Monday, March 30, 2015

Peg Glessner - Oberlin College 1928 - 1932 Music and Art influences.

 Born Margaret Mary Glessner, my mom preferred Peg.  Here she is during her college years with her father, Harry Chappelear Glessner, (Born Fredrick Glessner).  
From p 25 of Peg's Rememberings "I am very thankful that my parents wanted me to go to college. Possibly they may have regretted that decision because my mother said, in a sad tone, that before I went to college I had always agreed with her! However, for some one in my parents circumstances, sending me to college was the accepted thing to do. How did I happen to go to Oberlin? When the Oberlin College Men's Glee Club gave a concert in Findlay during my junior year in high school, I attended a reception for the members afterward, where I was favorably impressed with the group and with the director, Jack Wirkler. The following year, Harold Kuntz, an Oberlinite from Findlay, invited me for an Oberlin weekend, no doubt upon the urging of the Admissions Office. After being escorted around the college, staying in a dorm and receiving other super treatment, I was sold on Oberlin.
I was thrilled when I received word that I had been accepted at Oberlin and at Grey Gables, a privately owned college dormitory operated by Mother and Daddy Dudley. I don't remember if I had applied to other colleges. In the fall of 1928 I packed my wardrobe trunk, which was sent by train, and was off to college."

 Here is a photo from Pegs album of Grey Gables around 1929.

I recently discovered I had 3 of Peg's very large Hi-O-Hi Oberlin year books, and decided to take a look and even call the archivist to see if the college would like them.  Quite a quality printing here, with a color print of Jean Fredric Oberlin born Strasburg then in France, who was a pioneer in education.....Quite the cursive honoring the art of France.....and of interest for me, what was to be Peg's major.  From Hi O Hi, 1932.

Grey Gables - Peg Glessner, Jean Joiner, Jane Randle, Tasha Stone, Annie Laurie MacIntyre - P75 1932 Hi-O-HI
 From Peg's Rememberings Memoir p 25 from
"Oberlin, Ohio, the home of Oberlin College, was a small town with few stores. At the A & P grocery, after selecting some oranges, I asked their price from a middle-aged, bareheaded man, who appeared to be a clerk. He humbly informed me that he didn't work there; later I learned that I had made my inquiry of Professor Ward, head of the Art Department. Sundaes of chocolate ice-cream with marshmallow sauce were enjoyed at Tobin's Drug Store. My assigned roommate, Mary Jane Tyler from Ashtabula, Ohio, and I occupied one of the three freshmen rooms on the first floor of Grey Gables. Ty and I had many interests in common, including beaus (the term "boy friend" was not in usage) at Ohio Wesleyan College at Delaware, Ohio, John Mygatt from Ashtabula and Merlin Loach from Findlay, and identical wind-up, portable, orthophonic victorolas. Very inexpensive phonograph records, constructed of plastic grooves on a thin cardboard background, were available with current hits, such as "Mood Indigo", "Deep Purple" and Rudy Vallee's "Stein Song" and "Your Time is My Time".  "I continued to stay at Grey Gables, having a single room my junior and senior years. Jane Randle (Banks) had a very small single room, a converted closet. She and I, with some others, used the unoccupied third floor as a dormitory and our second-floor rooms for study. During one summer Jane and I took a correspondence course in Interior Decorating from the New York School of Design.
About twenty girls lived at Gables, including Betty Hughes (Giddings) as well as Jane Randle, two gals who have visited me at Pelican. The Gables' dining room was coed, with some of the men waiting table for board, Cy Giddings among them. The cook made such good, gooey butterscotch rolls for Sunday breakfasts. I was introduced to some other yummy foods, tuna fish and creamed salted codfish on biscuits. After the stock market crash in October 1929, when I was a sophomore, the Findlay bank was closed that housed my parent's funds. I had little or no cash, but tuition and board had been paid for the semester, so I could carry on.
My college major, History of Art, consisted of illustrated lectures and the study of ancient, medieval, renaissance and modem sculpture, painting and architecture of Europe and America. With other students I spent many enjoyable Sunday afternoons at the home of Professor Clarence Ward, the head of the Art Department (from whom I tried to buy oranges at the A & P store when I was a freshman), chatting and listening to him and his wife read some of the hilarious works of Robert Benchley. After graduation I had hoped to get a position in an art museum, but art museums weren't adding to their staffs when I graduated in 1932 at the height of the Great Depression.
I had a wonderful course in music appreciation, taught by Professor Jimmy Hall, learning about music from Bach to Stravinsky. A course entitled "International Irenics", Problems of Peace, was taught by Professor Jaszi, a most fascinating person of Slavic background.
Not being enrolled in the Conservatory of Music, I couldn't receive credit for my voice lessons, in my Freshman year with Professor Harroun and in my Senior year with Professor Benjamin. Conservatory students performed rather regularly at student recitals, so were not as nervous as I for my one performance in my senior year, when I sang two Schubert Lieder, Der Angling and der Tod and Freude der Kinderjahre. I hoped that I did not appear as strange as the bassoon soloist who performed the same night in a flowing gown. In my sophomore year I tried out for the Women's College Glee Club and made it. Every year the Glee Club, with about thirty-four members, presented a concert at the college, but its main activity was an annual spring vacation tour, traveling in a chartered bus to give concerts and spread the word about Oberlin College. (See picture #5, page 133.) Our director, Jack Wirkler, was a peppy individual of perhaps sixty years, whose wife chaperoned us on our tours. Each year we selected a long, formal dress.  Clubs celebrated with a formal dance of taffeta or satin for our appearances. At the end of the year the Women's and Men's Glee In addition to the choral numbers, we presented musical skits. One year I had fun being in a small group wearing Dr. Denton pajamas (those pajamas for infants with drop seats and feet sewed in) doing silly gymnastic movements; in another, with five other girls I danced in Dutch wooden shoes.
On the tours, we stayed over night with a roommate in selected homes, usually those of Oberlin alumni . During my three years in the Glee Club, we traveled: South, to Berea College and the blue grass country in Kentucky, Wheeling and Huntington in West Virginia; East, to Princeton, New Jersey (where we sang in the College Chapel), Pennsylvania Dutch country and New York City; West, to Toledo, Ohio, Polo, Auburn, Chicago and Oak Park in Illinois, and Waukesha, Wisconsin. In Polo, Jean Joiner, a classmate, took some of us to a basement speakeasy, a place where alcoholic drinks were illegally sold during Prohibition.
At Oberlin I tried a little drama, playing the role of Queen Elizabeth in a one-act play. One of my cornier appearances was with Jane Randle, when we blackened our faces to look like the Golddust Twins, performing a clog for something or other. The Golddust Twins were the symbol for a cleaning powder.
I started to smoke cigarettes, asserting my independence and not agreeing with my parents. Health threats due to smoking were not promulgated until much later. Being on the Board of the College YWCA, I thought that the YWCA might not appear to have only "goody- goodies" in its membership if there was a smoking member on the Board.
Oberlin had no sororities or fraternities, but each year dormitories sponsored dances and other social activities. Grey Gables featured a picnic on Lake Erie and a dance. Cars had to be found to take us to the lake, since students weren't allowed to have them. For one of the dances I remember using my imagination to paint exotic fish on brown wrapping paper with show-card paints. My favorite corsage was a gardenia with its lovely, penetrating scent. Getting to Delaware, Ohio, from Oberlin to attend a fraternity dance with Merlin Loach and spend a weekend at Ohio Wesleyan College, was a problem in logistics, transferring from train to train."
Women's Glee Club Tour
 From Peg Glessner's album "Just before take-off"- Note circular sign at the back of the bus. Likely on campus at Oberlin.
This photo is featured in Peg's memoir she self published in 1993 at age 83. From above she labels it is Jack Wirkler (director), Sarah Bradley (sic) Bradfield is a classmate, and Newt (bus driver)  (See picture #5, page 133.)
Peg labeled this in her album "Milwaukee - movies taken and everything" 

