May 10, 1897

May 10, 1897, [postmark]

Dear Sister,
Many thanks for the “pome.”* It is quite a piece of work. I hope your essay is in so near a state of completion. How is it getting along? And how is the valedictory: Let me offer my hearty congratulations to my smart sister. I hope they will all be done soon enough to give you plenty of time to practice them. What did you think of the long, long letter I sent home two weeks ago? You didn’t even say you enjoyed it.
Oh I must tell you about the elegant Barn Swallows [performance] that was given last night. It represented a district school and Mary Haskell was teacher – perfectly killing. There were about twenty scholars including faculty Sophia Song Harty (Sophia Chantel Hart, Ass. [ociate] Prof. in English), Mary Jane Lambe (Miss Wooley – bible Ass.[ociate} Prof. ) and Lottie Fith (Charlotte Fitch Roberts, Prof. of Chemistry) and the twins Misses Claypole, one of them was a boy. They looked so funny, dressed in short dresses, with white stockings, aprons, sun bonnets and with their hair down their back. But they were such fun. They opened school by singing “Home Sweet Home.” Such a racket, everyone in a different key just like a district school. ‘Twas Friday afternoon and so they had a spelling match. They adopted the phonetic principle of spelling. They sat down when they made mistakes (rather when the teacher considered it a mistake – no word was spelled right). Of course the faculty were the stars. They were made to spell words peculiar to their department. For instance, Miss Hart would spell “barbarism” improperly. Connotative “Carpenter” – the name of the man who wrote the Rhetoric we study). Miss Woolley would spell “Doxology”, “Jerusalem”, etc. etc. where they would make mistakes in those word, teacher would say “Why you oughter know how to spell that” etc. They were all very bad children, ate apples, chewed gum, etc. It brought the house down when one pupil piped up “Teacher, Sophia’s (Dr. Hart) chewing gum.” Dr. Roberts was awfully good. She was bad and had to come up to teacher’s desk. Mary Haskell then turned her around and pulled her down to a seat by her ears. How the audience howled. One of the Claypole twins made a picture on her slate. Teacher saw it and said “Now I’m going to write “This is me’on the slate and you must hold it in front of you and stand in the middle of the room facing the scholars. Miss Claypole did so but turned the picture around toward herself. Her twin then motioned to her to rub it up and down against her apron. This she did till ‘twas all rubbed out. Teacher would keep saying to Miss Woolley, “Mary Jane Lamb, you give me more trouble than any other child in school. “ The spelling match was finally finished and a darky girl was awarded the prize. She was a freshman and the prize was a book “Power through Repose” required of all freshmen. Then pieces were spoken. When Miss Roberts was called upon for a piece she came bashfully to the center of the room, made a deep bow and then walked calmly up to teacher’s desk and said “Here’s my piece” handing her a piece of apple. Miss Hart then attempted to recite “There was a little girl & she had a little curl.” But she got stuck in the middle and although all the scholars prompted her in stage whispers she couldn’t say it but broke down crying and went to her seat. Teacher was very sympathetic & said “Poor Sophia, you always do get so rattled, you’d be the best pupil I had if you only didn’t get so rattled.” A scholar then piped up “Teacher, I once knew a little girl who used to get awfully rattled but she got over it when she grew up.” Teacher seemed to think there was no hope for Sophia unless she tutored her for a while (English department had many tutoring classes. Once when Miss Hart was spelling, teacher said “Sophia Harty, you spell just like you write – with no punctuation nor nothing.” Criticisms on themes you know. Oh the whole performance was a “howling” success. Everyone shouted. I am sure that I never laughed more in my life and everybody else said the same of themselves.
I rented a wheel* and took a nice long ride one day this week. Such sport to ride again. I am looking forward to the summer. We have been getting up early before breakfast and going out and playing tennis. Such fun. We went out three times last week. Juniors elected their Senior President Thursday. Edna Patterson was the heroine and was loaded with flowers. They didn’t have such a time as ’97.
I suppose the parlor is nearly done now. How I wish I might see it. I am so glad that you got a mantel top. Is it ok? How is the sword fern growing now? Does Edith improve any? Will she stay all summer? What have you named the cats? Are they cunning? How many bicycles has Papa sold and to whom? Is there a chance for Carl’s having a wheel* soon? Do you read over my letters just before answering them? I don’t believe you do as the questions I ask are rarely answered. What is your bicycle suit?* My outing suit will make a good one for you, you know.
Agatha Lorna and I have just returned from a long walk of about three miles. We went around the lake and it was so hot. We got lots of flowers and some especially lovely anemones. We are now trying to cool off. I am today very much interested in “Mill on the Floss”. That is the book that I have chosen of George Elliot from which to write my final paper. I read Dickens “Old Curiosity Shop” you know but I haven’t yet decided which of the Thackeray’s I shall take. I enclose two crests for you, one is Amelia Lorna, Agatha’s sister, and the other is Joanna Stoddard Parker’s. Hope you will like them. Have you many new ones now? Just wait until I get my class paper and see if all your friends won’t want one, but – I am afraid they won’t get one. I enclose a few “Gobolinks”* that I made while trying to get my pen in good working order. I have got a new 10 cent one. Don’t you think they are pretty good? I like the family plan better than the single creatures at la St. Nicholas.

N.M. Mabel

Please send some stamps. I have not one. Please make “Wellesley Lyrics” up to Fraulein Tuesday without fail. Tell about your roommate. Send me a Clarionette. Why didn’t Mamma only get word of J’s father’s death a mail before. I should have been so glad to see her. Why don’t she go to Beverly via Wellesley now even if there isn’t any funeral to go to? They would be glad to see me.

*bicycle suit –an unskirted garment with baggy trousers/pants. It was designed so that women could ride a bike without getting their skirt caught in the bicycle spokes.
*gobolinks – ink blots.
*pome – fleshy fruit such as a pear, apple or quince.
*wheel – a bicycle.

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