Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stories from the Clippings

Dressed to Heal
Fashion is fickle. Like the leaves of a tree, stlye comes and then goes round again, one cycle on the heels of another. Spring and summer's array of soft and velvety greens transforms into fall's yellows, shades of purple, pink, bright orange and yellow flashes of light; seasons change and seemingly moments later the leaves turn dry and brown and blow away in the wind. But in the seamless turn of the seasons, the trees return once again to their glorious splendor just as we become accustomed to the tree's winter austere attire.

Campus photographs in the Archives bear witness to the seasons of campus fashion as it has changed through the years. In years gone by campus attire held a more formal stance. Students could be seen lying about on the grass having picnics in summer and having snowball fights in winter, sitting, listening to lectures or sleeping. Male students were most always in shirts, ties and slacks, while female students wore skirts and dresses and all identified by their neatly ironed white coats. Nursing students are seen in starched white uniforms and stockings. But times have changed.

On August 8, 1954, the Oregonian published a shoot by photographer, Carl Vermilya showing back to school clothes for the college bound. Among the local settings chosen for the project was the University of Oregon Medical School. Here you see 5 young women in front of Mac Hall with the Old Library in the background. The journalists point out that UOMS "has few girls but does offer a suitable photo setting".

These days residents and students alike dress for the rigors of life on the front-line. One must look at campus badges to make out the difference between a medical, dental or nursing student. When on duty, most everyone is in scrubs.

As an observant archivist, I've noticed the changes in fashion through the years. As I process photographs and watch the students on campus going about their business, what I see is a huge change between the more formal "then" and the more casual "now". Now, students wear sandals, shorts and t-shirts when the days turn warm, and fleeces, sweatshirts, weatherproof jackets and jeans as summer turns into fall and as the damp, cold days of winter require more protection.

To be fair, today I did see
two young men out of 50 in the cafeteria, one with a shirt and tie and another in slacks and sport shirt.
And there are those days during the year when prospective students arrive for their interviews and all are in shiny black dress shoes and dark suits, men and women alike.

It appears that tradition still has a place, and it makes me wonder, if like the the leaves of the tree that return in their season, if foramlity might once again return to campus fashion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That photographer, the late Carl Vermilya, was my dad. See how relaxed and laughing the students look? He was a very personable guy, which made him a natural for photographing people. Thanks for posting his work.

Judith Vermilya