Decades of Thacher students enjoyed thrills (and more than a few painful spills) in the one-of-a-kind Rough-House. Read some of their reminiscences...
The Rough-House, an original idea of Sherman Day Thacher, was constructed in 1906 on the Thacher campus near the site of today's Math and Science Building. Its ropes, ramps, chutes, and ladders made it a marvelous and nearly indestructible outlet for the energies of Mr. Thacher's rambunctious charges. As sturdy as it was, the Rough-House could not withstand the regulatory efforts of Ventura County officials who deemed it unsafe. It was demolished in the early '70s, much to the dismay of the Thacher community.
Following are unedited alumni submissions of Rough-House reminiscences some of which were printed in edited form in the fall 2007 issue of the Thacher magazine.
From Steve Griggs CdeP 1963
I was fortunate to experience the Rough-House during three phases of my life: as a faculty brat in the fifties, as a student in the sixties, and as a teacher in the seventies. It remains magical in my memory, a sort of chimera that makes me wonder at times if it was really there; however, many readers likely have scars to prove its existence. Sherman Day Thacher did not construct this unique building so that he could take perverse pleasure in watching his charges crash to the ground from high places while attempting to avoid the tag of a swifter mate. Rather SDT saw the Rough-House as the perfect outlet for the boundless energy of teenage boys. Instead of destroying the dorms they would head for the aptly named Rough-House which proudly withstood an amazing beating from 1914 to 1973. He also believed that it provided a character-building environment in which to take risks and overcome physical challenges. Beyond that it served as an informal place where students could learn to interact with their peers without structure or supervision.
As faculty brats we mostly used the Rough-House when the students weren’t there to intimidate us. The minute the boys went away on vacation we raced up the hill and stormed into action. Our crew included Nick Thacher and John Huyler who were later my classmates of CdeP 1963. Others were the Ignon boys, the Chase kids, the other Huylers, the Halseys, as well as my cousin Weezy and my sister Curry. These were coed free-for-alls, and the girls more than held their own. I only regret that the final days of the Rough-House came shortly before girls came to study at Thacher. They would have loved it and pounded on it just as much as the boys.
When I got to ninth grade it was a thrill to finally be included in the action with all the other Thacher boys. Our class took to it immediately and even as “smuts” the great class of 1963 dominated at tag and other games.
From 1970-75 I returned to teach French and Spanish. My playing days were mostly over, but I took the occasional “Grand Swing” down memory lane. Mostly I watched as that era of kids made up new games and perfected old ones. It never occurred to us that the end was nigh. Thacher without the Rough-House seemed impossible; but we left in blissful ignorance in June of 1973 and returned to aching emptiness in September. It had been deemed uninsurable due to liability as well as its vulnerability to fire and earthquakes. It was gone, but a one of a kind building like that will never be forgotten.
From Nick Thacher CdeP 1963
Recently I ran into a very bored Ethel Kennedy at a benefit at the JFK Library, and the instant she spied my nametag she inquired, in a highly animated way, if I by any chance had a connection with The Thacher School in California. When I explained my connection, she asked if the Rough-House was still around and then proceeded, for at least ten minutes, to regale me with stories about how, "for years, every November" she and Bobby (in their young-married phase) used to sneak onto the campus with Red Fay and his wife and play in the Rough-House.
Ethel claimed she had been especially captivated by the "great grand swing," from the tiny topmost balconies to the opposite perch, and said that Bobby could do the "grand swing" but never mastered the more demanding one. As she spoke, she was bursting with pride and excitement; in truth, of course, what she was really bursting with were extremely happy and halcyon memories of uncomplicated and very private moments of fun with their friends the Fays, whom they used to visit annually (around Thanksgiving, I presume).
Recollections of the Rough-House by Penny Knox CdeP 1966
Senior Chemistry was a bore in 1966. We had a nice new lab, and the few students bound for medical school were quite serious about their chemistry. Perhaps one or two others wanted to develop lab skills so they could produce quasi poisons for the “Killer” game, perhaps a rare few future entrepreneurs thought they might learn to produce LSD from horse manure and prune whip.
After all, it was the Sixties; and we were the class the School long wished it could forget.
For the rest of us, chem lab was little more than an opportunity to try to con Mr. Wright into rushing into the emergency shower on the balcony. This was best accomplished by spilling a glass of water, screaming "my eyes, my eyes", then – after a scared-to-death-for-our-safety Mr. Wright had dragged the “injured” student to the shower - breaking free of his grasp at the same instant he pulled the release cord.
