Back to Class Mini-Reunion

Wednesday and Thursday
Oct. 7th and 8th
NANCY NUTTING                                            DEE LAMB                                               RHODA ERNST                     
MIZ COMEY                                             WILLIE WILLENBROK                                    DIANA ALEXANIAN                 
NANCY BOARDWAY                                    MARGOT ROY                                            BETSY WINTERS

CHIRPY WESSELER                                    ALICE CZYZ                                                PAM MOODY

​                                                                                       & WINK 

Here's our put the names to the faces!
Don't we look just like students?????
We walked all over campus
This is David...husband of ?
Nancy Nutting does it again! the tables looked lovely
Over Hill and Dale
Edwina showing off her beautiful scarf woven by
our own Ellie Graham
Eleanor with her cute daughter Vivian
Chris Benfey, our renowned speaker
Doesn't he look regal though?
It's all an act!
Time flies...Eleanor was pregnant with Vivian
when we did  our 50th Reunion Project!
The campus was as beautiful as ever and the trees were just beginning to turn
Our October back-to-school mini was wonderful, and those who came wished that everyone else could have been there. Here’s who did come: Co chairs Nancy Nutting Lane and Dee Lamb Barstow; Diana Alexanian Jalelian, Nancy Boardway, Miz Comey Grant, Alice Czyz, Rhoda Ernst Bannon, Margot Roy Nasjleti and her husband David, Chirpy Wesseler Monroe, Pam Moody Harkins, Joan (Willie) Willenbrok Leonard, President Joan (Wink) Winkel Ripley, and Betsy Winters Horton.  

To Dee and Nancy’s huge relief, the bells for Mountain Day rang on October 6th - the day BEFORE our planned classes on Wednesday! The weather was beautiful – ideal for our visit. Most of us arrived late Tuesday and enjoyed a delicious dinner and comfy accommodations at Willets Hallowell. David Nasjleti (originally from Argentina) was the only man at dinner and graciously responded to Pam’s funny queries about how he and Margot had gotten together all those years ago.

After breakfast on Wednesday, we set off across campus to attend classes. Wink wrote, “My courses were terrific! I learned a lot about Iran, Antigone, sexual symbolism in a Carson McCuller's novel, Goya, Stalinism, Logical Thinking, and Emily Dickenson.” She added that some of the students were brilliant. (Why are we not surprised?) She also learned more about cultural differences from students from China and Pakistan. For example, a Pakistani student told After breakfast on Wednesday, we set off across campus to attend classes. Wink wrote, “My courses were terrific! I learned a lot about Iran, Antigone, sexual symbolism in a Carson McCuller's novel, Goya, Stalinism, Logical Thinking, and Emily Dickenson.” that in her country it is “immoral” to speak to a teacher outside of class. This student was stunned that teachers invited students to office hours or to contact them any time about their work, and is only now becoming comfortable with this American custom.

Comments from other classmates:  

“The class on the US & Iran focused solely on the religious history of Shiites. This left me with so many related questions that I looked up “Shia-Sunni” in Wikipedia after class and left wanting more!”

”Professors Jeremy King (Stalinism in Central Europe) and Amy Martin (Introduction to Literature) were very good at getting a discussion going. They never suggested a student might be wrong, but sometimes encouraged her to “enlarge upon that thought.”

“Nineteenth century European Art was great. Anthony Lee was a wonderful lecturer!”

“Sexuality and Women’s Writing held nothing back!” 

““The overall feeling I had from the two days of classes was ‘Thank heavens I don’t 
have to go back to college!’ I liked having only three classes, however, 
because just wandering around the campus and town was fun. Two of us had a chance 
to visit a dorm room and chat with a few undergraduates.” 

“It was a fabulous few days to be on campus and to see classmates again. I didn’t sign up for classes (I’m still an educator myself) but loved being on campus, just walking around, visiting Blanchard (the student center) and the impressive equestrian center, and enjoying the camaraderie of peers and friends.”

Other highlights included lively conversations with our honoraries Eleanor Townsley, Sonya Stephens, and Edwina Cruise, all of whom are so engaging and pleasant and really seem to enjoy 1955 as much as we enjoyed them. Our dinner speaker Wednesday night was English Professor Chris Benfey, who had blown us away speaking of children’s literature at our 60th reunion. He shared a story from his forthcoming book about Rudyard Kipling, the British author (think of The Jungle Book) who lived in India when it was part of the British Empire under Queen Victoria. Kipling also spent several years in Vermont, and became friendly with another would-be empire builder - none other than President Teddy Roosevelt – during walks through the Washington Zoo!  

