Among the great themes in private school life, dorm room decoration is, perhaps, insufficiently recognized as one of the Great Traditions.
But consider the first image below, taken in North Hall in 1903. All the elements of modern-day student interior decoration are present. The overall theme might be described as “Eclecticism, and Too Much Of It.” There is an emphasis on advertising and clipped photographs, especially portraits of unattainable celebrities of opposite gender.
Perhaps the impression of young gentlemen sitting up straight and reading in their jackets and ties doesn’t seem quite real, but it is somewhat mitigated by paper that didn’t quite hit the wastebasket.
Perhaps in keeping with the spirit of wartime austerity, the same effect is attempted here with fewer tzotchkes.1 (Older alumni will recall the knotted ropes provided as fire escapes in every room. Reliable tradition suggests that they were also useful non-emergency alternatives to the stairs.)
Northampton School had a rule severely limiting what could be attached to the walls. But the great themes are here, notwithstanding a better sense of order.
True, not every student enters the spirit of excess. Do exceptions prove the rule? In any event, this lovely photograph deserves to be shared.
109 years after our first photo was taken, it is clear that the Great Traditions are still alive. We should mention that the occupants accomplished this masterpiece on a single Sunday afternoon.
1Yiddish for “clutter and stuff.” It’s a useful word.
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2 thoughts on “Home, Sweet Home”
I see no representation of the Psychedelic Era in room decor. I will have to dig into my archives and see what I can come up with … Silly String looped from electric cords and chandelier was an integral part of my bag of tricks … rock posters … Woodstock Nation trinkets … peace signs … mingled with late Victorian bric-a-brac. Plus my home-made pipe rack with its medallion of Shiva dancing on a field of skulls. It was an attempt to re-create the ambience induced by the Head Lights, an early 1970s light show. When I couldn’t find a duplicate of the Jeff. Airplane poster from the Surrealistic Pillow cover, owned by a friend in the dorm section of the Infirmary, I drew it myself in pen and ink, for credit in Barry Moser’s class! I think the drawing is still kicking around Moose Manor somewhere.
Lovely, all of them! How about a captioning contest? My in imaginative attempts follow:
1) “I hate it when you call me Herbie. Now wont you PLUH-Ease put your trash in its proper receptacle?”
2) “So what I want to know is, do you think she’ll still like me when she finds out I really can’t play tennis?
3) “I could have danced all night…..”
4) “Dearest George- it’s one thing to clear off all the deco from my walls. But I’d appreciate it if you returned my underwear.”
5) ” I hate physics, I hate physics, I hate physics!” “Ps. I love the Bruins!”