Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Edward Gibson Lanpher
LANPHER: Well, it was an all boys school. It went co-ed about five or eight years after I left. They absorbed Abbott Academy. It was about 850 boys in four grades. It was tough. Coming from Virginia public schools, I was the anchorman in my class the first year - the anchorman who was allowed to come back for a second year. To give you some idea of Andover and how tough it was in those days not only academically but in terms of rigorous enforcement of rules, there were 125 people in my entering freshman class and on graduation day there were only 81 of them left to graduate.
Q: That's remarkable.
LANPHER: They gave you a blue rule book the day you arrived at school. It had the rules written down. They told you at the first night assembly, “You break one of these four major rules and you're gone.” There was no argument. It just happened.
Q: How about there? What sort of courses did you take?
LANPHER: You had to take a lot of required courses. But their history courses were remarkably good. I didn't do very well in the math or science, but I did quite well in the history. Their American history course was a famous course, probably the best American history course at high school level. Nearly everybody who took it got advanced college placement.
Q: Did you feel you were entering an American elite?
LANPHER: Not really. Andover was always different than a lot of the other famous boarding schools, prep schools, in New England. They always accepted people based on their academics and their personalities and what they could bring to the school and only after acceptances did they ask parents if they could afford it. Andover had a huge endowment. It was very diverse even then. It's more diverse now in terms of the student body. My roommate, for instance, sophomore year was a black fellow from Petersburg, Virginia. Curiously in those days, because the state of Virginia's resistance to integration, both of us got scholarships or subsidies from the state of Virginia for not going to Virginia public schools. One of the unintended things... My father probably got $500 a year and this black fellow's parents got $500 a year for sending their two boys to private schools. We were rooming together.
Q: Was there much social life there?
LANPHER: We'd have dances occasionally. There was a spring prom and people would invite girls from neighboring girls schools. But there wasn't a whole lot of social life in those days.