In the Spring 2013 issue the Sheldon statue can be found in the upper-left corner of the image with the car on page 23. Grand prize winner of a College Store gift certificate and Sheldon Hall print is Cynthia Pieklik Fryer ’75. Winning Sheldon Hall prints are Barbara Brown McCormack ’44, Esther Barber ’57, William Weaver ’57, Sheila Lee ’66 and Rebecca Leary ’04. A tiny replica of the Sheldon statue
Who better to feature in this special Sesquicentennial issue’s Faculty Hall of Fame than cover subject Oswego Founder Edward Austin Sheldon? Certainly he was among the most esteemed faculty members at the college, leaving a legacy that has touched generations (see excerpts from Sheldon’s autobiography starting on p. 18).
Across a century and a half, the progeny of two presidents — Mary Sheldon Barnes 1868, daughter of Oswego’s Founder Edward Austin Sheldon, and Paige Stanley, daughter of current President Deborah F. Stanley — connected in their love for Shady Shore and their homesickness for the old homestead.
Mary wrote in Sheldon’s autobiography about times the children would accompany their parents out to work on the family farm in Perry, N.Y. “Yet we were always glad to get back to our ‘dear old Lake’ Ontario, with its murmurs and its thunders — last sound at night and first sound in the morning — with its world of changing color and its glorious sunsets. That lake and sky have often seemed to bear us up, away from the common world into realms of purest aspiration. Some of us, when away from home, have been stricken with actual, serious homesickness for them,” Mary wrote.
In law school in Washington, D.C., Paige felt that same homesickness. While searching the Internet for information about her home, she came across a piece Mary had written and felt compelled to answer her. “I wrote the letter to Mary in a bout of homesickness for the house and the lake to remind myself that the goal isn’t to remain in the same moment that first ignited in me a desire for learning and knowing more about the world, but it’s to take that desire out with me into the world to be that spark for others,” Paige wrote.
“Knowing how Mary felt about the house and about Oswego, and also knowing that she did most of her life’s work far from home helps to remind me that though my roots are planted firmly on the shore of Lake Ontario, I have a responsibility to take what I’ve learned here with me out into the world and contribute my voice to the marketplace of ideas.”
Here are the letters of the two presidential daughters.
With the exception of a brief period in the 1980s, when it was removed for cleaning and repair, graduates from the 1920s and beyond can all remember one thing in common: the copper statue of founder Edward Austin Sheldon that stands in front of the building that bears his name, the college’s Old Main.
Whether it’s actually crafted from the melted pennies donated by New York’s schoolchildren — as college lore has it — or paid for by their collected coins, the statue dates back to 1899. It depicts Sheldon instructing a small child, using the Oswego Method of object teaching. The founder holds a sphere, which was one of the objects that made up the tool kit of instructors in the Pestalozzian Method, which Sheldon popularized among American educators.