acting. It would have improved
performances during my two years and those that followed."
"And then Plato arrived. He, our lovely black cat, was forever dodging
in and out of the light and casting shadows. So we Platoites stole the
passages from The Republic and named our new cat Plato. In the den, the
prisoners; the light at a distance: 'And they see only their own shadows
on the shadows of one another.' During several long summers in Lincoln
Plato and Sam listened to Mozart's Horn Concerto with Dennis Brain. And
then Plato would go out and disappear in the large circular patch of
"Before we leave 1958, let's remember that Bob Bird came to Lincoln to
be Director of Public Relations for the college. He was my closest
friend and we had conversations every day of the year. Many cups of
coffee. He came to our house for dinner or just talk. We went to the
Hotel Lincoln or the Tropics or the Blu-Inn for dinner together. We miss
Phyllis wrote: 'The proof of his being an asset to Lincoln College is
that he was Raymond's friend, Dick Pooley's, Bill's, and my friend. And
Sam Pooley's. All that aside from whatever he contributed to the college
in, among other things, his elegantly phrased citations for honorary
Robert Charles Bird, born May 26, 1912, died August 27, 1985.
Jesse Hill Ford, a great storyteller, was also a friend of Bob's and we
enjoyed his company at dinner at our house and at the Hotel."
(from the 1961 Lynxite)
Jesse Hill Ford (l) and Robert Bird
(photo from Lincoln: The Namesake College, p. 129)
"Out of the problems created by the dean one of
the suggestions we made to ourselves was to do some extensive travel. I
manufactured a huge map of Europe and North America and we three went
over it and decided that we could, by saving money and doing some
careful planning, spend a long summer in the Mediterranean, plus. So all
through 1959 and the Spring of 1960 we planned. Mostly Phyllis planned
and made contact with American Express. My experience in Europe and
North Africa was war-related. Hers was the great trip she and her family
took to the British Isles and Europe. We filled the house with maps,
shipping-schedules, travel books and magazines and saw some travel
films. Eventually on June 1st, 1960, we left Lincoln for Chicago and on
to New York City by train of course. We boarded the Cunard ship Media.
It was a great trip. See Phyllis' books for the itinerary and pictures
and notes about that summer."
"In the Fall of 1960 into the Spring of 1961 I started to write the book
now called A Shower of Frogs. The remembrances of my
participation in World War Two from my sailing from New York for
Casablanca in March 1943 and my return to Chicago in June of 1945. I
brought from prison in Germany three notebooks written and sneaked out
when I left Germany. There were letters to me and from me to my family
and letters to Mrs. Elaine League, my best friend's mother, which formed
the substance of the book. I had stowed the collection of POW material
and personal letters in my home in Chicago and later in the kitchen of
Elaine League's apartment. Finally I brought them to Lincoln in 1955. I
employed two great secretaries, Mrs. Bowlby and Donna Wall Seefeldt. I
consulted with Bob Bird's friend and author Paul Horgan about it."
"The writing of Frogs was assisted not only by Phyllis but by several
members of the faculty, mainly Winfield Scott of the English Department.
I spent a good deal of time sending copies of the book to publishers.
Marketing people were not interested. If they answered, they said the
writing was good but the subject, WW II, was not of interest at that
time. I abandoned all that and later in 1985 copyrighted it and had
several copies bound. It is a good book."
(Photo from Namesake College, p. 121)
Donna Wall Seefeldt
[The above photos are from the 1967 Lynxite.]
"I continued to teach
Basic, Survey of Fine Arts, and American Lit. I was still sponsor of the
Vets' Club and had my 20+ advisees."
Mr. Stigall with an Unidentified
Advisee in His Office in University Hall
(Photo from Lincoln: The Namesake College)
"I played on the faculty basketball team. I also
played poker with Don Hilscher, Tom Zurkhammer, and others. In the
summer of 1961 Sam, Phyllis, and I went to Washington, D.C., for a
vacation. We left home in June, returned to Fort Wayne in July."
