A Glimpse of My Life as a College Freshman (1966-67)

When I was writing Sixty-Eight Years of Hair, I poured through my scrapbooks and photograph albums. This week I went back and looked through the college scrapbook again. I found it primarily focused on the non-academic part of my freshman year of college.

There were two letters I had written my parents and a letter one of my classmate’s mother had written my mother about me in the scrapbook. Looking at the photos and reading the letters was like standing in front of a mirror, one which reflected that year of my life.

In August or September of 1966, I left my home in West Palm Beach, Florida to go to Seattle Pacific College (SPC) in Seattle, Washington. SPC was a small Free Methodist Christian college. At that time in my life, my goal was to become a missionary and I had decided to prepare for that endeavor by getting a nursing degree. [Note: By the time I graduated, I considered myself to be somewhere between an atheist and an agnostic so my career goals definitely changed during those years, but I did earn the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.]

I arrived in Seattle too late at night to go to the college, so I checked into a downtown hotel. The next morning, I walked the city streets in awe of the tall skyscrapers. I remember purchasing a small typewriter in a red case that first morning. Later in the day, I took a taxi to the college and moved into the dorm that was to be my home for the next year.

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The housemother on our floor was Mrs. Austen. She told me that her husband had died six years earlier of a heart attack and that six months after his death, her daughter had died of appendicitis. If she had lived, her daughter would have been our age. Mrs. Austen said she loved working with girls and was so happy to to be a housemother at SPC.

[Note: In reading the letters and notes in the scrapbook, I remembered that all adults were addressed by Mr. and Mrs. in those days, even when they were talking to each other. Addressing adults as Mr. and Mrs. was natural for me having grown up as an army brat where formality was the rule. During my Senior year of college, I attended the University of Washington for two quarters. My Public Health Nursing instructor required us to call her Elaine. I was very uncomfortable doing that; it felt plain WRONG.

I also remember another custom that was expected at that time, one that seems so foreign now. When a woman wrote out her full name, she used her husband’s first name instead of her own given name. For example, my mother would have been referred to as Mrs. Norman Smith rather than Mrs. Ida May Smith.]

Mrs. Austen(62)

I enjoyed looking at a list that itemized the expenses for my first week in Seattle.  The SUB I referred to in the letter below stands for Student Union Building. I was amazed to see that I bought breakfasts for 35 cents and 85 cents, and somehow was able to purchase one breakfast and lunch for 45 cents.

There was a note in this same letter where I informed my parents that there was nothing wrong with the typewriter, I was just too tired to fix all of the errors. It was interesting for me to remember that I attended college before word processors or computers that made fixing errors easily were available. I think it may have even been before the invention of correction tape. I probably used a correction liquid to fix errors. If I remember right, I often typed letters and school assignments multiple times before I had a copy that looked decent.

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The second letter had a list of my classes and the cost of the text books for those courses. It, of course, was a tiny fraction of what text books cost today.

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I soon discovered there were many rituals that freshmen were expected to participate in. For example, we all had to wear a beanie. My letter said that the it cost 90 cents, adding that nothing at the college was free. A friend commented that the beanies were something we would keep forever. I guess that statement was true since it has been in my scrapbook for the last 50 years!

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If anyone started singing the school’s Alma Mater, everyone had to stand up and sing it. That happened at least once during every meal for awhile.

One of the first things I learned when I arrived at the college was that we were not allowed to wear pants outside of the dorm except on weekends. The rest of the time we had to wear dresses, or skirts and blouses. [Note: We also weren’t allowed to dance or play cards. In fact, this was the first year that students would be allowed to go to movies.]

In Florida, we only wore stockings to church on Sunday or when we were going somewhere fancy. I soon discovered at SPC we were expected to wear stockings anytime we wore a dress or a skirt. I wrote my parents that I got a one inch wide run in my stockings the first time I wore them and commented that this stocking requirement was going to be expensive.

I don’t think we wore girdles very often back then but I believe 1966 was before panty hose were common. I think we were still wearing nylon stockings held up by a garter belt. These photos are the closest I can find to what the stockings and garter belt were like.

