Monday, September 06, 2010

Florence H Slack (Hope Street High School)

In Lovecraft's boyhood, Providence schols tended to start the second week of September. So, welcome back to school!

This item I purchased for a mere $0.99 plus freight in June 2010. It haunted me, not just because of the Philbrick and Hope Street High School connection, but because this vibrant teacher was being sold for a paltry 99 cents. It seemed unfair, and so after two rounds of not being sold, I purchased it in honor of her memory.

One form of immortality is to be remembered. As a Baptist, I believe in an afterlife, but I also feel strongly that individuals should be honored and respected here and now – even after their death; especially after their death. More so one of noble and giving character.

To my recollection, Lovecraft never mentioned this teacher. It's impossible for hiom not to have seen her or known of her. There is a principal taht states: Just becuase something is not memntioned does not preclude it from happening. In science, one deals in probability. So, also, does one deal in historical probabilities. It's clear that Philbrick knew Slack, and so while we have no evidence that Lovecraft was close to Slack, he had to know of her, and perhaps crossed her path several times in his roughly four years at Hope Street High School.

Below, I trace out a few items in Florence H.Slack's career. It is cursory, but will give you a feel for her activities and vibrance. I suspect that she taught debate and drama as well as English. In 1905, for instance, the debate team won several times (in the 1905 Providence Hope Street High School Year Book), even though she is not specifically mentioned.


Florence H Slack

b. 1876 – d. 1956)
Interred at North Burial Ground of Providence

Report of School Committee of 1899-1900 reports, " In June of 1897 Miss Flora A Fraser of the Sargent School of Physical Training was elected to the position During the same time the work for boys in the English High School was under the care of Mr John Howland for girls directed by Miss Sybil Avery In the Classical High School Miss Charlotte Morrill had charge and in the East Side High School Miss Florence H Slack".

The 1903 Butler Hospital Report has this paragraph, " We are indebted for entertainments to … {others and} … Miss Florence H Slack and pupils and alumni of Hope Street High School"

1904 she is listed )City Directory) as Fourth Assistant at Hope Street High School. That same year in "American Physical Education Review" she is listed at 1240 Westminster St., Providence, but for non-payment of dues, and thus dropped from membership. Located in Room 2R (which seems to be her constant room through her career).

In 1907 she is still listed (City Directory) as Fourth Assistant at Hope Street High School.

1917-1918 school year at Hope Street High School as Third Assistant. (Providence City Manual 1917-1918)

The 1929-1940 Brown University Report lists her at Hope Street High School under "Public Speaking" as her specialty.

Her retirement occurred with much fanfare in 1946 (Perridas has the small program) with attendance and speeches by the Superintendent of Schools, Prinicipal Wood of Hope Street High Schol, and of Lovecraft significance, Clarence H. Philbrick, graduate 1909.
b. 1876 – d. 1956)
Interred at North Burial Ground of Providence
And this interesting article from 1921:

