Friday, August 04, 2017

Latin Scholar

A couple of weeks ago I spent a delightful hour and a half enjoying breakfast with Bobbie Rondthaler Woodwell and her family. Towards the end of our time together Bobbie (she is the daughter of Theodore and Alice Rondthaler, mid-20th century Ocracoke school principal and teacher) showed me a letter her father wrote to her mother in 1959. Two paragraphs mention student James Barrie Gaskill, local commercial fisherman who died recently

1959 Letter

This is what Mr. Rondthaler wrote:

"I am teaching the Latin much better than I have for several years. The three girls and James Barrie are eating it up, and they are all fun. Doing much more impromptu blackboard work.

"That James Barrie types out eight to a dozen practice letters a day, and makes a pretty creditable job of most of them. Comes into the Latin room off and on to ask some surprising detail: 'Mr. Rondthaler, would you put Vice-President on the same line or drop it down? It's a long name.'"

Who knew James Barrie was a Latin scholar?

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a contemporary account of the December 24, 1899 wreck of the Steamship Ariosto. You can read the Newsletter here:


  1. Isn't it good to be able to post something other than updates on the power? We liked those posts, too; don't get me wrong... We were all following along. It got me to thinking over the past 8 days, however... It's rather amazing, to me, that on Portsmouth, they never had power... and it wasn't really THAT long ago that the same was true on Ocracoke. Back then, the visitors came and those on both islands were perfectly fine without electricity. Boy, have we all changed...

    I'm so very glad that everything will be getting back to normal and I hope and pray that all of the businesses do well for the rest of the summer and that this ends up only a hiccup in their ledgers.

    Have a great weekend, Phillip!

  2. Anonymous8:48 AM

    Was not Latin an often offered class subject- back in the DAY- as many pre-med students enrolled. I for one studied Latin (sum es est summus estus sunt or something like that....)

  3. Jane Woodwell11:37 AM

    Thank you for this post, Philip! It's fun to see in this letter how conscientious James Barrie was about his Latin study and how much Theodore enjoyed teaching him. Thanks for the wonderful visit at breakfast. Jane Woodwell