On Thursday morning several of us attended Dr. Benfey’s class on Emily Dickinson and Mount Holyoke. What a tour de force! He took the class through discussion and analysis of one of her more mystical poems, phrase by phrase. Absolutely brilliant.

We left Thursday afternoon feeling enriched, both educationally and personally. Said one classmate, ”The reunion was a joy to me in so many ways. Just being with you all and reveling in the beautiful weather on that beautiful campus has left me wanting more.” We owe huge thanks to Dee and Nancy for organizing this wonderful experience.

April 21, 2016 Mini Reunion and Luncheon for Sonya
As you all know this is a 1955 mini reunion that is a celebratory party for honoring our esteemed classmate Sonya Stephens…the new acting president of Mount Holyoke College. We are thrilled to have the president of the college be a member of our class and needless to say we never thought it would happen. But happen it did.

Back in the day there were many traditions at our college one of which was the May Court and the May Queen. Today we are bringing back that tradition and you, Sonya, will be the May Queen and your court will be our other honoraries who are here with us today. Believe it or not one of our original honoraries is going strong, Mrs. Morgan, but she had a zumba class today and couldn’t be with us.

 In Sept 1951 351 members of the class of 1955 staggered through Mount Holyoke’s 
Famous Gates. 269 graduated Sonya so what does that do to your retention rate? Hmmm 75%. Just think what it would have been if those that left to get married were allowed to stay? And! Get this…the few that were allowed to stay had to get permission from their roommates parents to let them remain roommates. After all…they might tell! Well that’s water under the bridge, but this is a unique part of your history lesson from the class of 1955.

We thought you might need a little cram course on our history so the following is an attempt to get you up to speed about what it was like back in the day and beyond.

All freshmen lived in the four freshman dorms. We were freshmen even though we wore skirts and had high voices. We had Brigham…stand up Brigham…Porter…Safford and Pearsons. And the very first thing we learned was our sister song! Rhoda…you’re on.

That was the yellow and green song. The reds and blues had another one but it was equally well used. Each of us was issued a Handbook of rules we were to abide by including the following: Only radios, record players, clocks and hair dryers are allowed and subject to fees. You are allowed 150 watts for a single room and 225 watts for a double. Oh yes…we were introduced to temp doubles and told they were temporary! There was one phone on each floor of the dorm, and the tuition was $1650.00 Communication was commonly done by snail mail and the PO was a big part of our lives. And oh yes…we had to be home by 10:00 every night but the weekends when we had an extra hour or two.

Just to put things in perspective Roswell Ham, the man not the dorm, was president of the college and Harry S. Truman, not David Truman, was president of our country. Roswell was the first male president of MHC because the Board of Trustees couldn’t find a qualified woman. How was that possible???? 

Skirts were worn to all evening meals and stockings, suits or dresses were worn for Wed. and Sunday dinners. And…skirts were worn to Sunday Vespers and to all evening lectures or concerts. Yellow gym suits were big but we couldn’t find one to give you.

As the handbook of rules and regulations stated …"Per Mary Lyon each student is expected to do from 1 to 4 hours of work a week consisting of dishes, bells or other household tasks. Attendance at 3 chapels or assemblies in each two-week period is required." Those are just some of the requirements we could go on and on and on…

Singing was a very big part of our lives. There was a song contest for the dorms the end of freshman year and Safford won with Stevie Sargent’s vibrant song Holyoke, Holyoke Colors Waving…Rhoda do your thing...

Sophomore year we knew it all and were mixed in with the upper classmen in the other dorms. Luckily we now knew almost all our classmates from being with them freshmen year and engaging in the activities that the Jr. groups in each dorm had planned for us. We loved our sister class and were mostly scared silly of the seniors. We had Sophomore Hop down in Chapin and yes we did the bunny hop. Those of us in Mead rented a TV set so we could watch Dwight Eisenhower win the presidential election. It was snowy and small but we felt involved!

Junior year arrived and much to our distress the college did away with freshmen dorms.
We had so looked forward to being true big sisters, but it was not to be. We declared our majors and looked forward to Junior Prom.

The biggest event of Junior Year was Junior Show. Our’s was again written by Stevie Sargent and was called Hi Ho Frisco….banner! The end of junior year we received our white blazers with the blue college seal on the pocket! We were pretty impressed with ourselves! At the end of the year the college purchased its first TV. A huge TV with a very small screen… it was placed in the Advancement Office otherwise known as Wilbur, although back then Wilbur boasted a soda fountain and was a big open room.

Before we knew it Senior Year had arrived. My that four years flew by. We all dreaded our Comprehensive Exams which were required for all and had to be passed or we didn’t graduate. Seniors with 3 averages were allowed to have cars after Easter vacation. (big deal!) Of course a GPA of 3 was calculated on 1 being the highest one could get and 6 being you’re history, so nowadays if you said you had a GPA of 4 that was not good! We received our class rings which were beautiful and felt pretty darn proud.

