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Your feature on Bill and Frances Condaxis brought back a lot of memories (“Love at the Ratty,” Classes, March/April). Characterizing mealtimes at the Refectory as chaotic may be a little extreme. The hard oversight by “Mother” Feeney stopped most problems: I can recall only one actual food fight in four years of being one of those student waiters. Each waiter, by the way, was required to wear a stiffly starched white coat and a tie (with shirt appropriate for a tie—no T-shirts). Life as a waiter was no picnic. I remember hustling to find silverware for the sixteen places one had to serve (two tables of eight each). There never seemed to be enough!

Life was particularly hard when you had an 11 a.m. class followed by mandatory noontime chapel. You usually had to rely on the good will of a fellow waiter to set up your tables. Meals were served twice a day, six days a week, as I recall. The only time cafeteria mode was in place was for breakfasts and Sunday brunch. Interestingly, after graduation in 1956, I too started a career with Jordan Marsh. However, that ended in a few months when Uncle Sam decided I had avoided the draft long enough!
    

George Chapman ’56
Mount Pleasant, Iowa





Comments (1)
05/24/13
 
Just a few nits to pick with George's recollections; alternatively, things may simply have gone from bad to worse.  
 
The Ratty air was filled with "Swedish Meatballs" (or similar) at least 2 or 3 times each year. As for waiters wearing white coats, yes; as for requiring a collared shirt with a tie, not so much. (My waitering days were mainly in '56-'57 & '57-'58.) 
 
And, the food was uniformly grey, soggy (from sitting in steam tables) and generally inedible (with the possible exception of Sunday brunch.) Efforts were made in '57-'58 to improve the quality, with only modest gains.  
 
So it goes. 
 
Thanks.
 
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