The above clipping is from the student newspaper, the Lincolnian,
and is included in Mr. Stigall's autobiography. I speculate that the
above photo could better be explained as capturing Mr. Stigall's
reaction to a successful two-handed, long shot that he made. I know this
because I used to watch him play and thought he was a bit unusual, not
just for his bounding energy that resulted in such uninhibited,
acrobatic, celebratory reactions, but for the fact that he in his
forties was distinctly older--and to an eighteen-year-old that means a
very old man--than other faculty who played on that team.
Lynx Lair Gym: One of
Bill Stigall's Playgrounds at Lincoln College
(Photo from 1961 Lynxite)
two of Mr. Stigall's
friends of the poker table. Perhaps for discretion, Mr. Stigall does not
mention that President Dooley also played poker with the faculty.
Teacher Donald Hilscher
(from 1961 Lynxite)
Teacher-Basketball Coach Tom Zurkhammer
(from 1967 Lynxite)
"Looking through the yearbooks of Lincoln College from 1959 to 1966 I
notice several items. Lots of activities. Always some good entertainment
from outside. And lots of snow in the winter. The summer of 1963 finds
Phyllis and me in Toronto for a Stratford Festival and to NYC for
Camelot. We stayed at the Warwick Hotel. . . ."
"1963 was the year of The Great Train Trip. We went from Lincoln to
Chicago, to Kansas City, to Santa Fe, to Los Angeles, to Lake Louise, to
St. Paul, and back to Lincoln. Six thousand miles and what a trip! Never
once did Bill go outside the train and have the train take off without
him. [Phyllis notes, "In a little notebook he
wrote of the luxury and privacy of our two drawing rooms on the train
and of the agony of the Club Car which was full of loud-talking old
people and families and of the failure of the air conditioning and
lights. He also wrote of the views of the great mountains in California,
Oregon, and Washington and of the Canadian landscape."] [Leigh's note: the G.M.&O. in those days was struggling for its very
existence and was thus falling behind on maintenance.]
"1963 was an exciting year and a terribly tragic one. We started school
in September and all went well until the 23rd of November when President
Kennedy was assassinated. I was walking home from a class when I met
Dale Brummet on the campus near the Administration Building and he told
me that President Kennedy was shot. I went home. It was the big annual
Parents' Weekend. It was canceled and we lived through the burial of our
President. We lost hope. Winter came on." [Note: Dale Brummet
later became president of Lincoln College, 1977-81 (The Lincoln
College Story: 1865--1995, p. 68).]
"Throughout these years Dr. Madrigale McKeever was the psychologist on
the faculty. She came from her office in Bloomington two or three times
a week. I did have a few meetings with her regarding a student. But her
real importance in my life took place at lunch in the college dining
room. She was wonderfully intelligent. A graduate of Vassar and the
University of Chicago Graduate School. She was informative and fully
able to communicate her ideas to the rest of us who did not have
anything like the depth and range of her training in psychology. Dr.
Madrigale was a wonder."
Business Teacher Dale
(Photo from 1961 Lynxite)
Psychologist Madrigale McKeever, Ph.D.
(Photo from The Namesake College)
"Talking about friends, I was asked to be on the Board of the
Lincoln Public Library. I gladly accepted and served until we left
Lincoln in 1966. I was President of the Board for the last years. I
enjoyed the people with whom I worked on the Board."
"In 1964 we took a very long and wonderful trip east after making plans
all winter. On Saturday, June 13th in 1964 we three set sail aboard
Independence to Europe and the Mediterranean. Poor Sam, his third trip
overseas and he still is the only kid in Lincoln who has not been to
Disneyland. But until August 26th he sees a great deal and has a
memorable experience. Again, the details of this trip are in PGS's
"We Three at Sahara Tent
City, near Cheops Pyramid and Mena House Egypt, July 4, 1964"
"We return to our jobs and Sam starts
his Junior year. Traditionally this is the year that he will take off
for various colleges and universities to make a decision about where he
will go for the four years after high school. . . . A natural outcome of
Sam's going off to college, leaving Lincoln, was the idea that we also
would move on. Sometimes during 1964 we thought about that and in 1965
made more positive plans."
