Understanding life at Carey Hall

Dormitory Doings, Oct. 16, 1952

Between 1952 and 1958, there was a column that ran in The Northern News about life in Carey Hall. Now that Carey Hall is just a grassy area, on which I saw students playing softball last week, it’s fun to consider what life was like in Carey Hall in the 50s.

The beginning of these columns are written by a “mouse” in Carey Hall – probably to allow for anonymity. Later on, the columns are signed by a woman who presumably lives in Carey, and the name of the column changes from “Dorm Doings,” to “Dorm Ditter” to “Carey Hall Pond.”

The first of these columns, which ran Oct. 16, 1952, talks about what telephones were like at the time.

“The telephone booths in the dorm were rejuvenated this summer. Oh pardon me; for the benefit of the freshmen, that means they got a new paint job.”

The column also states that two new rules were put in place for phone calls in Carey Hall; local calls cost ten cents and all calls were limited to five minutes or else they were cut off.

What interested me the most was how intimate life was in Carey Hall. The column talks specifically about certain women who lived in Carey Hall and what they were up to: especially when it was about courtships with the men at NMU and Tech. It seems that everyone in the building was aware of what everyone else was doing.

“It was quite an occasion for Mary Catherine too, because her Mike was here. But on the whole, if those others were representative of Tech men, it still is a mystery why all the girls swoon at the mere mention of Tech,” said a Carey Hall Pond column on Oct. 27, 1955.

The columns were especially loquacious when a resident was about to get married: “Dayle Graves has been busy on the phone lately and it is because she is making plans for the big day in December. She will be Mrs. John Martell on the twenty-sixth of that month. Of course she has to race with Barbara Trams for possession of the first floor phone. Charlie keeps Barbara busy running down the hall to answer the phone and keeps the rest of the first floor busy answering and yelling for her” (April 3, 1957).

Carey Hall Pond, April 2, 1958

Some other differences between residences halls then and now as seen by the Carey Hall columns include, “music from record players, noise of typewriters, card players;” “seven o’clock (wakeup) for freshmen and seven thirty for upperclassmen;”  “going to the library to read the hometown newspaper;” “rushing to clean the room before inspection;” and “getting ready for a formal dance and finding places to take overnights afterward.”

But some things are very similar. The columns mention a number of students who go downstate on the weekends and someone pulled the fire alarm on April Fools Day in 1958 at 2 a.m. Other similarities include waiting for washing machines on Saturday mornings, required house meetings, and quiet hours during exam week.

“These are only a part of the many things that constitute life at Carey Hall” (April 2, 1958).

Written by Lucy Hough

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