Pajama Parties

Extinct Tradition

The Cottey school year opens each year with activities designed to acquaint students with one another. One such event ― although no longer held ― was the pajama party, which was popular from the 1930s through the 1960s. The get-together was usually held in Neale Hall, and often sponsored by Cottey's Y.W.C.A.

Everyone was expected to arrive to the pajama party in their finest P.J.s.1 There was much competition for the most unique and attractive outfit. At the 1945 party, "Each girl seemed to be vieing [sic] with all her fellow students to see just who could wear the brightest night clothing. Had there been a prize for eye-catching pajamas, surely Triss Mann would have received it for wearing her red satin Chinese 'P. J.s.'"1 The juniors often didn't realize the importance of their apparel, and were quite outdone by the seniors. As one junior remarked afterward, "We poor dumb little juniors didn’t know we were supposed to wear outstanding night clothes, but we certainly will be prepared next time!"1

The evening's entertainment included singing, dancing, skits, and games. The highlight of the 1937 party was a rare radio appearance. The young Cottey ladies snacked on popcorn and apples as they listened to "Peanut" Hull and Martha Ellen Wiesman, two fellow Cottey students, sing and play piano over the airways.2 Among the amusements at the 1964 "Big and Little Sis Pajama Party" was a skit where seniors imitated the juniors.3 And of course, everyone had plenty to eat!

Pajama party, 1958
"Enjoying the gaiety of the 'Y' sponsored Pajama Party are Senior Jeanette McDonald and Junior Nadine Nelson," 1958.4
Pajama party, 1964
"Bette Tarrant patiently waits for the next item of entertainment at the big and little sis pajama party," 1964.3
Pajama party skit, 1964
"As Senior Class President Bev Larson looks on, song leaders Gale Stewart, Donna Jones, and Jan Henderson entertain at the Big and Little Sis Pajama Party with their interpretation of the college freshmen," 1964.3
Pajama party food line, 1965
Cotteyites stand in line for a nice cold Coke, 1965.5
  Pajama party food line, 1965
"How many times did you go through the food line at the pajama party?", 1965.5

Works Cited:

  1. Christopher, Willene. "Student Activities." The Cottey College Bulletin. Dec. 1945: 10.
  2. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1938.
  3. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1965.
  4. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1959.
  5. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1966.
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