“Mad Men” and Miss Porter’s: The Way We Were and Weren’t

So, as we witnessed in the latest episode of “Mad Men,”  Sally Draper had quite the  overnight at Miss Porter’s School in the fall of 1968. Gee, I wondered if Farmington/MPS, my alma mater, was being given a fair shake here. Fellows – they were known as “Callers” – tumbling through dorm windows? Alcohol at the ready?

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Will Sally Draper join these two illustrious Ancients, as MPS alums are known: Pammi, class of 1965; Jacqueline Bouvier, class of 1947

Would there have been that many changes in a little over three years, from the time I graduated to when Sally arrived to check out my boarding school? I emailed Farmington questioning the overnight-look see thing. I never got to do that!  No response, but then school’s out now.

I was one of those rare birds who liked boarding school – no crying jags of homesickness for me. And I liked my parents!! The one time I got called on the carpet was for skipping church the fall of my senior year. Attending same was abso. I might add I was in the library and not sipping a Tom Collins in my room.

My mother was getting married the following weekend (we had 3 free weekends our senior year). I had permission to attend the wedding that Saturday, but had to be back at school in time for the last church service on Sunday. That was my punishment. Speaking of no nos, let’s take a look at the rule book and what it says about – horrors – smoking and drinking.

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And about those “Callers” I was telling you about – not that I ever had any…

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Yes, there were rules, restrictions, but then there was the totally inexplicable treat from time to time. Go back to Feb. 1964 when the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Thinking it a high cultural moment, I guess, we were allowed to watch the broadcast in the housemother’s quarters where we squeezed around a snowy black and white TV screen in our Lanz flannels – just a handful of the estimated 73,700,000 viewers. There were the screamers, of course, who lunged at the screen. I was totally grumped cause the screaming drowned out the Fab Four’s singing. The only other time TV viewing was permitted was JFK’s telecast about the Cuban missile crisis the year before. Go figure.

Will we see more of Sally at MPS? Will Glen be a regular “Caller?” Will she help carry the daisy chain at graduation? God, did that smell awful!

I wonder if the “aims” of the school (below) have changed over time.

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What do you think, Sal, is this the place for you? A little too confining, maybe? Would dad go off the rails on Parents Weekend and sneak off with a classmate? On the other hand, maybe it’s time to get some distance from that tangled family of yours.

One thought on ““Mad Men” and Miss Porter’s: The Way We Were and Weren’t

  1. Dear Pami Speak, Reminds me of the rules at Skidmore College in 1956-1960. I wonder how long the folks who wrote the rules argued over whether the Christian values would come before the respect for learning or after. Your fan. J

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