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PLU's first Lucia recalls early traditions
At 5:30 on a cold, December morning in 1950, a group of female Swedish language students were honored with a visit from Sankta Lucia. Wearing a crown of candles, the white-robed saint stood at the door of their Harstad Hall dorm room carrying a plate of cookies and a pot of fresh-brewed coffee.
PLUís first Lucia, Lola (Murk) Gracey, now and then.
The saint actually was Lola (Murk) Gracey '54. She had been chosen the university's first Sankta Lucia only a few days earlier and was carrying out the age-old Lucia custom of the early morning visit.
"It was fun to wake the girls up at that time," says Gracey. On Friday, Dec. 1, 2000, the Scandinavian Cultural Center will mark the 50th anniversary of PLU's Lucia festival (see article on this page). The first Lucia will take part in this celebration.
Born in Stockholm, Gracey was 10 months old when her parents emigrated to the U.S.A. In 1949 she enrolled at PLC to study music and Swedish. That year, E. Arthur Larson, professor of Swedish, introduced the Lucia custom to campus and made the first crown.
"It was my Stockholm connection that was a deciding factor in my selection as Lucia," Gracey says.
After graduation she married Ronald Gracey and eventually raised a family of six children. She and one of her daughters continued the Lucia custom with their West Seattle neighbors for a few years.
But, she says, "At 5:30 in the morning I was as welcome as the plague." She later replaced the early morning ritual with an evening smorgasbord.
On a trip to Sweden last spring, she brought back several bags of brown beans, which is a popular smorgasbord item. "They taste better than the ones I can buy in Seattle."