Ruth Gorham in Graland Country Day School: The First Fifty Years refers to the founding families as the “stalwart pioneers” ever determined to make this school a reality. Henry Toll, whose wife we number among the founding mothers (Mmes.Toll, Shaforth, Waring, McWhinney, Lanagan, etc), was asked to deliver a speech at the First Parents’ Dinner in 1958.
Here is an excerpt highlighting the first school on Colfax
“Once upon a time -- in other words, during September, 1924, which was thirty-three and a third years ago -- a kindly lady of perhaps fifty-five and a vigorous young woman, perhaps,fifteen years younger, marshaled a dozen diminutive feminine figures -- who had never before been gathered together -- around a short-legged table in a little room intended for a shop. This room was lighted from a window at the front, facing across Colfax Avenue toward the Bluebird Theatre. It was one of a half-dozen shops in a new one-story building occupying the half-block west of Adams Street.
“It was luxuriously furnished. As I recall it, there was a table, which stood two feet above the floor as well as a dozen little kindergarten chairs, and not much else.
“Each of these young ladies had doubtless attained the fine old age of four, but I doubt whether any of them had as yet reached her sixth birthday.
“The organizer was Miss Grace M. Laird. Her confederate and partner in the enterprise was Miss Virginia B. Braswell.
“Many of the facts of Graland's East Colfax days are lost in the mists of antiquity, and the name has always been something of a mystery to most of the people whose children have been on the roster. But the best-authenticated report is that the school was baptized Graland as the result of combining the first three letters of Grace Laird's first name, with the last name of an aunt of Miss Braswell's who rendered some assistance to the pair in connection with their first modest financial requirements. She was Miss Land or Mrs. Land. Perhaps, they liked the combination because it rhymed with playland.
“The shop was about fifteen feet wide, and in those days the passers-by on the sidewalk were visible through the sheer curtains. Also visible was a very modest amount of automobile traffic, with an occasional street-car thrown in, for this was a city of some 200,000 souls. That was the beginning of the Graland School, and it carried on in that location for a little more than one school year.
“The specks of humanity who attended this academy of learning during its first year traveled under the names, alphabetically arranged, of Virginia Ballentine, Isabelle Bane, Betty Broadhurst, Barbara Johnson, Betsy Lancaster, Anne Reymer and Karel Toll. But there was also a male contingent of one or more, including Harry Reed of Estes Park.”