a life well lived

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What a day it has been 09/18/00

What a rare mood I'm in!  It was a wonderful Sunday.  The morning was quiet, with Elsa at church, then post-church breakfast with friends, and John sleeping upstairs.  The afternoon bustled.

Five or six of the Girls School freshmen moms came by in the afternoon for the fourth of five workshops Elsa had for making freshmen "memory boxes" which the moms will present to their daughters at a Cairnwood tea on the 24th.  There was so much energy in the house as moms picked up where they had left last week or got started for the first time. 

I saw young women I had not seen for a many years - like Kim Adams and Mary Van Zyverden - and met new ones, like Jamie Rose and Valerie Lehman. 

I could not see them working on their boxes, they were out in the dining room and I was in the kitchen, but I could hear them, all having what sounded like a good time.  One of the women talked about how she had dreaded this project and how happy she was to be having such a good time. 

The local women's alumni group sponsors this event celebrating the freshmen girls - or,as they are called on the invitation, freshmen women (!) - as they enter the Academy of the New Church. 

The tea is always a lovely time.  I hope to go again this year.  When the guests enter the entry hall at Cairnwood - a beautiful mansion that was first the home of John Pitcairn, then Raymond Pitcairn, and finally Willard & Gay Pendleton when he was Bishop - the first thing they see is a long table displaying all of the 8 1/" x 5" boxes, each one designed and decorated for a freshman girl by her Mom or a relative or loved one.  A delicious tea is served in what was the library, followed by a presentation in the exquisite entry room. 

Gay was an honored guest at the tea when she was alive and was able to go at least once.  She was so happy to see Cairnwood being used for such a wonderful use.  Hearing the women working on their boxes made me think of her.  She was a great woman and good friend.

After the last woman headed out the door, I announced I was ready for my nap (a bit late at 5:30).   Elsa said she had hoped to take me past the Assembly Hall so I could see it as it is being taken down to make room for the Mitchell Performing Arts Center. 

How glad I am that she persuaded me to go, in spite of being a tired chick-a-biddy.  It will matter that I got to see it when it was just beginning to be taken down.  There was a strange, unexpected sense of coming full circle, since I remember when it was built.  Today, in spite of some parts of the walls already torn down, most seemed still in place, and to see the huge Palladian window wistfully and beautifully outlined. 

It was good to have a chance to say goodbye to what feels like an old friend. 

It was back in 1931 that I watched them building the Assembly Hall.  I give Andy Klein the lion’s share of credit for it built;  he stood up in a meeting and lambasted the powers-that-be for dragging their heels for so long building something that had been needed for many years.   

There are so many memories associated with the Assembly Hall.  ANC basketball games, dances, operettas and plays, Assemblies, blood drives, voting, wedding receptions. 

I remember when, before the Field House was built in the late '50s,  the Assembly Hall was the center of ANC sports, where they suited up for football in the fall and baseball in the spring, where they played basketball in the winter. Driving past, I especially remembered graduations, with sugar cookies and punch served afterward on the lawn. 

It felt good feeling the happy memories and remembering the happy times. 

Many friends I have not thought of for years came to mind as we drove around the building, set against a vivid blue late afternoon sky.  We came across some current ones as we looped around the back - Carol and Justine Brannon and Gail Cooper.  We shared thoughts about the Assembly Hall.  The window panes were out along the back of the building, the emptiness covered with plywood, and some of the stones knocked out underneath the window sills.  Gail said if I got out of the car, I could look straight through to the sky of the empty back window.  I took her word for it.

The memory I think I will hold is the look of that back window, which inspite of having glass gone and the top of the wall above it knocked out, looked elegant.  I am glad of the chance to see that.

We drove around the cathedral so that I could see the flowers, which have never in my memory been so glorious.  It was wonderful.

Swinging past the college toward Childs Hall, Elsa suddenly stopped the car and backed up, driving into the college parking lot.  I could not figure out for the life of me what she was doing, then saw - Aileen King Synnesvedt (Louis' sister, not his daughter) and two other women were out walking.  It was the second time we have met Aileen while she was out walking. 

I asked the woman in the middle to take off her sunglasses (I cannot recognize people through sunglasses) and lo and behold it was Marge Merrill Rose.  I got to meet the third woman, who was Ginny Latta.  It was wonderful to talk to them.

We returned to College Drive, nipping past a female runner.  Out on Buck Road, Elsa pulled over - again - so I could talk to Bob and Laurie Klein who were out walking.  I admire how Elsa can recognize people way in the distance when she is driving and can recognize them through windshields.  That has always been difficult for me. 

We did one last pull over before heading home.  Elsa baffled me when she pulled into the driveway across from what I call the Junge compound and just waited.  The female runner we had driven past at the college pulled up alongside and turned out to  be Mary Jane Bruser Junge.  What was surprising was that Mary Jane lives in California.  It turns out her son broke his leg (playing football?) and needs to have it set, so she and Bergen (who has already headed home) came East to see how he is doing.  It was such a surprise. 

The evening ended up with Elsa making a "blessing box" for me to give Leanne Lehy, who hopefully is still at Sandstroms' today.  Elsa decorated the little box, then I wrote out in my own scraggly fist the individual blessings - health, wisdom, love, peace, community, and so on - which she cut up, scrolled and put in the box.  It was a nice way to end the day, with blessings for someone I love.

It was a wonderful Sunday.  As I headed up the wooden hill, there really was a smile on my face for the whole human race.  It was a happy day. 

Love to one & all - Katharine Reynolds Lockhart, ANC Class of '28

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