Dec. 1, 1895
Dear Mamma –
Had a fine time at Somerville as you can imagine but will begin at beginning. Maud Burroughs was going home then and I was going along with her so as to be sure of getting everything all right but she went at 12:19 and I couldn’t go until 1:49 because I had a class which lasted until 12:30. When I got to the depot it was crowded, certainly about 300 girls were there and what a rush there was for the train. I am glad to say that there were several extra cars on. Lots of the girls I knew were going on that train and we had a gay time in Boston. Then I went through the depot and saw Helen Davis (a Somerville girl) waiting for a car so I went up to her and went with her to Somerville. Mrs. Cole met me at the door and apologized for Amy’s absence for she had gone into Boston to see the Art Exhibition of the original drawings of the artists for the “Ladies Home Journal.” I got there about four and Amy didn’t get back until almost 6. Mrs. Cole told me all about her pleasant visit to Avon etc. and we had a nice visit. Amy reminds me more than ever of Fannie although she doesn’t look like her but her actions and little ways are just like Fannie’s. Uncle Joseph came that night. He appeared the same as ever but Mrs. Cole says that he is growing feeble. He says that he is coming to see us next summer and make a nice long visit. We had the loveliest quail for dinner, then what do you think we did? We went to the theatre in B[oston]. Have you ever been inside a Tremont Theatre? It is simply beautiful, elegant boxes, velvet curtains, etc. We sat in second row on first balcony, fine place. The play was “Puddin’head Wilson” dramatized from Mark Twain’s story “It was simply fine and such a treat for me. I wish I could describe it to you all.
The next morning Aunt Sarah came and before dinner George Lovett and his wife making a party of nine. About half past one we “sat down” to dinner and I suppose you would like to hear the menu. Turkey, sweet and white potatoes, squash, onions, cranberry sauce, celery, olives, etc., chicken pie, plum pudding, cider, wine, salted almonds, stuffed dates, oranges, bananas, nuts, raisins, etc. Wasn’t that fine? I hope you will tell me what you had.
After dinner Amy and I took a walk around Somerville, met some of her friends, etc. About seven we had supper topping off with ice-cream. Soon after we went to bed and talked. Friday morning Amy and I went into the city and I got a pair of shoes and sidecombs*. We also went into Hylers and had some delicious hot chocolate with whipped cream about an inch high on top. Then I left Amy and took the car for the depot and came across Maud Burroughs in it. Took the 11:05 for Wellesley and arrived there before noon like a good child as our vacation was from Wed-noon to Friday noon. Found my furs when I reached Wellesley and like them very much but as I said before, I shall hardly dare wear them as I should catch cold when I take them off. Had the seal skin collar ought to stand up? It won’t. A smile of suppressed amusement went around the chapel the other morning when the Dean gave out the announcement of a special prayer meeting in order to pray for Turkey. Oh, coming out of church last Sunday night met Jennie and her mother. They were just going to hunt up Bellair Ave. and me. Had they not come across me, as Mrs. Darling said, she knew she would feel it if you should come to Wellesley without going to see Jennie. However after talking a few minutes, having performed their duty in seeing me and knowing Bellair Ave. was twice as far away again as Fiske, they decided not to attempt the journey as Jennie’s foot could not walk so far, and left me. The girls who went to College Hall to dinner reported a fine time. At first they all went into the Faculty parlor and met Miss Irvine and Miss Stratton and then the resident girls came in and took them into dinner. Then they had after-dinner speeches and Prof. Benckebach got up and said, “I have been here 13 years. I have eaten 13 dinners this day…..” How everybody laughed! Afterwards someone was explaining her mistake to her and said, “Well, so much the better.” After dinner they all went up in the Gym and danced and Miss Irvine and Prof. Benckebach led off in Virginia Reel.
Joanna had a box yesterday. She had about 10 jars of fruit, lots of nuts and raisins, candy, pickles, etc. and last night we went down and got some crackers etc. Together with may apples we expect to give a spread some time this week. I like my dress so much. I think I shall get a black hat with green velvet on it for Christmas. I wish beside my plaid waist* I could have a simple school dress trimmed with buttons or sich. There are some good books which I must have for Rhetoric next term and I send a list so if you haven’t got them at home you can get a few for me for Christmas. Macauley’s Essays. Either Lowell’s Latest literary essays or “Among My Books”, “Mat Arnold’s Essay’s”, Ruskin’s “Lesenie and the Lilies”, and Carlysle’s “Hero and Hero Machibens ”. We are not required to have them all but only advised.
I like the fancy book you sent very much but I can’t begin to do it all as I have so little time. I am dreading those “Mid-years” so and fully expect to be conditional in several so you mustn’t expect very much. How are the invalids? Have letters to Fraulein, Jane, Carla, Alice, Susie, Anna and Gertrude so must close.
