Thursday, March 24, 2011


SEEING THE MOUNT'S lush azaleas and camellias in springtime bloom reminds me of a story told by the late L.A. Times columnist and alumna Zan Thompson '40 about the grounds in the late 1930s when she was a student.

The campus was a bare hilltop when the Sisters took occupancy of the new college building in the spring of 1930. Landscaping got under way immediately, with redwoods and fruit trees and shrubs to stabilize the hillsides.

And flowers, of course. But the flowers had a particular purpose. Mother Marie de Lourdes Le May, head of the English Department and later president and Provincial superior, planted camellias, gardenias and roses near the front steps, blooms that would make a pretty corsage.

No Mount student, Zan wrote, would be without a corsage when her clueless blind date (usually a Loyola man) showed up without one. Mother Marie de Lourdes would take flowers and ribbon in hand and send her student off for an evening on the town with a classy corsage of home-grown posies. (P.S. -- The young lady had to be back in her dorm by 1 a.m.)

I don't know whether the flowering shrubs near Brady hall are the ones planted by Mother Marie de Lourdes, but it's nice to imagine that they are. Let the feminists take umbrage, but it's also fun to imagine a time when a young man on a date was expected to arrive with flowers.

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