The Drama, Volume 11, October, 1920-September, 1921
The Providence Players and Other New England Activities
..'THERE are on the average three or four amateur dramatic performances given in different parts of greater Providence every night. About every new church or parish house building has some sort of'stage nowadays. Many schools are adding to their equipment in spite of obnoxious and unnecessary build* ing instructions, and clubs of all sorts are developing interest in dramatic directions.
At Pembroke, the women's college in Brown University, a number of admirable performances have been given. Among them was The Amazons, presented by the Senior Class, directed by Sarah Minchin-Barker and staged by Marshall Sheldon, and Quality Street under the same direction and played by the Alumnae Association. Several out-of-door pageants have been given, and a recent program of four original plays presented by the four classes of the college, and dealing with college affairs, afforded stimulus to youthful playwrights.
..Among the public school hall performances the presentation of three one-act plays by members of The Players at the John Howland Grammar School under the auspices of the Parent Teachers Association was one of the most notable. School hall performances, in which pupils are the participants, are ambitiously given under the direction of Miss Florence Slack and Mrs. Hesse who are the dramatic directors for the city high schools, and Miss Adelaide Patterson, at the Rhode Island State Normal School. Miss Patterson, who has acted many parts with The Players, has written several short plays, and pageants, which have been favorably received.
..Dramatic productions at the Lincoln School (a large private institution with grounds adjoining Blackstone Park) are under the direction of Miss Marion Cole, also a member of the Players. At least one Shakespearean play is annually presented, besides the pageants given in the park. As You Like It was the offering in April of this year and was especially meritorious.
..Under Miss Slack's direction the Technical High School alumni performed Eliza Comes to Stay, with Herbert Butterfield, a Players' member and assistant to Mr. Crosby at Brown, in the leading part.The play selected for the spring production of the Sock and Buskin Society of Brown this year, Nothing but the Truth, received its initial production at the Mayflower Theatre.
..The Providence Art Club for several years past has manifested an interest in things dramatic. The annual Christmas carnival under the charge of Marshall* B. Martin has taken on the form of a burlesque show with wonderful scenic surprises taxing the ingenuity and skill of many of the professional artist members of that popular club to devise. This is generally performed for the masculine contingent or "Friday Knights" the Friday night preceding Christmas, and repeated on a ladies' night immediately afterwards. Some of the unwritten parts of the dialogue are intentionally delivered impromptu and usually some of the written portions unintentionally so. Later in the season performance? in more finished dramatic style and serious purpose are presented, and all of the productions are naturally mounted with great decorative and scenic skill volunteered by the ablest artists in Providence. The varied programs include experiments representative of all the new schools there are. The collection of one-act plays presented by Mr. Crosby included Where but in America, A Constant Lover, by St. John Hankife, and The Marriage will not Take Place, by Sutro.
..The stage settings, by Percy Albee, cleverly satirized some phases of the so-called new and decorative school, the embellishment for the Constant Lover including various nimble fauns in a purple wood, supposedly typifying the inconstancy of the youth who is constantly in love.
..Another three-play program, recently given with success' was presented by some of The Players under the auspices of the new Plantations Club whose membership is composed of professional women, at the Elks' Auditorium. Average, A Constant Lover, and Food were the plays given, and as is the case with nearly all such presentations nowadays, as much care was bestowed upon the setting and lighting as upon the action.
..Other groups of three one-act plays have recently been given for the Pawtucket Women's Club and on various church vestry stages for French War Relief, and the like. The Plantations Club also stood sponsor for a propaganda play designed to give impetus to the drive for the fund for the Providence District Nurses Association. This was produced in their auditorium upon a "portmanteau" stage recently constructed by William E. Bridgham, director of design at the R. I. School of Design. The play, From Door'to Door, furnished an interesting example of the possibilities of story playing of an advanced type, as it was constructed largely in scenario form, with but a small portion of the actual dialogue written out. The rest was provided in an impromptu manner by the players who presented with full regard to dramatic characterization and with vividly convincing effect the various scenes making up the story, demonstrative of the work of the district nurses among the poor— all vivid to the audience of volunteer workers assembled to get inspiration in entertainment form, as a prelude to their work for the annual tag day work. As a result of this, the financial results were nearly twice as great as usual.
The play was conceived and arranged by Paul B. Howland of the Providence Journal dramatic staff, and an acting member of The Players.
..Performances of The Witching Hour by the Epiphany Players in the Elmwood district of Providence were of unusually creditable character for so young an organization. This club has been in existence for about two years and gives its productions in the fine parish housa hall of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, four of - the annual offerings being given for the benefit of various church activities and the fifth one for the club itself, for the purpose of adding to its working equipment
..For many years in Providence much dramatic activity has been manifested by various foreign language speaking groups of performers recruited from its cosmopolitan population. Among those are regular productions at the Talma Theatre in Infantry Hall by the Portuguese Young Men's Educational Association (Club de Instrucao des Fillies de Portugal), and various Armenian, Swedish and Italian clubs.]
The residential towns surrounding Boston have for many years supported flourishing amateur dramatic organizations. Among these are the Footlight Club, of the Jamaica Plain district (Boston); the Concord Dramatic Club; the Cambridge Social Dramatic Club; the Newton Players, which has a splendid private theatre; the Belmont Dramatic Club; and the Brookline Comedy Club. Several of these clubs have been in existence for over a quarter of a century and without advertising any claims to noteworthy experiments in any new art direction, have long been conducted under able and artistic leadership, and presented work of much dramatic merit.
..Many women's clubs in the smaller cities and towns are featuring the work of thoir dramatic departments and subcommittees. An example of this is the woman's club of Plymouth, Mass., which has only recently produced Green Stockings and The Fascinating Mrs. Vunderfeldt at the local theatre, and now has Pomander Walk in contemplation with the special setting built for that play by the Providence Players.—[Henry A. Barker.


-Not to be confused with Mrs. Florence H. Slack, aged 72, widow of Jessie B. Slack, died at the home of her son-in-law, Harry R. Solliday, Trenton, N. J., on Friday, April 27, 1928; Bucks, Pa.

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