"We three went to many concerts and ballets and basketball games and
baseball games. The college brought many fine entertainments: Stan Getz
and his orchestra, Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson. Lectures by Lincoln
scholars. We gave parties in our house for friends, faculty, and both
Phyllis and my advisees. Each of us were advisers to about twenty
students every year. I went to several basketball and football games
that the Great Pooley played in at the high school and out of town. I
even spent nights in tents in Boy Scout overnights with Sam. The Dooleys
gave good parties in their big house on the corner across from the
statue of A. Lincoln."
Home of President and Mrs.
Raymond Dooley at Ottawa and Keokuk Streets
(Undated photo from Lincoln: The Namesake College. Note the
Raymond Dooley Dedicating
the Merrell Gage Statue: Lincoln, the Student (1961)
(Lincoln: The Namesake College, p. 113)
"After a lifetime--up to my 55th
year--of being very, very seldom in a church for any service, I did
attend a few Sundays after our marriage to listen to the words of Father
Berger and the choir. In my first year on campus I went to the
Presbyterian Church (it was a Presbyterian college). [Note: President and Mrs. Dooley attended this church,
and its minister, Rev. Burns, taught a survey course in religion at
"Going through yearbooks and student/faculty directories I find it hard
to identify many people. I do remember Dan Mooney who went on to drama
school at Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburg. Bethania Abreu came from the
Dominican Republic, was my advisee in 1958, went to the Goodman School
of Drama in Chicago. [We spent a few days with her in Athens and Delphi
in 1964 and talked with her on the phone in 2001.] Interestingly enough,
I have no trouble remembering what happened that summer of 1964."
At Lincoln College, participants in plays included Mr. Stigall's friends
from the community, such as Don Dunkelberg and Saunders Divine, as well
as students and colleagues, as seen in the photos below from Lincoln:
The Namesake College:
Teacher Winfield Scott
David Yates (l) and
Dean David Stevenson
"During the year the college drama coach, Mr. East, did a Shakespearean
set of scenes and I had the pleasure of acting as The King in Hamlet
and as Prospero in The Tempest."
"The Christmas of 1965 we went to New York for
the Modern Language Association's annual meeting and to look at Kips Bay
for an apartment for the coming move and seeing some of the sights of
the Big City."
"This was the year that David Harts, long-time president of the Board of
Lincoln College, died. He was a generous, gruff, kind, and wonderful
man. The Science Hall was dedicated in his memory. A new library was
established on the ground floor of the building."
"Now there were more sports on the campus. Soccer, softball, golf and
tennis. Always there were the intramural sports and there was the old
guy from the faculty playing on the faculty team [with his two-handed set
"On June 13th, 1965, the graduating class joined in the celebration of
the Centennial Year of the College. All year long we were remembering
the origins of the college with celebrations of one sort or another."
[Note: in this 1965 year of Lincoln College's centennial
celebration, Andrew Lindstrom, with Olive Carruthers, published a
history of the College titled Lincoln: The Namesake College.]
"Lucy MacVane had joined the faculty--one bright lady. David Goldhammer,
former student, became assistant Business Manager. Marjorie Oglesby of
the storied Oglesby family--a governor of Illinois, a Countess, etc.--,
in Admissions. We would be leaving behind some good friends. These ten
years had been the happiest of my life and were full of creative energy
(Photo from the 1967 Lynxite)
The photo of D.H. Harts, Jr., is from Lincoln: The Namesake College;
and the other photos are from the 1967 Lynxite.
"This was a time of waiting to hear where Sam Pooley would be enrolled
in college. . . . Phyllis and I wanted to go to New York. Letters
and phone calls went out to possible positions in the desired location.
Attempts to locate in Manhattan came to zero."
"During the first week of April in 1966 I flew to New
York City, met Ted Tiffany (old friend from Lincoln College) and then
went to an interview at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
From there I went to Poughkeepsie 75 miles north of Manhattan for an
interview with the head of the Art Department, with the Dean and
President. Dutchess Community College needed someone to teach The
History of Art--a subject I never taught nor had any specific academic
background in, but I thought I could work my way through my teaching the
Survey of Fine Arts. It looked to me like a very good position.
Challenging and in a lively college in an interesting place, only about
200 miles from Hanover, New Hampshire."
