Friday, September 7, 2018

Poem for a feast day

Nativity of the Virgin by Giotto di Bondone [Public domain].
Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons Sept. 7, 2018.
THE SISTERS OF ST. JOSEPH OF CARONDELET, our university's founders, count many poets among their members.  As an archival reflection for the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin (also known as Jesus' mother), September 8, we offer these short lines from Sister St. Catherine Beavers, CSJ. We invite you to consider how she poses the smallness of a human mother and her baby daughter with a hint of the the supernatural — and in so few words.
 Nativity of our Blessed Mother (1931)

A tiny crib – a sacred place
A tiny place where angels trod.
A tiny babe – a child of the earth
A mother of a God.
Sister St. Catherine – aka Mother St. Catherine (d. 1945) – was the Provincial Superior (1917-1923) right ahead of our founding president, Mother Margaret Mary Brady.

When the Mount was founded in 1925, Sister St. Catherine was included as a special “councilor” to the new college, although she was also missioned as the head of Our Lady of Peace. When she stepped down as provincial, the University of Southern California honored her with a master of arts degree pro merito.

We have copies of her volume of poetry published in 1931, A Thought at Christmastide and other Poems, at the CSJ Institute Library on the Doheny Campus and here in Chalon Special Collections.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Mary Chapel's Stations of the Cross


Ecclesial permission to have the Stations of the Cross
in the original Mount Chapel in 1932
WE BLOGGED THE OTHER DAY about some of the treasures that have surfaced this summer in storage in the Mary Chapel Sacristy, and now we're going to dig into a little more history about one of them.

A framed document in Latin is dated 1932, which would be within a year or two of when the Mount community finally moved up the hill to the new Brentwood campus (the future Chalon) from temporary quarters at St. Mary's Academy in Inglewood.

Brady Hall was the one and only structure until 1939 when Mary Chapel was built. It was a beautiful, multipurpose building into which were crammed the CSJs' convent, student dorms, dining facilities, classrooms, science labs, library, infirmary and of course a chapel. Mass was mandatory and celebrated daily in two converted dorm rooms with the dividing wall removed.

Every Catholic church is entitled to a Stations of the Cross, or Way of the Cross, an ancient devotion that relives Jesus' passion and death in 14 "stations," usually around the walls of the nave. The Latin is Via Crucis, and this document kept in the Sacristy is formal, written permission to stage them in the chapel at the new Mount campus.

These days, the Stations in Mary Chapel are barely noticeable, owing to their small size and decades of grime. In the tiny Brady Hall chapel, there was room for only 14 small pictures, but when the new Mary Chapel was consecrated in 1940, the old Stations were incorporated into the new architecture. The originals were photographed and enlarged, and then hand tinted by one of the Art Department faculty, Sister Ignatia Cordis, CSJ. The covering varnish has darkened and muted the original colors, but when you looks at them now, you are seeing part of the Mount's first chapel in 1932. (What became of the originals is unknown.)

Out of curiosity, we looked into why the Catholic Church had to give formal permission for the Stations.  If a devoted Catholic reverently "walks" the Stations using the appropriate prayers, he or she is entitled to have sins wiped away, called an indulgence. From medieval times, pilgrims following  Jesus' final footsteps in Jerusalem -- the real Stations of the Cross -- were granted a variety of indulgences, good for clearing one or two or a lifetime of sins. The popularity of the pilgrimage led it eventually to be extended to local parishes. A penitent praying the Via Crucis in her home church is essentially making a little pilgrimage and can discharge her sins without having to go all the way to the Holy Land. This approach was popularized in the 1600s by the Franciscans, who since 1217 have been the custodians of the original Way of the Cross through the ancient streets of Jerusalem.

It is the opportunity to receive an indulgence that explains why any installation of the Stations of the Cross has to be blessed by the local prelate; they have to be done in the proper form according to Church norms. (We have an artist's concept of the Stations in the J. Thomas McCarthy Library on the Doheny Campus, but they're not "licensed," so no indulgences.)

The Mount's Documenta Pro Erectione S. Viae Crucis -- "evidence for the building of the holy Way of the Cross" -- is signed in Latin by Sister Margaret Brady, CSJ (Soror Margarita Maria), the Mount's founding president; Father Ermin Vitry, OSB, a Benedictine monk who was Mount chaplain and a music professor; and Most Rev. John (Joannes) J. Cantwell, archbishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles (Angelorum) and San Diego (Sti. Didaci).

