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Norma Chatfield

Profile Updated: February 24, 2024
Children:(Name, age, education. If applies NMH and year)
I always thought I'd have children ... but it just didn't happen. Along the way I felt inclined to nurture More…a few young people, some friends, some not. And that has given me a taste of maternal satisfaction.
Seattle, WA; Washington, DC, writer & editor. I haven't read the Dante, but know that these two cities are one, heaven, the other ... you know.
Military Service:
My Mother was a Marine during WWII! So was my Dad.
Reflections on our 50th Reunion

The Reunion was unimaginably wonderful--the sun, the campus, the trees, the mood. This website maximizes the pleasure of ... anticipation, participation, and remembrance. It is online inspiration. I hope it stays up forever.

One other thing I missed: The Northfield Benediction. I'd sing it to you all if I could:

The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious unto you,
The Lord lift His countenance upon you,
And give you peace, and give you peace;
The Lord make His face to shine upon you,
And be gracious, and be gracious;
The Lord be gracious, gracious unto you.




Grandchildren (Name and NMH year if applicable.):

My Mom, Helen, passed away in November of 2018. I'll always miss her.

What Was your Hometown While You Were At Northfield Or Mt Hermon?

Prospect, Connecticut--see photo below.

Number of years you attended Northfield or Mount Hermon?

2 years

Dorms in which you lived:

West Gould

Most memorable N/MH experience/s: could be "feasting" on Saturday nights after lights out and/or sneaking out of the dorm or something like the thunder and lightning at Christmas Vespers or a significant athletic triumph. What do you remember that brings a big smile to your face?:

One special lunch on an ordinary weekday in Gould Hall dining room when my roommate appeared at table with two rather large oranges strategically placed under her blouse. Our Housemother, Ms. Hamlin, at the head of the table -- speechless; the expression on her face--priceless.

Taking in the winter view to the north from 3rd floor West Gould bathroom, across the trees and snow and up the river, all snow, trees, ice, & sky.

Excruciating homesickness for the first month or so. Many wondrous moments in chapel, Sunday services, the music, always the music. And of course the magnum mysterium of the lightning flash at Vespers that year.

Around West Gould: Katy Binder's (N'65) huge mop-like slippers! So sorry to read of Katy's passing--she was a lovely spirit.

Any secrets or stories you can finally divulge?

Tires are A-Changing....Exercise in Women's "Liberation" ..............................................................................
Greatly satisfied to hear a true confession by the courageous MH friend who remembered and validated this memory at reunion 2019, our 55th. Thank you, Brian! (see below)
In summer '63 (I was thinking it was '64, but it was actually '63), an N64 friend & I drove (in my Dad's new-ish car--a '63 white, Ford Galaxy 500, marine blue interior) to NMH, where MH64 (boy)friends of hers were working in summer programs. We met them and headed out for lunch on country roads. En route, we had a flat tire and had to stop. We all got out of the car, scratched out heads (of course, totally unprepared). Neither of the "boys" knew how to change tire! (yes, MH'64, I remember your name!) So we two fair maids of Northfield '64 changed the tire ourselves! got back into the car, and went on our way.

CODA: When I returned home to Prospect, I stopped to visit a girlfriend. When I left and went out to the car, believe it or not--another flat tire! My Dad had to come and rescue me! He was very good at that!

Many other secret stories reserved for Memoir! The closet photo (see photos): This closet on 3rd floor West Gould was shared by 2 of us (senior year). Each of us also had a dresser. Can you imagine 2 teen-aged girls these days sharing one closet? I remember a few episodes of misunderstanding, but overall sharing the one closet was not a problem.

What do you remember about your dummy / work jobs... that you want to share?

I remember Christmas Vespers 1963. My first semester dummy was washing large pots and pans in Gould kitchen, like the ones used in the giant mixer. I didn’t mind it. The sink was near a window overlooking the “cowpasture,” and apparently it was ok to sing because no one ever stopped me from singing. But I think Mrs. Osbourne probably didn’t especially like me (Mrs. O, head of the Gould Hall kitchen). I had none of that chipper repartee that others had with her. She usually gave me a dirty looks and that was that.

