Discovering Bryn Mawr's Treasures

Whether buried coins or the less tangible gold of the heart, we enjoy hunting for lost treasure. There are Bryn Mawr traditions, artifacts and vistas that some may have forgotten or never knew. Look for more examples of these rediscovered treasures in future issues of the Bulletin.

The Denbigh Back Smoker Diaries

Quotes, rhymes, reasons or reason, mostly anonymous (at least in the early years), the Back Smoker Diaries of Denbigh and subsequently other dorms are a mystery to us. Apparently begun in 1977 in marblebound composition books and later in more elegant diaries, they preserve the familiar flavor of college life. Do you know who penned these lines? How they started? Write to the Bulletin and help us rediscover the lore of this tradition. Here are a few excerpts from the first two volumes in the College Archives.

9/27/77 - 1st entry:
ďThere is a Theory that the Earth was created in 1934 by a cosmic entity Known only as Fred ... That all evidences of a past beyond that year are Fred's fabrications.Ē
Giant-Size defenders, vol 1., No. 3
New York, Marvel Comics Group, Jan 1975

10/9/77
        If I start writing now when I'm
        not really rested it could
        upset my thinking which is
        Not good at all.
        I'll get a
        Fresh start tomorrow and it's
        not due till Wednesday so I'll
        have all of Tuesday unless
        Something should happen.
        Why does this always happen
        I should be outside playing getting
        Fresh air & sunshine.
        I work best under pressure
        and there'll be lots of pressure
        if I wait till tomorrow.
        I should start writing now
        But if I start writing now
        When I'm not really rested
        It could upset my thinking which is
        not good at all.

10/10/77
In 20 all too short minutes it will be 2 a.m. and all the spite will have run out of this pen and hopefully all the sawdust from my brain. I have finished my French, I have selected several plants to buy for my room, I have learned a new way to relax and I have lived another day.

In six hours I will get up and go again. I will go forth once more in my search for knowledge in a place that has become like home to me with all its tensions and imperfections. And once again I will ask God why I am here so far from home, knowing all the while that I cannot live at home with no hope of every [sic] going anywhere.

I am here in the hope that I will learn enough so that I can earn enough to buy a big old house for myself and sit and read books. And I would like to talk to God, but money won't buy me that.

        Good-night
            &
        Good luck

10/27/77
I Protest! Please remember that the Back Smoker Diary is a document which will be used by future historians.

Arguments & childish scrawls are not appreciated, nor are drawings unless they can truly be considered of Artistic Value. Please put this diary to the use to which it was intended. -- The Historian

10/29/77
Backrubbing 001 should be a required course here.

11/12/77
Today I discovered that Bianca Maria Visconti married Francesco Sforza in 1441. While I knew she did not wed Leonardo di [sic] Vinci, I could have wished to postpone the actual confrontation with the facts till a later time. I could also have wished to have discovered this verification in a source other than a box of Toirone Ferrara candy.

12/9/77
"His voice said goodnight; his breath said onions, onions, onions."

12/12/77
For Day & Night have merged & fled
    the second dawn will soon appear
And still the drums beat in my head
    and not a pill my head will clear
The second dawn will turn to night
    another day will come and go
Yet still I must this paper write
    but can I write this paper? NO!

12/14/77
                    Variations on a Theme or
                The Tragical History of Hamlet
                   Though the Looking Glass

     "The time has come," Will Shakespeare said,
     "To talk of many things --
     Of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern --
     Of regicides of kings.
     And why the Prince is raving mad --
     And what Ophelia sings."

     "A lot of dead," the old Bard said,"
     Is what we chiefly need.
     Duels, and poisoned wine besides,
     And words instead of deeds. --
     The Ghost of old King Hamlet and
     Remorse, incest and greed.

In memoria [sic]- Hamlet - who always did a foolish thing and never said a wise one.
Requiscat [sic] in pace. Amen.

12/18/77
I occasionally wonder whether all this here eddication is really worth its . .. studying causes termites in the brain and I will probably drip sawdust all over my History final.

1/31/78 2300 hours
It was suggested by an (anonymous) source tonight at our dorm meeting that Denbigh secede from the rest of the campus and set up our own government (in reaction to everybody else doing everything wrong on campus.)

2/6/78 I donít think pizza is an emergency. Only cheesesteak hoagies are emergencies . . .
    Is popcorn an emergency?

2/21/78 I feel very ignorant, having learned for the first time today that Richard IIIís wife Anne was married before, to Henry VIís son Edward . . . how naÔve of me to assume that a 16-year-old girl would not have been married before, in 1472 or whatever year it was.

Second diary

9/18/78
Hating oneself is deplorable. One can always find others willing to do it for one. Iím beginning to understand why people no longer use Ďoneí - awkward construction.
   The freshmen are writing their first papers. "Thereís nothing new under the sun . . ."

9/22/78
A question occurred to me last night re the experiment with Haverfordians and water pistols: If the water pistol were filled with holy water, what would be the result? Would they dissolve? Or would they turn into wolves (no great transofrmation) or into bats? (Bat experts please respond.)
       Gordon Cornelius, Ph.D.
       Miskatonic University
       Department of Arcane Studies

9/29/78 Def: A "system" is defined as the particular section of the universe we are interested in at a certain time. I, for one, am always interested in China, Pluto, and the Milky Way galaxy at the same time.

11/10/78
(Written in 4 hands)

Necessities of college life:
       Popcorn popper
       Food
       Mugs
       Classes that donít start till 11:00
       Food
       A Knowledge of French
       A Paoli Local schedule
       Extra food
       A loaf of bread, a jug of wine . . .
       More food, some of it chocolate
       Trusty typewriter
       Food
       Quiet
       Food
       A knowledge of Eng/Scot ballads
       An unhealthy supply of worthless novels

12/6/78
       Song for Harlequin Presents heroines:
       Black, black, black is the color of my true loveís heart --
       His tongue is like a poisoned dart
       The coldest eyes, the cruelest hands --
       I love the ground whereon he stands.


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