Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgivings at the Mount

MOUNT STUDENTS HAVE long been a grateful bunch, and the Thanksgiving holiday has always been a major milestone in the academic calendar. Browsing the Mount's literary journals and newspapers of the past 90 years reveals some endearing stories, prayers, poetry and opinions devoted to the annual feast and counting of blessings.

Ann Hall '48.
An echo from almost 70 years ago, barely two years after the end of World War II, still resonates today:
This Thanksgiving the word "vacation" on the college calendar and the sight of the pumpkin and turkey orders on the grocery list tell us that Thanksgiving time is here... We think of the many gifts for which we must remember to give thanks ... for the comforts so many are in need of today... for the one-day cessation of wind that came on the day of the Sepulveda fire... for all the times we prayed and [God] said "Yes" ... for the times we asked "if it's for the best" and [God] said "No" ... and thanks that all the people who said last Thanksgiving, "Another year and we'll be at war again" were wrong.  (Ann Hall '48 in the November, 1947, View)
Shirley Burke '54.
A possibly homesick alumna studying in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1956 writes back to her modern languages professor Sr. Aline Marie Gerber, CSJ:
 On Thanksgiving Day the Swiss-American Society gave a party for all the American students at one of the local hotels. Each of us was invited to dinner at the home of one of our professors. I received an invitation from my major professor. I hadn't known him too well before, and I was usually terrified by him in class. However, I found him meek as a lamb at home. Now we're good friends. (Shirley Joan Burke '54 in the June, 1956, Inter-Nos.) 
Closer to home, a student in 1975 advises her peers not to gripe so much about cafeteria food in a paragraph titled "A Thanksgiving":
It seems as if it has always been a tradition among student living in college dorms to gripe about the food. But I don't really feel that anyone is justified in complaining about food here at the Mount. Granted, there may be times when the London Broil is under- or overdone, but some college food services would never consider serving steak.... With Thanksgiving here, I think that it is important for everyone to realize just how fortunate we are. Some people are not so lucky. (J.C., November, 1975, View)
In the fitness-minded 1990s, students were thankful for the opportunity to lose a few pounds after the holiday. Camille Maldonado '96 (?) , writing in the December, 1995, Oracle, mentions the Monday-After-Thanksgiving "Turkey Trot," which draws 25 students and staff who opt to exercise off some of the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.

Sister Ignatia Cordis, CSJ.
The astonishing historical tidbit that the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet raised turkeys comes to us from Helen McCarter, writing when the Mount was lodged at St. Mary's Academy.  Her short article "Gobblers Start for College Girls" in the November, 1929, Inter-Nos describes a drawing class during which the professor, Sister Ignatia Cordis, CSJ (1887-1986), threw a fit because none of her students knew what the head of a turkey looked like. Apparently they were familiar only with the headless, roasted kind and produced drawings of "buffalo heads, mustaches, drooping eyelashes, etc." Not deterred, Sister took the class over to research the community's turkey pen, after which students completed their assignment.

Finally, we are personally thankful for "E.E." writing in the View in November, 1962. "This year," she opines, "it seems especially fitting that we include the library in our thanksgiving."  Yes, indeed, there is much to give thanks for at MSMU.

Classic musing on an all-American holiday tradition, View, November 1946..
Would you like to browse the journals, newspapers, and yearbooks? Just click here and start reading.

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