About the diary writer

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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 41 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."

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.

May 27, 2017: From Park College to Book Expo America

Park College (now Park University) in Parkville (suburban Kansas City, Missouri) was and is about books, books and more books. Book Expo America is the book publishing industry's largest yearly event, being held in New York City from May 31-June 2, 2017. Its schedule of author presentations and list of publishers showing their books can be found at http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/.

Book lovers and bloggers who will not be attending the event in New York can participate in a corresponding Twitter event May 31-June 4 known as ArmchairBEA that can be found at http://www.armchairbea.com/ or on Twitter @ArmchairBEA. My Twitter handle is @BarbaraMcDWhitt. I have registered as a 2017 participant. For my May 2017 update on A 1961-65 Park College Diary (http://parkcollege1961-1965.blogspot.com) I've chosen to find titles of some of the books I read at Park and what I said about them (in excerpts from longer diary entries for each day shown):

September 17, 1961: I just finished reading the first two books of Ovid's Metamorphoses. If only I hadn't had to read so fast, I would have had it down pat.

November 25, 1961: I'm reading The Cyclops chapter of The Odyssey. I remember that story - I wonder if we had it in grade school.

December 1, 1961: I got a B+ on the examples and C on the essay of The Iliad test in world literature.

January 20, 1962: I spent the afternoon reading Lucretius in the library and in the women's lounge in Mackay.

February 25, 1963: In French we have been reading the play, Orphee, that we are going to see at the University of Kansas next Monday night. I finally got the part in Cocteau: Scandal and Parade read that we were supposed to read, so now the play reading will be much easier.

March 4, 1963: Tonight the French class and Dr. Hampl went to see the French plays, Orphee  and L'Apollon de  Bellac, at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. They were very good and I understood most of what was going on in the second one and understood nearly everything they said in Orphee.

April 10, 1963: By getting up at 5:00 and reading in every spare minute until 3:00 (about three and a half hours) I managed to get enough more of Les Miserables read to  give a decent report on it. After all my times of renewing it before I started reading it, it felt good to take that book to the library and leave it.

February 24, 1964: I'm enjoying reading Facing Mt. Kenya that Karanja loaned to me.

April 6, 1964: I gave most of my oral report on Facing Mt. Kenya today in geography. I'll have to give my conclusion on Wednesday.
July 26, 1964: I started reading George Orwell's 1984. Maybe someday I'll get more of the books read I should have read long ago.

November 30, 1964: John Dewey's The Quest for Certainty is interesting but I'm getting bogged down in it. I need to condense 300 and some pages into a four-page book review for philosophy that is due tomorrow since I didn't turn it in today.

May 5, 1965: James Koerner's The Miseducation of American Teachers, which Mr. Carey mentioned a long time ago, upsets me, but it's nice to know some of the criticisms.

August 18, 1965: This afternoon I read more of The Elementary Teacher in Action that Mr. Fuller gave me to read this summer. It has a lot of good ideas covering most areas connected with teaching. I've decided it might be fun to arrange for pen pal correspondence with another third grade class.

April 30, 2017: Writing in Iowa and Missouri - Then, Again and Now

A 1961-65 Park College Diary begins on January 1, 2010 - 50 years after I was a junior at West Chester High School in West Chester, IA and includes my 1960-61 senior year at Mid-Prairie High School in Wellman, IA. Three farming communities - Kalona, Wellman and West Chester - each had a high school, but after some of us were ready for our senior year we all squeezed into what was previously known as Wellman High School in September 1960 and graduated as the first Mid-Prairie class in May 1961. I was privileged to have Mrs. Gladys Kephart as my English teacher all four of those years and was proud to receive all A's for my eight semester grades in English. I "tested out" of English composition as a freshman at Park in September 1961 and took world literature.

Here are diary snippets that chart some of my writing experiences in Iowa and Missouri:

Park College Autobiography - Saturday, November 19, 1960:

I spent the morning in Iowa City at the University General Library looking up books for extension of suffrage - that I decided to write on for my next government research paper - and got some information on Joan of Arc in English literature. Phyllis went to the math library for her geometry research paper. This afternoon Mom and the kids [as I sometimes called my three younger sisters] went to town and I worked on layout for the school paper. I began writing my autobiography for my Park College application.

Park College Autobiography - Wednesday, December 7, 1960:

I just got home from babysitting all evening for the Fudges while they went with the teachers to the Captain's Table to treat Howard and Mabel. The kids went to the youth fellowship silent auction at the church. I finished my autobiography since I didn't do chores tonight. Thankfully I managed to get as much chemistry studied in study hall as I would have at home. We had an FHA meeting in fifth period.

Enthusiasm for Writing Papers - Wednesday, October 30, 1963

I just finished my social studies paper - finally! I still have a short one to do in the morning for theory and technique - on the use of opaque and overhead projectors. I wish I could put as much enthusiasm, for the most part, into the end result of "studying" as I do for writing papers. Karen was over tonight to help me with the posters and Narva pictures. I got a pretty gold pin with gold sets from Mrs. Cowan. Everyone though the personality test was rearlly awful.

Impressed with Quality of Writing and Character - Saturday, December 12, 1964

I went with Winnie to the play, "A Street Car Named Desire," tonight. Jan Studer, a freshman, did an outstanding job with the lead. This afternoon I worked on chords and music fundamentals for Tuesday's test and recorded music playing. Evelyn and I practiced her song some. We're going to see if Mr. Chronister will let each team present just one song instead of two in our allotted fifteen minutes. I had such a nice talk with Dr. Myers in Mackay this afternoon. He said he is very impressed with the quality of my writing. And he said something about my character, "especially for a girl" - and a whole lot more.

Wrote on Eight Aspects of Education on Written Comps - Tuesday, April 6, 1965

Written comps are over, as we knew sooner or later they had to be. This is something that it's hard to believe is over. I didn't think they were too bad. We had to write on two concepts of the mind, attitudes and values, learning theory, and curriculum, organization and administration. I received a letter from the North Kansas City school system [a large geographical area of Kansas City North in Clay County north of the Missouri River and not just the smaller city named North Kansas City on the district's southern border] inviting me to make an appointment for an interview, so I got one for next Tuesday. Now I've been studying for the social psych test tomorrow as if it were another comp.