Robert "Woodsy" Wood - Facilities & Grounds

I started working at Hampshire College April of 1975. My job then was temporary painter because a full time painter got hurt.  Then they had a problem with the painter and got rid of him. So they hired me. I went from temporary to full time.  43 years I’ve been a painter.  They only had me down for 42 years.  The first year I was temporary and they didn’t include that. That got me down starting as 76, not 75. 15 years later, they hired another painter. But then they needed more support. So that’s why I got to be the foreman. 

It’s very busy. You control all of the paint on campus and how it gets there. Of course there are many responsibilities.  During the summers I get a lot of contractors, I make sure the work gets done in a timely matter of course.  It’s not just the painting I do. I do all of the road and parking lots.  Plus, 15 years ago, we started a sign project. I’m in charge of all of the signs on campus and I make all of the signs, too. We deal with a lot of graffiti on campus… power washing it or some cases we have to paint over.  It happens so much.  It’s what [the graffiti] says that bothers me a little bit only because I’ve been here so long. To get rid of it costs money. If they realized how much it costed they wouldn’t do it.

Hampshire College paint shop
Inside Hampshire College's paint shop where Woodsy creates most of the College's signs. Old signs that are worn down or damaged are repurposed.

During the Kern construction, I didn’t have much to do with it cause it was all contractors. The buildings I saw go up here were the Adele Simmons Hall, the Music and Dance building, the Art Barn, that whole complex. I saw all of those being built. I remember how Physical plant used to play softball in the area before the Art Village was built with the Dinning Hall.

I don’t know where to start.  Well, we did a lot of the changes in the dorms. Because these buildings were actually temporary…but we kept rebuilding. They were just modular buildings. Now we are just stuck with them. We don’t have the money to do anything. Some repairs still need to be done.  The Writing Center used to be Greenwich master's house and the Wellness Center was Enfield master's. We used to have people living in there.  Prescott’s master house is the Cultural Center. Merrill and Dakin master houses used to be living quarters and there used to be garages there to park their cars.  

The Cow Palace now Grounds and Facilities
The Cow Palace now Grounds and Facilities used to sit across Bay Road before it was moved to its current location. This Cow Palace served food and was even a gas station.

The third floor of the library used to be the Art Barn and the dance floor. There were dance classes there.  We rebuilt the whole thing; it was a mess just like the art barn.  

The Bubble deflating (Hampshire College Archives and Special Collection)

All of  the campus roads were paved except where the tennis courts are, the road was dirt back then. The road was called bubble road because there was a bubble that covered the tennis courts.  It was a blow up dome.  A student once sliced it with a knife and we had to fix it, and blow it back up.  So that’s why we call that road “bubble road”. It was a thick fabric.

The Bubble that once covered Hampshire's outdoor tennis courts
The Bubble deflating (Hampshire College Archives and Special Collections)

I enjoy the painting the campus lines and parking lots. I line the soccer field, as well.

And I enjoy making the signs. If the sign is too big, I take it to a contractor, they spray and paint it, then I put all the letters on it. I’ve got a plotter down [at the Paint shop], run it off the computer, the printer prints and cuts it out. It’s all adhesive material.

Hampshire College paint shop
Inside the paint shop where Hampshire College's signs are made

It takes time.  That sign on the main entrance and back entrance, that’s the first sign program I worked on. Those are actually paint. The sign in front of the red barn, I had that signed taken and painted. And then I put the vinyl on myself. 

I will miss Hampshire. I put most of my life in this place. 

Inside Hampshire College Paint shop
Over 400 gallons of paint (bottom) will be used to paint ceilings and walls for all dorms and mods on campus this summer. Over 25 years ago, students used to use this space to build kayaks.

Below is an example of how Woodsy creates a typical Hampshire sign.

Image #1: Graphic deigns and text are sent to Woodsy's computer which he sends a print job to his plotter printer.

Image #2: The printer cuts into the paper which is peeled away to exposed the letters. Image #3: He then cuts around the letters to which tape is applied to remove them. Image #4: The letters are then placed onto the sign.

Image #5: The tape is then easily peeled away to expose the new design.

Woodsy has been working at Hampshire College as the Painter Foreman for 43 years and will be retiring this semester.


Special thanks to Hampshire College Archives and Special Collections

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