Then we discovered magic in the rubber tubes found aplenty in the lab. The first discovery was that – when stretched, slipped over a tap, and filled with water – they made squirt guns un-rivaled by the technology of the day. Many an unpopular student suffered repeated soakings. (Victims and perpetrators shall remain nameless; but we know who we are.)
The second generation of rubber tube fun came when we learned that one dog dish, three students and four rubber tubes could be combined to launch water-filled balloons over great distances.
After some practice and experimentation, the future engineers and politicians amongst us came to the realization that this miracle of egregious engineering could be used to launch water balloons from the roof of the Rough-House over the Study Hall and onto unsuspecting victims lounging idyllically with their Spring Dance Weekend dates on the lawn in front of the Upper School.
The Rough-House provided ample ropes, ladders, and splinter laden slides for efficient escape by the dateless long before the dated but water-logged could make the run up the hill. All they ever found on the roof of the Rough-House, was an odd arrangement of a carefully drilled dog dish and four knotted rubber tubes purloined from the chem lab.
After all, it was the Sixties….
Stephen Scott CdeP 1971
Exhilaration, fun, sweat, blowing off steam are all immediate emotions that come to mind when I think of the Rough House. It did for young teen age boys what the playground did for children. One of my favorites besides the inevitable tag games was firing water balloons off the roof with jury-rigged slingshots! There was also the tragedy of Roger Hooper breaking both arms in a fall, which may have been one of those events that nudged the Rough-House toward its eventual demise.
Dan Gregory CdeP 1969
I remember spending a lot of time in the Rough-House during 9th grade, especially right after dinner in the fall, when the game of tag took on new meaning as we raced over the ramps, scampered up the ladders, and swung off the ropes in paroxysms of excitement, terror, and delight. And it was often used as a large sort of duck blind for the launching of water balloons, which fell on pathways by the Schoolhouse and drenched unsuspecting passersby. It was a wonderful, if dangerous, building evocatively designed like a rustic stage set and promoted imaginative, heart-pounding play.
Alan Silbergh CdeP 1972
The spring of 1969 followed an extremely wet winter and turbulent water flows continued well past the end of the rains. There was also a sustained turbulence in much of the student body, as was the case on many campuses in that eventful year. The daily assemblies in the old main school room were often edgy, and there were a number of students looking to test the patience of the teachers and administrators, anyone in authority.
Once again, The Rough-House came to the rescue as a place where tensions could be relieved, when it was made the site of a grand medieval banquet. A Spring Saturday night was turned over to the event, which featured musicians, jesters, poets, and the usual hurtling across the building on ropes. There were rules with this banquet -- costumes were required, and the only eating utensil one could bring was a knife. There were some big knives at this dinner. We made our own plates out of wood in Mr. Barber's shop. Copious amounts of beef were served, and it and everything else were eaten by hand. Lots of slicing, ripping, and tearing of food, and lots of it were sent airborne. Wine or grog would have been nice, and not at all out of place. I distinctly remember the Headmaster Newt Chase dressed as the king and his good natured wife as the queen, and there was tremendous good humor and wit displayed throughout. Many speeches and toasts were made, or attempted, anyway. The tensions that had been building on campus for weeks were greatly eased, although I am sure those who cleaned up after the evening's revels may have had other opinions about how beneficial the whole event had been. It was not repeated in my remaining years at the school, but it was definitely the stuff of tradition -- from about 600 years earlier.
Bob White CdeP 1938
I remember the Rough-House well!!! In my day, (1937 to '38) there was a long hawser attached to the top-center of the Rough-House roof with a large knot tied in the end. It reached just barely to the second level at each end of the roughhouse. The thrill was to jump onto the rope at one end, swing to the other end, and get off. The getting off was the hard part. If you missed, you had to drag your feet on the floor to slow down enough to get off. That was fun and a rite of passage to the next thrill which was softball.
My recollection is that there were 45 degree slides at each of four corners leading up to the second level. Home plate was between the two slides on the 'barranca' end of the building, the pitcher's 'mound' was where the rope usually hung, and first base was up the slide on the right on the other end of the second level. Third base was on the corner directly over home plate. You couldn't use the slide--you had to jump down from the second level. A well hit line drive would bounce around the walls for some time before it could be run down, and the batter, or a runner, if he wasn't fast enough, could be thrown out by hitting him with a good throw. No such thing as basemen or fielders, it was every man for himself because if you made the out, you got to be a batter.