Our graduation speaker was Chief Justice Warren and he urged us to be good citizens. It appears most of us took it to heart. Off we went into the Alumnae World (we were alumnae then as the feminine plural of alumna was pronounced) and most of us either went to speedwriting school or got married or both. Times were different back then.

Soon it was time for reunions and some of us met for our second year reunion in 1957 and watched our little sisters graduate. Most of us were pregnant or living at some army or navy base. We did get married early! We must have had a costume but no one can remember. Our 5th had us in yellow pointed hats and big yellow beads. Luckily no one could find those.

We do have documentation for the 10th and we wore straw hats with yellow flowers standing straight up. No one could find one nor the plastic yellow mesh looking hats from the 15th. The 15th was when the class of 1970 rejected the Laurel Chain and replaced the Alma Mater with Bread and Roses, but the Laurel Chain came back in 1972. In 1975 we celebrated our 20th and we hope you will be right in style with this chapeau from our 20th. Reunion…a turning point in our lives. Comps were abolished and we had a new 5 point grading system like the rest of the world.

Two years before our 25th we once again had a woman president…Elizabeth Kennan from the class of 1960. It was really hard for us to believe that someone younger than us was now president. Our 25th found us in our blue scarfs with yellow sphinx ta da! Here is yours. Remember how much energy we had??? The theme of our 25th was changing and here’s your copy of our 25th reunion book.

The 30th found us in straw hats and lo and behold we have one for you Sonya. Noted firsts in our notes said Sandra Day O’Conner was the first female supreme court justice, Sally Ride rode into space and there was beer and wine at Wilbur! South Hadley had been dry until then…not just the college the whole darn town.

For the 35th reunion we created videotape full of Holyoke pictures and classmates reflections and mailed it out to all before reunion. Here’s yours Sonya. It was very well received and we had a great turnout for the big event. We think we were the first to do this and Harvard Business School copied us the next year. Just because the first one worked so well we made another video of our reunion which you can see for yourself. The highlight was Edwina’s after dinner speech and you can see it all! Please memorize this one. You’ll be tested on the Russian history.

We think we had visors and Holyoke tote bags for our 40th in 1995 but they too seem to be lost. The students elected the first student commencement speaker and experienced the last year of waitresses, but there were still no cell phones nor email. Clarence Thomas was believed over Anita Hill, Janet Reno became the first Attorney General and don’t ask don’t tell was the law of the land. Musings from our classmates were combined in printed form and here is one for your perusal.  

We celebrated our 45th in yellow tee shirts just like this. Joanne Creighton became president in 1996 and shortly after the Weisman Learning Center opened. We’re in the 21st Century now. Wow…we made it. It’s the year 2000! Newspaper headlines were full of our neighbor Clinton, that’s Bill Clinton, and a certain young lady. It seems like yesterday.

In 2005 we sported elegant yellow pashmina scarfs accessorized by plastic MHC bags.
Lo and behold we found one of each…only fitting for a May Queen. The world situation was going downhill fast and hasn’t recovered yet. On campus the Blanchard Campus Center was opened, the Equestrian Team won the national championship and Suzan Lori Parks won the Pulitzer Prize. The Class of 1955 had engaged in a two-year study with Eleanor Townsley’s Sociology 224 and hosted a Seminar Day which was very successful. We have a video copy of the entire program which will be a part of your comprehensive exam. Just 3 hours long we’re sure you’ll love it! We also produced a 50th reunion book, and a DVD of all of us 50 years out.

The 55th found us in Miss America sashes with yellow sunglasses to match. Because of the success of our Seminar Day it was suggested that we write a book about it…thank you so much Debbie Nash…and it was finally completed by our 55th reunion. Every classmate received a copy, with an abridged video of the day and here’s yours. Shortly after our reunion a new Dean of the Faculty was brought into our Mount Holyoke Family. Having been given a heads-up by our classmate Eleanor Townsley we signed her up for our speaker at our next mini reunion and she wowed us all. 

And here we are at the 60th with nice yellow duffels to carry all our loot plus bright yellow eternity scarfs that clashed mightily with the yellow duffels. So much for buying on-line. Our class numbers are down to 169 but if we keep adding honoraries we’ll get it back up.

So now you have the whole history of your class of 1955 and your test will be two weeks from today. We hope this cram course has been helpful in making your comprehensive exam a bit easier. Remember…comps are mandatory and must be passed…but we know you will.

And just to make it entirely official…Nancy would like to present you with your 1955 Class Ring from your very proud classmates.

