A Barnard Kaleidoscope

Gladys
Day Thompson
1944
Alumnae

At age ninety I find myself often reflecting on the past and my days at Barnard are among the most precious memories.

If you remember one twists the kaleidoscope and find another picture each time. My first twist shows me going through the little green gate to the dorms and it felt like Alice popping into her Wonderland!

Twist again and it is a hot day early in September in my Physics class with all of us in a rather phlegmatic state till Dr. Boorse leaps up on his lectern and yells, “All right girls, what’s holding me up?”

(Unfortunately for us when was declared the Navy took him from us.)

Another twist of the scope and I see the dorm halls crowded with bewildered girls, asking, “Can this news about Pearl Harbor be real or is it another Orson Wells stunt?” Alas it was a real horror.

Next pails of sand are located on each dorm hall and girls are asking, “Should we stay in school or sign up (as many of our brothers, cousins, friends, husbands did).?”

Another twist and Dr. Gildersleeve at one of her famous Sunday afternoon teas was assuring us we would be more valuable with a college degree.

Another twist and we are going to a lecture by Eleanor Roosevelt (who arrived by subway) who also urged us to “stay on course”.

Twist again and we’re in Dr. Marie Reimer’s Chemistry class with her asking us what we know about aspirin and urging us to use all our senses as well as our brains.

Still another twist and I’m in Dr. Crampton’s Zoology class watching a film he took on an African expedition where he is dancing around a fire. His classes in both Biology and Zoology made both subjects come alive.

A quick twist and there are Greek Games with so many graceful girls (of which, alas I was only mob quality).

Turn to Summer School (for those of us trying to finish in three instead of four years) and a weekend at Barnard Camp near Ossining New York. I see myself hiking a trail there with Hennie and Nellie Bestebreutje trying to teach me how to yodel as they had learned when living in Switzerland. (They failed with me but Hennie became a pediatrician who specialized in court cases of child abuse among other things and Nellie went to work for the U.N.).

Twist to Christmas time in the dorm dining room with singing including many male voices from Midshipmen guests.

Another musical twist shows us peering out the dorm windows and the Midshipmen from Columbia march by on the way to church singing “Jolly, jolly sixpence, Two spence to spend, two pence to lend and two pence to send home to my wife, poor wife!” Alas, once at church they would hear the names of predecessors who had lost their lives.

I could ramble on and on but I’d better not.

I thought this last issue on Global Perspective was extremely well done but I was a little disappointed that there was no one in a pure Science field. I think (as a former teacher and principal) that there is far too little emphasis on this in our present school systems.