Naomi Donahey Glenn, then Naomi B. Donahey, from the 1897 Empanda yearbook. Glenn’s granddaughter Ellen Glenn Childs donated an original copy of the 40-year reunion report and group photograph to the university archives.
Our reunion was a grand success—we are still thrilling with it, fairly tingling with the joy of it, rejuvenated, born again! Now, aren’t you glad you came—or, sorry you stayed away, as the case may be?
To begin at the beginning of the trip from Pittsburgh to Indiana, Friday, May 21, by route 80, five of us—do you want to know who (is who correct?) page Sara Klingensmith, who Melissa McBride once said was our outstanding English student (or scholar). Oh, yes, who: Lyde Johnson, Frances Hazlett McConnell, Lil Hirth, Bess Torrence DuBarry, and Edith Ebberts Nowry (chauffeur).
As we neared Kiski School, where our Frank St. Clair is secretary and treasurer, we decided to drive through the grounds, which are very lovely. We did the same thing on our return trip because we had a different crowd: Mary Barr Suter, Clara Warnock Goehring, Hilda Rieck Bovard, Bess Torrence DuBarry, and the chauffeur, three of whom had heard of Kiski all their “short” lives but had never seen it. We caught no glimpse of Frank, however. All this will be news to him—that is one of the reasons we are dubbing this a “newsletter.”
Edith Ebberts Nowry, then Edith M. Ebberts, also from the 1897 yearbook. Nowry, as secretary of the committee that planned the reunion, penned this report, or “newsletter.”
Other car and bus loads went to Indiana and met at College Inn, a restaurant near the school and oh! the ejaculations upon meeting each other. A few were recognized at sight, others had to peer into each other’s faces to guess who each was, and upon finding out, such little screeches of amazement, joy, surprise, etc. as were given out would have done your heart good. This same “drama” was enacted later at school, upon the arrival of another and another “reunioner.” Sometimes we couldn’t guess and had to be told, but after hats were removed (revealing some beautiful pure white, mixed gray, brown, or blonde coifs, of naturally or permanently waved, bobbed or short (long) hair, and after peering into each other’s faces even a short time, we could see more and more of the girlish look of 1897, and after a few hours we all decided that we really hadn’t changed at all. We wondered why in the world we hadn’t recognized each other at sight, we each had all the little mannerisms so familiar in 1897 and we all felt so young. The forty years just melted away. As one of the girls, Martha Mateer Whitehead, expressed it, “It was just as though we had returned to school after a summer vacation.” So many of us hadn’t seen each other in the forty years and had not been back to Normal for all those years. The joy of it would not have been so great had it not been in the same old halls of schoolgirl days.
Right here let me say that I think we owe a deep debt of gratitude to the founder, discoverer, inventor, or manufacturer of rouge. It has done more for women than any other one thing I know to make them “easy to look at.” It immediately subtracts years from one’s looks. Those who do not use it cannot compete with those who do. All “you’se” who do not own it should hurry up and buy one and use it, and lipstick too if you don’t have it. Also! permanent waves and finger waves are a tremendous help to the woman of today. You can just see “the old lady turn young.” The poor women of yesteryear (without these amenities) looked their ages, but with them we feel we didn’t look the age of the women without them, who were our age, looked many years ago—if you know what I mean? Ha! Ha! and I don’t have an interest in any beauty company either. Wish I did.
To refresh everyone’s memory [especially those who were not fortunate enough to have their Empandas (a now highly prized book) before them], we wish to say there were
- 71 members in our class of 1897
- 22 have “passed on”
- 49 available to “reune” (seemingly)
- 3 could not be located
- 7 did not reply
- 12 wrote letters or telegrams of greeting
- 27 actually came to the reunion
The seven who did not reply we kept after with letters, postals, ’phone calls to others with whom they were friendly, etc., but no answer. They may “wake up and live” after receiving this newsletter showing how really alive the other 39 are. How about it, you seven? Drop us a line. Do.
To those who have never been back to Normal, let us say that it is marvelous. The physical plant (as the president of the school expressed it) is so much larger and more beautiful. The dining room is very modern and attractive. The service was first class, 1,200 being served at once during Commencement season. All the meals were par-excellent, and we all ate as we always did in that healthful climate. Dear! Dear!
As we sat in the Alumni meeting Saturday morning, May 22, in the old Chapel (which is very much the same as in 1897), memory books were handed around by different ones for autographs of each and all of our group. A few who had their Empandas with them used the fly-leaves of that interesting book. Notes were sent back and forth also: one asking how each and every one would like to have a “get-together dinner” at Rustic Lodge on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. to signify their desire by signing the paper. All signed.