"Phyllis had more offers by far. But there was
usually a qualifying stipulation: Has your husband got a job? Without
the husband being settled, positions were not available. Hence it became
necessary for the male to get himself a job so the female can do the
same. That was the way of the world in 1966. We would later learn about
Nepotism. By law, two members of the same family could not be employed
at the same college. . . ."
Registrar Theodore Tiffany
(Photo from 1961 Lynxite)
"Sam would be just up the road. Mary and Mrs. Graham were travelers and
would come to visit. Phyllis rejected the job at SUNY New Paltz (because
it would require 'split shifts' which meant crossing that big bridge
more than once a day and some times for six or seven days a week)."
"I suppose it could be called The Year of the Leaving. The dean of the
faculty would be replaced by our old friend David Stevenson who came
back from the University of Michigan. The first 'mass exit' (in 1957)
had taken place amid anger. This one was different. We were simply
leaving for better opportunities."
"Off to New York. A new job and exciting challenges. Phyllis was leaving
the Midwest for good, as she had left Fort Wayne for good after high
school. And Sam went along with his parents. He went East and then he
went West and then he went even farther East and again West where he
(Photo from The Namesake College)
"Some of the facts about the Lincoln years appear in Phyllis' autobiography,
"I don't remember how it came about that it was obvious that I was
leaving Lincoln College at the end of the second semester of 1966. I had
been on the faculty for ten years, teaching the same courses, watching
basketball games, taking part in faculty meetings, escorting students to
St. Louis museums, and for two of those years directing plays. There
were parties and dinners and dances. No special tears. . . ."
"Our last evening in Lincoln Bob Bird and we three had dinner together
at the Hotel Lincoln. Of course we expected to see him again. But that
was the last time."
Picture Postcard Image of
the Fabled Hotel Lincoln
Chapter 8: Dutchess
Community College, 1966-76
Mr. Stigall describes Dutchess Community College, founded in 1967, as
part of the State University of New York. Its curricula included the liberal
arts, engineering, architecture, and various other technological and
professional fields. During Mr. Stigall's years at Dutchess Community
College, he continued to interact extensively with students, including
work with advisees and sponsored trips to Europe. He also continued to
play on the faculty basketball team. The student newspaper reported in
December of 1972 that Mr. Stigall made a 20-foot shot at the buzzer, and
"he promptly fainted." [Leigh's note: Fainted? Bill Stigall was athletic
and always in good shape. He was also an actor who had a gimmick of
hitting the deck when he made a good shot, so the reporter should have
written "he appeared to faint."]
"As a teacher of Art History at D.C.C.
I was certainly lacking in scholarship on the great course I taught.
But, unlike most scholars and 100% of teachers, I was able to gain the
students' interest in Art and even to make them in some measure
enthusiastic about Art. That was because I was a very effective teacher.
I gained a certain popularity on campus for the teaching I did in
classes. . . ."
"I came to Dutchess in 1966
to teach Art History. At that time I had never taught the subject; in
fact, I had not in my undergraduate or graduate work a single course in
the discipline. I was hired because of my humanities background."
"So for the first year was a
'keeping of one assignment ahead of the student' semester. . . ."
"During the second year I
discovered that most of the students were only moderately capable of
reading and writing on the subject although the subject was very
comprehensible. Assignment by assignment, many students had trouble. I
slowly also discovered that this subject, Art History, was a very
exciting one, and indeed it proved to be the most exciting I have ever
had anything to deal with."
"If the student was to get
anything from the course, he needed help. I decided to guide him through
the textbook and make comments along the way, comments that brought my
background out. In time the students came to enjoy the course and to say
"Administrators, or at least the ones I have encountered in my last
twenty years of teaching, are mortally afraid of pleasure. Any course
that has a flavor of pleasure or of the students' looking forward to
coming to class and of being entertained is not academic and therefore
not boring, and therefore not for the students. Imagine being
entertaining for 41 hours over 20,000 years of History and Art?
Impossible for anyone and surely impossible for me."
