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Peter, Paul & Mary and ME

Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey, Mary Travers

Nephew Jake sends a text this evening asking if I was ever a fan of Bob Dylan. I laugh and tell him he’s opening a can of fun worms. I dig out my epiphany post and send it to him. He then asks about Elvis. Nada there but I tell him I do have an awesome PP&M story and wander over to my blogspot world to dig it out to move over here.

I first *meet* Peter, Paul & Mary when I am a green freshman in college at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The monied gals all belong to Columbia Records Album of the Month Club. You get mailed their selection or one of your own. Most gals opt for Columbia’s selection and so it lands on Peter, Paul & Mary to be the chosen album for September or October 1962, I forget which one, the weather is still nice though. I did not have enough money to buy albums then but get a lot of free listening as most dorm room doors stay open all of the time.

After college, which involves my moving to Richmond Professional Institute in Richmond, Virginia in my sophomore year as my folks have left Ohio and out of state tuition is pretty steep but more than that my family too far away, I buy every PP&M album available.

And then, happy day for me, I read that PP&M are coming to the Mosque, THE venue to be at in Richmond in those years. My apartment and work mate Sherrie and I make plans to go. As the day of the concert approaches our plot thickens. I know the Mosque pretty well. All of our college dances and those of MCV (Medical College of Virginia) are held in the opulent basement ballroom. Concerts of all kinds are held upstairs in the massive domed theater complete with two balconies and box seats. There I saw Bob Dylan, Roger Miller. I weaseled my way into a Sam & Dave concert. The Mosque and I have spent many grand hours together. Back to my PP&M story. Sherrie & I want to talk to them, meet them, rub shoulders with them after the concert. But we don’t want to walk home late at night by ourselves even if our apartment is only a few blocks away. So the afternoon of the concert we park my Carolina blue Volkswagen Beetle, Velma, vintage 1962, in the Mosque proper parking lot. It is legal but there is only room for about a dozen cars.

We are ready! The concert is all that we expect. Just the three of them on that huge stage owning the show. Well there is one more, Dick Kniss, their bass player. He is always introduced but remains well separated from the group even though still on stage. That was it, no fancy lights, good sound but no headsets, just acoustic guitars. You know the picture. Simplicity delivering quality music. Then near the end of the sold out concert, Mary announces that as much as they would love to stay and chat, they have to get to Baltimore to catch a plane. They have not one minute to spare. We are all crushed but that is that.

Concert over, Sherrie & I head through the packed crowds thronging the sidewalks. Bumper to bumper traffic clogs the streets surrounding the Mosque. We sigh, we are never going to get out of our tiny parking lot any time soon. Still we forge ahead and beg with Velma’s vintage charm to let us out of the lot. Some kind soul does. We are now part of the bumper to bumper traffic. Suddenly a head pops out of the car window in front of us and yells back to me, “Do you know how to get to the interstate?” Sherrie and I gasp! It’s Mary!!! PP&M are (beat) in front of us! They need our help!

“Sure!” I call out. I hand wave them to a quieter side street close by and our cars switch places. I am thinking fast. I never use the interstate much; old car, not much gas, working girl, all spare money spent on music. I think I remember how to get there. We twist and turn through the fan streets. Surely they think I am taking them on a wild goose chase, but what choice do they have? They are trusting…ME!! Completely forgetting about the Belvidere Street on ramp only minutes from the Mosque, I am taking them to the Boulevard Street ramp. It really is fine though because they will have lost no time, we’re going in the right direction. We get to Broad Street, only a few blocks more to the Boulevard and I-95. We need to turn left. There is a lit no left turn signal. I wave to them to turn anyway as I am doing, certain a cop is going to ticket us any minute even though there is absolutely no traffic anywhere. We are lucky. No cop, interstate ahead. We scoot onto the on ramp, as they do. They wave as they zoom past us in their snappy new car that can move. We consider following them. But, we have no gas, we have a pathetic car for a chase, we go home. We cannot let it go. A few hours later, we have a plan. We call the Baltimore airport and explain that we need to page Mary Travers. We have a message for her. They page her (this is 1967). Mary comes to the phone, surely thinking something is wrong with her family. No, it’s the crazy girls from Richmond. How can we get in touch with you? She is civil. She gives us an address. That’s our Mary.