Another note asked what the crowd thought of having the photographer of the town come up and take our pictures. All thought that would be fine too. This to be done after the Alumni luncheon which, with exercises, lasted until after 3:00 p.m., at which time we assembled on the East Porch, you know the large porch, the front porch, with many comfortable chairs grouped together. Not all who wanted to be in the picture are in it. Jessie McGee Geary, for instance, she who lives no farther away from Indiana than Black Lick, with us for the first time in 40 years, had to catch a train to get home to her family to prepare the dinner for her family—as though the family were more important than to have all of us in the group picture. The habits of a lifetime were hard to break, Jessie, much as we prevailed upon you to stay.
The photographer was late coming, and it was hard to keep our “stirring” crowd together, so if you miss any faces, you’ll know why—they stirred too far away.
The photographer, Douglass, said these pictures would be finished in a few days and would be $1.00 each. Some of us saw the proof of the best one Monday the 24th and liked it very much. If any who did not order one want one, please send me $1.00, and I will order the picture and enclose a chart of the names of each, otherwise you may not know us. The only boys who were present at our reunion were Frank Cunningham and J.C. Williams and they were in the picture. One other man in it is a brother-in-law of one of the girls, Maude Graham, and Mr. Sutton (83 years old) who was, and I presume still is, a trustee. Mr. Williams’ very charming wife is also in the picture. All the rest are our girls of fourteen, fifteen, to eighteen years in 1897, now in their fifties, sixties, or more, but so very young in spirit.
Twenty-five ordered pictures at once. The photographer said he had to have a minimum of fifteen to make the price $1.00, so we thought when we got 25 he might reduce the price to 75 cents, but not so, said no matter how many we ordered, the price would still be $1.00, so we won’t be able to start a “petty cash fund” for our next reunion with the 25 cents left over as we contemplated—“the nasty man.”
Many of the girls brought pictures of their children, and grandchildren, also Kodaks and pictures taken while in school, all of which were intensely interesting. Now we wish we had asked anyone who could not come to send along a picture, but we couldn’t think of everything. As a matter of fact we were concentrating on getting “you” there, not your picture. If any of you will send your picture, I’ll guarantee to make a “round robin” of it if each one does his part.
Ruth Work, of the Class of 1897, did not attend the reunion but wrote to her classmates from Egypt.
Just this very minute a postcard came from our Ruth Work in Egypt. It has five Egyptian stamps of different denominations on it, the picture of the new king, I guess. Am I right, Ruth? A very fine-looking man with a fez on his head, otherwise very American looking, but no doubt you all are familiar with the picture of this king; on the other side of the card is a very beautiful scene entitled “Egypt—Shepherd driving homeward.” Thanks, so much, Ruth. We wish all could see it. Also, thanks for your letter which was read at our big dinner Saturday evening.
The postcard reads
My dear classmate:
It has been nice to get in touch with you girls once more through Georgia and your letters (the form letters sent out by the secretary). I hope my reply reached you at Indiana. Wouldn’t I love to be there. I shall be in spirit. Our class dwindles but I am sure you who were there will have a grand time. The grounds will be beautiful now.
Ruth A. Work, Assiut, Egypt
The grounds were very beautiful and we, too, wish you could have been to our reunion, Ruth. You are doing noble work and we love you for it. So glad to learn from your letter that you can still enjoy “boy friends” as we moderns call them in “these here” United States.
Right here, speaking of a postal card from once far away Egypt—let us each and all get the postal habit and keep in touch with each other. This newsletter, which bids fair to rival Gone with the Wind or Anthony Adverse in length, gives you the revised address of all, so drop us a line. A postal requires no envelope, no stamp, written in pencil will do, no excuse for not writing (of course, Jim Farley would sooner you’d write a letter) but you wouldn’t even write the letter, so try a postal, it’s so easy. All questions cheerfully answered. It would be fun to keep this a building-up newsletter, a never-ending circle for joy and sympathy.
Mary Caldwell Pealer welcomed her classmates to her Indiana home during the 1937 reunion.
Saturday afternoon, Mary Caldwell Pealer opened her very lovely home in Indiana to our whole group for tea and cakes (platters and platters of wonderful homemade cookies) and sparkling iced tea, so cooling on that hot afternoon! Some were known to have drunk twelve tall glasses. Mary’s charming younger daughter poured.
