Letters to the Editor


The Inspiring Story of the Fire

I’m writing today to congratulate you on how meaningful the current issue is. Back when I was a Wellesley student, I had realized that there was a major fire at Wellesley decades earlier and that a building had been destroyed, but I had no idea how large the building was or how much of the College was contained in it (“The Night That Changed Wellesley,” winter ’14). The 100th anniversary stories in Wellesley magazine and on the Wellesley website are fascinating, informative, and inspiring, starting with the editor’s column. Alice Hummer, Lisa Scanlon Mogolov ’99, Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz ’63, and everyone else involved should all be congratulated. What an inspiring story that everyone was able to remain calm and get out safely and that the College opened again only three weeks later!

Claire Parkinson ’70, Greenbelt, Md.

Lessons of the Fire

Thank you for your excellent articles on the College Hall fire and its aftereffects. I thoroughly enjoyed the coverage.

My mother, Marion Scudder Cameron 1917, was one of the girls in nightgowns who filed out that night. She and her roommate had a paper due soon, she told me. Her roommate had written hers, my mother had not, and the roommate’s paper was burned up in the fire. The lesson my mother carried away and taught to me was that it can be a great mistake to be too forehanded. Last minute is safer. Through the years, with manifold late-night sessions over academic papers, I followed her advice pretty faithfully.

Mary “Polly” Cameron Williams ’44, Raleigh, N.C.

A Mother’s Experience

Thank you so much for the fabulous article on the fire! My mother, Bess de Beer Aufsesser 1914, was in the fire, escaping with just her coat. She, of course, never really got over the experience. When we traveled, we always stayed in the lowest-floor rooms that were available. Looking at the pictures in the Wellesley magazine, I can surely understand why.

Betty Aufsesser Sonneborn ’44, Slingerlands, N.Y.

Post-Fire Leadership

Thank you so much for your articles on the college fire. My mother, Helen Oliver Underwood ’21 (a student for two years around 1918), told me that she was told that the next morning at chapel, President Pendleton chose Beethoven’s “Hymn to Joy” for the students to sing, with its lines:

“Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away.
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day.”

Indeed, President Pendleton did “set the course of the College.”

Elizabeth Underwood Mosley ’45, Jenkintown, Pa.

Courage at Wellesley

This is a wonderful story of the courage of all of the people involved in rebuilding the College after the great fire!

Marie Vallance ’47, Newtown, Pa.

College Hall and Other Memories

I have enjoyed the current issue of the alumnae magazine immensely. I lived in Tower Court all my years at Wellesley. There was a remnant of College Hall just down the hill from Claflin. I’ve always been struck by the immensity of College Hall and the great statement it made on behalf of women’s education. Another memory is the Widows. When I joined them, they wore pastel shirtwaists and dark skirts. My mother, Mary Gunn Wells ’38 (herself the daughter of Harriet Willcox Gunn 1903), thought that garb made no sense and that we should wear black, as widows. I brought the thought back to the group, and the rest is history. I have always been grateful to be a Wellesley alumna. The College has always been a great pioneer.

Anne Wells Harms ’59, West Lebanon, N.H.

Think About Legibility

Kudos for your latest issue (winter ’14), especially for the coverage of the fire. However, I ask that you forgo the artistic benefit of colored pages (blue, red) for white. The print on colored pages is difficult to read.

Nancy Barclay Graves ’48, Arlington, Va.


About Those Cookies

While a student at Wellesley, I lived in Munger Hall from 1955 to 1958. We had a wonderful pastry cook, who was rumored to have come from the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Mass. Enjoying her popovers, sticky pecan rolls, pompadour pudding, etc., was a delicious way to escape from the stresses of academic life. True, I did weigh more than I have since (except while pregnant), but memories of those treats have inspired me to be a very successful baker. I was delighted when Wellesley published the recipe for pompadour pudding. My mother-in-law shared her coffee-cake recipe with me, so I managed to recreate the pecan sticky buns, to my family’s delight. Whenever anyone who enjoyed one of my creations requests a copy of the recipe, I am pleased to provide it. I believe it is a form of immortality to have one’s recipes passed along.

I was disappointed to read that Lori Davidson kept her recipe for “crack” cookies a secret (“Sinful Sweets,” winter ’14). It seems a bit selfish to deny the pleasure of enjoying those cookies outside her domain.

Mary Benedict Sauer ’58, Naples, Fla.

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