This was Selina's first
experience with going to the dining room at Chilocco. Her roommate, Beth
accompanied her. It was something everyone did; you shared a room and you
went to the dining room together. When the girls walked through the large
dining room double doors Selina was almost overcome with the size of it. The
unusually tall ceilings, row upon row of tables and generally the overall
size of the dining area was unbelievable. Why wouldn't it be? There were a
thousand students and on other years as many as 2000 people who would come
through the cafeteria lines. If anything about the boarding school resembled
a prison, this was it. The tables were old. They were sturdy and well
built and for this reason their long use gave them a dated appearance. Heavy
wooden-chairs were placed under equally imposing tables. Those table's
weight and solid structure made them unwieldily and not easily moved. No
decoration of any sort was immediately apparent.
The long groups of
furniture covered the large spaces of the room and between these, two wide
lines were formed. They had entered the west doors with other girls and
about three quarters down the wide aisle there was a line. The second line
for the boys was all the way to the door and outside as well. At that time
the boys and girls still did not eat together. Sometimes the boys would come
to the girl's tables after the meal to visit with a girlfriend.
When they came up to
the actual serving line a tray was slid along the railing in front of the
food and serving girls plopped generous servings of delicious looking food.
Selina couldn't understand how some of the girls showed little interest in
what was being spooned onto the trays. After she ate the same food over and
over for a couple years she then understood. There was a place when she
could hardly make her self go to the dining hall. Of course, it was a rule
and if someone was caught not going they could be given restrictions from
social events. The rule wasn't always that well inforced.
Selina was seated so
that she was facing the south wall. The lovely soft murals painted half way
up the wall were a surprising touch and decor added to this otherwise stark
room. The figures were beautiful and bore a resemblance to the Egyptian
forms painted on the walls of the pyramids. The soft earth tone colors were
altogether pleasant, too. The girl always made an effort to sit so she
could look up to the scenes during the meal.
After the meals, there
was often a short time when the young people visited with each other. This
was when boys and girls made arrangements for meeting on the lawn. Later on
they would go to the Flaming Arrow for dancing, drinking Cokes and visiting
for the evening.
“Meet me at the
fishpond,” Beth's boyfriend called to her.
Her reply was a smile
and a wave of her hand as they turned to walk back to the dormitory.
“I suppose I will stay
in and read,” Salina commented.
“Oh no, you come,
too. His roommate will be along with him. We can all go to F.A. later. He
can dance like you won't believe. Can you dance?” Beth happened to think
“I cannot dance, so I
guess I'd better stay home.”
“Well, you certainly
will have to come along then. Everyone here has to learn to dance.” Beth
was like a big sister as she gently worked Salina into the routine of the