Catherine C. Luria

Why did you decide do go to college? Was it difficult financially or socially (did people look down on women going to college?) What did you want to get out of it?  

  • There was never any question that I would go to college (also my younger brother).  It was simply a fact.  My mother had graduated from Alfred University class of ’35 with a major in math.  I was excellent in math also.  I originally was going to be pre-med, but was about 10 years earlier than when med schools really started admitting women.  In the end I majored in Chemistry with a minor in biology, and lots of French (any class taught by Mrs. Blessing – I would take no matter what).  I just plain liked to learn.

What kind of career options were available for someone who wennt to college vs. someone who did not?

  • To attend grad school of any kind of course had to go to college – i.e. law, med, dentistry etc.  I went to a school of nursing which required that we have a BS or BA to be admitted, and we received a MS in nursing as our first professional degree.  We were really on the forefront of the preparation which became the nurse practitioner movement.

What was the classroom like? Was the mood serious? What was the teaching style(was it mostly lectures, group work, or something else?)

  • Teaching style was mostly lecture.  I suppose the mood was somewhat serious – but I certainly had a great time in many of my classes.  Had a great history professor – lots of discussions and I really enjoyed it.  Had an English class on satire – much fun.  Of course sciences meant labs – we had classes either M, W, F or T, Th,Sat.  We had classes until noon on Sat.  Never liked those Sat. classes but I think I had them all 4 years.  Labs were in the afternoon.  We worked either by ourselves or in groups – groups in anatomy and physiology class, by ourselves in chemistry usually.

Do you have any memories of the classroom experience or of college here in general that you would like to share? Stories would be great!

  • Probably the most unusual day was the day President Kennedy died.  I was in qualitative chemistry lab and lab was just starting when our teacher came in with a portable radio saying that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.  He stayed in the lab so we too could listen – and then we learned Kennedy had died.  We were real quiet, but stayed to complete the lab as best I can recall.  There was a TV in the living room of the dorm (I was a room-mate of a junior couselor, although I was a sophomore, in a freshman dorm.  Have to work to remember the name.) On Sunday I was leaving to baby-sit Dr. Wishner’s (Chemistry) child Nancy when Ruby shot Oswald.  Wishners did not have a TV so I did not see any ,more that day.  I cannot remember if I watched the funeral or not.  Even though we were close to DC it did not occur to me to go into the city.  I cannot remember if classes were cancelled – it does not seem to me that they were.
  • One of the traditions was that once a month seniors wore their black gowns all day to class etc.  In the science building you would see a row of gowns where we had exchanged them for our lab coats.  I thought that was a great tradition.  Other traditions were class sings, where in the evening a class would seranade the dorm of another class.  At that time most of the dorms held only one class.
  • Another tradition were the formal dances, long dresses, long white gloves, breakfast in the dining hall after the dance.  Ring dance was junior year when we received our senior rings.  I wonder if you still have the very sleek gold ring with onyx crest of the school.  Mine (and many) were pinkie rings.  I have mine on as I write to you.  Wonder if I could e-mail you a photo with my new I-Phone.
  • I lived in Virginia 204 my first year at MWC.  My third and fourth years I lived in Trench Hill, which is now your alumni building.  We all rode bikes from Trench Hill to campus, in skirts of course.  In the winter – skirts and knee socks.  I do not remember having warm tights back then but it sure would have been nice.  I was glad to have a bike to get from Science building to French at other end of the campus.

What was the dress code like? Was it strictly enforced? Did girls wear pants to class? Did people dress up for class?

  • It seems to me that wearing pants had not caught on that much yet – people could wear their riding pants to the dining hall if they had riding class right before dinner.  I don’t think it was “strictly enforced” – it seems to me it was a non-issue.  No, we did not wear pants to class and I suppose by today’s standards we were dressed up for class.  Not really an issue.  People did certainly “dress up” on Sun. if they went to church – heels etc.