Source: NMHS Newsletter, May 2005
A Freshman's First Day (Viola C. Neher)
On the evening of Monday, September the tenth, nineteen hundred seventeen, I first entered the Ladies' Dormitory of Old M.C. as an inmate thereof. My parents brought me hither, led me safely to the room which was to be my home; goodbyes were spoken, and - I was alone. A stranger in a strange land was I.
Where shall I go? What shall I do? These questions were uppermost in my mind. Finally I decided to stay in my room until it would become necessary to stray abroad. I was in mortal fear of wandering into some forbidden realm, or getting lost in the vast wilderness of new sights about me.
For lack of something better to do I set about unpacking my trunk and mechanically putting my room in order. Then I sat in the darkest, dingiest corner of my room and cried in my wretchedness - why, oh, why, had I come? Why had my father brought me here? Why could I not return to my mother and never return here?
Then horror of horrors! The clanging of a mighty bell burst in upon me and startled me in my misery. What could it be? I dare not stay in my room longer. I must go somewhere. So I arose and started down the hall, but just as I was regaining my composure, I turned in the hallway and - came upon a mighty band of persons whom I have never seen before! Shrinking aside to one side of the hall, I turned to run back to my room. But lo, the space behind me was filled! Strange girls poured forth from every door and surrounded me.
There was no way of retreat, I had to follow the crowd, withersoever they would lead me. Through halls, down steps, through another hall and then into a large room they forced me. Here new objects of fright were forced upon me. More strangers - hundreds, I thought - and each was finding a seat at a supper table!
Surrendering to the inevitable, I grabbed the nearest seat. In agony I watched each action of my neighbors and tried to copy each act for the eyes of all were upon me.
Finally the dreadful meal was over. I was at liberty. Stumbling up the steps and through the halls, I hastened to my lonely room and locked the door. I sank to the floor, thankful for one thing - my first day at M. C. was past. Then, though it was but six o'clock, I went to bed, to dream sweet dreams of Mother and Home, Sweet Home. --
Six Months Later
"The Spring term begins tomorrow!" I could scarcely realize that six months age I had gone to M. C. with feelings of dread. Now I could scarcely wait till the conductor would come through the car and shout: "North Manchester! " Would there be any new students? Would any old faces be missing? Would any of my friends be at the station to meet me? Long before the depot came in sight I had my belongings together and was sitting forward on the edge of my seat ready to spring to the platform.
"Sure enough, there are the girls!?" I said aloud as I caught sight of my two particular friends on the platform, waving handkerchiefs to me even before the train stopped. The next moment, in my eagerness to greet the girls, I nearly fell over the brakeman who was politely offering to help me down the steps. We embraced each other with as much fervor as if our parting with each other had been a year ago instead of less than a week. "Oh, girls, who are the new students? What do they do? Are many of the old ones gone? Who has Room - since those girls left" Why are you sniffing and the corners of that box of mine. It has no goodies in it?" The questions poured out in a flood, no one giving me or expecting any answers.
Sending our baggage ahead with the taxicab, we merrily set off at a rapid pace, for the college. By the time we had reached the campus I knew all that had happened at M. C. in my absence, while they in turn had heard all the particular details of my visit at home.
On the campus we met many of the old students and all seemed happy in their college home. Hurrying to my room I quickly threw off my wraps and combed my hair in preparation for supper. While my one friend perched on the foot rail of the bed told me of the edifying sermon she had heard on Sunday, the other sat on the table and chattered away over the new romances that had arisen since my departure.
Suddenly there fell upon our ears the melodious peals of the College bell. " The supper bell," I cried. "Oh, I'm so eager to go down and see everybody. Come, let's go down early. I just must see the new and old girls. I wonder when we will get our new seats at the tables." Giving my hair a final twist which really did it more harm than good, I took the girls by the arm and skipped down the hall to the waiting room.
Then ensued, for me, a happy time. How glad I was, to see the girls once more. As we entered the dining hall, I hastened to my place and glanced over the assembly. What a fine "homely" family this College family was, and how I did love to be here! "Well, just see," I laughed. "We have molasses for supper. What a treat, after having nothing at home but maple syrup." "yes" replied the friend next to me,. " and we also have a Grand Review." Now a "grand review" is a soup composed of corn, peas, beans, gravy, and all the vegetables left over from the meals of the past few days; it is very appetizing and delicious.
The meal was passed midst jokes and laughter, then ensued a mighty rush for the post office. Oh, the delight of an M C. student when a letter arrives from home! How the others do envy that happy person who receives it! There is certainly "joy in the camp" when one hears from friends at home.
The evening flew as though on wings; soon Bible Society was over, lessons were studied and bedtime was near. But to go to bed? No, we must first celebrate the new term with a "feed", and although the feed itself was small, yet a merrier time was never enjoyed by happier girls, than that late hour was enjoyed by us.
But merry making can not always last, and as we suddenly realized that time had swiftly flown, and that one must have sleep, hasty goodnights were spoken and the girls slipped merrily to their rooms, while I turned out my light and climbed into bed. "Oh, what a good time I have had," I sighed, "but I always do here. How I do love the girls. I certainly had a find time at home but..
Viola C. Neher Copied from the 1918 Aurora