William Williams ’45 grew up in Easthampton and describes himself as a local “day boy.” He lived with his grandparents across the street from campus, and would dart back and forth from his house to classes. Although Mr. Williams struggled during his initial days at Williston, he would eventually grace the top of the honor roll and go on to attend Harvard and Harvard Business School. He became a security analyst for leading financial firms in Boston and New York City. Now 87, Mr. Williams lives in Hingham, MA, where he’s an active film buff with a collection of 650 movies.
Why did you go to Williston?
I nearly flunked out my first semester and I had to take tutoring. It didn’t take long to sink in that this was an opportunity, even at that tender age. I started really working and found out there was such a thing called studying and homework. By the time I got through my junior year, I was pretty high on the honors list.
Which teacher had the most impact on you?
I admired Archibald Hepworth. He taught history. He used to torture me once a week when we had a quiz. I remember this vividly. He would write up on the blackboard the marks that everybody got, but without any names—from 95 to sub-zero. Then he’d go around the class and see who could identify the scores. Now I had the best mark, but I always lied and put myself two spaces below the top score. He would grin at me every time. He knew that I knew. It didn’t make me very popular with the other guys in my class.
Were there any incendiary articles in The Willistonian?
In those days, there was very little thought of doing anything that would smack of the kind of dissent and argument that might be taken for granted today. It just didn’t happen back then. Part of that was [Headmaster] Galbraith’s commanding performance over things. He wouldn’t understand something like that. You would know he wouldn’t understand it, and you’d say, ‘I’m not going to raise this point.’ He kept things very calm.
How different does Easthampton look today?
It looks the same when you’re driving into the main part of town because the old Town Hall is still there. When you drive through the neighborhoods in town, you see some changes, but not a whole lot. So it looks very much like the old Easthampton that I knew. But when you get down into the seams, you’ll see quite a few changes. I’m happy that this kind of change has taken place in the town, because at the time it seemed like a living ghost town. Gradually, people have found other uses for all those old empty mill buildings. Artists moved in there, and crafts people. Easthampton is a semi artsy-crafty place.
What’s your all-time favorite movie?
There are so many movies that are so good. There’s one movie that made a lasting impression on me. It was called ‘Babette’s Feast.’ I was very affected by that movie. That’s why I recommend it.