The Franciscans' 800-year-old custodianship of the Holy Land explains why it is also signed by two Franciscans. Head (guardian) of the Franciscan province at Mission Santa Barbara, Father Dominic (Dominicus) Gallardo, OFM, authorized as his local delegate Father John (Joannes) Otterstedt, OFM, to make sure everything was on the up and up.

Since the old Stations were incorporated into the new chapel, there was no need of a new  Documentum in 1939.  Those Stations and their Documentum are all that remains of the original  chapel except a couple of fuzzy photographs. 

The first Mount Chapel right before its final liturgy in mid-December 1939.
After that, Mass was celebrated in Mary Chapel. The room is opposite
the elevators on the second floor of Brady Hall, now a lounge.

Hidden treasures of the chapel

L.A. Archbishop John J. Cantwell and a cadre of other priests preside at
the Benediction liturgy dedicating Mary Chapel on May 2, 1940.
SUMMERTIME AND EVERYONE's cleaning out their desks. Or in the case of Campus Ministry at Chalon, the sacristy in Mary Chapel.

If one had the honor of being an altar server as a school kid, one will know what this means. Sacristy, from the Latin word for holy or sacred, is where the priest suits up before mass, known as vesting. It is a little liturgy in its own rite (sorry, that's a pun) with its own prayers. Other sacred objects are kept there for use during various celebrations in the church.

Since Mass is no longer celebrated daily at the Mount, the Mary Chapel sacristy has also evolved into something of a storage closet. From a historical standpoint, we're glad! One of the Campus Ministry student workers, nursing senior Chris Lorenzo '19, volunteered to clean it out. We helped with identification and in the process picked up some Mount history along the way. Check out the photos and captions below.

A set of candlesticks in two sizes, which originally number
six of each size. The complete array is visible on the
altar behind Cantwell in the picture at the top.
The picture above also shows Archbishop
Cantwell holding this monstrance at the dedication
of Mary Chapel in 1940. It's missing the
luna,
the part that holds the sacred Host.

Detail of the 1940 monstrance showing St. Peter carved
in ivory. Its size and weight suggest it might have been
intended for a permanent location in a side chapel.
A lighter monstrance of classic sunburst design shows
up in photos starting in the 1940s and was probably
used for regular Benediction liturgies.
The sacristy revealed a number of old altar cloths, like this one made
of linen with a handmade lace border.
Priest's amice, a small cloth wrapped around the shoulders beneath the white alb and secured with ties around the chest. This one probably hasn't been worn in more than 50 years.
Official church permission to have a Stations of the Cross in Mary
Chapel, signed by Archbishop Cantwell, the president and chaplain
of the Mount, and members of the Franciscan Order in 1932. It
actually pertains to the original tiny chapel in Brady Hall.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Before Athena, there was ... the goat

Circa 1950, the mountain goat served as MSMU's mascot. We have one
in the Archives thanks to Sister Rose Adrian Peukert, CSJ '54.
WELCOME ATHENIANS! A large sign on the proscenium in front of Mary Chapel today welcomes our incoming students to Chalon for Orientation and the start of Fall 2018 two months from now. (Yikes!)

In another era, the sign might have said, "Welcome Mountain Goats." All we can say is, thank goodness that mascot didn't stick!
 
1956: The collective name for Mount
teams and students alike was Mountie.
Colleges and universities with big sports programs usually have well-known mascots, like the Bruin or Tommy Trojan. For a very long time at the Mount, decades, there was no mascot.  The university (then a college) fielded plenty of competitive tennis teams, runners and swimmers, even equestrians, but Mount students collectively were known simply as "the Mounties," a name that stuck until the late 1960s.

For a few years in the early 1950s, there was a genuine cute and fuzzy mascot. One arrived in the archives in person the other day, a little stuffed animal of faded purple wool felt, with floppy ears and horns and MSMC appliquéd in orangey-gold on both sides.

The mascot was donated to us by Sister Rose Adrian Peukert, CSJ, '54.  She was a Mountie herself for three years until entering the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1951. With that time frame, we consulted our yearbooks and newspapers to see if there were any mentions of stuffed goats.

