Did You Remember Your Ear Muffs?
If there is one thing Smith junior Debby Cwalina can't live without while she's at college, it's her pair of slippers.
"You can walk around the house, walk to class, walk to the post office-all in your favorite slippers!" she explains.
Every fall students arrive on campus toting the things they simply can't be without-the absolute necessities of college life. It's an eclectic assortment of provisions. What emerges from the trunks of cars on arrival day can be anything from fans, favorite pillows and clothes hangers, to erasable memo boards, computers, bicycles and CD/tape players.
Even some 85 years ago,
a student knew how to make her Smith house a home -- as illustrated
by Marion Berkey '12 and friends, gathered in her room in Park
House. Photo courtesy Smith College Archives.
A recent informal survey of students and alumnae illustrates other must-haves for four years of college. The list includes favorite VHS or DVD movies ("a great way to get a bunch of friends together to socialize and chill" according to Cwalina of Pinole, California); shoes (especially, flip-flops); a plastic caddy for shampoo, soap and other shower supplies; and favorite books. "Familiar books (children's and adult) never fail to cheer you up when you are missing friends and family at home," notes Maya Norton, a senior from Newton, Massachusetts.
"Quarters will make you the most popular person on your floor; everyone needs quarters for laundry," suggests Cwalina. "And hey, they're also really useable for Davis when you run out of Davis Dollars and need that late night 'mudslide', " a popular snack.
Amy Rhodes, from the class of 1991 and now an assistant professor in Smith's geology department, remembers bringing to Smith flannel sheets, a comforter and appliances: a 512K Apple Macintosh computer with printer and external disk drive, a hot-air popcorn popper, a red telephone and a small CD/radio boom box.
When Ann Shanahan, Smith's chief public affairs officer, arrived as a first-year student in the 1950s, she brought a Webcore portable record player. "When I compare it to today's Walkman-tape or CD players-'portable' has to be redefined," she explains. "The Webcore was the size of a small suitcase, considerably larger than a computer monitor but not quite as heavy."
To be sure, in the 130 years since Smith first threw open its doors to young women wishing to be educated in the liberal arts, the provisions necessary to send an 18-year-old woman off to college have changed. More and more, the "stuff" of college reflects the latest technology trends. "We have both gas and electric light, rah! Rah!" reported Agnes Bettes, class of 1916, in a September letter sent home to her mother shortly after arriving on campus as a first-year.
Although some of the basic needs-such as the clothes that will keep a Smith student in step with erratic New England weather patterns-never change, popular fashion and social dictates certainly do.
"Don't bring a trousseau to college," advised Smith's 191617 Student Hand-Book. "Have your clothes few, simple and becoming."
Clothing suggestions in the 194243 Freshman Handbook were more specific. "Sweaters and skirts, socks and sport shoes, are the standard costume at Smith," the handbook stated. "The first couple of weeks will be summery, so bring along a few cotton dresses. Ski pants and ear muffs are indispensable for the winter." And there was an admonition: "There is a certain carefree beauty about informality in its proper place, but don't wear your blue-jeans or bandana to dinner."
To the newcomers joining the Smith community in the 200102 academic year who don't already know, blue jeans and bandanas are acceptable attire for not only breakfast, lunch and dinner, but Friday afternoon teas as well.-JME
is published by the Smith College Office of College Relations
for alumnae, staff, students and friends.
Copyright © 2001, Smith College. Portions of this publication may be reproduced with the permission of the Office
of College Relations, Garrison Hall, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts 01063. Last update: 9/9/2001.
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