News from Uncle Bob

Dear family,

           I think it’s time to catch you up on news about Fi and me, and our modestly extended progeny. Tim and Mara are happy that Mara is taking a new job teaching at the Wheeler School in Providence. Grandson Alexander is a junior at Brown, majoring in history with the accent on East Asia. Grandson Jesse is a junior in his Providence high school. He’s been doing terrific drawings and taking Saturday classes at the Rhode Island School of Design; he’ll do a summer course there this year. Mara’s two daughters are thoroughly assimilated in the family, but they’re now in college. Claire, the elder, is a junior majoring in philosophy at Union College, and happily engaged to Alex Fry, a senior, whom we’ve come to know and like very much. They spent a semester together in Cambodia and environs. Sophie, the younger, is a firstyear at Miami University, and thriving there according to Mara, Claire and Tim who just visited her. We’ve been to Providence several times this past year, and the Providence family have come up here as well.

           Rosie continues her work as public defender; she and John, also a lawyer, commute to Manhattan from Dobbs Ferry. Daughter Bethany is a sophomore at Harvard, plunged into archaeology while spending time in the theater as director and actress. She spent last summer in Peru on an archaeological dig, and will go to Oxford University for another summer devoted to archaeology. Her brother Matthew is a sophmore in a prep school in Dobbs Ferry. He’s a whiz in mathematics, and has narrowed his sports to cross-country running. We’ve driven down to Dobbs Ferry a couple of times in recent months, and Rosie’s gang joined Cathy and Tim’s enlarged family for Christmas here.

           Cathy continues working in the Philadelphia Museum, recently pushed upstairs to a new job in curating the collections while she hopes to find time to continue her researches in the provenance of museum objects. She’s dating, but at present has no fixed attachment.

           Fi has recovered from a viral pneumonia, for which she got truly excellent and sympathic care in the Holyoke hospital. While there, two nurses who took care of me last November figured out that she was my wife and came from the emercency ward to say hello to her. I had an embolic stroke five months ago but the only effect was on speech and, to a lesser extent, on typing. The problam was a disconnection between brain and the formation of words. With the aid of a speech therapist, I’m nearly back to normal.

           Fi and I continue research and writing. The Penguin India edition of Flora’s Empire, British Gardens in India, has been given a lot of attention. She has had several interviews with Indian journalists and critics, and has had two articles wecomed in Indian online publications. Her work in India grew out of her publications on British colonial life and rule in Africa. Recently she’s been working on British colonial rule of Sri Lanka. We went there three years ago and saw several famous Raj sites and several notable horticultural gardents. I’ve tagged along on her several two-week visits to India whose cuisine I truly love. It’s too peppery hot for Fi, but lashings of yogurt help. Sri Lanka, by the way, struck us as less lively and more repressive that India. The sober art of Buddhism can’t match the exhuberance of sculpture, painting, and the decorative arts of the Hindus.

           I’ve continued my more parochical research, studying the discovery and interpretation of dinosaur tracks in the Conn. River valley from South Hadly to the Vermont border, from the 1830’s to the 1880’s. I began ten years ago looking into the scientific illustrations of a gifted Amherst woman, Orra White Hitchcock, whose husband Edward was a pioneer in the study of Jurassic dino tracks (first thought to be the tracks of giant birds). I published Orra’s diary and then in 2010 I co-curated an exhibition of her work in the Amherst College museum and wrote its catalogue. I then turned to her husband and have put online with Amherst College two studies of his work, follow by two more online essays (Mt. Holyoke) of quarriers and entrepreneurs of the sandstone tracks which had attracted worldwide interest. I’m about to finish a related essay on a Greenfield doctor who made the dino tracks his chief preoccuption after medicine. I’ve mostly put art history behind me (no teaching since retirement in 1997), but over the years at Yale I taught courses in art & science so my recent work doesn’t seem entirely removed.

           Everyday life contines peaceably for us. Fi swims every day in the college pool, and I saw, chop and stack firewood three or four times a week. At Christmas Tim brought me a big bonus of hard wood from up the street where a neighbor had huge locusts and maples cut down after our freakish snow storm at Halloween 2011. He astonished us by his strength. I cannot lift the huge chunks he tosses around with ease. I’m nonetheless in good physical shape, and so is Fi. We fled the unusually bitter winter by sharing a week with two friend on Captiva and Sanibel islands in Florida (Fi probably caught her pneumonia from the airplane to Ft. Myers), and had the great pleasure of lunch with sister Mary who drove across the peninsula to meet us. We’ve seen Hugh, Jan and Patricia a couple of times since last summer. Hugh is coping valiantly with ill health, thanks to the devoted aid and love of Jan and Patricia. Now we’re looking forward to the third week of this month for birthday celebrations at Rosie’s. Her John’s day is the 15th, mine the 21st, and Bethany’s the 22nd. Cathy’s coming from Philadelphia, and we’re hoping that Tim, Mara and Jesse will join us. Bethany is too involved with theater to make it, and Alexander is similarly preoccupied at Brown. I’m not on Facebook but Fi is, and so we keep up with the grandkids although we can’t always interpret their postings.

Love to you all on this welcome April 2nd.



