Description of a Holiday Vacation at the Troy Female Seminary—Girls Receiving Boxes From Home—Rollicking Suppers and Jolly Good Times—Reading, Fancy-Dress Balls and Other Features of the Season—Old Dutch Customs at New Year—Riding in the “Ark” to Lansingburgh.
For the Troy Daily Times.
Nannie Farrar [Anna Howard Farrar Richardson (abt 1847-1910)?] has been spending the holidays with me. We have had such happy days together. She is younger than I am, but we are very good friends indeed. Most of the girls have had boxes from home full of good things, and they have had rollicking suppers, inviting their friends to sup with them. The library is open to us and we can read in these days all we will. Have been reading Hawthorne’s “Scarlet Letter.” Miss Creamer [teacher Hannah G. Creamer (abt 1822-1890)] admires Hawthorne very much. She advised me to read it for “the fine English prose.” “The Poets and Poetry of Europe” has occupied my time partly. Spent last evening with Schiller.
Our fancy-dress ball came off on Friday evening. It has afforded any amount of conversation and anticipation. It was a wonderful assemblage of people. Cleopatra was there, and a German princess; “Minnehaha” in true Indian dress; “Night” and “Morning,” “Maid of the Mist,” “Summer,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Highland Peasant,” “Fairies” and “Widow Bedott.” The dresses appeared gorgeous. Mrs. Emma Willard entered into the spirit of the fun, and dress waists that had been worn by her in the long ago were loaned to the girls, and their history made them all the more interesting. One of John H. Willard’s daughters wore a necklace that was worn by Mrs. Emma Willard [(1787-1870)] when she was introduced at the French Court.” It is [said] that it was the finest party of the kind ever gotten up at holiday time. Nannie begged me to take “Night.” The child never dreamed that there was “night” enough in the life of a girl whose father was dead [Dr. Levi Smith Goodrich (1793-1846) – Pioneer Physician in Howard], without masquerading in a black mist. But it was very sweet of Nan to want me to be something.
The household of which I am a member danced the old year out, the new year in. There was quite a large party given by Mrs. Willard, and we who spent our vacation in the house had the benefit of the extra gaiety. First tableaux, afterward dancing and refreshments.
New Year’s day we called on Mrs. John H. Willard [Sarah Lucretia Hudson (1809-1888)] in the parlor and received from her a kiss and a cake. I’m preserving the cake. I never expect to see its like again. It is at least nine inches long, perhaps four or five in width, shaped somewhat like a leaf [possibly speculaas?]. Mrs. W. said it was an old Dutch custom of the city to bestow on every New Year’s caller a cake, and she found it pleasant to keep up the custom. Then we trouped over to Mrs. Emma Willard’s, and chocolate and cake were served. Mrs. Emma Willard is very willing to tell the young ladies who are interested the history of her pictures and beautiful bric-a-brac. She awes us a little, but she certainly is a magnificent old lady. Then a ride in the “ark” to Lansingburgh made it a very happy New Year’s day for me.
Perhaps the girls of now-a-days have better times, but it hardly seems possible.
TUDLEY of H. [Ervilla Goodrich Tuttle (1840-1920)]
Troy Daily Times. January 7, 1893: 5 col 5. [“Old letter” ca. 1860-1861]