About the diary writer

My photo
Kansas City, Missouri, Alexandria, Virginia, United States
~ About: A 1961-65 Park College Diary ~ As a high school girl and then a college coed in the first half of the 1960s, I wrote nightly entries on the pages of one-year diaries. In January 2010 I began transcribing the entries into a blog and gave each one a title. I grew up on three farms within 30 miles of Iowa City and the University of Iowa. As the oldest of four daughters, in my diaries 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 is 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 41 campus centers across the nation. Park was one of the first educational institutions in the United States to offer online learning. Beginning in August 2015, 50 years after I wrote my last entry in a one-year diary, I've written Park-related blog posts to keep A 1961-65 Park College Diary current.

December 28, 2017: Music Has Been a Strong and Rich Tradition at Park

Founder and Artistic Director of the International Center for Music at Park and the 2001 Van Cliburn gold medal award winner Stanislav Ioudenitch has directed the career of Park graduate student Kenneth (Kenny) Broberg, the 2017 Van Cliburn silver medal award winner. The website for the Park International Center for Music is entitled "Where Proteges Become Masters" and states: "Nestled in the riverbluffs overlooking Kansas City, MO, a musical enclave is quietly producing some of the best classical musicians in the world. Based on the Classical European Apprenticeship Model, the Park International Center for Music is transforming talented proteges in piano, violin, viola and cello into world-class performers."

In the 1960s there were many students majoring in music - a lot of them planning to become music teachers, mostly at the high school level. As an elementary education major, I enjoyed going to their  performances - both vocal and instrumental. The Park campus was located near Kansas City, MO and St. Joseph, MO, and both cities enhanced Park's offerings.

December lent itself to musical performances, but so did November, January and February and other months of the calendar years as well. Here are some selections from my years at Park in the 1960s:

Sunday, December 10, 1961 - I'm going to stay dressed to hear the Madrigal Singers carol at Hawley. The concert choir and chamber orchestra program were very good, especially the half hour long "Gloria."

Sunday, December 9, 1962 - "Christmas at  Park" was today. The choir concert was magnificent. We all stood up for the Hallelujah chorus from the Messiah. Then we had a lovely Christmas dinner with the brass quintet playing Christmas songs.

Saturday, February 2, 1963 - I heard the Park College choir perform Stravinsky's "Persephone" with the Kansas City Philharmonic, and heard the Philharmonic's American premier performance of Earle Brown's "Available Forms No. 1."

Saturday, November 16, 1963 - Nancy and I went with Evelyn, her mother and sister to the RLDS auditorium in Independence to hear the Messiah Choir. The admission was free, it was being recorded for radio, there was a capacity crowd. The performance was tremendous. The Hallelujah Chorus, and everything, were so wonderful.

Sunday, December 13, 1964 - I attended my fourth Park College Christmas choir concert with Judy and Margaret. It was very good. We also saw some of the choir members sing three songs in a special program of Christmas music from the Kansas City area in a taped TV show at 1:00.

Wednesday, January 27, 1965 - I went to the concert of music by Stravinsky in Alumni Hall tonight. Most of the performers were from the St. Joseph Symphony Orchestra. There were three numbers, one an instrumental octet, a vocal solo with piano accompaniment, and an instrumental number with narration.

November 29, 2017: An Interest in All Things to do with Life in Space

Fifty-five years ago tonight, on Thursday, November 29, 1962 my reporting on Dr. Carl Sagan's four-lecture series at Park appeared in The Park Stylus. My remarks included: "Dr. Sagan dealt with the physical environment of Mars, evidence for life on the planet, and planned space experiments to detect life on Mars."

On November 27 I wrote in a one-year-diary: "Today I interviewed a nationally famous astrobiologist, Dr. Carl Sagan, assistant professor of astronomy at Harvard, who's here today through Thursday to lecture on life in outer space! Since I'm so interested in the field, his first two lectures were fascinating and it was a thrill to talk to him." Note: Dr. Sagan was not yet internationally known because he had not yet been involved with producing the 1980 PBS series, Cosmos.