Saturday evening we “all” went to Rustic Lodge, a modern successor of Hawxhurst’s of ’97 (on the outskirts of the town) and had a wonderful chicken and waffle dinner, after which letters were read from those who could not come—all were appreciated so much. Letters of acceptance were also appreciated. A lovely poem, “Friend O’Mine,” was read by Charlotte Rickabaugh Freas.
Ours is a widely traveled class, they’ve gone far and wide and several told of many interesting trips taken to Alaska (sliding down Mt. Ranier a thrilling event) comparing the wonderful caves and caverns in United States with the Blue Grotto in Europe, and to all the different countries abroad and Mexico, California, Puerto Rico, etc. Many who had gone on very wonderful trips got “stage fright” about telling it, so we don’t know where they went. Perhaps their next long trip will be to Egypt, or even to Lyons, Oregon. (Georgia Shane note)
Beside the 27 of the Class of 1897 we were fortunate enough to have with us nine members of other classes, principally ’98ers, so that we numbered 36 in our hilarious and joyful celebration and did we have fun! In this newsletter we have tried to give news of everyone we were able to contact, thinking it would be interesting to all. The stenciling of this long letter will be quite a task for some typist so excuse any delay experienced in receiving it.
Georgia Lacock Griffiths was another member of the Self-Appointed Committee, which planned the 40-year reunion.
A great many had to leave Sunday late afternoon on account of getting back to teach, also because of brothers, brothers-in-law, daughters-in-law, sons, daughters, nieces, or friends having brought them. Couldn’t drive their own cars! Fie on them! (Moral: Learn to drive your own car. Be dependent on no one. Nothing gives one so great a feeling of independence.) Driving is like everything else. It has to be persisted in. If you don’t learn to drive in one month, or two, or three, take a year, take two years, but keep persistently at it and you will win out. Anyone can learn to drive. We hope to see all you girls profiting by this advice (and I don’t sell cars either) and come driving your own car to our next reunion. We mean it!
We could make this newsletter very high brow, stiff, etc., but “a little nonsense now and then is relished by the best of men” so ’scuse it, please—for instance:
Elizabeth Welsh Ferguson’s very good-looking husband (John) brought her up, and upon being introduced to one of the girls, she said in her most gracious manner, “How do you do, Mr. Welsh?” Ha! Ha!
The same thing happened to Naomi Donahey Glenn’s good-looking husband. Another one in our midst who was not, just then, on her toes, said, “How do you do, Mr. Donahey?” Well, well. They both must have felt like movie stars’ husbands. Some feeling!
Another good one: The modest, retiring, non-tiring secretary of the Self-Appointed Committee said to Georgia Lacock Griffiths upon saying goodbye to her Sunday afternoon, “I’m so sorry, Georgia, I can’t drive you home after bringing you up,” and Georgia wakens her up with “but you didn’t bring me up.” Oh me! such absentmindedness. It afforded a great laugh from the crowd.
Also, one of the bunch, guess who, got hoarse from talking and remarked, “Oh, dear, my voice can’t take it.” Another, Hilda Rieck Bovard, said, “I wonder what the voice would say about that,” inferring that it had been “taking it” since the cradle, and so we laughed and laughed. Our risibilities were easily roused. We all were so happy.
For Addie Randle Porter, being locked out of her Sutton Hall room during the 40-year reunion “seemed quite a joke—more like would have happened in 1897.”
To go back to the arrival Friday evening: Two very lovely looking young women welcomed us at the north door. One of us said, “Are you seniors?” and meant it—they looked so pretty and young. As a matter of fact they were teachers, but almost embraced us for “them kind words.” We were then directed to register in the Book Room (dear old book room) and the assigning of rooms, getting old roommates together, obtaining blankets from a hall teacher, etc. took plenty of time. All our group were on the south hall second floor. Addie Randle Porter, unknown to anyone, slipped off to her room to snatch a little beauty sleep (not that she needs it). After we knew where we were to room, we decided to “get together” downstairs, so we walked along the hall, just for fun knocking on lots of doors—lo, a pure white beautiful curly head stuck itself out of the door. It was suspiciously sleepy looking. We said, “Have you been asleep? Heavens! So early! Get something on.” There was no further sleep for her. She got dressed in white from tip to toe, looked beautiful, and went downstairs with the rest of us. We all chatted until midnight, some later, and then to our rooms.
Maude Graham, as Porter’s roommate during the reunion, was also locked out.
