Friday, April 12, 2013

Sepia Saturday: A Hike Up the Massanutten 1924

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.


This week's Sepia Saturday photo prompt of happy people enjoying an invigorating hike
made me want to shut down the computer, grab my hiking shoes, and get out into the fresh air.  And then I thought, "Who are you kidding?"  Instead I returned to the task at hand:  finding a suitable photo.

My best photos appeared on my blog back in June 2012, but only one Sepia Saturday participant even saw it, so here it comes again, new and improved.

My great-aunt Velma Davis Woodring kept a scrapbook during her freshman year at Harrisonburg Teachers College (now James Madison University). 

Velma tells about a hike up the Massanutten one Saturday in October 1924.  Probably the most recognizable physical feature of the Shenandoah Valley is Massanutten Mountain. My mother used to say it looks like an elephant’s head and trunk.  I think so too.

Massanutten Mountain
Rockingham County, Virginia


Velma and her classmates were accompanied by the young college president, Samuel Duke. 


Samuel P. Duke 1924
Samuel P. Duke
College President from 1919-1949


Here is a transcription of her report along with the photos she took to remember that day. (I had to guess what Velma wrote in some places where the white ink has faded.  Impressions in the paper helped.)

One Saturday about 250 girls went to the station at H.T.C. and went to the foot of the Massanutten Peak on the train.  Here we all got off and started on our way up the mountain.  About every five minutes, when climbing the mountain, we would stop and rest. We got to the top about one thirty. We stopped and ate our lunch and walked over to the peak as we wanted to. 





Hikers of Harrisonburg Teachers College 1924
Hikers of Harrisonburg Teachers College 1924


Velma Davis Woodring on Massanutten Mountain Fall 1924
Velma on the right
Her friend on the left identified as "Bill"
Then at three o’clock when everyone was tired of looking around at the beautiful Valley we started down the mountain. We got to the station about four o’clock and had to wait a while for the train.  During the time we were waiting we found many ways to amuse ourselves.  We got back to H.T.C. just in time for dinner.

Velma captioned this:  Hikers



















Oh how I wish Velma had revealed how they amused themselves. 


If you're feeling up to it, why not hike the trail over to Sepia Saturday to see where others might take you.


31 comments:

  1. We will never know! I guess even a beautiful view begins to pall after a while when you're stuck up on top of the mountain; there's only so much you can take in. For some reason I was reminded of the film 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' - all the girls trekking up the moutain! Thank goodness Velma's trip had a happier ending than the film.

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    1. Oh dear -- sounds ominous. Not familiar with that movie.

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  2. Sounds like a fun trip. There must have been a long line of students strung out along the trail and crowded together on top.

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    1. I wonder if they had to make a couple trips on that train. I hadn't thought about those large numbers.

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  3. That's a lot of girls hiking a mountain! I was struck by how they were dressed; some in knickers, some in dresses - they all looked a little too well dressed to be hiking up a mountain. Thanks goodness we have better clothing choices these days!

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    1. The shoes didn't look right for such an activity either.

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  4. It would be fun to know that, wouldn't it?

    I see the elephant's head and trunk, too. :)

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    1. Knowing Velma, they probably had a bunch of guessing games going.

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  5. Yes I can see the resemblance to an elephant.

    I love the hiking pants in the final photo. I would have thought pants were rate back then. Now 3/4 length pants are my favourite.

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    1. There are a number of pictures of girls in knickers. I have not seen any full length slacks in her photos, so maybe those hadn't been "invented" yet.

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  6. Seems funny to read they took a train to the mountain; it is a short car ride from JMU!

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    1. I know! I know where the tracks are at the college, and where they run through the valley, but I can't imagine where the tracks turned toward Massanutten.

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  7. Great Photos ! Why Do People Not Seem To Walk in Large Group Anymore?(or is that just me?)

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    1. Probably too much trouble to walk in a large group. I hate the feeling that someone is going to step on my heels!

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  8. Wow, pictures AND Velma's narrative, What a treat.

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  9. What a great piece of family history!

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    1. Thank-you. And thanks for visiting.

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  10. The picture that jumped out at me was the large group photo. So many of the girls are dressed in white blouses with sailor collars, a tie, and dark skirts. It looks so much like the pictures I posted here: http://www.abbieandeveline.com/2012/11/24/sepia-saturday-sisters-but-not/. Now I'm wondering if that was the typical school uniform for teacher schools, and, if so, will help me date my photo a little more specifically. Thanks! Two weeks ago it was a tablecloth I recognized. Hope we can keep on this roll!

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    1. I don't think it was a school uniform, although certainly the middy blouse served that purpose at some schools. In the yearbook, a lot of the sports teams wore middy blouses and bloomers as uniforms - tennis, basketball, field hockey.

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    2. Ah well - maybe just wearing the latest fashion...

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  11. I feel so out of it. I have never walked up a mountain. My mother never walked up a mountain, nor did my aunts.

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    1. It's not too late for you! Start a Cleage tradition!

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  12. I have walked up many mountains, and the urge to do so will remain as long as I am able, but walking in such a large group is not that much fun. However, I must say that Velma's account and photos of their excursion is charming.

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    1. Yes, I thought her narrative added just the right amount of teenage "cute."

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  13. I loved this! Isn't it funny that they had to wear skirts even when climbing a mountain? The train full of college students sounds like fun in itself.

    I hope that I will get back to contributing next week.

    Kathy M.

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  14. I'd imagine that there were several students at the teacher's college who were from the low country. Even the Shenandoah Mountains can look pretty intimidating, (as a low country boy I speak from experience)so a school hike must have been a memorable adventure. Their faces show the excitement. And Velma's white ink on black makes a creative album style.

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  15. Velma to the rescue!!!
    I must say,
    Lovely scrapbook!!!
    And yes,
    it looks like an elephant head and trunk extended!!!
    :D~
    HUGZ

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