The 1970's -- Business Gets Brisker

Perhaps spurred on by the upheavals of the sixties (traditions can be broken), perhaps merely by evolution, Smith Day made the biggest shift in emphasis and direction in its history during the decade of the 70's. Phase II began in 1972, and in 1974, Smith Day moved to the Minnetonka Art Center. Profits skyrocketed from $5700 in 1970 to $9912 in 1979.

Janet Spoor chaired the first Phase II which was held at the Wayzata Depot on Lake Street. After having moved everything from Sally Pillsbury's to the Wayzata Depot Friday night, Janet's hardy workers had to deal with a new problem -- the light fingers that accompanied the light hearts of the new crowd of buyers. One woman walked off with a wig -- on her head. Another with a dress -- over slacks and a shirt. But, in spite of the work, Phase II was a great success, raising over $1800 that first year.

Phase II workers must have been relieved when the Minneapolis Smith Club made the decision to move Smith Day to the Minnetonka Art Center -- no more Friday night moving vans! For the rest of the Smith Club, the decision was a wrenching one. For more than forty years, Smith Day had been held at someone's beautiful home whose ambiance was certainly part of the Smith Day mystique. But we had run out of houses. Many loyal alumnae had hosted Smith Day two or three times; Phase II was "definitely a drag" when its location was somewhere different from Smith Day's. So in 1973, the Smith Club said "farewell" in a lavish "do", complete with tent, at Patty William's in Maplewoods just across the circle from where Smith Day began forty years before at the home of Mrs. Case. 1973 was also Erwin Dick's swan song for Smith Day, his last shrimp and rice.

Once at the Art Center, we experimented with some new directions. We tried selling pottery on commission, as an extension of the earlier Art Gallery, but found that the required display area took up too much space. We sold dried flower arrangements, and little baskets filled with things, posters to color, a cookbook, homemade jellies and pickles and bread. One year we sold Smith T-shirts, shorts and sweat shirts. Our silent auction and raffles grew and grew. We tried a "Junque" Sale but junked it -- too much junque!

Smith women became more businesslike in the 1970's. After years of filling out tax forms for non-Smith donors, we began filling them out for ourselves. We acquired a tax free number. Our reports became shorter and simpler. So did our flyers. But our themes remained, and as always, continued to reflect our changing image, focussing now on ourselves as women, rather than on current events as in the 1960's. In the 1970's we had:

Sophia's Lib

The Zodiac and the Occult

Smith Power (Shazam!)

Let's Go Homespun

Shaping Up

Smith women have always been "with it", leaders, foreshadowing the future. In the 1950's they concentrated on homemade items and crafts which became big business in the 1960's (remember hippies?). In the 1960's and 1970's they shifted the emphasis from cleverness with their hands to cleverness with their heads, Smith Day themes and department monikers becoming ever more inventive, and the quizzes ever more difficult!

Now the big quesiton is: Whither the 1980's. So far we have been looking backward, analyzing our roots. We celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Alumnae Association. The St. Paul Club has rejoined the Minneapolis Club, along with the Duluth and Rochester clubs, much to everyone's mutual advantage. Will we revive traditions from our past much as designers have leg-'o-mutton sleeves, or architects curved walls? Will we ever again see undergraduates performing skits about life in Northampton? Will we once again introduce incoming freshman? That report remains to be written. Much depends on how we solve these:

@smithclubMN on Twitter