Caroline and Freddie

I’ve written a little bit about my college dormitory experiences.  Just a little bit.  I went to the University of Maine at Orono in the early 1980’s and for most of my college years, I lived in an “all girl’s dorm” called Androscoggin Hall.  Until I joined the Junior League of Boston in 2001, it was the closest thing I ever experienced to a sorority.  Home to approximately 270 women, Androscoggin Hall offered no end to drama, parties, and gossip.

And friendships, of course.

It was such a long time ago and since I’m no longer living in a dormitory-sized space, it seemed proper that I host a reunion for a smallish group of women of Androscoggin Hall.  The WOAH, for acronym-lovers.

As I skim over the University of Maine’s “Residential Life” web pages, dorm life seems much the same as it was in the 1980’s.  Staffing hierarchies, a healthy calendar of activities, and a digital handbook of policies and procedures assure students an inspiring campus living experience.  Study lounges, security cameras, flat screen Tee Vee’s, bicycle storage, and of course the reminder that residence halls are “no place for hate.”

There is a brief section on property management and custodial services, but I don’t see any mention of Caroline and Freddie.

Caroline was one of the two housekeepers responsible for the cleanliness of the dorm.  She was a petite woman–black hair with a few flecks of gray.  Being in my early 20’s, I thought everyone in their 40’s were in their 60’s and I thought Caroline was at least old enough to be my mother, but I could have been wrong. Friendly, caring, and polite, she’d show up several mornings a week to clean the bathrooms, vacuum the common areas, and collect the trash. Sometimes, if my roommate had a freshly perked pot of coffee, she’d invite Caroline to take a break and have a cup.  Maybe they’d smoke a cigarette together.

Freddie was the maintenance man, quietly moving about the dorm’s ground floor keeping us safe and cozily warm.  He had an office near the laundry room, but he was usually busy fixing doors, locks, and furnaces.


Dormitory life was different, more industrial and sparse, and there were only so many ways a 12’ by 16’ space could be furnished and arranged.  Long, dimly lit corridors and a short rows of toilet and shower stalls sometimes made me miss the familiar spaces of home.  Thank goodness we had Caroline and Freddie around to make things seem a little less like a third-rate hotel.

I’d better put on my apron and make like Caroline today.  Get busy cleaning because the WOAH are coming tomorrow.


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