Our friendly Mountie Goat inspects an art
book in the Porch at Chalon library.
According to the 1950 and 1951 yearbooks, the Women's Recreation Assn., a campus athletic club, was responsible for selling athletic gear in the bookstore. The yearbooks mention the "W.R.A. store -- goats, sweatshirts, tennis balls..."  That must be our mascot.

When you think about it, the Mountie Goat was an obvious choice of mascot for the intrepid women who had to make the climb from the bus stop on Sunset Boulevard to the college, back in the days when regular shuttles didn't exist and few students had their own cars.

Beyond the 1950s, the little Mountie Goat didn’t catch on. Once the Doheny Campus became part of the MSMU in 1962, the mountain-oriented mascot didn't work for everyone. In the 1980s, when the Mount started promoting competitive sports, Athena was finally adopted as mascot. The Greek embodiment of bold, intelligent woman truly captured the spirit of the school.

On the other hand, mountain goats are known to have that special grit we call {Unstoppable}, and this little critter is pretty cute. Think about mountain goats and our Mountie Goat next time you have to hike from Chalon Road up to the Circle.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Book find : More quack tracking

One remedy, primarily alcoholic, promises to relieve seizures.
WE ARE WEEDING some out-of-date nursing and medical books, an otherwise dispiriting task that is occasionally saved by the fun find.

Nostrums and Quackery, Vol. II landed on our desk for review this week, giving this blog another installment in the long-running (and ongoing!) story of medical fakery.

Death of a diabetic who was
treating himself with a patent medicine
made by the John J. Fulton Co. of
San Francisco.
Nostrums, published in 1921 by the American Medial Assn., dates from the Golden age of patent medicines and dubious remedies. In the early years of the 20th Century, with its promises of scientific breakthroughs, alarmed physicians found their patients had stopped heeding their advice and instead were placing their trust in hucksters. Promising to cure everything from tuberculosis to nicotine addiction, patent medicines could be purchased from street vendors, reputable pharmacies, through the mail and from prestigious-sounding medical "institutes."

The AMA collected hundreds of reports in three volumes, reproducing some of the advertisements and providing verbatim accounts from the doctors. As evidence, several doctors included death certificates for patients who had succumbed to disease despite the claims of whatever quack cure they were ingesting.

Wine of Cardui came to the attention of the federal Office of Indian Affairs.
The label gradually changes as false claims are eliminated.
Preying on the sick and suffering, patent medicine salesmen also targeted vulnerable groups like Native Americans. Concerned teachers at an Indian School in Arizona wrote to the U.S. government  about something called Wine of Cardui that was suddenly flooding the reservation. It was advertised, with testimonials, as a "women's tonic" for relief of menopausal symptoms, prolapsed uteruses, decreased libido and menstrual cramps. Like most of these remedies, the main and only effective ingredient was pure alcohol.

For an AMA medical text, Nostrums and Quackery is highly entertaining, with plenty of detail and outraged comments from doctors, patients, victims and the local newspapers. Browse it below, or stop by Special Collections at Chalon to enjoy the real thing.





Monday, June 11, 2018

Book find : Quack tracking

Alma Levant Hayden, shown in her lab at the National Institutes of
Health. She later worked for the FDA. (NIH photo.)
WOMEN SCIENTISTS WERE A RARITY in the middle of the last century. We were happy to run across an interesting article in the Washington Post from last summer about Alma Levant Hayden, a researcher in the 1950s and 1960s for the Food and Drug Administration. She was a rarity in a number of ways in the world of federal scientists back then : a woman and an African American in the rarefied world of cancer research. And it leads us to some scientific women at MSMU in the 1940s and 1950s doing the same thing.

The Post article is here.

An old book on our library bookshelves turned up last week called 'Krebiozen' : The Great Cancer Mystery and we thought we'd find out what we could about it. Google led us to Hayden, who is known for having unmasked in 1963 this cancer "cure" that despite its developers' credentials proved to be a much more mundane substance. The 1955 book tells the story of a scientific debate that led to congressional hearings, Wall Street investigations and, ultimately, which brought down a university president.

Strangely, the book has a place in Mount history, which circles us back to pioneering women scientists.

MSMC's Cancer Department students in 1949, from left:
Mildred Lerch, Clara Wong, Estelle Zehngebot, Barbara
Golen, Kathleen Regan, Pauline Chang, Dolores Bowler
and Virginia Debley. (MSMU Archives photo.)
In the late 1940s and early 1950s the Mount was home to a groundbreaking research department dedicated to the study of cancer, which was becoming a national priority. Not just unusual because all the students were women (and diverse), the Cancer Department was considered at the time to be the first in the world. You can read about the department's work here.

