Posted by: Chris Kretz | April 2, 2009

Looking Back: Virginia Spiess (’70) and the Search for Self

Virginia Spiess (70) walking on campus with Charles Cooper (69).

Virginia Spiess ('70) walking on campus with Charles Cooper ('69).

Virginia Spiess grew up down the block from the College and actually remembers the times before Dowling took over the Idle Hour mansion, back when the National Dairy Corporation held sway. Much like Chris Bodkin did for the College’s first home in Sayville, Virginia fills in some of the history of what was here before.

She describes what it was like in the Education Department and her early days teaching in the Connetquot School District. We also get a glimpse into life in the Artists Colony, the section of Oakdale made up of former Vanderbilt farm buildings that seems to have always attracted the young and adventurous to its cramped yet charming quarters.

In these excerpts from a longer oral history Virginia conducted at the library, we hear again of drama instructor Ned Bobkoff, not to mention Janis Joplin. We also discover a previously unknown use for the fireplace in the Student Lounge.



  1. Hi Ginger!

  2. Great to hear your voice again!!! Takes me right back to those days. Wish the world was an Artist Colony again 🙂

  3. Thanks to Ginny, we located an image of her from the 69 yearbook which I added to the post 4/21/09.

  4. Charles Cooper & I shared an apt in the Colony for a while, 40 bucks each as I recall. Some fun!

  5. We took some unintended liberty with Virginia’s first name so let the record show that she never went by “Ginny.” Apologies for that and we’ve updated the post.

  6. Oh Ginger…so long ago…and yet your voice is as fresh and young as ever. I have known you since nursery school I guess.
    And you became a teacher, and I am sure a great one.
    Bless you for your memories of those times. It’s like yesterday, isn’t it?

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