Thursday, October 21, 2010

In Search of: Ella L. Sweeney

People crossed the Phillips and Lovecrafts family's path, but had vibrant lives of their own. Ella L. Sweeney knew Susan as early as 1893 (b. c. 1871, about 22 years old), and Sweeney went on to be a significant force in the Providence school system. About 1901, Sweeney advocated school gardens. Howard Lovecraft was an avid gadener after the move to 454 Angell Street (mid-1904). Gardens on vacant lots were the rage among the elite of Providence - to improve and beautify. I think it no coincidence that Sweeney was an advocate of gardening exactly the time Lovecraft was buiding gardens, though it remains unknown if it was a 1:1 relationship, or it was just something in the times.

All this talk about Howard being "weak and sickly" should be reevaluated. He certainly had significant maladies, and he may have had some form of chronic fatigue disease (as well as poikilothermia) late in life, but we catch glimpses of him bicycling dozens of miles or more, riding hot air ballooons, digging gardens, shoveling snow, building clubhouses, playing in bands, checking daily weather at the top of the ProJo building, and much, much more as a youth. When he was well, he was Herculean. When he was sick, sometimes he came close to death. That's HPL.

The School Garden Movement in Rhode Island

THE work of this state is under the immediate supervision of Prof Ernest K Thomas who is a member of the faculties of the Agricultural College and of the State Normal School In some respects of course Rhode Island is so much a manufacturing state that it is not considered the most appropriate place to interest the schools in agricultural work but notwithstanding this handicap school gardens have been developed in all the leading institutions of the state The work was first introduced about twelve years ago by Miss Ella Sweeney Assistant Superintendent of the Providence schools The Civic League of Newport began some work in school gardening in 1906 and the Westerly Schools started about the same time Even before this in 1904 a small garden was started at Kingston under the direction of the extension department of the College The Pawtucket Old Home and Improvement Society attached a school garden to their school in 1008 Without doubt the school garden which will have the most effect in influencing the teachers of Rhode Island is the one in connection with the Rhode Island Normal School under the management of Principal John L Alger As I have already mentioned the city of Newport has had some most excellent school gardens for a number of years The City of Pawtucket has a very commendable garden which is interesting many people in that city in this movement and in improved home conditions generally Warwick Saylesville Lonsdale and a number of other smaller cities of the state have made commendable progress One of the most valuable results of the whole movement has been that of the home garden which has been established in many places as an outgrowth of the interest aroused by the school garden.
EE Balcomb
Formerly of the Providence Normal School

page 102

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