May Day! May Day! May Day!

College May day letterThough 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.

collegeI 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.

SusanAnd even though none of my classes gave us examples of such appeals as did those of Medieval universities, I still guessed the right formula and asked for an advance rather than additional funds.

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.

3 thoughts on “May Day! May Day! May Day!

  1. Phoebe Conn says:

    Adorable photo! I stuck to my allowance while at the U of Arizona, but it was tough. I wish my parents had told me how strained their finances were, and then I wouldn’t have expected more.

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