Though many aspects of college life have changed through the centuries, I suspect that writing home for money has always been a standard refrain. Such requests were so common in the Middle Ages that practice exercises in letter-writing techniques included formulaic appeals for funds. Supposedly, one parent said, “A student’s first song is a demand for money…there will never be a letter that doesn’t ask for cash.”
My own appeal began “MAY DAY! MAY DAY! MAY DAY!” All in caps. If I had emailed my plea today, the line would have been bold as well.
I can’t believe I waited until my checking account had shrunk to a mere $1.50 before asking for help, and that I mailed — rather than phoned — the request. Yet, knowing how high long distance rates were back then, a letter was probably cheaper.
Despite the fact that one building on my school campus looked like a chateau, the university was more inexpensive than most. But I still ran over my budget as most college students do at one point or another.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of this old cry for help is recalling a time when my parents were still here and ready to ride to the rescue when paper goods, groceries and the cost of life got the better of their 19-year-old daughter.