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20 November 2006

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Leila

I am just cackling. All I can say is, what a tough chick!

My mother graduated from Randolph-Macon Women's College, not too far down the road from Lexington. THe school just voted this year to go co-ed. My, my, what Southern women have become...

In my mother's day they wore white gloves, fur coats, and had to be signed back into the dorm by midnight. Rich girls brought their own horses to school; scholarship girls like my mother made their own clothes and got summer jobs to pay for the mandatory fur coat.

Now they're putting football players into headlocks. What a scream. That girl has more guts than the whole Bush White House, I am certain.

W. Patrick Lang

Leila

In 1958-62 Randolph Macon Women's College was a fine place. When did your mother graduate? pl

taters

Good takedown - and effortless.

Frank Durkee

Col. My former wife's nephew went to VMI in the late 50's [ She was a Randolph Macon graduate in '54 ] his name was John White, nickname "Little John". they were both from Waynesboro, VA. She and I chaperoned girls for his dances several times. I always like John's cadet friends and enjoyed VMI. Very different from Prnceton which was my college but clearly a singular place. My early life was in great part mountains, ranches and Western so the roughness seemed normal the gentlemanness was a delight.

Leila

1961. President Quillian said of her at the 20-year college reunion that "Mary Edith inaugurated our Senior Year in Jail program." Yes, my mom is one of the two RWM-C women who sat in at Patterson's lunch counter in December 1960, trying to integrate the place. They had two African-American student friends with them, and two white fellows from another college. Mom was convicted of felony trespass (she was asked to leave when she passed her cup of coffee to one of the black students - and none of them left) and served a month-long term in the Lynchburg jail in February of 1960. She had her senior organ recital to play that April, graduation in June, and her wedding to my father the next day. (All of that, finals, AND she sewed her wedding dress. American women were made of quality stuff in those days)

The scandal was enormous and people told her she would never work in the South. Her picture was all over the front page of every paper in the state, and you know in those days a young lady didn't get her picture in the paper except for engagement, wedding, and possibly the Cotillion or something. My mother's family goes back to the early 17th century in Virginia. She was no outside agitator. However her church and eventually the college stood behind her. Also my father, natch, who was getting his masters' degree in engineering at VPI (they met at a mixer).

Now you know why I am half-Virginian, half-Lebanese, and a full-blooded troublemaker.

Why do you like RMW-C in those years, particularly?

W. Patrick Lang

Leila

There were a lot of colleges segregated by sex in Virginia in those days, and cadets went to a lot of them for mixers, etc.

I thought RMWC girls were smart, cultivated, polished and focused, something not all the others were.

Your mother clearly represented what I saw there, fur coats and all.

I did not know about the fur coats. That is funny. pl

W. Patrick Lang

Frank

It is difficult to explain to people the combination of qualities that you mention, but it was true. I hope it is still true. pl

Leila

Woops - Mom was arrested in Dec. 1960 and served her jail term in Feb. *1961*, a few months before she graduated from RMWC. It only matters to me, but I like to be accurate.

Funny about those mixers - I heard all about them - by the time I was a teenager in the 1970s, the customs sounded so quaint they might as well have been stories from the Victorian era.

linda

take a look at that jpeg -- not a hair out of place!

zanzibar

Leila

Thanks for sharing that vignette. Your mother is clearly a great woman.

At times I despair that we are losing the ethic of previous generations who created the seed corn we are living off now. Our horizons have been significantly shortened it seems and the interest is mostly in short-term gain. We don't act enough in terms of generations out.

ali

A fine example of American womanhood. Tocqueville would have recognised the type and it is a brave type that does not depend on out weighing an opponent in any sense.

Katherine Hunter

i dated a cadet at VMI in 1952 or 1953 and spent many interesting weekends there / smile / i was a student at GWU in DC and i met him at a basketball game / in 54-55 i was one of the first coeds at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville / and i still miss that beautiful place

i appreciate your blog very much

Term Papers

It is nice to read about the cheerleader, i really admire this, i mean its really looks interesting....
Thanks for share.....

Harriet Hodges

Mary Edith didn't go to jail. She was right back to school the next day--with many admirers (including myself) who would have joined her had we known what she was planning. Incidentally, I double-dated (with her) a Lebanese friend of hers. She wasn't a close friend, but a classmate I liked a lot. Always wondered why she didn't ask me or others she must surely have known would be sympathetic to go along with her to the sit-in. And, just to correct the record, there were no privately owned horses at RMWC. The stable was a shambles and the riding ring an ill-kempt joke. (I rode three or four times a week.) Robert, a surly black man I never saw smile, drove us out there. Fur coats? In four years, I never saw a one.

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