April 1, 2014 | 1 Comment | Betsy Woodman
Here is my eleventh-grade roommate, Barbara, “signing out” of the girls’ dorm at Woodstock School, sometime in the early 1960s. We weren’t allowed to wear jeans to class, so this picture must have been taken on a weekend—probably on a Sunday afternoon, when we could go for two-hour walks on our Himalayan hillside. With boys, no less. (Those walks were a significant loophole to our supervised existence.)
However, woe betide the girl who arrived back a minute late—she’d get a demerit. A demerit took two weeks to get erased from your record, unless you got another demerit during that time, and then four weeks would have to go by until you were all clear.
If—Heaven forfend—you got a third demerit during those four weeks, you were gated for the next weekend. That meant staying in the dorm, except for going to Sunday morning church service in the company of a teacher. No going to the bazaar or the movies or the class party or whatever. Certainly none of those two-hour walks.
On our fiftieth reunion trip back to Woodstock last fall, several classmates and I visited the same dorm, which is now spiffed up with multi-colored marble floors and bright paint.
One of us asked a student, “do you have demerits?” She gave a shocked look. “Not yet!”
“No,” we clarified, “Not you personally. Is there a system of demerits? And lights-out and all?” Oh yes, she said, there was all of that. Lights out is at 9:30 PM, just as it was for 9th and 10th graders in our time. In addition, there are some new rules, such as “sounds out” at 9:00 PM. Plus, all electronic devices have to be surrendered overnight.
She didn’t say flashlights had to be handed over, though, so I guess, if they wanted to, girls could send Morse code signals out the windows through the darkness, across the ravine to the boys in their dorm. Wonder if that still happens.