On the day of Christmas Vespers 1963, Mrs. O. asked me to peel 50 lbs of onions—the only time I was ever asked to peel onions that I remember. It was all the same to me. I did as asked and sang at practice and Vespers, realizing then that my hands probably were still stinking of onions. I don’t know if anyone noticed.

The next semester I cleaned West Gould basement bathrooms. Occasionally I’d meet Sally Smith down there and we'd exchange a word or two – she was doing Center Gould basement bathrooms. And after dummy we’d sometimes hit the “milk station” at Center Gould and chat and nibble on leftover Sally Lunn or Bishops bread.

I also remember several unintentional lapses. One happened at theater performance, when I left the Northfield auditorium and went back to West Gould at intermission, thinking that the play was over, and got an official reprimand from Miss Robertson (social director). Another time, early on, a cop found me sitting on a bench outdoors during a study hour—unaware that study hour was a required indoors-only activity.

Which faculty / staff members and coaches do you remember with respect and affection and why?

I remember English teacher Ms. Sanderson, a lovely, gentle woman, all soft and wispy and silver haired. She was knowledgeable and refined. Her directive for good writing--simplicity, selectivity, specificity--has stayed with me all these years.

Think about the highlights of your life since you left the hallowed halls of Northfield/Mount Hermon…tell us about yourself. Please write as much as you wish:

January 2020. Last year was a year of transition and healing for me. I'm starting to feel my spirits lifting thanks to many good people in Middletown and with my church and the senior center. Looking forward to reuniting with other friends this new year and maybe some travel at a leisurely pace. Still singing. Starting to occasionally pick up the watercolor paint brush & think about plein air excursions. Happy New Year 2020 everyone. .... Hoping your family concerns have eased or resolved in this grim passage. My brother and I cared for our Mom for ~10 years, through many trials for all of us. It was most painful. But still our love for her endures. Go with god, keep the faith.

Facing up to soon turn 70 and life is better. Since the Reunion, darker days have diminished--I think that has to do with reconnecting with special friends. Getting ready to spread tarnished 70-year-old wings. Singing with Cappella Cantorum chorus; playing with Silver Threads Consort (early music, recorder)--first season for both. Life is so much better. I'm loving it now, with all its ups and downs.

Highlights: Travel in England, Europe, and N. Africa. In England the school I attended was about 40 miles from my family's ancestral village in Wessex, near Chichester.

The passing of Pete Seeger reminded me of our passage to England on the Queen Mary (I), 5 days of singing, supping, and sipping, with the E-SU group. In our singing "If I Had a Hammer" and "500 Miles," his message traveled with us across the Atlantic and was welcomed there as British music was welcomed here. ...

Saw numerous historic sites with friends and families during holidays. Never saw Stonehenge--no one ever mentioned it. I wonder what that means? Memorable visit with a cousin and his friends at Christmas. We "paraded" in a French country courtyard on the way back from Paris at New Year's (see photo with "baguette-bayonette")....

Travel in India was mixed. But we had some exceptional experiences, visited many Hindu temples, world heritage-type archaeological museums, sites, & art museums, *I actually napped in the shade on the steps of quite a few temples. *Rode with friends in a bicycle rickshaw (one of us peddling), racing downhill on a full-moon night at Kajuraho. *Bathed in the Ganges on an auspicious full-moon day. Never saw the Taj Mahal, which probably speaks volumes. On the other hand, one sees a lot of suffering and it was very clear to me that India was and still is a male dominated society where many women endure great cruelty and injustice. Very hard to totally warm to a place with such strictures. In fact, Margaret Meade reported (in her memoir, Blackberry Winter) that she left India after three days. I know a few people who did the same

In Washington, DC, had the pleasure of working all around the city and then some. Many memorable moments, witnessed initiation of "cutting-edge" programs promoting diversity and gender equality (in 1990s). Saw a lot of privileged access and gender inequality as well.

In Seattle, passing on the street downtown groups of winged, antenna-ed, pointy-eared creatures in costume heading toward the Space Needle for an early Star Trek convention. Definitely a doo-di-doo moment.

