Letter from Eleanor Blair, Wellesley, Massachusetts, to Mr. D.C. Blair, Montour Falls, New York, 1914 April 10
Letter home describing trip to Cambridge, including visits to Harvard, Radcliffe, museum with glass flowers, Christ Church, and Longfellow's House; student fundraising efforts and assistance from other colleges after the fire; excitement over mother's upcoming visit and Tree Day; and purchase of a Legenda yearbook. —Keywords: College Hall Fire, 1914; Fires; Fund raising; Travel; Yearbooks; Tree Day; Phi Sigma House; Music Hall; Mary Hemenway Hall; College Hall —Tags: Buildings and Grounds; Student Life; Tradition and Ritual
11 pages + 1 envelope
April 10, 1914. Dearest home-folks, At present I am down here in the basement of the library which is now serving as a study room. I have so much to tell you & so little time to do it. Am going to make a start anyway as I want you to get a letter by Easter. First of all, I'll tell you about our trip to Cambridge last Mon. As you know, we had decided not to go, but when we came up in the morning to see what we could do, [page 2] we found there would be nothing until afternoon. We departed for Cambridge on the 8:57 train getting there about 9:45. Until 11:30 we spent our time trying to find Blanche's house which[deletion: e] we finally did. Then we looked around Harvard and Radcliff [mis-spelling: Radcliffe] & went to the museum to see the glass flowers. They are perfectly wonderful & you must see them, Mutter, when you come out. We have to go in to see them for Botany later. After that we went around to Christ Church and an old man there told us all its history. It is a wonderful old building with a story clinging round every old pew & wooden piller [mis-spelling: pillar]. The whole thing was [page 3] built from donations of various things rather than by contributions of money. One person would give the logs for the big pillers [mis-spelling: pillars], another would give wood for the pews, etc. In the vestibule is a bullet hole from a bullet shot when Washington seized the church from the British. The old original hinges are still on the door. They are the funniest old things known in olden times as the H.L. hinges - the name coming from their shape which was in this shape: [image: large H] Inside to the left is the only box pew still standing. All the rest were destroyed to use as fire wood for melting the lead on the ceiling into bullets when the church was used as a barracks. The old man made us sit in the pew which is in the same place as the old pew where George & Martha Washington sat. In a little museum at the back of the church are some huge, old prayer books sent over from England by William & Mary. There were lots of other interesting things too, but I can't begin to tell about them all. God's Acre, the subject of one of Longfellow's poems is just outside the church. Some of the tomb stones date back to 1708 and even earlier. Not far from God's Acre is Washington's [page 4] Elm. I have a post card crew of that to send you. Just down another street is a tablet set up where the "Spreading Chestnut Tree" once was, and a few blocks further on is Longfellow's house. I took several photographs which ought to be here soon. We didn't have time to see the Lowell or Wadsworth house as we had to get lunch in Boston. Right after getting back to Wellesley, we came up to the library & folded "College News" to send alumnae & students. There were about 25 or 30 up here [page 5] and everyone working just as hard as they could. I have been selling extra copies of the news for 10¢ a piece - have sold 77 so far, and have orders for more. Madge Tallmadge has gone into partnership with me on those leather goods, and we are putting all proceeds into the fire fund. You see, Mr. Rockerfeller [mis-spelling: Rockefeller] has promised us $750,000 if we can get the other $1.250,000 before Jan. 1 [deletion: 15], 1915. That means that we all have to hustle. We don't know yet how much has been earned so far but the "news" will try to get some [page 6] account of it out next week. The Juniors earned between $4500 and $5000 at their play in Boston. They were even made an offer that if they would go some place out on the coast, a special car would be charted for them & all expenses paid. Some acting to take like that! A Freshman handed over $2000 which her father sent - some Harford Freshmen earned $400, Harriet Bullard & her sister had a tea room & got $150, etc. Everyone is right at it! An alumna at Wellesley Hills has had stamps printed something like Red Cross stamps only with a little picture of the ruins on it. The girls who took pictures of the fire are selling them for 15¢ or 25¢ a piece. There are boxes put up by the doors of the different dormitories for extra change. This is the best place ever!! Everyone is perfectly wonderful. Of course things are rather inconvenient at present but everyone is perfectly happy about it. The 198 girls who were burned out are packed into the quad, in Stone, Norumbega & other campus houses. The maids have given up their parlor for a dining room for the girls and the C.H. kitchen is, of course, perfectly safe. It seems so funny (or otherwise) to [page 7] see that one lonely wing still standing. The fire-doors, instead of protecting C.H. from the kitchen, protected the kitchen from C.H. Steps have been built up the outside so we can go into G.L.R. through the window. I haven't had that privilege yet but have a class there tomorrow A.M. We run around from Art Building to Phi Sigma, to Music Hall, to Mary Hemenway to T.Z.E. etc. Our classes are scattered about all right. The new building will be done Mon. so they say. I am wondering what it will be called. Many very appropriate [page 8] names have been suggested such as the bungalo, bath-house, Energevey Hall, College Hall Protem, the factory, the chicken coop, the yellow plague etc. At present we are having cheering on the library steps but as soon as the new building is done we will have it near there. The first morning we cheered right after chapel. There was a fog so that from the library we could not see College Hall ruins. If it hadn't have been for the fact that we were cheering in a rather unusual place, things might have seemed just the same as usual. Yesterday however, when we cheered the day [page 9] was dear & bright & we could all see the ruins only a few hundred yards from us. We cheered just the same, but folks seemed a little mournful. College Hall is all roped off & men watch it continually. Did I tell you that the ashes are being sifted. Two gold candle-sticks were found perfectly good. I am most awfully busy with T.D., and will be more so from now on. There is so much to be done, & so little time to do it. And now Blanche has had to go home - had word that her father is very sick. Poor girl; it seems as if she, too, has had more than her share. First she got burnt out & now her father is sick. Then the T.D. work is worrying her, I know, and moreover she isn't very well herself. Of course she won't say she doesn't feel well, but she doesn't look one bit strong. Tree Day will not be open. Aren't you glad, Mutter, that your daughter is V.P. so you can come. You have just got to come this year, for you probably will not have a chance to see a Wellesley Tree Day again. Only a chosen few get tickets, you know. Come on, Mutter! Hurry up & get your game leg in working order again? [page 10] I bought a "Legenda" Wednesday for $2.25. Since C.H. burned I wanted one very much & then I know so many Seniors who pictures I wouldn't have otherwise. I will send it home in the next laundry so you can look up my friends & become acquainted with them. We had a fine Stu. G. meeting in Memorial Chapel [deletion: yesterday] Wed. As it was there, it had to be called by C.A. president so Ida opened the meeting with a prayer. Then came reports, business etc. Then Margaret Elliot read notes of sympathy from Holyoke & Vassar [page 11] Holyoke has promised to help us out on something we need right away if we will send an estimate of the amount necessary. Vassar sent $1,000. Radcliff [mis-spelling: Radcliffe] has given $1,000 & is earning more for us. Harvard has lent us scientific apparatus. It seems as if everyone were doing something. I have math next period & must get my lesson. Best wishes for a fine Easter. Wish I could be with you. Lots & lots of love to all, Eleanor.