Furthermore, the Mount had already made history in the 1940s by graduating highly trained women lab technicians at a time of a serious shortage of expertise caused by World War II.  So sought after were the Mount's science graduates that the federal government allowed scarce building materials to be deployed to construct St. Joseph Hall in 1944, because it would expand the number of science labs and thus the number of graduates.

We love how one little book can evoke an interesting era in the history of scientific research and women in science. It's a chance, too, to remember their unsung role in the 75-year (and counting) battle against what remains a dreaded disease.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Prophecy on the Mount

Abigail McCarthy, right, is greeted by Sister Magdalen Coughlin, CSJ, left,
during a visit by McCarthy to the Mount in 1968. Looking on are CSJ faculty
members Sisters Eleanor Francis Powers and Catherine Therese Knoop.
Sister Magdalen, later MSMU President, was on the faculty at the time.
She and McCarthy were fellow alumnae of St. Kate's University.
THE MISSION STATEMENT of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet mentions "prophetic witness."

Well, have we got some prophecy for you.

Forty years ago – a biblical number to be sure – a prominent woman in public life delivered some predictions during a visit to MSMU that are so startling in their accuracy that we thought we would share them to kick off Women's History Month.

In 1978, Abigail McCarthy was the estranged wife of Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.) and a decade past his historic, divisive run at the presidency of the United States. An outspoken writer and opinion-maker in her own right who had visited the Mount in 1968, she was invited to deliver the Siena Day (academic symposium) keynote in February (reported in The View), titled "Christian Woman: Towards a 21st Century."

She predicted:
  1. Fewer women will be married in the 21st Century, and of those who are half will be [single] heads of households. And this: "There will be no such thing as permanent commitments in the 21st Century."
  2.  There will be a larger number of independent nations, but fewer democratic republics.
  3. "The [Catholic] Church will become a remnant in society" but the pope will be a symbol of unity.
  4. There will be "less privacy and independence in small matters because computers are making our lives available to others."
Think about it: How did she foresee the startling decline in the rate of formal marriage and rise in single motherhood? The crumbling of the Soviet Union more than 10 years before it happened and the worldwide struggles for democracy? The shrinking population of practicing Catholics and the global popularity of Pope Francis?

Number 4 is the one that really gets us. In an era before personal computers and smartphones, how in the world did she ever anticipate the effects of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the digital privacy issues we contend with today?

We think the answer lies in the fact that Abigail McCarthy was a woman educated and formed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. At a women's college she learned to lead. She learned to think as a prophetic witness, to read the signs of the times and act on them.

McCarthy received her B.A. at the College of St. Catherine (now known as St. Kate's University) in St. Paul, Minn., the CSJ school that educated so many members of the Mount's own religious community, including two presidents.

After college, Abigail Quigley met her future husband, a former Benedictine monk, at the small rural school in North Dakota where they were teachers. Both devout Catholics, they spent their first years of married life on a social justice mission, a Catholic farm commune in Minnesota. "Gene" McCarthy went on to be a Farm Labor Party and Democratic congressional representative from Minnesota and was elected to the Senate in 1958.

He is best remembered as the presidential candidate who challenged Lyndon B. Johnson and the Vietnam War in 1968 (playing a role not unlike Bernie Sanders') in that notorious election year. An Archives picture records Abigail's first visit to the Mount during a campaign swing through Los Angeles, probably around the time of the California Primary Election in June 1968 (photo above).

The very next year, after losing the election, Gene left Abigail and their five children for his long-time mistress, a television news reporter. But as Catholics the McCarthys never divorced.

Abigail McCarthy, who died in 2001, went on to build a successful career as a writer and commentator, an articulate voice for the place of women in the Church, in politics, in social justice, in everyday life.

In other words, hers was a life of prophetic witness in the CSJ sense. But as a prophet, Abigail McCarthy gave it a whole new meaning.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Pick a date... or a name

Inaugural newsletter welcomes the "pioneer
class" of  Weekend College, Sept. 12, 1992.
OUR WONDERFULLY SUCCESSFUL Weekend College program celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017.

No, wait -- maybe 2017 was the 37th anniversary.

Well, if you want to get technical, it was really the 61st.  Or maybe even the 79th.

