Arts and Leisure

Carrie Gowing Writes About Life at Mt. Holyoke, 1905

Carrie Gowing was a 19-year-old college freshman at Mt. Holyoke in 1905, studying Latin, taking walks with friends and rearranging her room. She wrote a long letter to her sister in Hudson, N.H., that describes her life in South Hadley, Mass.

Carrie Gowing

Carrie Gowing

Unfortunately, Carrie Gowing had diabetes. She would withdraw from Mt. Holyoke at the end of her sophomore year. She died late in 1907.

Here is the letter she wrote to her sister Mary on May 7 1905:

My dear Mary,

I should be very much pleased to hear from you, if you can get any time to write to me from your busy practicing. I know you are very busy but I know too I should like to hear from you very much.

I received Mamma’s letter last Monday and also a letter from Helen Tuesday. She told all about her fine time with Frances Haskell and Mr. Chandler. She must have had a most delightful time I think. I wrote to her Monday. Our letters just about always meet. You should see “big(?) minds move in the same direction.” I haven’t any long walks to tell you about this time for we have stayed at home this week. We didn’t take any cold, I suppose you will be glad to hear. I put on my summer clothes this week. Inez was perfectly astonished because I haven’t changed before. She changed in March, but I haven’t been at all uncomfortable till just this last week, so I didn’t care to change. I have put my hat away in the bag. I shook it before I put it into the bag, but there wasn’t anything in it then, so I guess it will be all safe. I suppose my blankets will be all right in my trunk this summer.

I don’t know but you will be tired of hearing me go into raptures over South Hadley, but I do think it grows lovelier every day. Prospect was simply glorious this morning. There are so many different shades of green and red on it and the lake below makes it so pretty. I saw a gold robin yesterday. I guess he was the first of the season. He was singing away in the apple tree, which is just beginning to blossom just opposite my window. After breakfast yesterday morning Mary Davis and I took a little walk down by the lake and we found a few violets. We also saw two cat -birds sitting close by their nest. When I came down from chapel this morning I saw another cat bird in one of the trees, and he sat there quite a while so I had a fine look at him.

We have begun “Horace” and it is fine. I think it is the most interesting Latin I have ever had. It consist[s] of short odes and they are all interesting. One was on a coquette.
We have had strawberries two or three times lately and last Friday evening we had cucumbers for dinner. I wish I could have some of your nice cream to eat with the strawberries.

What do you think! I wrote to Miss Parsons last week. I felt just like writing last Tuesday evening and I wrote to Floss and Irene and Miss Parsons. Don’t you admire my courage? I hope she will answer it soon. I wrote on my class stationary [sic], two sheets of it. I hope there isn’t anything objectionable about the paper. You know she knows what is just right. Any way the paper was white. Have you written to Jennie yet? I think I shall send her a litter [sic] soon.

It was great fun to see the Seniors skip rope and the Juniors spin their tops. The Juniors had baby Hammond come up for the affair. He is one of their class honerary [sic] members and they were going to have him ride in a cart decorated with red paper, but he was frightened and strongly objected, but he wanted to push the cart himself.
Tomorrow I am going out for a walk with Helen Foillet, one of the Sophs. I went with her to see the Juniors spin their tops. Next Saturday afternoon we draw lots for our rooms, and the Saturday after we choose our rooms.

We have made out our schedules for next Semester. I am going to have 4 hours of Chemistry 3 hours of Zoology, 1 hour of English, 2 hours of Literature, 2 hours of Bible and 2 hours of History. I think I shall like that schedule very well. Just think I shan’t have any language. That will be quite odd, for I have had them for so long now.

Inez and I have changed our room about. We have our couches nearer the windows. Hers is under the windows and mine is drawn up nearer the window. I believe it is the way they were arranged when we came last fall. I didn’t want mine right under the window. It makes quite a change in the looks of the room; my desk is at the foot of my couch and her desk is just where it used to be, just under her gas jet. I don’t know as Auntie will remember how the room looked. My gas bothered me last week. It made a sputtering noise, so I spoke to Miss Parsons about it and she had it fixed, so it is all right again. She had a birthday last week and the girls who have been at her table gave her some pinks, roses and sweet peas.

I wish you would ask Papa what the under ground railroad was in the time of the civil war, by which the negroes escaped to the north. I have seen a reference to it and the minister on Sunday spoke about a certain woman who helped people escape by it. It wasn’t really an under ground road was it?

I do think it is dreadful about Mrs. Mordo’s boy. I don’t think it could be much worse. We can’t blame her for not telling us, for I don’t see how she could. I should think it would be much easier to write it.

I have been reading Jane Austin’s [sic] “Pride and Prejudice” I rather like it now. It is an old fashioned story. The girls faint and get sick without any good reason. One of the girls took a walk of three miles and it just about made her sick. I read that just after Mary and I had taken our long walk and it was rather amusing.

I am sorry to say that Clara Ridgway has gone. She found the work too hard for her. She is far from strong, so her mother insisted upon her going home She went last Tuesday. I was very sorry to have her go, for she was such a nice friend. She is going to see a doctor when she gets home and see if there isn’t something the matter with her, for she doesn’t get strong as she wants to. She is going to be with her grandmother. We took a fairwell walk to-gether Tuesday morning after breakfast up Prospect I wish she might have stayed a little longer so she could have seen the campus in its full glory, but it looked very fine that morning. I told Clara I thought I would have to call on Mrs. Ridgway once in a while so she wouldn’t get so lonesome. She gets so tired after her work is done that she can’t go out much so she is very lonely.

I guess I had better bring this letter to a close and study my “Horace” for this afternoon.

Your ever loving sister
 Carrie.

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