Also in WA State, on Vashon Island, seeing the sun set in the west as the moon rose in the east over Mt. Rainier, and dolphins played in Hood Canal waters to the West. In 1980, watching Mt. Saint Helen's spew high in the sky from the third floor fire escape of The Last Exit on Brooklyn, local coffee house. Finding roses in bloom in an early winter snow storm around The Fountain on UW campus at Rainier Vista--so called because Mt. Rainier is sometimes visible from there. Meeting Margaret Mead and the Dalai Lama (not at the same time!) at events at Meany Hall on UW campus....

Also in WA State, leaving my bathing suit to dry on the dry rocks on Orcas Island one summer while visiting with friends. Inquiring at the "General Store" and getting it back the next year while visiting with my parents! Pacific Northwest, so open & friendly in the 1960-70s ... and infrequently frequenting the "Blue Moon" (high-spirited artists hangout) on NE 45th St. in Seattle, the same establishment frequented by our beloved 8th grade thespian English teacher, Mr. Gray, in Prospect during his US Navy tour.

In Cambridge, MA: Spring 1970, witnessing long lines of buses and crowds of people amassing for the demonstration for Bobby Seale. Remember being afraid when credible sources said people were bringing guns. I think this was the autumn before the Kent State shootings, another memorable event of those times, no violence in Cambridge that I know of, but mourning, yes.

In Madurai: Witnessing vast crowds of pilgrims massing for the Chitthirai Festival, celebrating the marriage of Shiva and Parvati. Shoulder-to-shoulder crowds of people throughout the city, watching for the procession of the gigantic temple car (juggernaut). (See photo beow)...

In Tunisia: Travelling in Tunisia with E-SU and new Tunisian (boy)friends & with Youth Hostels International on a rickety bus to the Island of Djerba, (home of the Sirens, of myth). Bathing in an underground spring inland. Visiting ruins of Carthage & the Bardo Museum, a trove of Greek & Roman mosaics and relics. Watching from the bus as we passed through villages, and noting the absence of women in public. Experiencing my first marriage proposal (in Tunis) at age sixteen. Enjoying wonderful orange juice, blood oranges, and artichokes. And sunshine. It's a beautiful and interesting country.

(FOR EXTRA POINTS) : Tell us how the friends/education/lifestyle/traditions of the Northfield Schools impacted your life in 1964 and through the last several decades:

UPDATE 2024: My adaptation to Middletown: which is a center of politics & activists "actively" elevating the tow Many wonderful changes, including a State-wide community health program, home-grown in Middletown and emulating Free Health Care movements of West Coast. In Seattle, an abortion crisis line and clinic, initially supported by & at the University YWCA, and grown into a Health Coop-type healthcare provider. In Middletown now, other big plans, many already in motion. New mayor effectively working with state & fed and edging forward in a good way. Set backs, of course. But good to see visible signs of progress in this once-depressed town (as recently as 1980s). New revelations of Middletown as active in Slave Trade, confessions & reparations--with Ceremonies & Port Markers (see The MPCPMP.org online, whose successful efforts recognize & honor the lives of millions of captive Africans at port cities across the nation). At least one book, specific to Middletown & slavery--Merchants of Deceit: Opium, American Fortune & the China Trade, by Richard J. Friswell, worth mentioning for its heartfelt treatment by the author & based on the Middletown trader's letters & journals. Highly recommended.

Northfield was my introduction to "high culture" & had an enormous influence on my life, building associations with mainstream artistic endeavors and people in music, literature, arts. Beginning with Harold Lloyd (the movie where he’s hanging off the giant clock), singing with large choirs for the first time (class choir and Chancel choir)—Mozart Requiem, classic hymns and anthems, other music; the world of The New Yorker magazine and Strunk and White (via Ms. Sanderson, whom I respected and cared for more than any other teacher I had there). Making close friends in my life who were associated with major cultural and spiritual happenings.

Where Have You Lived the Past 45 Years??

Washington, DC, area; Seattle, WA; Benares, UP, India
Madurai, TN, India; Philadelphia & Chambersburg, PA
Cambridge, MA; Bramley, Surrey, UK

About 30 of those were studying-working years in Seattle WA, and Washington DC, rather dramatically opposed, in more ways than geographically.

In Middletown, CT, now, in this time of sweeping cultural change--Summer 2020. It's a cultural tsunami and this is an epicenter. Hard not to try to grab onto something for ballast. Trying to go with the flow, keeping balanced and at peace. Fifty years exactly since the great cultural tsunami of spring 1970. Hallelujah! See paras above on Middletown's activism & successes.

