Cherie Wells Brunfield

Why did you decide to go to college? 

  • My parents expected it—it was considered a natural progression from high school.

Was it difficult financially or socially (did people look down on women going to college)? 

  • My father worked overseas, for a substantially larger salary, in order to be able to pay for a college education for both my brother and me.  Living overseas was not particularly considered a hardship! And by working and living out of the country, my parents were able to send both of us, as out of state students, without going into any debt.

What did you want to get out of it? 

  • Well, my mother wanted me to find a well-to-do husband—“you can fall in love with a rich man as easily as a poor one….”  Oddly enough, I never gave that question a thought—I guess I was just expecting to get more education and go into a “white-collar” career.

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

  • That would depend on whether you mean just a liberal arts college such as MWC/UMW, or whether you also include any specialty training after high school such as nursing.  Basically, I think that with only a HS degree, the options were secretary, store clerk, or some outdoor manual labor.  With a college degree, the world was more or less considered “your oyster”.

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

  • Except for the seminar groups—to which I personally did not belong—and, of course, science labs, most of the classes were lectures, serious in style.  We were, after all, being sent to college to learn….

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

  • There was a dress code; it was, more or less, enforced depending on what you thought you could get away with.  It wasn’t uncommon to wear a trench coat over your pjs for early morning breakfast, or over shorts on the way to PE at the gym, or sometimes across the street to the Post Office (which was off-campus in our day).  Mostly we wore skirts & blouses or dresses, sweaters, knee-high sox, loafers, hose, flats—not dressy, just normal every-day clothes.  And for those of us from the tropics, we wore lots of layers in the winter.  Slacks were a no-no, although I was on campus at the end of semester break, Jan. 1966, when there was something like 2 feet of snow, and I did get permission from my House Mother to wear slacks to the P.O.

What was dating like? 

  • What was it supposed to be like?

How did you ladies meet guys?

  • At mixers held by the college; blind dates from friends; guys we knew from HS; on planes flying home for Christmas vacation.  The mixers drew young men from UVA, Randolph-Macon, and TBS (THE Basic School) at Quantico.

 

Were you allowed to have guys on campus and if not, did students do it anyway?

  • Obviously they were allowed on campus or we wouldn’t have had school-sponsored mixers.  If you mean, were they allowed in our rooms? not so much.  If there was a really special reason, one would be allowed after a “Man on the hall” loudspeaker announcement.  Did students do it anyway (have guys in their rooms)?  Probably, although I personally didn’t know anyone who did.  Most of us lived by the motto “Discretion is the better part of valor”, accent on discretion.

When you did go on dates where did you go and what did you do? 

  • We went out to eat (just about anything was better than Seacobeck food!), we went to the movies, we went bowling, we went to DC particularly the clubs in Georgetown, some went to Richmond; mostly we left town because there really wasn’t much to do in F’burg.

What was the atmosphere of campus: did it stress academics or more of the social life? What did you do for fun? Was there a lot of partying on campus? 

  • That’s a bit of a loaded question.  The college stressed academics—we all were there, after all, to learn (well, and catch a husband if possible J).  On the other hand, social life wasn’t exactly ignored: i.e., school-sponsored Mixers.  There was the Devil-Goat competition, Ring Dance, May Court—all school-sponsored—as well as movies in GW, plays put on by the drama students, Distinguished Lecturer presentations.  Most of us were part of some group or other, from our dorm or from one or another of our classes, that did things together.  There were several bridge groups in many of the dorms, bridge being pretty popular in those days.  If there was any partying, it was probably pretty mild by today’s standards—mostly non-alcoholic and definitely non-coed in the dorms during the week.  Mostly, MWC was empty on the weekends, when as many as possible went somewhere else.

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! 

  • Being at MWC wasn’t too different from the preceding 2 years when I was in a boarding school in Georgia, although the rules and regulations were so much freer that I had no complaints!  (Really, my boarding school was something out of the 19th century!!!)  As for classroom stories:

1)    My freshman English teacher who, being at that age himself, was convinced that ALL literature derived from sexual thinking!

2)    My first-semester American History prof who was seemed so formal that my roommate and I made sure that we were “elegantly” dressed for his class—especially since we both sat in the front row!

3)    My Geology prof, Dr. Byrd, who was so frustrated when one of the particular idiots of the class said “But that was the whole world as they knew”—regarding the 40 days of rain during Noah’s Ark—that he threw a piece of chalk at her!

4)    The French IV professor, a newbie at teaching, who excused me from an assignment because I insisted that I couldn’t do poetry in English much less French!

5)    The Psych 101 prof who blushed EVERY TIME that the word SEX was said aloud, even if it was just used to denote gender.  She did get over that and became a good friend for the rest of the time she was at MWC.

6)    Dr. Quenzel, who taught 2nd semester American History during summer school, asking me a question—when I appeared totally inattentive—which I answered immediately, and  correctly.  Dr. Q had a totally photographic memory and, from that day on, I could do no wrong.  He was also the Head Librarian and would talk to me about things that worried him, and also give me more freedom than was usually allowed in the library stacks.  He was one of MWC’s major assets, and a huge loss when he died.