As a high school student I participated in a southeast Iowa declamatory program of memorized speeches called original oratory. I named my junior year speech in 1960 "The Decade of Man in Space" and my senior year speech in 1961 "Greetings, Extra-Terrestrials!"

On January 3, 1960 I wrote in a diary entry, "I finally finished 'Your Trip into Space' by Lynn Poole.

On December 31, 1960 I wrote "Thus ends 1960, the first year of The Decade of Man in Space!"

Here then are selected excerpts from diary entries pertaining to our planet's developing space exploration:

Note: I postponed by a day writing about the first U.S. astronaut to enter space because I had spent Friday, May 5, 1961 at Iowa State University with other high school students. On May 6 I wrote my May 5 entry by beginning: "This is being written on May 6 because by the time we got home from Ames at 2:30 this morning I was too tired to do anything but jump into bed," and then described the  day.

Saturday, May 6. 1961: Yesterday the United States made history by sending Alan Shepard into space for fifteen minutes. It was an "absolutely perfect" trip. My "Decade of Man in Space" original oratory speech has come true.

Friday, July 21, 1961: We watched Gus Grissom's flight into space this morning. For some reason a malfunction occurred that caused the hatch to blow off after the landing and the capsule filled with water and sank in three miles deep water. Grissom got himself off and started swimming. The lift-off was so easy and smooth and the flight perfect. The control crew was so calm. Alan Shepard was the one who got to communicate with him.

Tuesday, February 20, 1962: Col. John Glenn orbited the Earth three times today in the United States' first orbital space flight. The J.R. was full of people watching television when the rocket ship lifted smoothly off the pad at Cape Caneveral about 8:45 this morning.

Tuesday, May 14, 1963: Gordon Cooper's one and a half days space trip was postponed this morning. They had a T-60 minutes hold when they couldn't get the gantry moved away from the space capsule (because of water in the fluid line). The final postponement came with a radar failure in Bermuda. They'll try again tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 15, 1963: Gordon Cooper's liftoff at 7:00 this morning was perfect. He's supposed to "sleep" in space tonight.

Thursday, March 18, 1965: Seth and I just finished watching the Russian TV pictures of one of their cosmonauts. It was a two-man space flight in which one stepped outside the space capsule to become the first man in history to "walk" in the weightlessness of outer space. It's amazing that we can see pictures of it the day it happened.

Wednesday, March 24, 1965: Another space flight this morning! Seth and I watched the moon shot pictures being transmitted as the Ranger zeroed in on the moon's surface for several minutes before impact. It was one of the most fascinating things I've ever seen. Seth went to the American Physicists Society meeting in Kansas City to work (filing cards).


On December 1, 2017 at 7:00 I will walk to Unity on the Plaza in Kansas City to hear Astronaut Scott Kelly talk about his memoir - Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery. He ended his book with this paragraph: "I also know that if we want to go to Mars, it will be very, very difficult, it will cost a great deal of money, and it may cost human lives. But I know now that if we decide to do it, we can."

How far we've come since Dr. Sagan came to Park College (now Park University) in Parkville (suburban Kansas City, MO). Dr. Sagan left planet Earth far too soon at age 62 due to his myelodysplasia complicated by pneumonia. But who knows - perhaps he now can see billions and billions of stars. And I'm sure he is pleased with Scott Kelly's story.



October 21, 2017: Walking to Alfalfa Point and Falling Springs

Having grown up on three farms in southeastern Iowa, it came as no particular surprise to me to discover that Park College had a Missouri River overlook called Alfalfa Point. It was a name left over from Park's days as a student industries campus when students contributed to farming among other student-run operations. All students were required to have a campus job to help offset the cost of their college education at Park.

While I was at Park, a favorite activity was walking from the main campus, past the dorms, gymnasium and several homes in faculty housing, and then up a lane to reach a broad meadow with an overview of the Missouri River in it valley. To the east of Alfalfa Point, in a part of the campus's 800 acres of college-owned woodland, was Falling Springs, a limestone outcropping where water fell in a quiet setting.

