A letter from an alum about Princetoniana
As a student, I lived in the home of Janet and Ham Cottier on Orchard Circle. Both enjoyed deep connections with the University. Beyond that, Janet was a keen needlewoman. One day, she appeared at the bottom of the steps with some mysterious textiles. She said she had just come from an auction benefitting the Princeton Embroiderers Guild and, by the way, would I like some throw pillows made out of President Harold Dodds' sdoctoral hoods.
As it happened, Margaret Dodds, when preparing to move out of the family home into retirement accommodations, decided to dispose of her husband's many honorary hoods to the advantage of the Guild. I expressed delight at the prospect of bits of history stuffed with down. At that, Janet went off on her appointed rounds; but well before the pillows arrived, she again appeared at the bottom of the stairs with a box, announcing that since I had liked the hoods so much, she had gone back to her pal, Margaret, and took them all. 'How about a quilt?' she queried.
At an arranged time, Janet then spiritied me off to an army base in southern New Jersey, where a retired colonel's wife presided over a sewing bee. On her command, we politely spread the hoods out on an enormous table before a group of ladies, awaiting the verdict as to the project's worthiness. I timidly suggested that the shape of the hoods should be preserved, not wanting them to be transformed into little bunnies and stars. She barked that they would take on the job and would be in touch in 18 months. As we were retreating, Janet suddenly grabbed the Princeton hood and shoved it into my hands, expressing surpirse that Harold had let this one go. "I assumed he would someday want to be buried in it," she snapped, "You must use it when you get your degree."
A year and a half later, we got the call and went to retrieve the quilt; and this unique bit of Princetoniana has found its way from southern New Jersey to England and then to Shelter Island, where it now festoons an enormous wall in our summer home.
Incidentally, when getting my degree, I did get to use President Dodds's hood, grateful for Janet's creativity and Mrs. Dodds's lack of sentimentality.
Peter Rupert Lighte *81
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