The 1960's -- Creeping Iconoclasm

With the "protest generation" waiting in the wings and currents of rebellion wafting through the air, Smith Day underwent yet another transformation in the climate of the 1960's. Instead of the earnestness of the 1950's, the reports of the early 60's reflect something else. Do you detect a slight tongue in cheek in these words by Smith Day chairman Mary Gould?

Your co-chairman will be selected early, we hope ... select your needlework chairman early so she can get the ladies working on something (antimacassers?) early. Phone early for the bakery; then, one week before Smith Day, phone again and try to get everyone baking something. All this phoning might possibly drum up more business (or else drive it away). After Smith Day gather together a report for future harassed historians and researchers. Take up a hobby.

The business meeting itself sometimes took the form of a skit like this one from an imaginary Smith Club meeting in the year 3000; "All those in favor, signify by a positive thought wave. Thank you. A unanimous vote." and ... "Mrs. Searle, the treasurer, is in orbit and has asked me to give her report. The savings account balance is $500,000. The checking account is $500,000. We like to keep them balanced." On Current Problems in Northampton: "Abuse of weekdays. It seems the girls are staying in Northampton on the weekends and are going to the men's colleges on the five day week." By the end of the decade, following complaints of its being too long, the business meeting was hailed as having been "short and snappy." Profits climbed to $5700 by 1969.

Decorations in the sixties became less elaborate, though the themes remained. Most of them reflected current events:

Year of the Twins (featuring autographed baseballs)

The Common Market

Don't LSD (Let Smith Down)

In Sophia's Secret Service (from "Mission Impossible")

Summer Olympics

Shoot the Moon (in 1969, naturally)

The art department merged with Needlework and emerged as Arts and Crafts, dropping puppets and doll furniture in favor of bird houses and tennis raquet [sic] presses, to celebrate the end of the baby boom, perhaps? No longer were Smith women willing to work long and arduous hours at home decorating wastebaskets and knitting socks. Instead they attended workshops where all the workers "came to get the boring stuff over with in two days." Adult clothes remained our mainstay, but new interests created new departments. An Art department sold paintings by non-Smith artists for a 20% commission. International travel resulted in an International Bazaar started by Mary Vaughan, which was very successful for several years. Palates educated abroad created a demand for a foreign recipe contest.

Although the undergraduates no longer performed skits, Entertainment was still a feature of Smith Day in the 1960's. In 1963, recent graduates, appropriately garbed to represent past decades, sang a song composed by Marilyn Nelson to the tune of "Dearie", and in 1964 Eleanor Crosby's "Fair Smithettes" sang for the group.

The 24-member Telephone Committee of the past gave way to a Mailing Committee with each department chairman doing whatever telephoning she felt necessary. But the spirit of Smith volunteerism did not flag. A report from 1966 says: "Ask anyone to do anything, no matter how outrageous ... and they will!"

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