Here are diary excerpts in which I wrote about Alfalfa Point, Falling Springs, or both:

Sunday, September 17, 1961: This evening several of us hiked to Alfalfa Point. t's a magnificent view.

Thursday, November 23, 1961: Vivien and I walked up to Alfalfa Point this afternoon. It was inspiring and relaxing to look out over the Missouri.

Tuesday, January 30, 1962: I went for a walk with Gloria. We went up to Alfalfa Point (I've now seen it snow-covered) and then started looking for fossils and geodes on the hill above the highway.

Sunday, February 4, 1962: Falling Springs will always be one of my fond memories of Park College. On this beautiful Sunday afternoon ten of us freshman girls walked up to Alfalfa Point and on to Falling Springs. The water was rushing over the falls today. Bob L. with his bow and arrows and John M. with his guitar came past after we got there. They had seen us on our way over. Terry W. and Ken R. came down, too.

Friday, October 20, 1962: Becky, Josie and I hiked to Falling Springs this afternoon. We tried flying my kite on Alfalfa Point but the string broke. We forgot that we had left it there until we were almost back. Becky may pick up the string if she returns for some botany specimens.

Sunday, April 22, 1962: My first Easter away from home proved enjoyable. Nancy Ayres and I got up at 4:30 to go up to Alfalfa Point for a sunrise service. However, just as we got there it began to pour. There were twelve students and President Morrill there. We decided to call it quits and move to the Meetin' House. Since we were soaked, Nancy and I came back to Hawley instead.

Sunday, September 16, 1962: Another of my little worlds was shattered today - as if I should be idealistic. I walked up to Alfalfa Point with Chris H., a freshman farm girl from Ohio. Three Park guys were up there drinking beer in a sports car. But then I got to thinking "such is life" and maybe I'm getting into more of the true college spirit. I've been making myself conform to a "sheltered" life but have been opening up.

Sunday, November 4, 1962: This afternoon I went with Bev and Jean to show them Alfalfa Point and Falling Springs. There wasn't much water running today. And the foot path has been made into a lane which spoils the seclusiveness of the place.

Sunday, September 15, 1963: Since we didn't feel like studying after dinner, Evelyn and I took a walk up to Alfalfa Point and came back on the road through the woods. I took several pictures. It was a beautiful day.

Sunday, March 29, 1964: I enjoyed this Easter day. To begin with, Evelyn and I went up with a group of students, the Pattons, Gehrenbecks and Edwardses to Alfalfa Point for a sunrise Easter service. The bright orange ball did rise indeed - a beautiful sight. The Stephens cat went along but no one thought too much of it when he didn't return with us. So at 5:45 this evening Shirley and I set out looking for him. After calling his name, "Here, Socrates!" and walking for an hour, he appeared just as we were giving up hope - and the orange sun was setting on the opposite side of Alfalfa Point.

Sunday, October 4, 1964: Evelyn and I took advantage of this outstanding fall weather and walked to Alfalfa Point and Falling Springs this afternoon. The leaves are gorgeous this year.



September 30, 2017: A Student and a Typewriter, A Blogger and a Computer

Sometime in the 1990s, when I was taking a writing class on the Kansas side of the Kansas-Missouri state line, I yanked a sheet of paper from my husband's manual typewriter and thought, "there has to be a better way." The better way came, and it was the Internet with my personal computer. No more typewriter erasers, onion skin paper, correction fluid and carbon paper.

In the summer of 1961 my parents bought a Smith-Corona Sea-Mist Blue portable typewriter in a carrying case for my high school graduation present. My mother used light blue paint and put my initials BSM - for Barbara Sprunger McDowell - on the lock of the carrying case. She cautioned me to carry it so that the typewriter side of the case was next to my leg in case the case should pop open.