After Donny and I get married we see them together in Richmond and we even chat with Mary through the window of her dressing room. Us outside in that same tiny parking lot standing on tip toe on the loading ramp that lets you get fairly close to the barred window. Close enough to shout.

We take the kids to see them before we move to North Carolina, again at the Mosque.

And we see them one more time at Wolf Trapp in Virginia in the mid 90’s. Donny has the cool story this time. He hung out with Paul, for real. I am taking a cranial-sacral training course and as PP&M are going to be in town we get tickets to the concert. Donny has time on his hands while I am in class. Here is his story about how he spends that time…with Paul Stookey! “In one of the local handout papers I read that Paul is teaching a songwriting class the afternoon before the concert, and I go to it! There are only 5 or 6 other people there, and mostly we just talk about music.” Can you imagine? You and Paul and a handful of other people, sitting around talking about music. How cool is that!

Thank you Peter, Paul & Mary. I cherish the road we traveled together.

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You Will NOT Go Gently Into the Night

Our room is on the second floor where that curved tiny balcony is located. Bobbie and her roommates are directly above us in the ballroom behind the flat roofed perfect sun porch only accessible by climbing out a window, which we did, of course.

An earlier blog post of mine focuses on my cousin Ray’s suicide that occurs in my formative years. It makes an impression on me that might be described as an epiphany.

After the fact I do not dwell on it, but the sharpness of the memory stays with me still. As a curiosity, only to be sure my memory has not blurred or even switched things around, I confirm the details with my cousin, Lewis Vaughan Mills. He assures me that I have it right. He says that he has not thought about Ray in years.

At the end of my post about Ray, I add the usual eternal hope of us all, that if this helps one person, Ray’s death will have served a purpose. Perhaps it did. I offer you another personal experience with suicide.

This time I’m in college. In Richmond, Virginia. My dorm is a beautiful White House inspired piece of architecture. It is Mrs Bocock’s house on West Franklin Street, 909 to be exact. Today it is part of the VCU campus offices but in my time it is Mrs. Bocock’s private residence. Always short on dorm space, the college quickly accepts her offer of the front rooms in this magnificent house for housing.

I am one of the lucky few girls who get to live in this amazing palace. The first year it is home to us, only the front of the second floor is ours. Mrs. Bocock lives in the back of the house, upstairs and down. The first floor is for the daily activities of a senior citizens group. We are allowed to use it after they leave and before curfew. The second year more rooms are opened up, on the third floor which used to be a ballroom and servants rooms complete with a full kitchen.

It’s the mid-sixties, I am dorm president. One night late I am awakened by several girls from the room above ours. Theirs is the biggest room having been the ballroom. Fours girls are assigned to this room. It could have held more.

“Jett, Bobbie has locked herself in the bathroom and is threatening to slit her wrists.” I leap out of bed. Not on my watch. I dash up the circular metal stair case installed for a second access to the third floor in addition to the huge wooden stair case in the back of the house and into their room. A cluster of girls is gathered around the bathroom (each room had its own private bathroom) door yelling at Bobbie to open the door.

I move them out of the way and tell them to be quiet. I give them the sharpest evil eye I can muster. It shuts them down immediately.

“Bobbie,” I call through the door easing down onto the floor so I can talk in a soft voice to her. I hear muffled crying. We begin an exchange. We are friends. We have a history. We’re beer buddies. Neither of us is one to deny a pitcher of beer at Andy’s to share around. I’m used to calling her by her last name, Carlyle. Probably because Nash and I go by our last names. We tag favored girls in the dorm by their last name. They are our posse. But Carlyle is for lighter times, it doesn’t seem to fit here, so I use Bobbie. I beg her to come out. But I do not push. I let her pace her thoughts.

