Memories of UNH when it was 'young'
A make-believe moat surrounded us; only students, faculty could cross drawbridge
UNH mascot became the wildcat, prevalent in N.H. then.
UNH was made a University in 1923. I was there from 1927 to 1931. It was “very young” then. These are some of my memories:
In my college days was there a foreign face among us? Black or brown skin, slanted eyes, black tight curly hair, shiny straight black? Only one that I can remember: A well-built young black man who was well liked. He must have been lonely, not accepted by any fraternity.
Names might denote ancestry. Italians, Scandinavians, German, French, Polish, Jewish, Irish were our minorities. They were slowly being accepted. The Jewish students were the outsiders.
A YMCA was very active. There many have been activist students, but the one I met up with was a freshman who talked a group into joining a sorority, the bait being it was very social and therefore there were more chances to meet men.
Beer parties, no; daily tea parties, yes.
There was one church – a typical village building of New England style. A Congregational minister was supplied, probably from the Congregational Conference.
A Catholic priest was available for confession on Saturday and a Mass on Sunday in a rented room. I felt that the University was a town surrounded by a make-believe moat. Only students and faculty admitted over the drawbridge.
A student newspaper was published and delivered to students and faculty. A daily Boston newspaper was delivered each day to “the house”. One of my teachers encouraged us to read the papers and especially the editorials. I was never in a class that discussed current events.
Weekly convocations supplied some forceful speakers that left us with some “outside events to be discussed”, but not by many.
Lack of money for many was a pressing problem. Students applied for any available job: “helpers” in teachers’ homes for board and room, waiters in the freshman dining room, helpers in restaurants, in labs, compiling papers, working in the dairy, custodian work. Some students left for a time to earn money. A few student loans were available.
Some of the teachers and professors did not give final exams. They gave weekly ones. If your mark was a B+ or higher, you were excused. That was an incentive for me. I always had a high enough mark to be excused.
For exams, the girls in the Alpha Xi Delta house taking the same course would study alone and then meet together. Each one would have questions which we discussed well into the night. Then we closed our notes and the next day played bridge. Alone a couple of hours before the exam, we went over our notes, and then took the exam.
For English literature it was known that the trivia questions were very important. We spent hours together answering such questions as “Did he go by horse or coach?” “Did she wear a blue or green dress?” “Who won the tennis match?” In other words did you read the book carefully? Same old story. We’d close our notes and play bridge.
I made Phi Kappa Phi and the Home Economics honor society.
At the end of four years with diploma in hand we went out into a world – jolted with reality - to begin to earn a living and find a different kind of life beyond college. I was accepted at the Children’s Hospital in Boston for its dietitian’s course.
Most of us continued to learn, getting master’s degrees or PhD’s or developing interests which keep us busy to this day.
Hilly Durham campus was perfect for a tobaggan slide.
This article appeared in "A Pig in Congreve and other stories of a growing university", A Journey with Me Book, 2001
Photos suppplied by the UNH Milne Special Collections and Archives
Copyright © Rye Reflections 2006. All rights reserved.