The Class of 2007 departed Bates on May 27, leaving behind in campus houses and halls lots of stuff — mostly furniture and clothes — that was later sold at the annual Clean Sweep sale, benefiting local nonprofits.
A month earlier, a somewhat older Bates graduate, former Bates Magazine editor Ruth Rowe Wilson ’36, departed her longtime home on College Street, and accompanying her departure was a dispersal of possessions too. But hers was executed on a more personal scale.
She gave the Dunn Guest House a set of Bates College china by Wedgwood. The Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library received her graduation cap and gown, a handwritten copy of her senior thesis on Ocean Park, and materials that once belonged to her father, legendary dean Harry Rowe ’12, who founded this publication.
Professor of Religion Marcus Bruce ’77 received a gift of Yale china (Ruth’s late husband, Val ’38, and Bruce both earned Yale doctorates). The theater department’s costume shop received vintage clothing, including Ruth’s prom dress from Lewiston High School.
Then, at a Chase Hall Lounge luncheon just a few days before Ruth’s move to Fairfield, Calif., near family, we said goodbyes and best wishes.
Many international students attended the lunch, reflecting one of Ruth’s myriad connections to Bates life. Each September, she had a picnic at her Ocean Park cottage for international students, who would be driven to the coast by longtime dean James Reese, the master of ceremonies for the informal Chase luncheon. “It was easy for me to tell them that they would love it,” Reese told the gathering. “Because they always did.”
“And I loved it too,” rejoined Wilson from her seat.
The international students signed a guest book, which Sorina Crişan ’07 of Arad, Romania, gave to Ruth. “My first month at Bates, you welcomed me to Ocean Park, where I signed your guest book,” Crişan said. “At the end of my Bates education, it is a privilege for me to be able to say goodbye in the same way.”
In her remarks, Wilson shared editing pet peeves, telling how she zinged a local TV news anchor for reporting that a man “lay on the railroad tracks.” Ruth wrote a letter: “Who put him there?!” Ruth also admitted to her share of magazine goofs, such as reporting the name of an alum’s “new addition” in the magazine’s births section, only to learn the addition was a canine, not human. “I had a file called ‘Crow,’ and I ate a lot of it,” she said.
She took jabs at wordy writing. “You don’t need to say, ‘The fact of the matter is.’ Just say, ‘The fact is, ’ such as, ‘The fact is, this is a lovely party.’”
In her gifting, Ruth also gave something to the current magazine staff: the knowledge that whether she’s on College Street or in California, this 93-year-old alumna’s attitude, spirit, and perspective make her our target reader.