Golden Days: Reminiscences of Alumnae, Mississippi State College for Women (University Press of Mississippi) includes twenty brief memoirs from women who graduated from Mississippi State College for Women at least fifty years ago.The stories recounted here include Mary Ellen Weathersby Pope’s (‘26) description of a teaching career beginning just before the 1927 Delta flood and Juanita McCown Hight’s (‘34) recalling of campus conversations with violinist Jascha Heifetz and writer/adventurer Richard Halliburton. These anecdotes illustrate the profound influence of the first public college for women on the lives of the storytellers. Their vivid reminiscences about life on campus recall a different world of blue uniforms, rigid rules, and demanding faculty.
Even after many decades, these women still clearly remember particular teachers who inspired and bullied them into success, midnight dormitory pranks played on long-suffering “social advisers,” and the spring Zouave marching drills directed by the indomitable Emma Ody Pohl.
Whether they graduated in 1926 or 1956, there is a common thread running through these memories: an appreciation for the academic, leadership, and cultural experiences which enriched their lives, a recognition that the university gave them the self-confidence to pursue unusual or difficult careers, and gratitude for remarkable friendships which have lasted a lifetime.
The Southern Women’s Institute of Mississippi University for Women provides a foundation for research and inclusive outreach through the study of women in both traditional and non-traditional roles. The Institute’s research focuses on the history of MUW and the position women hold in the culture and foundation of the South both today and in the future. Bridget Smith Pieschel is professor of English at Mississippi University for Women and director of the Southern Women’s Institute. She is the author of Loyal Daughters: One Hundred Years at Mississippi University for Women, 1884-1984 (University Press of Mississippi).