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My Life at Athenian Hall (1945-1946)

July 05, 2013

Velma Gilbert Andersen

My parents and I decided I would attend Phillips University because of the affiliation it had with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Before I got to campus, I was told my new home would be Athenian Hall and my roommate's name was Ruth Anne Baker. On my arrival on campus, to my surprise, I was told there would be four of us in a room, instead of just two, and our room would be the large area on the second floor above the main entry. The other two girls were Lulu Mae (Lulie) Cowan and Donna Schultz. All four of us were surprised to find out there was so many of us in the room, but we became fast friends, and we took on the name "The Hag Bag" for our little group. We remained in contact with each other after our time at Phillips, until death took Lulie in 1991 and Ruth Anne in 2002, but 65 plus years later, Donna and I are still keeping in touch. Obviously, other friendships grew through the life in the dorm, and those contacts continue, as well, but only the four of us were part of the "Hag Bag". We even made a sign and hung it on our door so everyone would know who we were.

Athenian Hall was located just to the west of the Marshall Building. Resident capacity was approximately 50 to 70 women. If my memory serves me correctly, the dorm was demolished to make room for the Marshall Building. I do remember that I moved off campus after my Freshman year, because Athenian Hall "was no more". I do believe, even today, a stone marker remains at the site of what had been the dorm, though.

Some of my memories of living there include having to walk from the dorm to the Student Union (later known as the Music Hall) for our meals, as Athenian had no dining room, vending machines for snacks, or even food allowed in your room, unless you might have snuck it in. The dorm rooms were furnished with a bed, a desk and a closet for each resident, and a sink for whatever use was necessary (personal grooming and hygiene, and the occasional rinsing of laundry), since there was no laundry facilities in the dorm. I remember I would mail my laundry home to have my mother take care of washing for me, then she would mail it back to me. That guaranteed that I would get mail, at least occasionally. Smoking was not allowed in the dorm, at all. I don't remember if any of the girls had cars, but even if they did, I don't remember that the dorm had a parking lot close. There was a scheduled, required study time where all the girls had to be in their rooms. That didn't mean everyone was studying, but that was what it was supposed to be the time for. Boys were not allowed in the girl's rooms, at any time, but they could come into the "living room" where they could meet or wait to pick up their date. One of the fun things that I personally have no memory of, other than what the other girls told me, because I was asleep at the time, were the conversations I had with them. "Oh what words of wisdom I must have passed on to them."

The opening of Clay Hall ended the occupancy of Athenian Hall, for me. After my Freshman year, I chose to live off campus the remainder of my years at Phillips. I treasure these memories (what is left of them in my "aging brain") but I am grateful for them, and the years I spent at Phillips University. I graduated in 1949 but I did return to campus to work in the Library the next year.

On a personal note, I met my first husband, a Vance serviceman, while I was in Enid. We married and had two children. Our daughter also chose to attend Phillips. She talks of her time there being some of the best years of her life, and hopefully has memories she will be able to keep, forever. When we get together and start talking about the University, even for me, it does bring back some of those fond memories. Thank you for this chance to share those memories with you, and I hope for those who might have lived in Athenian, and all those who attended Phillips, it brings back some fond memories for you as well.

Ed. Note: Velma Gilbert Anderson isn’t the only one who remembers the name “Hag Bag”. It is remembered in the book “Lil Hay” as the “Hags Bag”.