Alumnae Association Annual Meeting

Co-Presidents Martha Goodloe and Harriet Solomon gave this introduction to the presentation of our 50th Reunion Class Gift at the Bryn Mawr Alumnae Assocation Annual Meeting, May 31, 2015:

Co-Presidents Martha and Harriet at the Alumnae Association Meeting

Co-Presidents Martha and Harriet (front row) at the Alumnae Association Meeting

The class of 1965 was a class that bridged two worlds. We grew up during the halcyon, leave-it-to-beaver days of the 1950s, but by the time we entered Bryn Mawr as freshmen in 1961, the world was changing. The Viet Nam war and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were on the horizon, and so were Title VII and the decision of institutions like Princeton, Harvard and Yale to admit women. In 1961, smart women like us went to Bryn Mawr, as they continue to do today.

Without the internet, cell phones, laptops and iPads and only one television per dormitory and one telephone per floor, we were somewhat isolated from the outside world. But we were still socially conscious and touched by the civil rights movement. We gathered on the lawn behind Rhoads to sing “We shall overcome.” During the 1963 summer break, we heard Martin Luther King’s voice ring out to “all God’s children” that he had a dream. And we knew when Miss McBride went to Chester in the middle of the night to post bail for some of our more activist classmates. In 1962, we held our collective breaths during the Cuban missile crisis. In 1963, we were united in shock and grief when President Kennedy was assassinated.

During our first few weeks as Bryn Mawters, we dutifully learned Greek songs, including Sophias in three-part harmony. As instructed, we brought tea sets with us from home and served tea during noisy hour at 4 in the afternoon. Knitting was all the rage, and we somehow managed to take notes while knitting during class. Smoking was allowed, but confined to first-floor smokers, where bridge games were a distraction for some of us. We mostly obeyed the rules about not wearing pants to dinner or the Ville, and all our meals were sit-down affairs in dormitory dining rooms. In a custom that was not to last much longer, maids served us our meals as we sat chatting. In another sign of changing times, we were required to sign out if we left the campus at night, but we didn’t have to sign back in until 2 a.m. And we could sign out overnight anywhere except Haverford.

As the years passed, we struggled with freshman comp deadlines; we met the two-language proficiency requirement; we chose our majors; and we endured comprehensive exams in our majors during the last few weeks of our undergraduate years. We passed a swimming test in a pool located in the basement of what is now the student center; and we mostly joked about a required health course that was supposed to teach us about birth control and other less controversial matters no one remembers. We were all required to take the ever-popular Philosophy 101. For those of us who took Philosophy 101 from Dr. Nahm, we got to know the future President McPherson as his teaching assistant, Pat McPherson. Still influenced by Bryn Mawr’s Quaker origins, we referred to most of our professors as “Miss” and “Mr.” To us, even President McBride was “Miss McBride.”

After graduation, we went our separate ways, some to marriage and some not, some to work, and some to graduate school. We mourn the 22 of our classmates who died in the years following 1965, but of those of us who remain, more than 1/3 have returned to Bryn Mawr to celebrate our 50th reunion. Some of us travelled from as far away as California and Seattle. Some of us travelled even farther, crossing the Atlantic from our homes in England and Germany. Others of us came from right down the road in Philadelphia or its suburbs. All of us look pretty good for having just started the eighth decade of our lives.

Of our original class of 203, 191 (or 94%) completed their AB degrees, and 155 (or 76%) earned graduate degrees. Forty of us earned PhDs, and 84 earned master’s degrees, either an MA or an MSS. Fourteen of us earned a JD degree; 9 of us earned an MD degree; and 8 earned an MBA.

So we are mothers and proud grandmothers; lawyers and doctors, business women and social workers; professors and educators at all levels; writers, artists and musicians; biologists, chemists, psychologists and archaeologists; poets and a minister; economists, translators, editors and a figure skater. We are also volunteers and activists working to make a better world. Our very own Arlene Joy Gibson is the retiring chair of the Bryn Mawr Board of Trustees. We are justly proud of her.

Today, as our 50th Reunion Week End comes to an end, we celebrate each other and all that we have accomplished. We also honor the College for the part it has played in bringing us to this day.

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