Vassar College Digital Library

Pratt, Mary (Morris) | to mother, May 2, 1880

Abstract
VC 1880
Content Warning
he Vassar College Archives within the Digital Library include some images, texts, and material items that are racist, xenophobic, or otherwise harmful. The Vassar Libraries have provided descriptive text and additional notes whenever possible to alert Digital Library users to these items. The Engaged Pluralism Initiative Race and Racism in Historical Collections Project Group is working with the library on contextualizing and facilitating community conversations about these materials. For more information see: https://library.vassar.edu/rrhc
Details
Identifier
vassar:24952,Box 72,VCL_Letters_Pratt_Mary_1880_008
Date
May 2, 1880
Type
Extent
1 item
Rights
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: VCLLettersPrattMary1880008001
Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
May 2,1880

My dear Mithery-

I shall take it
for granted that you are very anxious
to hear all about Founder's Day & every
thing so I am going to begin at the
very beginning and tell you about every
thing, that is unless my strength &
paper give out, for I have a great deal
to tell. I only wrote my little
speech a week ago yesterday and on
Thursday Prof. Backus conducted me
up into the chapel and I had to march
up onto the platform and hold forth
to an awful array of empty benches
with Prof. B. in the background. He
made me say it over and over un-
til I got over being frightened at
the sound of my own voice and

 


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880008002
could regard the performance in a
very practical way. It seems
just as silly now as it did then
when I stopped to think about it,
but a more awful, non compos, feel-
ing than the one that escorted me
up the aisle every time, I trust I
may never experience. Then I had
to rehearse again before Miss His-
cock and two of the girls & that was
"non compos "-er than the first time.
Lola and Millie came up Fri-
day afternoon and a good many of
the old girls were here so that it was
very delightful for us.
I had argued the matter pro &
con, between my desires & the state
of my finances & in the end con-
cluded not to get any roses to wear
with my dress. But Helen in a
most delightful way presented me
with ever so many perfect beau-
ties in the afternoon, & soon af-
ter Estelle brought me some choice

 


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880008003
Jacque Minot roses, so that I was
more than abundantly supplied.
Oh I must tell you about my
gloves it was such a joke- You know
they were yellower than any other
part of my attire except the toes of
my slippers- In the afternoon Jane
tried on her pretty pink dress &
then found that her gloves looked
fairly grey beside it. After some
vain attempts to find a yellower
pair, a happy thought struck us
her gloves were the same size &
length as mine & we decided to
exchange. There was never anything
more fortunate for me for hers were
just right for my dress. I changed
the appearance of my dress a little
by using the extra piece of lace
for a sort of kerchief so that
none of the cashmere showed in
the front. (Chapel bell has
rung.) Just as the girls were ar-
ranging my roses- Lola sent

 


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880008004
down some more exquisite roses from some one of the gentlemen who came with her had brought up. I may as well say now - as I know you will be glad to hear it - that Mr. Eugene Colgate ("Gone to G.") was the bringer of the roses and grand ones they were too- I wore just about two dozen of them in a great bunch at my waist and they kept perfectly all the evening and some of them are still lovely in a vase in the room here. Lola's brother came up with her and Mr. Colgate, but Mr. C- especially took my attention, as I had heard so much about^ him. His appearance is very different from anything I had dreamed of- He is tall and large with darkish hair and moustache and looks every day of twenty eight or thirty years- His manners, either from his French training or something, are as perfect and dignified as if he had

 


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880008005
spent thirty years in society. I describe him as accurately as possible so that you may
try to harmonize this person with the "cowboy" we teased Lola so much about.

At seven o'clock I called for Mrs. Ray & then we received, with the vice-president, Ada Thurston, until after eight o'clock. It was rather tedious work especially as I was oppressed with the thought of what was coming. Once I thought I would try my remarks over to myself and to my horror couldn't remember what I had known perfectly for days. I concluded that things were getting to a pretty pass and did some severe mental "bracing'" during the rest of the time. Then we went up to Mrs. Ray's parlor, and after some more waiting which reduced me to a very rigid state the procession started. President Caldwell

 


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880008006
and I leading out. As soon as we were in the chapel I felt & heard every body just turn around & gaze, so studied my slippers as I hadn't quite the hardihood to meet their eyes, & thought it better to reserve that pleasure until I want out of chapel with a relieved mind.