At some point one of the girls says that she is going to get Mrs. Carter, our very southern, straight as an arrow, prim and proper dorm mother. “No!” I hiss. “Do. Not. Get. Carter.” I know without a doubt that Mrs Carter will exacerbate the situation and only further agitate Bobbie, who does not cut Mrs Carter any slack.

I’m (third from right) teaching Bobbie (third from left) and other willing dorm mates how to play bridge.

Bobbie and I continue to dialogue. We are making progress. The crying has stopped. I hear the lock click and the door inches open. I get on my knees and begin to rise. Bobbie is standing there at the sink, apparatus at hand. She slowly turns to me. I am standing now, but I do not move toward her.

I do not speak. Now is not the time. I so want to, I am desperate to really talk to her. I have no clue what precipitated her decision to end her life. I need to understand. I reach out my hand to her. We will talk this out and make a plan. We’ve got this.

But someone has alerted Mrs Carter and she in turn has called EMS. They burst into the room just as Bobbie and I are connecting. They hustle me out of the way and grab Bobbie. They strap her down on a gurney to wheel her away. We tearfully look at each other. So many said words. So many more unsaid.

We learn that Bobbie is taken to a close by psychiatric hospital on Grace Street. It is small with a wrought iron fence and pretty shrubs. It doesn’t look like a hospital. It could be mistaken for a home. I purposefully walk by it. I want to visit. But I don’t know if Bobbie is ready for me. I think that she might feel like I tricked her into leaving the bathroom thinking that I knew all along medical intervention was coming.

Bobbie doesn’t comes back to school. I never give up hope that she starts over somewhere fresh. It will always be unknown how serious she was about ending her life; she did tell her roommates what she planned, a certain cry for help. Bobbie is a lesbian in that raw time of misunderstanding. Truth be told she’s probably more a trans, she doesn’t like anything about being female; but, that birthright is not part of sixties vernacular. Bobbie simply reaches a brink that she can not navigate beyond. I like to think that my cousin Ray helps me know how to guide her back from the edge.

 

 

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The Girls of 909 West Franklin St

909

Sandy in front of 909 standing under our balcony room.

Current VCU campus rumor has it that we were hand picked by Mrs Bocock to live at 909. When we are told this at our reunion dinner we all laugh. The unspoken thought that floats through each of our minds is, “Hand picked? Cannot imagine how I got on that list.”

Elisabeth Holmes Bocock is a force of nature. She lives as a widow in her parents antebellum home on W Franklin Street in Richmond. The house was then in the heart of the VCU RPI campus. Good friends with school president, Dr Oliver who resides across the street with his lovely wife in his own mansion, she graciously offers the upstairs front rooms of her house (she lives in the back section) to the school for their use. Dorm space is needed and so the rooms are outfitted for a handful of girls. I am one of the first thirteen girls to live in this mansion. Previously I have been offered a single room in another dorm house on Park Avenue but turn it down as being too cramped and small.

I have already done the cramped room tour with incompatible roommates my freshman year at Miami in Ohio. Never again. Besides, I am living in my grandmother’s home at 6416 Three Chopt Road in the west end. I share a room, a big room, with my 5th grade cousin. We are well suited roomies. I am in no hurry to move. My uncle might have been in a hurry for me to move as I play my Beatles album over and over and over and over again. That was when it and they were new. I still have it.beatles

I learn at the reunion that 909 was closed as a dorm the year after I graduate. Sandy has to move to Monroe Terrace, a high rise old apartment building turned into dorm rooms, and is miserable. She gets an apartment as fast as she can.

Such a small window of time to experience the splendid glory of life at 909. We know we have it good. But we are in college, a lot escapes our radar. During the reunion dinner held in our old dorm, now a school culture center, we marvel at all the beauty we missed or so took for granted that we barely saw it.

