Vassar College Digital Library

Eldridge, Muriel (Tilden) | to Mother, 6 February 1913

VC 1914
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In bed - 10:00p.m.
Thursday, Feb 6, 1913

Mother Dear -
    If you’ve seen the papers recently you’ve probably already read of the tragedy that occured here at college last night, but perhaps the news didn’t get “way out first”, so I’ll tell you about it anyway. Last night there were girls that went out on Sunset Hill tobogganing. All went merrily on until about half past eight, when there were only about two or three sleds of girls left on the hill. As one toboggan with two or three girls on it left the top of


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the hill, they heard this crash and splash below them, and tore down to the scene of action. A heavily loaded toboggan - four girls on it - had crashed through the ice of the artificial lake at the foot of the hill. The girls had slid out over the lake all afternoon in spite of the big danger signs and the cracking of the ice, so this bunch of girls had carefully avoided the lake before and gone on down the path; but this time the girl who was steering lost control and away they went.


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Some of the girls on the second sled raced madly up the hill shouting for help and one of them stayed behind to try and save the girls who had gone in. Of course, there was much excitement but finally President Taylor, Prof. Shattuck, and about all the janitors and chefs etc. in the college arrived and began pulling the girls out. Of course, they were in various stages of unconsciousness and hysteria etc. and none of them could remember how many girls there


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were when they started at the top of the hill - but Prexy feared they hadn’t gotten them all so he made the men stay down at the lake and fish around with their poles for a long time after they had gotten the rest of the girls under the doctor’s care. Sure enough about an hour after the accident, they found the body of the fifth girl where it had been carried under the ice - they worked over her all night, but she never came to.


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Prof. Shattuck and Prexy were both perfectly wonderful - they were soaked clear to their necks all evening where they had waded around in the water. Phoebe Briggs, San Francisco, A Freshman, was quite the heroine of the hour, for she had managed to save one or two before a single man appeared. No one thought that the lower lake at the foot of Sunset was very deep; it was made last summer by draining up a little creek - but it seems that the old


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channel of the stream was dredged out until it was some eight or ten feet deep in some places - and the toboggan happened to hit one of those places. The entire college was of course terribly upset. I myself was coming through Main from a committee meeting at the Club House where I met these scared groups of chalky-faced people who told me what the matter was. There were simply hordes of girls all over Main Corridor about


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the doctor’s offices, and they were sent to Strong besides all over Main for hot water bottles, blankets were grabbed right off people's beds, and mattresses and everything. It was perfectly terrible. The girl who was drowned was Bessie Mylod, a Senior - she was a Poughkeepsie girl - so her parents came right out with Poughkeepsie doctors - but it was too late. Prexy spoke about it in chapel tonight, he mentioned no names - said he would rather not


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talk to us about it at all, but he wanted to assure us that in our behalf he would offer the only possible in such a case - sympathy.  Poor man! We certainly did feel sorry for him, too - he felt so badly about it - well, it doesn’t do any good to talk about it now, but it certainly is awful - but really no one is to be blamed for it - the college had put signs all around the lake saying “danger” and on every


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bulletin- board in every hall there is a notice saying to keep off the lakes until permission is given to go on. The girls that deliberately tobogganed across the lake were simply running chances - tremendous ones - and these particular girls unredeemingly took the chance - and suffered for it.
    The music scholarships for the coming semester were announced last night. My friend, Marion Willard, 1914, got one of the two. I’m going to give a recital all


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by myself right after the Easter vacation - I’ll send you one of the programs as soon as it is arranged. Miss Chittendon gave me my first lesson Wednesday and She’s given me an awfully difficult Chopin Impromptu in six sharps to learn - I have a practice lesson - with Miss Williamson tomorrow morning - practiced for two hours straight this afternoon.
    Did I write you that I handed in very good papers


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in both Interpretation and Philosophy examinations? I certainly was pleased! I think I am going to like Psychology very much - we've had three interesting lectures thus far - and the course bids fair to be most enjoyable.
    Didn’t Evelyn do well on that drawing you sent - I have it framed up in my room and it’s looking at me from the wall now as I write. 
    It has turned terribly


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cold here - I suppose we mind it doubly since it comes on the heels of such mild weather. Everyone goes around with red noses and blue lips most of the time. I resorted to my fur coat in a hurry. Two weeks ago I wore my suit with perfect comfort - last week I called my beloved blue coat into constant service and now I hate to get out of my fur coat even to go to bed - it’s so cold -


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Something I’ve been meaning to ask you for a long time and never could remember it was: - why did you send me that wedding invitation addressed to Mr. Israel Tilden? I never heard of the people who sent it - I imagine you haven’t either and that’s why you forwarded it, but isn’t it funny? Mary Josephine Whats-her-name means absolutely nothing to me whatsoever - 
    Florence has a birthday next week and what I’m


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going to get for her is more than I know. Dixie had hers Monday and I sent her some yellow jonquils. She had a grand birthday party - her family sent her a huge box of food and a $10 bill for salad, ice-cream, cake, etc. which she bought at the Inn. My! but it all was good. Ted Corey had us down there the other night for grape-fruit and last night again for chocolate.
    Indoor Track Meet is coming off in a couple of wks.


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I’m so proud I don’t know what to do - we have three topics in Psychology to do before the end of the semester, and I have one of mine finished already! I also have a long topic - sort of a paper - to do for House Sanitation, and two essays to do for German in the near future. Do you wonder that I’m thinking of moving my cot over to the library temporarily?
    It’s no longer ten o’clock


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for it's taken some time to write all this and I must go to bed, for I’ve been having a little eye-trouble lately - too much reading, I guess. My eyes got sort of blood-shotly and queer - the girls insisted that I had pink-eye during exam-week, but I don’t think so. Don’t you dare worry about that now, or I’ll be sorry I told you about it. It’s absolutely nothing save a little too much eye-strain.
    Much love to all - do write often if you can - 


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Page 17 front of envelope
Mrs. Bert O. Tilden
“Gregorian” - Apartment 710
Detroit Michigan