The Hillsdale Collegian published its most inconsequential front-page headline on Feb. 28, 1951: “Home Ec Hears Decoration Talk.”
How did this become a front page-worthy news story, you may ask?
Unfortunately, I do not have an answer for you, but I will try to expand more on Hillsdale’s history with home economics.
The Feb. 28 article reads, “Mrs. Abraham of Hudson, Michigan … spoke on the basic principles of decorating a new home. She worked out color and material combinations for decorating various rooms in the home.”
Finally Hillsdale College was offering a class explicitly designed for its ring-by-spring seekers.
The article continues, “Mrs. Abraham stated that the main ideas to consider in decorating a room are to make it comfortable and restful. She also informed the girls that it was now acceptable to mix antiques with modern furniture.”
Well thank God for that. Now I can finally place my antique vase next to my lava lamp.
The article states that the lecture concluded with a question and answer session. I cannot imagine what kind of thought-provoking questions were asked.
But a decoration talk was not all that was offered to the home economists. On March 20, 1952, The Collegian published, “Home Ec Group Sees Style Show.”
Decorating and fashion: the only things a girl needs apparently.
The article states, “The Home Economics Club sponsored a group of our students and faculty members last week, when they drove to the University of Toledo for a preview of fashions for this coming spring and summer.”
Do any professors think that it would be a good use of their academic time to accompany this trip? In retrospect, the professors of Home Economics probably thought it was a good idea.
This fashion show did not display just any clothes however. The Collegian wrote, “Entitled ‘Spring Fashion Salad Bowl’ the clothes were modeled in new shades such as blueberry, coconut, cucumber, avocado and black olive. The styles ranged from shorts and pedal pushers to formals and short jackets.”
Fruits and vegetables may be kosher, but they are certainly not couture.
Once again, I have to assume that this article took a little creative liberty when choosing sources because when talking about the experience of the show the author quotes Miss Olive Berry.
It cannot be possible that the first and last name of the only source for a salad-themed fashion line are both salad ingredients. I refuse to fall for The Collegian’s traps this time.
Finally, the Home Ec department also offered lectures on silver. An article published on April 24, 1952 reported, “A representative of Wood and Seybolds Jewelry store entertained the girls of the Home Economics Club at Ambler house.”
The article continued, “He displayed many different types of beautiful silverware of historical interest… The girls were very pleased that such an evening had been planned, as they are sure that they gained valuable pointers in the history and the purchasing of silverware.”
I don’t want to point out the obvious, but what college student is able to afford fine silverware? The plastic forks and knives at McDonalds are a financial stretch for me, let alone genuine silverware.
Most likely due to these expansive opportunities, the Home Economics major was surprisingly popular. According to the May 6, 1941 issue of the Collegian, almost 11% of the graduating senior class were Home Ec majors.
I don’t know what this says about the past of our college, but I am certainly happy that I never had to take a class that required me to both make salad and dress like one in order to pass.