Carleen Maley Hutchins
Her Life Before Violas

Born May 24, 1911 in Springfield, Massachusetts, Carleen Hutchins lived her childhood in Montclair, New Jersey in the same house that still serves as her home and workshop.[FN 2] Her father, Thomas William Maley, Jr. (1868-1958), worked in accountancy at several firms. Her mother, Grace Isabelle Fletcher (1870-1961), was 40 years old when her only child was born. Thomas Maley wanted a boy, and his daughter was raised as a tom-boy. The family moved to Montclair in 1913 into a neighborhood which still had open fields and woods. Most of Hutchins's playmates were boys, and her favorite activities included camping, collecting leaves, insects, and the like, sports, and raising silkworms and snakes. Hutchins's love of the outdoors took her to the Girl Scouts at the age of ten. Her mother had already worked as a dietitian for the local Girl Scout camp, and when Hutchins joined a troop her mother became a leader, beginning long careers in the Girl Scouts for both of them. Hutchins was given a bugle at about eight, and from the age of ten she worked her way through summer camps as bugler. At these camps Hutchins cultivated a strong interest in entomology, and she met Frank Lutz, curator of the entomology section of the New York Natural History Museum. Another important influence Hutchins met through the Girl Scouts was Dr. Bertha Chapman Cady, national advisor on nature studies. Hutchins developed a strong interest in wood-working, her appetite whet from watching the building of houses in Montclair.

When describing her childhood Hutchins does not dwell on her schooling, finding activities where she pursued her own interests more important. One can see an independent personality emerging in her school activities. When it came time to start home economics in sixth grade, her mother enrolled her in shop class, very unusual for a young lady in the 1920s. She played first trumpet in both the band and orchestra at Montclair High School, and was active in most women's sports. Ready for college a year early, Hutchins took an additional senior year at Montclair High School.

Frank Lutz encouraged her to pursue entomology, which she did in her first two years at Cornell University, but she lost a consuming interest in the area and graduated in 1933 with an A.B. in biology. At Cornell she remained active in women's sports, especially fencing, in which she placed high in intercollegiate competition. She was also president of the athletic association and of one of the female dormitories. During summers beginning in 1931 she was an instructor in nature and woodcrafts at Camp Edith Macy, the National Girl Scout Leaders' Training School, working in this capacity until 1942.

Upon college graduation Hutchins first was interested in attending medical school, and was accepted by Duke University, but a lack of funds for the study and discouragement from many quarters about being a female doctor ended this desire. Instead she became a student assistant at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens for a year, starting her career as a science teacher in private schools in 1934 at The Woodward School in Brooklyn. in 1938 she moved to The Brearley School in Manhattan, where she taught science to elementary students, and sometimes wood-working. During summers beginning in the early 1930s she had started visiting Lake Winnepesaukee in central New Hampshire with Harriett Bartlett, a friend and later a prominent author in the field of social work.[FN 3] Hutchins purchased lakefront property there in 1941, and soon thereafter started to build her own cottage on the lake, where she still spends her summers. It was in New Hampshire that she met Morton A. Hutchins, a 1933 graduate of Harvard University, who was a chemist with Dupont.[FN 4] They were married on June 6, 1943, and began their married life in New York City.

Hutchins interrupted her work at The Brearley School in 1943 with two years at the All Day Neighborhood Schools of New York City, where she was assistant director and assistant to the principal at P.S. 33 in Chelsea, just south of Hell's Kitchen. In 1945 she returned to The Brearley School, where she taught until 1949, finally leaving to raise her family.[FN 5]

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