Monday, September 20, 2010

Reveling in the very ordinary

ARCHAEOLOGISTS AND HISTORIANS (and archivists) say that the ordinary stuff of daily life that turns up is often the most interesting. The literary, governmental, and military artifacts are important, for sure, but what would you rather see: another ode to the emperor, or a wax tablet from a homesick Roman soldier?

I'm doing an archaeological dig of sorts through back numbers of Inter-Nos, a combination literary magazine/ monthly newspaper/ scientific journal that the Mount published between 1927 and 1949. Some of them are astonishing, including one in 1930 dedicated to the Roman poet Virgil, with essays by students in seven (!) languages, including Latin.

More fun for me, though, is the more prosaic tidbit that a new set of dishes was introduced in the cafeteria on October 22, 1934. For students and the Sisters, that had to be a big deal. The new settings, we're told, are made of green glass, which the anonymous writer notes is "so popular at the present time." The 36 cups and plates were purchased with money from a candy raffle, won by Miss Fitch, the drama instructor, and "add greatly to the cheerfulness of the cafeteria." Big news on campus!

Inter-Nos was also where students and faculty could publish their poetry. One student, identified only as "M.V.B.," published a little paean to the College in June, 1931, ending with these lines:
Would you live in this beautiful school of ours
With a faith that never varies?
Then join with us as we start upon life
From the hills of Mount St. Mary's.
In my book, that's more fun than essays on Virgil any day. And now, back to my dig. As is ever the case, the number I'm actually looking for is missing...

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