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Pass through the gateway to 1932

A photo of a family in 1932.
Courtesy of IAFSA

By Leighah Beausoleil

In the October 1932 issue of The Gatepost, Maude B. Gerritson wrote a feature on life at The State Normal School a quarter of a century prior to her attendance.

Her article’s lede began with imagining the absurdity of a time when the brick gateway that sits on Normal Hill did not exist.

The gateway was erected in 1921 by the Classes of 1917, 1918, and 1919 in memory of Henry

Whittemore, who served as principal of Framingham Normal School from 1898 to 1917.

Nearly a century later, Framingham State University students could not imagine a time when the student-led newspaper did not exist, but at the start of 1932, that was the case.

The Gatepost newspaper published its very first issue in March 1932 – exactly 90 years prior to this article’s publication.

With a budget of $21 from the Student Government Organization, the paper was formed, naming itself a year after Whittemore’s passing in 1931 in recognition of the gateway constructed in his honor.

While Gerritson was startled by the transitions on campus from the early 1900s to 1932, even greater changes have occurred from 1932 and now.

With an enrollment of approximately 500 female students, Framingham Normal School became the State Teachers College at Framingham in 1932, naming Francis Bagnell as the Srst president, according to Michael Conway, ’70, who is a volunteer archivist for the Independent Association of Framingham State Alumni.

Amid the Great Depression, the U.S. unemployment rate reached 24.5%, leaving 13 million Americans unemployed, according to The People History’s website.

“Jobs were scarce,” Conway said. “Framingham was impacted by the shortages of money for tuition and board.”

According to the 1932 Freshman Handbook, room and board cost $325, which would cost

approximately $6,200 today.

Even in 1932, commuter status was prominent at Framingham, with commuters making up one-third of the student population, according to the handbook.

“Dorm students were not allowed to have cars on campus,” Conway said. “Most commuters used the train.”

Much of campus life was strictly guided through the Freshman Handbook. To cope with the restrictions, the 1932 edition of The Dial, Framingham State’s former yearbook, curated a list of “song hits” and “reviews of reviews,” which were commonly used phrases, and their “artists.”

One of the rules listed in the handbook was that male escorts were required to drop students off at the doors of their residence halls – noted in The Dial as “‘Goodnight Sweetheart’ – Under Crocker’s porch light.”

Women needed written permission and approval from their parents in order to ride in the automobile of a male escort, which was only permitted on weekends.

“‘We’re So Alone’ – Without weekend dates.”

There were restrictions for studying in the dorm rooms, with lights required to be off by 10 p.m. on school nights and 11 p.m. on weekends. Seniors were allotted an extra 30 minutes on school nights for studying.

Each student was granted five “light cuts” in which they could study until 12 a.m.

“‘Starlight” – Light cuts.”

If the women arrived at their residence halls late, they had 15 minutes to get ready for bed and shut off the lights – 30 if they were returning from a school function.

“‘What Can I Say, After I’ve Said I’m Sorry” – Late arrivals on Sunday nights.”

Academic buildings were closed to all underclassmen from 7:30 p.m. to 7 a.m., and seniors were able to stay and study until 9:30 p.m.

A written note was required to be signed for any and all instances of absence or tardiness to class and the student was to report to the Dean’s Offce.

At 9 a.m. every morning, the women were required to attend chapel, and on Mondays, they had assembly at 2 p.m.

“‘Hurricane Horsemen’ – The 9:02 Chapel arrivals.”

“‘Somebody from Somewhere’ – Speakers in assembly.”

“‘Snuggled on Your Shoulder’ – Sleeping in assembly.”

Despite the endless rules, the students were still allotted fun.

Entering a gym of crimson and blue, the students of 1932 were preparing to celebrate their annual Harvard-Yale Weekend, according to The Dial.

The student body was divided in two – each rooting for one school or the other. Both a game of basketball and hockey would take place with teams made up of select Framingham students.

That year, Harvard was victorious in basketball, while Yale won hockey. The sports were followed by a banquet.

“‘Many Happy Returns of the Day’ – Harvard and Yale.”

Another tradition involved freshman initiation.

Described in The Dial as “The Greenies,” freshmen had their own set of strict rules to follow, but these came from the upperclassmen.

The rules included when they were allowed to leave the dining hall and assembly, restrictions of cosmetics and clothing, but also their name sake – the requirement to wear green berets for one semester.

However, The Dial admitted that after two weeks, campus life consumed them and there was not enough time to keep up with the “Greenies.”

The Dial entry signs off with, “Honestly, ‘Greenies,’ wasn’t it fun, and didn’t you enjoy it? We did!”

Green berets weren’t the only fashion trends rampant among Framingham students.

Hats and dying one’s hair blonde were all the rage in 1932.

In the second publication of The Gatepost in 1932, the “Scraps of Humor” section said it all.

“‘Wags’: ‘What is the greatest contribution chemistry has given Framingham?’

‘Condit’: ‘Blondes.’”

Another notable feature of campus life was the menace that was cockroaches.

Their presence was made known in The Dial, “‘I’ll be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal, You’ – Cockroach”

As well as the “Remember the Day in Crocker” entry, in which students reminisce about the day “When [they] learned that curry powder was used to kill cockroaches.”

In the “Class History” entry of The Dial, the writers describe their uneasiness about the changes underway in Framingham.

“On returning to Framingham, we had to look twice,” they said. “We were confronted with a great change. The construction of the new Washington Highway gave the center a different aspect.”

In 2022, students cannot think of Framingham State without acknowledging Route 9, which serves as an integral part of the journey to many of their desired destinations.

Framingham State students cannot imagine the changes that will take place in years to come.

Whatever they are, however, The Gatepost will be here to report them.

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