Generation Gap • Memories of Doris • Missing Piece • Corrections
[Reflecting on “Sex, Love, and Celibacy,” November- December 2010:] When I arrived at Duke in 1936, I was baffled by the many lectures we received against “proning,” or lying together clothed under the bushes. The campus police used their flashlights to search out couples and send them back to their dorms. It took me a while to learn what they were talking about.
We also were protected from mistakes by a house mother and a hall proctor. If for some reason a man (father, brother, or friend) was allowed off the first floor, the loud speaker would announce, “Man on second.” We had to be inside our dorms by a certain hour, I think ten o’clock, on Saturday night. If someone did not make it in, the house mother would have the campus police look for her. We had two campuses then, the Woman’s College and Trinity College for men. We took the bus to get back and forth. The men had far fewer restrictions than we had, and they had maids to clean their rooms.
But life was exciting then. A man asked me to a dance, and I wondered, “Who will I meet there?” At the dance, I danced with my date and, pretty soon, other men “cut in.” They would tap my partner on the shoulder, and I would dance away with the new man. My date would then tap some other man on the shoulder and dance away with his partner. One always went home with the man who brought you.
Men often went to the dances “stag.” It gave them a chance to observe the girls, cut in, and make dates. I would meet many new people and make a few dates with one or two. None of my friends “slept” with their dates.
The chase is the exciting part of being young. Men innately want the chase, and girls enjoy being just out of reach. We had a lot more fun then. When I watch my children and grandchildren now dating one person for a long time, then having a lonesome lull, and then finding another to date, I weep over their loss of the excitement that we had.
Also, when people marry as virgins, they can have a long married life (I was married for sixty-two years) and neither of you worries about being compared with someone else as a lover. They are happy with the one person they fell in love with.
The pill today makes sleeping with many people less of a worry about getting pregnant but the joy of the first night of marriage is gone. And the many more nights for all the years, too.
As a sociology major in the late ’50s, I wrote a paper on sexual activity at Duke using an anonymous, two-page questionnaire. I handed out the questionnaire to the girls in my dorm, several sociology professors handed it out in their classes, and my boyfriend sent it around his fraternity. I had more than 100 responses from which I wrote my paper.
I don’t remember all of the questions, but I do remember that only two girls said they had engaged in intercourse. No one had heard of “hook ups” or even oral sex at that time. There were no drugs, no binge drinking that I was aware of, and no bulimia or anorexia. We could drink at eighteen, which I think personally was a good thing.
By the way, “making out” back then meant “going all the way” or intercourse. Anything else was “necking” or “petting.” I hate to say it, but I think my college experience was much happier and more fulfilling than those of students today. Duke even went to the Orange Bowl!
What a delight to see the article about Doris Duke [“Ahead of Her Time,” January-February 2011]! I have warm recollections of her time in Honolulu in the late 1930s, when my father, an Army officer, was stationed there.
My parents and Doris became friends through mutual family connections. She often invited us to accompany her on weekends to Shangri La when it was under construction. I can still close my eyes and picture the breathtaking views from that spot. Doris adored my mother, who was about fifteen years older than she. She often claimed mother was one of her very few friends who did not want anything (i.e., her money or her status) from her.
Doris was then married to Jimmy Cromwell, who quickly became a favorite of Honolulu society. I recall his being referred to as “FDR’s ambassador to Canada.” He is seen with their basketball team in the magazine’s contents- page photo. Jimmy’s daughter, Christine, was a classmate of my older brother, Jack. Everywhere she went, her bodyguard was close by. Jack said the kids became accustomed to this and accepted his presence—at school, in downtown Honolulu, at parties, and even swimming at Waikiki Beach.
Thanks to the archives, the story of the life and times and achievements of this remarkable woman are preserved.
The interview with David Schanzer, Duke professor and director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security [Q&A, January-February 2011], was of great interest to me and will be of even greater interest after the first suitcase nuclear device is detonated in Manhattan. His explanation of radical Islam’s motivation to violence, however, omits a key factor directing much of this violence toward our country.
Not once is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and America’s one-sided involvement in it even mentioned. Some, including myself, regard this issue as the primary motivator of Arab hatred toward the U.S. This hatred pushes some on the fringes to mass murder, as we have found to our great cost.
The January-February 2011 mini-profile of MJ Sharp listed her class year incorrectly. She graduated in 1983, not 1981.
The January-February 2011 Observer, “Exhibition Exposition,” took a quote from Mark Antliff, professor of art history, out of context. Sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound “would have been seen as a naughty gesture within the culture of the day” because it was made of Pentelic marble, not because it linked intellectual and sexual fertility.
Send letters to: Box 90572, Durham, N.C. 27708 or e-mail email@example.com. Please limit letters to 300 words and include your full name, address, and class year or Duke affiliation. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. Owing to space constraints, we are unable to print all letters received..duke.edu.
Forum: March/April 2011
April 1, 2011