I used my gift to do the typing of my mom's University of Iowa graduate School of Education thesis that she had written for her master's degree that summer. She called it Counting Abilities of Three, Four and Five Year Olds. She had driven to the homes of preschoolers in our farming community of southeast Iowa and tested the children on skills such as counting backward from 10. Included in the thesis was what one little boy said: "10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-Blast Off!" Together we worked with the guidelines for formatting, and produced a result that was accepted.

My mom told me two things before I left for Park: "Don't gain more than ten pounds," and "write home once a week."

At 110 pounds, not going past 120 was the easy part. Typing a single-spaced (my choice) letter home every Wednesday night was time consuming. My letters were each a full page and often continued on the back side of the paper.

I loved writing at Park (and endured my 40 words per minute typing speed). Reviewing some of my diary entries I've found an example of an instructor's or professor's feedback for each of my years at Park:

Saturday, September 30, 1961: I got an A on my audience characterization paper for speech.

Friday, December 14, 1962: I got an A- on my religion paper. When I got it back and read what Dr. Johnson had written on the first page, it appeared to be "too damn long." I thought, coming from Dr. Johnson, that was pretty bad. I then realized he had written "two days late."

Thursday, October 31, 1963: Mr. Gibson gave me an A++ on a sociology paper and wrote on the front of it: "Kudos, kudos and more kudos to you. You have no idea how gratifying it is to receive writing of this quality."

Thursday, March 5, 1964: After I wrote my author outline for my geography for elementary teachers class so fast last Monday, Mr. Reynolds wrote on mine that it was one of the best he received and it looked as if my paper had great possibilities.

Monday, March 8, 1965: The others in the seminar in education class and Dr. Pai were pleased with my Soviet education paper. I had read enough to be able to talk intelligently on the subject. I typed rapidly from 4:00 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., skipping The Family class and part of work to get it finished by class time.


During an event on the Park campus a reader of A 1961-65 Park College Diary asked if I wanted my blog to be the basis for a book. "Yes," I told her, "thank you for asking. I would like to have it become a memoir." Since I began transcribing my diary entries one night or day at a time in 2010 - 50 years after the content of each entry had happened - I have also followed the writing advice and examined the techniques of numerous individuals who also have blogs. Many of them have had webinars (seminars conducted over the Internet). One author/blogger - Theo Pauline Nestor - whose blog and book of the same title, Writing is My Drink - said in her August 5, 2017 webinar, "Memoir is the story of the transformation of yourself." I think A 1961-65 Park College Diary fills the bill. Thanks, Theo.                                            


August 25, 2017: Student Teaching in the Parkville R-5 School District in 1964

In the fall of 1964 some of the other education majors and I did our student teaching in what was then known as the Parkville R-5 School District. The R-5 indicated its designation as a reorganized school district, meaning that neighboring towns' former school districts had merged with the Parkville district. Today it's known as the Park Hill School District.

Under the direction of a Park education department professor, Dr. Young Pai, some other elementary education majors and I did our student teaching in September, October and November of 1964 in the district's Southeast Elementary School. Miss Mary Dyer was a third grade teacher there and was my supervisor as I learned teaching skills while in her classroom. She was a no-nonsense, little tolerance for deviation from her norm, strict teacher, and her students respected her.

I believe the following headings, which I compiled in 2014 while transcribing my diary's 1964 entries on a daily basis, tell the story of my ten weeks as a student teacher:

Friday, September 11: Met Our Supervisors for Student Teaching 
Monday, September 14: Observed Miss Dyer Teach Her Third Graders
Wednesday, September 16: Taught the Third Graders Their Spelling Lesson 
Friday, September 25: Will Begin Teaching Reading on Tuesday
Sunday, September 27: Made an Outline for Third Grade Indian Unit
Tuesday, September 29: Reading Group Did Well on Their Seat Work

Monday, October 12: "Housing" Part of Indian Unit Went Well
Tuesday, October 13: Worked on "Clothing" of the Plains Indians
Friday, October 16: We Are Half Finished with Student Teaching
Wednesday, October 21: Sat in on Two Parent-Teacher Conferences
Thursday, October 22: Southeast Principal Came to Observe Our Classroom
Sunday, October 25: Made Up a Test as Part of Indian Unit
Tuesday, October 27: Dr. Pai Came to Observe This Morning
Wednesday, October 28: The Indian Unit Test Results Are Quite Good

