This week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt shows a line of children draped across a bar viewing the world upside down. One photo in my great-aunt Velma Davis Woodring’s scrapbook from her freshman year at Harrisonburg Teacher’s College (now James Madison University – Go Dukes!) suggests the ladies of HTC did their share of viewing the world upside down too:
|Left to right: Velma Davis,|
Leta LeVow, Thelma Haga
Upside down - ??
Velma captioned this photo "On the Dayton Pike
March 28, 1925"
However, nothing turned the 1920s world upside down like the flapper. A poem in Velma’s scrapbook announces that the modern woman is different from those of previous generations.
There was a little flapper girl
Who bobbed her hair and skirts;
And she was known in town as one
Of its most vampish flirts.
Her face was powdered – coated,
With a heavy smear of red,
Which came off on the pillow
When at nite she went to bed.
She laughed and smoked & danced
In perfect happiness.
Some people said she’d go to - - - -
Whenever she was dead.
She soon upset their theories
And went to heaven instead.
When St. Peter questioned her
Beside the pearly gate
And asked her what she’d ever done
She answered him quite straight.
He let her in; she took up her harp
. . . .
There the white ink is so faded that I cannot make out the words. What a pity. If Velma wrote this, she did Dorothy Parker proud.
Judging by Velma’s scrapbook, bobbed hair ruled the day at HTC.
|Velma, Bill Porter,|
Leta LeVow, Unknown
But that wasn’t always the case. In fact, HTC tried to discourage students from cutting their hair. Student teachers were expected to keep theirs long or at the very least disguise the awful truth with hairpins and nets.
Then in 1924 Mrs. Beatrice Varner entered the picture. The new dean of women was the perfect combination of attractiveness and ability. She set the example of good taste in dress and standards of conduct. No doubt the administrators and faculty were confident that under Mrs. Varner’s leadership this flapper business would soon end.
Those thoughts were short-lived, however. Mrs. Varner attended a conference in Atlantic City, and while there she treated herself to a new haircut.
When she returned to campus, the president of the college just gave up. From then on students – even student teachers – were allowed to follow the example of the dean of women, a woman who possessed the spirit of the flapper and turned the HTC world upside down.
|Varner House - Built in 1929, the home economics|
practice house was named in honor of Beatrice Varner.
I'm not sure how this building is used today at JMU.
If you want to see people standing on their heads and children at play, please visit Sepia Saturday. Without a doubt, there will be something there that will turn your world upside down.