Class Notes & Profiles

Nuts for Vassar

By Daniel Steckenberg ’06

Almost 50 years ago, when Alice Northrop Robbins ’44 began selling pecans in the Cleveland area to raise money for the Vassar Scholarship Fund, she says all the alumnae/i organizations in the area sold something. “One college sold peppermint, another sold Christmas wrapping paper, but none of those made anything compared to pecans. People say they sell themselves, but it still takes work because somebody has to haul them around.”

Robbins started doing the hauling simply because her predecessors asked for help. Her only break was during the ‘80s when she moved with her husband, Dr. Frederick Robbins, to Washington, DC, where he served as director of the Institute of Medicine. There, Alice stayed active by working at the Alumnae Book Sale, which she says made more money — but took much more work — than the pecans.

These days she’s back in Cleveland. She estimates that she’s sold about 240 pounds of pecans this year, a far cry from the ‘50s and ‘60s when she used to sell them in “car loads.” According to Robbins the difference is easy to account for. It’s just that “people aren’t eating nuts as much as they used to.”

Like Robbins, hundreds of other Vassar alumnae/i help raise funds for Vassar scholarships each year through product sales. See page 67 for the items on sale this year from Vassar clubs around the country and world.