Dear Dulcy: we miss you already

Many of the “friends she never met” have come forward to declare how much her writings meant to them.

Hendricks Hall, U of O

Here is a picture of Hendricks Hall. It sits across from the “Fish Bowl” (the student union) on the University of Oregon campus. We were one of the last groups of girls to use it as a dormitory. No, that is not a typo: I know that nowadays we would be called women, but we were not at all “womanly”, nor did we aspire to be. This was an old-timey dorm, where five of us shared a suite of rooms: a study/living/mostly card-playing room, a sleeping porch and a dressing room, with a large bath shared by everyone on that floor. I loved the stew of students from all walks of life, most of whom I would never have met in my little working class hometown. As you can imagine, the days were filled with drama as we clashed and bonded in about equal parts. By mid-term we had sorted and rearranged ourselves into amiable groups. Dulcy was a mere slip of a girl: an only child who grew up in San Francisco, with the story-telling skills to bring that seemingly exotic childhood to vivid life. She had a dusting of freckles on her peaches and cream complexion and a shy demeanor that belied the rapier wit hiding just beneath the surface (the red hair might have been a clue). It was Dulcy who could build a credible story (and deliver it absolutely dead-pan) to deflect the suspicions of the housemother when she came sniffing around trying to expose suspected transgressions. I was looking through old photos, hoping to find one of Dulcy from those days. Many of the pictures I did find are of roommates whose names are lost to me, but Dulcy (no pix…sorry) was an indelible character. We just happened to be on the sidelines as she struggled to choose among several suitors. She obviously chose wisely, a soulmate who has seen her through to the very end.

Life carried us in different directions, and we lost contact. I was not surprised to see her turn up in the pages of The Oregonian, where she proceeded to win over a large audience with the same humor and self-deprecating manner that had made her a much sought-after friend and companion all those years ago. Her subject was gardening, but it was the warmth of the life stories that so endeared her to her many fans, gardeners and non-. So I join with the many who never met her, but knew her well, in bidding Dulcy Moran Mahar a sad, fond, tender adieu.

10 Responses to “Dear Dulcy: we miss you already”

  1. Loree/ danger garden Says:

    Thank you Ricki…I’ve read a some of the readers comments that the Oregonian has published but nothing has come close to this for rounding out of her personality, and of course in the process a little bit of yours.

  2. Holly Welch Says:

    Ricki, what a lovely and beautifully-written tribute. Thanks for sharing.

  3. ricki Says:

    Loree~I thought a little first-hand glimpse would, as you say, round out the picture. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Holly~Nice to hear your voice here.

  4. Grace Says:

    How wonderful that you got to meet Dulcy. Your tribute to her is poignant and heartwarming. I always enjoyed her column and tried to read it faithfully. She will be sorely missed.

  5. Delma Says:

    Ricki,

    Ditto on Holly’s comment. Have you ever written professionally?
    Dulcy lived in Garthwick just a few blocks from my place. I think of her whenever I walk past her home and try to see what’s up beyond her huge plantings…..

  6. linda Says:

    Ricki, What a lovely tribute. I’m ashamed to admit I have never read her articles. I did go to the Oregonian site, they have some of her articles on line. Thank you

  7. Susan Says:

    Thank you, Ricki for writing such a lovely tribute. I’ve been thinking of Dulcy, Karen, Sibby and you, of our first meeting in Hendricks Hall, and of the year that followed. Dulcy’s usually-gentle wit and curiosity coupled with polite shyness matured to become the warm, inviting voice readers grew to love in her weekly gardening articles. I remember her with respect and now regret as I, too, join with you and so many others in bidding Dulcy Moran Mahar a sad and fond adieu.

  8. ricki Says:

    Grace~Yes, the time spent with her was short, but sweet. She was sugar AND spice.

    Delma~Thanks! Yep…book coming out soon. More on that later.

    Linda~I think you will have fun reading some of those past columns.

    Susan~Not many photos, but I will bring them to Book and we can reminisce. It is among my favorite times in a long life.

  9. lostlandscape (James) Says:

    Even though I’ve never met or even read Dulcy your touching tribute makes it clear this one person managed to touch so many lives. In a cynical world it’s easy to get soured on the possibilities of this happening, but your real-life example gives me hope for all of us.

  10. ricki Says:

    James~You should have seen all of the tributes that showed up in The Oregonian. They finally had to stop accepting them. It really is heartwarming.

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