Sunday, May 14, 2006

True Friends Are For Life (2)

Bea is in a more talkative mood today, so I ask about Vassar friends.

“Why do you want to know?” she demands suspiciously.

Ha-ha! Still curious. I explain that I had realized I knew next to nothing about Kitty Stryker.

“Kitty was pretty,” Bea says.

Well, yes. I knew that.

“How do you spell Stryker?” I ask, hoping to stir up the old neurons.

Bea doesn't miss a beat: “S-T-R-Y-K-E-R.”

“Did she room with you freshman year?”

“With Nancy.”

“Was she rich?”

“Rich enough. She crossed over to Turkey with me.”

I assume the crossing took place during one of the trips Bea organized to Greece. She got free passage for recruiting seven fellow travelers for the Odyssey Cruise.

Bea wasn’t sure which Vassar dorm they all lived in: North (now Jewett), or Josselyn.

I picked up their 50th reunion booklet to search for more details and learned Katharine Stryker taught at Brearley for twenty years.

I read Kitty’s entry out loud to Bea: “If Vassar developed a potential in me, I do not feel that I have used it sufficiently. My outlook on life has changed, chiefly in that I now give much more value to the social (as well as human) importance of being an effective wife and mother. Personal achievement (preferably at the professional level) seemed all important to me for the first 25 years of my adult life, but I stupidly got married with no training for anything beyond my Vassar A. B. With some professional credentials (in 1935) behind me, I think I could have worked part-time even when our children were young, and so enjoyed their childhoods more than I did in those 17 years when I was being a full-time wife/mother.”

Kitty tells her classmates in 1982, “I spend a lot of time writing to senators and congressmen, expressing fears and dissatisfactions with every aspect of the present administration, and support some of the proliferating organizations dedicated to anti-war, anti-nuclear weapons and power, anti-moral majority, anti-right-to-life, etc. I am genuinely frightened by the activities of the New Right and, indeed, by most of the policies and provocative and thoughtless remarks of our so-called leaders.”

Bea’s friendship with this lady is making more and more sense. I look over and notice the dreamy look. Bea is remembering Kitty.

I search for information in other reunion booklets and find the following note from 1997: “Concerned because we had not heard from Kitty in several years, we wrote her a special letter, hoping not to be intrusive. When the letter went unanswered, we were very worried. Before we thought what to do next, there came a letter from Kitty’s friend Bea Chinnock Grabbe, telling us that Kitty had Alzheimer’s and suggesting that we get in touch with her daughter.”

From the Internet, I learn that Kitty passed away in 2005.

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