Had German exam Saturday. Guess I did pretty well. Wore my light dress to Somerville and took my silk waist* which I wore to theatre. Mrs. Cole said that Mr. Seeley did his duty in coming in and interviewing them. What is he doing now? Who is preaching? Tell about Helen? Tell Elsie to write longer letters. I hope Mildred will write too. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Dear Mamma –
Received the box Wed. in due season. It snowed Wed. and for the first time I took my lunch to school. When I got back I found that welcome box and four birthday letters awaiting me. As you can imagine I was a little excited and opened the box as fast as I could, but some of the nails were so obstinate. At last it was opened and I looked in vain for the one nice thing you said you had sent. But I couldn’t find it because they were all so nice. Now I will be very obliging and tell you just what I think of each thing. I was so tickled with the waist*. I hadn’t any idea of what you had got but it was much prettier than I expected. I like it so much. You can tell Mrs. Alford so. Then too I like the cape. I haven’t worn it yet and so can’t tell exactly if it suits me but it surely ought to. I like that green lining better than that old red stuff. And that nightdress* was such a surprise. It is lovely. I am rather ashamed to say that I didn’t think you could make such a beauty. That fan is dear and it was just what I needed for the Glee Club concert tonight. It is so dainty. I used to think that I didn’t want gauze fan because they didn’t give much wind but since I have seen this little beauty which gives lots of wind, I have reformed. It has such a dainty little pattern and the sticks are so exquisite. And those hooks. I too think that they are “just too sweet to live.” The violet one is just like Miss Penfield’s. I can’t decide which I like best, sometimes it is one and sometimes it is the other. By the way, I wish you wouldn’t send any more corsets*. I can’t wear out more than four in a year especially since I don’t wear them every day.
Now for the eatables! You know I always think of that cake especially when I haven’t had any for a long time. That new candy is truly delicious and the fudge you know I always like. By the way, that chocolate candy shall henceforth be called by its name “fudge.” Sending that was almost like sending milk to cows for Wellesley must have been the place where Marnie got it, for the girls make it all the same time here in their chafing dishes*. But as I haven’t any chafing dish, I don’t make it, so it was very welcome. And the dates and nuts were fine. That reminds me, Alice Kirkpatrick came down to see me and we ate nuts and we ate philopius give or take. I was going to give her one of my pictures if she won for she wanted one terribly. (The bad ones are not so awful). Speaking of pictures, she saw Cora’s and said, “What a pretty girl.” I said that she was awful smart and took down the picture & offered it to her and she took it, before she had decided what to give me should I win. Wasn’t she disgusted though! She hasn’t given me anything yet.
To think that I am eighteen! I tried all Wed. to imagine it. The only great change that has come over me as far as I can see is that my wisdom teeth are sprouting but probably that is only the natural result of being a college girl. I didn’t tell a soul that it was my birthday and so of course there was no celebration. Joanna guessed when she saw the contents of my box and asked why I didn’t let her know. The next day when I went into my room I found a little box of matches with “A Belated Birthday” written on it. We were both short of matches a few days ago so we decided that whoever remembers to get some for herself first should get two boxes and it happened that she got there first. That evening as a little private celebration I went up to college to hear a lecture given by Prof. Whiting. There was a notice on the bulletin board that she would demonstrate the new photography to her classes and any member of the college who was interested in the matter was cordially invited to attend. So of course I went and it was delightful. The place was so crowded that people brought in extra chairs or stood and the two passages to the room were blocked. It was such a success that Miss Whiting is going to give another lecture some day in the Current Topic hour. She told us lots of interesting things, i.e. that it was not the cathode rays that did the business but some rays which the cathode rays produced when they struck the glass, also that they were called X rays because they were “Unknown”. She showed us several experiments and explained the whole process of the photography. She had taken several pictures and magnified the plates on a screen. Afterwards we went up & saw the plates, took them in our hands and examined them. There was one of the human hand (Miss Chases, Miss Witting’s Assistant and some things in a purse and several other interesting specimens. I wish you could have heard the lecture, it was fine and it made a lovely celebration to my birthday.
Wasn’t it a shame that Anna couldn’t come either? She says that “Mamma thinks that I had better refuse as it is a bad time in the year and I am working pretty hard in school just now and I should have to either go home Sunday or early Mon morning so as to get to school.” That doesn’t strike me as a very satisfactory excuse, does it you? I was so disappointed because I had planned such good times. I had a chance to go up to College Hall this week but refused it. Now everybody at Mrs. Nyes had an opportunity and all refused. I also found out my application number, it was 521. Wasn’t that terrific?
