1860 photo taken 4 days after Mr. Lincoln visited Lincoln, Illinois, for the last time. Info at 3 below.

This President grew;
His town does too.
Link to Lincoln:
Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership

Site Map

Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of Lincoln, IL

Abraham Lincoln and the Historic Postville Courthouse,
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 Lincoln, Illinois,
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 Station

Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial Park
(former Chautauqua site),
the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites

Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Salt Creek & Cemetery Hill,
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 & Present

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 Historic District

The Foley House:  A Monument to Civic Leadership
(on the National Register of Historic Places)

Agriculture in
the Route 66 Era

Arts & Entertainment Heritage,
including the Lincoln Theatre Roy Rogers' Riders Club of the 1950s

Business Heritage

Cars, Trucks & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era

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 Eras

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 Museum

with Distinction

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 Lincoln, Illinois

Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era

The Historic 1953 Centennial Celebration of Lincoln, Illinois

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, Illinois,
During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960)


Pages 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 Bulge)

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

Leigh Henson's 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 Lincoln, Illinois

Web Site About
Leigh Henson's Professional Life


Pages in this section are about the writing, memorabilia, and Web sites of other Lincolnites:

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 Site,
including photos of many churches

Dave Armbrust's Memorabilia of Lincoln, Illinois

J. Richard
(JR) Fikuart
(LCHS '65):
he 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 66 Era

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 Times:

The Route 66
Association of Illinois

The Illinois State Historical Society

Illinois Tourism Site:
Enjoy Illinois



      Email a link to this page to someone who might be interested. Internet Explorer is the only browser that shows this page the way it was designed.  Your computer's settings may alter the display.)

April 24, 2004: Awarded "Best Web Site of the Year" by the Illinois State Historical Society "superior achievement: serves as a model for the profession and reaches a greater public"

Marquee Lights of the Lincoln Theatre, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois

You can go home again. dlhenson@missouristate.edu


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 Lynxite


     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 kept it.)

     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 near the 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 title 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 elsewhere about Lincoln College.

     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 contributions 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 your letter.

     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 genealogy.

    Feel free to follow up if you have any questions, and I look forward to the results.

     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 professional lives--combining 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
October, 2006

A Biographical Sketch of Phyllis Graham Stigall

     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.

Captain Richard Pooley

(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, p. 99).

     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 I 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 sources.

Epigraph: William Stigall's Ambition

     "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 lives).

     Returning to 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 include.

     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


     "It 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 titled A 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."


Bill Stigall at the Seashore,
Leptis Magna, Libya, June 30, 1964

(Frontispiece of
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 image. "

     "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."

Bill Stigall About 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 sports:

     "He [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 Duncan's business."

     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.

Bill Stigall, Age 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 things foreign."

     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 production."

     "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 were 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,
December, 1941


     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."

     In 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 Army, 1942-45

     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."

Approximately 1942

Naples, 1943

     "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.

Photo 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 such 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 year.

Chapter 6: Chicago and Brentano's, 1953-55

     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 the job."

     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 humans.

     "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 other."

     "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. 168).]

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.

Don Dunkelberg
(Lincoln Courier, 12-8-54)

     The quality of this image is poor because it is adapted from a scan of a microfilm printout.

     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 [probably 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 Ilko.]

     "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 Franconia 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 5th."

     "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."

     When 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

     "The 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 at school."

     Note: the following is information about his teaching that Mr. Stigall inserted into his narrative at this point.

     "The Lincoln College Catalog said:

     '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 His Tomb.'

     "The prospectus for A SURVEY OF FINE ARTS reads:

     '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 photography, etc.?

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 modern dance.

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 Fulfillment.

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 Basic Course."

Mr. Raymond N. Dooley,
13th President of Lincoln College
(Photo from Lincoln:
The Namesake College
, p. 94)

Mrs. Florence Dooley,
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, aged nine."

     "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 interests.]

Norman Kaye
(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 Fall."

Picture 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 tiger lilies."

     "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 him.

     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 degrees.

     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."

Robert Bird
(from the 1961 Lynxite)

Author 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."

Author Paul Horgan
(Photo from Namesake College, p. 121)

Lucille Bowlby

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)

     Below are 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.

Science Teacher Donald Hilscher
(from 1961 Lynxite)

Math 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 Brummet
(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 books."

"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 American flags.)

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 Lincoln College.]

     "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:

English Teacher Winfield Scott


Student Dan Mooney


Student 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 shots]."

      "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 and production."

Andrew Lindstrom
(Photo from the 1967 Lynxite)

David Harts

Lucy McVane

David Goldhammer

Marjorie Oglesby

     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 stayed."

Dean David Stevenson
(Photo from The Namesake College)

     "Some of the facts about the Lincoln years appear in Phyllis' autobiography, Traveler's Epilogue."

     "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 so."

     "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, 1971

Chapter 9: Retirement, 1976-2001

     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 things theatrical."

     "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 2001

     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."

Customer Reviews from Amazon.com

Average Customer Review:  
It's like being there., July 27, 2001
Reviewer: Tony (Nogales, AZ United States)
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.

Tony Coppola Nogales, AZ

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.

Ordering 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: Frogs@Hawaii.RR.com.

   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

     Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com

     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: http://www.lincolncollege.edu

     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."

     Raymond N. 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.)

     Stigall, 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.

     The Byline (newsletter of the Ossining, NY, Public Library), Vol. XXVII, No. 8, January, 2005, and Vol. XXVIII, No. 2, May, 2005.

     The Founding 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 County, 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, Illinois: dlhenson@missouristate.edu

"The Past Is But the Prelude"


The founding fathers of this town asked their attorney, Abraham Lincoln, for permission to name this new community after him, and he agreed.  On the first day lots were publicly sold--August 27, 1853--, Abraham Lincoln, near the site of the train depot, used watermelon juice to christen the town as Lincoln, Illinois.  It thus became the first town named for Abraham Lincoln before he became famous.