In the fall of 1976, Mr. Stigall was forced to retire because of a state
law that forbade teaching after the age of 65. He would have preferred
to continue, writing "my health was excellent and I enjoyed teaching."
He did retire with the prestige of emeritus status.
At the time of his retirement, he received warmest regards from many
students, and I quote some of their testimonies here:
"I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed your class.
Your wonderful, crazy nature makes people think about all the good
things in the world. . . ."
"Your enthusiasm for Art
History has made the Past become alive for us."
"You are incredible. 1. You
travel such a distance to teach at Dutchess, yet you have so much
energy. 2. You have taught this course for 10 years yet you still have
so much interest in it that History of Art seems to have its 'bloom.' 3.
After so many classes, you still have showered me with many blessings,
and you, Mr. Stigall, are one of them. I thank you for your enthusiasm
and the sincere interest you have for each one of your pupils. . . . You
have done so much for me -- the most important is that you have
instilled in me the desire for knowledge, and more knowledge. You
are a born teacher."
"In a world where people
have forgotten how to love and how to give love and share love, you have
remembered. . . . You have the ability to reach out and touch people. .
. . You can magically, mystically carry whole classes at a time, on your
thin back, to places like Lascaux, or Alexandria or Salisbury or Knossos
or Rome or Constantinople. You can romantically materialize people like
Cleopatra and Jesus Christ, Homer and Justinian and Charlemagne. You can
fill you students with understanding. I have heard classmates time and
again speak adoringly of you."
The following photo reflects a highlight in the Stigalls'
life during the years when Bill taught at Dutchess Community College:
Aboard Sea Adventure,
Chapter 9: Retirement,
Theatre: This section opens with a
"comment by Sam":
"My father was an actor and
director and taught theater. He showed up at the college where my mother
was librarian when I was about seven. When I first saw him on the stage,
playing a soliloquy from Hamlet I didn't know who he was. He was so
dramatic, and he had on make-up and leotards (both were embarrassing
enough for me as a young boy in a small mid-western town). He had been
in the theater in Chicago and New York and the outskirts and during
World War II, frequently went to the theatre in London. He was good."
"My Dad loved the theater.
While I was growing up, and for many years thereafter whenever we were
together, we three went to the theater. And usually on the way out he
would comment on how the director could have blocked the characters
better and how the actors could have been more effective. And what he
said always made sense."
"A few years ago he
commented about something he had just learned about directing. I was a
little astonished because I figured he was the fount of knowledge about
"So I said: 'Dad, you're
over seventy years old and you're still learning how to be a director?'"
"And he looked at me as if
to say, 'Yes, and your point would be?'"
"The point of the story
being, of course, that we always have something to learn."
Writing: In 1993-95 Bill produced
and directed his play titled Six Women Remember Shakespeare at
the Ossining Public Library and then at SUNY in Valhalla, Pace
University in Pleasantville, and the Katonah Library. In 1997-98 he
produced and directed his play titled Emily Bronte--Storyteller
at the Ossining Public Library. In 2001 he was composing four plays.
Chapter 10: That Summer of
Phyllis Stigall composed this final chapter, and I quote the opening:
"That summer of 2001 really began in February
when the first copies of A Shower of Frogs [account of
Bill's experiences in WW II] were distributed and
Bill relished the kind words of his family and friends about the effort
that had consumed so much thought over the years. More messages were in
the mail when we got home on July 31st"
["A shower of frogs": the second plague on
Egypt (Exodus 8:1--15)].
Access links to
a brief description of A Shower of Frogs
and short excerpt (PDF).
Title page, publication details, and table of
contents (PDF). For purchasing information, scroll down
this page below the Amazon.com customer reviews.
Several testimonials for
A Shower of Frogs appear in the appendix of I
Couldn't Be Better, including this one:
"Another veteran phoned, came to visit, bought
copies at Borders in the World Trade Center (before Sept. 11th), and
wrote for his own outfit to encourage people to buy it. He, R.R., wrote
'Seldom, perhaps never, has a book come along that has left me totally
enthralled, fascinated, captivated and so true to life as A Shower of
Frogs. He [Bill Stigall] has captured the
essence of war and what it was all about and through the eyes of a
ground soldier. His book, in my opinion, is fifty years too late. It
should have been published ages ago. It is too bad that so many of us
are no longer here to read it. to go back to those wondrous days when we
suffered, hungered, cried, feared, fought, and rejoiced."