Monday, November 9: Students' Notebooks Have a Total of 806 Pages
Tuesday, November 10: Feeling Great After Parents' Insights Tonight
Wednesday, November 11: Tom-toms and "Sound of the Medicine Man"
Sunday, November 15: Will Try a Different Approach with Worksheets
Monday, November 16: Am Ready to Teach the Class All Day Tomorrow
Thursday, November 19: Starting Salary Next Year Will be $5000
Friday, November 20: Student Teaching Efforts Were Appreciated

Evelyn Gatton and Kathy Webb went with me in my parents' 1961 Chevrolet to Southeast in the mornings on a Monday-Friday basis. It was the one semester that my parents in Iowa agreed it was necessary for me to have a car on campus. The above diary dates' titles are the ones that I gave precedence to over Park College studies, activities, student interactions and my personal reflections that were given titles on other days and nights at Park, in Parkville and in Kansas City. On most nights I also wrote about Miss Dyer, the third graders and Southeast even if they weren't "headline" news on a given day.


July 19, 2017: Making Purchases for Park in Iowa City and Washington, Iowa

I began thinking more about what I wished to take with me to Park on January 7, 1961 when I purchased the first of what would be six diaries with leather-like covers. Until then I had written in other assorted diaries. I wrote entries for the first six days of 1961 in a notebook and later transferred them to the new diary. I used the six diaries - each in a different color - to record my time at Park.

My three younger sisters and I earned a limited amount - $25 from time to time - for our summer time help with hay and straw baling on two of the three farms we grew up on. That allowance plus babysitting income helped with the purchases of goods I wanted and needed for my first long stay away from Iowa.

Here are some diary entries I wrote about my new 1961 diary and other purchases made "in town" which was Washington, the county seat where I was born 10 miles away from the farms, and Iowa City, 30 miles away, where my mother had received her M.A. in Education on August 9, 1961 from the University of Iowa.

Saturday, January 7, 1961 - New Diary for 1961 Looks Like College

I bought this diary in town this afternoon. I think I kind of splurged - $2.50. I feel kind of funny writing in it, kind of afraid of it or something! But I think it looks like college. Virginia took Julia Hobbs to the matinee, "Polyanna." I got Karen Yoder some hand lotion since she's my FHA secret sister. Phyllis is trying to type at least the bibliography of her research paper. She doesn't know much about the typewriter, that's for sure. I didn't seem to get much done today. I got dinner - Mom was at her Saturday class - did my English, and that's about it.

Tuesday, June 27, 1961 - A Smith-Corona Typewriter for Graduation

I have discovered that Virginia wrote at the bottom of this page. I used her rollers to set my hair after Mom gave me a permanent. I got my typewriter [graduation present from my parents] in Iowa City this morning. It's a Smith-Corona Star-Mist Blue Galaxie. It's sure nice. I bought a new lamp for my room here at home, Magic Mascara, and Mom got me some pants for college. I just put a film into my camera. I'm going to try one more film in spite of the dusty lens. It's been a long time since I loaded my camera. I talked with Jerolyn and Mrs. Kleinschmidt in Kresge's.

Friday, July 28, 1961 - A "College" Shopping Spree with Mom

Mom and I went on a "college" shopping spree while the kids [my sometimes name for my three younger sisters] went swimming [at a municipal pool in Washington]. I used my graduation money [from friends and relatives] to buy a Remington Princess electric razor - light blue. I also got a good girdle, three blouses, an orange (tangerine) bulky cardigan, mattress cover, pillow, hose, and blue suiting and green gingham to make two new dresses with. We also got my watch back. It looks like a brand new $50 watch. I babysat for Fudges tonight. The rest of our family went to the donkey baseball game, but it wasn't as good as the donkey basketball games were.