Can you imagine our consternation when in the hall stood Addie and Maude Graham (her roommate)? They were not able to get the key to turn the lock, the night watchman was called and he was not able to turn the key, so he had to get a stepladder and remove the large transom above the door and climb in. It caused quite a lot of commotion and the girls had to sleep with the transom out and the door not locked. We had lots of chats back and forth after that and she of the “early to bed” was about the last to go. It seemed quite a joke—more like would have happened in 1897. It was great to stop at each other’s doors and chat a while and then on to another and some more chats and in and out of each other’s rooms like we used to do—only no hall teacher to call us down for not being in our own rooms or for too much noise. The school was ours, for our pleasure, and it was nice!
As to being careful about locking doors, we decided that about the only one one locks out is herself, so we left ours unlocked.
To digress a little: Lovely letters were read from Dr. David J. Waller and Dean Grant Chambers—Dr. Waller could not attend our reunion because the Bloomsburg Commencement was held at the same time and he of course had to be present since he had been president of Bloomsburg Normal for many years. We quote from Dr. Waller’s second letter:
“I sincerely wish I could have revived with the aid of those of you who were present the memories of 40 years ago and I thank you for the invitation. As I was born June 17, 1846, I cannot hope to be with those of you who will hold the next reunion, though I enjoy better health than when I lived in Indiana.”
One of the grand men of this century under whose influence our Class of ’97 came. Fortunate class!
Dr. Grant Chambers, dean of the School of Education of Pennsylvania State College, regretted that he could not be with us because of attending his own 50th reunion at Lock Haven Normal. I quote in part from his letter:
“Please say for me to the assembled class that I have by no means lost interest in the class and the individuals that make it up, and it is a matter of great regret that I cannot meet with them. Trusting that you may have a glorious time, etc.”
Thanks, Mr. Chambers. We surely did have a glorious time.
The 1897 baseball team was in one of the few photographs in the 1897 yearbook.
Ruth Work’s letter said that their greatest problem was trying to get the Egyptians to do away with excessive grief and mourning and putting on of sackcloth and ashes for the dead for days, weeks, and sometimes months and to overcome the thought of death’s being so terrible by substituting the thought of life—eternal life.
Miss Kendig (Mrs. P.W. Morgan, Edgewood, Pa.) our very delightful elocution teacher, was in Florida when our letter was sent to her. Upon her return she called the secretary of the committee but failed to find her home. She left a message at the house stating that she regretted being unable to attend the reunion as she had promised to attend her husband’s reunion held at the same time.
Before 8:00 one morning after our reunion, she called to ask if we had received her telegram of greetings. The telegram was delivered to the school and I asked and asked for it (you girls remember), but it could not be located. So sorry, “Miss Kendig.” Thanks and come to our next reunion.
The “Self-Appointed Committee” (which name was suggested by our Grace Lacock) had the great pleasure of reading all the letters received from all who accepted or regretted and they were all so good I wish all could read them. It may be interesting to quote characteristic sentences from some. It will help us all to get a personal touch, especially the ones away from home.
Georgia Shane: “What would Dr. Waller say if he were to hear me say I was “tickled to death” to have a letter from the “Self-Appointed Committee” of the Class of ’97?” Well, Dr. Waller, what do you say? She also speaks of “precious” old Professor Carter. I wish we knew something of his life. Someone said he has passed on.
Hallie Schreiner McCown: “Glad someone had the initiative to form themselves into a committee.”
Clara Smith Staib: “What an interesting list of names you sent me. If you do not stop filling me full of enthusiasm, I’ll pop.”
Frank St. Clair: “It was the finest thing ever to get the nice friendly note from you.”
Maude Megraw Derrick: “I was hoping some of the girls would get together and round up the class members.”
Mary Calhoun Cribbs: “From the cheery notes I’m receiving, the girls of ’97 seem to be just as young in spirit as 40 years ago.”
Grace Stewart: “I’ve sat and dreamed over the list you sent me trying to recall what each one looked like and wondering what we all look like now.”
Annette Shaw: “It seems so short a time. I can’t realize it could be 40 years; however, who does feel the years? Few, I’d say but they pass nevertheless. Won’t we have fun.”
Charlotte Rickabaugh Freas: “Aren’t you just thrilled to death? I can scarcely wait to see you all.”
Anna Parsons Chambers: “I will feel that I am renewing my youth (I really haven’t lost it yet, in spirit) by going back to Normal.”
Addie Randle Porter: “I think it will be lots of fun to see all the people you name. Thank you very much for urging me.”
