RECOUNTS COLLEGE DAYS IN
THE OLD FAIRFIELD COLLEGE
Submitted by Modene (Knight) Thornton
The Old Fairfield College, once an aristocratic place of
learning for the daughters of wealthy Southern planters of many states, is, in
the minds of the present generation, only a picturesque old legend, but to those
who are our gray-haired grandmothers, it is a living memory of the days of their
Mrs. Emma Chandler, of Buffalo going back into the years that lie so far behind, told recently on the porch of the old Anderson home, of her days in the walls of the old college.
“I was there,” she said, “During the Civil War, when the place was excellently kept and the grounds were of rare beauty. I remember that the rose garden stretched over an enormous expanse of ground, and that in the rose season we kept every vase and jar that we could secure filled with roses in our rooms.
“Once we made a rose pie. All the girls were required to attend church in town on Sunday, in company with the faculty, but once four girls pretended they were ill and could not go. After everyone had gone; we hired old Temple, an old colored servant, to bake us a crust. We then mixed roses with sugar, and baked them in the crust. We ate it.”
“And,” Mrs. Chandler was asked by a listener, “Were you allowed to have company? I mean—young—men—company?”
There was a low laugh then, a twinkle of the eyes. “Mercy me, child, no. Unless it was a brother or a cousin—and we had many cousins in those days.
“Once we gave a concert. We had many girls that year of the war who had been sent from wealthy slaveholders’ families to Texas to escape the war. So in the concert we Texas girls sang a song, a parody on the “Bonnie Blue Flag” in which we sang, ‘Hurrah! Hurrah! for Texas, hurrah! the Louisiana girls began to scream at the top of their voices, ‘For Louisiana, hurrah! The entire program was immediately turned into a wild pendemonium(sic) to see who had the best voices, Louisiana or Texas.
“Athletics for girls in those days were unheard of. Our chief recreation was a lady-like stroll about the campus, but in our rooms we were quite the equal of the modern girl in our frolics. We indulged in forbidden midnight feasts, in marvelous dances where girls would dress the parts of boys, and a thousand other escapades that required a vast amount of skill and cunning.”
Mrs. Chandler fell silent then, thinking, perhaps of the swiftness with which time wipes out the scenes which it has created.
“Over a half a century ago
The South’s young beauty gathered with grace,
Wearying o’er Latin, laughing on the green,
Today a seeker cannot find a trace
Of the old walls. The whitening cotton grows.
Have blotted out the garden and each rose.”
Transcribed from September 21,1923 issue of the FAIRFIELD RECORDER
by Modene Knight Thornton
[Transcriber’s note: And now – the Fairview Nursing Home has “blotted out the garden and each rose.”]