Spilled Ink


Commencement speeches should be thought-provoking and inspiring. The graduating students, thinking their days of education are now behind them, hopefully realize there are a myriad of opportunities to learn, teach, and grow ahead of them.


Centenary has had many commencement speakers over the years that have talked about the future, self-reflection, and the quest for knowledge. Although the Library Archives don’t have the text of the speech given on May 17th, 1975, we can expect that it was inspiring and funny, especially with a title like “You Can Bet Your Sweet Life!”

That speech was given by The Honorable Senator Joseph R. Biden, who went on to become the 47th Vice President of the United States under Barack Obama. At the time of his commencement speech, he was a senator from Delaware serving his first term. Here is his biography from the student newspaper, Spilled Ink:

“Senator Biden, who was elected to the United States Senate in 1972 for a six-year term, is a member of the Senate Democratic Steering Committee. His senatorial activities include membership on the committees of Foreign Relations, Budget, National Ocean Study Policy Group for the Senate and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs as well as the subcommittees on Consumer Credit, International Finance, Securities, Production and Stabilization. In 1974 he was selected as one of ten ”Outstanding Young Men of the Year” by the U.S.

Joe Biden 1

Senator Biden with President Seay

National Jaycees and was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for Outstanding Achievement by Syracuse University, New York. Since 1973 he has been honorary chairman of the Leukemia Society of Delaware. A native of Scranton, Pa., Senator Biden is an alumnus of Archmere Academy in Delaware, graduated from the University of Delaware at Newark with a B.A. degree in 1965 and three years later received a J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law. Before his election to the Senate he practiced as a trial lawyer for four years and served as a member of the New Castle (Del.) County Council from 1970-72.”

Senator Biden is scheduled for 100th commencement. (1975, April 30). Spilled Ink. p. 1.



This year marks the 150th anniversary of the charter of Centenary University! To celebrate, the blog will be highlighting past posts about Centenary’s history.

the scrollCentenary has had several student newspapers since the school’s inception, starting with The Scroll in 1874. The first issue was published in December, 1874, and included articles about school activities, literary pieces, and the President’s Inaugural Address. The Scroll lasted less than a year but was swiftly followed by a series of student writings. spilled ink

In the 1930s, the Spilled Ink began running. Most issues covered upcoming school activities and events, student and faculty achievements, and local advertising. There were also creative writing contributions.

prismIn 1968, a group of students created The Prism, a yearly magazine dedicated to creative writing and poetry. Now the school had two student publications: The Prism, (the literary magazine) and Spilled Ink (the newspaper).

the quillSpilled Ink was disbanded in the 1980s and a new student newspaper, The Quill, took its place. The Quill continues to deliver the news on and around campus, and The Prism is still printed annually. Both are written and illustrated by students.



The archives staff has been working on digitizing many projects, including Ellen P. Kratz’s booklet “So This is Centenary”. Ellen P. Kratz, more often known as Pat, was a freshman at Centenary in the Fall of 1959. She was very involved in Centenary activities; she played on the freshman softball team and became the art editor for the student newspaper Spilled Ink.

In a rare collaboration between Spilled Ink and the Hack (Centenary’s yearbook), Pat put her art skills to use when she created her cartoon flip book “So This is Centenary”. Pat’s booklet was created in order to help raise funds for Centenary’s next improvement project, a new swimming pool.

Ellen Kratz

Pat Kratz (left) and two others with President Seay.

Ellen Kratz.2

Students showing President Seay their collaboration.

The book was well received by President Dr. Seay, who stated that “If you like to laugh, read ‘So this is Centenary.’ ”  1000 copies were ordered, each being sold for $1.50. The following September, plans were made to build an additional wing onto the Reeves Student Union.

Plans to start renovation on the Denman gym and swimming pool were set to begin in November of 1962 and were not completed until February of 1964.

New Pool.1

The new wing cost $475,000 with an additional $125,000 in construction.

Kratz ended up getting married the next year and left Centenary to start her new life. The library is very lucky to have this small piece of history left behind by Ellen P. Kratz.


Centenary University has always welcomed students from faraway lands. One of our first international students was Tsuna Akira Kuchiki, who went by Daniel. Kuchiki, of Tokyo, Japan, was present for the dedication of Centenary Collegiate Institute’s building in 1874 and graduated from the College Preparatory Classical Course in 1877. Since then hundreds of international students have furthered or completed their post-secondary education here.

