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who, what, when


A circus in Saratoga? Who is this elephant, who are the suits, and what was the
occasion? If you have an answer, tell us the story at 518-580-5747,, or Scope c/o Skidmore College. We’ll report answers, and run a new quiz, in the upcoming Scope.


Ready, set, serve. Debra Goldfarb Isenstein ’61 joins many others in their certainty that the photo was shot in the fall of 1958 in the gleaming kitchen of the newly opened Moore Hall dormitory on Union Avenue. Alumnae from that era all remember the meal-serving duties required of second-semester freshmen and first-semester sophomores. (Phyllis Dye Turner ’49 and Marjorie West Bahlke ’48 describe similar service in their day too: “Kitchen employees were not available during World War II, so we gals had to do KP duty,” says Bahlke.)

Carole Oswald Markus ’61 recalls, “The table settings were different for every menu, so by looking into the dining room you could usually tell what was for lunch or dinner. On Wednesdays we had—a big deal—coffee at dinner and had to ‘dress up’ for that. It was a different world. But it didn’t hurt us to do the work—we were more appreciative of the service we received.” Nelle Nugent ’60 says the work was “a social leveler. Because it was unpaid but compulsory, it gave everyone, no matter what her background, a taste of ‘scut’ work.” Barbara Effron ’59 agrees “it was a great equalizer, which allowed for a sense of community and cooperation.” Nancy Wiedenman Lester ’58, who did her serving at Fathers Hall, adds, “I think nursing majors had to do it only once a week because of their heavy academic load.”

Diane Macht Solomon ’62 writes, “It was so nice to have meals served to us. When I return to reunions, I always recall the pleasures of dining and my favorite lunch of chicken salad”—whereas Anne Burrows ’64 asks, “Is that ‘mystery meat’ on those platters?”

And Judy Allen Wilson ’69 objects, “Diners and servers were required to wear skirts. One winter I had chapped knees! (It was a long walk from Van Dusen to Moore Hall.) I think we finally got rid of dinner and lunch service around 1968—along with the skirts.” Valerie Blumenthal Gordon ’61 remembers the dress code too, and possibly some of the students pictured: Debbie Martin Grabner, Judy Lewis White, herself, Gail MacGill Meyer—“all ’61 and residents of Wilmarth, two doors left of Moore Hall.” Mimi Shapiro Weiner ’61 recognizes “some of the gals from Smith House,” and Janet Alling ’61 offers the names of Julie MacLaren West and Joyce Kawamoto Feldhaus as well.