Here on p 173, of the 1932 Hi-O-Hi is Peg Glessner, top row, middle labeled as the"social chairman".

Among the Oberlin traditions at graduation time were a Daisy Chain, when junior girls picked field daisies and wove their stems to form a chain to be carried for the seniors, and Illumination Night, when candle-lighted Japanese lanterns were strung across various areas of the campus. Seniors were permitted to drive cars at Prom time. Going on a jaunt in the car of Jane Randle's parents with Roscoe Bloss and Eddie Pliske, we had an accident with no serious injuries, only sore bruises and distressed Randle parents. The Oberlin Senior Prom was an all night affair, ending with breakfast at Lake Erie after a change of clothes. Again, Eddie Pliske was my escort.
Although I was not close to belonging to Phi Beta Kappa, my grade average was good enough, B plus, that in my senior year I had unlimited cuts for classes and chapel. In June 1932 I graduated    with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. (See picture #6, p. 134f)

Peg Glessner, 1932, Oberlin College Graduation. 

FIRST YEARS AFTER GRADUATION In the fall of 1932, Sarah Hartman, Fran Gillespie (Sarah's best friend at Mt. Holyoke College)    and I drove East in the Hartman Buick coupe. Thinking back on it, I'm amazed that our parents let us do    this. Sarah and I picked up Fran in Pittsburgh, traveling on to New York City where we saw Ginger    Rogers in Girl Crazy. Then on to Annapolis, Maryland, where we were met by Mike Mumma, a cadet we had known in Findlay, who provided us with tickets to a football game and dates for an evening dance.  En route to Boston, Massachusetts, we drove all night through terrible, pea-soup, thick fog.    We were nuts. In Cambridge we stayed with the McNeil sisters, Sarah's and Fran's Mt. Holyoke friends,    in their apartment on the Charles River where I saw the lighted dome of the Massachusetts    Institute of Technology. (Now, in 1993, son Jim is teaching and doing research at MIT.) In Boston we visited the Gardner Museum where I was impressed by a painting of a Spanish dancer, "El Jaleo", by John Singer Sargent. In the wharf area we saw Faneuil Hall and ate lobster in an upstairs sea food restaurant. Our next stop was Springfield, Massachusetts, to visit Sarah's Aunt. The object of the trip to  Springfield (or maybe of the entire trip) was for Sarah to see Walter Jones, a graduate of the Case    Institute of Technology whom she later married. From there we drove to Ithaca, New York, where we attended Cornell University football game and enjoyed the school song with its beautiful harmonies, Shores of Lake Cayuga".

 "Religion, religion in Art" Talk
Later that year I busied myself preparing and giving illustrated lectures in my home on the topic,
City. "Religion, religion in Art", renting slides from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York Obviously my clientele was ladies from the Presbyterian Church, friends of my mother. Teeny, blackish insects (about one-eighth inch long) crept in under the glass of our Findlay picture frames. We called them "thrips". Our pictures were dotted with these wee bugs.