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Nash, Edith / Practice the here and now: selected writings of Edith Nash

Nash, Edith
My life on the left,   pp. 44-49

Page 44

My Life on the Left44
 My father had a pessimistic temperament and thought the League of Nations
would never fly. He was not going to vote for Mr. Wilson, and this annoyed
my mother very much. She belonged to a club called the Women's International
League for Peace and Freedom and my father thought they were dreamers. She
objected to the U. S. getting into World War I and years later her signature
surfaced on a document of conscientious objection sent to the President.
Her name was in first place.
 When I left Vassar at the end of my first year to go to the University of
Chicago, I had an exit interview with Mildred Thompson, the Dean with the
little dog. She wondered why Jewish girls from Chicago were always leaving
Vassar after one year or sometimes two. I was speechless-to explain what
I wanted: to be with men, to spend time on the streets, to know working people
and understand unions. And so I just said, "Maybe they all want to go to
the University of Chicago."
 Hallie Flanagan taught drama at Vassar and had I stayed, I could have taken
her wonderful class and worn jeans. During the year I was there, she produced
a play based on a short story, Can You Make Out Their Voices? by an unknown
writer who turned out to be Whittaker Chambers. The story had been published
in the New Masses and so the magazine sent Frances Straus, one of the editors,
up to Vassar to see the play. She was housed off campus and when we met she
seemed lonely, so I brought her over to our dormitory and found her a bed.
She invited us to the New Masses Ball in fabulous New York. I believe four
of us went and I can remember Mike Gold sitting on the floor of the railroad
station, singing with us and waiting for the train back to school. We sang
Joe Hill. We sang The Cloak Maker's Union. We sang There Once Was A Union
Maid. We were a hit and I felt that night as though the Left was my home.

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