pencil, watercolor, and pastel


Had you asked me, just three years ago, who “Henrietta Croom” was, I would have scratched my head and (just maybe…) eventually fetched up my recollection of her having been the formidable professor of Biology at Sewanee who was rather renowned, at least among us rowsty fratboys, for not IN THE LEAST participating in this “Oh, Boys will be Boys” approach.  In short, we were all rather scared of her, as I’ve since told her. That was at least 35 years ago.

It was only a couple of years ago that another new-ish friend of mine (who turned out to be the widow of my college adviser at Sewanee) showed up at a party here with her pal, “Henry”. “Henry” turned out to be Dr. Croom…..and they both turn out to be longtime (as in DECADES) pals with each other, in addition to three or so of my other friends who were all Chapel Hill and/or Sewanee folks in the sixties and seventies.  All of them have retired here.  For various reasons, none of them seems to have brought her husband back with her.

Most interestingly?……turns out that the formidable Dr. Croom (she’s actually quite sweet, but then I’m pretty well-behaved these days) has been coming in and out of this 220 year old house since she was 5 or so.  I had no idea that she was born and raised in Hillsborough before (like several of my other, accomplished, local lady-friends) she skipped off to the wide world for several decades.

In any case, Henrietta’s father was, as I recall, the principal of the local school where the mother of Isabel Webb (my pal Elizabeth Webb Matheson’s cousin….who was raised in this house in, I think, the 30’s and 40’s) also taught. I can never keep the connections sorted-out.  And yes…..they all seem to have done their time, as 8 year-old girls, in the same Hillsborough Brownie Troop…..catching crawdads down by the Eno, I assume.

In any case, here’s Henry in her current manifestation…..sitting elegantly by the fireside in the front room (which was built, prior to 1800, as a 2-story log cabin… in which the first governor’s daughter, Miss Polly Burke, taught the local boys and girls their sums and letters.  An appropriate setting for Henrietta, I think…..

watercolor, oil pencil, and pastel