April 12 meeting will feature presentation from WRA alumnus Donovan Husat.
HUDSON, Ohio – Western Reserve Academy in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s was a much different school than it is today. It was a much smaller school with an all-male student body, and there was little cultural diversity among its 250 students.
“Life at Reserve isn’t tough,” English master Franklin Reardon used to tell incoming students, “It’s far tougher.”
At Hudson Heritage Association’s April meeting, Western Reserve Academy alumnus and HHA Co-President Donovan Husat will speak about life at Reserve during John Hallowell’s years as headmaster. The program is titled “Only Juniors and Seniors May Have Victrolas.”
The meeting is Thursday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m. at Barlow Community Center. It is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Back then, as it is today, Western Reserve Academy was a four-year college-preparatory high school. Until 1972, however, the school was boys-only. (Girls now comprise nearly half of WRA’s 400 students.) As in the earlier era, it is still predominantly a boarding school, but about one-third of its students live nearby and commute to campus. And while life can still be tough there, it bears little resemblance to the post-war baby boom years.
Hallowell came to the school in 1946 and stayed for 21 years. Husat is intimately familiar with the school for 18 of those 21 years. Born in 1946 as the son of WRA language teacher Sam Husat, he lived on campus until he graduated from Reserve in 1964. Among his earliest memories are many of the students, faculty, traditions and customs at Reserve.
“Between 1946 and the mid-’60s, life changed little on the campus,” Husat says. “The entire experience focused on education and discipline. In spite of that, most alumni from those years came to appreciate the value of the type of education they received, and today are very loyal to the school.”
He remembers that in the mid-’60s, the winds of social change began blowing at Reserve. In fact, Hallowell himself credited the Beatles and the Vietnam War with helping accelerate a change in the school’s culture, and that suggested to him that it was time to move on.
To provide an idea of what life was like at Reserve in those years, Husat will take the audience through a typical day and year on campus as if they were students. Schedules were rigorous, expectations were high, and opportunities for recreation and off-campus socialization were limited. He encourages the audience to eat well before the program, because they likely will not have time to go to Saywell’s to spend their 50-cent weekly allowance at the soda fountain.
In addition to his years living within the Reserve community, Husat has served the school as president of the Alumni Association and as a member of the Board of Trustees and the Waring Prize Committee. In 2015 he authored “Alienus Advenisti: Western Reserve Academy in the Flanagan Era.”
What: Hudson Heritage Association’s April meeting
Who: Donovan Husat, co-president, Hudson Heritage Association
Where: Barlow Community Center, 41 South Oviatt Street, Hudson, Ohio
When: April 12, 2018, 7:30 p.m. — free and open to the public
Photo caption (credit: 1955 WRA Hardscrabble yearbook): In 1955, French master Irving “Robbie” Robinson and math teacher and Assistant Headmaster Ralph “Scotch” McGill regularly kept an eye out for WRA students who were tardy for breakfast.
About HHA: Founded in 1962, Hudson Heritage Association works to protect Hudson’s historic buildings, the village streetscape, and the city’s Western Reserve architectural aesthetic. HHA encourages the preservation of historic buildings by providing research, resources and education to homeowners who wish to maintain their historic homes. The association co-sponsors the Cleveland Restoration Society’s Heritage Home Program with the City of Hudson.
HHA also works with building owners to help them meet Historic Marker requirements and identifies those buildings with the HHA Historic Marker. The association shares and celebrates the history of Northeast Ohio by publishing books and newsletters, conducting workshops and field trips and hosting monthly meetings that feature local preservationists, historians and craftsmen.