Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Birthday Party to Loring Hall!

Today is February 11, 2009. Loring Hall has officially been open for 79 years. I say officially, but not in practice, because in the fall of 1929, after the Fall Trips had ended, people began slowing trickling in to the brand-new building, some in December and some in January of 1930. Lucy Shoe Merrit was one of those. I’ve already reported some of her thoughts on Loring Hall, but my favorite of her descriptions was the one about the ‘Grand Opening’ of Loring, which occurred on February 11, 1930, from 5-7pm. She’d apparently kept a diary while at the School, so her letter in 1981 contained a lot of wonderful details.

Apparently over 300 people came, and it wasn’t just members of the School community, but dignitaries, some of the leading families in Greece, archaeologists and foreign diplomats. There was a huge spread and the students were in charge of showing the guests around; the things that were most popular among the guests were the metal furniture, the bathrooms and the kitchen. The guests kept opening all the drawers and playing with the aluminum utensils in the kitchen (which annoyed the cook; he preferred his copper stuff and was unimpressed by the aluminum). It seems that the bathtubs were extremely popular as well; in Greece in 1930, being able to turn on a tap and get hot water at any time of the day or night was entirely miraculous. Funny that hot water is still an issue in Loring today. You can get wonderful scalding showers at certain times of the day, but if it’s a bit cold outside, prepare yourself for pain.

The day after the Grand Opening, because it was such a special occasion, Lucy Shoe and her compatriots ‘dressed’ for dinner. That is, they wore evening dresses and tuxes. To dinner in Loring Hall. Fancy. Shoe commented that back in the day you actually ‘dressed’ for special occasions. There’s some very revealing information about the School population in that statement: most School members were wealthy enough to own a tux, and to bring it to Greece with them. This can be contrasted with the situations of other people at the School whose letters I have read. For one man, in the early 1900s, the topic of money was a frequent one in letters home to his family. He would constantly refer to how much he spent on lunch, how much it cost to get his clothes cleaned, and when he was able to get a great deal on various meals.

Anyways, Happy 79th Birthday to Loring Hall. May there be many more to come.

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