A series of newspaper articles called “Personality Profiles” were written by the student newspaper, Spilled Ink, to introduce students to the rest of the Centenary community. Students would be interviewed and asked about themselves and what they thought of Centenary. Many of those students were international students. Here are some of their answers:

elga-hilferding-2Elga Hilferding, 1942

“Who doesn’t know our petite and cute little Rumanina girl? She has a lot of interesting things to tell us about her country. Yes, she was born in Rumania…Did I tell you Elga lived in Bucharest? She says it’s very modern, too, and they even get our movies there as soon as we do…Elga says the average American likes an easy life, going to parties, eating, and not working too hard. Doesn’t that sound just like us…Elga likes American schools, too, because we don’t have to wear an awful uniform as Rumanians do…Goodbye to you all for now from Elga. In Rumanian, it would be “La Revedere.”

Dora and Erna Oskardottir, 1943


Erna Oskardottir

“Dora and Erna were born in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1924 and 1925, respectively…Upon their arrival at Centenary, Dora and Erna felt rather timid, but they soon learned that Centenary had many good friends awaiting them. Though it was only last week they started taking English lessons, they have made great strides in learning our language. Both girls intend to come back to Centenary next fall…Centenary welcomes you, Dora and Erna, and we hope you will enjoy your stay with us, as much as we are enjoying having you.”

genevieve-diazGenevieve Diaz, 1943

“In June, 1941, five feet two inches and ninety-six pounds of Genevieve Diaz (plus luggage) came to the United States from her native land, Puerto Rico…Jenny is very fond of American music, but she says she missed the ‘real’ South American rhumba…Reading is one of [her] favorite hobbies along with the music and horse-back riding, but she professes no great liking for ice skating and other winter sports. This is undoubtedly due to Puerto Rico’s milder climate…Genevieve is enjoying her stay at Centenary, but she is also looking forward to attending a larger institution. Centenary offers Genevieve best wishes for her continued success.”

Thorunn Thorsheimson and Josephian Johannessen, 1944


Thorunn Thorsheimson

“These girls left their home in Reyhjavik [sic], the capital of Iceland, on July 14th…Prior to their arrival in this country, Jossa and Thorunn had never had occasion to speak English…They certainly are doing well since they came here…Quite by chance it was discovered that both Thorunn and Jossa are greatly interested in our America music, both popular and classical. They never heard much of this music until our American soldiers arrived in Iceland…The girls are rapidly acquiring a taste for our American dishes. The diet in Iceland consists chiefly of meat and potatoes. Fruit and vegetables are available only when a ship from our country carries such to them. Neither Jossa nor Thorunn expect to return home until they have completed their education here at Centenary. Let’s all hope that their college career in the United States is a most successful and happy experience.”

Foreign Exchange Students, 1945

personality profile triptych.jpg‘ “Martica Urrutia is a vivacious brunette from Cuba. She and Ninita Wood [sic] usually drive us mad at the dinner table by a confusing code they use. It goes something like this – ‘Pancho’. ‘Carl.’ Ninita has been here in school since she was ten years old and quite proudly says, ‘I am an American!’ From Holland we have with us Yvonne Goetz. She had lived in South America – principally Brazil and Venezuela – for the past ten years and is definitely an accomplished linguist, speaking English, Dutch, German, French, Portuguese and Spanish fluently. Personally, I think Yvonne’s heart really lies in Venezuela...And then there is Alyce ‘Sissie’ Robertson from Brooklyn. We are all learning to understand her dialect.” ’

So there are a few of our students from other lands! Let’s hope they enjoyed being at Centenary, as much as we enjoyed having them. Centenary will learn to appreciate lives lived in different parts of the world, especially with the presence of our foreign neighbors.’

*Ninita Wood is spelled Nenita Wood in the 1947 Yearbook.

“Personality Profiles: Elga Hilferding.” Spilled Ink 1942: 12. print.

“Personality Profiles: Icelandic Girls enjoying C.J.C.” Spilled Ink 20 February 1943: 1. print.

“Student from Puerto Rico enjoying stay at C.J.C.” Spilled Ink 15 December 1943: 1. print.

“Icelandic Students.” Spilled Ink 30 September 1944: 2. print.

“Four Foreign Students here.” Spilled Ink 1 November 1945: 3. print.


Centenary’s history as a Methodist college meant that Christmas was traditionally the dominant winter holiday. In the 1940’s, the student newspaper interviewed foreign students to see how they celebrated Christmas.


Velma Arosemena

Velma Arosemena, Panama: “Except for the warm weather, Christmas is almost the same in Panama as in the United States. A Christmas tree, imported from the States, is decorated with balls and an angel at the tip-top. Also, cotton is draped on it to give the effect of snow. The entertainment usually takes the form of an intimate family reunion, or a great party with the proper Christmas greetings. Everyone is anxious for the clock to strike twelve to utter Christmas greetings. It is customary to exchange gifts and greeting cards. A Christmas tree is decorated and gifts for all members of the family, from the youngest to the oldest, are on the trees.” Spilled Ink, December 20, 1944.

christmas round the world

All entries from Spilled Ink, December 10, 1949.


