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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.

August 23, 2016: Memories of Park - Taking Physical Education Classes

Watching the world's finest athletes compete in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro reminds me that, when I was a student at Park in the first half of the 1960s, all students were required to take a total of 8 hours of physical education classes. Each class was worth two credit hours. Upperclass students advised freshmen to get them worked into our schedules during our freshman and sophomore years if possible. In that I succeeded. In my competence in the classes I ended up fitting into my schedule, not so much - except for modern dance. In that, I was a leader. Here are segments from some of my diary entries:

Thursday, January 10, 1963: In swimming I found out I can neither breathe nor kick right - I knew I didn't - so I've much to learn - she vows we'll all learn each stroke!

[I didn't, but I gratefully received a C for the course. The "she" I mention was Mrs. Barbara Dorsey, who, during her time at Park, taught each of the phys ed classes I took. She was a talented woman who also coached tennis and golf.]

My introduction to college level phys ed began with the trampoline.

Monday, October 16, 1961: Did I ever mess up on my trampoline practical test. Not only did I about kill myself doing the back drop, I couldn't even go down for the front. She (Mrs. Dorsey) said not to worry about it though.

Tuesday, October 17, 1961: I went over to work out on the trampoline and got my confidence back on the front drop but still need to relearn the back drop.

Monday, October 30, 1961: We started turning flips on the trampoline. [I wrote a collective "We." I don't imagine I did any flips.]

After the trampoline classes were over we began fencing.

Monday, November 15, 1961: We got our foils for fencing in phys ed. It sounds like it will be fun.

Monday, November 27, 1961: I got "yelled at" in gym - "Young lady, don't lift your back foot when you lunge!"

Friday, January 19, 1962: Since I spent two hours on my written fencing final this morning (it called for a lot of details) I didn't get to lunch till 1:00 and therefore didn't get to my world lit reading like I had planned.

In the fall of my sophomore year I wrote on Thursday, September 6, 1962: Modern dance is with Mrs. Dorsey who has studied it under one of New York's leading teachers.

Thursday, October 4, 1962: Leslie, Sarah and I got an A on our modern dance interpretation of "Trees in a Storm." Just one other group got an A. She said as she had looked around beforehand, ours had looked the best. She said that about my group once before, too.

Monday, October 8, 1962: Tonight Edna, Theresa and I practiced for modern dance -we finally decided to use "Good Night, Ladies." It has to be a song.

Thursday, October 18, 1962: We got an A- on our modern dance interpretation of "The Puzzled Centipede"- Sandy, Mary Kit, Kelmie and I. I was the frog.


July 31, 2016: Memories of Iowa and Park - Kennedy and Johnson

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.

Barbara McDowell
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


June 28, 2016: Memories of Park - Hearing the Mackay Chimes

On the last day of the September 2014 Park University Alumni Weekend, I stepped out of Thompson Commons just as the Mackay Hall chimes began to play "Hail, Hail Park College" (updated to "Hail, Alma Mater" after Park became Park University in 2000). Still known by the first version for many of us, there is, for all graduates of Park, something endearing about the "strong as an oak tree, thy name shall never fail," and "to thee, alma mater, hail, Park, hail" that we always cherish in our hearts.

Here's how the chimes sound, referred to here as the carillon, with a photo of the Mackay clock tower where they're located:

And here it is being sung in the Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel:

Much as I loved the campus chimes, a search of my 1961-65 diary entries yielded only eight times when I actually mentioned them:

Tuesday, January 2, 1962 [after being in Iowa for Christmas vacation]: I was the fifth one to check in at Hawley. We had just arrived in [Vivien's and] my room when I heard the chimes. They hadn't been working in the first three months we'd been here. It was so nice to hear them - now it is college.

Wednesday, January 3, 1962: I love the chimes - if every 15 minutes isn't too often.

Thursday, January 4, 1962: This has been one of my favorite college days - we've been having such spring-like weather, and I still marvel at the beauty of those chimes sounding against the hills.

