Monday, May 12, 2014

Alma Mater In Loco Parentis

     To my granddaughters (assuming they read this blog) here’s a glimpse at what it was like in a university dorm – this looks like my junior year, 1946, the war over, the men back. Understand, kids, I’m not talking about a fancy finishing school – this was a large university.    
     I just found an old sheet of notebook paper headed  “Rules We Have Broken as of being here a month” – single check if one of us broke the rule, two checks if both did.  “Both” includes my roommate.  She ended up with Alzheimers, dead now.   We had a guest staying overnight, definitely against the rules.  I expect it was Hilda – she’s dead too.  “Smoking in room” --yes, that had to be Hilda. Looks like we  sneaked her in to the dining hall too.
     “Both feet off the floor” – oops! Two checks – looks like both of us broke the both-feet-on-the-floor rule, which applied in the living room, the only place men were allowed in the dorm.  And “Man in the house in the morning”.  How do you suppose we managed that? – the dangerous creatures were supposed to be there only during evening hours.
     Here are things we did illegally after lights-out at 11 p.m. – took shower, took bath, kept lights on, used typewriter.  Ours was a co-op dorm; students did much of the cleaning.  In those days floors were supposed to be waxed every week -- but evidently we didn’t.
     We sat outside the student section at games, wore pajamas on the first floor, left wash things in the (two-on-each-floor) bathroom, left our beds unmade after noon, took food from the dining hall, came in late without a yellow slip.   In our bedroom we had an illegal hotplate and (only one of us and I think it was me) an illegal phonograph.  Why on earth would a phonograph be forbidden?  I know we were allowed radios. 
     Unfortunately I have no further information on one intriguing line – and there’s only one check so which one of us was it? -- “Breaking state law.” 


  1. This is priceless! Thanks for posting. CMS

  2. ROFL!

    You say that "Breaking state law" is lost in the mists of time (to my great regret as well as yours), but can you shed any light on "Entertaining while proctoring"? Who or what were you proctoring, and how were you entertaining? Several possibilities spring to mind, but do enlighten us if you can and will.

    1. The front door was locked at 8 pm, and we had assigned stints as proctors -- sitting at the front hall desk, unlocking for students and making sure they listed the time when they signed in. Proctors answered the (one) telephone, hit a code on the buzzer and if no girl came rushing downstairs, entered a note in the message book "Joan-- Ted at 9:10, wcb."
      (Will Call Back.)

    2. OK, that answers the question about proctoring, but I'd still like to hear how (or who) you were entertaining. Inquiring minds want to know--or at least want to know as much as you're willing to divulge in this forum.

      Incidentally, the 6-year age gap between my oldest sister and me illustrates the fault line in the earthquake of American morals very nicely. Peggy went to a state university that still had single-gender dorms, and the cry of "Man on the floor!" whenever a male appeared for any reason (e.g., my father toting up suitcases) was still heard. Six years later, I went to a small, decidedly free-wheeling private college in Florida--and not only were there no single-gender dorms, but cohabitation in the dorms was grounds for gossip rather than expulsion.

  3. I doubt you've forgotten anything, so I figure it was you who broke the state law.