From August 1971 to May 1975, I attended Wyoming Seminary, a private college preparatory school in Kingston, PA. It was pretty laid back for a prep school, but that didn’t mean that I was completely spared the prep school experience of boarders vs townies, rich vs poor or white vs black. It was four years of interesting times.
Freshman year was an adjustment period for me. I had no friends at this new school, which meant that I was on my own at lunch. I would usually end up sitting alone. The one day that I tried to join a table, they told me that I couldn’t sit there. Why? Because the table was for blacks only! Well, excuse me for wanting to eat my lunch and make some new friends! I shrugged my shoulders and found somewhere else to sit.
I met my future husband at a school dance. I went to the dance because I was crushing on a classmate; the guy had no interest in me. Brad stepped out of the shadows and asked me to dance. I had nothing better to do so I agreed. At the end of the dance, he kissed me. I had to leave the dance after that moment. The next day at school he pretended not to remember me.
Later that year, the black students tried to accuse the school of harboring racism. Students who had tried to make friends challenged that claim. It ended the apartheid by the black students, but by then I had started to make friends among the freaks and geeks of the school.
In June of 1972, Hurricane Agnes travelled up the Susquehanna River and dumped a ton of water on the state. The river overflowed its banks in several places. In spite of the levees, the river overflowed at Wilkes-Barre and Kingston. My new school was a mess of mud and wetness. Volunteers had moved the library books from the basement to the first floor, which was above ground level, but the flood had reached the first floor and many of the books could not be saved. I was there to sort out the books after the flood. The flood would be the cause of many changes at the school.
The lunch room moved from Carpenter Hall, which would be torn down because of excessive flood damage. The library would move to its own shiny new building. Nelson Chapel would be torn down, preserving only the bell tower that would stand as a monument to the school’s religious beginnings. Carpenter Gym would be expanded with a second larger gym added to the existing structure.
While the school campus was changing around me, I was developing my daily routine. I started to draw my clique of misfit preppies, mostly self-described “anti-social types”, who were happy to have a place to sit without being judged or jeered. Inevitably, conversations would erupt within the group and closer friendships would develop.
There were other changes while I was there. The once strict dress code loosened up to allow girls to wear trousers and boys to abandon jackets when the weather called for it. It was nice to not be freezing my cheeks off in the winter. Eventually, they allowed boys to wear more casual shirts and no ties! A neat and clean appearance was still stressed.
It was a nice life while it lasted!