Thursday, December 22, 2011

Spirit (and hijinks) of holidays past

Front page of the campus paper, The View, December 17, 1946.

AS THE CHALON CAMPUS closes for the holidays, I thought we'd wish everyone a Merry Christmas and farewell to 2011 with a look back at The View, the campus newspaper that published its first edition in April, 1945.

First, some verse from the first Christmas edition, the winner of the 1945 Christmas Poem Contest (Vol. I, No. 8, December 13, 1945, p. 3):
Soliliquy [sic] of the Ox
The king of beasts strides in the tall brown grass,
And sees the stealthy, slithering cobra pass;
The sheepdog on the hillside in the night
Watches the browsing flocks all fleecy white.
Many creatures of the Lord, I know,
Have features finer than I can show,
But with no other would I change my place
For I have seen the Christ-Child, face to face.
--Marjorie O'Hanlon '49
The picture above is the front page of second Christmas edition of The View, Vol. II, No. 9, December 17, 1946. Even then the Mount was proud of its diversity, publishing a roundup of short articles by its international students about Christmas traditions in their home countries -- Mexico, Japan, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador. The illustration is by student Barbara Lichtenberg '47.

And lest we think The View was all piety and poetry, there's an article in the 1945 Christmas edition about four Mount reporters chasing down the local movie stars. "View Attempts to Visit Van" describes their mad rush to follow Van Johnson in his blue sports car to the home of fellow star Keenan Wynn on nearby Saltair Avenue, where the two actors were rehearsing a Christmas program for the U.S. Navy. They tried and failed to talk their way past Wynn's maid, but, nothing daunted, they decided instead to stalk handsome Peter Lawford the following weekend.

Hijinks at the holidays! A blessed Christmas and Happy New Year, everybody -- see you here in 2012.

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.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Finals Week

THE CRANIAL VAPOR PRESSURE is hitting the danger zone... Heads are exploding... It must be Finals Week.

While the students crowding the Porch cram for dear life, I thought I'd post a memento from Finals Week in December 1929, a little grade slip that shows one Mary O'Connor cruising to a C in Liturgy. Was she disappointed? Relieved?

I'm inclined to go with relieved. Miss O'Connor was actually a member of the charter class of the Mount and thus received her B.A. along with her 9 classmates in June, 1929. Why was she taking a class the following fall? The report card doesn't indicate the number of credits, so I'm wondering whether she wasn't a couple credits shy of her degree and took a class in the fall to make up.

Liturgy was one of the 1-credit classes under the heading Divine Worship offered by the Philosophy Department. If ever a class triggered a case of senioritis, I bet that would be it.

The instructor, Sister Agnes Bernard, might be considered the Mount's first archivist. In addition to serving as professor and Trustee, she also kept the College scrapbooks. They're in the archives, very fragile but more or less intact, and they're treasures of minutia -- just like Miss O'Connor's grade slip.