Reviews from Amazon.com
It's like being there., July 27, 2001
Mr. Stigall's style makes the reader truly feel what it was
like for him and the other characters in his book to be a
part of history in the making. The personal experiences
portrayed are described in such detail that one can't help
but visualize himself in the time and places mentioned. On a
personal note, My father was one of the characters and this
book gave me a finer understanding of what my Dad went
through as a P.O.W. I've had little glimpses of what went on
through the years when Dad felt like talking about it but
never in this detail. Thank you Mr. Stigall for this
opportunity to better know my Dad.
(Nogales, AZ United States)
Tony Coppola Nogales,
World War II -- Not by the numbers, March 29, 2001
Reviewer: A reader
A friend sent me A Shower of Frogs and it was a real
pleasure. This is a first-hand account of the World War II
that doesn't make the movies, of a GI's experience in North
Africa, Italy, England, and Normandy, and German POW camps
that focuses on how one guy actually felt through all of
this. Besides the geographic panorama of the mundane events
that foreshadow and follow great events, the book is truly
readable. You get the sense you are there with this
Shakespearean actor who volunteered as a private and somehow
bridged those worlds. And of the angst that war cannot
avoid. The book concludes on a note that permeates
throughout: "Of one thing only was I sure - I wanted to go
home." Shower of Frogs is neither bleak nor rosy-eyed; it is
like the title, an unexpected but illuminating rainfall.
Information for A Shower of Frogs
Readers interested in purchasing a copy of A Shower of Frogs
directly from Sam Pooley can do so by email:
Or, purchase a copy at Amazon.com with this link:
A Shower of Frogs is available at Amazon.com.
Bill Stigall Signing
Copies of A Shower of Frogs, February, 2001
On June 12, 2001, Bill and Phyllis boarded the Queen Elizabeth II
for Southampton, UK. In London, they visited the British Museum and saw
several plays. On July 4th they boarded the Chunnel train for Paris,
where they met Sam and Marcia Hamilton. On July 6th they celebrated
Bill's 90th birthday.
Phyllis and Bill Stigall
Boarding the Queen Elizabeth II, July 24, 2001
An obituary of Mr. Stigall appeared in The New York Times on
September 29, 2001, indicating that "he died September 14, 2001,
after a short illness."
by Phyllis Stigall
"Who was Bill Stigall?
He was a kind and gentle man.
He was a loving son,
brother, cousin, nephew, grandfather, friend.
He was a reader, an avid
library patron bringing home books, magazines, CDs, and videos. He
devoured the New York Times.
He was a writer of two
family histories, a memoir of World War II, two plays, a few poems, many
letters, a history of an acting company, and notes to himself. His
autobiography and four plays were works in progress.
He was a natural athlete. He
was on track teams and ran marathons. He played baseball, football,
tennis, and polo. He was an easy horseback rider. In his sixties he
could still make a two-handed set shot. In his seventies he played SM
[Scarborough Manor] tournament tennis. In his ninetieth year he was
still a walker, helping this old lady cross the streets of London and
stroll the decks of a rolling ship.
He was a teacher, actor,
director of over one hundred plays. He was a friendly neighbor and
colleague. He was a music lover; in his last hours he was listening to
Brahms' Second Symphony. He loved to eat good food and drink
champagne. He was a traveler. He loved parties and was a generous host.
He loved to sit on the balcony and watch the stars or the storms over
the Hudson. He was a poker-player. He was a constant assistant
house-keeper. His favorite places were theatres, concert halls, and art
museums. He was a restless man, unable to sit still.
He was a decorated soldier.
He was our loving and
protective father and husband."
Se partir est mourir un peu.
(To part is to die a little.)
Works Cited and Suggested
A Shower of Frogs is available at Amazon.com.
David H. Harts, Jr.: Business and Civic Leader and Steward of the Foley House
(biographical sketches of D.H. Harts, Jr., and D.H. Harts, Sr., in Mr.
