Mr.Roberts insisted that all Peddie School boys write daily. Once I understood the message, I looked forward to the task. The students all had the same medium format spiral notebooks sold at the school bookstore, and handed them to the English Department each Friday. If folks shared their entries with each other, I was unaware of this. What I recall was that every evening after dinner, during study hours, with dorm room doors opened, the hall masters would make sure we were all present, and at our desks, and with heads down. This was when most of us wrote. What we wrote was personal. Mine was at least. Musings about living away. Thoughts about life as a 15 year old during the Vietnam era. About the music on the canteen jukebox. Did we favor the abolishment of the long established school dress code. And/or what did we think about the institution’s plan to transition over to accepting girls as students. In addition to learning about French, or Art History, or any of the math courses, campus life afforded us some time to be introspective about issues that might not have touched us had we slept in our own beds, in our own homes.
I have no recollection regarding not complying with Mr. Roberts’ directions, but I did find this journal from sophomore year in which he calls me out for not living up to the standards expected of me. The pages read,
“Your own imagination and frankness are refreshing. I wish like hell you could make yourself conform to certain basics* just for the sake of your own education. You obviously could be a good, fun student – if you just cared a bit. (be selfish, this one time).