Tuesday, April 2, 2024

"The Passing Dazzle of Each Face"

Eternal vigilance is the price of more context for Sylvia Plath and her mother Aurelia Schober Plath. In March came up for sale a set of college yearbooks for 1926, 1927, and 1928, for the college Aurelia attended, the years she was there, and I bought them. Yes, Aurelia Plath went to college. Her college yearbook was called the Sivad.

Although not Aurelia's personal copies, Aurelia inscribed in them personal notes to owner Muriel Brigham, fellow 1928 graduate of Boston University's College of Practical Arts and Letters, called by its students "P.A.L." Muriel Brigham (1898-1983) majored in English. She and Aurelia were both members of the college's Writers Club.

The 1928 Sivad -- Aurelia Schober, editor-in-chief -- is scarce and insanely priced when auctioned. A blurry, faulty scan costs $99; I would not pay that. I secured all three yearbooks for less. Star and valedictorian of her class, Aurelia appears in each volume. How instructive to see Aurelia's face among those of a few hundred of her peers (sadly, none interviewed while it was possible) and good photos of the campus and dorm rooms as she knew them. I learned that not only Aurelia but some classmates staffed Camp Maqua in Maine in summer 1927 -- when Aurelia invited her 43-year-old boyfriend for a week and sneaked around. Will present Aurelia's inscriptions next week.

The yearbook had to go to press in early spring, so Aurelia's late-spring honors are published in the 1929 Sivad, in which Aurelia is called "Daughter of the Dawn." Think you that I am joking? Here it is:

The Junior year in many ways was the most active of the lot, filled as it was with college work, a wonderful SIVAD and a Prom that has glittered as only Betelgeuse has glittered on the shoulder of Orion. In the midst of this radiance that Daughter of the Dawn, Aurelia Schober, shone as editor-in-chief of SIVAD, adding many new features . . .

I'm seeking a copy of Aurelia Schober's 1928 valedictory speech, delivered June 6, 1928. Do you know where I can find it? It's not in the yearbooks or the Winthrop, Mass. newspapers.

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