Keeping a Journal

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Baby-sitting at the piano in our home in Chevy Chase, MD, in 1952 and Miss Lucy - my cat that came to the Virgin Islands with me.

 

With Carol O'Harra at our 20th College reunion - We had a Girl Scout troop together in 1960 at college.  Above her I am shown with my "brick" in the fireplace wall.

 

Our Kappa Class of 1961 in 1986 - a wonderful reunion.  We had our 45th reuinion in 2006 and have remained good friends during all of these decades.

 

The way the KKG house looked when I was at university -  all wonderful journal entries that I still re-read today.  Journalling has really become a " fun"  part of my life.

 

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REUNIONS - written in 1996

 

I remember university as a very content time in my life.  In reality it most probably wasn’t. No doubt, I had more than my share of bad days, unwanted grades and heart breaking love affairs during those years, but on the whole I elect to remember it as a particularly positive time in my life, a very blithe and well recalled experience.  Despite these feelings, I have only chosen to attend one reunion since graduation, that of my twenty-fifth.  Pangs of doubt plauge me now, ten years later, upon the possibility of returning, once again, to that scene of so many wonderful illusions.

The campus itself is not what I yearn to return to.  Like all other small, academic, conservative campuses of the  fifties it was quite beautiful, with century old ivy covered walls, buildings occupied by sedate seats of learning, pathways to and from knowledge.   In most probability, it will always appear  the same.  New buildings will be constructed while some of the older ones are spruced up.  Graduates will  come and go, adding status and new ideas to America’s infrastructure. But basically the institution I remember so well will still serve as a proper and academic undergraduate education for some two to three thousand young men and women a year, teaching the humanities and sciences.  

 

I recall those rooms and hallways as they used to be.  Years ago I  dreamily gazed out of grey windows while trying to pay attention to the lectures at hand .  Our professors were often experts in their fields, but the giant maples outside of Asbury Hall offered  greater distractions and at times daydreaming became my number one major.

 

In the fifties, many smaller universities were organized around Greek living.  There were so few dormitories on campus that most of the students chose to live in fraternities or sororities.  This was before Vietnam when brothers and sisters carried a slightly different connotation.  

Upon arriving at the university for orientation week, we were also subjected to “Rush”.  At the time I thought it perfectly horrid to expose such, then innocent minds, to this discriminating hypocrisy.  I still do, but I then kept my opinions to myself and went through the process with seemingly satisfying results.  

At that time there were ten sororities and thirteen fraternities on campus.  Since all entering freshman had to be in the top tenth of their high school graduating classes (before SAT tests) and were required to have four years of English, history, mathematics, science, etc., it really didn’t seem to matter much, to my way of thinking, who pledged what sorority or fraternity.  We were all pretty neat kids.  Oh, I remember scenes from Jeanne Crain’s “Take Care of my Little Girl” showing all of the sanctimony and bigotry of Greek living, but that didn’t seem to be relevant on our

campus.

 

After the big to-do of Rush, everyone rather settled in nicely to their own pledge classes and the rest of the year was divided between learning about communal living, studies, the opposite sex, and how to forge a way off campus for an overnight.  These were the days of “all girls” housing having very strict hours while the boy’s had none--I use girl and boy because we were so very young, no matter how worldly we felt at the time.  The opinion of the faculty was that if the girls were safely confined to quarters, the boys would be too.  Basically, it worked.

I spent the next years at university supposedly in preparation the life I am now leading.  Anyone knowing me would agree that the only preparation for the life I now live would have been to enter the Naval or Coast Guard Academies, as I now own a sailing vessel with a “mad computer expert/sailor” and spend my time living on the sea and writing  in obscure Caribbean waters.  

At any rate, during my freshman year I resided  in the compulsory dorm housing, with its many varied activities, of which I was Social Chairman, and its just as many “panty raids” and other sources of raunchy delight.   Happiness filled me  when the beginning of my sophomore year finally arrived and I could move into the huge, imposing  white columned sorority house.  I had worked as a Girl Scout Camp Counselor during the intervening summer and was eagerly awaiting  the sophistication of Greek living, with it’s secret initiations, the wearing of the pin, evening song fests, fraternity serenades and “bum” room necking.  At the time, those activities seemed as important as a career, which I then regarded as “way down the road.”

In the basement of our sorority house there was a huge red bricked fireplace.  It covered an entire wall.  Upon initiation each initiate was awarded her own individual brick on which she painted her name, in personal artistic style, thus rendering her a mortal place in the history of Greek living.  The university allowed only twenty students a year for membership into each fraternal system.  This being a small number, there was always room on the extensive brick wall for yet another pledge class.  As I had largely forgotten this ritual, I was totally astonished upon returning, twenty five years later, at the number of names on the fireplace wall.  Most of my pledge sisters also attended that reunion and I remember that finding our individiual bricks was the most fun of all.

