Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Thankful, But Not Sentimental

Photograph of CampenOf all of the many amazing collections that we are fortunate to have here in Special Collections, I think that my favorite is the treasure trove of numerous student letters written to home from Dartmouth. Today, while hunting about for a Thanksgiving-related item to blog about, I found a charming little collection of letters written by Richard "Dick" Campen, member of the class of 1934. Campen was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and so going home for Thanksgiving every year wasn't really an option.

Luckily, Campen had an Aunt Lil and Uncle Abe who lived in Hartford, Connecticut, and so one year he went down to stay with them for the holiday. In a letter written to his parents November 27, 1930, Campen says that he had piled into a Chrysler sedan with "six other fellows going to New York." On the drive down, the students passed numerous other cars "packed to the rumble seat" with Dartmouth students also headed home for Thanksgiving.

Campen's description of his time at his relatives' home is charming, and he clearly valued many of the same sorts of creature comforts that students today celebrate upon returning to their families for a break from school. He raves about the food, whether a "tasty plate" of lamb chops, a glass of "precious" orange juice, or "scarce" boiled eggs. In particular, Thanksgiving dinner was delicious: turkey, cranberries, and "all the rest." Over dinner, he chatted with a guest who was a student at Williams College about the similarities and differences at their respective educational institutions. Ultimately, he decided that the Williams student was a "nice fellow."

In closing, Campen says, "I'm very thankful for everything, but I don't want to bore you with a lot of sentiment." Like him, we're thankful for so many things about Dartmouth, mostly the students, faculty, and staff who all strive to make it an even better place in the future while not getting overly sentimental about its past.

To read Campen's letters, come to Special Collections and ask to see MS-685.