Daily Archives: February 24, 2015

Miss Jett Take Those Greeks Down

greek godsIn a previous post I told you the beginning of the story about landing on the front page of the Richmond newspaper.

Here’s Page 2 (love me some Paul Harvey.) Let’s begin with the follow up letter home.

Hi Family,

Well, everything was wonderful but am I glad it’s over. I am exhausted. We worked for 3 nights straight on our decorations and then put them up Thursday night in the freezing cold and finished putting up the rest Friday morning in even more cold – at 7 o’clock no less. But they looked so good. And I was so proud of all my girls. Everyone but 2 or 3 worked like Trojans on the things and really put forth an effort. Also every woman’s dorm (the men were too lazy) put up decorations – every last one!

Sharon & I went with the judges Friday afternoon & then had to sit there on pins and needles while they tore them all to pieces & not allowed to say a word. But finally after about 1/2 hour they picked us as best & Founders Hall as honorable mention!!

founders hall

Founder’s Hall

Pause in the narrative here to add that I left out of the letters home the fact that I figured a club sponsorship of the project would better impress dorm leaders as well as Dean Gladding and sold the idea to our Cotillion Club President Sharon Gates. And the club decided to award trophies to the winners. Sharon lived in Founders but honestly our two dorms did have the best decorations.

nash and me 909

909 leaders. Sandy Nash, my roommate, is center. I’m top right. I found this when looking for a photo of 909. I could only see Nash’s head in one of the clips I found about the house. That doesn’t look like Elisabeth Bocock I thought, it looks like Nash. The things you find on the internet.

Meanwhile the Senior Cits had been raising cain about the disgrace on their building. One old man even tried to take it down! Well Nash & I just traipsed right out there and tied it back down because the man was coming from the New Leader to take a pix which he did & it will be in the paper this afternoon. 

After that Sharon & I went to the Dean’s office to write our story for the paper. While we were there Deans Gladding & Johnson came in and asked me to go with them. It seems the Senior Cits had complained to Dr Oliver! So they came by the dorm to look, saw nothing wrong & left to see Dr Oliver. A little later Dean G came back & told me he said they had to come down. She said, “This is one time I don’t see eye to eye with Dr Oliver but I have no choice.” We were so mad! I was even madder because I knew we had won (no one else here knew). So then we decided we’d sorta leave it up til Saturday morning so we could at least get a pix of it.

Then Frances, Gordon & I went to the Press Club. When we got back Mrs Carter informed me that Dean G had called me & said we could not ignore the President’s request, so I marched upstair & cut the ropes. Then we took all the bedspreads (their togas) off of them and dropped them over the side of the porch.

Saturday morning:

I was rushing to get downtown to meet Buddy (8:30) when Thelma (maid) said that Mrs Bocock wanted to know what happened to the decorations. I was in a hurry so I told her to tell her that Dr Oliver had requested they be taken down & then I left.

mrs bocock houseMy dorm was such a unique place. Built in the early 1900’s  for Elisabeth & Frederic Scott it was patterned after Marble House (its style often compared to the White House) in Newport, Rhode Island which was modeled after the Petit Trianon in Versailles. Mrs. Bocock lived in the back upstairs and downstairs of the house but rented (not for money for community support) the front bedrooms to RPI for dorm rooms. I was one of the first thirteen girls to live there. The front downstairs parlour, sitting room and dining room were used during week days for a Senior Citizens outreach program. While they were there we were not allowed downstairs. We had to use the side entrance to come and go. But in the evening and on weekends all but the dining room were ours. This included the elegant stairs that split halfway up with a section continuing up on either side. I lived in the second floor balcony room, the one over the front door. It was a designed as a family sitting room. We had hand painted French wallpaper. Big red, white and blue plumes. The rooms on the third floor are hard to see in this photo. The one over the columns with the huge overlook was the family ballroom.

Well, when I got back (Buddy missed his bus & didn’t get in til 10:30 but I didn’t wait) Mrs Bocock asked me to please put the men back up!! If she only knew how hard they were to get up. It seems she had spent all morning talking to Dr O (and she was right in the process of cleaning house & had 1000 things to do) and he said to put them back up. (She loved them and wanted to get pix of them). So I woke everyone up & after a few groans they agreed to help. So once again we hoisted our men into place. Even after being dropped & mangled they were in good shape (in fact the pix I sent you was taken after they had been put back up again. Make sure Jett sees the pix).

We really caused a stir at dear ole RPI.

Also the picture was the only one on the front page of the Times-Dispatch Sunday! Front page! (The paper always had several editions. My copies probably did have just the one photo).

