“What happened to me here, I didn’t expect at all.”

The 2010-2011 academic year marked the 225th Anniversary of Friends Seminary, a Quaker K-12 school in Manhattan. As part of the celebration, alumni and former teachers and staff gathered to reconnect with old friends, share memories, and see all the changes that have happened at Friends. StoryCorps was on hand to record some of these reunions and reminiscences.

One of the pairs who participated in StoryCorps was Ed Randolph and Rachel Jones. Ed started working at Friends in 1977 as a receptionist, one year before Rachel enrolled as a ninth grader. He learned a lot while on the job, especially about Quakerism. “I enjoyed the lifestyle of simplicity and not striving beyond your means,” he says. “Silent meeting was one of my favorite things here. Just to sit and be with yourself and be still.”

Ed Randolph and Rachel Jones

Ed Randolph (l) and Rachel Jones (r)

Ed remembered his job interview at Friends:

During the interview, they said ‘You’re going to have to say no to kids. Can you say no?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I have a son. She said, ‘And you say no to him?’ And I said ‘yeah.’ So I was hired as the receptionist. It was just a job. But what happened to me here, I didn’t expect at all.

Ed’s first assignment at Friends was to stop students from hanging out in the hallway, but Ed quickly became less of an enforcer and more of a counselor. “I felt comfortable talking to you,” Rachel told Ed. “You stated what you saw, and let me find my way into what was right without telling me what I should do.”

During his time at Friends, Ed enjoyed writing and composed poems for some of his favorite students, including Rachel. During his 18 years at Friends, Ed became more than the enforcer he was hired to be: He also became a friend and mentor to Rachel and many other students at Friends Seminary.



6 Responses to ““What happened to me here, I didn’t expect at all.””

To preserve the StoryCorps mission and experience for our readers and participants, comments are subject to the StoryCorps Terms of Service. Comments may be held for moderation or removed if deemed offensive or off-topic. Please do not resubmit your comment if you don't see it right away, it will be approved as soon as possible. Thank you.

  • Always enjoyed Ed’s poetry. Isn’t is a great NY and Friends story that we all remember the receptionist as much for his poetry as for what he did behind the desk? Oh, and I remember his hats too :)
    Best to you, Ed.

    Comment from Holly Sklar on July 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Ed is definitely a friend, mentor, and ray off light in my life. He was always concerned, involved, and caring. I could talk to him about almost anything. The respect and love I have for Ed is unmatched…Ed is a jewel to everyone who has ever come in contact with his spirit!

    Natasha Norman Encarnacion ’93

    Comment from Natasha Norman Encarnacion on June 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Hi Tracy!

    Nice hearing from you… And thank you for your very kind words…

    Comment from Ed Randolph on June 15, 2011 at 6:33 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Ed was my Community Service Adviser at Friends. His sense of fairness, justice and humor were hugely influential to me as an adolescent. His laugh was infectious and his knowledge of music inspirational. Also – he made sure to let me work on the same shift with my hot friend Wyeth. Thank you Ed.

    Comment from Alex K. on June 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Mediator please fix my typo! Thanks!

    Comment from Tracy Carroll on June 15, 2011 at 3:44 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Ed Randolf is one of my enduring memories from Friends. I remember making a trip back down to the school one evening because he was reading his poetry in the Meeting house and I didn’t want to miss it. You didn’t mess with Ed…he was too cool to find yourself on the wrong side if …you wanted to be someone he could respect.
    Thanks, Ed!
    Tracy Carroll (’82)

    Comment from Tracy Carroll on June 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm - Reply to this Comment

Leave a Reply


  • Major Funding Provided By

  • National Broadcast Sponsors

  • National Partners

    NPR American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress