Students outside of Hemlock Cabin, Barnard Camp (Holly House), c.1948-1950. Photograph by Charlotte Portraits. Courtesy of the Barnard College Archives.
Doris Laudre ’44 splitting wood in the snow at Barnard Camp (Holly House), 1942. Photograph by Westchester Photo Service. Courtesy of the Barnard College Archives.
From 1933 until around 1991, Barnard operated Holly House, a rustic retreat (er, “camp”) in Croton-on-Hudson. Originally it was a way for Barnard’s Athletic Association to offer an outdoorsy phys ed option, but it became a popular escape for citified students who wanted to roll up their sleeves and play country girl for a weekend (for a few dollars).
Camp offered a welcome return to simple, rustic life. A modest cabin furnished simply with just a meager cookstove, a few comfy sofas, and a large fireplace was the only escape from winter’s chill. The building slept 15-20 students in two bunk rooms, each heated with a small stove; braver souls could also elect to doze on a screened sleeping porch. All amenities were acquired outside and required a little elbow grease—students pumped their own water, cooked food over a fire pit, bathed in the lake or with primitive showers, and used outhouses connected only to refuse pits. Three small campsites constructed by students—“Eagle’s Nest,” “Hemlock” and “Red Oaks”—provided extra space to cook, relax, and dispose of waste.
—Abbey Ozanich ‘11, "Into the Wild: Barnard Camp"
By the ’60s, however, writes Ozanich, few students were interested in chopping wood, and camp use dwindled. Quoting the Barnard College Camp Report 1961-62, Ozanich discovers one reason: “Apparently few are interested in spending a weekend of group living with girls, especially when there are chores and some discomfort.” And, clearly must have been all that Beat poetry they were reading in coffeehouses that was compelling them to stay put in the city on the weekends.
Will they ever revive the Camp Barnard concept, what with locavorism and farmer chic being all the rage these days?
"On Drug Freakouts," from the 1970 Barnard “reorientation” booklet, page 13. Courtesy of the Barnard College Archives.
Laurie Anderson ‘69, “TV Lunch”
—Joyce Johnson ‘55, writer. Excerpt from Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir
Wine is so strange and potent a thing that it has been used in the central ritual of religion in one place and time, and attacked by a virago with a hatchet in another. There is only one thing in the world that is capable of stirring and altering men’s minds to the same extent, and that is the coherent expression of thought. That is man’s chief miracle, unique to man. There is no ‘explanation’ whatever of the fact that I can make arbitrary sounds which will lead a total stranger to think my own thought. It is sheer magic that I should be able to hold a one-sided conversation by means of black marks on paper with an unknown person half-way across the world. Talking, broadcasting, writing, and printing are all quite literally forms of thought transference, and it is the ability and eagerness to transfer and receive the contents of the mind that is almost alone responsible for human civilization.
• • •
Type well used is invisible as type, just as the perfect talking voice is the unnoticed vehicle for the transmission of words, ideas.
—Beatrice L. Warde ‘20 (?), typographer, calligrapher, writer, historian. Excerpt from The Crystal Goblet, or Printing Should Be Invisible.
Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear my head about this poem about why I can’t go out without changing my clothes my shoes my body posture my gender identity my age my status as a woman alone in the evening/ alone on the streets/alone not being the point/ the point being that I can’t do what I want to do with my own body because I am the wrong sex the wrong age the wrong skin and suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/ or far into the woods and I wanted to go there by myself thinking about God/or thinking about children or thinking about the world/all of it disclosed by the stars and the silence: I could not go and I could not think and I could not stay there alone as I need to be alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own body and who in the hell set things up like this