In March 1966 I commenced residence in Ormond, as the waves of baby boomers began to hit the tertiary education system, to alter it irrevocably. I arrived as a very callow eighteen-year-old from the country, though I had attended a city school. These extracts from diaries and letters are from my early weeks at College.
Friday, March 11, 1966
Here I am, at the University, and seated at my desk in Ormond College. Everything has come upon me at once: new surroundings, new people, living away from home, and most of all, new attitudes. The University, they tell us, is the place to reconsider old attitudes. They tell us, too, that the University is more than study – you must broaden your whole personality.
Sunday, March 13, 1966
College is alright. I have already broken all the rules of dining hall etiquette. It is very free here. You could be away for a week and hardly be missed. I have a single bed-study, although it is not the modernest. After Hall we walk, in our black students’ gowns, up Royal Parade and round Women’s College. The Women’s College students walk towards us and some of the more daring Ormond boys attempt to catch them in their voluminous gowns, in an antiquated ritual called ‘triggling’. I only feel a tinge of homesickness around getting-up and going-to-bed times. But here I have friends and freedom.
Main building during the 1960s, with recently-opened Picken Court in the background.
Sunday, March 20, 1966 and from a letter to a friend, 2 April 1966
Why on earth did I drop Philosophy? I am still not quite sure.
Also, all the crackpots do Philosophy. One particular guy came into my room at Ormond, with a forked beard, sideburns which weren’t allowed to meet his beard, and long unkempt hair. He asked me for a can opener. Incidentally, he introduced himself, and he was doing 2nd year Philosophy honors.
That’s not all! I told him I was dropping Phil, so he was disappointed at this, and he plonked himself down in my scraggly cane ‘dish’ chair and rolled his own. Then he proceeded to expound wisdom. ‘To me’, he said, ‘it is a vital question whether this chair exists or not.’ That’s when I gave up Philosophy!
Allen House is my billet. My room is on the first floor and faces north. Every morning it is bathed in sunlight, except when it rains.
The room is long, narrow, with a high ceiling; thick walls on one side, thin ones on t’other. [It was a larger room partitioned into two bed-studies.] I have made it a little more habitable by moving in a curtain, a threadbare carpet (solely to cover up the nudity of the floorboards), and an ‘antique’ dressing table (which is solely an ornament – not for dressing), which was another of Mum’s bargains. It looks quite nice though, and everyone admires it (probably because it is the only thing there to admire).
Peter Rechner’s first-year room was in Allen House, which was then used as student accommodation.
Do come up and visit me sometime, because I love having visitors. You will be particularly welcome. I spent this Saturday morning buying groceries – coffee, ‘Quik’, lime cordial, biscuits (Mrs Peck’s), and an extra large jar of peanut butter (with bread and butter, of course, to go with it.)
College life is quite enjoyable. It lulls one into a workless complacency. It is a social college, Ormond, with coffee every night at 10. (I hadn’t drunk a cup of coffee in my life until I set up in residence ici!) There are many other social and cultural activities on offer (just take my word for it!) I am getting a record player to put in my room, so now I can hear Beethoven twenty four hours a day!
Despite reservations, my three years in college were a memorable time, introducing me to notable personalities and providing a privileged and traditional counterpoise to the cultural revolution then unfolding on campus.
Share your Ormond story
Every Ormondian has their own unique experience of College life, and their own story to tell. What Ormond moment stands out in your memory? Whether in Allen House, in the JCR, Dining Hall or on Picken Lawn, share your favourite story of life at Ormond College.