An Account of the Student Career of Sally Armbruster

(or as we know her, Violet D. Shumaker, in her own words.)

After a small town high school career in which I was graduated first in my class, and one semester in home economics at Juniata college, I moved with my family to Philadelphia. It was the fall of 1927 and there I entered the Philadelphia School of Design for women on a four year scholarship. My lack of any formal, or any, other than my own, art training seemed a handicap, although my instructors consoled me with the thought that it saved me the confusion of unlearning what I had been wrongly taught. The first year, as in most schools, was basic and I planned to be a designer. The big depression and a need to earn my own living, and no doubt the family trend toward teaching, caused the change to a normal Art curriculum.

I finished my four years at the School of Design with a Normal Arts Diploma. Exchange teachers from Temple University and instructed in Psychology and Educational methods to meet the state requirements for teachers. I had studied portrait and figure drawing, modeling and the use of fine arts mediums with the Fine Arts students; design and commercial art, fashion, and interior decoration with the regular departments. Now, more than then, it seems ideal for I had a beginning in all fields.

My designs won second prize in a school poster contest and a catalog cover contest. In my third and forth years I won the Morgantown glassware first prize (the glassware was still in open stock the last time I checked) and first prize for the silverware design. At graduation, since no scholarships for advanced study were available for Normal Arts graduates, I was given a membership in Philadelphia's fine arts Plastic Club as "Best in her class."

Nineteen hundred and thirty-one was a bad year. After a summer of painting lamp shades in a Philadelphia loft, I went to Rosemont College (a beautiful and expensive main line finishing school) to set up and instruct in an art department. I began with neither curriculum nor supplies and some bare classrooms and developed classes in basic art, painting, and commercial art. The project was bad and good for the school; Bad because in the first few years girls became so interested in art they left to attend regular art schools, and good because the college eventually built up a four year art curriculum. My marriage after four years at Rosemont ended my career there.

During these years I was a member of the Plastics Club, attending sketching classes and exhibiting in the Club shows. I painted at home in whatever time I had for it, attended night classes at West Philadelphia High School, took ceramics course at the School of Industrial Design and, at one time, studied at the Fleishman Art School in south Philadelphia.

Upon my marriage (Violet married Carl Armbruster) I went to live in Phoenix, Arizona, then 1935, a small town with one art club, the Charcoal club, and a small group of artist who met and worked together. There my paintings were shown in several exhibits and at the Maricopa County Fair. I still enjoyed most working with water colors and pastels; an active small son and a new daughter game me little time or space for oils.

When I returned to Philadelphia after the end of my marriage in 1942,(Violet was now using Sally as her first name and retained her married name, Armbruster. She signed her art as Sally Armbruster.) the war was well underway and I took an intensive 500 hour government-sponsored course in engineering drafting in order to become a wage-earner in the war effort as quickly as possible. On completion of this study I worked for a year in the Alcoa drafting room in Phoenix.

Finding full-time industrial employment incompatible with rearing young children in a time when good housekeepers or nurses were almost non-existent, I returned East and alternately worked as a draftsman at Warner Tool Design co. in New York City and studied at the Teachers College of Columbia University until I completed work for a Bachelors Degree in Art Education and became a certified teacher in the State of New York.

At Southold, Long Island, in 1945, I began my public school teaching classes in eight grades, plus two art classes and mechanical drawing classes in high school. More than one night I went home hoping that I would collapse before morning, but twelve years later I am still at it. I had two more summers at Columbia, in 1949 and again in 1954, but after commuting 115 miles (leave at 7:00 am and return at 7:00pm) for a summer I decided to forgo completion of work on my masters degree until 1959, when my son will have finished college and my daughter enter high school. Meanwhile, my current New York University field courses will complete the 30 point New York State requirement for advanced study for public school teachers.

The study and reference work for my current interest in seaweed has been done alone. Courses in Marine Biology were, until very recently, almost as rare as the reference material itself. As a result I now have a collection of books of my own, scrounged, traded or legally bought from rare book dealers. Others have been borrowed from the state library. Working alone on this has not been choice but rather the result of locality. I could not do it if I were not here; here I must work alone.

Wow! and folks want to know why Americans enjoy all this success.........HARD WORK and lots of it. Way to go Violet.