Thursday, September 18, 1969
Finally at Barnard - I can't believe it!
Completing last minute packing, I stuck my diary into the toilet articles case. We were late to the Ws' house. J had her hair parted in the middle, neatly set. She wore a white belted raincoat that made mine look babyish.
[For orientation, everyone lived in the regular Barnard dorms, including commuters, which I officially was.]
We finally got there, double parking behind many cars, the one in front with a Mass. license plate. People scurried around, carrying luggage. Boys were all around and I assumed them to be new Columbia freshmen, or people's brothers. "Commuter freshmen, straight ahead," read a sign so I followed J to a desk in the Barnard Hall lobby. Trip lists were posted behind the desk. We signed up for things and rejoined our parents outside.
The Reid entrance was the only one open, so we went in there. The lobby was congested and we walked through the lower floor to the Hewitt elevators. Actually, Reid's would have been more convenient but we didn't realize it. We eventually found 606 Brooks at the end of the hall, but the key didn't fit the lock. A girl came up to me and asked what the trouble was. I went down with her to get another key. At the Reid desk, we learned that my key should have been 84, but they gave me 34 by mistake. I thanked her and she disappeared.
My room was a surprisingly big, bright yellow single, in which I was the sole inhabitant. I really had expected a dingy room with 3 cots jammed into it. I wasn't sure of the plans to meet Mommy and Daddy, but figured we'd say goodbye at 5, after their meeting. L had put a note on my door saying that if I didn't find her by 4:15 to meet her in her room. I checked her room and she wasn't there. Lu from New Orleans had left a note that she had arrived, was wandering around, and couldn't wait to see L. By now I too really wondered what everyone looked like.
All types were around the halls as I wandered aimlessly - hippies, nice-looking types, everything. I also kept seeing the same sponsors. J wasn't in her room, which is in the Hewitt wing of my floor. Back at L's, I found M had also arrived, wrote "Me too" on the note, and Lu wrote that she was back in her room.
Finally the door next to me was open, and I told G I was in her sponsor group. She just got there. She had the biggest false eyelashes imaginable, but I knew she must be smart. She loves opera, and is going with a guy from NJ. We went to Barnard Hall to look for our parents and saw J there, who said they'd meet me in front of the library at 5. Back in the Reid lobby, G bumped into her mother, who was happy to meet me.
We went back to our rooms, and then up to L's again. She wasn't there, but Lu, very pretty and wearing my red dress except with long sleeves and M, were. L burst in a second later. She didn't look at all like I had imagined - short, with short, frizzy blond hair. She had an assured manner which we lacked. The last girl in the group was visiting friends, so we were off.
First I kissed Daddy and Mommy good-bye as they waited with Mrs. W in front of the library. Then we went to Milbank and got our registration packets. There was a confusing array of notices posted outside the registrar's office. Lu was worried that "recitation" meant you had to recite something. I wasn't put in the freshman section of Calculus IIIB. G has to commute and her chem class is at 9; she attempted to figure what other science she could take. After a short look at Milbank, where the job opportunity notices were interesting, we went back out in the cold, windy weather to the dorms. L told us to be grateful the steps were finished. The new buildings [McIintosh and Science tower] were not yet open.
We went to our rooms to wash up for dinner. Ironically S, a friend of E's cousin D who I visited last year, is now a floor counselor for the adjoining Reid floor, and has the room across from me; her former roommate who I met is down the hall. At L's room, we joined forces with her friend's sponsor group and went to dinner. The line was incredibly long. By now I knew several of the freshmen and sponsors by face. J passed on her way to the line's end, and had changed to pants. She introduced me to her new friend S. Her sponsor absent, she had to adopt another. I'd die if faced with that situation. Things were pretty well organized for our group.
Since the choices of veal and salmon looked fattening and unappetizing, I had a fruit plate which someone said looked like a "big dessert," with salad and diet cola. The main dining room mobbed, we went to the faculty one. We talked about high school mostly, places we applied (Lu also got rejected from Yale), background. G talked of the theatre and opera, and we compared English syllabi. We were all in honors sections. Lu hates New Orleans's total emphasis on society; she is considered a leftist radical there because she will sit next to a Negro on a crowded bus! She had to shorten her skirts 2" before coming to NY.
Lu went with G to make a phone call and I was to meet them outside after getting rid of my tray. But I couldn't figure how to get out after they beckoned to me through the window. L led me finally through doors which threatened to sound alarms and didn't fulfill that boast. Outside was very cold.
The residents went to a meeting in the Hewitt dining room, and L led G and me to McIntosh, which inside still looks unfinished, where the commuter meeting was in progress downstairs. We slipped into seats in the back. We were told we were the first to use the College, never "Student" Center, and how commuters shouldn't be degraded. One girl said how lucky we were and we didn't realize how great it was to have the McIntosh Center. Dorothy Urman [now Denburg, the Dean], who seems slightly hippie-ish [huh? She really wasn't], told of how she was going to a student leader convention.
We broke up into small groups. I brought my chair over to the one nearest me, which included R from GN South who was in my 6th grade class. The leader J did most of the talking, explaining that you should complain loudly if your classes are too early, asking the lady how SHE would like getting up at dawn. Remember the horrible gym requirements in high school? said J. "Well, you have it again here." You just cannot get out of gym. What a pain! [not so bad - I took badminton, bowling, self-defense, and exercise] Commuting is pretty messy, we were told. In the blizzard last year, the commuters got there while the residents didn't bother showing up.
I walked back to the dorm with a Chinese girl who almost hugged me when she learned I also would be a math major [I ended up making my own major in statistics]. She got a 5, too, on the AP, but is in IIIB's freshman section.
I went up for the floor party and had to go through Reid's as I reached the top of the stairs. Mine was small and in the middle of the Brooks hall. The girl who helped this morning turned out to be the floor counselor Y. People wandered in and out. Y is from Gary, IN, of poor parents, and wouldn't want to risk her education for demonstrations, etc., though she helped carry blankets to Hamilton's occupants in '68. She was very nice, talking about her experiences, advice on boys - don't ever go up to his room on the first date; threats of showing you his stereo equipment, etchings, etc. could lead to trouble. She said Barnard girls are considered "loose," and that you might as well go to the mixers because you can have a very nice time.
With G, I went to visit Lu. Our knock produced no answer, so we knocked on the door across the hall. It opened to reveal chaotic unpacking by J from Tokyo who is very cute, and her roommate. They got along well. Lu soon came back and her roommate came in too. S is from Baltimore and seemed nice. We went across to look at the different setup of Lu's room and stayed there the rest of the time. J came in, excitedly waving a letter; her parents will call from Tokyo for her birthday next week.
We all can't believe we're FINALLY here and decided it was a great place in an exciting location. While Lu unpacked, we talked of our families. S is a twin, one of 5 kids in the family. Her sister is at [school with my next-door neighbor E]. We soon left, after leaving a note for L to wake us up. I showered in the Brooks bathroom, but the water started cold and turned hot; there was no way to regulate it but at least it wasn't weak. I went to bed very late.