Valentine’s Day Deliveries at Smith

February 12, 2009

valentines-delivery-card

This Saturday Smith students may use their Facebook pages to send virtual flowers or water balloons or glasses of wine to one another in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Similar gifts were sent to and from Smith students in the late 1930s, but it was the Northampton post office and local telegraph employees who were responsible for those real deliveries.

In fact there were so many deliveries on February 14th that Valentine’s Day in Northampton was the busiest day of the year for local telegraph office employees. The Northampton post office was also overrun. Typically its canceling machine handled 10,000 letters on a single day; just before Valentine’s Day in 1937 the post office was canceling 19,000 letters per day! The local Hampshire Gazette newspaper reported that “the number of special deliveries increased from the average of 75 for daily business to 332 on Saturday and 16 on Sunday [Valentine’s Day itself].”

What were Smith students receiving and sending? Unusual deliveries were noted in press releases sent out by the Smith College Press Board detailing various types of valentines. In 1938 the gifts included ducks, goldfish, a ham sandwich, and even a few flowers and boxes of chocolates. Read the rest of this entry »

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A long, cold winter in 2008-2009

February 6, 2009

Winter time at a New England educational institution can be bucolic, bustling, bristling, or simply plain brrrrr-y.   Smith women take the winter in stride.  Sometimes its worth reporting how.  Cabin-fever must have gotten to the women in 1891.  A famous ‘snowball fight’ took place at the end of January and was reported in the National Police Gazette as a battle between the “Sophies and the Freshies.”

Smith College 'famous snowball fight', 1891

Smith College 'famous snowball fight', 1891

Clara M. Greenough, a member of the Class of 1894 recalled the snowball fight where ready-made snowballs froze the night before and ‘…became cannon balls” and were used by the Sophomores ‘…to unpleasant effect…The air was filled with taunts and screams and squeals’ until the battlefield was surrounded not only by students, but by faculty and townspeople, curious about the ruckus.  After the battle was over, the sophomores were victorious.  When this woodcut was published, Grace Landen (Rickey), Class of 1893, noted that  someone [President Seelye], put his foot down and “this was the end of snowball fights” at Smith.

Smith women take to winter in less competitive ways as well.  This photograph is of the 1906 snowshoeing club, as they clomp around Paradise Pond.  Remember, these are the days of cat-gut and wooden snow shoes.  Some folks still use them!

Smith College Snow Shoe Club, 1906

Smith College Snow Shoe Club, 1906

Snowshoeing continues to be a popular winter sport here in New England.  These young women were out in the skirts and shoes in 1895:

Cora and Clara on snowshoes, 1895

Cora and Clara on snowshoes, 1895

Skating on Paradise Pond is also a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Just the other week when frigid artic temperatures hit Northampton, a cleared space appeared on the Pond, and all would-be NHL All-Stars, Olympic figure skaters, and their families were out on the ice.

Skaters on Paradise Pond in 1888

Skaters on Paradise Pond in 1888

Student and townspeople skating on Paradise Pond, 1914

Student and townspeople skating on Paradise Pond, 1914

Smith women are creative in the ways they fight cabin fever.  Not everyone embraces the outdoors, but they can find pleasure in creating snow sculpture, and snow angels; in drinking lots of hot tea and hot chocolate, as well as making plans to head to someplace warm for March break!

May you find the perfect way to relieve cabin fever this winter.  Just remember Puxatawney Phil says there’s 6 more weeks of it to come!