Monday, February 24, 2014

Oh, Mount Holyoke, We Pay Thee Devotion

I was devastated when I lost my Mount Holyoke white gold signet ring. My parents bought it for me when I graduated and it had my initials and class year carved on the underside, with the college's seal stamped on the top. I wore it nearly every day on my right hand, and especially on days when I thought I needed an extra bit of luck or strength. I keep hoping it'll find its way back to me some day. While I know I could easily purchase a new one, that ring in particular has seen me through some trying times.

And while this isn't the same, I was thrilled when I came across this Wedgewood plate of Skinner Hall on eBay. When I clicked on the item's details, I was surprised to see that it was shipping from Devon, England. Luckily, the plate had a "Buy It Now" option, so I didn't have to bid against anyone else, but as soon as I saw it, I knew it had to be mine. Now, I'm not obsessed with collecting MHC paraphernalia, but it felt like it belonged to me - just like I felt like I belonged on the Mount Holyoke campus when I first visited as a high school junior over 12 years ago.

Skinner Hall, though home to the Economics Department (I was an English major), holds a very special place in my heart. I have wonderful memories of sitting on Skinner Green with friends during the spring - when the campus was at its prettiest - lounging on Adirondack chairs and looking across at the hall. It was also where my First Year Honors Tutorials with Professor Jim Hartley were held (I think the College has since discontinued these tutorials). We were a small group of five: we met once a week to discuss Great Books of the Western Civilization, with Professor Hartley (or "J-Hart", as we affectionately decided to dub him - both outside of class and to his face!) offering moral quandaries as discussion topics that were reflected in the works we read by Machiavelli, Dostoyevsky, and more.

When I look at this plate, I feel as though I'm standing there on Skinner Green, looking at the doors to the Hall. I can hear the noises of campus and think that, if I just turned around, I'd be facing Blanchard Student Center and I could walk in to buy a Chef Jeff cookie and meet my friends for lunch - just like I used to. Or, I could turn right and head towards Mount Holyoke's beautiful library to work on my senior thesis - experiencing the sounds of excited chatter bouncing off the sky-lit atrium and the quiet hush that falls as I ascend to the glass-stained hall of the main library.

These are the overwhelming feelings of nostalgia I get when I look at this plate. I may never get my ring back, but this will do in reminding me - every day - that I went to college at a spectacular place, with spectacular people, during a spectacular time.

Mount Holyoke, forever, shall be.


  1. Right there with you in feeling slightly displaced English-major love for Skinner Hall <3

    I've also been feeling some 2006 pride lately since we won the young alumnae giving challenge!

    1. Aw, I miss those days, Marjorie! No socks, no Sartre, no exit!


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