Interview of Mary Eloise Green by Fern Hunt

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Dr. Mary Eloise Green, age 98 at the time of this interview, was for thirty-three years (1939-1972) a member of the faculty of the Department of Human Nutrition and Food Management of the College of Human Ecology, earlier known in the era of Dr. Green as the School of Home Economics within the College of Agriculture. She attended all twelve grades in one building in East Liberty, Ohio, near Bellefontaine. She pursued her dream of teaching first at Ohio Wesleyan University and later at Ohio State. To raise money for college she raised and sold chickens, and worked as a substitute telephone operator for \$.10 an hour. Funds were scarce and she dropped out of college for three years to work as a teacher, but she returned to Ohio State in 1922 when she secured employment as a waitress at the Faculty Club for \$.35 an hour. Her older brother, Earle, was also a student at Ohio State at the time. They enjoyed football games, which then were played on a lot at the corner of Woodruff and High. Most farm buildings were then on Neil Avenue, including the sheep, horse, and cattle barns. There was a student union (today Enarson Hall), but it was closed to women, although there was a “gab room” in University Hall where women could go and relax. Voluntary chapel services were held once a week in the auditorium of University Hall. The campus sundial was located between University Hall and the library, and it gave the time in both “sun time” and “standard time.” The university, however, was on sun time. Mirror Lake, the site of Browning Amphitheatre, fed at the time by a natural spring, was the location of various student activities. Green remembers seeing people tossed in the lake on various occasions as part of initiations. Several private residences were still on campus; the head of the law school lived in his home at the corner of 11th and High. Oxley Hall was the only dormitory and it was for women only. All the men and many women lived in boarding or rooming houses. She lived in a boarding house with 11 other women where she was required to sign in and out with the housemother whenever she left. Violators were reported to the Dean of Women. Meals were served at table with a cloth cover, although students were required to furnish their own cloth napkins and napkin ring. Later she was allowed to eat in the cafeteria at Pomerene Hall where a policeman, Bill North, was on duty to make sure people stayed in line. Most women majored in teaching, nursing, or stenography – the careers then commonly open to them. Since there were no laundromats students piled boxes of laundry next to mailboxes to be sent home. Crime and theft was most uncommon. The campus was largely confined in those days to the area between the Olentangy River and High Street; the rest was farmland. The Faculty Club where she worked as a waitress was the entire second floor of what later was called the Administration Building, and then Bricker Hall. The information she acquired at the Faculty Club on food and nutrition spurred her decision to major in nutrition. For recreation she attended dances at her brother’s fraternity house, and rode the streetcar downtown to see live performances at the Hartman Theatre from the cheapest seats in the upper balcony. Likely no student had a car, and bicycles were rare. Students walked, or took public transportation. She chose to major in Home Economics, and took her degree in the College of Education rather than in the College of Agriculture. Chemistry was one of her favorite subjects. Among the professors she recalls are Harlan Hatcher, then teaching poetry, Henry Goddard, who taught a course “The Exceptional Child,” Alice Donnelly, home economic education, and a drawing course from Allen McManigal of the Department of Engineering Drawing (today Engineering Graphics). McManigal also played the chimes in Orton Hall, and wrote some of his own music. Once he invited Green to observe him as he played. After earning her Bachelor’s degree she taught high school for nine years riding to work on the school bus with her students. In summers she earned her Master’s Degree at OSU over five years. She received an appointment in 1933 to teach at Ohio State, and arrived just as the Depression hit with full force. In 1933 the bank holiday closed all banks for several months and most people, including Green and her mother, ran out of cash and lived on credit. She taught courses in “Foods” and “Nutrition.” Her five-hour credit courses combined two lectures and three three-hour laboratories for a total of eleven hours each week in the classroom for each course. Saturday morning classes were usual. Women students, and the instructor, wore white uniforms; the men wore a white shirt and no coat. Women but not men wore hairnets. Gradually she taught other subjects and at higher levels, including chemistry and bacteriology. She became a regular member of the faculty of the School of Home Economics in 1939. Green offers brief recollections about each of the five presidents who served Ohio State during her career, although she never knew any of them personally. Nor does she recall in any detail any of the eight provosts under whom she served. She has stronger recollections of the different administrators in Home Economics. Faith Lanman Gorrell was the chairperson who hired Green. She appointed advisors to aid students in planning their course schedules, initiated courses in child development, established a nursery school as a laboratory in 1925, developed an advantageous collaboration with Merrill Palmer Institute of Detroit, initiated laboratories in Institution Management, textiles, and dietetics, and promoted community service among students and faculty. Gladys Branegan replaced Gorrell in 1945. She established the Home Economics Alumni Society, Alumni Placement Office, and a guidance office for students. She also arranged for Green to take a year’s leave-of-absence that allowed her to earn the Ph.D. degree at Iowa State University. The interviewer, Fern Hunt, was her first M.A. student. Dorothy Scott came next. She introduced the honors program, encouraged graduate study, and achieved a four-story addition to Campbell Hall. She retired in 1968. Lois Lund arrived in 1969. She upgraded library facilities among other advances. Another important aspect of the School of Home Economics was fieldwork. This was offered in two different areas of study, consumer service and retailing. Some consumer services students spent an entire quarter with companies such as Frigidaire and Westinghouse, and some of the retailing students spent a quarter in New York City. Green taught courses in both food and nutrition, but preferred to teach about food. In her day much less was known about the composition of foods. For example, with carbohydrates they knew about starch and sugar and that was about it. Only later were specific terms introduced for types of sugars such as sucrose, glucose, lactose, and fructose. The only minerals ever talked about in food were calcium and iron. Vitamins weren’t known when she started teaching. These became known, but no one knew in her day how much the body needed of any one of these. The first time she ever saw a vitamin was in 1937 at the University of Chicago. Before she retired in 1972 the fields of food and nutrition had changed substantially. New laws on food safety, processing, and packaging appeared. Microwave cooking appeared just as she was retiring. Another change then underway and still continuing was the slow but inevitable change to the metric system. In conclusion Dr. Green stated that she was proud to have been associated with The Ohio State University most of her adult life. Leading Themes Recollections of her student days at Ohio State in the early 1920’s Changes over time in the School of Home Economics Recollections about various Directors of the School of Home Economics Significant and rapid changes in food science during her career


Faith Lanman Gorrell: Chair of the Department of Home Economics (pp. 33-37) -- Gladys Branegan: Director of the School of Home Economics (pp. 37-39) -- Dorothy Scott: Director of the School of Home Economics (pp. 39-41) -- Lois Lund: Director of the School of Home Economics (pp. 41-43) -- Fern Hunt: Dept. of Home Economics (p. 38)