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Archive Visit 13: Letters of Springtime, Music, and Roller Skates

Cassie Bendel

Posted on January 24 2021

Archive Visit 13: Letters of Springtime, Music, and Roller Skates

Many of our readers can tell the story of what it was like to be a Mount student during the 20th or 21st century, but have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be a student there in the 19th century?

                 In 1935, student Jane Dusch donated three of her aunt Mary Dusch’s books back to the school. Mary was a student at Mount de Chantal in the early 1880’s and the books were Eclectic English Classics by Washington Irving, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, and McGuffeys Eclectic Spelling Book, 1879. Included with those volumes were personal letters that Mary had written home to her parents.

                Printed on what can only be described as the most delicate of lined notebook pages, these letters are still fully intact and describe what life was like at the Mount in 1882 and 1883.

                One note before we get into the transcript: you’ll notice that Mary mentions a “shirt waist”. This was a blouse – usually white – that could be mixed and matched with different skirts. It was a new-fangled thing back then that was cooler and probably more comfortable than a wool dress. Definitely something those of us who’ve worn wool uniforms can related to!  Also relatable is Wheeling’s unpredictable weather and the fun of roller skates.

               

Mt. de Chantal

Wheeling

May 7th, 1882

Dear Father and Mother,

                I will write a few lines to let you know I am well. I hope you are all the same. We have very disagreeable weather at present. I received my picture frames on Thursday. Sister thought they were very pretty.

                We are going to have a musicale to-night. I hope we will have a nice time. We are busy practicing for the distribution. I am going to sing in the chorus.

                We are thinking that we are never going to get our shirt waists. I am so tired of wearing black. We want to put on our shirt waists, but Sister said it is too cold. Last year by this time we had them.         

Everything looks so nice and green. The trees look so pretty. It is so nice to hear the little birds sing when I am practicing. They come to my practice room window and sing. It is so sweet to hear them.

                As there is no more news at present, I will close my letter and send my love to My Father and Mother and a kiss to my little brother and love to all the rest. Please answer soon. I remain as ever.

                Your loving child,

                                Mary Dusch

 

Mt. de Chantal

                Wheeling

March 18th, 1883

Dear Father and Mother,

                I was very much surprised to see my father on Sunday. I wasn’t expecting him. I did not think I would go to the parlor. I was very glad to see him.

                We had a musicale Monday night, it was very nice. The Bishop was at the musical and after the musical was over, The Bishop gave us our tickets for good conduct. I received mine and then he gave out the etiquette badges and I received mine. I was very much pleased and I think you will all be pleased when you read this letter.

                We are all busy making preparation for the Easter Holidays. We are praying so that we may have nice weather and then we can have a nice time. The time is very short. The Protestant girls go home Wednesday, and we go Thursday morning.

                We were expecting the storm, but it did not come. We were very much afraid.

                Please excuse my short letter. As there is no more news at present, I will bring my letter to a close. I send my love to My Father and Mother and much love to my dear little brother and love to all the rest. I am well and I hope you are all the same.

                I remain as ever Your loving child,

                                                Mary Dusch

 

Mt. de Chantal

Wheeling

April 1st, 1883

Dear Father and Mother,

                I have been painting with my paints. I like them ever so much. I can paint so quickly with them that I am painting plums.

                I am going to get a new piece of music Monday morning. It is going to be very lively and pretty.

                We have permission to use our roller skates. We have very nice times. Seven or eight of the girls have them and we have great fun.

                We have very disagreeable weather at present. The crick has been right high. One hour it rains and the next it snows.

                I am well and happy. I hope you are all the same. The time is commencing to fly. I don’t know where the week has gone. Just think, a week since I have been home. I cannot believe it.

                The girls said they had a very nice time during the Easter Holidays. Some of them got boxes from home.

                As there is no more news at the present, I will bring my letter to a close. Excuse the short letter but I don’t know anything else to write about. I send my love to My Father, Mother, and to my little brother and all the rest at home. I remain as ever,

                Your loving child,

                                Mary Dusch

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