Letter from a Cherry Lawn Neighbor to the CLS Community

Dear Cherry Lawn Community,

I am glad to read about Cherry Lawn. My parents moved to Darien in October 1943; I was 6 years old. We lived at 26 Birch Road. It was a white house between two vacant lots directly across the street from the Lester's. The Lester house backed up to the pond. Access to the pond was across the Lester's yard.

I learned how to skate on the pond. I can remember the skates with two runners for toddlers and my parents teaching me. This was during the war and there were some Dutch students at the school. Unlike our hockey skates they had long bladed racing skates. They would skate for hours round and round with their hands clasped together over there lower back. Skating under the bridge was a great adventure. The little island was a place where Cherry lawyers would come to smoke. As my age and skating abilities advanced I played hockey. We would use our shoes as gold posts.

I remember they did some work on the dam in the winter. Someone drove the school pickup truck out on to the ice. The ice did not support the truck. I recall the school had a Chevrolet station wagon that was a woody.

For me grades 7, 8 and 9 were at King School in Stamford. We played you in football. At that time the best way to reach several of my friends was to cut across the school property. I remember negotiating the spillway (at the head of the pond) on a bicycle. I got to know some of the students. Several times I was in the boys dorm that was up on stilts. One time I attended the social hour after dinner that was in the girls' dorm. The dorm Mother suddenly noticed me and she was not pleased to have a stranger.

I was brought up in the Congregational Church on Broadside Road just south of where Brookside crosses the Post Road. When I was quite young, 1944-45, The Cherry Lawn Art Department put on a marionette show there. I think it was Rumple Skeleton.

I remember the horses. The school offered riding instruction for a while. I suspect it was not cost effective and was discontinued long before the school closed.

In about 1953 or 4 there was a student center built by the students down by the lake. On several occasions I helped out. After the school closed that building was used by the Darien Arts Council. When my son was at Darien High School he took part in a Renaissance fair held in that building.

When the school closed they had an estate sale. My wife and I attended along with our children. Two little boys who would have liked to have brought home the frogs from the biology department. The decision to close the school must have been quite sudden. On one of the black boards was written, "See you next year."

I remember the bell; it was an electric thing. It rang winter and summer. It was not an objectionable thing. It announced the changing of classes, the calling to dinner. In summer it summoned campers to swimming and archery. From a distance it had a pleasant ring. When returning from College and returning from the Army, I knew I was home when I heard the ring.

I attended Cherry Lawn Day several years ago. One of the young ladies presented her ex-boy friend with his class ring. One girl spoke and told how Cherry Lawn had been her home for I think over 9 years, and how two of the faculty were the Mother and Father that she never knew.

Melvin R. Orr
197 Hollow Tree Ridge Road
Darien, CT 06820
Email: MOrr605560@aol.com

Submitted 20-Sept-2002