Saturday, February 3, 1962: Marge and I went over to sit on Mackay steps tonight and watched the sunset and listened to the chimes.

Friday, February 16, 1962: The chimes have been playing more often recently. We've even had Park's alma mater played.

Saturday, March 24, 1962: Poor Mackay's chimes have been off the beam tonight. [And then I didn't mention them again until 1963:]

Monday, November 11, 1963: The chimes are fixed again! [Note: They would not have been out of order since March 24, 1962.] [And once more:]

Monday, April 5, 1965: Yay - the chimes are working again. [That was the night before those of us in the department of education took our written comps, prior to our graduation day on Sunday, April 25.]  

May 30, 2016: Memories of Park - Hawley Hall as Home Base

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.          

April 28, 2016 - Memories of Park: Move-In Day 1961

I came of age on three farms near West Chester, Iowa, a town of 100 in southeastern Iowa, 30 miles from Iowa City with its University of Iowa. It must have been a shock for my mother who had grown up as the older daughter of an architect and art teacher in Lakewood, Ohio (suburban Cleveland) when she first saw West Chester with my father, who like her, had graduated from Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, where they met. On September 9, 1961 when I left home to attend Park College I had not visited the campus, but I had liked what I read about it in Lovejoy's College Guide and in the content of the most recent catalog. My parents also had influenced my decision to apply to Park. As the oldest of four daughters (with no brothers) I was persuaded to give Park a portion of my life.

The day before my family's departure to take me to Parkville, I packed up what I thought I would want to have with me while sharing a Hawley Hall room with Vivien Nix from Tahlequah, Oklahoma. My mom and sisters helped transfer my belongings from my small upstairs room of our tenant farmer farmhouse to the trunk of our Chevrolet Impala. When it became apparent that not everything would fit in the trunk we made the decision to put my trunk filled with winter clothes onto the back seat. On departure morning two of my sisters got in on one side of the trunk, and another sister and I took the other side. 

On move-in day at Hawley Hall on September 10, my father made the comment that our housemother had a daughter in the dormitory because he had heard someone say "Mom." He didn't realize that 98 other girls and I would also be calling her Mom or Mom Hawkins. After my family left to return home I put my fall clothes in a closet and half of a shared built-in chest of drawers. I set about meeting other girls and was waiting for Vivien Nix, the only child of a professor at Northeastern State University, when she arrived with her parents. Viv Nix was one of the 50 finalists in a national United Presbyterian College Scholarship contest, a contest which I had entered but heard nil. We became friends and I went to Tahlequah to be a bridal attendant for her marriage to Charles Armentrout, another member of our class, on December 28, 1963.          

March 14, 2016: To Do a Park Search, Enter Your Word Choice

The right hand sidebar of A 1961-65 Park College Diary has been designed to make the blog [and therefore my diary] more usable by Park graduates and friends who may be new to the world of blogging.

In the sidebar I include information about the blog and about myself as its creator.

In the upper left hand corner you will see a search bar. It has a small white B (for Blogger) on an orange background on one side and a small magnifying glass on the other.

You can enter something of interest to you. Some (but not all) of the pages where that word or name appeared in my diary will appear on your page.

This morning there was a beautiful photo of Falling Springs in a Facebook group blog called Parkville Missouri History that Kenneth R Klamm started in January 2015. I have signed up to receive Facebook notices when a new post appears.

The photo caused me to go to my blog and do a search for Falling Springs. I was amazed at how many times I wrote about it and Alfalfa Point while I was at Park.

September 29, 2015: Seeing Changes at Park 50 Years Later

On Sunday evening, September 20, 2015 the convener of a Sunday night potluck and book discussion group, said, on the patio at her and her husband's Kansas City, Missouri home, "Barbara, tell us about your college reunion." On Monday morning, September 21, the maintenance man who came with a plumber to our Kansas City condo, asked at the door, "How was your weekend?" Meanwhile, in Overland Park, Kansas, on the same morning, the nurse who had seen my husband Bill at Research Medical Center on Friday afternoon following the alumni awards luncheon, asked him, "Did you make it back to your wife's event on time?" Yes, all three thought to ask about what they could tell had been important to me.

