Dickinson Tennis 1942
Photograph courtesy of Dickinson College Archives

This is a photograph of Alice M. Abbott, pictured here in her letterman's sweater. Alice was the first Dickinson College female student to win a letterman's sweater and a place on a male varsity sports' team.  She was a star tennis player for Dickinson from 1938 until 1942, when she graduated.  This remarkable woman was a member of Chi Omega, Drama Club, the Dickinsonian, Y.P.F., German Club, Tau Delta Pi, Metzger Hall Council, the Microcosm, and the Men's Varsity Tennis Team.

She was also very interested in aviation, although the remark made on her love of aviation in the Microcosm may refer to the fact that her fiancé Norman MacGregor was a pilot in W.W.II. It is uncertain precisely what branch of the Armed Forces he served with, although the fact that the Air Cadet school operated at Dickinson during this period makes it likely that he was a pilot.  If he was, in fact, a pilot, then Alice may have met him in 1941 or 1942, when the cadets came to Dickinson to train.  Upon the end of the war, he returned to attend Dickinson under the G.I. Bill, although his graduation in 1947 seems to imply that he had a few years of college before enlisting.

Despite the fact that Alice won a 'D' for her performance on the varsity tennis team, she was not listed as a D-man, nor is she in the group photo in the 1942 Microcosm, the yearbook.  The prejudice against women as athletes prevented her from gaining these honors, but the fact that Dickinson College awarded Alice her letter shows, to some extent, the lessening of these prejudices as well as the effects of the war, which would place large numbers of women in positions  of unprecedented responsibility.
When the tennis team beat Lebanon Valley in 1942, Alice defeated her male opponents with scores of 6-3 and 6-2.  She won the women's badminton tournament at Dickinson as well.   She is pictured here with an airplane, most probably very near Dickinson College, although the background is unidentifiable.  It may have been Norman MacGregor's plane, the photograph taken while he was in training in Carlisle.  A comment in the yearbook under his picture says, "Married life isn't half bad."

Maureen McIlhaney

Sources: 1942 Microcosm, 1947 Microcosm, Dickinson College