Back when Montclair State University was still New Jersey State Teachers College, Florence Aichele ’33, was a senior at the school, preparing for a profession in teaching. Seventy-nine years later, Ms. Aichele celebrated her one hundredth birthday and took some time to reminisce about her alma mater.
At the time, Montclair State was a teaching college, complete with demonstration high school. Aichele spent her senior year practice teaching in Westfield but says “No one got a teaching position. There were none!” Aichele also said that before many operations to solve the problem, she suffered hearing loss in college and knew that health issue would keep her out of the teaching field. The first of her siblings to finish high school and go to college, Aichele recalls not having many other options at the time. “I didn’t have anything to go to. I wasn’t ready for a job… and there were no jobs.”
Boasting the nickname “Flips”, Aichele sang soprano in The Montclair College Choir and was a staff assistant for the yearbook, La Campana. When asked about those experiences, Aichele describes fond memories of the choir. “I was quite the singer,” she states, and remembers having to wear “Christmas garb” at one of the many performances she took part in.
Aichele still recollects other details about her time at Montclair State. Looking through her yearbook, she comments on her classmates and friends. Upon looking at a current map of campus, she cannot believe all the changes she sees. However, she delights in seeing some familiar buildings that are still around. As a student, Aichele majored in Mathematics and minored in Geography. She lived in Chapin Hall, and vividly recalls her dorm room as well as details about her roommate and dear friend, Charlotte Ach. “I lived right over the doorway, in a great spot. Charlotte’s mom was an interior decorator, so our room was very, very nice.” Another story that Aichele shares is one about driving to Westfield from campus on a regular basis – including an incident with a flat tire and a helpful stranger. “I drove a Nash Roadster. I drove all the time.”
Upon graduating in 1933, Aichele spent eight years working at Bamberger’s, or what we now know as Macys, in Newark. Shortly after, she accepted a position with Standard Oil of New Jersey, now better known as Exxon Corporation. Aichele stayed with the company until her retirement in 1978. She has attended some reunions at Montclair State University, and has given many generous gifts to the university.