Photo credit 1: Wikimedia            Photo credit 2: Wikimedia

Pulling pranks on each other was part of dorm life. I remember putting shaving cream under friends’ doorknobs in a way that they wouldn’t see it before they tried opening the door. We short-sheeted beds and removed mattresses. I had this photo in my scrapbook. The handwriting looks like mine, so I must have been the instigator of this prank.

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As I look at the above photo, I realize many of you reading this post have been raised with menstrual pads that are sticky on the bottom and attach to underwear in that way. In those days, we used sanitary belts to hold the pad in place. I found a photo of one from 1933. I think the belts were thinner in the 60’s but they weren’t that different!

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia

We weren’t the only ones in school who were pulling pranks. There was an article from the school newspaper in my scrapbook. After a basketball game, a group of students removed all of the seat cushions from the seats in the chapel. I wasn’t part of that group but I must have been impressed with their work since I kept the article.

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New freshmen had an 8:00 o’clock curfew on school nights for a period of time and then it switched to 10:00 p.m. I suspect that this photo is of one of my dorm mates coming in or going out after-hours!

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Since I lived so far away, I did not go home for Christmas holidays. That first holiday, a friend that lived on Whidbey Island invited me to spend the holidays with her family. In the scrapbook, there was letter that her mother wrote my mother after that experience. While it is a very nice letter, I rolled my eyes when I read it. I think it is a good reflection of the way women thought back then. [Note: I chose to use initials rather than my hosts full names when copying the letter. Also, know that my name was Carol in those days.]

Dear Mrs. Smith,

First of all I’d like to thank you for the lovely candied fruit tray you sent us for Christmas. It was very thoughtful of all. We did enjoy and appreciate it.

Now I know you would like to know our viewpoint of your daughter Carol’s stay with us. You can rest assured she shows a very good up-bringing. She made herself right at home and it seemed to all of us that she belonged with us. M. had said she was easy to have around and we found that true. She even liked to sit and talk to me like the other kids. I found myself forgetting she was a guest and treating her like any member of the family.

She seemed particularly taken with our little baby. Her mother instincts are very strong. She is welcome here anytime.Than you for letting her come to spend this time with us.

J.M.

Reading the letter reminded me of something my mother said to me in 1970, just before I graduated. I was 21 years old at the time. I think we were having a phone conversation. Out of nowhere my mother said, “You do know that young ladies who aren’t married come home to live after they finish college don’t you?” I was stunned. I don’t know how I responded, but I know that I at least thought, “NOT A CHANCE!!!”

I will end this post with a copy of my 1967 plane ticket back to Florida. It is interesting for me to see the cost of airfare at that time.

Ticket

I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse of my life in 1966-67. I imagine it brought back memories for some of you and perhaps gave others of you insight into your parents or grandparents lives.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirror

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30 thoughts on “A Glimpse of My Life as a College Freshman (1966-67)

  1. Unbelievable. I remember those belts. My freshman year was 1977-1978, and I remember wearing a brown, cordurory, wrap-around skirt that went down below my knees. My mother made it for me. I didn’t live in a dorm because I went to a Community College, and rented a room for the semester from someone in the city. It didn’t take me long to find the bar and where I could buy cigarettes. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t rebel in that way but I gave my mother plenty of reason to worry about me. She used to say, “You were okay until you went to college.”