Marita Ho

Marita Ho, China: “Most of the Chinese are not Christians. Christmas is a very quiet holiday. There are no parades or feasts on Christmas as on other Chinese holidays because so few celebrate Christmas. Those who do celebrate have a Christmas very similar to ours. They have a Christmas tree trimmed with glass ornaments and colored lights. They exchange presents and spend a quiet day at home with the family in remembrance of the birthday of Christ. The Christmas dinner in China…is a simple affair of only eight courses instead of the twenty-course banquets sometimes given. “


Asta Tamm

Asta Tamm, Estonia: “Christmas in Estonia officially begins a week before December 25th with the traditional housecleaning. Everything from the rafters in the attic to the jars of preserves in the cellar is thoroughly scrubbed until the house glistens. After cleaning day the next two or three days are spent in the kitchen baking and preparing for the holidays. The day before Christmas eve is called ‘Big Friday’ no matter what day it happens to be…It is a quiet, holy day. The next day, called ‘Christmas Saturday’ is a busy one. The tree is brought in and trimmed…Christmas carols are sung and the grandfather or father of the house reads to his family the Christmas story from the Bible…Christmas itself is celebrated for two days, the 25th and 26th of December. The first day of Christmas is a quiet one. All the gaiety, feasts, parties, opening of presents, singing and dancing is done on the second day of Christmas.”

Hanna-Rose & Ruth Zimmerman, Germany: “Christmas is very similar…to Estonia. Preparations for the holidays are made weeks before. There are the traditional Christmas eve church services. There, however, presents are opened on Christmas eve around the tree. The Christmas party is usually held among the family. Two days of Christmas follow and are similar to those in Estonia.”

zimmerman hanna

Hanna-Rose Zimmerman

zimmerman ruth

Ruth Zimmerman


Anna Thoroddsen


Lyda Thorsteinsson

Anna Thoroddsen & Lyda Thorsteinsson, Iceland: “Great preparations are made for the holidays. The house is cleaned, baking is done and the Christmas Men come. In Iceland there are not one…but nine Christmas Men. There is one who peeks in the window, one who licks the pot, one who deals with good children and one who deals with bad children. Children listen with wonder and fear to their parents about the Christmas Cat, the cat to which they will be taken if they are bad children. There are two days of Christmas in Iceland.”


Tien Oei

Tien Oei, Holland (Dutch East Indies, modern day Indonesia): “St. Nicholas was once a very rich and kind and generous man. He loved children and during his lifetime constantly gave them presents in exchange for laughter and fun. He is always pictured dressed in a long purple robe. He has a white beard and on his head is a high headdress similar to those worn by bishops. With him always is Pieter, his helper. Pieter carries the presents in a huge bag in one hand, and a long switch for bad children in the other…On the eve of the 5th (of December) when St. Nicholas is expected the children leave their wooden shoes by the door filled with hay for St. Nick’s horse. This is the day when presents are exchanged in Holland, rather than on Christmas itself. The two days of Christmas, the 25th and 26th of December, are much more serious days.”

Pat Melarkey & Janet Bond, Hawaii*: “Of course there is no snow in Hawaii…On Christmas day, big luau parties, or feasts, are given. There are many all over the islands on Christmas day. They are given on a long table out of doors. Much singing and dancing accompany these feasts and it is a very gay affair. Everyone is dressed in bright clothes, either shorts and colored Hawaiian shirts or native costumes such as muu-muus or halokus, adorned with leis. The luau is for the family and friends, and the more the merrier! The feast consists of opiis, or a raw sea food, poi which is a pasty substance made from pounded tarrow root, lomi-lomi salmon. There is always a roast pig complete with head and an apple in its mouth…Of course there would be much pineapple and okolehau.”


Pat Melarkey


Janet Bond


Christmas celebrations even in America vary greatly, and yet Christmas itself does not. Everywhere one finds the spirit of peace and good will, of friendliness and giving.

The Centenary College of today welcomes all celebrations – not just Christmas festivities. During the holidays, sentiments of good-will and happiness can be found everywhere. The Taylor Memorial Library wishes everyone a wonderful holiday and winter break. See you in January!

*Hawaii became a U.S. state in 1959, 10 years after this article was written.


The first issue of Centenary’s Spilled Ink (the old student newspaper) always had one or two articles about the start of the school year and incoming freshmen. The following articles offered some advice for new students as they began navigating their new college. A different era, but still, the sentiment stays the same: make the most of your time here at Centenary.

Welcome Back_1

Spilled Ink, Fall Issue, 1941. pg 1. (Centenary was a two year school for several decades)

Spilled Ink, Fall Issue, 1944. pg 1.

Spilled Ink, September 30, 1944. pg 1.