Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Past is a Different Country

     Well, I got down the cardboard box with the letters Norm had saved, from 1946 -- my senior year at college.  I was writing during class, which was held in a Quonset Hut.   Over the summer, the war just over, and the GI Bill promising to pay tuition and living expenses, Syracuse had promised to admit every returning veteran who applied.  Over the summer, enrollment had gone from 10,000 to 20,000 --
     hence the Quonset Huts.  I wrote that the side near the coal stove was warm, and I was wearing a mitten on the other hand.  
     There were men in class!  Not even boys -- men back from the South Pacific, from Europe, from the Battle of the Bulge -- and here's what I wrote --
     "The smoke in here is pretty thick -- seven cigarettes, one cigar and two pipes all going at once."
     The past certainly is a different country.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Can You Believe

Ran across this booklet in a bottom drawer -- I'd forgotten all about it.
In 1946 -- I seem to remember I was home for some school vacation -- I was contacted LONG-DISTANCE by the DEAN OF WOMEN -- would I, she asked, be interested in copy-editing and updating the (women's)
I was so impressed to be speaking with that august individual -- in the daytime! before the rates changed! --  so flattered to be asked, that it never occurred to me to ask if there was any payment involved -- so there wasn't.
Of course I did the job, and in time for reprinting before the freshmen arrived that September.  Syracuse's Chancellor had promised to take any veteran who applied, and over the summer the student body went from 10,000 (mostly women) to 20,000.  Those new students were fresh from at Iwo Jima , the Battle of the Bulge,  the liberation of Auschwitz -- and they made short work of the long-standing tradition that new students wore Freshman Beanies for three months.
I have no memory of the work I did on that booklet, though I still have the letter the Dean sent expressing her gratitude.  But I came across the old one the other day. 
 It was dated 1941.  Evidently mine would be the first revision -- first reprint -- since The War.  Paper had been so scarce -- like most everything else.  I have no memory of what guidelines I used, what changes I made, but anyhow, I wanted to show you the sentence that greeted me on the first page I just opened it to --

There is no dancing or card playing in the dormitory living rooms on Sunday.

The rest of that page makes pretty interesting reading too.  Those telephones, for instance, were coin (nickel) wall phones down in the entrance halls -- none of us had individual phones, which were unavailable anyhow like so much else during The War. And while the rules mention leaving the house after 11 o'clock, I remember that freshman girls had 8 pm deadlines, and could sign out for no more than three 9 o'clocks during a semester.  As is now obvious from the rest of that booklet, the main concern of that Dean of Women's Office was to see that as few of us as possible, in the days before The Pill, ever showed up pregnant.