April 2007 Newsletter


A message from the President

Our 2007 reunion begins a series in which we recognize the contributions of Dickinsons to the field of education.  It also appears to be the first time on record that our reunion has been held on a college campus since the grand reunion of 1883 at Amherst College.  Westfield State College was not founded by a Dickinson, as was Amherst, but John Woodbridge Dickinson was one of its most illustrious presidents and indeed a major contributor to the development of education, especially teacher education, in this country.  We will be fortunate to hear more about John Dickinson from our main speaker, Dr. Robert Brown, former chair of the history department at WSC and now historian of the City of Westfield. 

During the historian’s report in the annual meeting we will also hear from Kenneth Haar, a current faculty member at the college.  Ken is a trustee of the Dickinson School of Southwick, Massachusetts.  He will relate the interesting story of that former school and its impressive trust fund which still exists.

We will be meeting in the large space on the ground floor of the New Residence Hall.  It is very accessible and handicapped parking spaces are nearby.  An adjacent game room is available for children with a safe outdoor area nearby for play if the weather is good.  Our meeting room has comfortable chairs, is air-conditioned and has a view of the woods  which surround the campus.  The college food service will cater the lunch, with a menu similar to those of recent years including chicken, succotash and strawberry shortcake.  Our past president, Bob Magovern, is a trustee at WSC and he raves about the food, so it’s bound to be good!

Although the location is a bit removed from places we’re used to, I think you will find it very enjoyable, so I hope you will decide to come.  Bring along any materials you care to exhibit, and don’t forget to bring your children!  I sincerely hope that we will have a good showing at this year’s reunion.

Alan C. Dickinson, President

                  137th ANNUAL REUNION SCHEDULE


            5 PM                Board Meeting, School Street Bistro, Westfield, MA

            6 PM                Social Hour, School Street Bistro

            7 PM                Dinner, School Street Bistro  (Old building, new restaurant, great food!)


            9:30 AM          Gathering of Cousins, New Residence Hall, Westfield State College

Parking:  Commuter parking lot off Western Avenue

            12 Noon          Welcome and Lunch

            1:15 PM           Annual Meeting and Program

            1:15 PM           Children’s Activities, game room and/or college quadrangle or gym


            Westfield Athenaeum  (www.westath.org);  Center of town, on the green.

                        Friday and Saturday  8:30 AM to 5 PM

            Stanley Park  (www.stanleypark.org)

                        Just east of the college, on the south side of Western Avenue.

            First Congregational Church  (www.churchonthegreen.org)   Center of town. The church welcomes DFA members to attend the 10AM Sunday service.

            The Berkshires  (www.berkshires.org)

                        Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony, the Norman Rockwell Museum , many other museums and a multitude of other attractions are in this beautiful region. 

Please return your reservation card as soon as possible.

Driving directions will appear in the June newsletter.

                                                WESTFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS

 Westfield, the site of our 137th Annual Reunion has been home to a state college since 1892.  It opened as Westfield  State Normal School, later changed to Teacher’s College and in 1956 moved from downtown to its present location on Western Avenue where it became Westfield State College.

Westfield was established in 1669 and was then the westernmost town in Massachusetts.  For many years it was mostly an agricultural community, but the 19th century brought industrialization and Westfield became known as the “Whip City” in reference to one of its early products.  Since that time the town has been home to the Columbia Bicycle Co. and Stanley Home Products among many others.

Today’s City of Westfield is a busy confluence of three major routes: US 20 and 202 and MA 10 (“The College Highway”).  On the central green stands the Westfield Athenaeum, a very unique library dating back to 1830 which also includes outstanding History and Art museums established in the 1920s.  North on rte. 202 is Barnes Airport.  West on Western Avenue, just before the college, is Stanley Park, a large, well-maintained recreation area open to the public which is especially known for its gardens and fountains.  Driving west on rte. 20 takes you to the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.  We hope all who attend our 137th reunion will take advantage of the new venue and explore this beautiful part of the state.

                                   JANUARY SURVEY

Over 320 forms were mailed in January and as of early March we had received 62 responses.  A total of 43 persons were hoping to attend the reunion and 16 the Friday dinner.  More than 80% of our membership didn’t respond, and if you are among them, we do hope you will decide to come.  And we hope each of you will encourage others to attend as well.

Donations of about $1600 were also received with the response cards and we sincerely thank those who contributed. While we are always grateful for contributions to our operating budget, regretfully this year’s contributions to the scholarship fund were down from last year.  We are trying to build up that fund so we can help more students each year.  If you haven’t yet contributed, please consider using the enclosed envelope to send in a contribution, even if you can’t attend the reunion.


A new and exciting season has begun at the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts.  In addition to last year’s new tour, “This was a Poet,” of the Homestead only, there will be two more new tours this year.  One, “Grounds of Memory,” is a self-guided landscape tour of the grounds of both the Homestead and The Evergreens.  An audio “wand” will direct visitors to eighteen stops, provide historical information and quote some of Dickinson’s poems.  The narrator is Richard Wilbur and it will be available starting in late April.  The other new tour focuses on architecture.  Some of our current tour guides are being trained to give this tour which will be available in early June.

The major tour, “Emily Dickinson’s World,” which includes both houses, will be enhanced this year by the chance they are an excerpt from a historic radio broadcast made at The Evergreens in 1940 by Ted Malone.  During the 1930s and 1940s, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, the poet’s niece, frequently hosted visitors at The Evergreens in the “Emily Room” to share the story of her aunt’s life and work. 

If you are anywhere near the museum this year, make it a point to stop in.  It is about an hour from the site of our reunion, but if you are in the area for an extra day or two, plan on visiting.  For more information, call    413-542-8161 or look online at www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org.

                             ANNUAL SCHOLARSHIP ALERT

The deadline of April 30 is fast approaching!  Anyone who plans to apply for the DFA college scholarship and has not already sent in the application should do so promptly.  We plan to notify the winner in early June.  Mail to scholarship chair, Alan Dickinson, 6 Garden Lane, Wilbraham MA 01095.  Questions: 413-596-9648; anbdickinson@charter.net.

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