Like the hopefully first woman president of the United States, Hillary Clinton, I grew up with Republican parents - she in the Park Ridge suburb of Chicago and I on farms in southeastern Iowa. Prior to the November 9, 1960 presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, I showed my "neutrality" when I finished a required high school paper assigned by my Seminar in American Government teacher. The assigned topic given to the honors students in the senior year class was "Major Campaign Issues of the Candidates for President." I ended mine with "May the best man win." At home, however, I was influenced by my parents and their Republican leanings and wrote the following in my diary:
"Boo! Kennedy is the next president. At least he didn't win by a landslide. It hasn't been so close in seventy some years. Kennedy leads by only about 3/10 of a percent in popular votes, and at noon they thought Nixon might end up with the most popular votes! Used to describe Kennedy's win were hair's breadth, photo finish, razor edge." Although I had become 18 on November 5, 1960, four days prior to the November 9, 1960 election, Iowa did not allow 18-year-olds to vote until 1971.
Also like Hillary Clinton, I changed my political affiliation from Republican to Democratic while I was in college. On November 22, 1963 I wrote in my diary: "President Kennedy was assassinated today in Dallas. He died at 1:00, less than an hour after Lee Harvey Oswald fired shots at him and the governor of Texas as they and their wives rode in a parade route in the presidential limousine. It is so hard to believe that he is dead and that something this awful could actually happen. The governor is in serious condition. They apprehended Oswald almost immediately. He used a telescopic lens on a high powered rifle from the sixth floor of an office building. Johnson was sworn in on the plane flying him, Mrs. Kennedy and the president's body back to Washington.The chapel was full at a meditation service tonight. From 12:30 when we first 'heard' and turned our radios on, we have variously shared this disbelief."
Over the next three days students were free to watch the aftermath and the accompanying proceedings on a large black and white television that had been set up in the campus lecture hall. A smaller set in the student center was also in constant use.
President Lyndon B. Johnson was overwhelmingly elected for his own full term on November 3, 1964, two days prior to my 22nd birthday. I voted for him in my first election. My diary entry that night included "I'm glad to report that Johnson is winning the election by quite a large majority. I guess Hughes won in Iowa - poor Hultman."
Like Hillary Rodham Clinton, I've remained a Democrat.
A 1961-65 Park College Diary
Park College, Parkville, MO
became Park University on January 1, 2000
now is the flagship campus with a
nationwide network of 40 campus centers and
was one of the first institutions to offer online learning
A 1961-65 Park College Diary writer became Barbara Whitt
on June 17, 1972 (the day of the Watergate Break-In)
am now on Twitter
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."