Barbara Mann

1. Why did you decide do go to college?

My father told me, when I was in high school, that a woman should be able to
support herself in case she didn’t get married, got divorced, or her husband died.
His mother finished her schooling, 11 years at 17, and her stepfather drove her in
a horse and buggy to a nearby town that needed a school teacher. He just
dropped her off. She found a family to live with and taught school. Teachers
could be women back then, but not married.
My father’s father worked hard to help his family and took years to finish his
degree. He became a lawyer and a judge. My father’s family were mostly teachers
or ministers, so there was no talk of me not going to school. My mother’s father
was a dentist.
I decided to teach elementary school when I was in fifth grade. Was it difficult
financially or socially (did people look down on women going to college?) No.  What
did you want to get out of it? A degree, so I could teach. I applied to only one
school, MWC.
2. What kind of career options were available for someone who went to college vs.
someone who did not.

The sixties were a decade of big changes. In 1957, the Russians launched a
Sputnik satellite and the “Space Race” was on. The US had a
military draft and you went to war when “asked.” During the Viet Nam war, the
marines, up the road at Quantico, bought fancy new cars with the clause, “If I die
the car is paid for.” On November 22, 1963, I had taken a field trip to the Museum
of Fine Arts in DC, when I heard President John F. Kennedy had been shot. Friends
were fighting and dying in Viet Nam. Other men resisted the draft, burned their
draft cards, and got arrested. Others left the country for Canada. The Viet Nam
war played out on TV every night. There were reports of marching in the streets
mostly after I finished school and riots in LA, even in front of the Democratic
National Convention in LA in 1968. Also that year, Robert Kennedy and Martin
Luther King were shot. Before that the US had a stay-at-home Mom idea, unless
she had to work. Teacher, librarian, secretary, nurse were the “professional” jobs.
3. What was the classroom like?

Rows of desks on behind the other. Students were often seated in alphabetical
order or by seating chart. Was the mood serious? Yes.

4. Do you have any memories of the classroom experience or of college here in
general that you would like to share?

The first question on my first History test “The History of Civilization,”
stated a list of 4 ancient Egyptian rulers. You were asked to give the
dates of the lives of these pharaohs, within 100 years. “Mastery of the subject”
meant memorize the facts and dates.

The women have remained life long friends. The internet and e-mail brought old
friend together again. We have helped each other through marriages, babies, and
grandchildren, illnesses, operations, health problems, and even deaths. What a
wonderful group of women the MWC Class of 1966 has been!
5. What was the dress code like?

Most girls wore skirts, blouses with Peter Pan collars, a
wool cardigan, and “Wejuns,” penny loafers with stockings and a garter belt. Was it
strictly enforced? Yes Did girls wear pants to class? No Did people dress up for class?
No, skirts were worn everyday, unless you didn’t get up in time for an 8 a.m. class.
Then you wore your “baby doll” pj’s, pettipants, or regular PJs with the pants legs
rolled up under your “London Fog” raincoat. That way you could go to the Seacobeck
for breakfast, the C-Shop (like the Underground, without music) or the Post Office
across College Ave.
6. What was dating like? How did you ladies meet guys?

There were “Mixers” for Freshmen. You met friends of friends, went on
blind dates, or dated Marines. Were you allowed to have guys on campus and if not,
did students do it anyway? Yes, but it was very restricted, except for girls who broke the rules. All
“gentlemen callers” were announced by the assistant at the front desk in the
“Parlor,” over the “intercom.” If you had a “caller,” that meant date. If you had a
“visitor,” that could mean anyone else. The front doors were locked at 11, 12 on
weekends, and you were in trouble, if you were late. I forgot to “sign in”
Freshman year, even though I was there on time. I had to sign in and out 3 times
to go off campus in the evening. Howard Johnson’s Ice Cream was across Rt. 1 in
what is now Eagle Village. No one had cars except a few lucky Seniors, so you
walked everywhere. I think of the wonderful “Butter Brickle” ice cream, even now.
7. When you did go on dates where did you go and what did you do?

Often out of town to the men’s schools, Randolph-Macon, VaTech, W&L,
and UVA (MWC’s real name was Mary Washington College of the
University of Virginia) UVA was all men, except for the education
department, school of nursing and medical technology.
8. Were there many married people on campus?

The only girls were married to Marines in Viet Nam and with
special permission. A few lived in town.
9. What was the atmosphere if campus, did it stress academics or more of the social
life? What did you do for fun?

We made our own fun. Freshman year we would
jump out the first floor Willard window and run around outside in our
“pettipants.” (I know, tame!) The Ice Cream truck “the Ding Ding Man” invoked a
Pavlovian response and we Willard (one of the 3 Freshmen dorms on campus) girls
were out the door, with the prerequisite trench coat over our baby doll PJs, on the
first ding. Was there a lot of partying on campus? No, all girls school. What did
you do when you went out? Partying happened out of the “10 mile radius” of
campus, often on weekends at the men’s schools or at Quantico.