Perry-Mansfield alumni hold reunion

Kelly Silva

— It was the summer of 1953. Jan Serafy, 23, sat in the back seat of a Chevrolet leaving behind Steamboat Springs and her first summer at Perry-Mansfield.

“I looked back and you know that gorgeous view from Rabbit Ears?,” she said in a southern accent.

“I said, ‘This is where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.'”

It wasn’t until 41 years later that Serafy moved to Steamboat from Atlanta, but she visited frequently throughout the years.

Serafy was an equestrian instructor at Perry-Mansfield in 1953 and returned to the campus in the 1970 and 1980s.

“Riding was the only thing we knew out here,” Serafy recalled.

Memories of summers at Perry-Mansfield swept through a house Friday night as instructor and student alumni gathered to reminisce the 1950s and 1960s at the performing arts school and camp.

T. Ray Faulkner provided wine and cheese hors d’oeuvres at her home for alumni to gather and revisit the past.

“We used to get our water from the spring, and like what typically happens in Colorado, we had a dry spell,” recalled Princess Morris of Lake Charles, La. “We had to go down to Soda Creek to go skinny-dipping and wash our leotards.”

Morris’ daughter attended Perry-Mansfield for three years and said she has yet to hear about more recent stories.

Pictures of Perry-Mansfield students from the mid-20th century lay spread out on a table where the female alumni laughed and told stories of the good ol’ days.

Betty Toman retold a story from Charlotte Perry’s protegRusty DeLucia, about Perry’s nickname.

“She had her hair cut real, real short not like women did in those days. And she got a perm, so everyone started calling her Kinko. Then it just turned into Kingo and she said she liked that better,” Toman said. “That’s Rusty’s story, so I don’t know how true it is.”

Perry and Portia Mansfield began Perry-Mansfield in 1913 as a result of a piquing interest in the performing arts.

The women bought the camp at Strawberry Park in 1914 for $200 using six tents and a homestead house, still known today as Cabeen, to begin a world-renowned school and camp that would last into the 21st century.

Rumor has it that visitors of the camp can still feel the presence of Perry and Mansfield through strange noises and sudden mishaps.

“I heard two people tell this story, so I know it has to be true. They were staying in Cabeen and heard this clunk, clunk, clunk. When they turned the lights on, they didn’t hear any more clunk, clunk, clunk,” Faulkner said.

The majority of the campus looks very similar to how it did in 1958 when JoAnne Tucker danced there.

“I remember leaving with a girlfriend and she was crying. But I was comfortable about leaving because I knew I would be back,” Tucker said.

Tucker completed a dance, yoga and sacred text workshop at Perry-Mansfield Friday.

“Why this place is so important is it is a combination of arts, horseback riding, the nature and the history of the ladies,” Tucker said. “The two pioneering women did a lot for women’s lib and the movement.”

As the women sipped full glasses of wine and iced tea, Faulkner stood to toast Lorene Workman for her loyalty to Perry-Mansfield.

“She’s the one person who fixed a meal for any one of us and for working at Perry-Mansfield longer than any of us 22 years,” Faulkner said.

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