When Frances (Bolton Wilkins) calls to suggest gathering at the reunion can be fun, I stall. Could be fun but an entire weekend. Sandy stalls too. Then we chat and agree to go together. We laugh at the fact that her picture is in the middle of the photo montage used for every segment of publicity for the reunion. She is on all the mailing material. She is on the website. She is everywhere. But that is typical Sandy. She never seeks attention. It comes to her.

Frances is delighted that we are committing. She has a bevy of other 909/RPI girls signing up too including Barbara (Buskell Davison) who rooms with Sandy and Alicia after I graduate. That is after we stealthily move all of her belongings from her other dorm to our room because we know that she needs to be a 909 gal. It’ll be a grand party. I email the amazing worker bee Diane Stout-Brown that has put everything together to thank her for all her hard work and add that she will have a contingency of former 909 residents at the dinner. It is a grand evening. Well, until Barbara provides the requisite gal reunion drama by unintentionally leaving her purse in our now locked room upstairs. Chris has left with the only keys. Diane works her magic and the drama is short lived. Just a token 909 antic.

our room door   bathroomwatercloset909 bathroomsandy and chris   balconyfive of usentertainmentdorm dome   purse searchsingserenade

When we arrive at the dinner I introduce myself to Diane and she says to stay put. She has a surprise for me. She comes back with a guy and introduces me/us to him. He is Chris Ritrievi, Senior Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations and has keys to the offices, his included, on the roped off second floor. He begs us to disregard his office mess and leads us upstairs. We are having our own private tour! We are a group of about ten plus a few that get wind of what is happening and join us.

Up the beautiful splint staircase we clamor (there was no carpeting in our day). Chris opens the first door. It’s my original room. It’s much smaller now because when they put in a spiral staircase to the third floor (more rooms for girls) for a fire code second exit it took part of this room. Frances and Maureen live here after I move across the hall. Chris cannot show us the adjoining bathroom (because it it out of commission) where we used to climb out the window and sunbath on the roof. That is until we got in trouble with the Dean of Women. But Mrs Bocock tells her that it is fine and we resume our golden disk worship.

The next room, Chris’ office, is a huge corner affair. None of us spend much time here. The girls are on a different focus from us. All the rooms adjoin via interior doors. Our room is next door through a small inner connecting hall. To one side of the tiny hall is a shared bathroom that we pretty much claim as our own. Those corner girls can share the other bathroom. It’s just as it was then. The water closet. The big tub. Sandy and I both remember it as a claw foot. It’s not but it is deep with one of those tall porcelain shaft stoppers. (My grandmother’s are exactly the same.) “No shower?” someone asks. Nope. “How did you wash your hair?” Probably stuck our head in the running water of the tub.

And then we step through the doorway into our room. We know the French hand painted wall paper went years ago. But the room is just as we recall it. The balcony. The twist and turn secret passage like closet with a door in our room, in the tiny hall and in the adjoining the room we just left. Totally occupied by those corner room girls. We settle for metal free standing things the college gives us. I change to this room that second year because Betsy, the girl already in the balcony room, and I are good friends plus my roommate Jane (Winters Wise) is leaving school at the end of the semester. Mary Ann Sturgis (Nassawadox native ferry ride and all) has already left midterm.

Enter roommate number three, Sandy, a freshman. I get a letter from her that summer naming all the things we have in common. Our names. Sandra Lee and Sandra Leigh. Our home towns. Rockwell and Rockville. It is a match meant to be. We become instantly Jett and Nash, so decided by me to avoid confusion but also because my Dad and his best friend in college went by Jett and Leggett and I thought it exceedingly cool.