Your Education after N/MH undergraduate Degree (where, when) Any Graduate/Professional Degrees: where, when, what):

M.A., Asian Languages & Literature, University of Washington (UW), an exceptionally beautiful, dynamic, collaborative campus and very favorable experience. Just read that the Klamath River has been "relieved" of its several dams once blocking the path of spawning salmon, and the River is expected to heal itself and give local Native Americans back a part of their traditional way of life.

Also, coincidentally, the UW was the academic home of Edmund S. Meany, Sr., the father of Edmund S. Meany, Jr., our headmaster back in the day.
Dr. Meany, Sr., is well-known as a Pacific Northwest historian and a respected UW professor of earlier days. The beautiful Meany Hall at the UW, a little gem of a performance hall, is named after him. Also the renamed Meany Hotel, still a U district landmark, formerly an art-deco, high- style hotel. The newly refurbished hotel I'd like to see this summer. It looks not to hold candle to the art-deco building. See photo on my "Photos" page.

Spent part of my junior year and all of senior college year at UPenn, which I enjoyed immensely. Ran into DD Dunn and Marjorie Weishaar on campus there. Studied Sanskrit with a superior professor, Roy Weiler, one of my all-time favorite classes, as well as Asian history, theater, and literature.

School in England was a quirky mix of French and English (U.K.) literature, shored up with lots of culture—tea, music, local travel, Beatles, Top of the Pops, train rides, fox hunts, rugby games, and pub visits with classmates and friends. Special high-light: Singing a Jabberwocky, cantata based on Lewis Carroll poem, at Cranleigh, where Carroll went to school. The composition to celebrate Cranleigh's 100th year anniversary in 1965 (see heading "Profile" at 1865.cranleigh.org/derek-bourgeois and other searches on Jabberwocky Cranleigh).

Additional recognition you may have received. Any Honorary Degrees or Awards? Any Certification, License, Ordination? Any Athletic Achievements? Any Military Honors? Any Artistic Works? Any Publications?

One publication on women in modern Tamil short stories, published as an off-shoot of my MA thesis research. The reality of living in India short-circuited my studies. After returning from India, I finished the MA degree and eventually worked as a typesetter for publications with the UW Press-UW International Studies joint publications group, and also outreach associate for my department.

Also had a few interesting assignments in Washington, DC, where "editors are as expendable as Kleenex" (that's a quote from somewhere)--Architecture magazine, the Naval Research Lab, my (infamous & interesting) interview at the Old Executive Office Building (within the Office of the President (Reagan)--dodged a bullet there!). Other places around the town, pit of vipers (DC).

Another publication (co-authored), "Flowers, Stars, and Crowns," an anthropological study of cemetery stones in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was read at Anthropology Association meeting one year. (See my photo in a field of 1800s gravestones.)

Our 50th Reunion will take place Thursday - Sunday, June 5 - 8, 2014. We hope you will attend. Please answer from the heart.


As part of our 50th Reunion we will be printing a yearbook, using everyone's responses to the above questions. To help determine the appropriate quantity to print, we need to know now if you expect to purchase a copy ( approx. cost with mailing $40)


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Looks like John has answered the question for all of us: Dost thou remember? Oh, yes, we certainly do!
Thanks for a beautiful, joyful remembrance, John! nj

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Marcia Congdon and Jean Thompson, August 2012
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Sara & Claire
May 06, 2023 at 10:44 AM

Hi Joan, Seeing the announcement of our coming reunion I thought of you and hope to see you there. Also: Joyeux anniversaire en retard! (just an excuse to say hello!) Norma

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Posted: Jan 13, 2014 at 12:31 PM
West Gould on Mountain Day
Posted: Apr 03, 2014 at 9:40 AM
Chapel from West Gould -- 1965 Photo
Posted: Mar 31, 2014 at 10:32 AM
The Chat -- 1964 Photo
Posted: Jan 13, 2014 at 12:32 PM
Meadow, Prospect, CT
My Home Town
Posted: Jan 13, 2014 at 12:33 PM
Chittirai Festival
Madurai India