This past week, about a thousand alumni of my alma mater called me some variation of “awesome.”
“You’re a fucking rockstar!”
“I need to meet you. We would so be friends!”
“You are a queen!”
I think I sold some books based on a single posting I made in the online tea group.
I mean: yes, I am a rockstar. A queen. A national fucking treasure.
To women. Who went to a women’s college.
I don’t discount that, but the people in the world who are most like me are, well…like me.
Value-less thought of the week: Stovedump dumping me made me think a lot about Laura Woolsey Lord Scales, Smith Class of 1901. There is a dormitory on campus named after her.
The foremothers of Smith (Ada Comstock, Mary Ellen Chase, Eleanor Duckett, et al) all lived to deliciously ripe old ages. Laura Scales wins for longevity, as she lived to see her 110th birthday and missed her 111th by a few weeks.
Laura Lord was married to Mr. Scales for only four years. He left her a young widow, and she spent the rest of her life in service to Smith.
Ada Comstock married in her sixties, after retiring as president of Radcliffe College.
(NOTE: I fucking love that photo of Ada Comstock rocking her Class of 1897 Ivy Day staff like a boss. I know exactly where on campus she is standing–in front of Seelye, with her back to Seelye Lawn and Dewey House. Neilson Library is to the left as we are looking at Ada. And OMG CAN WE GET CLASS SMOCKS FOR OUR TWENTIETH REUNION?)
Mary Ellen and Eleanor were a couple, though to what extent that was known or accepted back then I do not know. But there goes the legend of why their houses are connected in the back.
But all of them lived to be really stinkin’ old. There’s a picture of 108-year-old Laura Scales on the internet and whoa, she looks all of her years, but they must have been good ones for her to keep having them.
Laura Scales might have lived to 110 because of great genes, because she jogged and ate fruit and rarely spent a day doing something she didn’t want to do. Being at Smith her whole life might have had something to do with it–why leave Paradise for Paradise, right?
There wasn’t some man asking Laura Scales for his dinner, or being weird about her commitment to being the Warden of Smith. (The Warden is now the Dean of Students, but imagine, if you were a Smithie in the 1920s and 30s, it was to Mrs. Scales you would go to to have her sign the slip that said your parents grant you permission to go motoring off-campus with boys.)
She read books and signed slips and maybe drank port with Mary Ellen and Eleanor. Maybe she had lovers–she never would have let the record of history show that. Unlike me and probably you, too.
I don’t want to live to be 110, but she had to have been happy to hang on that long. Smith probably had something to do with that. Maybe she was awesome and funny and smart and people loved her, and that’s all she needed.
At Smith, one of my archives jobs was to do errands for Margaret Grierson, Class of 1922. (I almost typed ’22, but the Class of 2022 is about to rear its born-after-I-graduated head). She was 97 when I’d walk to her apartment and ask her a million questions about Smith in the 1920s.
She had no idea why she was still alive.
She was married for eight months in the 1930s, and she devoted the rest of her life to the Ladycollege.
The scientific answer to the science of female longevity is, obviously, never leave Smith.
They dragged me out of Baldwin House kicking and screaming. I lost my voice and use of my legs the week after graduation. Seriously: I couldn’t walk for, like, three days. I laid on my bed at home-home and watched TV and cried and crawled to the bathroom. I remember my family ditching me to go to Disneyland. (Little Bro was seven at the time.)
I bet if I swore off men and took a teaching or administrative post at Smith, stayed until I retired, and then moved into a Smithie-occupied retirement villa, I would live to be 120. Easy.
OMG, I saw a guy in Portland obviously out on a date with a woman ACTUALLY WEARING A T-SHIRT that said “I BRING NOTHING TO THE TABLE.” ACTUALLY WEARING A SHIRT THAT SAID THAT.
I bet I would be shunned for wearing a t-shirt that reads “I BRING A LOT TO THE TABLE.” Or I’d get some sexist snark, like “BRING A SANDWICH TO MY TABLE.”
That Smithie retirement villa is going to have one hell of a table.