 

This year, however, as I discover the 35th reunion rapidly approaching I find myself with confused, mixed feelings.  Our pledge class is very close.  During the three and one half decades that have passed since graduation, we have never  missed a summer  newsletter where most contribute.  Those that are unable to write one year will remember the next.  In this way we are able to keep up with all of our families --  births, deaths, illnessess, careers, marriages, divorces, lovers, travels, drugs, hobbies, homes, children, grandchildren, their achievements, their lovers, their spouses, their drugs, their travels, their careers,  their mid-life crisis, our mid-life crisis, our bankruptcies, our alcoholism, and every sort of petty crime but murder.

Because of this totally and honestly revealed annual manual of written information, I feel that I now know my pledge class fairly well.  This is what I want to reunite with  Being in charge of the 25th newsletter (a different sister takes responsibility each year) I made the suggestion that we meet somewhere, before the reunion itself, for a couple of days.  This worked out beautifully as one of our class mates had a large lovely summer home on a nearby lake and graciously invited us all to spend four days before the actual university reunion began.

This worked out really well.  We were as we are.  Talented, stylish, intellectual, caring, women reuniting to spend some time remembering the fun of when we were not all of these many and varied individuals.  Since most of us had been roommates, at one time or another during those years, there were many funny antidotes to recall.  We laughed, cried, hugged and inwardly cringed the entire time at the lake house.  We took hikes, waterskied, went out for dinner, drank, gossipped, cried some more, rated and berated the happenings of our lives, all without the presence of husbands, lovers, children, parents, relatives or friends (other than ourselves)

Not surprisingly, the university reunion several days later, wasn’t nearly as much fun.  In fact, it was a great let-down.  I want to remember the campus as it was.  I want to know my pledge sisters as they are.  

This year my sorority pledge class and I will not be reuniting together beforehand.  Therefore, I will not be attending.  It is not worth the extra expense, travel, time and uncertainty of assertaining what I already know.  Memories are illusions --illusions fall into retrospection.  I choose to keep my life as it is, without further time warp, and consider myself lucky, indeed, to have twenty such loving women adding to the fiction of my life.

 

Fortunately, for me, I changed my mind and did attend.  Although I was only there for a short while I truly did enjoy seeing everyone and am very glad that I made the big effort to attend.

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I began keeping a journal as soon as I could write, although it may have presented itself in another style.  At 5 (top left) I was writing short post cards to my mother and leaving them on her dresser.  They told of what I was doing in five words or less.  

 

By the time I was 12 and had a "formal" birthday party (above & right) I was keeping a diary.  Betsy Manning (top right) was my best friend and I would fill the pages of my diary with a variety of activities taking place in our "club house" located in the garage behind our Dallas home.

 

At 13 (below) I had given up my feminine ways and was a complete rebel.  My mother always said that this was the worst year of her life.  Of course, at that age I LOCKED my diary and Jim, my younger brother, risked his life even going near it.

 

We moved from Texas to Indiana when I was 14.  The move was one of the most traumatizing events of my life and I spent hours weeping in my diary about the loss of my Highland Park Junior High School friends.  Eventually I made friends in my new school where I was the associate editor of the school paper with a column called "Its Just Terrell-bull" - gossip much to my regret.

 

Diaries gave way to proper journalling when I went away to university in 1957.  All women need to live away from home before they marry or begin their careers.  Life at DePauw University, in Greencastle, Indiana, was wonderful as evidenced by new friends.  Miss Indiana, Anita Hursh, was a pledge sister (left).  In the photo here she was visiting my brother, Jim, on his 14th birthday who was sick in the hospital with mono.  I was still keeping a journal upon graduation  and continue to this day.  My granddaughter, Lauren, received a diary from me on her 11th birthday and I am sure that she enjoys journalling as much as I.  Here's hoping she will encourage her daughters also.

 

Some of my writings, outside of my journalling, can be found on the website below -

http://www.allatsea.net

By this time, you probably know more about me and our family than you ever intended or wanted to know.  Still, this is our  page and pretty pictures don't really tell the behind the scenes story.  Boldly I am offering my inner thoughts to my family in hopes that they will know me as a woman and not just a mother or grandmother.

 

Having lived my life to the fullest, I thought that I might show some of the many things that have brought me great happiness in my life -  #1 first and foremost is my family.  It matters not how many lovers, wives, step-children, ex-wives, etc.  I have enjoyed them all.  What a great, huge, family.  Dave's too!

 

I have been keeping journals, notes, pictures and articles since I was in the 4th grade and am taking this opportunity to include here those that you might find interesting -  at least this is my intention.

 

Opening your life is painful and I have certainly had my share of pain.  But you work your way through it and get on with your life.  For this incarnation is short and we really need to make the most of it.

 

You may read through my thoughts and ramblings if you wish.  I offer no excuses or explanations.  This is what I thought at the time I wrote it.

 

At my age I am a most thankful woman.  I have lived a long and full life - with many ups and downs, but with many, many blessings.