There were several games for those very experienced on the rope. These involved picking things up off the floor in mid-swing, I should say the first pass, be it a neckerchief (too easy) or a quarter (reasonably difficult) because there was heavy sawdust on the floor.
Brooke Sawyer CdeP 1942
Ah the Rough-House? A favorite place for the most daring members of CdeP '42, particularly Harkins, Wallace, and Beckwith. Shavings on the floor, balconies all around with ropes everywhere to swing anywhere. Risky too. Bill Harkins took a great swing, missed his desired landing in a game to tag, and broke both wrists. Even with injuries and black and blue hurts, it was a great place to release tensions and frustrations. Nothing like it could pass a building permit today. The back of the North wall became the front of a cage for a gibbon--the gift of some alum.
Tom Lombard CdeP '53
Here is what I recall about the "Rough-House". Coach Connell (or McConnell) was a former boxer. Coach taught some of us the fundamentals of boxing. The Rough-House was a really fun place to go and have a little fun and let off steam.
Steve Kimball CdeP 1968
I remember swinging across the whole building on three different ropes - it was a challenge to coordinate them and make it to the other side.
I also remember a time; it must have been at dusk, when the large central swinging rope struck a flying bat which ended up on the floor (wood chips) quite stunned. I believe it eventually recovered and flew away.
I remember "repelling" on a rock climbing rope down the side of the building from the roof - it may have been with Mr. Reed; a teacher at the time and major outdoors-man.
Probably the most dramatic memory was of the water balloon launcher setup on the roof. It was a device made of multiple long lengths of surgical tubing and a dog dish. The tubing was attached at one end to two vertical posts about 6 feet apart and at the other end to the dog dish; like a giant slingshot. One boy would hold the dish and 2 or 3 other boys would hold onto that boy and each other in succession and then back up. The pull of the tubing was so strong it took at least 3 boys to pull. At the last moment the dog dish was "loaded" with a water balloon and then it was released. The balloons would fly downhill at least 100 yards (or more?) to the Upper School lawn. This was usually done, I think, on the Sunday picnic part of a dance weekend.
David Lavender CdeP 1951
My memories of the Rough-House have faded with time, regrettably. But it was a special place in its day! I probably played there more as a faculty brat than as a student; it was a perfect place for small children to play on rainy days and evenings. The wooden slides produced splinters in tender spots, occasionally. It was fun to climb the interior and external ladders, and to swing on the ropes and bars hanging from the roof -- and then fall onto the sawdust floor. And the high spot, probably, was to go up on the roof, even as a child, on a moonless night to gaze with wonder at all of the stars extending from Topa Topa to the Matilija Twin Peaks, with the few (at the times) lights from Ojai far to the west.
I remember that when I was a student, Doodie Dall produced Halloween skits on the small stage at the east end of the main floor. The skits were silly (as was Doodie), but it was a perfect place for his type of foolishness, and they were well received. It seems that as Lower and Middle Schoolers we played there occasionally, but I really think it was more of a hangout for faculty children than for students.
My dominant feeling, in retrospect, is that quaint and charming as the structure may have been, it was probably a pretty dangerous facility, and it's a wonder that there weren't some serious injuries attendant with all of the climbing, jumping, etc. that took place there.
James W. Boswell CdeP 1970 recounts the Rough-House as:
1. The best building on campus.
2. So much fun and great memories of youth.
3. A great place for hormone infested teenagers to blow off steam. Testosterone dripping off the walls.
4. We believe we set a record for the highest number of guys on the rope at the same time (25?) in 1968.
5. I was there when Hooper fell from the bell tower sustaining multiple compound fractures. I was the one who alerted the school nurse at the infirmary.
6. Location of the fight between Tom Shastid and my roommate Tim Zook (1968). Tim won.
7. Location of entire school dinner ending up in a great food fight.
8. Quiet and dark place to go with the girl you just met at the dance.
9. War games with water balloons.
10. Good place for production of an original play.
11. Reading a book in the afternoon sun on the roof.
etc, etc, etc.........
Lance Ignon CdeP 1974
This is the story of how I broke both my arms in the rough House --
As a faculty brat and student, I spent many happy hours in the Rough-House swinging on ropes, climbing ladders and catching splinters as I slid down the wooden ramps. But nothing pleased me as much as the game of seeing how many kids could jump from the balconies onto the rope that swung the length of the Rough House. This was no small undertaking, mind you. The balconies at each end of the room were about 12-feet high and were separated by at least 30 feet of floor. The rope itself, which smelled of sweet rotting plants and sweat, was suspended from a 25-foot belltower, and it creaked and groaned as it lurched from one end of the Rough-House to the other. But of course the danger and difficulty of the game were what made it so enticing.
