June 1896

Saturday
June 1896, [postmark]

Dear Elsie,
Line day is over and oh such fun. I send you a paper with a busy account of it but please be sure not to lose it as I want to put it in my memory book. We all wore white waists* with full skirts of cheesecloth, pink, yellow, green and a pretty shade of purple. They were about 20 yards around but were gored* so that each breadth at the top was only about four or five inches wide. They hung in folds so that they did not look large until we held them out. We had little tapes on the side and kept out little fingers in them there. When we joined hands etc. our skirts spread out. You may be interested to know what I wore. My dress was yellow, a very delicate pretty shade and that white cheesecloth waist looked coarse besides it. So you mustn’t feel hurt because I didn’t wear it. I wore my new nightdress*. I ran narrow yellow ribbon in it. The skirt was empire and I put a string of smilax* as a heading. Wore my hair loose and curly with a smilax wreath and looked very well. We all gathered behind College Hall with our playthings. We represented merrymakers and so of course had playthings, jumping ropes and hoops wound with cheesecloth with colored paper to play battledore and shuttlecock with, toy balloons and footballs covered with paper or cheesecloth pips and paper covered pails of soapy water, tambourines, etc. When the time came for us to appear we ran hoppity-skip down the hill in a body of bright colors to the place where the Senior exercises were to be. Everyone was assembled there. Faculty and Alumnae in caps and gowns with hoods lined with the class colors, Juniors dressed as pretty flowers of tissue paper, Specials in Swiss peasant costume. The Sophomores were cut. You know domestic work is to be abolished next year so they appeared as domestic girls. Some wore dark dresses with chemistry heiroglifics , (don’t look at that word) over them as the girls who assisted in Chem. Laboratory, some wore great sweeping caps and gowns and brandished dusters and brooms etc. Some were waitressed in dark dresses with white caps and aprons and carried crumb brush and tray. Then the chapel windows were opened and as the music pealed forth, the Seniors marched in in cap and gown. Elsa Young, Senior President, gave address of welcome and then came the Senior play. It was so graceful and pretty. I will send a programme but please take special care of it as I want it for my book. After the play the day was given up to the Freshmen. While the audience were going over to our tree where ceremonies were held. Seniors, Juniors, Sophs. and Freshman marched all over the campus in winding line. We didn’t march but danced and hopped along jumping ropes & hoops, swinging each other, blowing soap bubbles, playing basketball, etc. Our exercises were very good indeed – everyone said so – and the girls did it beautifully. Then while the audience moved to top of hill where they could look down upon us, we had a circus ring on the campus. Each little division had a special thing to do with their various playthings. I was one of the hoop girls. We marched and moved our hoops, circled around with our hooped joined and our skirts held up and then formed for the Virginia Reel*. I was one of the lead girls. Two girls went from each end, and we went hoppity-skip. The audience applauded so when we finished that we went over it again hoppity-skip all the time. My but I was tired, hot and etc. But everyone said that it was the best thing on the campus then and we were the only division that was applauded. Then we all sat down and a party of twenty with fuller skirts rushed over the campus and gave a pretty skirt dance. They twirled and whirled and twisted their skirts and it was so pretty, the pretty colors on the green grass. Then came our great final dance. We joined with skirts up in two circles, one within the other and went through series of changes, grand right-left, skipping, star figures, right left, etc. in little circles of eights and fours. Then we joined hands in single file and Lucy Plympton (her skirt was white) led us in a great spiral corkscrew like this and that was the end. Then we had our pictures taken. I was in 3 groups, whole class and in hoop drills. You will probably see them soon.

Sunday
Then in the evening we went up in the Gym and danced in our costumes. ‘Twas such fun to wave our skirts as we waltzed etc. The Seniors went all around serenading all the houses and cottages. About ten a procession of ghosts appeared. They were all wrapped in sheets and the leader carried a candle and the others had lighted incense sticks. They were chanting a Latin dirge and beat time with shovels and spades which clattered very specter like on the stones. ‘Twas the Juniors who had burned their forensics and buried the ashes.
Everyone said twas a lovely Line Day and some people said twas the prettiest one they had ever had. The gay dresses flitting around in the sunlight over the green grass. I wish you could have seen it but no spectators were allowed not even any reporting so there isn’t very much in the papers. Oh but the whole thing was elegant.
Mrs. Parker is here now and I like her ever so much. Joanna gave her room and sleeps with me. I did have a gathering in my ear, a great big one which lasted a long time. But it finally broke and discharged beautifully and is all well now so that I begin to sleep some nights again.
Amy Cole sent me her picture. It is fine. It is time to send money again. I haven’t a full month to pay but you had better send $20, so that I can have some in my purse coming home. I bought a desk. It is rather small but quite pretty for the kind and price. It is nice oak and I got it for $3.00. There are lots of things offered for sale, pillows, curtains, couches, screens, chafing dishes, chairs, table spreads, etc. I am going around to look at them soon. I don’t take any exams in French so I got a matriculation card in it the other day. I have English & German next Friday. (Those two things will insist on coming the same day). Trig. the Tues. after (same day as Float) and Bible Wednesday and I come home Thursday. Have they put the 3:20 o’clock train on yet? We have to hand in our electives and schedule for next year next Tuesday. I have taken Math (2 year) German (4 year) Physics and Eng. Literature. The requirements are English, Bible and Hygiene. Here is my schedule as I expect to have it:

Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Sat
9:00 Physics Bible 2
9:55 Math 2 Math 2 Laboratory Eng 2
10:50 Physics Physics
11:45 German 8 German 12 German 11
Literature 1

1:30
2:25 Literature 1 Literature 1 Math 2
3:20 Hygiene

It was hard to make out the schedules so things wouldn’t conflict. But I am pretty well satisfied now. I don’t like where Math comes because all the other girls I know who are going to take it have it at 10:00. But if I wanted to take Physics I couldn’t, so I had to let it go. Leonora Rice is here and there was lots of visitors all over the grounds. I must stop now & go to chicken & ice cream dinner. Makes me shudder to think of it. It’s so cold today. Shall expect to hear all about Operetta. When does Clarionette come out again? Excuse scribble.

Lovingly,
Mabel

Wish me luck in those awful examinations.

*gored – the fabric is cut into a triangular shape and the tapered narrow part is sewn into the waist so that the wider part flairs out at the bottom, (the way an umbrella is shaped).
*nightdress – nightgown.
*smilax – is a slender vine that has glossy foliage and is often used as a floral decoration.
*Virginia Reel –an American country dance in which the partners start by facing each other in two rows and perform various steps together following the instructions of a caller.
*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.

Letters were made available courtesy of Wellesley College Archives.
Transcribed and footnotes added by Heddy Panik.