Memoirs of Delza (Lakey) Longman

The following passages are excerpts from the memoirs of Vic Grad, Delza (Lakey) Longman 4T4

Probably the most memorable social function was a formal dinner given
by Dr. and Mrs. Walter T. Brown for scholarship recipients. Without
consulting anyone, I decided to wear my “Sunday Best”- a lovely olive
green silk Moth had made. At our table in Wymilwood, four of us, two
boys and two girls, made limp conversation as we waited to be served.
When one of the boys tried to eat a roll, he found it too hard to
break with his hands; by the time he had attacked it with a knife and
sprayed crumbs everywhere, we were much more at ease.

The next memory of that occasion is of being served a demi-tasse cup
of coffee and carrying it with concentration, because of the on-going
tremor of my hands, to a seat across the sun-room. The Dean of Women,
Dr. Jessie Macpherson, chose that moment to speak to me, and I stood
rigidly, trying not to spill the coffee and certainly not daring to
add the cream and sugar I was offered. As I realized later, Miss
Macpherson spoke to me as a special act of kindness, to make sure I
didn’t feel slighted as the only one without a long gown, but at the
time I was conscious only of that tiny murky eye of coffee and the
beige carpet at my feet!




The “bookaholic”, as my sister called me, was hooked, but it soon
became apparent that I was miles behind my classmates in background
reading. I practically lived in the reading room between classes, and
as I walked to and from Dovercourt road, I usually carried an open
book, with a wary eye on traffic. One day Miss Honey came to the study
table to caution me to turn in the books whenever I left the room.
When I objected that I hadn’t been away from the table, she realized
that I was reading through the lunch hour. Strict or not, she offered
to keep my books at her desk while I went out to eat, and I hope she
never knew that I simply walked around the building and came back to
reading them.


In this desperate game of catching up, Dr. Pratt was also helpful. He
had the freshies at his house for a party, with a magician for
entertainment, and his evident pleasure made him seem approachable.
When I had to have my scholarship cheque countersigned, I knocked on
his office door. At first he looked at me so blankly, in his
absent-minded way, that I wanted to turn and run; then he smiled and waved me in.

“Sit down, sit down,” he said, but all the chairs and tables were strewn with books and papers. He swiped some off one chair and I sat, nervously, on the very edge while I explained which I
wanted. He took the cheque and signed but held onto it.

“How are things going?” He asked. Although I hated to admit to any problems I
did confess that I hadn’t got very far with his two-page reading list on Shakespeare.

“But my dear young lady,” said Dr. Pratt, “Nobody reads the reading list?”
He was surprisingly right.




After leaving university due to lack of funding, Delza (Lakey) Longman returned to
Victoria College as a recipient of the Massey Scholarship and bursaries and lived in Annesley residence.



Because I was a senior, the room was spacious, but I spent little time
in it, used as I was to studying in the library. When I learned that
Muriel, youngest daughter of a missionary family suddenly routed out
of China by the war with Japan, was unhappy with her ultra-fashionable
roommate in Wymilwood, I offered to share my quarters. A double bunk
was installed, with a second desk, and we adapted to each other’s
idiosyncrasies. She put up purple curtains; I painted an undersea
mural under my lower bunk. She burned incense when she was homesick for
China and her family. One night when she woke me with restless
turnings overhead, she leaned down to as a momentous question,

“What is the ultimate moral value?”

Because I was interested in the Bergson philosophy at the time, I think we settled. About three in the
morning, on human life as being most important, but I didn’t always
carry through on that idea. My mistakes in relationships continued to
be many.




For Dr. Northrop Frye I felt admiration and awe. He did some
Shakespeare with us but the course I remember most vividly was on
Milton and Spenser, opposites in many ways, but useful for him to
discuss style relate to the underlying meaning and, of course,
symbolism. He had a flat rather nasal voice that sounded dogmatic,
although he welcomed discussion. I often thought, “He can’t be that
right!”, and would, instead of challenging him in class, make notes
in print script to distinguish them from notes on his lecture, to
examine the subject further. Sometimes these contrary notions made
their way into essays and onto exam papers but never into speech. One
day he came out hurriedly on an errand and noticing me, sent me into
sit down. I had the book, of course, and as one was open on his desk, I
was afraid to interrupt his work. Accordingly, we sat in silence,
then and for the rest of the term, until the other arrived- a golden
opportunity wasted because I didn’t know how to us it. As any of his
students would say, though, his influence was lasting, and when I read
is books now, I can hear his voice, rather infuriatingly, still in my
head.




On Friday, June 9, 1944, came my graduation. I went to Toronto and
met my classmates at Annesley, to find a gown and the rabbit fur hood
and join the procession. What I had forgotten was that graduates
usually carried roses. A beautiful bouquet beside the stairs at
Annesley reminded me and I idly wondered if a couple of blooms would
be missed if I took them. I was glad I hadn’t given in to temptation
when my name was called. Those roses were for the recipient of the
Massey scholarship. I was able to make my way up the steps to kneel for
my degree properly decorated after all. It had taken a long time, but
University had been good to me.

Memoirs Sumbitted by: Delza (Lakey) Longman 4T4

About Victoria