I applied to Barnard in the era of the fat envelope. You knew without even opening it whether you had been accepted or not. So I was ecstatic when I received the coveted packet…..and then deflated when a later letter informed that there was no room for me in the dorms. So many students had accepted that many out-of-towners like me would be put at the Kings Crown Hotel. Everything I had imagined or dreamed of about going away to school was now a Black Hole (although back then I didn’t know such a thing existed.)
My parents tried to cheer me up as I packed the essentials: clothes, manual typewriter, hair dryer, and clock radio.
I suspect all of us at Kings Crown were disappointed to be segregated from what seemed like to glamorous world of Brooks and Hewitt. Reid Hall was just a framework and might never be ready for us. We faced a chilly hike several times a day clear across the Columbia campus and across Broadway for classes and meals. For a long time I did not feel quite at home in the cafeteria.
But something wonderful came out of this. Barnard had tried very hard to assign a variety of students to Kings Crown. We came from all over the country and all over the world to this cramped old hotel and we came together as a community. I will never forget our pajama parties, the food from home we shared, the dramas and tears, the gossip, my roommate making me strip outside the door when I came back from Zoology lab reeking of dogfish, the treks up hill and across the Columbia campus to Barnard, rain or shine or snow.
And now, fifty years later, the women I got to know at the Kings Crown are still among my best friends. And if that’s not a turning point, I don’t know what is.