We were so glad because all those smarty senior cits will be bound to have seen it.

The dance was good. The boys looked so good in their tux. Frances had white gardenias & I had 8 yellow rose buds. 

We went to the Press Club before. A very plush place. Gordon is a member. All wall to wall carpeting, sofas, swivel chairs, soft music, etc. And they mix wonderful drinks. I love to go there.

I also had to give a speech at the dance about this decoration dealy. Fun. Frances accepted the trophy for our dorm & we woke up everyone when we came in to show it to them.

I’ll be glad when all gets back to normal even tho it was fun.


mrs bocock 2

My note from Mrs Bocock. I attached it to a book on her written by her granddaughter.

mrs bocock

Love the title of Mrs Bocock’s autobiography, Never Ask Permission. Perfect!

A few days later Mrs Bocock gave each of us living at 909 a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. She included a card that had a personalized note about how much she appreciated and enjoyed what we had done. She never really interacted with us, probably because she was far too busy but also she was probably keeping boundaries. I mean we could actually open a door on our hall next to the stairs that lead to her apartment. It was rarely locked. But we respected her too much to compromise her trust. She was a classy lady, our Mrs Bocock. And a champion for Richmond history.

We both made our mark on the Richmond landscape.




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RPI Revelry & Rebellion

I promised you the story about the first time my picture was on the front page of the Richmond newspapers but posting that turned out to have a few more twists and turns than expected. After searching in vain for the saved clipping, I gave up and tried another tack. A few years back my sister sent me all the letters I had written home during my college years that Mom had lovingly saved along with a trunk load of other correspondence.

Revelers Bigger JPEGThere within those stacks and stacks of letters (I wrote a lot) were details about this very story. Details that I had forgotten. Now even more than before I had to write the post, not that I was going to skip it but it might have ended up on the back burner. Still I needed the photo. The letters gave me the exact date the picture was published. (What Grandma was doing on your to be birthday fifty years ago Martin.) I decided that it was worth the fee for a day of delving into the newspaper digital archives, even with no guarantee, to try and find it. And by all gods Greek I found it on my first try.

A bit grainy but better than a few decades old clipping would have been. Where am I, you ask. See those funny looking paper mȃché guys top left? They belong to me and my dorm mates. We owned them, in so many ways. Rather than paraphrasing I’m going to really take us back in time and quote my letters home word for word.

Dear parents,

Well, we’ve really been busy this week. Sunday night Chris (girl in dorm) and I were playing cards when I noticed something odd outside. A group of kids with a ladder in the middle of Franklin Street putting up a huge sign. It said, ‘Welcome to RPI.’ Then a whole bunch of kids started collecting and dancing on the sidewalk (a girl in the dorm next door turned her stereo up quite loud). About 45 minutes later the police came (that’s what everyone had been waiting for all this time) and the crowd left but the sign stayed although against a city ordinance.

Interject here that our college was/is (now VCU and sprawlingly huge) located on the fringe of business Richmond. The area is called the fan because the streets fan out from downtown. Classes and dorm spaces then were in a group of random vintage buildings with no identification as such. We knew where everything was but any passer by would have no clue. btw That’s my dorm in the photo. Back to the letter.

So Chris and I started thinking about how much fun it would be for all the dorms to put up outside decorations for the dance like home coming. So Monday we asked the dean and she said okay. So I got on the phone (by the way we have free phones now. The number is 353-2711 ext 351) and called all the dorm presidents and told them to have house meetings and join the competition and everyone is! Ours is so great. We have 2 huge gods made of chicken wire and paper mȃché. The dance theme is ‘Winter Dionysia’ so our theme is a great big drunken brawl. One god is hanging over the top balcony (3rd) floor reaching for grapes-the columns are grape vines. And another is sitting on our balcony eating and drinking. They are 20 feet tall and huge. We have been working like trojans for the past 2 nights. My poor hands are so sore from cutting chicken wire with scissors. We also have a few hands and feet showing up on the 3rd floor balcony. The grapes are made of balloons and the vines are crepe paper. We decided to get up at 5 o’clock Friday morn to put it up and so to make sure everyone gets up I’m going to have a fire drill. Isn’t that mean.

I was the dorm president, I got to call fire drills.

stampsBuddy came down this weekend & stayed with Gordon. We watched TV Friday nite. Went to a Sigma Chi party Saturday. Sunday we bowled. 

I dyed a pair of shoes that Ann gave me yellow to match my dress & they look very good. 

I finished reading Fountainhead & it was very good.

Must sleep.



Next post, how we came to be on the front page of the Sunday newspaper.

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