It was 1946, and Betty Jo Warden Keirstead '46 was with friends in an attic storage room of what is now the Student Center. "Sock and Buskin was performing The Tempest," she said. "And I was in charge of props. So we were up there painting because there was no place in Smith Hall to do it." As the group worked on the props, they noticed the blank walls.
"I think we just thought, 'Hey, since we have the paint, why don't we write our names up there for posterity?'" Keirstead remembered.
Construction crews discovered the names this summer-65 years later-during the renovation of the Student Center. The names, some only visible in portions, included Alice Hobson, Nancy Hurt, Dot Berea, Estelle Anderson, Lucy Durham, Betty Jo Warden, and the mysterious "Stinky Timberlake." For Keirstead, seeing a photo of the wall was a walk down memory lane. Her class entered R-MWC in 1942, and their college years were impacted by World War II. "That's one of the reasons our class was so close," she said. "We didn't have much else."
Interestingly, Keirstead's daughter, Anne Keirstead Reed '78, found the wall with her mother's name while she was a student at the College. That story has become a bit of a legend for Keirstead's granddaughter, Sarah Reed '15, who arrived at Randolph this fall. "As my mom told me, 'It was like seeing a ghost,'" she said.
While Keirstead enjoys knowing her name lasted for that long, she would rather forget her days heading the prop committee.
"It was one disaster after another," she laughed. "I kind of have not so nice memories of my part of it."
For example, the timing for the "thunder sound" was off during the performance, and Prospero ended up getting stuck to the rock he sat on.
Still, Keirstead fondly remembers that time of her life and the memory of writing on the wall.
"It's a little bit of long ago history, and it is nice to remember," she said. "We did leave our mark. It was a great class. I guess we wanted everyone to remember who we were. And the paint was right there."