Oh to go back and be here.
The dean’s office at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts on a winter Saturday afternoon in 1928.
Tea and lots of it. All the caffeine in the world to stay up late. Old dorm dresses and overcoats over one’s evening dress and the Valentine’s Day Dance at Amherst College in two hours.
Another lecture but what can one do. An orchestra brought in from Boston and only a game of hearts otherwise. Not as fun as whoever Winifred’s cousin says is big in New York but almost.
No. Bad to tell lies Father says but needed. Impossible. Princeton last winter and all the boys to oneself but nothing now but New England and snow. Boys but all having to be shared. Shared in Greenwich Village, too, but so many more interesting ones to choose from. None here but dull ones to smoke in snowdrifts with though even that makes the dean mad.
But the dean looking tired and getting less cranky as she smells her dinner from down the hall. Almost freedom.
Out in the hall and flying back up for one’s evening coat as the woman goes through the last door towards her sitting room. A bribe to the maid and a little something extra in her beef stew to make her sleep.
Back one will be at three in the morning but no one to complain or here. Perhaps even a last turkey trot around the foyer and a kiss against the door before he leaves.
Maybe yes or maybe no. Depends on what he looks like. A cute one the last time who could Charleston but another this time perhaps.
But a new frock from Bonwit Teller in Manhattan and satin shoes to dazzle them all out. No one else as chic not even in Boston. With any luck a jazz club someplace better soon.
In memory of my grandmother Helen Mulford Washburn Harden who was eventually expelled by the dean of Smith College for smoking in snowbanks with Amherst boys and no doubt for drinking one hip flask of bootleg gin too many. Going back to Greenwich Village she attended what became F.I.T. and was fashion editor of McCalls in the 1920’s when it was the leading fashion magazine. Smith just wasn’t her kind of school.