Yesterday I blew through Me Again Flea Market on South Cedar in Lansing, Michigan, my not-so-secret source of costume jewelry, tiny treasures, and most recently, some wonderful old photo albums. The owner of Me Again, Sue Grainger, is a friend and knows exactly what makes me tick. She starts pointing out things I need to see the minute I walk in the door. I'm always in a hurry, and Sue saves me time by directing me to the sweet stuff.
The minute I picked up this "Memory Book", I knew I had a winner, and a blog post. This album was carefully compiled back in 1926 by a young lady named Miss Ollivene (pictured below), a spunky little brunette with long brown curls, and documented her first year at Oberlin College.
FYI: Oberlin College is a highly selective private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio. According to Wikipedia, it's noteworthy for having been the first American institution of higher learning to regularly admit female and black students. The Conservatory of Music is the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the country. It was also associated with abolitionism and was a key stop along the Underground Railroad.
Ollivene was there to study pianoforte, piano, violoncello, music theory, physical education, and "ear theory", according to the first semester schedule in her memory book. She lived in a house in a residential neighborhood supervised by a house matron, Mrs. Weeks.
She had two roommates who seemed to become fast friends, Fredie and Rene:
The girls studied in their bedrooms which didn't look like dorm rooms at all:
Of course, there were strict rules to be followed by the girls regarding social conduct. Perhaps some of the college students today would be wise to adopt some of these.....
Wait, there's more.....
Despite these restrictions, Ollivene has some pictures of the boys and their rooms in her memory book:
Ollivene made fun of the boys' athletic wear at Ohio Northern University, calling them "pajama rompers":
Overall, it seems that contact between boys and girls was pretty limited, so the girls got their jollies by staging a "mock wedding", where one gal dressed up as a groom.
These are admission tickets to activities at nearby Bowling Green State College.
Nothing about life at Oberlin was trivial for Ollivene. She even saved the wrappers to her favorite candies!
Breaks included time with family, including some clowning around for her sister's birthday party:
She was a sweet girl, wasn't she?
It appears that one of Ollivene's suitors, a classy gent named John, went the extra mile with this fantastic fan calling card:
Boys will be boys, as this doodle of a Hot Nurse confirms. Ollivene notes: "Swiped from Ray's Spanish book". In case it's hard to read, it says "I'm gonna get sick!" at the bottom.
Then, gasp, an urgent sounding letter from home is attached to the last page of Ollivene's memory book. Her mother writes:
Jeannette would very much like to come to Oberlin for the exciteful occasion. If you would like her to stay overnight, please drop her a note. Please keep the wedding as quiet as possible. Do not say anything to anyone.
What could have happened? Do you think the suave John swept Ollivene off her feet with his romantic ways? Or do you think the hormone-driven Ray took advantage of our innocent girl with the brown curls and got her in a family way, jeopardizing her college education and wasting all those hours of ear theory and pianoforte practice?
I've only had this album in my hot little hands for 18 hours, so with a little more time, I might be able to get to the bottom of it all and find out what happened to our Ollivene!