It's been just over a week since our Park College Class of 1965 held our 50th year reunion and I'm still thinking about it. I had high expectations, and they were exceeded.

Bill and I had just finished registering for the weekend and had stepped out onto the porch of the Alumni House facing toward the White House. I heard someone to my right call, "Well, Barbara McDowell!" It was Hal Henderson from the class of 1964 who comes from Florida and makes regular appearances at alumni weekends. He was in the parking lot in front of the entrance to the Parkville Commercial Underground with his friend Jim Peeke from our class.

Soon we saw Regina Font Shedd and her husband Stan Shedd, who drove to Park from their home in High River, Alberta, and Glenn and Leslie Innes Petrie. Our Class of 1965 Golden Reunion dinner was held at the S.D. Strong Distilling Company in the Parkville Commercial Underground which is adjacent to the Park University Underground. It was a wonderful event. We were greeted at the front entrance by Erik Bergrud, Park University Associate Vice President for Alumni and Constituent Relations, and John Roushkolb, Park Social Media Manager. Within the distillery we were offered iced tea or vodka cocktails. Steve Strong, the owner, gave a brief overview of the facility.

We had a nice turnout of Parkites who first came to Park in 1961. Some of us hadn't seen each other for 50 years. If not at the dinner, then during the weekend I saw and greeted Katherine Gillespie Darch Amedy, who lives in Connecticut and lost both her husband Tom Darch and her second husband to heart attacks 25 years apart, Randolph (Randy) and Jane Gillespie Fehr, Dr. Ronald J. (Ron) and Linda Steele Tyrl, Susan Thorpe Hawk, Florence (Flo) Ito Naylor, Dr. Margaret McElwain Wilson, Rosemary Kellner Hardage, David and Barbara Zappulla House, Diane Davis Reed, Nancy Taylor McBride Custead whose first husband, Paul McBride, also a Park graduate, has passed away, Dr. M. Stan and Regina Font Shedd, Dr. Glenn and Leslie Innes Petrie, Gary and Mary Sue Somerville Sorrell, Sam and Nancy Rohlfing Potter, Paul H. and Sylvia Helms Gault, James B. Peeke, Harold L. (Hal) Henderson, John C. Blair, Hildreth H. Buterbaugh, Elliot G. Goldman, Dr. Arthur F. (Art) Kluge, David R. Oswald, and Park's new interim president, Dr. Jeff Ehrlich and his wife, Dr.Donna Ehrlich.

If you and I greeted each other during our Class of 1965 members and friends 50th year reunion on September 17, 18 or 19, 2015 and I have failed to name you, please tell me at: barbara.mcdowell.whitt@gmail.com.

During the weekend we attended a breakfast in the White House, Laurie McCormack talked about Park's plans for the future including Park's Academic Expansion Space, Paul Gault led a limestone tour of the Park University Underground and the adjacent Parkville Commercial Underground - 100 feet below ground in places, the staff of the Ellen Finley Earhart Department of Nursing held an open house and ribbon cutting in their new space in the Underground, Nancy Taylor McBride Custead led a Park sing along in the Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel, and I talked about A 1961-65 Park College Diary.

Carolyn McHenry Elwess and Tim Westcott gave a presentation about Park's new history book - Fides et Labor: 140 Years of Pioneering Education - The Story of Park University.

Copies of the history book are available for purchase and may be ordered from http://www.Park.edu/HistoryBook or by calling (800) 488-7275. The cost is $39.95 + $6.00 shipping and handling. It's a beautiful book with both black and white and color photos and is full of fascinating and detailed information about Park with a foreword, eight chapters, endnotes and an index. I encourage you to secure your copy by clicking the link, calling the 800 number, or buying one at the Park Alumni House (that small white house east of the White House (now gray) at the Park University entrance.

More commentary about our Class of 1965 50th Year Reunion, Park University and Parkville can be found on my Facebook page at https://www.Facebook.com/BarbaraMcDowellWhitt.