The chairs on the platform were awfully high, my skirts were starched exceedingly stiff, and I had a terrible consciousness that I was displaying more than the tips of my slippers. I couldn't make any change of position then so didn't stir while the President made his opening prayer. Then came my show. Non compos wasn't any state compared to the one I was then in. My voice sounded so queer that I had a wild desire to laugh (which I suppressed) and I tore along without knowing how anything I was saying would sound to all those queer looking pink things

 


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880008007
which were supposed to represent faces. Well I finally got through somehow without making any break

-- I left out two words though and made the audience "sympathize with the () exercises of the evening" instead of "with the spirit of the exercises". However no body knew the difference, and a great many of the people afterwards asked in incredulous tones if I really was frightened, so I imagine that most of my show was invisible.

I got back to my seat safely, my train behaving like an angel & never turning over or under once during the whole evening, but when I sat down my dress would not stay down, so I finally grew hardened & concluded to appear as if that were the way I "always came down stairs." To relieve your shocked feelings I will comfort you as the girls afterwards comforted me

 


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880008008
with assurances that there was nothing objectionable in view from even the nearest part of the audience. The programme consisted of an address by Miss Harriot Stanton (Class of '78); a song, by the distinguished Miss Beebe; an address, by Mrs. Mary A. Liver more; and another song by Miss Beebe, to which she sang an encore. Then we
promenaded out of chapel but it was worse than coming in as far as the gazing was concerned. Though my conscience was clear I had as little desire to meet people's eyes as if I had been a convicted criminal. The rest of the evening was lovely- We went down to the collation first, and there I met Miss Stanton's brother who used to be at Cornell. Afterwards the Glee Club sang beautifully, then we went over to the Gymnasium. The regular Gym. was prepared for dancing

 


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880008009
and the Art Gallery and Museum were lighted for promenading- The half-past eleven bell struck before the dancing was any where near over, and after we all came back to the house the Glee Club sang again- So it was a good deal after twelve before the people left, and about one o'clock before I was ready for bed. I didn't dance at all, and my train slid around beautifully but I grieve to say that it has a decided tint around it, & even up on the ruffle, and my slippers tell a tale of the color of the dress. Saturday
there were crowds of visitors who came out to see their ladies, and I was busy all the time between Lill and her party and Lola and hers.

Poor Lola had an awful headache and just before lunch had to
give up and go and lie down. Estelle came for me to take her

 


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880008010
place so I went into lunch with them and afterwards when we walked out to the garden & spied the tennis nets up, had great fun playing. Mr. Eugene is a splendid player, but seemed to rather enjoy our awkward efforts, and not to be at all bored. Lola didn't come down until it was time for the car to go for the 4.00 train, and then didn't look very comfortable poor thing. So I didn't see so very much of her not nearly so much as I wished to, but will have another chance when she comes up for Commencement.

We were invited to take lunch with the Loomises to-day but this morning it rained so hard that we didn't go in town not dreaming that it could clear off to be so lovely as it is this afternoon. We were pretty favored in respect of the weather for Founder's Day as there was no rain

 


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880008011
from Friday A.M. until this morning, which was quite wonderful considering how easily it has sprinkled & poured lately. I haven't quite got rested yet after all the excitement I had Friday night & have just been trying a nap but it didn't amount to any thing only to
make me feel stupid.

What do you suppose! Something in your watch broke last night so that it wont go any more, and I feel perfectly lost. It isn't the main spring that is hurt for I can't wind it up at all & make it stay; it springs back again so that it jerks the key out, and I don't try it any more- It hasn't kept a bit good time since I took it to have it cleaned, & the hands have caught twice, & then it had to go through this performance. Shall I wait & bring it home when I come or shall I have it fixed in town? They say there is a good jeweler

 


: VCLLettersPrattMary1880008012
there who understands about watches. I am afraid I shall have to have some new shoes soon too, as mine are growing very shabby looking.

We went in to see Mrs. Dwight the other day and had a very delightful call on her and the baby- I gave her your message then for I hadn't had a chance before.

I have been thinking and considering about something very much lately and now I want you to think and consider about it a little.

When you and Minnie come up to see me at commencement time I want you to bring Ray too. Now don't commit yourself in any rash way or listen to Papa if he says "Nonsense" of "Don't be silly enough to say yes to any such wild plan of that crazy girl," but just consider a little. In the first place it wont cost any more for he is so...