Martha Hervey Erk: “It will be grand fun to try to recognize girls we knew at 18 in women of 50 plus!”
Jessie McGee Geary: “It made me feel 20 years younger after reading your letter. I remember when we graduated saying about some of the ladies who were back for their anniversary that we would not come back when we were that old.”
Rena Beatty Suter: “Your letter was a big and grand surprise. I will be there!”
Nannie Klingensmith Boarts: “How I would like to be with you when the Class of 1897 has roll call. I will be thinking of you, one and all, and remembering you as you were in 1897.”
Elizabeth Welsh Ferguson: “Well you have won out and I am practically on my way.”
Martha Mateer Whitehead: “I think it’s going to be a grand affair and unprecedented in numbers and enthusiasm.”
Eva Young: “I’d like to meet you all, see how you look, learn what you have done and what you hope to do in the future and even what many of your children are doing.”
Fannie Roller: “As I read the class roll, each face and personality came vividly to my mind. It would be so interesting to know something about the life of each one, her interests and aspirations, her family if married, etc., etc.”
Nora Osburn: “May the members of our class return in large numbers, may all be feeling their best, may the program provide all the pleasure that a May day program in Indiana can provide.”
Margaret Shearer: “I often sit and look at each one in our class picture and wonder what each is doing, etc. Greetings to all.”
Marjorie Ayres Cummings: “I am quite thrilled over the idea of the reunion at Normal and would have tried to make it had I known of it sooner. I note that Anna Gilfillan lives in Glendale and Georgia Shane in Tujunga, where I have a mountain home. I shall hunt them up. Please extend my hearty greetings to anyone who may remember me, etc.”
Gertrude Joseph Hirsch: “It certainly was grand to hear from you. Have thought of Indiana often and of the happy days spent there. I wanted to go back and take my family with me, but something always prevented.”
Margaret Tucker Knowlton: “Oh, how I would like to accept your invitation, but impossible as I have been ill, but to see all the girls would be such a joy at this time, etc.”
J.C. Williams: “Your self-appointed committee is to be congratulated for your interest. It has been a long time since I have seen any of our old classmates.”
Anna Gilfillan Fife: “So pleased to hear from you and also have the 1897 class roll. My, how many changes in the 40 years! If Indiana were nearer, I might have gone to see you all, etc.”
Mary Barr Suter: “It was surely good to hear from you. Do you recall when in Indiana and the different ‘reunioning’ classes gathered round the festive boards or in groups on the campus, how very ancient we thought many of them? And now, glory be, we have arrived, etc.”
Also, Annette Shaw McCloy told us at the dinner of a beautiful thought our very interesting teacher, Miss Gallagher, gave out while at school and I quote it below:
“For age has opportunity no less
Than youth itself in another dress
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars
Invisible by day.”
When we first thought of this newsletter, we expected to send it only to the ones who could not be present since so many asked someone to let them know about the reunion (which to all of us was more, much more, important than the coronation in England, of course).
We who attended the reunion couldn’t hear or even overhear all each one was saying, so we decided to send this newsletter to each and every one, to all who came, to all who stayed away, whether they even ignored our invitation—how better could we “heap coals of fire upon their heads.”
We asked all we could to give us a little résumé of their lives, if they did not give enough, we said we would embellish it, like the movie magazines do, but we will try to stick to the truth, more or less.
Eight of us, Mary Barr Suter, Bess Torrence DuBarry, Clara Warnock Goehring, Dorothy Hill Miller, Maude Megraw Derrick, Mary Walton, Hilda Rieck Bovard, and E.E. Nowry, held on to the very last, remaining through the Commencement dinner and exercises, and we had some more fun. We walked all over the town to refresh our memories of 1897.
A parting compliment to our class: One of the teachers now at Normal, sitting at the head of the table for Commencement dinner, told the eight of us that the graduating class was quite impressed by the wonderfully jolly time we seemed to be having after 40 years and felt that it was an inspiration to them to think that friendships formed in school could be so lasting and reunion so enjoyed and that they, too, would look forward to those lifelong friendships of which we showed such glorious evidence.
It has been a joy to me to write this letter (epistle), I hardly know where to stop—stopping is my hardest task—I seem to have a self-starter but no stopper.
Just want to say best love to all and want you all to remember: “Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.”
Edith Ebberts Nowry
Secretary of the Self-Appointed Committee of the Class of 1897
- Georgia Lacock Griffiths
- Grace Lacock
- Lyde Johnson
- Edith Ebberts Nowry
P.S. Neglected to say that there was a graduating class of 201.