      I know I was okay in college too, but I thoroughly enjoyed my freedom from my parents and the ability to do what I wanted to do. SPC and I didn’t always get along though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can imagine. Going to college in the 70’s was a very freeing experience for me, and unfortunately for my college career, that wasn’t often a good thing for me. I quit in 1979 and joined the US Navy, and didn’t return to school until 1988, when the drinking had abated and I was more focused on school. It took five years to get my BS, and for the most part, I enjoyed every minute of it (with the exception of debugging my COBOL programs I had written).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I finished my BSN on time but I didn’t do very well academically because I wasn’t very interested in that part of my life. I went to school during the Civil Rights and Vietnam War periods. And I spent a lot of time volunteering at a center for the homeless. I was much more interested in living than studying. It wasn’t until I did my Master’s of Nursing degree work in 1973 and 1974 that I did well…. largely because I was studying the subjects that I wanted to study.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I also was in college then, so this really brought back memories. i was an English major at the University of Buffalo in New York state and had a large second hand typewriter – papers were a nightmare, especially when having to figure out spacing for footnotes! By the time I left school, Vietnam was on everyone’s mind and we had protests in the student union and administration building. Our freshman class prank originated in my biology class and involved getting the local newspaper to believe a foreign diplomate, the Thallis of Marcantia, was about to visit. They even printed a map showing his country! By my senior year, my sister was also at school and we got a small efficiency apartment that rented for $155 a month. Ah, those were the days! Thanks for the memories,
    Jo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I forgot about the footnotes, but you are right! It was so much harder to write papers back then. The word processors and later computers made such a difference.

      Your prank reminds me of one we did when I was a kid. We were in military housing and were having a slumber party. We called the base plumbing department and started screaming that the toilet was running over or something like that. I bet we gave them the wrong address because if we had been caught our fathers would have been in a lot of trouble.

      One of the reasons I was so angry with my school was that there was no acknowledgement of the Vietnam War or Civil rights. My judgment was that all they were interested in were their Bibles.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I forgot to say I had a beanie,too! (blue, but otherwise just like yours)

        My parents were Air Force civil service so I grew up around the military, and know while growing up in the 50s and 60s no kids darned disobey at today’s level, military really was tough what it meant to do a

        Like

      2. Guess it’s so late My typing finger is tired! …Reflected on their dads and could hurt their careers. Think it is time to put my fumble finger to bed, lol! Nice beginning to “know” you. Jo

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I would have never remembered the beanie if it wasn’t in the scrapbook. I like that you had one too. I just checked to see where you live and see it is North Carolina. You indeed are up really late. Sweet Dreams!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah the typewriter,…my dad typed a lot of his notes in those years and used an eraser to correct mistakes plus erasing on each carbon copy. I remember those onion skin copies…would put a hole right through it so easily! Girdles were worn then here during those years and I remember about two years later, 1969 the garters were discarded…finally! My mom was known as Mrs. Edwin J. Roberts. And in 1978 the legal name of any female (married or not) was her maiden name. That took a lot of getting used to especially for women over fifty…1967 for my mom however was reclaiming her name again as my parents divorced…another thing not seen often in those days especially in small Catholic towns. Boy did we work hard to prepare our term papers!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We sure did work hard to do the term papers. So many copies to make it look okay and error free.Students today have no idea how blessed they are to be able to correct things with ease.

      I never thought of it taking a law change to make the legal name change. I imagine that happened here too. I do remember it being a hard change for the older women. And it was really difficult for them to get used to being called only by their first name, instead of Mrs. and Miss later on. Young people calling elderly women by the first name seemed so disrespectful.

      After reading your comment it occurred to me that girdles left when control top panty hose came into use. So the panty hose included a form of girdle. I wonder if control top panty hose even exist anymore. We have gotten so big that it wouldn’t work anymore. I wouldn’t know because it has been years since I’ve worn a dress and the skirts I used to wear were very long.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Those girdles have changed to body slimmers now in various lengths…even smaller women wear them to have that smooth, perfect sleek body in a very tight dress. Control top hose still exist. I wear tights in the winter if i wear a dress…comfort first 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh…. that’s how they look so smooth and slim in tight dresses. Never thought of that.

        I’ve never worn tights but they look warm and I tend to be cold. I may try that this year!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! How many memories this piece brought back to me. An oddly enough some of them seemed to have happened just yesterday. This week Andrew bought 1 ebook and 1 text book required for accounting at community college. Cost $130.00! All the text books are in that price range and they change them every 2 years or so, making it pretty impossible to find used ones that are current! I hadn’t thought about women being called Mrs. husband’s name in years. Like Bernadette said, thank God for the feminist movement!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had forgotten about the name thing too. The letter from my friend’s mother to my mother was still in the envelope and it was addressed to Mrs. Norman L. Smith. Sooooooo formal. That is what brought the memory back to me.

      Liked by 1 person

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