Which one is right?

The choice of start dates for the "weekend program" regularly causes a certain amount of confusion, because Mount Saint Mary's University (and before that, College) has been offering classes on weekend days and weekday evenings for a very long time. In fact, every time we delve into the topic, we end up pushing back the date another decade or two.

The question came up again today so we dug in and rolled back the clock again. The solution lies in knowing that although the program name has changed and its scope expanded, the weekend offerings definitely began not long after the Mount's founding in 1925.

The graduate school catalog from 1960 shows
Saturday and late afternoon classes.
The classes on Saturdays, in the spirit of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet, have always been about recognizing a need and filling it. This began as a way to accommodate a particular category of working students: schoolteachers. Nuns teaching in Catholic schools and laywomen in public schools could attend only on Saturdays, late afternoons and early evenings, so the Mount adjusted certain curricula to fit their schedules.

The first Saturday class we can find is the fall of 1938, a philosophy class taught by Father Patrick J. Dignan (who went on to teach  at the Mount for decades). In the next several years, Saturday classes were added as a need arose.

The weekend program starts to look more like today's Weekend College in the fall of 1957.  As explained by our wonderful historian of MSMU's first 50 years, Sister Mary Germaine McNeil, CSJ, of blessed memory,
The purpose of this conveniently located center at No. 2 Chester Place ... was to make adult-education classes more available for in-service teachers and other religious and secular students in the metropolitan areas at a distance from the main [Chalon] campus. Courses in education, psychology, and theology were offered in the late afternoon and on Saturday. The adult-education program registered 157 students during the first year.
 Under the direction of Sister Regina Clare Salazar, CSJ, courses in English, history, math, and Spanish soon followed. Keep in mind that this promising start occurred a full five years before the Mount opened its Doheny Campus in September 1962. Being virtually invisible, however, the adult-education program continued throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s with hardly a glance by the rest of the Mount.

But in 1980 the next step toward a formal program emerged.

Announcement of new program in November 1979.
"Spend your evenings earning a degree or enjoying enrichment courses at MSMC," read the front page announcement in The View in November 1979. The following spring semester new students were able to enroll in degree-granting programs ranging from associate to graduate school.

By 1980, a different need had been perceived by the CSJ administrators. The number of already-working teachers requiring bachelor's degrees and credentials had dwindled, but a recession economy was sending new types of students back into the classroom.

Evening College was the program for working adults begun in 1980.


"This program is aimed at three groups," said Sister Paulette Gladis, CSJ, Evening College's new director. "Re-entry students [women returning to the workforce after raising families], students being retrained in a certain area of study [usually after being laid off from a job], and students interested simply in enriching themselves."

Sr. Paulette Gladis, CSJ,
first head of Evening College.
Evening College at first was only for women, who attended classes one evening a week at one or the other campus. It continued in this form for more than a decade until the fall of 1992, which is when Weekend College finally took its current shape.

The inaugural class was 94 women earning a baccalaureate degree in business or liberal arts. Classes were held every two or three weekends on the Chalon Campus.

Evening College, meanwhile, continued to meet at Doheny and evolved into a new entity called the Evening/Weekend Division.  Associate degrees and certificates were offered to women in various healthcare-related fields.

By 1996 Weekend College had absorbed the Evening division, opened admissions to men and conferred graduate degrees. In 2006 the rapidly expanding program moved to the Doheny Campus.

So what anniversary date sounds most appealing? Personally, we like  Father Dignan's philosophy class way back in 1938. That means in Fall 2018 we can celebrate 80 years of meeting the educational needs of working adults, always responding to change but holding true to the Mount's essential mission. And by the way, the name changed again. As of 2014, it's Weekend and Evening College, and we're not sure how long that one will last.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A new treasure

This handwritten document begins with a decorated rendering of
the name of Pope Alexander VI.  
WE ARE PUTTING ON OUR RARE BOOKS HAT to thank the librarians of Western State College of Law in San Diego for their donation of a special book to the MSMU Libraries. Its unpromising title is The earliest diplomatic Documents on America, the papal bulls of 1493 and the treaty of Tordesillas reproduced and translated, but it nevertheless sheds light on an extraordinary chapter in the history of the Americas.

Alexander VI was one of the
so-called Borgia or Borja popes.
These famous, or infamous, proclamations (known as "bulls") by Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) handed Spain political "ownership" of all the newly found countries in the Western Hemisphere, from North Pole to South Pole and everything in between.

