By December 1961 I had settled into life in Hawley Hall, my first home away from home. We called our housemother "Mom." Dorothy (Dot) Hawkins ran a tight ship, but she also was cordial and knew her "girls" well, individually and as a group. Each evening at dinner the Park housemothers shared a table in a corner of the cafeteria on the top floor of the nearby Thompson Commons.
There were three floors in Hawley. Each floor had two counselors (now called R.A.s or resident assistants). There was one room with five sinks and five toilets, and, across the hall, three showers and a tub. There was one landline phone per floor. The only problem with Vivien's and my room with a view was that it was near the phone in the middle of the floor. We frequently answered it.
I've selected excerpts from three entries in my 1961 diary that give a glimpse into my life in Hawley and at Park:
Sunday, December 3, 1961: Dearing's party tonight was fabulous. Their "escorts" lit a torch from Hawley's fireplace, and John Hislop carried it over to Dearing's fireplace. Flo and I were right behind the torch bearer. It was like the Olympic Games. We had carol singing and several of us decorated the tree while others danced. Nayman (from Kenya) enjoyed helping with the first American Christmas tree he had ever seen decorated.
Wednesday, December 6, 1961: Tonight we were called down to the lounge for a wonderful Christmas surprise - a new little blond spinet piano. The thing was, Marge, Janet and I got back from dinner just in time to catch workers moving in the surprise and a music company truck parked by the side door.
Sunday, December 10, 1961: Nancy Huebner and I went to the J.R. Christmas party at 9:00. I wanted to hear President Morrill give Dickens' Christmas Carol, but we got there too late. It's now 11:00. I'm going to stay dressed to hear the Madrigal Singers carol at Hawley.
About the diary writer
- Barbara McDowell Whitt
- Kansas City, Missouri, Alexandria, Virginia, United States
- In the first half of the 1960s I wrote nightly entries on the pages of one-year diaries. A 1961-65 Park College Diary is a transcription of those entries. The first entry was on January 1, 1960 when I was a junior in high school. I grew up on three farms within 30 miles of Iowa City with the University of Iowa and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. As the oldest of four daughters, I sometimes referred to my sisters as "the kids" or "the girls." We helped our parents, but we also had good, wholesome fun - a characteristic I took with me to Park. Park College was 300 miles from West Chester, Iowa in Parkville, Missouri, on the Missouri River 10 miles northwest of Kansas City, Missouri, and across the river from Kansas City, Kansas. In 2000 Park College became Park University. Today Park's flagship campus is in Parkville and there are an additional 40 campus centers across the nation. Park was one of the first educational institutions in the United States to offer online learning. Beginning August 10, 2015, 50 years after I wrote my last entry in a one-year diary, I've written Park related Blogger blog posts to keep A 1961-65 Park College Diary "current."