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- STORY OF WELLESLEY - 33/33 -
Don't hesitate to come and call On Hen-House day at Wellesley. Niobe sad, and Harriet, and Polly Hym and Dian's pet On Hen-House day,--on Hen-House day, O! Hen-House day at Wellesley. Come walk right through the big front door, Each hour we love you more and more, There's fire-escapes from every floor Of the new Hen-house at Wellesley."
Having thus formally adopted the new building, whose windows and doors were already wreathed in vines and crimson (paper) roses which had sprung up and blossomed over night, the college now hastened to the top of College Hall Hill, whence, at the crowing of Chanticleer, the egg-rolling began. The Nest Egg for the fund, achieved by these enterprising "Freeman Fowls", was about fifty-two dollars.
Far off in Honolulu there were "College Capers" in which eight Wellesley alumnae, helped by graduates of Harvard, Cornell, Bryn Mawr, and other colleges, earned three hundred dollars.
The News has published a number of letters whose simple revelation of feeling witnesses to the loyalty and love of the Wellesley alumnae. One writes:
"A month ago, because of obligations and a very small salary, I thought I could give nothing to the Endowment Plan. By Saturday morning (after the fire) l had decided l must give a dollar a month. By night I had received a slight increase in salary, therefore l shall send two dollars a month as long as I am able. I wish it were millions, my admiration and sympathy are so unbounded."
Another says: "Perhaps you may know that when I was a Senior I received a scholarship of (I think) $350. It has long been my wish and dream to return that money with large interest, in return for all I received from my Alma Mater, and in acknowledgment of the success I have since had in my work because of her. I have never been able to lay aside the sum I had wished to give, but now that the need has come l can wait no longer, I am therefore sending you my check for $500, hoping that even this sum, so small in the face of the immense loss, may aid a little because it comes at the right moment. It goes with the wish that it were many, many times the amount, and with the sincerest acknowledgment of my indebtedness to Wellesley."
From China came the message: "In an indefinite way I had intended to send five or ten dollars some time this year (to the Endowment Fund), but the loss of College Hall makes me realize afresh what Wellesley has meant to me, and I want to give till l feel the pinch. I am writing (the treasurer of the Mission Board) to send you five dollars a month for ten months."
From nearer home: "My sister and I intend to go without spring suits this year in order to give twenty-five dollars each toward the fund; this surely will not be sacrifice, but a great privilege. Then we intend to add more each time we receive our salary.... I cannot say that I was so brave as the girls at the college, who did not shed a tear as College Hall burned--I could not speak, my voice was so choked with tears, and that night I went supperless to bed. But though it seems impossible to believe that College Hall is a thing of the past, yet one cannot but feel that from this so great calamity great good will come--a broader, higher spirit will be manifested; we shall cease to think in classes, but all unite in great loving thought for the good and the upbuilding--in more senses than one--of our Alma Mater."
And the messages and money from friends of the college were no less touching. The children of the Wellesley Kindergarten, which is connected with the Department of Education in the college, held a sale of their own little handicrafts and made fifty dollars for the fund.
One who signed himself, "Very respectfully, A Working Man," wrote: "The results of your college's work show that it is of the best. The Student Government is one of the finest things in American education. The spirit shown at the fire and since is superb."
Another man, who wished that he "had a daughter to go to Wellesley, the college of high ideals," said, "I should be ashamed even to ride by in the train without contributing this mite to your Rebuilding Fund."
A woman in Tasmania sent a dollar, "for you are setting a great ideal for the broad education of women.... We (in Australia) have much to thank the higher democratic education of America for."
From many little children money came: from little girls who hoped to come to Wellesley some day, and from the sons and daughters of Wellesley students.
The business men of Wellesley town subscribed generously. Many men as well as women have expressed their admiration of the college in a tangible way.
And from Vassar, Smith, Bryn Mawr, Mt. Holyoke, Radcliffe, Barnard, Wells, Simmons, and Sweet Briar, contributions came pouring in unsolicited. Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts, and others had already loaned equipment and material for the impoverished laboratories, and direct contributions to the fund came from the University of Idaho, the Musical Clubs of Dartmouth and the Institute of Technology; from Hobart College, in cooperation with Wellesley alumnae, in Geneva, New York; from the Emerson College of Oratory, the College Club of Tucson, Arizona, the Boston and Connecticut branches of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, the Fitchburg Smith College Club, and the Cornell Woman's Club of New York City. To Smith College, which had so lately raised its million, Wellesley was also indebted for helpful suggestions in planning the campaign.
When the great war broke out in August, 1914, wise unbelievers shook their heads and commiserated Wellesley; but the dauntless Chairman of the Alumnae Restoration and Endowment Committee continued to press on with her campaign--to draw dilatory clubs into line, to prod sluggish classes into activity, to remind individuals of their opportunity.
The pledges for the last forty thousand dollars of the fund came snowing in during Christmas week, and eleven o'clock of the evening of December 31, 1914, found Miss Stimson's committee in New York counting at top speed the sheaves of checks and pledges which had been arriving all day. The remarkable thing about the campaign was the great number of small amounts which came in, and the number of alumnae--not the wealthy ones--who doubled their pledges at the last minute. It was the one dollar and the five-dollar pledges which really saved the day and made it possible for the college to secure the large conditional gifts. On the morning of January 1, 1915, the amount was complete.
With 1915, Wellesley enters upon the second phase of her history, but the early, formative years will always shine through the fire, a memory and an inspiration. Nothing that was vital perished in those flames. Yet already the Wellesley that looks back upon her old self is a different Wellesley. All her repressed desires, spiritual, intellectual, aesthetic, are suddenly set free. Her lovers and her daughters feel the very campus kindle and quicken beneath their feet to new responsibilities.
"The New Wellesley!"
No one knows what that shall be, but the words are vision-filled: prophetic of an ordered beauty of architecture, a harmony of taste, that the old Wellesley, on the far side of the fire, strove after but never knew; prophetic of a pinnacled and aspiring scholarship whose solid foundations were laid forty years deep in Christian trust and patience; prophetic of a questing spirit freed from the old reproach of provincialism; of a ministering spirit in which the virtue of true courtesy is fulfilled.
The end of her first half century will see the campus flowering with the outward and visible signs of the new Wellesley; and even as the old fire-hallowed bricks have made beautiful the new walls, so the beauty of the old dreams shall shine in the new vision.
"Pageant of fretted roofs that cluster* On hill and knoll in the branches green, Ye are but shadows, and not the luster, Garment, ye, of a grace unseen.
"All our life is confused with fable, Ever the fact as the phantasy seems: Yet the world of spirit lies sure and stable, Under the shows of the world of dreams.
"Not an idle and false derision The rocks that crumble, the stars that fail; Meaning caskets within the vision, Shaping the folds of the woven veil."
* Katharine Lee Bates: from a poem, "The College Beautiful," 1886.
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