What? No Famous Weavers School?!

A recent issue of the New Yorker offers looks backward.

There’s a tribute to founder Harold  Ross, followed by many old stories and cartoons.

Karl Decker — the longtime, legendary and now retired Staples High School English instructor — is a devoted New Yorker fan. The magazine sent him scurrying to his cellar, where he keeps his back copies.

All the way back to the 1930s.

Karl Decker, with his 1934 New Yorker.

He picked one — June 23, 1934 — and settled down to read.

There was a long article about Franklin Roosevelt; a cartoon by Peter Arno — and 500 words of “precious whimsy” by Parke Cummings.

In the summer of 1960, Karl and Parke — a famous author and humorist — worked together at Famous Writers School.

Al Dorne — one of the founders of the Famous Writers, Artists and Photographer Schools — was always looking for ideas to add to those 3 “schools” (all correspondence-based, and headquartered on Wilton Road).

An advertisement from the 1950s.

Parke and Karl had already submitted proposals for a Famous Sculptors School (which required a railroad spur, to ship in granite) and Famous Dancers School (huge pads on which students would ink their bare feet, then step out the moves on big rolls of paper).

Their latest idea: Famous Weavers School. The preface read: “The School will provide each student with 4 English Shropshire sheep, a shepherdess, and …”

Dorne told them he’d have to consult with Ed Mitchell before they went any further.

“Inexplicably, our workloads increased markedly after that,” Karl reports.

10 responses to “What? No Famous Weavers School?!

  1. Karl Decker: one of my favorite Staples teachers. “Is it important, or merely interesting?”

  2. Bonnie Scott Connolly

    I think Mr. Cummings was a friend of my father. He (Parke) was a very good skater and I would ride with him to the Norwalk Skating Club every Saturday morning for skating lessons moving gradually up to different levels. I think Mr. Cummings was into ice dancing. I don’t think I ever played tennis at his courts on Compo Road but they were fun to see. I didn’t have Mr. Decker for a teacher when I was at Staples but my memory of him was a little more stern than pictured here lol.

  3. Mr. Decker was such an innovative and inspiring teacher. One of my favorites.

  4. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    My uncle, Al Parker was one of the founding famous artists. It was generally accepted that the concept had diminishing returns as it expanded from the original.

  5. Tom Duquette, SHS '75

    Mr. Decker, another gentleman I owe plenty to (along with Mr. Liepolt and Mr. Arciola). So glad he is still with us. These great teachers challenged us to think critically, write well (still working on that), and appreciate fine literature. Best wishes sir.

  6. Bill Boyd... Staples 66

    I didn’t get to appreciate Karl Decker. He sent me to the principles office for having “long” hair and no Sox…….a few years later his hair was in a pony tail………?

    • She also wrote “The American Way of Death” she was real tour de force …Thanks for sharing ..

  7. I just realized that Karl Decker must have known my mom Jean Satter. She was an Executive Secretary at Famous Artists.