When Betsy gets married on the spur of the moment in early January (I vow in a letter home that if anyone else dares to get married during exams I will shoot them) we quickly turn her bed into a sofa in fervent hopes that the school will not assign another girl to our room. It works, just us for the balance of the year. About that wedding. Betsy is engaged to a guy, Ronnie, from VPI. We talk her into going out on a blind date just to get out of the dorm. With Jack Bruce, Gordon’s (dating Frances and also Sandy’s first cousin) roommate. They fall madly in love and truth told no stretching it (letters home confirm) get married in a church with a posh hotel reception the next weekend. Poor Ronnie. He shows up that first date weekend with roses in hand to surprise Betsy (it was one of their anniversaries). Betsy will not see him. It falls to one of us to break the news. Talk about drama. The next year Alicia who lives in the ballroom on the third floor joins Sandy and myself. Then it’s just one more year and 909 as a dorm is closed forever.

A small window in time when we were The Girls of 909.

A composite I made one winter break when I was the only one in the dorm and bored to tears

A composite I made one winter break when I was the only one in the dorm and bored to tears

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inner Beauty Won’t Get You Free Drinks

beauty 2

SandraBallART on Etsy

The best I do is make a weak effort. And follow the mantra of my grandmother. She’d powder her nose, put a dab of lavender water behind each ear, eye herself in the mirror and declare, “That’ll have to do. I’ll just rely on my charm to get me through.” Nothing wrong with that.

And then I meet Sandy. Diametrically opposed best describes my college roommate and me. She is a real southern beauty. She spends time on perfecting perfection. It works. All her prep time results in a look that oozes effortlessness. She has it down to a science. That beauty thing. But the best part, she doesn’t made a big deal or any deal about it all. She just knows that a good presentation is worth the work. And people notice.

rpi weekend

RPI Reunion Weekend 2015

Recently we get the annual mailing for our college reunion. I look closely at the pictures. It looks like Sandy right there front and center. Later when I talk to her she asks if I’ve seen the mailing. “Is that you?” I ask. She acknowledges so and we both laugh over the hair. She has nothing to do with the mailing or the photo choices but there she is because the effort she made that day is on solid ground. It still sells.

I learn a lot from her. Even now years later and all of those in between, if I feel too lazy to make an effort, I say to myself, “Nash would do better.” We become known as Nash & Jett because two Sandra Leigh’s, imagine the odds, just doesn’t cut it. And I’ll take a few more minutes to primp and enhance that outer beauty.

Inner beauty depends on the best you can give the outer to help it shine. Just that simple. Thanks Nash!

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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.

Love,

JaJa

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

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The Night Was Starry

Recently daughter-in-law Terri sent me this photo with her comment, “Now I want to build this!” She could, she’s a puzzle master. They were at LEGO-palooza in Chapel Hill.

starry night lego

 

It brought to mind the first time I saw Van Gogh’s A Starry Night. I was an art student but truthfully a dedicatedly lackadaisical one. I sort of knew about the greats but having successfully skirted art history classes (that meant work) specific details were pretty hazy. Maybe this was a good thing. Read on.

I was on a day field trip to Washington DC from school, which was RPI in Richmond VA, with fellow art students and instructors with the sole purpose of seeing lots of art. And we did. We toured the big museums at record speed, had lunch and proceeded to our last stop, a gallery in Georgetown that was having a special exhibit.

It was crowded but not annoyingly so. I browsed through the several small rooms circling back to the main one which wasn’t much bigger. Suddenly something caught my eye. “What is that?” I wondered. I wandered closer. My breath was taken away. I had no idea what I was looking at but it was captivating. I read the title card.  It was A Starry Night. “THE Starry Night?” I wondered out loud. I did know of the piece but for something so revered, so commanding in the art field, I expected it to be bigger. “It’s so small.”

It really wasn’t that small but nevertheless sitting in quiet repose among other lesser known works it shone ever so much more brightly. I cherish that I experienced this amazing art in such a serendipitous way. It was absolutely magical.

moma starry night

And then for my 70th birthday this happened. Thanks to an all nighter by Lewis & Hilarey using tiny forks and infinite patience. Photo credit to good friend and professional photographer Jim Trotman. Photo session a birthday present from the kids.

birthday cake

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