May 29, 1898

May 29, 1898

Dear Mamma,
I am sorry to begin talking about money but I haven’t got a cent – am in fact 90 cents in debt and have got to buy material for the Line Day gown tomorrow. Thank goodness ‘twill cost only 50 cents I am going to be a butterfly. You know Line Day is a Senior and freshmen affair as Sophomores & Juniors have only to dress in fancy costumes. Last year we represented our examinations you remember and this year we are to be narcissus’ our class flower. But as too much of the same thing would be rather monotonous about twenty-five of the smaller girls are to be butterflies. Don’t you think ‘twill be a pretty sight? Most of the freshmen secrets are already out but I will wait till next week and tell you about it then, as Line Day comes June 3 – this next Friday – did you ever? Examinations begin the 9 – Float is the 14 and my last exam comes the morning of 15. Isn’t that dreadful? By the way has Horace gone to war? I promised to write him on the Float and he said he’d come if he hadn’t gone to war. I think we shall have to give up our seashore plan as we can’t arrange a time that all could go. Commencement is the 21 so we shall probably come home the 22
Our dance on the 23 was a great success and although ‘twill cost us each about $4.00 it was well worth it. The hall was really beautifully decorated. Most everyone said they had never seen the Barn look better after we had finished decorating it. I took a picture of it which turned out to be a great success. I enclose a sample. Notice the festoons* of red white & blue twisted paper. Notice also the girls standing in front of the clock – which you can’t see. She was timing me and strange though it may seem, she walked away and before I snapped it out, and you’d never know it. I forgot to mention that twas a patriotic dance, so the decorations were of flags, etc. The programmes were little beauties. They had the dearest little flag engraved in one corner and had white pencils attached to blue ribbon. They came from Duke’s Philadelphia so you can imagine their beauty. Most of our music was patriotic, “Marching Through Georgia”, “Dixie” etc. and twas the most beautiful dance music. Our Virginia Reel* was danced to a medley of national airs and when the whole thing was over the guests were sent home by the strains “My Country “Tis of Thee”. We had the most beautiful fruit lemonade. But twas such a bother getting the thing ready. Had to roll, cut, squeeze over 300 lemons, pick over twelve boxes of strawberries, cut up pineapple, oranges, & bananas. Of course there were a lot of us to do as the whole society came down & helped, but even then it took ages. Then the next day we had to go down & clean up, return all the portieres*, screens & cushions we had borrowed and if we weren’t tired! But everyone said twas of the season so we felt amply repaid. I just got back another doz films yesterday and they are all fine. Most of them were interiors and that is where I star, you now. I take the different girls rooms, they pay me for the film and I then get money to buy another film with besides getting the practice of taking interiors. Yesterday afternoon I went to a reception given by the Zeta Alpha Society and had a nice time. I forgot to tell you that I went to hear the Harvard boys of the Delta Upsilon Society give “The Shoemakers Holiday”, a revival of Elizabethan drama. It was given as presented before Queen Elizabeth in 1599 by Lord High Admirals Players. It was mighty well done and gave an excellent idea of the theatre in the time of Shakespeare and was well worth the dollar that I hesitatingly spent.
Your never could guess who is here. Helen Woodruff, my old Seminary friend. She is now a Junior at Smith. She is visiting Mrs. Cook, the head of Wood Cottage – or Wooden House, as one of the girls has her letters addressed by her brother. It is really good to see her again. She is coming over to tea with me tonight and we expect to talk over old times together. I was so surprised when she sent me word that she was here.
Please why do you tell everyone that I wear glasses? I’m displeased with you. I don’t wear them at all now and am only to wear them when I have a steady strain of work on hand. But they are really quite becoming to me and this is not my own opinion alone. As you seem very impatient to hear, they are rimless and nothing of which you need be ashamed. (N.B. this discourse on glasses is addressed to my sister, so please don’t feel uncomfortable about what I said, will you Mamma?)
I am still undecided as to what I shall take next year – and our elections must go in Wednesday. I went to see Dr. Roberts about my Chemistry and she advised me to take courses in it next year, as I had done very good work this year. That was what I wanted to do as I like it so much but wanted her opinion about it first. She is so lovely. Then I am going to take a course in Applied Mathematics, one of good practical benefit and recommended to all who intend to teach Mathematics. Then I shall take Economics or Political Economy as it is sometimes called, but am undecided as to my other course. I sort of find it my duty to take Pedagogics but don’t think I shall like the theoretical part that takes up half the year. I think it would de me more good to go into the class as a hearer the last part of the year when the different members present class & teach it before the others. I think it would be dreadful to get up before everyone and teach a class with the feeling that all were ready & willing to criticize every time you opened your mouth. I had rather wait till I teach my own class where instead of having everyone know more than myself, I would know a little more than my scholars. But if I went in as a hearer I could see how the different girls acted as teachers and could get the benefit of the criticisms. And I really think this would do me more good, so there. I have another three hour course to elect, and I am not sure what I want. I think of taking one hour of German, an hour Lit course & another one hour Logic or some such thing. You see my schedule is going to be pretty hard next year counting in all the Chemistry laboratory periods that are required. I know I ought to take History but it would make my course altogether too hard as History in not a special favorite of mine and I mustn’t make my course too hard as if I should flunk in my Senior year think how terrible it would be and Seniors have to pass 1/2 of their Senior work with credit. I have done this so far, have done it with a pretty good margin in fact but “an ounce of prevention is –“.
What a time you did have with Mr. Harvey! Seems to me he had been staying with you quite a good deal lately. Is that not so? That notice about the $7.00 Morris chair had disappeared and I don’t know whether I shall be able to get one or not. I have seen one for $3.00 but that is nothing we would want. I have been taking my pills faithfully and really feel very well. Don’t you worry, I sleep fine about eleven on.
I hope you haven’t let supper wait while you have read this. Oh, haven’t you got a girl yet? Poor Mamma.

Lovingly,
Mabel

*festoon – a string of decorations or garland suspended in a curve or loop between two points.
*portieres – a heavy curtain hung for decoration or to replace a door.
*Virginia Reel – an American country dance in which partners start by facing each other in two rows and perform various steps together following the instruction of the caller.

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