Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas, 1940

THIS IS ONE OF THOSE 1,000-word pictures, and I will only expend a few. It's the eve of Christmas vacation in 1940 and students are enjoying the annual banquet in their formal gowns. The school is still very small. The table (in what is now the Faculty & Staff Dining Room) seats not only the entire Class of 1941 but all the resident students as well. In accord with 10 years of Mount tradition, dinner will be served by the faculty.

It merits a little reflection, this picture. Six months later, many of these young women will be graduated into a world still struggling with the Great Depression. A year later, Pearl Harbor has just been attacked, and the United States is entering World War II. The women in this picture from the classes of 1942, '43, and '44 will come to know the Mount in wartime, with rationing stamps, blackouts, and blood drives; their brothers, fathers, boyfriends and fianc├ęs gone to fight (and even die) in Europe and the Pacific.

Most members of the Mount community have encountered this picture already. A print hangs in the Faculty & Staff Dining Room, and it has been reproduced a number of times in brochures and whatnot. But take a look at it again, and try to see it as a moment in history, a reflection on what was to come. And remember, too, those among us whose loved ones are separated this season by conflict and war.

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