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Saint Mary's School - Raleigh, North Carolina

November 12, 2004

by

Jerry Cimino

When we put out the word six months prior that we were going to be doing a Beatmobile Tour, Randall Lathan, an English Teacher at Saint Mary’s School - an all girls Episcopal High School in Raleigh, North Carolina - was one of the first people to contact me. He wanted us to bring the Beatmobile to Saint Mary’s. Randall has been a subscriber to our newsletter for years and has often bought books and videos from us.

Saint Mary's was founded before the Civil War!.

In the heart of North Carolina!

The Beatmobile is ready to open.

I must admit I had some trepidations. We hadn’t even presented at one college yet and here we were with a high school - an all girls high no less and one with a religious affiliation!

Maybe if we had done at least a high school or even a college first I’d have felt more comfortable. Maybe if I had my own teenage kids and knew how to talk to them openly about sex and drugs I’d have felt more parental. Maybe if the name of the Catholic grammar school I went to in Baltimore had been something other than Saint Mary’s School I’d have felt less of the willies. When I saw Saint Mary’s School website I noticed their “SMS” logo – the same logo that was on my little tie I wore as a six year old at my own Saint Mary’s! Maybe if I hadn’t recently been presented with a gift of a T-Shirt that said, “I Survived Catholic School”… but I digress…

 

The students came to hear the story of the Beats.

These young people wanted to know the history.

So the Beat show at Saint Mary’s actually started weeks before our arrival. Randall and the good folks at that school prepared our way in magnificent fashion. Diana, SMS’s librarian created gorgeous displays all over the library with photographs and copies of Life Magazine from the 1950’s and explanations of who the Beats were and how they influenced our culture.

Dean Grisham and her IT Department in the lunch room.

Walking up the stairs of the library.

Diana, SMS's Librarian, created a terrific display weeks before we arrived.

Defining the Beats for the High School students.

Copies of Life Magazine from the fifties and a first edition of Off The Road.

There were bulletin boards set up in the English Department. Randall and other teachers talked about the Beats in their English, Sociology and Art classes. They even sponsored a Beat Poetry night the evening before our arrival. A hundred girls showed up to hear the poetry and share in the cookies and cider.

Bulletin board in the English Department.

It wasn’t until we were driving in to Saint Mary’s that I realized its history. It’s located right in the center of Raleigh and there are official looking signs pointing to it everywhere! The place was founded in 1842! Robert E. Lee’s daughter went there, for goodness sake! I kept imagining a bunch of Confederate soldiers getting wind of the fact that their sixteen year old daughters were reading Howl and running us out of town at the point of a bayonet!

Saint Mary's is an all girls high school.

The girls of Saint Mary's take in the Beatmobile..

The display panels in the library.

Teachers and students alike are enthralled!

Fortunately my fears vaporized when we met with the staff and saw all the magnificent displays. When Diana showed us around the library I asked, “Where did you get all these old Life Magazines? This is a great collection – I wish I had some of this stuff in my Museum in California. Did someone donate an entire set to you?” Diana looked at me with a smile and gently said, “Well, the school’s been around for over a hundred and sixty years. We’ve had a subscription to Life since it was first published.” “Ouch,” I thought. “Get with it,” John said. Garland laughed at my expense.

In the theatre.

The influence of jazz!.

Neal and Carolyn in San Francisco in 1947.

John talks about his father 'The Wild One'.

Banned Books at City Lights (Ferlinghetti far right)

Our day at Saint Mary’s went wonderfully. It was Prospective Student day so all kinds of parents were wandering around with their eighth grade daughters deciding on whether they were going to send their precious darlings to Saint Mary’s next year. We didn’t want to blow any deals.

I think we did OK.

Randall made it happen at Saint Mary's.

 

 

 

 

 


For more information about The Beat Museum On Wheels click here