Next Mini scheduled at
 Sonya's house in Coteaux de Loire, France

Marcia Eigen, Juli Shea and Sue Nutter
The Group
Nancy Nutting
Ann Underhill, Joan Wharton, Ellis Batchelder, & Izzy Sherer
Ann Underhill and Joan Wharton
Rhoda Ernst, Jane Barth & Judy Vernon
Edwina and Sonya
Judy Vernon, Nancy Nutting, Juli Shea, Joyce Cudlip
Rhoda, Sue, Nancy Stratford & Nell Becherer '53
Wink, Issy & Ann
Nancy & Joan
Marcia Kropf, Radley Eames & Sonya
Kassandra Jolley, our new Vice President of MHC
in charge of Advancement,
She slices a mean tomato as her husband is a chef!
Holyoke, Holyoke Colors Waving!
Our Proud May Queen


Rhoda Ernst
​Julie Shea
Nancy Nutting
Ann Underhill
Janie Estey
Joyce Cudlip
Sue Nutter
Jane Barth
Ellis Batchelder
Judy Vernon
Joan Wharton
Ossy Scherer
Marcia Eigen

​Kate Rindy
Edwina Cruise
Sonya Stephens

Nell Becherer          1953
Susan Kroeger        1965
Jill Stern                  1984
Marcia Kropf            1967
Radley Eames          2000
Kassandra Jolley
​Dear Classmates from the Classs of '55 and Friends,

    It was an extraordinary privilege to reunite on April 21, and to share in your memories, memorabilia, and laughter. I am extremely grateful to Wink and Mills for hosting in their beautiful home, to those of you who brought or prepared food, photographs, songs, and other momento and performances. I was touched beyond words and moved to tears by your kindness, generosity, and support, and want you to know that the Class Ring, so generously offered by Nancy Nutting Lane, will forever be on my finger as a symbol of our connection, and as a talisman  of my commitment and responsibility to you, your experience, and to Mount Holyoke as I begin to make the transition to the Presidency. You can be sure that I will carry both the joy of our encounters (and the hope of more!) and the hopes of many future classes with me as I begin my time as acting President.
    I look forward to many more conversations, songs and joyful moments with you in the months and years ahead.
                                       With my gratitude and warmest good wishes,
Marcia is President of our Alumnae Assoc.
​Ellis’s Fabulous Fifty-Five Shrimp Salad

2 Boxes of Near East Rice Pilaf prepared as instructed on the box
1 Cup of diced green pepper
1 Cup of diced celery
1 lb of cooked shrimp cut up into bite sizes


1 Cup mild onion grated
½ Cup of olive oil
¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 ½ Teaspoons of Curry Powder

Mix well, add the rice and chill for 2 hours

Then add the shrimp, pepper, celery and some minced parsley. Serves 10-12

Janie Estey, Cuddles and Marcia Eigen
Kate Rindy

On a beautiful spring day, fifteen 55ers and ten other Mt. Holyoke guests gathered at Wink’s house to celebrate ‘55’s newest honorary Sonya Stephens and her new position of “acting president” of our alma mater. She assured us she is a terrible actor and we assured her that traditional acting skills were not involved at all and we knew she would be an absolutely terrific president.

Ellis and Nancy (our most genial and clever hospitality experts) provided a wonderful and colorful luncheon for the group. In fact, Ellis’s shrimp rice salad was so popular we had to promise to put it on the web site and we have! 

We thought since Sonya was a member of the class of 1955 we’d better offer her a cram course in ‘55’s history (just in case someone might ask), and the perfect venue would be the May Queen’s Court. We didn’t have the May Pole but we did have a court set up on the lawn. Our two other honoraries, Kate Rindy and Edwina Cruise, who were present completed the court and we proceeded to instruct Sonya on her class history.

Starting at the very beginning we read a few rules from our freshman handbook and sang a few songs including our sister song and our, unofficial but really official, class of 1955 song, Holyoke, Holyoke Colors Waving. Luckily Rhoda was there to start us off and everyone had copies of the words although most of them were in our memory banks. When we brought up our Junior Show we were able to parade our banner of Hi Ho Frisco in front of the Queen and her court. A show stopper.

We continued on through our reunions and inundated Sonya with costumes and videos of all that we could find. As a beautiful ending to the ceremony Nancy Nutting Lane generously and thoughtfully presented Sonya with her own class ring which fit perfectly.
Now for better or for worse she’s one of us.

After lunch everyone seemed to be happily smiling and enjoying each other at yet another ’55 mini. 

Pictures galore, the entire script of our entertainment and Ellis’s recipe can be read on our mini page as well as a list of those who attended our spring mini. Click on Sonya's picture at the left to see it all.

A Spring 2016 Mini in Honor of our New
Acting President, Sonya Stephens.