January 6, 2016 | Comments Off on If the faculty but knew | Betsy Woodman
My mother’s mother, Helen Randolph, had enormous charm. Even as a very old lady, she’d walk into a room and captivate everyone there, from age eight to eighty. In her honor, her hairdresser once proclaimed “Helen Randolph Day,” and served champagne to my grandmother and her friends as they sat under the beehive-shaped dryers.
I was amused when I found this tidbit from the 1910 yearbook of Alfred University.
“Here’s Helen, you’ve seen her with Jake
Poor lad, how she makes his heart ache
He’s so afraid she
Might throw him, you see,
For another who tags in her wake.
Though we know she’s a flirt, yet she smiles
And captures us all with her wiles
For those glances coy
Would charm any boy
And hundreds of hearts she beguiles.”
My grandmother, the big flirt–no news there.
I did learn a couple of new things from the yearbook, though, such as that one of her college nicknames was “Eunice” (something that didn’t last into later adulthood.) During her student days, she was in the Ceramic Society, the YWCA, and something called “the Foot-light Club.”
Could the Foot-light Club have been a group of her classmates who sometimes stole into the surrounding countryside for forbidden music and dancing? Consider these photos I found in a little album of hers.
The captions of the last two pictures are her own.
My grandmother had grown up in comfortable circumstances; the smitten Jake of the limerick was Jacob Hepner Randolph, a quiet farm boy who was attending the college on a scholarship raised by the people of his home town. On Christmas day, 1912, they got married and–although their expressions here don’t really show it–lived happily ever after.
My mom (right) was the youngest of their three children. Jake, according to family tradition, ended up supporting Helen’s once affluent but spendthrift parents in their old age.