Monday, April 20, 2009

Still not finished...........

I picked up the mail today and found the Spring/Summer issue of the Penn Hall Alumnae Pillar. The newspapers claim to fame was 67 years of Fashion & Fun. I attended Penn Hall Junior College for one year back in 1967.
It was the first time I had ever been entirely surrounded by girls with not a boy in sight. It was, if I'm not mistaken, the only place that my parents would agree to send me. It was a "finishing school" and I think they were convinced that I needed finishing.
The student handbook, updated in 1950 hadn't changed much by the time I got there. "Sports dress, tailored slacks, sweater and skirts were the usual attire for classes and every- day-wear". This wasn't suggested this was imposed.
Students were required to change dresses for dinner in the evening.
I found this one particular "rule" difficult to take seriously. I wore the same blue jean skirt the entire year, to dinner, never washed it, just wore it over and over. As a result more attention was paid to me when it was my turn to be "head" of the table. They couldn't give me demerits for the skirt but they sure could if I ordered to many pitchers of milk for the table or an extra basket of rolls and they weren't eaten.
I spent a LOT of time in detention. Sadly, I seemed to be the only one in detention which tells you more about the rest of the school than me, I think.
They actually had a Best Dressed Girl award on "campus". The nominees were chosen for :
1. Having a clear understanding of her fashion type.
Well, I did but my fashion type didn't quite fit with the rest of the school. I didn't really own any conservative clothes. I liked wild colors and big bright flowers.
2. A workable wardrobe plan.
Oh, that's a good one. My mother, a woman who lived by THE LIST made a monthly wardrobe rotation chart for me.
Since I paid for half of my school year myself from my after school jobs I didn't really have any extra money left to buy clothes. Since my step sister was also going to college at the same time, my parents didn't have any extra money for clothing for us. We were left to deal with our high school wardrobe. That's where THE LIST came in.
My mother felt that if she itemized every article of clothing I was taking she could rotate skirts and shirts, etc so that I would never repeat myself for an entire month. It boggles the mind to think of how much time this woman spent designing this chart.
I rotated between my black turtleneck sweater and my other black turtleneck sweater. I wore them with my navy skirt and my black skirt, the rest of the clothes stayed folded up in the box they had arrived at the school in.
3. A suitable campus look.
Sometimes there is just nothing one can say about something.
4. Appropriate look for off-campus occasions.
Oh, this is a good one. This doesn't refer to walking into town because it was assumed that we wouldn't really be doing that. I mean what was the point. There was nothing in town that we needed.
I know that it referred to those bus trips to some other college where we would be herded off the bus as if it was a cattle call. I'm not proud of the fact that a friend and myself crouched, behind the back seats, waiting for everybody to get off the bus and be evaluated by the college boys waiting and watching them. When all was quiet we exited the bus. I just didn't have it in me to be a "lady" while some A*&#$ decided if my bust and rear met their approval.
5. Individuality in her use of colors and accessories.
Black is not a color.
Looking like a "beatnik" is not proper use of a young woman individuality.
I wasn't a hippie because I didn't wear the long dresses, bright colors then.
I wanted to look serious. Like I really attended Wilson College next door and was studying something very estoric.
6. Last but not least, deft use of make-up, clean, shining, well kept hair and beautiful posture.
Black eyeliner, hair up in two high ponytails tied with rope was not what they meant. And the posture thing. Oh hell, I knew how to walk with a book on my head but assemblies were soooooooooo boring so I slouched in my seat. Slouching in your seat is NOT proper posture and was a cause for detention.
Which is why I spent a great deal of my time sleeping in detention.
Detention was on your word of honor. I guess I could have just skipped it and said I went but I didn't lie, so I went and slept. I was always well rested for dinner.
Like I said, I lasted a year. I told my parents I was coming back home, going to the technical school in Philadelphia and that was that. I finished more of my advanced education at the University of Wisconsin. But by Penn Halls' standards I was never properly "finished".
I can live with that. :)


  1. This is a great story that you've never shared with me. Somehow, when we first met I thought you subscribed more to the finished mode-your great "Jackie" looks and style sense. Figured your fashion sense had always been recognized...and, now, I find out that you have always been the iconoclast you are now.

    Great narrative. Enjoyed it thoroughly.


  2. Well, remember, when I met you I was older and a little wiser. lol
    I think I was just basically pissed at where I was being sent. Pissed that authority, my parents, the school, the world. shrug....
    Probably a typical young adult. :)