From the information we gathered, we thought of themes for our analysis and discussion of life at the Village and the Village itself.
- Dorm vs. Village Life: Cultural Divides and Sense of Community
- The Role of Wives and Children in Pine Hill
- Material Conditions
- Memory (or lack thereof)
Dorm vs. Village Life: Cultural Divides and Sense of Community
An interesting theme echoed across the interviews is the contradictory relationship between Pine Hill Village and the rest of campus. Most of the interviewees describe feeling welcome on campus and that they were a part of the general community, with Jack Thurnblad saying, “It really didn’t seem a lot different than living in the dorm”. However, discussions of the social life hint at a divide between the two groups. The parties and events hosted at the village seem to be mainly self-contained with few dorm residents invited. Jack Turnblad said that the Pine Hill Village parties were “normal get togethers except we all had a lot in common. We were all living in the same place, going to the same school, having the same professors, doing many of the same activities”. Some of the events happened when students were off campus such as Thanksgiving when, “we were pretty much on our own up there, and we would get together with neighbors and have a potluck dinner, and crowd into one of the units, and we had a social life going”.
These bonding activities created a kind of close-knit community that made Pine Hill Village function as a space separate from the rest of campus or as Bob Will termed it, “a clique”. The residents of the village did not attend some of the rituals of daily life that the dorm residents did such as “Vespers”, “chapel”, and “Friday convo”. They did not eat in the dining hall with the rest of the campus. Robert Will said that it was, “minority case, of dormitory inhabitants heading up the Hill or people on the Hill coming down for Saturday events”. That worked the other way as the rest of campus only went to Pine Hill Village through an explicit invite, “usually as part of a class”. Overall, members of the village were free to move through campus, while dorm students appear to be more limited in their ability to access Pine Hill Village. For this reason, while all of the former residents interviewed have deep lasting memories of Pine Hill Village, few of the non-residents remember it at all.
However, the spatial separation was also helpful for dorm students in some contexts. It was a space where students could get out of some of the rules that applied on the rest of the campus, specifically the strict gender segregation on campus. Nancy Goode says that her husband’s, “track guys would babysit for us once in awhile and just have a place to get away from the dorm”. Pine Hill Village represented a kind of home like space separate from the issues of dorm life. Bob Will said that, “the most delightful evenings were those where one of us living in the dorms got invited up to have a meal with one of our friends up on the Hill” because it was such a welcome change of pace from normal Carleton life.
The Role of Wives and Children in Pine Hill
Most wives on Pine Hill were homemakers who spent their time cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, taking care of the kids, and grocery shopping. Bob Will explains that the wives “were all young, they were comparing cooking, learning to cook, and they were comparing children’s illnesses and joys and preparation teaching training, and of course they were doing the laundry, they didn’t have laundry there, they were doing the shopping to get food for their family and doing the cooking, it was a busy life.”
Expectations for women to stay in the household led Carleton to prohibit wives from attending classes, even if they were Carleton students before getting married. Mrs. Goode, who was a student at Carleton for two years before marrying her husband David, states: “we all knew that if you were married you didn’t take classes.” After her marriage, Mrs. Goode stopped taking classes and never graduated. Virginia Thurnblad, on the other hand, waited to get married to her husband Jack until she had graduated from Carleton with a sociology degree. They lived together on Pine Hill for two years while Jack finished taking classes. Bob Will claims there were “one or two couples that were married, but nobody [i.e. the administration] knew about it.” We infer that these marriages were kept secret so that wives could finish their Carleton educations.
The role of Pine Hill Village children is more unclear. All of the children who lived in Pine Hill Village were too young to remember it, so our information regarding the children’s lives is second-hand. Bob Will thinks that most children spent their time in “like a nursery school [on Pine Hill], where one or two of the [Pine Hill] mothers would mind the children of other families one week and the next week some other mothers would mind that same set of children so that the wife would be freed up from all of them having to work doing their own thing they’d have some free time, maybe to take some clothes down to the laundromat without having to worry about where their child was, or maybe to go to the grocery store.” When we asked Jack Thurnblad about his children’s experience on Pine Hill, he remarks that he “never heard any complaints” from his kids, and believes they enjoyed their time there.
Through our interviews, we were not only able to learn more about the cultural structures and personal opinions of Pine Hill Village but also uncover more about the actual housing facilities. When asking what was the living situation like at Pine Hill Village, our intention was to give our interviewees room for interpretation. Often, they’d respond with their recollections of the buildings themselves. David Goode responded, “Compared to what we had in town, it was okay, but it was pretty tight. They weren’t too well insulated.” Whereas, Jack Thurnblad said,”[Housing] was very adequate and very comfortable. It wasn’t a thrown together operation at all.” There is no doubt in our minds that these “metal huts,” as Nancy Goode described them, were not the most ideal place to be living, especially with Minnesota’s harsh winters and the Village’s distance from campus.
It is interesting to note, however, that the living conditions were contingent on the family structure. And that there was generally a lot of independence involved in living in Pine Hill Village homes.
For families without children, each of the houses contained two apartments with entrances from each side. In the apartments, there was a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and a single bedroom. But if couples had children, they were entitled to a two-bedroom housing unit. By virtue of having a family and being newlyweds, the Pine Hill couples were required to do a lot of heavy-lifting to maintain their homes. They had to carry oil to their units, use makeshift ice boxes as refrigerators, maintain heaters that used fuel oil during cold winter nights, and so much more. Beyond upkeeping their homes, the people of Pine Hill Village were also students, fathers, and mothers. It makes sense as to why there was a sort of disconnect of social dynamics between the Carleton Villagers and non-Villagers.
Regardless, for a new couple, for young veterans, for a budding family, these units were a symbol of new beginnings. Commenting on this hopefulness the Pine Hill Village community and communal living provided, Bob Will remembers, “… there wasn’t too much … there’d be one quonset hut that’d just be lovely to see. All sorts of flowers around and bushes where somebody in that quonset hut had wanted to bring a little beauty into their lives.”
Memory (or Lack Thereof)
Out of the individuals we contacted, some alumni harbored no recollection of the village at all. Bill Phillips ‘48 and Ann Buran ‘54 expressed a desire to assist, but stated respectively: “I have no recollection of Pine Hill Village” and “Never heard of Pine Hill Village”. The lack of recognition implies a prior lack of effective effort to sustain the memory of the village, with former residents of the village conveying sadness that such a state of affairs was in fact the case.
The veterans and their families recounting their memories did so with surprising clarity and detail, given the amount of time that had passed since they had lived in the village. We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to obtain oral narratives of the village from past residents in constructing memory for the contemporary community at Carleton. The notion of a kind of united communal memory seems to come into play, in the sense that the recounted memories exhibit distinct similarities with each other – or what we’ve referred to as themes. Despite what we were able to uncover, we should bear in mind that we have only been able to retrieve parts of the past only in partial and selective form in reconstructing this ‘sense of place’.
While there were a diverse array of perspectives and themes alluded to throughout the course of our project, we found the following themes to be especially compelling, as referenced in our analysis above: the relationship between Pine Hill Village and the rest of the community, a sense of camaraderie within the village, the role of wives and family, and the material conditions of the village itself (tangible traces of which were found in our excavation). We hope that our efforts capture to some degree, a sense of the Village and the individuals that resided within.