Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Girls of ‘74

It’s that time of year again when families and friends gather to celebrate the markers of a life – weddings, graduations, reunions, etc. 

On June 1st, the Girls of the Class of 1974 of Rosemont College, Rosemont, Pennsylvania, held their 45th Reunion on the campus grounds. 

The Iconic Former Convent Known as Main Building

And now for a bit of personal and TV trivia.  When Agnes Nixon created the hugely popular, long-running soap opera series All My Children, she used the town of Rosemont as a model for the fictional town of Pine Valley, Pennsylvania.  The series debuted in 1970 the year I began my studies as a lowly freshman at Rosemont College. 

Here I am at Freshman Orientation Week in 1970.  We wore a lot of plaid in those days.  I think I was going for straight, blonde hair here.  Epic fail on both counts.  Remember the nude lip? 

At the time, Rosemont was a private Catholic university for young ladies run by the Sisters of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.   The Founder of the Order, Mother Cornelia Connelly, was a strong advocate of young women receiving the very best education possible.  In 1970, most of my professors were nuns with advanced degrees.  They were brilliant educators. 

About five years ago, Rosemont College went co-ed, and I confess I had mixed feelings about it, but times change and so must educational institutions, if they wish to survive.  Still, when I see strange creatures in cargo shorts and knobby knees roaming the campus, my first reaction is always “OMG -- Boys!!  What are they doing here?” 

2004 Reunion - I am on the left.  Gave up on trying to be a blonde.
45 years ago, I walked away from Rosemont’s rolling green campus, sheepskin in hand, and asked the big question, “O.K., so now what?” 

“I don’t care what you do in life so long as you are happy,” Mme Mère said as we walked back to the car.  I knew, of course, that she was lying to me.  She’d been doing it for years starting with Santa Claus, pixie dust and fairies in the garden.  I knew what she really wanted to say was “If you don’t become rich and famous, at least do something I can brag about to my friends, and don’t, God forbid, do anything to disgrace me.” 

As I take stock all these years later, I would have to say that, although I didn’t do a great deal for her to brag about, neither did I do anything to disgrace her.  So when she passed away six years ago at the age of 97, I think she was ahead on the deal. 

2009 Reunion - I am front row center.
Anyway, at the close of that graduation ceremony, we all ran off in different directions to pursue that “thing” that once acquired or achieved was sure to make us happy.  After all, we came of intellectual age during those heady days when everything was possible if we just wanted it enough.  And we weren’t afraid of hard work.  After all, we had just come through “Comps” (Comprehensive Exams) and survived. 

As the Girls of the Class of 1974 gathered for dinner last Saturday on Connelly Green and talked and laughed, I realized that quite a few things have changed in 45 years.  For one thing, we are no longer girls, and our girl talk has changed.  We no longer talk about “hot guys” and have mercifully left “hot flashes” behind.  Some of us have stopped coloring our hair and most of us are finally making peace with our faces and our bodies even as they turn on us.  Why couldn’t we have done that when they were still on our side??  The Good Lord has smiled and frowned on us by turns.  We have given birth to joy and buried grief. 

And in the process, we have learned a great deal about ourselves.  We are neither as good nor as bad as we thought we were.  There are things we do well, not so well and can’t do at all that we no longer feel guilty about.  We have learned to use the word “No” and mean it.  We have learned that we can take care of ourselves and anyone or anything else that life throws at us. 

But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed…

2019 Reunion -  Classmates and Dear Friends Anne Gannon to my right and Pat Ciarrocchi (former CBS News Anchor and Talk Show Host) to my left.
Whenever we get together, we sing our Class Song, and it makes us feel young again and that anything is possible if we just want it enough.  I don’t remember who or how it came about, but someone put our Class Motto to a catchy little tune, and we still clap our hands and sing it.  Our husbands just roll their eyes, but I think they secretly think it’s cute. 

“The only girls who ask for more are in the Class of ’74!”

Holy Child Nuns Gathered in Front of Main Building

Young women today demand what they want, but the good little Catholic School girls of the Class of ’74 are still “asking” politely for more.  I think the nuns would be proud of us. 


  1. MT -
    This was such a delightful read. You captured it all... the joy, conflict, acceptance, hope — we all still hold that and I believe it makes us better. We learned through our friendships that have become more refined through these post-graduate years, that sharing it all helps us evolve. You aren’t only one in plaid, with an attempt to tame natural curls. I have one just like it — I just have to remember where I put it. Cheers to the Girls who Ask for More!

  2. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Guess we all are of the fading generation that received Catholic Education all the way... Yes, it was strict and as you already pointed out, politeness was a MUST! Hoping that our teacher nuns have been content with our walk of life so far.
    Your Rosemont College was such a gem of architecture!
    Lovely post and great reunions after so long. Sadly I've never been able to attend any, due to the 8,000 km distance.

  3. Lovely photos and memories, Marie-Thérèse. I visit my university when I'm in town, but have yet to attend a reunion. I'm very fond of the school, but don't feel as drawn to the reunions as I am about my high school reunions.

    Believe it or not, I did attend a grade school 25th year reunion and loved it! The grade school went up to the 8th grade. My father was in the habit of taking a long walk in the evenings for exercise, and the organizer (a former classmate) who still lived in the old neighborhood recognized him when he passed the former classmate's house -- "Hey, isn't that Debbie Turner's dad?" Yes! So he went outside to let my dad know about the reunion, and I planned my visit home so I could attend.

    My former high school class president organizes once a month dinners at local restaurants which any of our classmates are welcome to RSVP to attend. She tells me to tell them whenever I come to town, so that she can have it when I'm in town. I love how our class stays in touch and wish I didn't live out-of-town.

    Here's to formative years, good times and our dear schoolmates!


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