Saturday, August 19, 1961 - Still Shopping for Things for College

All the things Mom has bought me for college! Everything we got today were things I need and a lot of it we were able to get on sale: my iron, wastepaper basket, summer and winter hats and gloves, two purses, fountain pen, key case, green belt for my dress (which I finished making tonight), alarm clock, slip, three bras, swim suit and cap, and replacement buttons for my car coat. It's just like Christmas! I started cutting out my winter dress. I decided to do it on the back side of the material.

Wednesday, September 6, 1961 - $25 More Spent on College Purchases

I went to town this afternoon and got my driver's license renewed a month early. I took $25 and came home "broke." I'm costing too much to go to college. I got a rust colored suede cloth hip-length jacket that reminds me of one Mom had at Berea [College in Berea, Kentucky, that she and my father graduated from in 1941], two brown towels to have extra, rollers, bobby pins and hair net, etc., and some cologne. I (with Mom's help) altered my magenta dress. The blisters that were on my arm yesterday are going down. I must have gotten them from poison ivy, oak or sumac while I was mowing grass. We're in a 40-mile-wide "sonic boom corridor" from St. Louis to Minneapolis. We've had two since Friday.  

June 29, 2017: A June 1965 Remedial Reading Program at Park College

As an April 1965 elementary education graduate of Park I had been asked, earlier in my senior year, by Dr. Young Pai to help organize, supervise and teach in a summer remedial reading program. Doing so augmented my preparation for the third grade classroom at Oakwood Manor Elementary School in the North Kansas City school district to which I had been assigned for the 1965-66 school year. My preparation from practice teaching at Southeast Elementary School in the Park Hill school school school district guided my lesson planning for myself and the other Park students who assisted me as teachers in our program. The Park Hill district allowed us to publicize our program among their parents, provided the students and loaned us testing materials and books to use in the program.

I count that summer of 1965 experience as a key factor leading to my discovery of the guy, in June 1971, who would become my husband in June 1972. In the late spring of 1966 I read in the Kansas City Star a small item about applying to be included in a summer of 1966 National Defense Education Act (NDEA) Institute in Remedial Reading at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. There were two prerequisites: to have had prior experience with a remedial reading program and to have completed a three-hour education course in the supervision of reading. I had completed my involvement with our month of June 1965 reading program for children of the Parkville community. In the fall of 1965 I saw on a school district bulletin board a notice about a 3-credit-hour course on reading supervision to be taught by Dorothy Hunt, supervisor of elementary education for the North Kansas City School District. I signed up for it and was admitted by Miss Hunt.

Near the end of my participation in the NDEA Institute I was asked by the director, Dr. John Sherk if I would like to have a graduate assistantship in the reading center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. I told him I'd like to have one more year of third grade teaching experience to which he agreed. In September 1967 I began my graduate assistantship under the supervision of Dr. Sherk, Dr. Robert Leibert and Dr. Warren Wheelock. I tutored elementary grade students who had been assigned to our remedial reading program. I supervised graduate level students who were also tutoring while working toward their own graduate degrees in remedial reading education at UMKC. In June 1968 I graduated with a degree in education with specialization in reading. The next day I began working for the Allyn & Bacon, Inc. textbook publishing company as a consultant in elementary education. I worked with salesmen and school district, college and university personnel, and state department of education officials in nine states: Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

So where does my guy enter into all of this? Scroll back through this blog by clicking on Older Posts (at the bottom right corner of this and previous pages) until you reach August 21, 2015: Waiting for Mr. Right - and no, this blog is not about Republican politics.)

If you are computer savvy I invite you to do searches via the search bar in A 1961-65 Park College Diary - http://parkcollege1961-1965.blogspot.com/ for:

June 1, 1965                
June 2, 1965
June 8, 1965
June 29, 1965
June 30, 1965

Those are dates for which I composed a reading program related blog post heading when I was transcribing 1965 diary entries in June 2015.

Thank you for continuing to read A 1961-65 Park College Diary in 2017.