Reflections on the Frederick Experience
Come away with me from this present excitement, to a quiet corner of your mind and let us reflect on our lives and times at Frederick College for we are a special group. Years ago, like some mystical Brigadoon, a college was opened on the shores of the James River. A man by the name of Beazley knew if he built it, we would come. And come we did, from: New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania; from Carolina, Virginia and various other places around the country and the world. We gathered at Pig Point to learn and to grow. We became the faculty and the worthy young men and women who lived the Frederick Experience.
Just by being there, we formed the friendships and memories that make us who we are today. It was a rare and exciting time for all of us. Rare to be part of a new four-year, liberal arts college and exciting because we were the "Pioneers in A New Frontier."
We were different from other colleges in many ways. While other students around the country were beginning to rebel against their college administrators, we were taught to stand when the college president or one of the deans entered the room. We dressed better because our young men wore shirts with ties and usually socks. Our young ladies wore skirts, dresses or the ever-popular trench coat.
Young ladies were required to sign out when leaving the dormitory in the evenings and on weekends. They did not smoke while walking on campus or visit the men's dormitories. We didn't know of any other college that changed classes by a fire siren, had water towers to supplement other physical exercise or had a gate to the campus, which was locked every night. We never thought too highly of ourselves because of these differences and the strict rules we lived under. And we were embarrassed because ours was not the average college campus with beautiful buildings and ivy-covered walls. It was years later we began to appreciate Mr. Beazley and the gift he had given us.
Where else in the world of higher education did the owner of a college supplement the cost for each student? He gave a financial gift that made it possible for many of us to attend college and to continue our education even after Frederick closed.
Some of the things we had at FC were easier than at other colleges because we were small. For example, we went through the serving line in the cafeteria and didn't need a meal ticket or coupons. Our classes were small, allowing us to ask questions. Our professors were accessible to offer advice and individual help in times of need. And, we were not numbers but persons who could move freely around the campus and always see friends and classmates we knew. Many of us never locked our dorm room doors except when we went home for holidays.
Because our dorms housed freshmen along with upper classmen, the transition from high school senior to college student was easier. Well, except for an extremely long period in the fall when we were required to wear a silly little hat.
We did many of the normal college pranks. There were incidents of staff members' cars being put in unusual places, of students cutting chapel and of hiding stuff in our dorm rooms. We had fire drills when friends were in the shower, filled dorm rooms with newspapers and had special off-campus places we hung out.
I don't know what kind of memories you have about the Frederick campus because it had many faces and changed with the seasons. The campus took on a special beauty in the fall as we rode toward the young worthy arch. Trees lining the road were gold, yellow and crimson. Through the gate and onto the campus, the road curved around the football stadium to that 'T' intersection. To the right was the arena and to the left, the administration and science buildings. The student center and classrooms were ahead and to the left. The view straight across the water was sharp and clear. On some days the water looked blue.
The student center and classroom halls had large green doors with big panes of glass. And there were those little 'marching' steps on the backside of the classroom building. A tree with rust colored leaves hung over the curved sidewalk leading up the hill to the science building. On those clear fall afternoons, we played field hockey and flag football.
As the weather turned colder, we wore wool clothes and sweaters. We had bon fires and pep rallies to cheer the football team. For Homecoming weekend, we decorated the campus and had special events. At Thanksgiving we got a short break and then began decorating the dorms for Christmas. The song "I'll Be Home for Christmas" took on new meaning.
Frederick became a hostile environment in the winter when cold winds off the water blew right through us. The walk across campus was sometimes a physical challenge. The sky at Frederick could turn an ugly shade of gray. The dampness went through the buildings and settled on us. Basketball games in the arena were good for our spirits. When it snowed, trays disappeared from the cafeteria and reappeared on the hill behind the infirmary.
With the first signs of spring, many of us ventured into the empty swimming pools for an early tan. Spring came and the campus became a wonderful place. After dinner we enjoyed long walks around the campus with very special people. There were warm nights and gentle breezes off the water. We enjoyed band concerts on the grass behind Eggleston Hall. Sometimes we got stir crazy and didn't want to go inside to study. We saved class cuts and used them to study outside on the beach or at the pool.
As the school year ended, we decided that if they ever had summer school at Frederick we would all come back for it. Graduation came and some of us would not return the next fall. We would be out in the world practicing what we had learned at Frederick.
Do you remember your last ride off the campus when you would not return as a student or staff person?
And you must remember where you were and how you learned Frederick College was closing? You knew something very special was disappearing. If you were there at the time, you remember the anger and the tears; the feeling of being deceived and wanting to strike back. In silent protest, the flag hung at half-staff.
The curtain closed and our Brigadoon was gone. Frederick College faded as if it were a dream. However, we have the memories and friends to show it was a not a dream. The Frederick Experience was a real time in our lives when we were all young and life was mellow.
Yes, we are a special group. We have done well with the gift we were given. I believe Mr. Beazley would be proud of the contributions we have made in the places we have lived and worked.
I personally, am proud of the unique experiences I enjoyed at Frederick College. I consider it a privilege to be among the worthy ones. For we may not be young any longer, but we are the young worthies who are frozen in time because there are no others to follow us.
Judy Bloodgood Bander, Frederick College 1962-66