Today being a holiday I invited the girls over last night to partake of the contents of my boxes. Those present were Sadie Fletcher, Leonora Barr, Gertrude Pearce, Olive Rosencranz, Grace Leonard, Maud Burroughs and a friend Emma Daget who came to attend the Glee Club Concert. All the other girls at Mrs. Nyes had gone home.
The concert is over. It was fine. We had good seats too for $.50. Third row in the Balcony. The first two rows were $.75. I wore my white dress with all its paraphernalia and Joanna wore the loveliest dress. It was light blue silk crepe trimmed with dark blue (not navy blue) velvet and narrow white lace. It was one of her Christmas presents and it was so becoming to her. You know she is a lovely blonde. So as not to be scared as I was at the Sophomore Reception, we ordered the carriage at half past six and then danced in the Gymnasium until the concert began. The stage was beautifully decorated with palms etc. and through the middle was a row of Japanese screens, black with gold figures. The girls staid behind these screens and came out from each end in two lines when it came their time to perform. They were all dressed in white muslin* and all looked very nice. There were sixteen in the Glee and thirteen in the Mandolin Club. The programmes were very pretty and had a W. pin on the cover. The Club sang Shubert’s Serenade with the Mandolins as accompaniments. As you can imagine that was lovely but not as nice as we heard last summer. They ended with a medley bringing in all the Wellesley songs, with other college songs and three songs that were not college songs. Miss Cushing, the Glee Club leader, had a large “bullet ball” of violets sent her and in one song she fastened it to her dress. It was enormous. It is no exaggeration to say that it was as large as her head. Think what it must have cost. It didn’t end until half past ten and we got home at half past eleven.
Our last theme was to write on some college course which we have been studying (English I ruled out) describing the methods, textbooks, aims of the course etc. in short to be so explicit that a professor in Western college upon reading the theme would know so much about it that he could introduce it into his college. I wrote the German which I am taking. When we next went to class it was announced that on the whole she was dissatisfied with the themes and all those who did not get “need not rewrite” on them were to rewrite and hand them in two weeks from that day. I was so disappointed as it is an awful bother to write themes over again, but I was surprised to find the following criticism on my theme when it was handed back to me. “On the whole a satisfactory piece of work as any you have done. (Ed. Note: That isn’t saying much however.) To be sure your sentences are often sadly ungainly and loose jointed. Your consideration of your subject, however is thoughtful, complete and well ordered.” Wasn’t that fine, that is the best criticism that I have ever received. That was corrector’s criticism and inside in Miss Hart’s writing was “Your work is certainly improving very much in method
and smoothness.” But what pleased me most were the magic words on the outside in Miss Hart’s handwriting “You need not rewrite.” Wasn’t I astonished! You could have knocked me down with a feather, but I was rather pleased.
Last Wednesday night the Beethoven Club gave their concert. There are about fifty I should say in the class and that too was fine. Monday afternoon eight girls from Wood Cottage gave a Colonial dance in the Gym. Of our girls only Hattie Atherton and Olive Rosencranz were invited. When we went to the Gym in the evening I danced before the Concert. As usual there were a good many of them there then and so we saw their costumes. They did not look so dainty with powdered hair, dear old dresses, etc. And they had men too. Some of the girls had hired colonial suits and were resplendent in white wigs with a cue*, white trousers & stockings, satin waistcoats*, silver shoe buckles, velvet coats embroidered with gold, etc. They did look beautiful. The Gym too was all decorated with screens, palms, ferns, couches, pillows and cushions galore. Tables etc. where chocolate etc. was served. Piano lamps and fancy lamps, the blinds were shut and artificial light was used. The whole effect must have been very dainty and picturesque. I wish I could have seen it at its height, the time that I have spent on you writing this letter, but it is not trouble wasted, it is to part pay for your past lovely letter and the contents of that “Wonder Box.”
With hosts of thanks and bushels of love to you all from your
“Aged” daughter Mabel
I do like very much to have you send the clippings.
*chafing dish – a metal pan or dish that is mounted over a heating device. It is used to cook or keep food warm at the table.
*corset- a snug fitting undergarment usually reinforced with stays made of whale bone, wood or metal and sewn into a casing on the corset. It was worn to support the bust and shape the waist and hips.
*cue – a twist or a braid.
*muslin – a loosely woven cotton fabric.
*nightdress – a night gown.
*side combs – a slightly curved comb used to hold a woman’s hair usually on the side of the head.
*waist – is a common 19th century term used throughout the Edwardian and Victorian period to describe the bodice of a dress, a blouse or a woman’s shirt. It was exquisitely designed and usually worn with a fairly plain long skirt.
*waist coat- a man’s vest.
Letters were made available courtesy of Wellesley College Archives.
Transcribed and footnotes added by Heddy Panik.