This is Beth Hooper Noland’s grandmother’s diploma from the Belmont High School Class of 1888 - the 20th class to graduate from the school. She was one of eight graduates.
Let Beth tell the story.
My Belmont Grandmother
By Beth Hooper Noland
My grandmother, Edith Florence Sargent, would have loved that the class of 1957 is celebrating its 50th Belmont High School reunion. She was one of eight who graduated from the class of 1888. Belmont High has been a part of our family ever since, through my father and my aunt, and of course, my sister and me.
My grandmother was strong, stately and very disciplined. She was born in Belmont in 1872, the daughter of James Knox Polk Sargent, a long-time resident of the town, who was first a farmer and then a janitor at what became the town hall. He and his brother George were well know in the area as identical twins. Her Uncle George was a farmer in one of the many Belmont farms as well. His house still stands at the corner of Pleasant St. and Concord Ave.
My grandmother loved Belmont. She went to business school in Boston and married my grandfather John Hooper from Portland, Maine. His work with the U.S. Weather Bureau took them around the country, and when he died suddenly in 1919, she moved back to her family home on the corner of Clark and Thomas Streets where she raised my father and my aunt. My sister and I remember that house fondly to this day. It still looks much the same. A pet turtle of ours is still (I think) buried in its back yard.
My grandmother worked for the Chicago Pneumatic Tool Company for 25 years and retired when she was 73. She was a member of the Belmont Town Meeting and served for many years in that capacity. She was 93 years old when she died in 1964.
She was a widow for over 50 years. She washed her long never-cut silver gray hair, which she always wore braided like a crown around her head, only once a year! That’s what they did then! She lived a quiet deeply committed life in and to Belmont.
In her salutatorian address to her tiny class of 1888, she talked about what monuments represented – from the great pyramids of Egypt to headstones in cemeteries. The most important monument, she said, was what we did with our lives. She remembered many people (among whom was Louisa May Alcott who, she quotes, had recently passed away!), especially Louis Agassiz, the great naturalist. In her words he was a person of kindness and love and “special manners,” characteristics that we, reflecting back over our 50 years since high school, can only wish to be remembered as our own “monuments.”.
I miss my grandmother a lot to this day, but her legacy to me is still alive and well.