I remember running to the Rough-House from Lower School during the 9-9:30 pm study break to play a round. Indeed, I was so anxious to play that I pushed in front of my classmate Robert Rex on my way to making what would become one of the more memorable Rough-House leaps. As the rope approached the top of its arc, and with at least six students already clinging to it, I jumped off the balcony with my hands outstretched. But, before my hands could reach their purchase on the rope, my chest thudded into the outstretched feet of a classmate. I spun around and plunged to the floor, where I landed wrists-first on a patch of hard-dirt unprotected by the sawdust that covered most of the rest of the floor. As I sat on the ground and noticed the odd undulations on my right forearm, my first misgiving was that I would miss the dance scheduled for that weekend.
Terry Twichell entered the Rough-House and, after admonishing me for swearing like a badly injured teen-ager, kindly walked me to the infirmary, where Betty Saunders bundled me in an inflatable cast. Our headmaster, Ted Sanford, drove me to the hospital. Ever the law-abider, he followed the 30-mile speed limit down a deserted Grand Avenue while lecturing me on the perils of jumping off a wooden balcony 12 feet above ground. It was the longest ride of my life. Ray Huckins, the school's much-underrated doctor, set and bandaged my right arm, which was broken in two places, and then asked if my other arm hurt. Come to think of it, it did. Turned out that one was cracked in two places, so I got another cast.
After I got out of the infirmary several days later, I endured the inevitable hazing that comes with wearing two casts, although thankfully the one on my cracked bones allowed me to bend my elbow. That meant that the boy living next to me, Sandy Kenyon, wouldn't have to dress me every morning. I am sure he is as grateful as I am for that small favor. Jack Huyler made me stand up in assembly to recognize my achievement, and I obliged him by clicking my two plaster-of-paris trophies together. To be honest, I enjoyed the attention, although not the sharp and persistent pain. Or the fact that I missed the dance. But what disappointed me the most was that my accident, along with several others, helped doom the Rough-House. It was 1970 and the Age of Litigiousness was dawning with a vengeance. Not long after my accident, an effort to rebuild the hulking wooden structure was cancelled after insurance companies recoiled in horror upon reviewing the accident record. It's too bad. Some risks --and the inevitable accidents that sometimes follow -- are worth taking. After all, my bones healed.
Robert Rex CdeP 1974
My daughters, over the years, have endured ever escalating tall tales about Thacher; I was gleeful at being able to show them one in print….proof of how stupid we were! Lance Ignon left out one key fact about the night he broke both his arms: we were jumping with the lights out. The outside classroom lights and the moon shining through the cracks between the timbers, made it possible to see the rope as it passed through its arc…barely. The details about whom and what you were impacting were much less clear as Lance proved. While I couldn’t see Lance’s trajectory, the sound of his belly flop from the second story was distinct and memorable and ended my enthusiasm for lights-out jumping.
"My best of memories" by Newlin Hastings CdeP 1970
As in the case of many Thacher Alums, I have the fondest memories of the Rough-House, albeit punctuated by injury. As a freshman, while being "swung" classmates were successful in swinging me up to the rafters and I was somehow dumb enough to have been knocked off the rope, only to find myself free-falling the 15 feet to the sawdust ground. Some Achilles tendon repair, four months with the crutches and the famous golf cart was the only expense.
Actually, perhaps of more important note that might not be mentioned by other alums is the significant importance the Rough-House played in entertaining me as a younger sibling while visiting Thacher. While visiting my brother, Hill, during my 4th-8th grade years, I loved every minute of the times spent in the Rough-House. As soon as our family would arrive at Thacher to what might otherwise be a pretty boring weekend was filled with fun and excitement as we screamed around the Rough-House. I am quite certain my attraction to Thacher was greatly enhanced at these impressionable years by the having of such fun on those rare weekends. As my youngest joined us for visits to Thacher while older sister was there, I do not recall the joy and excitement in anticipation of those visits. Somehow a padded fun house would not fill the same bill.
Andrew Kille CdeP 1967
A simple bit of engineering, really. A plastic dog dish, pierced with two holes on opposite sides of the perimeter to hold the surgical tubing carefully threaded through and tied off. All you needed was a water balloon, two sturdy young men to hold the ends of the tubing tautly over their heads and a third to pull it back. And back. And baaack.
