Grover's "Retirement" in Winter Park
Edwin Osgood Grover was probably the first faculty appointment Hamilton Holt made in 1926. In his inimitable style of Editor and Publisher of the Independent, Holt did not consult much with the English Department about Grover's appointment which led to some friction, since Grover did not have any academic credentials. However, Grover was uniquely qualified for a position as Emersonian Professor of Books. He knew how to print, he knew how to edit, he knew how to publish, and, as his lecture notes indicate, he was intimately familiar with the history of book making. He knew how to bind books, how to choose fonts, and his title designs were simple and tasteful. The principles of the American Craftsman Movement followed him everywhere and he had a large circle of literary and publishing friends.
Grover taught three courses: The Romance of the Book, Literary Personalities, and Recreational Reading. His courses were extremely popular and had to be restricted to upperclassmen. His success didn't sit well with professors who wanted to teach courses on Alexander Pope as an apologist for the oppressive upper classes. He did, of course, have a powerful ally: Hamilton Holt. They both were progressive Congregationalists and had similar thoughts on racial integration and world peace. They also took education very seriously and had considerable difficulty dealing with teachers like John Andrew Rice and his freewheeling educational experimentalism, and even more so with his often dubious behavior. It is not surprising that Rice devotes several derogatory
paragraphs to Grover in his autobiography I came out of the Eighteenth Century. In 1933, Rice was fired and promptly founded the storied Black Mountain College near Asheville, NC. When the incident brought censure from the American Association of University Professors to Rollins, Holt felt falsely convicted: it was not his best hour and could probably have been avoided with tact and with the help of Rice's brother-in-law,
Frank Aydelotte .
Holt and Grover worked together very well. In 1937, Holt appointed Grover as Vice President of the College. Initially, Grover was to spend all of his time fund raising and recruiting students, but after two years, Holt felt the results were not what he had hoped for, and Grover returned to class room teaching part time which Grover preferred anyway.
The Animated Magazine was their most visible product: on a cold weekend in February, arbitrarily designated as Founder's Day, Holt and Grover brought a gaggle of famous authors to Winter Park to address the College and a wider Central Florida community. At first, it was mostly poets and literary figures, later there were presenters from all possible academic fields including the military. Holt was the editor with a huge crayon bleu, Grover was the publisher with a short talk on the importance of donating money to Rollins. It was quite a show with, at times, up to 10,000 spectators.
After Holt retired, and then died, in 1951, Grover's star at Rollins faded. He was greatly disturbed by the turmoil surrounding the short reign of Paul Wagner, resigned as Vice-President, and spent more and more time at his home on Camellia Avenue, at Hannibal Square and at his favorite Mead Botanical Garden.
Grover and Holt at
the Animated Magazine
Ed Gfeller 2016
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