Cody Carrese’s On the Move

Dear Family,
On May 17, John, Celia and I will all test our physical endurance and ride longer and farther than any of us has ever ridden on our bicycles – because we will be “Riding for a Reason.” It’s the least we can do to try to give back to the public schools that have given so much to our family – and that’s why I’m writing to you today. To ask if you can give a little bit to make our ride a really meaningful one. My individual goal is to raise $250 and our family goal is to raise at least $500.
If that’s all you need to know, go here now to donate:
Or send a check made out to me or to Ride for a Reason for any amount and mail it to our home address: 3939 Maybelle Ave., Oakland, CA, 94619.
Note: the website will only accept donations of $25 or more. I will be so grateful for any amount you care to donate, so feel free to send me a check if you can donate $5 or $10, or if you just prefer to send a check rather than donate via the website.
If you need more information…
RIDE FOR A REASON is an annual bike ride to Sacramento to advocate for public education, and raise essential funds for school enrichment programs in Oakland. Last year, 150 riders pedaled from Oakland to the steps of the State Capitol to protest the massive cuts in funding for education and decades of disinvestment. Parents, teachers, students, and community members are riding again to raise funds and public awareness in this cause. Many elective classes and enrichment programs depend entirely on community fundraising. Our support remains critical. California once had the best schools in the nation. Working together we can restore public education in California.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!  THIS YEAR WE HOPE TO REGISTER 250 RIDERS AND RAISE $120,000! This year the funds we raise will be split evenly between six public schools, Claremont Middle, Edna Brewer Middle, Emerson Elementary, Oakland International High, Oakland Technical High and Westlake Middle.


Who are the Tweeting Herberts?

A little bird told me that some of the Herberts have taken to Twitter.

Our Twitter feeds may be a bit specialized, but they offer windows into another aspect of our lives and work. If you would like to share your own Twitter handle, blog or other form of digital expression, please share!

Katherine Hawkins is an active tweeter. Her tweets often relate to her work around Guantanamo Bay inmates and the Middle East. Her Twitter handle is @Krhawkins5

Nora Cody has a blog called ididn’tasktobeborn where she has shared some parenting advice.

I have an active blog at Education Week, called Living in Dialogue

My blog focuses on education policy, as do my tweets. You can follow me on Twitter at @anthonycody

Also, here is a bit of Herbert trivia. You may recall that Hugh shared his discovery he made a few years back that our ancestor’s name was actually Halbert, not Herbert. You might be interested to know that a “halbert” is another name for a halberd, which Wikipedia describes as:A halberd (also called halbard, halbert or Swiss voulge) is a two-handed pole weapon that came to prominent use during the 14th and 15th centuries. The word halberd may come from the German words Halm (staff), and Barte (axe). In modern-day German, the weapon is called a Hellebarde. The halberd consists of an axe blade topped with a spike mounted on a long shaft. It always has a hook or thorn on the back side of the axe blade for grappling mounted combatants.

So perhaps the Herbert family crest should be adapted to incorporate this ancient weapon.

Paul the Hero

by Hugh Herbert

In 1936, we moved from our beloved Oxford, MA to Central Village, CT.  We all hated it!  It was a mill town with a large number of poor wood framed tenements, provided by the mills for their workers.  A good number of these workers were of French Canadian origin and education was not a big factor for them.

Our grammar school was only a few hundred feet up the street from our house.

 On the first day of school, Paul and I arrived together.  At the time he was 11 yrs. old and I was nine.  We were standing around the school yard when we noticed a commotion.  An oversized bully (he had been kept back one or two years) would walk up to a smaller boy, shoving him to the ground.  The kid would simper and say “hiya  Leo.”  And then Leo proceeded along the line, pushing more kids down.  I turned to Paul and said we’re not going to take that are we?  Paul said no.  Then Leo walks up to Paul and says, “Huh, you’re a new kid!”  As it looked as if he were going to shove Paul, I dropped to my hands and  knees behind Leo and Paul gave a real hard shove.  He backed up and fell over me hitting the back of his head a real whack on the ground.

 Paul then said, “Yeah we’re new kids and no one is going to push us around!”

 Once over their surprise, the other kids began laughing at and jeering Leo.  Leo got up and as far as I knew, never did any more shoving.  And for a while, Paul was somewhat of a hero.

The Herbert Herald Welcomes NEWS as Well as Memories

Thus far the New Herbert Herald has, appropriately, focused on tributes to the recently departed, and reminiscences of the family from the days of yore. But the Herbert family is not all in the misty memory. We are alive and well in the 21st Century as well! Please send in your latest news of what is happening now! Let us know if you, like cousin Katherine Hawkins, are on Twitter and can be followed there. Or if you have a blog of your own. Or if a new baby is amongst us. Or you are engaged to be married! Or if your divorce is done!  Any news is news to us.

The Herbert Herald, Bound Edition

Matt Menz created a special collection of all the Herbert Herald editions from the 1980s and 90s, up through 2010. In this book you will find family news, births, weddings, and  reminiscences of times gone by. There is even the transcription of great great grandfather Jacob Shandorf’s handwritten diary, from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land and the Vatican in the 1880s.

You can get your very own copy here:

Thank you, Matt!