It was here the challenge became clear. The tubing was perhaps fifteen feet long, and under tension stretched twice that distance. On the flat, one would succeed only in launching a very fast water balloon in an essentially flat trajectory. Interesting, perhaps, but scarcely astounding. Enter the Rough-House! By virtue of stationing the two holders on the upmost rooftop and placing the "triggerman" on the lower roof behind, full extension could be achieved. Add a downrange spotter equipped with a walkie-talkie, linked to an additional spotter on the cupola on the Rough-House roof, and the engine became downright formidable. We entertained ourselves quite thoroughly one day by lobbing a series of water balloons over the library roof into the unsuspecting crowd of guys and their dates trying to enjoy a dance weekend chicken barbecue (tastily prepared in the Coniferous Bosque) on the Upper School lawn. There were a few spectacular wipeouts as the water balloon disintegrated from the sheer G-force of the launcher, and an occasional spooky moment as one of the holders lost their balance on the roof, but until we were detected and driven away, it was most satisfactory.
Ned Eyre CdeP 1944
The light ones up each side ramp!
The medium two between parallel ramps!!
The big one, unsurpassed by imagination!!!
Cam Weaver CdeP 1967
Aside from a sprained ankle from a fall from the highest possible swing starting ramp, my fondest memory of the Rough-House involved water balloons. We had "invented" a crude water balloon launcher using a plastic dog dish and two long loops of rubber surgical tubing. It required three people at least to operate- one to pull back the dish and one on each loop of tubing. A fourth helper to drop the loaded water balloon into the dish was a plus. In effect it was a giant sling shot. After knocking down a few classmates with forceful line drives, we realized that a higher launch angle would be helpful. This is where the Rough-House came in. We discovered that the two tubing holders could stand on the roof of the bathroom attached to the Rough-House while the launcher and loader remained on the ground. The resulting angle allowed us to lob balloons over the Upper School and well down the lawn in front. The people relaxing on the lawn had no idea where these wet bombs were coming from and we never confessed. Of course now you can buy a balloon launcher with a fancy nylon pouch and rubber loops, but nothing can compare to original dog dish model.
Michael E. Frank CdeP 1974
We had plenty of great times in the Rough-House at Thacher, especially Freshman year. One freshman, I think it might have been George Arnold (you should verify), broke both of his wrists trying to jump from the second level ledge to the swinging rope. It made quite a scene!
Bruce Oxley CdeP 1954
I can't recall any "specific" stories regarding the Rough-House. In general it was a place to burn up energy. After the last class before recess we, mainly as freshmen and sophomores, would make a bee line for the Rough-House and run around the facility, swing on the ropes, etc., until fully exhausted and recess was over. It was a most unique building and experience.
Richard Rhodes CdeP 1959
The Rough-House was part of my Thacher admissions interview. On a hot morning in 1955, I was sent up to the Rough-House by Newt Chase, the headmaster, while my parents met with him in his office next to the assembly hall to discuss me. "Turn right, you can't miss it." It was deserted and dark inside, a shell of rough splintered wood worn smooth on ramps and ladder rungs. There was sawdust on the floor, ropes strung from the ceiling, a few window openings, and no railings. I explored the interior ramps, tested a ladder or two, swung on all three ropes, and climbed the ladder on the outside of the building, two stories high. Restrained by my dress cloths and a little fear, I did not shinny down the rope hanging from the roof pilothouse. I wondered if Mr. Chase was discussing my weaknesses in history and spelling, and if the Rough-House was part of the admissions test.
The following year, on rainy days, I spent many hours with my classmates swinging on ropes from one balcony to the other, or from ramp to ramp, refining a three dimensional tag game. John Heard showed he could lift a Smut on a rope up to the roof without injury or insurance claim. We investigated whether an apple fell faster than an orange. We learned much in the Rough-House, although my spelling never did improve much.
KJ CdeP 1968
The Rough House has its own history of terrorist bombings! In the middle of the night, Spring of 1968, a mad chemist from Chile made "pancake" bombs, which were sandwiched between heavy flat stones. A series of bombs went off, with the last being at the Rough House, which suffered a hole in a wall and a second-storey walkway.
That same year, a freshman fell from the top of the rough house to the one area where the sawdust had cleared away to packed earth or concrete, and broke both of his arms.
Our class, when freshmen, used to go up during the brief break in Study Hall, and see how many classmates could jump onto the rope as it swung from side to side...this will explain to the mothers why so many nice slacks and shirts were ruined....
