Hudnut gives away books, tchotchkes

“Someone grabbed the beautiful thing that I had,” President of School Thomas C. Hudnut said as he stood among a room full of various tchotchkes and memorabilia he had collected in the past 26 years.

He was searching for an item he wished to show to Director of Payroll Sue Sherman, who had trekked to Hudnut’s office to participate in his “going out of business” giveaway May 24, open to all faculty and staff.

“I thought people might want to have little tchotchkes or something,” Hudnut said as Sherman scooped a set of Hebrew coasters.

Sherman had found the coasters on a table also crowded with bobbleheads, a rooster figurine from Russia via school psychologist Luba Bek, sailing-themed shot glasses, a jar of marbles, a set of post-it notes inscribed with the message “P.S. Dr. Kevorkian called. He can fit you in next Tuesday” and more. Books were lined up, spines facing up, at the back of the table: yearbooks, bibles, textbooks, poetry by Robert Frost, a 1945 issue of Reader’s Digest, “The Aphorisms of Charles T. Munger,” “Programming Video Games for the Evil Genius” by Ian Cinnamon ’10, “Drinking, Smoking, and Screwing: Great Writers on Good Times.”

“It’s not as racy as the title suggests,” Hudnut said.

Behind the books a Harvard-Westlake and Chinese culture-themed Monopoly board about four feet wide leaned against the wall, which Hudnut pronounced in rapid fire to be “magnificent” and “enormous and heavy as lead” and “totally cool.”

An exceptionally lengthy Santa hat sat on a chair next to the table. Hudnut said he might save it, so incoming President Rick Commons could take up the mantle as Harvard-Westlake’s personal Santa Claus. On the other side of the table, framed copies of old Chronicle articles stood propped against the wall: “Merger construction underway,” declared one headline from May of 1991.

As Hudnut handled some golden dove figurines that he hypothesized were bookends, Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts entered. She ended up taking the rooster figurine for herself and one of the bobbleheads for middle school history teacher George Gaskin, who keeps a collection.

Not long before Huybrechts left, she, Hudnut and Sherman gathered around an old clock that Sherman was planning to take. It was broken, Hudnut said, but with a battery change it could be easily fixed. Huybrechts, meanwhile, kept inspecting it, trying to figure out when Hudnut had acquired it, how long the clock had remained with Hudnut at the school.

“This clock was on his desk forever,” Huybrechts said. “Forever.”

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