In one of the same classrooms in which she studied to become a teacher in the late 1940s, Beverly Shuler Fish ’50 sat with four of her grandchildren in August.
The oldest grandchild, Liam Stiefel, had just completed his first year of college in North Carolina; his three siblings—Maggie, Jack and Marie—are all high school students in Georgia, preparing for their college years.
“Things were very different then,” Fish laughed with her family, which also included her daughter Marilyn of Atlanta, Ga. This was Fish’s first visit since she graduated in 1950—when the primary academic buildings on campus were Park and Sheldon halls, and the Lonis-Moreland-Mackin Complex (the first permanent dormitory on campus) was still a year from completion.
Fish and her family toured Sheldon Hall and made a stop in the historic Sheldon classroom, as she shared with them the stories of her own college years at SUNY Oswego.
Fish enrolled at SUNY Oswego when she was only 16. She shared stories of how all the freshmen wore beanies and how the women tried to adhere to strict curfews, even in off-campus housing. Because of curfews, she said, housemates sometimes tied strings around their ankles when they went to bed. The string was left dangling out of a second floor window so that any woman caught out past curfew could pull the string, notifying her housemate to go down to the first floor and let her in.
Students (including Fish) lived off campus due to the lack of residence halls, or in Splinter Village—the name given to temporary barracks along the lake, although the name Splinter Village wasn’t used until much later. Fish remembered sorority activities with Alpha Delta Eta. She told her granddaughters that women students—almost all who were there to become teachers—wore skirts to class every day, and it wasn’t odd, it was “just the way things were.”
Fish went on to become a teacher for districts in central and western New York. She earned a master’s in education from SUNY Buffalo, concluding her career as an educator working in literacy and reading programs.
In 1953, she married Dr. David W. Fish, who died in 2016. They are the parents of three daughters; she has two more grandsons who couldn’t make the trip to Oswego with her. During this most recent visit to Central New York, she also visited her brother and sister-in-law, Frederick and Barbara Budd Shuler ’61, in nearby Baldwinsville, N.Y.
Despite the years that have passed since studying at SUNY Oswego, she maintains a friendship with two of her college roommates, JoAn Burns MacDonald ’50 and Jean Church Goodwin ’50.
“Over the years, it has made me so happy to see my classmates achieve their dreams and find their soul mates,” she said.
Fish, who now lives in Akron, N.Y., continues to achieve her dreams, too, including travel to all seven continents, a journey that began with a 55-mile bus trip from her hometown of Canastota, N.Y., to Oswego in 1946, she said.
After taking a family photo with the iconic Sheldon statue and visiting the classroom, Fish’s grandchildren studied the black-and-white photographs along the walls of Sheldon Hall, asking their grandmother questions about her years as a student.
“It really was a wonderful time,” she said, noting that she was looking forward to telling JoAn and Jean about her campus visit, 67 years after their graduation day.