The Strength of Generosity
An Interview with Julia Uleberg, Dacie Moses House Coordinator
By Yuvika Diwan '13
Comfy couches. Haunting smells of freshly baked cookies. Tinkling music in the background. And now, crunchy carpets. As I stepped into Dacie Moses House, one sunny afternoon, I was greeted by a confused dog who came out of the kitchen to the living room, now decked up with a lavish blue carpeted floor. I walked to the kitchen, and as I had expected, there were cookies waiting for suddenly-hungry-stomachs, and I grabbed one (while thinking if I should grab another, and moving away before I could), and walked down from the kitchen into the little garden at the back of the house. There I met Julia, the coordinator of Dacie Moses House, cutting vegetables on the hammock, and then moving blocks of firewood, leftover from a bonfire that was used in one of the Sunday brunches.
Julia first came to the House, 22 years ago, many years after Dacie's death. What brought her to live in this 100 year old house within the boundaries of a student campus? She was attracted to the 'community idea' of living in Dacie's, and how a history had to be preserved within its confines. Dacie, when she was alive, was an ordinary resident in Northfield, who opened her house for students, feeding them with the best that her cooking skills could create. After her retirement, she is believed to have used her pension money to maintain the same relationship with students as long as she could. In return, students volunteered to run her errands, paid her grocery bills, and later when she was unable to bake on her own, baked for her and other students, continuing this tradition. And this tradition amazingly continues to exist. Julia calls it 'the spirit and strength of generosity' that Dacie has left behind.
According to Julia, with Dacie's death the ownership of the house passed on into the hands of students. Student ownership is now kept alive by her and the student workers and through continuously organized events in the house. It is an open house, which means any student can come in and make use of its services. This is one aspect that particularly appeals to me about coming and hanging out in Dacie's. Even as I looked all around me, while talking to Julia, I noticed a left over cup of water, a forgotten baseball glove, an opened sheet of music and cushions that looked sat down on. The house is happily lived in by so many people, and when they walk out the front door, they leave some imprints behind. This is a house bundled with layers of memories.
Nothing lasts forever, and the house has become more and more fragile with the amount of traffic and usage that it undergoes every term. There have been many occasions when the existence of the house has been threatened by people who feel that it could be much better used. But the student energy has brought life and energy to this house and so it has stayed. There is still a lot of concern for it, not just among the alumni, but also current Carleton students, who never knew Dacie in person. Referring to the replacement of 20 year old carpets, Julia says,'We are just dressin' the old gal.'
Before I left Julia and Dacie's, I reminded myself to grab another cookie.
A Knight's Tale
By Nathan Lysne '11 as told to Orion Martin '11
Since this acapella group started in 1956, the Knights have practiced in Dacie's living room. In this house, there are all the facilities to have a comfortable practice session - storage rooms for CDs and tuxedos and song scores and a piano. Dacie herself was very supportive of accapella. 'Steal Away' was Dacie's second favorite song.
Every January, we sing at Dacie's birthday brunch. One of the original members of the very first group of Knights still lives in Northfield - Dixon Bond. Though he retired and is currently on the city council, he is a familiar face in most Knights concerts and Sunday brunches at Dacie's.
Dacie Moses House is important, not just for people at Carleton, but also for people living in Northfield. Every Sunday Dacie's is flooded with students and Northfield residents looking forward to a delicious brunch. It is also used by Carls, prospies or guests to reside in.
Unlike other vocal groups, the Knights work on arranging the scores and rehearsing the songs all by themselves, and practicing in Dacie's helps. During each practice, we try to learn the parts, going over songs, getting ready for concerts. Sometimes when the Knights are practicing, there are always other people in the house, some of whom are really nervous to interrupt our practices. But it's not a big deal, for us. Sometimes they make and eat cookies, and sometimes they leave some for us.
In my limited tenure, I haven't seen a change in the way the house has been used. There are lots of prospies who come to find out what this house is all about. Though it seems like most people don't even know about Dacie's anymore, it's a name that still finds recognition. There is a lot of ambiguity about where Dacie stands with the current Carleton community. Some people say that the house could be better used in other ways. Some people think it could be a new dorm. But Dacie Moses House is more of a house in her legacy than it is about her, so many years after her death. Dacie's is it's own institution at this point. It's a unique place and a unique tradition that I'd like to see continued in the community.
A House for Everyone, and Me
By Emily Ban '12
I was drawn to the idea of living in Dacie’s because of the open-door spirit and the warmth of community that surrounds the house. Admittedly, part of the draw was that I could be paid to bake, something I always spent a whole lot of time doing anyway. My roommate (Emily Winer) and I wanted to help maintain the wonderful tradition of “grandma Dacie’s” while somehow incorporating ourselves into the house. While living here this summer we started hosting themed Wednesday night dessert parties that were open to the Northfield community and we were amazed at how many people came each week! My personal favorite event which we threw together was the “1950’s Dessert Party” where we served banana cream pie, angel food cake, and about a hundred whoopee pies. Ultimately, I think I chose to live here because I wanted to live in a home and encourage other students to make Dacie’s a home too.
Living here has been a wonderful experience so far although it is a very different experience living and working here in the summer and during the school year. Granted, it is a rather unique living environment for a student; I sometimes feel as if I’m an RA for the entire community because it seems as though almost all of Carleton passes through my house. While it can be very frustrating to know that sometimes students take ingredients for their own use or borrow pots and forget to return them, living here has generally given me more faith in people. Truly, this house would not exist if there wasn’t such a large group of students who not just use the house respectfully but genuinely care about it as a beloved part of the Carleton community.
I’m always so happy to see students using the kitchen to bake and bond with their floormates over improvised recipes. I also love having the acapella groups here, I’m a very big Knights fan so I feel pretty lucky to get to listen to them practice as I work. I’m also very excited about our new floors and carpet (everyone should come by and see!) and I’m even more excited that the whole carpet installation process is over! It’s always slightly anxiety-provoking to change the house in any way because there are a lot of community members and alums who want the house to remain exactly as it was when Dacie lived here.
I personally think Dacie would love our new floors and would be happy that the carpets were so thoroughly used by adoring students that they had to be replaced at all. From what I know about her, I think that she would be very pleased that her house is still a home for so many Carleton students and for me.