“Lemon Day” celebration unites generations of Littlefield residents


Charlie Pearce

Littlefield Dormitory on April 10, 2014.

Lea Konczal

At 2 p.m. Saturday, Littlefield Residence Hall will host its annual alumni reunion, which is traditionally known as Lemon Day. The building’s Residence Hall Council, of which I am a member, has spent the past few months organizing this event. On Lemon Day, former residents from as recently as last year to as far back as the 1950s will all return to Littlefield to reminisce about their days as so-called “Littlefield Ladies.”

Littlefield’s rich history and traditions have always exerted a powerful pull on its residents. Founded in 1927 by Maj. George Washington Littlefield in honor of his wife Alice Littlefield, the residence hall is the oldest on campus and the only one dedicated exclusively to freshmen women. The kindly ghost of Alice Littlefield is said to haunt the building, permanently watching over the girls who live there.

Like Alice’s presence, many Littlefield residents have a hard time staying away for good. Lemon Day mainly draws women who have been absent for 50 years or more but still look fondly back on their Littlefield days. Many alumni remain in touch with their Littlefield friends and roommates and often accompany each other to Lemon Day.

But Lemon Day is more than just a social get-together. This year, two distinguished guest speakers will highlight the important role the event plays in preserving Littlefield’s cultural history. Margaret C. Berry, a 1937 graduate of the University, will share her experiences from a lifetime of involvement with Littlefield and UT. David Gracy II, a historian and great-great-nephew of George Littlefield, will offer an informative talk on Alice Littlefield’s life. Past and present residents will be able to view old scrapbooks, enjoy lemonade and lemon-flavored desserts and, most importantly, exchange tales about their time in the residence hall.

It is this last aspect of Lemon Day that makes the event essential to furthering Littlefield’s legacy. Every Lemon Day brings a chance for former Littlefield Ladies to extend the hall’s line of memory by sharing their stories with the current generation. They speak of having to dress up for Sunday dinner and of living without air conditioning in rooms overflowing with ruffled petticoats. One alum met her husband of 50 years at the residence hall — he was a waiter in the downstairs dining hall that has since been converted to office space.

Littlefield has such a long history that many of its stories and traditions have gradually become buried over time. This inevitable erosion of memory is what makes Lemon Day so crucial for bridging the gap between Littlefield’s past and present. Without a cultural heritage, the building would simply be a nice place to spend a year away from home. But when Littlefield residents come to see themselves as threads of a tapestry woven from the building’s living history, something changes. They develop pride in their residence hall and cultivate a richer on-campus living experience. The mere dormitory becomes a home.

Littlefield is haunted by more than just a purported benevolent ghost. Everything from the Victorian-style furniture to the original hand-painted ceilings has a story to tell. It is in the words of Littlefield alumni that these stories are given voice. And it is in the minds of Littlefield’s current residents that they are kept alive.

Konczal is a finance sophomore. This is her second year as a Littlefield Lady.