Coming just a year after Columbus' voyage to the Americas, the bulls by this Spanish-born pope have been condemned by many modern scholars for spreading colonialism, subjugating native peoples and even condoning slavery. But regardless of their tragic outcome, the documents are an important part of the legal legacy of the New World, affecting global diplomacy and maritime law for centuries.

Even today, papal proclamations
are made in Latin.
Separate from the contents, the book is interesting in its own right. The early to middle 20th Century saw a number of high-end reproductions of famous books and documents aimed in limited press runs at  discerning book collectors.

Nowadays we take such things as photocopying and scanning for granted, but the technology for accurate reproduction of a printed or handwritten page was still in its infancy in the 1920s.  Only 172 copies of this book were printed in Berlin in 1927 (translated and published by Paul Gottschalk).

Besides the documents, the book also has lots of amazing maps along with explanatory text.

We have a few other important facsimiles here in Archives and Special Collections at Chalon. In the 1950s, Countess Estelle Doheny gave to the Mount library the first-ever reproductions of the Book of Kells, the Lindisfarne Gospels (both treasured manuscripts from ancient Ireland) and the Gutenberg Bible.

A famous book collector herself, Mrs. Doheny recognized that these works were part of the fabric of Western Civilization and therefore worthy of inclusion in a good liberal arts library.  In the same vein, we are now proud to add Alexander VI's landmark documents to the collection.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Behind the modern exterior


Seniors bide their time on the Porch of Coe Library before the start
of Commencement exercises at Chalon, undated photo from 1950s.
DOWN IN THE BASEMENT OF COE LIBRARY is one of the nicest spaces on the Chalon Campus, in our opinion. We refer to it as the Porch -- which we'll explain in a minute -- but for students it's simply a quiet space to study. Silence is enforced by signs and an occasional warning shush from a librarian. When you think about it, how many places can you find around here where people aren't chatting, talking on the phone, or watching a video?

The Porch today is a quiet study area.
One wall of the long room is windows looking out onto ocean views, hillside landscapes and treetops. On the wall opposite are children's literature, music and art books giving the space a warm library ambiance. On this rainy morning, several students are alone at their tables, poring over their books and assignments. It's so quiet you could hear a mouse sneeze, if we had any mice (which we are pretty sure we don't).

You'd never know that you're looking at what was once a ballroom designed for elegant parties. It was our own founder, Mother Margaret Mary Brady, CSJ, who suggested the inclusion of a "social hall" when the plans for the new Charles Willard Coe Memorial Library were drawn up in 1945.

Perhaps Mother Margaret Mary knew that her students' boyfriends and fiancés would soon be returning home from World War II and would be ready to start living a normal life again. In those days, too, Loyola University (decades before Marymount came along) was considered the Mount's "brother school," and there were regular mixers and galas at local hotel ballrooms and social clubs that included dancing to the fabulous Big Band music of the 1940s.

Mount girls at the Senior Prom with their boyfriends,
most in uniform, during the closing days of World War II.
This 1945 event was held at a local social club.
As a result of Mother's suggestion, the bottom floor of Coe Library was designed with its own, separate entrance. Guests entered via an open "colonnade" with an ocean view that extended the length of the library building. French doors opened onto the 160-foot-long ballroom. The dance floor was made of dense, highly polished maplewood, the same material used for basketball courts. Other features included a small room for checking coats and wraps, a small kitchen and an orchestra pit for live music.

Sadly, the only "souvenir" of that gracious space is the Porch study area of today. When the library was renovated in 1995 the colonnade was enclosed and carpeted. The book stacks stop at the load-bearing wall because the architecture of the porch wasn't strong enough to support them.

Mother Margaret Mary Brady
But not surprisingly, a dedicated ballroom didn't survive very long anyway. A fast-growing college, the Mount needed that space over the ensuing years for many other purposes -- as a dormitory for CSJ Sisters and later for students; storage, classrooms, offices, library books. A full-fledged social hall was too much of a luxury by the time the 1950s rolled around.

But if you use your imagination, there is still the ocean view. Sit at one of the last two tables on the south end of the Porch on a clear day and you can see the Pacific Ocean sparkling beyond Santa Monica. Imagine yourself all dressed up in a formal or tuxedo, ready to show off your waltz or fox trot on the gleaming maple floor.