Lincoln, Route 66, and Other Highlights of Lincoln, Illinois)
Hughett, Barbara. The Lincoln College Story 1865--1995. Lincoln, IL:
Lincoln College, 1994. Ms. Hughtett dedicates this book to the memory of
David H. Harts, Jr., and Raymond N. Dooley, for without them "Lincoln
College would not exist today."
"Lincoln College Adds Impact to Area Economy":
Lincoln College Web site:
Lindstrom, Andrew, with Olive Carruthers. Lincoln: The Namesake College.
Lincoln, IL: Lincoln College, September, 1965.
Lynxite, 1961 and 1967.
Obituary of Phyllis Graham Stigall, Honolulu Advertiser & Star-Bulletin,
December 10, 2004.
Obituary of William Jasper Stigall, Jr., The New York Times,
September 29, 2001.
Pooley, Sam, Ph.D., brief career summary:
http://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/do/do_bio.php. Additional information and
photo of Dr. Pooley (scroll to near bottom of the page):
http://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/media/news/bronzemedal05.php. According to
this Web site, "The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center of the National
Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is part of the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Center administers scientific
research and monitoring programs that support the domestic and international
conservation and management of living marine resources."
and Florence Dooley (biographical sketches in the historians page of
Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, and Other Highlights of Lincoln, Illinois. This
Web page also pays tribute to other Lincoln College notables: historians
Paul Beaver, Paul Gleason, and James T. Hickey.)
William J. ("Bill"). A Shower of Frogs. NY: Vantage Press, 2001.
_______. I Couldn't Be Better.
Scarborough, NY: ©Estate of William J. Stigall, Jr., 2002. Excerpted on this
Web page with permission.
Stringer, Lawrence. History of Logan County 1911 (reprinted).
Evansville, IN: UNIGRAPHIC INC., 1978.
Byline (newsletter of the Ossining, NY, Public Library), Vol. XXVII, No.
8, January, 2005, and Vol. XXVIII, No. 2, May, 2005.
of Lincoln College (1865) in Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, and Other
Highlights of Lincoln, Illinois
Note: This Web site has been created and promoted as a result of my
interest in the social and cultural history of my hometown: the first
Lincoln namesake town. This interest stems from the influence of teachers
like James Hickey, Florence Molen, the Reverend John Burns, and Bill Stigall;
and all of these faculty were hired by Raymond Dooley, who was in turn
recruited by David H. Harts, Jr. In 1948, when Mr. Dooley became President
of Lincoln College, Mr. Harts led the Board of Trustees (the
position was called President of the Board of Trustees) and undoubtedly
urged the Board to hire Mr. Dooley.
Mr. Harts was arguably the greatest
benefactor of Lincoln College: he served on its Board of Trustees
for many years; he managed farms owned by Lincoln College; he bought the
Foley house and gave it to Lincoln College for use as a dormitory; and he
left untold sums of money to Lincoln College. David H. Harts, Jr., developed
this dedication as a result of the influence of his father, David H. Harts,
Sr., who was a friend of Robert Latham, one of the founders of the town of
Lincoln and of Lincoln College.
David Harts, Sr., who had been a captain in the US Army during the Civil
War, was a role model for his sons, John and David, Jr. David H. Harts, Sr., was deeply involved in public service in several
capacities. For many years, he was a member of the Board of Trustees of
Lincoln College and worked tirelessly to raise money to fund the
establishment and development of that institution. In Lincoln and Logan
David H. Harts, Sr., and later his son David H. Harts, Jr., practiced law and engaged in various kinds
of business. Captain Harts promoted the growth of the railroad, and
Hartsburg, Illinois, was named for him when it was established on the Illinois Central
railroad alignment northwest of Lincoln. David H. Harts, Sr., was also a
member of the state legislature (1872) and mayor of Lincoln (1881). Captain
Harts was a candidate for governor of Illinois for the Prohibition Party
(1888) (Stringer, History of Logan County 1911).
Leigh Henson (December 5, 2006)
Email comments, corrections, questions, or suggestions.
Also please email me if this Web site helps you decide to visit Lincoln,
"The Past Is But the