Roger Hooper CdeP 1971
In brief, I'll summarize what happened. I was an incoming freshman the fall of 1969 and it was the final day of "Orientation", a Sunday. Classes were to start-up the following day. Sophs and upperclassmen were arriving or, had just. Some sophs joined many of we "smuts" in a game of tag in the roughhouse after lunch. I was at the highest point you could be, crossing over the frame the large rope swung between just under the roof. An incoming soph, Kim Smith, launched himself on the rope below, the top of which caught my leg and hurled me in a spin to the concrete floor 30' below. Luckily, I was just able to see the ground as I twirled to a headfirst position on impact. I had just enough time to thrust out my arms, sparing my head. Both arms broke and I came through on my neck tearing all tendons on one side and nerve endings in my chest. Most who witnessed this told me they thought I was dead; I was knocked out and motionless except for my mouth slightly opening and closing. I went into shock upon coming to and tried to get up... BAD IDEA!! First instinct was to push-off my arms to rise... but my left had a compound fracture, the bone sticking through and hand flopped back all the way. The right was not sticking thru, but broken in three places. Somehow, I was taken on a litter to the infirmary and Anson Thacher sat with me till the nurse, Betty Saunders, could be found on her off-day, a Sunday. Eventually I was placed in a carryall van and driven all the way to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara where I remained for three weeks, the first in intensive care while they tried to save the left arm *... and did. Betty (later the school's art teacher, and now an artist living in Ojai) told me later she worried as I asked if we were there yet, and we'd only reached downtown Ojai. All I knew was prone, face-up, with balloon splints on both arms I saw telephone poles and the eaves of some roofs going by. Betty had been unable to give me anything stronger than aspirin because she was worried I'd had a head injury. Needless to say, it was a long haul.
Upon return to CdeP, someone dubbed me "the praying mantis" as my arms were both in casts with one fixed outward in a sling. And, Bob Chesley had his junior class of physics students calculate on impact with the ground (answer 68 mph). Anyway, Marvin Shagam and Jack Huyler (my frosh English teacher) would remember this. Once I was rid of my casts (16 weeks for one arm; 12, the other), and saw improvement with PT work, I started to have a more normal year. All's well that end's well, I guess.
* The problem with the left arm was the infection from dirt in the wound. At the time of injury, there was a very thin layer of dirt and sawdust on the groundfloor (cement) of the roughhouse. When I returned to school there was deep new sawdust in its place. It should be noted there was a rule in place at the time of this event. To wit, when eight (or was it ten?) or more people are playing in the Rough-House, the large, ceiling to floor rope may not be used. At the time of this incident there were at least 15 people at play and the rule was being observed...until Kim swung through. Really poor timing.
From John Lewis CdeP 1959
It was a great place to let off steam, to test one’s strength and to take some risks. There were accidents, of course, but nothing I remember as being particularly unusual. It was definitely an attraction to potential students, though I often wondered what their parents might think about it, and so many other unusual things at Thacher: cabins, horses, camping, climbing, etc.
In the thirteen years between my graduation and my start as an employee, I visited Thacher many, many times. One of my first things to do when arriving on campus—after visiting the Outdoor Chapel, which even today remains my favorite spot on campus—was to head for the Rough-House and relive my youth!! But I wondered as I did, whether or not I should be trying some of the things I did when so much younger and less brittle!!
It was about four years into my employment at Thacher that I was named Business Manager in 1974. And shortly thereafter, as they do to this very day, the County came exploring!! Sadly, what they found was the Rough-House, and they didn’t like what they saw. They declared it unsafe, and commanded it be destroyed. Well, I didn’t like that, and no one else did, either. We asked for some time to see if we might raise enough money to bring it up to their desired standards, not really knowing how much that really was. They dragged out their decision on that one, so we went ahead anyway, solicited all the Thacher constituency, and raised a lot of money in a very short time; I would say a surprisingly lot of money. In fact, it equaled in time and in dollars what had been raised to “save” the Upper School when the County pulled the same thing on it. Our Thacher family truly rallied, in both cases.
But alas, no matter how much we might have raised for the Rough-House, it would never have met the needs that the County ultimately decided on. They really wanted it down.
So, down it came, much to my sadness and chagrin as Business Manager, and much to the “whole” world’s sadness. It was truly an ignominious ending to an edifice which had had such a huge place in the heart and mind of every Thacher student, and his family members, all of whom had entered its doors, played on its sawdust, swung from its ropes, slid on its slides, hung from the rings, wrestled on its mats, and picked up numerous splinters along the way. It was truly a Thacher “institution” and one which will probably never be duplicated.