Ruth Finzel’s May Day Folly

Ruth Finzel-cropThe University of Maryland Archives recently received the 1930 handwritten diary of Ruth M. Finzel (Class of 1931), of Mt. Savage, MD. In it, she shares her experiences as a co-ed in the College of Education, living in the newly constructed Alpha Omega Pi house on College Avenue and as an active participant in the Y.W.C.A. and women’s non-varsity sports, such as tennis, basketball, bowling at College Park lanes, and soccer. The University Archives staff has transcribed the diary and will be sharing excerpts from Ruth’s chronicles in future blog posts.

We begin with May Day, a popular spring tradition that played an important role on campus during Ruth’s era.  May Day festivities (1923-1961) were first established by Dean of Women Adele Stamp.  They included an elaborate pageant with costumes, a theme such as “Nursery Rhymes, “Neptune, Ruler of the Sea,” “Rip Van Winkle,” and “Famous Lovers,” dancing around the Maypole, and the crowning of a queen and her court. The junior women worked many months creating the handmade invitations and costumes to honor the seniors.

Ruth and her AOPi sorority sisters attended numerous rehearsals on the lawn starting in April to prepare for the occasion.  Their heightened interest was inspired by the fact that her sorority sister, Evalyn Ridout (Arts & Sciences, Annapolis, MD), was to be crowned May Day Queen. All the junior women spent many hours creating the handmade invitations and festive costumes that captured the Zingaree, the Gypsy theme for the year.

1930 May Day invitation and program

univarch-055037-0001

The morning of May Day began with rain but fortunately cleared in time for the ceremony. Pictured here, Queen Evalyn Ridout  is accompanied by her four attendants:

univarch-055040-0001Left to Right:=
Alice (Curry) Nourse, Educ., Davidsonville, MD, Kappa Kappa Gamma
Isabel Dynes, Home Economics, Chevy Chase, MD, Alpha Ypsilon Chi
Isabel (Izzy) Bewick, Education, Cumberland, MD, Kappa Delta
Roberta Harrison, Education, Washington, DC, Chi Omega

 Ruth writes:

“Rained off & on but finally cleared up so we had May Day.  It was a gypsy theme and fairly good.  Evalyn Ridout was May Queen with Izzy Bewick, Isabel Dynes, Curry Nourse, & Roberta Harrison as maids.

Went to the Chorus recital with Marguerite & Helen & nearly had hysterics over a woman who sang.”

We post this today, on the 86th anniversary of this special day in Ruth’s life, and encourage you to check back for future snapshots of this era in UMD history! Enjoy these additional photos of Zingaree and the gypsies.

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