To everyone who has written in with comments on our plaque:
Thank you for your comments and ideas, and your interest in remembering Cherry Lawn. Since we have moved into the final stages of this design process, I thought I would explain how we have settled on the final drawing and wording.
With a good three generations of Cherry Lawners to satisfy, it has been no easy task to find a design and inscription that most could respond to. As well, I considered that this plaque will have to explain CLS to the many visitors to the grounds who will never have heard of Cherry Lawn School. The plaque will be in place long after many of us have passed on, so the graphics and text need to be self explanatory.
Since the school was named for the cherry trees at the original property in Stamford, the use of cherry leaves as an ornament is strictly symbolic, not metaphoric. The frame of the plaque needed a softening element to give it more visual interest. For someone not familiar with the school, no other botanic device would make sense in that position. In our drawing the leaves look flat, but in the final casted plaque they will be sculpted more in the round, and provide a three dimensional and tactile counterpoint to other more flat areas of the plaque.
The drawing of morning meeting also needs to be readily understood as an outdoor congregation with a speaker. The details of the porch, lectern, and adjoining classrooms changed quite a bit over the decades, and many of us will remember the details differently. This depiction is based on a drawing, by a student, of how the morning meeting looked in 1966. One reason I liked this depiction was because the podium, by 1966, bordered a small flower garden and was inscribed with the words "Fred Goldfrank Memorial Garden" which I thought was a nice tribute to our founder. Though there is a lot of detail worked into this drawing, I feel it needs to be self explanatory, not relying on the memory of the viewer to make its point.
The phrase ‘Our Hearts to Thee’ comes from a song sung during the 50’s and 60’s. By my own time at CLS, the song was no longer in common use, though some students and teachers still remembered it. My own years at CLS were part of a very anti-establishment period in the country’s history, when school songs were not in vogue. As I talked to former classmates and older Cherry Lawners I had never met, 30 years after leaving CLS, I realized how deeply the school had affected many of us, and how much we yearned to maintain contact with such an important place and experience. The phrase "Our Hearts to Thee", while too sentimental for the post-modern 1990’s, still expresses what so many actually feel when we empty ourselves of irony and try to reach back through the years.
The text has to say a lot in a very few words. Some history, some philosophy, some emotion. If we have been able to answer the Who, What, When, Where, Why questions in one paragraph, then the inscription will do its job of connecting us Cherry Lawners to each other, and explaining us to disparate readers to come. We CLS’ers are ourselves a very large and disparate group. Perhaps the one thing that unites us is a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to have been a part of Cherry Lawn. I hope that gratitude comes across in our presentation.
Thanks to all for your help,
Peter D. Lewis